Quarry the granite rock with razors, or moor the vessel with a thread of silk; then may you hope with such keen and delicate instruments as human knowledge and human reason to contend against those giants, the passion and the pride of man. — John Cardinal Newman

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

The Death of Cranmer

The execution of Lady Jane Grey, and of those who were suspected of having sided with her, did not incline the people to love either Mary or Philip. The English disliked Philip because his manners were very bad, because he was so rude as to treat his wife with contempt, and because he urged her to persecute the reformers and make every one practise the Catholic religion.

The pope had consented to forgive the English, at Mary's entreaty, and had sent his legate, Cardinal Pole, to England. This man was very good and gentle, and he advised Mary and Philip not to ill-treat the Protestants; but they would not listen to him.

In those days it was still the custom for those in power to persecute all who held opinions different from their own. When the Protestants were in power they had persecuted all who did not believe as they did. So now the Catholics began to persecute the Protestants. All who upheld the Protestant religion were very unkindly treated, and about three hundred were burned at the stake as heretics.

Among these were two good old preachers, Latimer and Ridley. They were hated by Mary's principal adviser, Gardiner, who was so anxious to have them die that he said, on the day of their execution, that he would not dine until he knew they were burned. As the two friends walked together to the place of torture, encouraging one another, Latimer said: "Be of good cheer, Brother Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."

Latimer and Ridley were fastened to the stake, and some of their friends charitably tied packages of gunpowder around their waists, so that their tortures should not be too prolonged. But in spite of these precautions, the fire burned so slowly that the poor men suffered untold agonies. The cruel Gardiner was forced to delay his dinner four hours. But it is said he could not eat it then, for he was suddenly stricken by an illness from which be died.

Another who suffered death was the aged Cranmer, whom Mary hated, partly because it was he who had divorced her mother and had witnessed Edward's will. He was accused of high treason and of heresy, and on the latter charge was sentenced to be burned alive. Cranmer was, on the whole, a good man, but he shrank from bodily suffering. So, when told he would be forgiven if he would sign a paper recognizing the pope and giving up the Protestant religion, he had not the courage to refuse.

But Mary had no real intention of letting him go unpunished; and when Cranmer learned this, he became defiant and refused to read this paper at the stake. The queen's officers vainly tried to prevent his speaking to the assembled people; he cried aloud that he regretted his momentary weakness, and said that, as his right hand had offended by signing a lie, it should be burned first.

Saying these words, Cranmer thrust his hand into the fire, and firmly held it there until it was burned off. His courageous behaviour in the midst of awful torture greatly impressed the people. In fact, all these cruel punishments, which earned for the queen among her enemies the harsh title of "Bloody Mary," had, as the pope's wise legate had foreseen, an effect just contrary to that which she had hoped. Yet Mary thought she was doing right, for Philip urged her to be even more severe. She was always a very unhappy woman, for few people ever loved her. Her husband soon left her and went over to Flanders, where he did not even take the trouble to read the long letters she sent him. He was making war there, and needed a great deal of money; so Mary, hoping to win his affections, sent him all she could.

To supply him with funds, she loaded her people with taxes, and by his order she declared war against France. Parliament would not at first consent to this war; but Mary, it is said, got down on her knees to beseech the members to do as her husband wished. Then a force of ten thousand men was sent over to Philip, who won a victory at St. Quentin.

This success was soon offset by a great loss. The French, beaten at St. Quentin, but knowing that Calais was poorly defended, surprised two of the forts that protected it, and forced the city to surrender after a week's siege. It was thus that Calais, which had been taken by Edward III. after a ten months' siege, and had been in the hands of the English about two hundred years, became once more, in 1558, the property of the French.

The news reached England on New Year's day, and filled the country with dismay. Mary bewailed the loss of "the brightest jewel in her crown," and said that "Calais" would be found graven upon her heart after she was dead.

This loss, added to her other sorrows, so weakened her health that she died the same year. Few regretted her, and as she left no children, the crown passed on to her Elizabeth, the only living child of Henry VIII.


Front Matter

Early Times
The Druids
The Britons
Caesar in Britain
Queen Boadicea
The Great Walls
The Great Irish Saint
The Anglo-Saxons
Brave King Arthur
The Laws of the Saxons
The Story of St Augustine
Three Great Men
The Danish Pirates
King Alfred and the Cakes
Alfred conquers the Danes
A King's Narrow Escape
The King and the Outlaw
The Monasteries
An Unlucky Couple
St Dunstan
King Canute and the Waves
A Saxon Nobleman
Lady Godiva's Ride
The Battle of Hastings
The Conquest
Lords and Vassals
Death of William
The Brothers' Quarrels
Arms and Armour
The "White Ship"
Matilda's Narrow Escapes
Story of Fair Rosamond
Thomas a Becket
Murder of Thomas a Becket
Richard's Adventures
Richard and the Saracens
The Faithful Minstrel
Death of Richard
The Murder of Arthur
The Great Charter
The Rule of Henry III
A Race
Persecution of the Jews
The Conquest of Wales
A Quarrel with France
The Coronation Stone
The Insolent Favourite
Bruce and the Spider
Death of Edward II
The Murderers punished
The Battle of Crecy
The Siege of Calais
The Age of Chivalry
The Battle of Poitiers
The Peasants' Revolt
Richard's Presence of Mind
A Tiny Queen
Henry's Troubles
Madcap Harry
A Glorious Reign
The Maid of Orleans
The War of the Roses
The Queen and the Brigand
The Triumph of the Yorks
The Princes in the Tower
Richard's Punishment
Two Pretenders
A Grasping King
Field of the Cloth of Gold
The New Opinions
Death of Wolsey
Henry's Wives
The King and the Painter
A Boy King
Lady Jane Grey
The Death of Cranmer
A Clever Queen
Elizabeth's Lovers
Mary, Queen of Scots
Captivity of Mary Stuart
Wreck of the Spanish Armada
The Elizabethan Age
Death of Elizabeth
A Scotch King
The Gunpowder Plot
Sir Walter Raleigh
King and Parliament
Cavaliers and Roundheads
The Royal Oak
The Commonwealth
The Restoration
Plague and Fire
The Merry Monarch
James driven out of England
A Terrible Massacre
William's Wars
The Duke of Marlborough
The Taking of Gibraltar
The South Sea Bubble
Bonny Prince Charlie
Black Hole of Calcutta
Loss of the Colonies
The Battle of the Nile
Nelson's Last Signal
The Battle of Waterloo
First Gentleman of Europe
Childhood of Queen Victoria
The Queen's Marriage
Wars in Victoria's Reign
The Jubilee