Beati and Heretics
Defenders of Queen Katherine
Dr Thomas Abel was chaplain to Queen Katherine of Aragon and her tutor in languages and music. Dr Richard Fetherston, the Archdeacon of Brecon, was Latin tutor to Katherine's daughter, Princess Mary, later to be Queen. Dr Edward Powell, a Welshman, was a theologian who had written a book against Martin Luther, he was a fellow of Oriel college, Oxford, headmaster of Eton College, a prebendary of Salisbury and Vicar of St Mary Radcliffe, Bristol. He was one of the four canon lawyers who were appointed as counsel on the Queen's behalf. These three priests were active supporters of the validity of the Queen's marriage. Because of their opposition to Henry VIII's policies on religion the three divines were imprisoned in the Tower of London. After some years of imprisonment, they were condemned by Bill of Attainder in Parliament. They were martyred at Smithfield on 30th July 1540. At the same time, three Protestants, were burned as heretics. A Frenchman who was present remarked: "those who are for the Pope are hanged, and those who are against him are burned". The priest were subsequently beatified.
Throughout Edwards VI's reign, Cranmer earnestly supported the Reformation. Under his aegis the first Book of Common Prayer was issued. On the 6th July 1553, as Edward was dying, the Duke of Northumberland obtained the King's signature on a document transmitting the Throne to Northumberland's daughter in law, Lady Jane Grey, a descendant of Henry VII. This document was countersigned by Cranmer and Ridley, the Bishop of London. Although Lady Jane was proclaimed Queen by Nothumberland, the Country rallied to Mary, the lawful Queen. Cranmer was at once ordered to appear before the council, and within a month was committed to the Tower of London. In November 1553, he was pronounced guilty of the crime of High Treason, but was pardoned. Ridley incarcerated in the Tower. In 1555, Parliament re-enacted the 1401 statute for the burning of heretics. Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer, together with others, 273 in total, suffered under his statute. Queen Mary declared herself not in favour of "punishing ignorant people who had been mislead", but punishment was exacted none-the-less. It was decided to charge Cranmer with heresy. In 1954, he was sent to Oxford with Latimer and Ridley. He was imprisoned for two years. Two succesive commissions condemned him as a heretic. After the deaths of Latimer and Ridley, he was degraded and deprived. He was burnt at Oxford, opposite Balliol College.
Reginald Pole was related to Henry VIII who had attempted to obtain his support for his divorce from Katherine of Aragon, but pole opposed it. He became a cardinal and took an active part in the organisation of the pilgrimage of Grace and the rising of 1541.
In his recent book The Voices of Morebath Dr Eamon Duffy follows the life of Christopher Trychay. Like Aleyn, he celebrated Mass according to the Sarum Use, but followed King Henry VIII into schism. Under Edward VI he apostatised, but returned to the Church and the Mass under Mary Tudor. He apostatised again under Mary's sister, Elizabeth I, going back to the Protestant Communion Service: (interestingly, when I spellchecked this article, the computer rejected Trychay and suggested instead "treachery''). Many priests seem to have had no difficulty about preaching one thing one day and its opposite the next; what you might call a turn-cassock.