1530, after Cranmer had gone abroad. But Gardiner's letter of that date shows that several of the graduates in theology had before then expressed their concurrence with the argument in Cranmer's book; and an attempt was made to exclude them from voting on the subject as men who had committed themselves to one view of it already.
In January 1530 the Earl of Wiltshire was sent ambassador with Dr. Stokesley and others to the emperor, Charles V, and Cranmer accompanied him to the meeting of the pope and emperor at Bologna. About this time he seems to have been promoted to the archdeaconry of Taunton (Le Neve says in 1525, but it appears Gardiner held it in 1529; see Calendar, Henry VIII, iv. 2698). While abroad on this mission he had an allowance of 6s. 8d. a day from the king, and he remained with his patron in Italy till September, when the embassy returned to England. In the interval he had gone to Rome, where he offered to dispute in the king's favour, and where the pope made him penitentiary for England. He remained at home, evidently still a member of the Earl of Wiltshire's household, during 1531, and we have a letter of his to the earl, dated from Hampton Court on 13 June of that year, giving his opinion of a book which had just been written by Reginald (afterwards cardinal) Pole, ‘much contrary to the king's purpose’ in the matter of the divorce. On 24 Jan. 1532 he was sent to the emperor in Germany to relieve Sir Thomas Eliot, who was allowed to return home. He joined the imperial court at Ratisbon, where, among other things, he had certain remonstrances to make about English commerce with the Low Countries. In July he stole away from Ratisbon on a secret mission to John Frederic, duke of Saxony, with whom he also left letters from the king for the Dukes of Luneburg and Anhalt, and whom he assured of the support both of England and France in the opposition of the German princes to the emperor. The intrigue was a total failure; for the pacification of Nuremberg was already being negotiated, and was published a few days after. Cranmer, however, remained in favour with Charles V, whom he accompanied to Vienna and afterwards to Mantua, where he received his recall, the king having determined to promote him to the archbishopric of Canterbury, which had just become vacant by the death of Warham. The promotion was altogether unexpected by himself, and he had made very bad preparation for it by marrying in Germany a niece of Osiander; nor is there any reason to doubt his own protest before the commissioners who tried him at Oxford in Queen Mary's days, that he accepted it with reluctance and delayed his coming home (as he said, ‘by seven weeks at the least’) in the hope that the king might change his purpose.
He sent his wife secretly to England in advance of him, and seems to have arrived there himself early in January 1533. Within a week of his arrival it was made known that he was to be the new archbishop. The king was in the habit of allowing rich bishoprics to remain vacant about a year, but on this occasion he had filled up the vacancy in four months and even advanced money to the archbishop designate to enable him to procure his bulls without delay. It was at once suspected that the king's object was to obtain from the new metropolitan, as ‘legatus natus’ in England, authority to proceed to a new marriage, treating his union with Catherine of Arragon as invalid. And though this was known at Rome it was found impossible to resist the king's request that the bulls of the new archbishop might be sped at once and even without the customary payment of first-fruits. The bull was passed on 22 Feb., and on 30 March following Cranmer was consecrated at Westminster by the Bishops of Lincoln, Exeter, and St. Asaph. Just before the ceremony he made a protest before witnesses that the oath he was about to take of obedience to the pope he meant to take merely as a matter of form, and that it should not bind him to anything against the king, or prevent him from reforming anything that he found amiss in the church of England. He further, before obtaining possession of his temporalities, which were restored on 19 April, took an oath to the king renouncing all grants from the pope that might be prejudicial to his highness.
Even before his temporalities were restored he had taken the first step towards the gratification of Henry's wishes in the matter of the divorce. On 11 April he wrote to the king asking permission, by virtue of the high office conferred upon him by the king himself, to take cognisance of his grace's ‘great cause of matrimony.’ Of course it was readily conceded, and Catherine was cited to appear before the archbishop at Dunstable. Here Cranmer opened his court on 10 May, when he pronounced Catherine contumacious for non-appearance; and after three further sittings (during which period he expressed to Cromwell his great anxiety that the matter should be kept secret, lest she should be induced to recognise his jurisdiction) he gave formal sentence on the 23rd as to the invalidity of the marriage. Five days later at Lambeth he held a secret investigation, as the result of which he pronounced judicially