Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 13.djvu/31

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such measures in Henry's days than now, when the king was in his nonage.

It is not surprising, therefore, that he celebrated mass for the repose of Henry's soul according to his will, or even that he did the same office not long afterwards for that of Francis I of France. He also strongly opposed in parliament the act for the suppression of colleges and chantries. But changes soon began to be introduced with his approbation, and, partly at least, at his suggestion, which produced a very considerable revolution. A general visitation of the kingdom was set on foot, in which the visitors were instructed to sell everywhere for use in the churches a new book of homilies and a translation of Erasmus's ‘Paraphrase of the New Testament.’ Both these books were strongly denounced by the opposite party, especially by Gardiner. In the convocation of 1547 the archbishop obtained a vote in favour of the marriage of the clergy, and though a measure to legalise it was deferred for a time, it was successfully carried through parliament next year; after which his wife returned to him from Germany. Parliament also gave effect to a unanimous decision of convocation in favour of communion in both kinds, a change which necessitated the issue of a royal commission in January 1548 to revise the offices of the church. This commission consisted of six bishops and six other divines, presided over by Cranmer; it held its sittings in Windsor Castle, and produced a new communion book early in March, and ultimately, in November following, the first English prayer-book.

Early in 1548 an order in council abolished the carrying of candles on Candlemas day, ashes on Ash Wednesday, palms on Palm Sunday, and various other ceremonies. In the course of the same year Cranmer held a visitation of his diocese, inquiring particularly whether the destruction of images and other relics of superstition had been fully carried out. Yet it was in this year he published his so-called catechism, entitled ‘A Short Instruction into Christian Religion,’ which was a translation from the German of a Lutheran treatise too high in some of its doctrines to satisfy ardent reformers. In 1549 various heretics of extremely opposite views were convented before him at Lambeth, some for denying the Trinity, others for denying the human nature of Christ. Most of them recanted and did penance; but a woman named Joan Bocher [q. v.] , or Joan of Kent, who belonged to the second category, stood to her opinion and was burned, though in the interval after her condemnation both Cranmer and his former chaplain, Bishop Ridley, reasoned with her, making earnest efforts to convert her. Another martyr, a Dutch Arian, was brought before him two years later, and in like manner delivered to the flames.

His activity against heretics in 1549 was occasioned by the issue of a new commission, of which he was the head. The first Act of Uniformity was passed in the beginning of the same year, and the new English prayer-book came into use on Whitsunday. But the change, unpopular in most places, produced a serious insurrection in Devonshire and Cornwall. The rebels declared the causes of their rising in a set of fifteen articles, demanding the restoration of images, of the mass in Latin, and, generally speaking, of the old order in the church. To these articles Cranmer drew up an elaborate answer, reproaching the remonstrants for the insolence of their tone, and convicting them by his superior learning of specious inconsistencies. He also preached twice at St. Paul's on the sinfulness of the insurrection. After a time it was suppressed. Meanwhile the protector, Somerset, was tottering to his fall, and it is melancholy to relate that he was betrayed at the last by Cranmer, who had also been instrumental in his brother's (Lord Seymour) execution in the earlier part of the year; for though an ecclesiastic he had signed the death-warrant of that unhappy nobleman, a gross violation of the canon law, of which the best that can be said is that it was doubtless due, not to political hatred, but to simple weakness. Somerset, however, was for the present only removed from the protectorate and restored to liberty. The same timidity of Cranmer's which made him too readily become an instrument of tyranny gave rise to the popular saying, preserved in Shakespeare:—‘Do my lord of Canterbury a shrewd turn, and he is your friend for ever.’ He was always anxious to conciliate those who liked him least. Even in the exercise of his authority as archbishop his lenity towards opponents was such as sometimes to provoke contempt. A quondam abbot of Tower Hill, who had become vicar of Stepney, being a strong opponent of the Reformation, was brought before him charged with causing the bells to be rung and choristers to sing in the choir, while licensed preachers whom he did not favour were addressing the people in his church. Cranmer contented himself with administering a rebuke, telling the disappointed prosecutor that there was no law to punish him by.

In truth the Reformation was developing itself in a way that must have filled him with anxiety. The reforming and the conservative or romanising party had not been