16 October 1555 – The Martyrdom of Bishops Latimer and Ridley

cross in Broad Street OxfordOn this day in history, 16th October 1555, during the reign of Mary I, Hugh Latimer, Bishop of Worcester, and Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London, were burnt at the stake for heresy in Oxford.

Ridley and Latimer, along with Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, who was burnt at the stake on 21st March 1556, are known as the Oxford Martyrs. Their lives and deaths are commemorated in Oxford by Martyrs’ Memorial, a stone monument just outside Balliol College, and a cross of stones set into the road in Broad Street which marks the site of their burnings.

Click here to read more about Bishops Latimer and Ridley, and martyrologist John Foxe’s account of their deaths.

Also on this day in history, on 16th October 1532, while Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII were lodged in Calais, the Duke of Norfolk, Earl of Derby and a group of gentleman met with “the great mayster of Fraunce” and his men at the English Pale, six miles outside of Calais. This meeting was to plan where Henry VIII would meet Francis I. After the meeting, the two groups rode back to Calais, where they dined with Henry VIII. The purpose of the trip to Calais was for Henry and Anne to gain Francis I’s public recognition and approval of their relationship. Henry wanted Francis to then meet with the Pope and push the case for the annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

Images: © Copyright Bill Nicholls and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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2 thoughts on “16 October 1555 – The Martyrdom of Bishops Latimer and Ridley”
  1. “ ‘Be of good cheer, Ridley; and play the man. We shall this day, by God’s grace, light up such a candle in England, as, I trust, will never be put out.’”- Hugh Latimer.

    Embracing the Flames 10/16/1555

    Just outside Balliol, upon Magdalene street,
    There’s a cross made of stone you can see at your feet.
    It’s where Ridley and Latimer were burnt at the stake
    For that which they held dear; beliefs they would not forsake.
    They were Bishops of London and Worcester in life;
    now bound by cruel chains to keep them upright.
    The guards piled on ******s, the fuel for the flames
    while Ridley and Latimer called on the Lord’s name.
    Martyrs or heretics? I’ll let others decide.
    But the crowd was impressed by how bravely they died.
    Latimer reached out embracing the flames
    and was soon called to glory with an end to his pain.
    For Ridley a death that was slow and obscene;.
    On his side the wood that they used was still green.
    His feet and legs roasted while he suffered in pain
    held fast to the stake by the cruel iron chain.
    His temporal agony raged on and on
    Til the flames reached his face and poor Ridley was gone.

    Queen Mary reigned briefly, yet ere she was done,
    Many souls suffered death in fire and blood.
    England, once Catholic, embraced a new faith.
    The Romish persuasion at last was replaced.
    Their candle burned brightly, a glorious flame,
    and continued to shine as Elizabeth reigned.

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