Monday, 21 March 2016

Burned at the Stake: The Execution of Thomas Cranmer

Burned at the Stake: The Execution of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury

On the 21st of March in 1556, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was burned at the stake, in Oxford.
Thomas Cranmer was the Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of King Henry VIII, Edward VI, and please not ... Mary-Mother-Of-God-I'm-Going-To-Die.
It was Thomas Cranmer who made it possible, and actually constructed the case, for the annulment of the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. He also set up and promoted the newly formed Protestant religion and Church of England with the King as the head of the church, instead of the Pope.
This was fine under the Protestant King Henry VIII, and Henry's son, Edward VI. However, when Mary I, a Roman Catholic, became Queen, he was basically screwed.
Mary was also the daughter of Catherine of Aragon, so that did Thomas Cranmer no favours. And she held a grudge.
Within seconds of Mary I becoming Queen of England, Thomas Cranmer was arrested and put on trial for treason and heresy.
During his imprisonment, which lasted for two years, Thomas Cranmer saw how the wind was blowing and recanted his Protestant faith and acknowledged the Roman Catholic Church as the one true church.
This did nothing to stop his eventual damnation, though.
"Please, I'm a Catholic now, don't kill me."
"Nope, don't care. You die, Cranmer-Scum-Bag."
"But I am back with my true heart in the Catholic faith. That must count for something?"
The date for Thomas Cranmer's execution kept getting postponed. And Cranmer kept pleading and recanting on his previous beliefs. He did an awful lot of recanting. That dude didn't want to be executed, and would say anything to prevent the outcome.
It didn't work.
The date of his execution was set. On the 21st of March, 1556, Thomas Cranmer was led out of his cell and into the courtyard.
He was told he could make one more recantation. This time he'd have to do it in pubic at a service at University Church. And, if you're good, you never know, we might change our minds. But, we won't. Die you Protestant scum.
Cranmer wrote and submitted his speech, which needed to be approved. He stood at the pulpit and began with a prayer. It was a good start, if a little bland.
Then came the pledges to obey the King and Queen, and how great and awesome they were. "Oh, that Mary, gotta love that Queen. She so nice. She so great."
Yeah, there was no way his execution would be cancelled. That guy gonna burn.
Which Cranmer realised.
He renounced all his recantations, including the one where he said he liked One Direction. He told the shocked crowd that he recanted each and every recantation, especially those he had written with his own hand. He then told them his hand would be punished, by being burned first.
"And as for the Pope. I refuse him, as Christ's enemy, and Antichrist with all his false doctrine."
What he was about to say next, no one will know. He was quickly pulled from the pulpit and slapped around the face with a wet puppy.
Thomas Cranmer was strapped to an inflatable dolphin, and tied to the stake. He fulfilled his promise - he placed his right hand into the heart of the fire and said, "That unworthy hand."
His last words were, "Holy cow, this is friggin hot."
And then he added, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit ... I see the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God."
As the flames drew around him, he fulfilled his promise by placing his right hand into the heart of the fire while saying "that unworthy hand" and his dying words were, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit... I see the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God."

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