Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 13.djvu/30

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himself. Next morning he was summoned before the council, but was kept waiting some time outside the council-chamber door. His secretary Morice called Dr. Butts to witness the fact, and Butts informed the king. ‘What!’ exclaimed Henry, ‘standeth he without the council-chamber door? It is well. I shall talk with them by-and-by.’ When Cranmer exhibited the ring, and said he appealed to the king, the lords, ‘as the manner was, went all unto the king's person both with his token and the cause,’ and received a severe rebuke for their treatment of him. ‘I would you should well understand,’ Henry added, ‘that I account my lord of Canterbury as faithful a man towards me as ever was prelate in this realm, and one to whom I am many ways beholden.’ After that day no man durst say a word against him so long as Henry lived.

These incidents we know from the relation of Cranmer's own secretary and apologist, Ralph Morice. It was Henry's policy always to pay ostensibly the highest deference to the church while compelling the church to yield to his own inclinations. And when Morice goes on to vindicate his master from a censure afterwards passed upon him that he had given away so many farms and offices during his tenure of the archbishopric that there was little left for his successors, he does so by showing that if Cranmer had not been very conciliatory to his prince the see would have been stripped absolutely bare. Cranmer only yielded to the pressure put upon him by the king and his grasping courtiers; yet he refused long leases, and limited them to twenty-one years, until he found that this only exposed him to still more pressure for reversions, which were shamelessly sold again soon after they were obtained. Cranmer also made some exchanges of land with the crown to the detriment of his see, in palliation of which his secretary truly says: ‘Men ought to consider with whom he had to do, specially with such a prince as would not be bridled, nor be againstsaid in any of his requests.’

Henry showed his regard for Cranmer by making him alter his ancestral arms, substituting for three cranes three pelicans, to indicate ‘that he ought to be ready to shed his blood for his young ones brought up in the faith of Christ.’ But there was no great likelihood of his dying a martyr so long as such a patron lived. Even on high questions of theology he once wrote his opinion with the following note attached: ‘This is mine opinion and sentence at this present, which, nevertheless, I do not temerariously define, but refer the judgment thereof wholly unto your majesty’ (JENKYNS, ii. 103). In 1542, when the Scotch prisoners taken at the Solway Moss were sent to London, the Earl of Cassillis was committed to the care of the archbishop, and it has been thought that his conversations with Cranmer were not without fruit in the subsequent history of the Scottish Reformation. In September 1543 the archbishop held a visitation of his diocese in which many of the presentments show clearly the little progress that had yet been made in the war against superstitions. On 18 Dec. following his palace at Canterbury was accidentally burnt, and his brother-in-law and some other persons perished in the flames. In June 1544 a royal mandate was issued for the general use of prayers in English, and an English litany was published by authority immediately before the king's expedition to Boulogne. A little later in the year Cranmer, by the king's command, translated from the Latin ‘certain processions to be used on festival days,’ to be set to music (making, however, pretty considerable alterations on the originals), which he submitted to the king's correction. Before the end of the year he also urged upon the king the long-felt necessity for a revision of the ecclesiastical laws in accordance with previous legislation; and next year he was commissioned to take steps to that effect.

Henry VIII died on 28 Jan. 1547. He was attended by Cranmer in his last moments, and the archbishop was named in his will as one of the council to govern during the minority of Edward VI. He was, of course, the first in precedence, but it is not easy to see that in affairs of state he possessed more influence than he had done during Henry's life; and even in matters ecclesiastical he appears still, to a large extent, to have acted under pressure from others. He crowned the young boy king on 20 Feb., but even before that date he took out a new commission to discharge his archiepiscopal functions, acknowledging that all jurisdiction, ecclesiastical and secular, alike emanated from the sovereign. At the coronation he delivered an address to the new king on the nature of his coronation oath, carefully explaining that it was not to be taken in the sense the pope had attached to it, which made the see of Rome the arbiter of his right to rule. But instead of carrying the Reformation further he seems to have aimed at a more conservative policy than during the preceding reign. For he not only suspended, at the death of Henry VIII, a scheme of ritualistic changes which he and others had been preparing for the king's approval, but when urged to new measures of reform he would reply that it was better to undertake