On this day in history, 21st March 1556, Thomas Cranmer, former Archbishop of Canterbury, was burned at the stake in Oxford after being found guilty of heresy in the reign of Mary I. He is one of three Protestant bishops who were executed in Mary I’s reign and who have become known as the Oxford Martyrs: Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer.
As the flames leapt up around him at the stake, Cranmer stretched out his right hand, the hand he had used to sign his recantations, and “held it unshrinkingly in the fire till it was burnt to a cinder, even before his body was injured, frequently exclaiming, “This unworthy right hand!””
Click here to read more about Thomas Cranmer’s execution and what led to it, and you can read more about his life in Beth von Staats’s book Thomas Cranmer in a Nutshell and Diarmaid MacCulloch’s biography Thomas Cranmer: A Life.
I will remember Archbishop Thomas Cranmer today. He’s a Tudor character that means a lot to me and you can read why in my article Me and Thomas Cranmer.
Image: The Cross on Broad Street Oxford marking the place where Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were burned at the stake. © Copyright Bill Nicholls and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. Geograph.org.uk.