Thursday, March 03, 2011

Question from Lauren - Prebendaries Plot

I'm interested in the Prebendaries Plot. Can anyone tell me where I can get more info on it (the Wikipedia article isn't very detailed?) And was this the only serious plot against Cranmer before Mary's reign?

1 comment:

Foose said...

Diarmaid McCulloch's monumental book, Thomas Cranmer: A Life, has a lengthy discussion of the plot. The original source is Cranmer's secretary Ralph Morice, who recounted the plot in his Narratives of the Reformation; the story was presented subsequently in Foxe's Book of Martyrs and in Shakespeare's play Henry VIII.

The Prebendaries Plot took place in 1543, and had two phases - in the first, conservative prebendaries of Oxford were primed as stalking horses to lay charges against Cranmer for unorthodoxy (the king jovially called him "the greatest heretic in Kent"); in the second, the conservatives on the Privy Council directly attacked the Archbishop. In both phases, Cranmer's enemies were frustrated by the king - who initially put Cranmer in judgment over the accusers and their charges, and then gave him a ring to display to the Council, which was immediately recognized as a signal to desist.

David Loades, in his biography of Henry VIII, is somewhat dubious about the veracity of the source: "Henry appears to have enjoyed playing such games with his Council, but the source for the stories is Ralph Morice, who at the time was Cranmer's secretary, so they are not free from the same suspicion that attends the tale of Catherine [Parr] and her submission" - this last refers to the famous incident where Gardiner came to arrest the queen, having successfully poisoned the king's mind against her, only to have Henry erupt into fury against him. Loades says there is no contemporary evidence for this tale, and he suggests the same about the Prebendaries Plot. However, McCulloch seems to find it plausible ("there is no good reason to doubt the veracity of these accounts," referring to Morice).