Thomas Cranmer


1489 July 2. Born at Aslockton, Nottinghamshire, second son of small landholder

1503–11 Undergraduate studies at Jesus College, Cambridge

1515 Marries; wife dies in childbirth

1515–26 Fellow of Jesus College; ordained; university preacher; completes doctorate


1527 Henry VIII seeks to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon

1529 Cranmer suggests Henry seek university opinion on the divorce question

1530-32 Serves as an ambassador to the Continent; marries Margaret, niece of Lutheran reformer Osiander

1533 Becomes Archbishop of Canterbury; declares Henry’s marriage invalid; Anne Boleyn becomes queen

1534 Act of Supremacy recognizes king as “supreme head” of church in England

1536 Ten Articles outline early Protestant theology; Parliament dissolves smaller monasteries

1537 Bishop’s Book, a commentary on the Ten Articles; Pilgrimage of Grace, a popular Catholic uprising against reforms

1538 Henry VIII orders English Bible to be put in every parish church

1539 Remaining monasteries dissolved; Henry’s Six Articles enforce a more Catholic theology, including priestly celibacy; Cranmer sends his wife to Germany

1543 Henry’s King’s Book prohibits Scripture reading; Cranmer accused of heresy, but Henry protects him

1547 Henry dies holding Cranmer’s hand


1547 Nine-year-old Edward VI becomes king; Somerset becomes Lord Protector; priests required to preach from Cranmer’s Homilies

1549 Act of Uniformity orders use of Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer; Northumberland becomes Lord Protector

1552 Cranmer revises Book of Common Prayer; Cranmer’s Forty-Two Articles outline a Calvinist doctrine for Church of England

1553 Cranmer supports Lady Jane Grey to succeed Edward; July 6, Edward dies

MARTYR 1553–1556

1553 Aug. Mary enters London in triumph and becomes queen; Nov. Cranmer convicted of high treason and imprisoned

1555 Sept. Cranmer tried and convicted of heresy; Oct. Ridley and Latimer executed

1556 Jan. Cranmer signs first submission; Mar. 21, renounces recantations and burned at stake

1558 Mary dies; Elizabeth I becomes queen and begins promoting Protestantism

Other Reformation Events


1516 Erasmus publishes Greek New Testament

1517 Luther’s 95 Theses attacks sale of indulgences

1519 Charles V elected Holy Roman Emperor; Zwingli’s preaching sparks Swiss Reformation

1524 Peasants’ Revolt in Germany


1529 Luther and Zwingli fail to resolve differences over Communion at Marburg Colloquy

1530 Augsburg Confession outlines Lutheran beliefs

1535 Anabaptists take over Münster and are defeated

1536 First edition of Calvin’s Institutes

1540 Society of Jesus (“Jesuits”) founded

1545 Council of Trent begins

1546 Luther dies; Emperor seeks to suppress Lutheranism in German Schmaldkaldic war


1548 Augsburg Interim seeks to reimpose Roman Catholicism on Germany; Martin Bucer and other reformers flee to England

MARTYR 1553–1556

1555 Peace of Augsburg allows German states to choose between Lutheranism and Catholicism

1559 Persecution of French Protestants intensifies

Rudolph Heinze is vice-principal and tutor of church history at Oak Hill College, London. He is author of The Proclamations of Tudor Kings (Cambridge, 1976).