Richard Croke

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Richard Croke (or Crocus) (ca. 1489–1558) was an English classical scholar, and a royal tutor and agent.

He was educated at Eton College.[1] He took his BA at King's College, Cambridge in 1510,[2] and proceeded to travel.[3] He studied Greek with William Grocyn in London and Oxford, and then with Erasmus[4] and Aleander in Paris in 1511. In 1514 he was called to the University of Leipzig, where he remained for some years. Among his pupils were Joachim Camerarius,[5] Hieronymus Dungersheim,[6] and Caspar Creuziger. He was replaced by Petrus Mosellanus.[7] As a young man he was identified as a follower of Erasmus, who at this period was constructing his editio princeps of the New Testament in Greek (Basle, 1516).[8]

He was recalled by John Fisher in 1519[9] to teach Greek at Cambridge;[10] it had been in abeyance since Erasmus's time (1511–13), and he was Cambridge's second lecturer in Greek.[11] He became Public Orator at Cambridge in 1522,[12] Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge in 1523 and Doctor of Divinity in 1524.[13] He quarrelled with Fisher over college matters in the later 1520s.[14]

In 1529 and 1530 he acted for Henry VIII in Italy, in the matter of the king's intended divorce from Catherine of Aragon; earlier he had tutored Henry in Greek.[15] While seeking canon lawyers to support Henry's side of the argument,[16] he also contacted humanists (such as Girolamo Ghinucci[17]) and sought manuscripts.

On his return to England, he in 1531 became deputy vice-chancellor of Cambridge, and vicar of Long Buckby, Nottinghamshire.[13] A year later he moved to the University of Oxford.

He was a witness at the 1555 trial of Thomas Cranmer.


  • Ausonius (1515)
  • Orationes Richardi Croci duos (1520)


  • J. Przychocki, Richard Croke's search for patristic mss in connexion with the divorce of Catherine, Theol. Studies. 1911; os-XIII: 285–295
  • J. T. Sheppard (1919), Richard Croke, a sixteenth century don: being the Croke Lecture for the May Term, 1919
  • Jonathan M. Woolfson (2000), A "remote and ineffectual Don"? Richard Croke in the Biblioteca Marciana. Bulletin of the Society for Renaissance Studies, 17:2, 1–11


  1. ^ Concise Dictionary of National Biography.
  2. ^ "Croke, Richard (CRK506R)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ [1]: Richard Croke, of King's College, Cambridge, who took his degree in the year 1509–10, studied Greek at Oxford with William Grocyn; went thence to Paris; and subsequently taught Greek at Cologne, Louvain, Leipzig, and Dresden. [2] has him at Basle. (In French, as Richard Crocus.)
  4. ^ [3]: Erasmus left his Moria behind in Paris for Richard Croke to see through the press
  5. ^ CNDB, [4].
  6. ^ M. A. Screech, Erasmus: Ecstasy and The Praise of Folly (1980), p.25, who had studied with Croke in Dresden.
  7. ^ Croke the Grecian and Mosellanus the Latinist were in Leipzig in contact also with Georg Agricola[5], Valentin Friedland (Elke Axmacher (1997). "Trozendorf, Valentin". In Bautz, Traugott (ed.). Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). 12. Herzberg: Bautz. cols. 618–623. ISBN 3-88309-068-9.).
  8. ^ [6]: At that time Erasmus of Rotterdam also lived in Basel and was in touch with this circle. Oecolampadius, the reformer of Basel, and Hans Denck had contact with the circle around Erasmus as early as 1515. To this circle also belonged a close friend of the young patrician Conrad Grebel: Heinrich Loriti from Ennenda in Glarus, who had connections with other people in Basel as well. Apart from him, those especially worthy of mention are Michael Bentinus (a friend of Hans Denck's), Richard Crocus, Wolfgang Capito, and Johann Oecolampadius.
  9. ^ CNDB says 1517, when he took his M. A. from Cambridge. [7] agrees. PDF says 1518.
  10. ^ [8]: At Cambridge, Fisher, the Chancellor, recalled his protege Richard Croke from Leipzig in 1519 to carry on the work of Erasmus, who had taught Greek in the University between 1511 and 1513.
  11. ^ [9]: In 1519 Richard Croke was named Greek reader in Cambridge. He had been a pupil of Erasmus and of Grocyn, and, by the liberality of Archbishop Warham, had studied and taught for twelve years in the universities of Paris, Louvain, and Leipzig, thus meeting the Renaissance revival half-way to Italy. His Latin inaugural oration is one of the most curious documents we possess in illustration of English classical study during its first days. It is a splendid, if rhetorical, eulogy of Greek literature and of Greek intellect.
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b CNDB.
  14. ^ Mentioned in Catholic Cambridge (1983) by M.N.L. Couve de Murville and Philip Jenkins.
  15. ^ Shortly, from 1519.[10]. Croke later tutored the illegitimate Duke of Richmond and Somerset, his son.[11].
  16. ^ Bribes were involved, but not successful: Original Letter of Dr Richard Croke to K Henry VIII written at Venice, A.D. 1529. or 1530. the 23 of Octobre, concerning the prevarication of certain Friers of the University of Padua, who had taken his Majesties money, for their Subscription, as disallowing his marriage with Q. Catherine; and yet now are altogether for it.PDF
  17. ^ Details [12].