Saturday, April 16, 2011

Question from Guy - Burning of Cranmer's house in 1544

Foxe wrote about Cranmer's house being burnt down in 1544, and how his brother-in-law died in this.

Was it thought to be deliberate?


Foose said...

Although I guess you could call it "his house," it was the Palace of Canterbury that burned in 1543, which makes it less personal but still quite a blow. Cranmer had been planning a grand entertaiment for the Viceroy of Sicily and Naples, and apparently many of his papers and property were lost in the conflagration, along with his brother-in-law. His secret wife, as malicious rumor subsequently had it, did not have to be carried out concealed in a box; Diarmaid MacCulloch thinks she was stashed away at Cranmer's other palace at Ford.

I think if there had been any evidence or allegation at the time that Cranmer's enemies - i.e., the conservative religious party at court - were behind it, Foxe would have reported it with relish. I don't think conservatives like Gardiner would have favored arson in regard to property, although arson in regard to actual heretics was another matter (and even then, only after a legally constituted church court). Moreover, the Palace of Canterbury was a church property, part of England's Catholic patrimony, and I would expect conservatives and "Papists" to make every effort to preserve that patrimony, however much they disliked the Canterbury incumbent.

Jasper Ridley's biography calls the fire "accidental" and MacCulloch doesn't suggest anything sinister in his study of Cranmer. He does note, as Foxe's narrative emphasizes, that this fire - which occurred at a time when Cranmer was under attack by court conservatives - is a remarkable foreshadowing of the archbishop's ultimate fate under Mary.

goetzkluge said...

There seems to be a lot of "burning" associated with Thomas Cranmer. And he almost "forgot" his Forty-Two articles. Here a few lines in Lewis Carroll's and Henry Holiday's The Hunting of the Snark (1876) come to my mind:

021    There was one who was famed for the number of things
022        He forgot when he entered the ship:
023    His umbrella, his watch, all his jewels and rings,
024        And the clothes he had bought for the trip.

025    He had forty-two boxes, all carefully packed,
026        With his name painted clearly on each:
027    But, since he omitted to mention the fact,
028        They were all left behind on the beach.

029    The loss of his clothes hardly mattered, because
030        He had seven coats on when he came,
031    With three pairs of boots--but the worst of it was,
032        He had wholly forgotten his name.

033    He would answer to "Hi!" or to any loud cry,
034        Such as "Fry me!" or "Fritter my wig!"
035    To "What-you-may-call-um!" or "What-was-his-name!"
036        But especially "Thing-um-a-jig!"

037    While, for those who preferred a more forcible word,
038        He had different names from these:
039    His intimate friends called him "Candle-ends,"
040        And his enemies "Toasted-cheese."

041    "His form is ungainly--his intellect small--"
042        (So the Bellman would often remark)
043    "But his courage is perfect! And that, after all,
044        Is the thing that one needs with a Snark."