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The Correspondence commences in 1531, and closes in 1556, a short time only before the Archbishop's martyrdom. It is most copious during the years which elapsed between his elevation to the see of Canterbury in Feb. 1533-1540. 1533, and the death of Crumwell in July 1540. And the greater part of what belongs to this period, was addressed to that powerful minister. Much of it will be found to relate to the most interesting occurrences of the day but much also is on very trifling subjects, and perhaps may be deemed scarcely worthy of publication. But it is hazardous to condemn as unimportant, any genuine relics of a man who bore so leading a part at such an eventful crisis. Dates may be determined, local history illustrated, the temper of the times discovered, and slight shades of character distinguished, by what may appear, at first sight and without reference to other circumstances, altogether undeserving of attention. The very trifles for instance, on which Cranmer thought it necessary to consult the King's Vicar General, prove the extensive power of that favourite, and the perfect subjection of the ecclesiastical authorities to the newly acknowledged supremacy of the Crown. Again, the numerous solicitations of the Archbishop in behalf of his friends and dependents, display in a strong light that benevolence of heart, which few even of his bitterest enemies have ventured to deny. And in another case, a very brief, and apparently immaterial remark, is of essential service, when taken in connexion with its date, towards overthrowing the credit of an improbable tale, that has been too hastily admitted by several protestant writers h. For these reasons it has been thought best to err on the side of
g The numerous Letters of this period, which have come down to us, are preserved chiefly, either in a book of copies in the Harleian Collection, (No. 6148.) or among Crumwell's papers in the Chapter House at Westminster.
h See Letter ccxxx.
tediousness, rather than suppression, and to withhold nothing.
The objection to the publication of unimportant matter does not apply with equal force to the other periods of Cranmer's life; his correspondence being in general more scanty, but on weightier topics. Three Letters only have been preserved of an earlier date than his appointment to the Primacy but one of these gives almost the only particulars known respecting a book presented to Hen. VIII. by Reg. Pole on the validity of Queen Catharine's marriage; and the others, being Cranmer's dispatches to the King, during his embassy to the Emperor Charles V, are curious memorials of his diplomatic transactions. There are also but 1540-1547. few of his Letters extant from the death of Crumwell in 1540, to that of Henry VIII. in 1547; but these few contain a very remarkable narrative of an interview with Queen Catharine Howard after the discovery of her incontinence, an account of a singular overture for a reconciliation on the part of Anne of Cleves, and some authentic details of the designs entertained during the latter years of Henry's reign, for the reformation of the public worship, and the more complete abolition of superstitious practices i. Nor are the remains of his correspondence under Edw. VI. much more 1547-1553copious: yet they furnish, besides several other interesting records, some valuable fragments of his negotiations with foreign Protestants for forming a general union of the Reformed Churchesk. And lastly, his Letters after the acces- 1553-1556. sion of Mary, though very limited in number, not only derive a peculiar interest from his altered circumstances, but also give us an insight into the principles, by which he had been guided as Primate during the preceding reigns. The
i See Letters CCLXI. CCLXII. CCLXIV. CCLXVI.
k Most of the Letters on this subject are now printed for the first time from manuscripts at Zurich. See Letters CCLXXIII. CCLXXVI.
long Letter addressed to the Queen in Sept. 1555, is in fact a formal vindication of the English Church, for throwing off the papal dominion, and for removing the corruptions, doctrinal and practical, by which it had been attended. However trivial therefore some parts of this correspondence may appear, it is yet hoped, that when viewed as a whole, it will be found to supply a rich fund of curious and authentic information on a most important period of our history.
The first volume being occupied by Cranmer's Correneous Re- spondence, the subsequent ones are devoted to the remainder of his writings. These also, with a few exceptions, have been arranged chronologically. They are very miscellaneous in their character, and some of them probably will seem of too inconsiderable value to deserve a place in the Collection. But, as has been already observed, it is scarcely prudent to reject any thing that fell from the chief director of the English Reformation. Papers, intrinsically of little moment, may derive importance from the events with which they are connected, or from the light which they may throw on the Confession of Faith and the Form of Prayer still in use. Such fragments then may surely be published with advantage: but they often will not explain themselves. Sometimes, indeed, they will be hardly intelligible, without a knowledge of the circumstances in which they originated. It may therefore be useful, without entering on the Archbishop's life in general, to prefix some account of his literary labours.
Queen Catharine's divorce.
Cranmer is recorded to have first employed his pen on the memorable question respecting the validity of King Henry VIII.'s marriage with Catharine of Arragon m. Ac
1 Letter CCXCIX.
Although this appears to have been the first occasion on which Cranmer came forward as a writer, he had long enjoyed at Cambridge a high reputation for ability and learning; and he had probably before
cording to the well-known narrative of Foxe, he was the person at whose suggestion the King appealed to the Universities, when indignant at the unexpected adjournment of 1529. the trial by Cardinal Campegio, and the subsequent removal of the cause to Rome n. But this statement has with reason been disputed: there can be no doubt however of his having expressed an opinion on the case at a very early stage of the proceedings, and of his having afterwards been specially commissioned by Henry P to explain his views in writing. This was the origin of his Book on the Divorce. The points which it was his chief object to establish in it were, that marriage with a brother's widow was contrary to
this time formed some of those extensive Collections of authorities on theological subjects, which are described by Strype and Burnet, and of which several are still preserved. See Strype, Cranmer, p. 395–399.
n The following is Foxe's account of Cranmer's answer to the questions of Gardyner and Fox. "Dr. Cranmer answered, that he could 66 say little to the matter, for that he had not studied nor looked for it. "Notwithstanding he said to them, that in his opinion they made more "ado in prosecuting the law ecclesiastical than needed. 'It were "better, as I suppose,' quoth Doctor Cranmer, that the question, "whether a man may marry a brother's wife or no, were decided and "discussed by the divines, and by the authority of the word of God, "whereby the conscience of the Prince might be better satisfied and “quieted, than thus from year to year, by frustratory delays, to prolong “the time, leaving the very truth of the matter unbolted out by the "word of God. There is but one truth in it, which the Scripture will 66 soon declare, make open, and manifest, being by learned men well “handled, (and that may be as well done in England in the Universi"ties here, as at Rome, or elsewhere in any foreign nation,) the autho"rity whereof will compel any judge soon to come to a definitive sen"tence: and therefore, as I take it, you might this way have made an "end of the matter long since." Foxe, Acts und Monuments, vol. iii. p. 634. Burnet, Reformat. vol. i. p. 155. The editions referred to, here and elsewhere, unless there is a notice to the contrary, are that of Foxe printed at London, 1641, and that of Burnet printed at Oxford, 1829.
• Fiddes, Life of Wolsey, p. 444; Collier, Eccles. Hist. vol. ii. p. 52 ; Wordsworth, Eccles. Biogr. vol. iii. p. 437.
P Burnet, Reformat. vol. i. p. 171.
the law of God, and was consequently incapable of being legalized by a papal dispensation. He maintained farther, that if these propositions were controverted, their truth ought to be determined, not by the Pope, who was a party interested, but by the judgment of Universities and learned men. The work is said to have been executed with ability, and seems at the time to have excited much attention. It was not only laid before the two English Universities, and the House of Commons 9, but was presented by its author at a formal embassy to the Pope, with a profession of his readiness to defend it in open disputation against all impugners". Yet it appears, notwithstanding the publicity thus acquired, to be now losts: and it happens singularly enough, that his only extant composition on the
9 Strype, Cranmer, pp. 7. 13; Todd, Life of Cranmer, vol. i. p. 25; Lord Herbert, Life of Hen. VIII. p. 352.
r Foxe, Acts and Monuments, vol. iii. p. 636.
s Its loss may perhaps have been occasioned by the incorporation of its arguments into a Summary of the reasons for the divorce, which was published shortly afterwards by the King's printer, Berthelet, with the judgments of the Universities prefixed. The contents of this Summary are described by Burnet, Reformat. vol. i. p. 195. See also Strype, Memorials, vol. i. p. 141; Ames, Typogr. Antiq. ed. Dibdin, art.
It is scarcely necessary to qualify this assertion by the mention of Cranmer's final Sentence of Divorce, printed in Burnet; (Reformat. vol. i. App. b. ii. no. 47.) this being merely an official instrument. It is material however to notice the contradictory statement of Strype, that "there is a short account of Archbishop Cranmer's judgment of the "unlawfulness of this marriage, digested under twelve articles, with "his own name written by himself on the top of the paper; which "Bishop Burnet transcribed from a Cotton manuscript." Strype, Cranmer, p. 29. This, it must be admitted, is wholly irreconcileable with what has been said above. But Strype is neither accurate in his description of the manuscript, nor justified in attributing it to Cranmer. The volume referred to, contains not only the twelve articles of which he speaks, but also a formal demonstration of each. And although it is true that it bears the Archbishop's name in his own handwriting, yet this was obviously inserted for no other reason than because the book belonged to him. There are no grounds whatever for concluding,