On this day in 1556, former Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer was burnt at the stake for heresy.
Cranmer had been a leading figure in the English Reformation and during his time as Archbishop, had been responsible for establishing the first doctrinal and liturgical structures of the reformed Church of England. Under Henry VIII's rule, Cranmer did not make many radical changes in the Church, due to power struggles between religious conservatives and reformers. However, when Edward VI came to the throne, Cranmer was able to promote major reforms.
After the accession of the Roman Catholic Mary I, Cranmer was put on trial for treason and heresy. He was imprisoned for over two years and under pressure from Church authorities, he made several recantations and apparently reconciled himself with the Roman Catholic Church. However, on the day of his execution, he withdrew his recantations, and instead spoke "...and as for the pope, I refuse him, as Christ's enemy, and Antichrist with all his false doctrine." Cranmer was pulled from the pulpit and taken straight to the place of burning in Oxford where he would die a heretic to Roman Catholics and a martyr for the principles of the English Reformation.
Cranmer's death was immortalised in Foxe's Book of Martyrs and his legacy lives on within the Church of England through the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles, an Anglican statement of faith derived from his work.
This scene was built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on British history. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
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