Talk:Thomas Cranmer

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NPOV — a Martyr and a Traitor?[edit]

Several points in this article are written from an Anglican POV. Calling Cranmenr a martyr without qualification is one such point. Saying that historians use the word martyred is disingenuous. Historians also use the word executed. Catholic sources hold that he was properly sentenced to death for treason, should we then argue that he died a martyr and a traitor?

Also, his trial and conviction for treason predated his conviction and execution for heresy by two and a half years. The trials were entirely separate events, and the delay of execution for treason so that he might be tried for heresy is quite noteworthy. It is so misleading as to be patently false to say that he was tried for treason and heresey when Mary came to the throne. Had the papacy not insisted on the heresy trial he would have been executed for treason two years earlier.

I remind ReHistBuff that in cases of questionable POV we make judgments objective by referring to who holds them. "Jesus, the messiah" beocmes "Jesus, the Christian messiah" and so forth. Cranmer is just as much a traitor to some as he is a martyr to others. The word martyr has not been removed but objectively qualified. Wrotesolid (talk) 16:57, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

The dictionary definition of martyr, describes someone who undergoes the penalty of death for persistence in the Christian faith and also someone who undergoes death for any great cause. Cranmer is a martyr by the dictionary definition, but he is also described as a heretic and a traitor by the legal authorities of the time. Cranmer was martyred because he died for his faith. Incidentally, I notice that Thomas More is frequently described as a martyr in his Wikipedia article, though legally he was a traitor and was never charged with heresy so can hardly be said to had been condemned for his faith. He died because he was a traitor not because he was a Catholic. I hope that you will soon go over to that article to correct that Roman Catholic POV as assiduously as you are bent on correcting this Anglican one. Dabbler (talk) 19:19, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
I am an atheist, and, what is relevant here, a believer in NPOV. One way to pursue NPOV is to specify who holds a belief rather than to state the belief as if it is an objective fact or universally held.
I came to this article recently after watching Elizabeth R with Glenda Jackson. Note that I added mention of the papacy's responsibility to the article summary. I have no problem at all with the word martyr being used so long as what he was a martyr for is specified, which is Anglicanism. Cranmer wasn't a martyr for religious freedom. He wasn't a martyr for science, or for republicanism, or for democracy. He was a martyr for his version of the true church, which was the Anglican one.
If, Dabbler, you want my comment on a dispute on the Saint Thomas More page, let me know. But except as a fictional character I am no fan of his. Wrotesolid (talk) 21:40, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
I am just curious as to why you seem to be very involved creating a dispute about one or two words here but don't seem to care that the same word is used more frequently with less justification in another article, as an atheist surely you should go after the bigger target too? Or are your principles restricted to removing "POV" from Anglican articles? In good NPOV faith, even as an atheist, shouldn't you go and see what you can do over there too? Dabbler (talk) 22:13, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Please let us nip this in the bud, Dabbler. I am not about to get into a discussion of my motives. Your imputation of an anti-Anglican bias is groundless and, with your comment "really", borderline uncivil. I refer you to WP:AGF. There is also no requirement that one fix any and all other articles before fixing this one. There's a WP catch phrase for that policy too, although it slips my tongue. My actions here are very simple. I am not deleting the word martyr from the article, it would be absurd, Cranmer is an Anglican martyr. What I am doing is following the explicit policy WP:ATTRIBUTEPOV which says that on converts POV statements to acceptable ones by attribution and specification. There is no such thing as simply being a martyr, one is always a martyr to a specific cause, and Cranmer's specific cause was not religious freedom nor the right to peaceful political dissent but for the true Church of England.


As this article stands with the current specifications that he was an Anglican martyr I have no complaints, in case you fear some further agenda.

As for now, please refrain from any further personal remarks. Wrotesolid (talk) 23:34, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

There is nothing disingenuous about using words as written in the sources. The sources are from historians not "Protestant" or "Catholic" sources. The details of the ordering and time gap of the trials are in the text and does not need to be in the lead. It is only your opinion that he would have been executed after a treason trial. It is also not clear that it was the papacy that insisted on a heresy trial. Simply, there were two trials and they were done during the beginning of Mary's reign. The reasons for the time gap are mostly speculation. --RelHistBuff (talk) 14:14, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Concerning the qualification of "Anglican" martyr, note that at the time there was no Anglican church. Cranmer was a reformer like Luther, Calvin, and Bucer. They all believed at the time that the whole Church could be completely reformed. In Cranmer's case he died for that belief. So the word "Anglican" is not appropriate here and is anachronistic. --RelHistBuff (talk) 14:20, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

I refer you to WP:ATTRIBUTEPOV, RelHistBuff. The word execution describes an objective fact which no sane person disputes. But martyrdom is a judgment which can be countered with death as a heretic. Cranmer was not a martyr in the eyes of Catholics, but a heretic. I see no point in emphasizing that they thought he was a heretic, but to describe him as a martyr without qualification is to treat the Anglican pov as if it is an unqualified objective fact. That simply cannot be done. The solution is to specifiy and to attribute. Read the policy.

At your suggestion I have removed the reference to the papacy, although the same claim is made in the body of the article. And in light of your complaint I have changed Anglican to Protestant, since, as you yourself say, "In Cranmer's case he died for that belief." I am not prepared to continue this edit war. My next step will be to take this up as a case of ownership and pov pushing. Let's avoid that with discussion and the ability to compromise, since you do not contest the factuality of my statements, just the wording. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wrotesolid (talkcontribs) 16:26, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

The question is the definition of the word. It is used in both religious and non-religious contexts but it simply means someone who has been put to death for refusing to renounce their beliefs. You say that "martyr" and "heretic" are opposites. However, the opposite of the POV-word "heretic" is the equally POV-word "saint". Cranmer is not being called a saint, but something neutral. However, I believe it is acceptable to change the clause to "died a Protestant martyr". The wikilink should be removed as it is a low-value link.
I would contest the addition of the text concerning the two trials. There is nothing POV about what is stated in the lead and it is sufficient. The details are in the article. I do not recall from MacCulloch on the rationale behind the gap in time between the two trials and your statement implies that there was a rationale. --RelHistBuff (talk) 16:58, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

I have just placed a warning on your talk page due to your wholesale reversions. Perhaps we can resolve this, since the above comment was made while I was issuing the warning. I will comment at length in a minute.Wrotesolid (talk) 17:01, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

First, since you accept the specification of Cranmer's dying a Protestant martyr I think that gets us almost all the way home. I will restore that wording.

Second, the word execution in the section head is npov. Changing it to Martyrdom for Protestantism or some such would be too awkward. There is no problem with the section itself.

Finally, I do not understand what your objection is to briefly mentioning the two and a half year delay between the conviction for treason and the execution as a heretic. To say that both happened upon Mary's accession is inaccurate. His trial and execution for heresy happened fully half way though Mary's reign. I will restore that wording on the assumption that you agree a delay of half her reign makes the original wording inaccurate. Wrotesolid (talk) 17:12, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

On your point about the section name, the word is a neutral word and it is historically accepted. MacCulloch even uses the word "martyrdom" in a chapter title. Ridley and Loades also uses the word.
The issue of the two trials could be resolved by changing from "when Mary I" to "after Mary I". --RelHistBuff (talk) 17:31, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

I have restored "Protestant martyr" in the summary and "execution" as npov for "martyrdom" in the section head. I have restored mention of the gap and added "reactionary Catholic forces with a reference to a Catholic source. The point is not that the previous wording was pov but that it was historically misleading. The conviction for treason was within three months of Mary's accession, while the trial for heresy lasted half way through her reign.

Finally, you mentioned something about "The wikilink should be removed as it is a low-value link." I am not sure what you were referring to, so either explain yourself here or be bold and remove the link if you haven't already. Wrotesolid (talk) 17:36, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
I have already removed the wikilink (to the word "martyr"). The text and reference that you added is a POV. I changed from "when" to "after" in order to avoid the assumption that the trials occurred just as Mary was enthroned. The text in the lead is NPOV. The gap in time is mentioned in the article. --RelHistBuff (talk) 17:42, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
If I might offer an opinion? First of all, that you too for bringing up this discussion. Questions like these keep me on Wikipedia when so much crap puts me off. Can the term 'martyr', 'martyrdom', be neutral, unquoted, in a historical essay? It would seem on one hand, it can be, for in modern language it tends to mean anyone who has died or suffered greatly for a heartfelt cause. So the poor fellow who slips off a rock face and breaks his leg can be a martyr to his (or her) abseiling. A teacher who perseveres with a challenging student is a martyr to his or her profession. And so forth. And yet on the other hand, there always seems to be some judgement value attached. The man who breaks his leg climbing could be just a bloody idiot who has no idea what he's doing. But the word 'martyr' suggests some kind of nobility to his misfortune. In the West we would never refer to a Middle-eastern car-bomber as a 'martyr'. To most of us they are foolish, deceived, cruel and desparate persons. Yet many Islamists (please note I say some- in its essence Islam is a peace-loving religion, as are most Moslems) call them martyrs. So different values are attached, depending upon who is observing the event.
And so with Thomas Cranmer. Martyr or traitor? That's another word that is never neutral.I think we simply need to describe his life in terms of the events that occurred in it. Of course, we might say, 'he is regarded as a martyr for Protestantism in England'. Just as Thomas More might be described as 'regarded as a martyr by Catholics in England'.--Gazzster (talk) 02:02, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Let's imagine you are arrested and told you are being charged with murder. Of whom, you ask? Well, that's not important. Murder is the word used by the accuser, the sheriff answers. Can you be a murderer without murdering someone specific? Can you betray without betraying someone, or somthing? Martyr means "witness." Witness of what? Yes, one can be a martyr, but only if one is a martyr for some cause. It is proper therefore, when the issue can be specified, to specify it.

We have to be brief in section titles, but we also have to maintain an NPOV position. "Trials, recatations and execution" is perfectly NPOV. No one denies Cranmer was executed.

Finally, the summary as it stood was simply inaccurate in its implications. Would we say that after Mary came to the throne she died? It's true, but the emphasis implies that the events followed one on the other. That Cranmer's execution for high treason was stayed for two and a half years so that he might first be tried and then burnt for heresy rather than being beheaded is quite significant. Adding just a few words to show this is in the name of accuracy. Furthermore, that the Catholic Church admits its own responsibility for the heresy trial is of interest, and the reference to the Catholic encyclopedia on the matter hardly amounts to POV. Indeed, the evidence is an admission against interest and is hence highly relevant.

If anyone has a suggestion of how to better or more economically word these points while maintaining NPOV and accuracy I am quite interested in such a discussion.

Until then, and in the absence of any response on the Adminstaror's discussion, I am restoring the more accurate and NPOV language. Wrotesolid (talk) 03:14, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

RelHistBuff, I am confused as to the motivation for your delinking "martyr" and deleting the reference to the list of Common Worship holy days. I reastablished them on my last edit. Surely the link for martyr is just as helpful as that for religious images. Indeed, I would also linkify heresy the first time it appears in the article. And what was the reason for removing the external reference? The list of holidays seems of interest. There doesn't seem to be any inappropriate promotion of some, say, commercial interest. Can you explain why these should be deleted if you want them deleted? Wrotesolid (talk) 03:39, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Looking at things in context, I suppose the charge was standard and the trial was standard. The trial would appear to have been carried out in justice according to the standards of the time. He had publicly supported the faith of Henry VIII during his reign, which, with notable ommissions of course, was the faith of Mary I.So the charge of traitor and heretic would appear to have merit.--Gazzster (talk) 05:21, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
Concerning the matter of wikilinks, this is a grey area. Certain words are already well-known and understood and do not need to be linked (so called low-value links). For example, one could argue that "plague", which is linked, is already well-known and could potentially be de-linked. Originally, "martyr" was not linked and as I believe it is well-known, I thought it could be de-linked. However, as this is a grey area, I have no problem of it being linked.
Concerning the additional text in the lead, the original text simply stated there were two trials. It is not clear why there was a gap in time. It is a speculation to blame unspecified "reactionary Catholic forces". And the use of a turn-of-the-century Catholic encyclopedia as a reference is extremely weak and it is clearly a POV-source. The original text is sufficient and the details are in the article.
Concerning the section title and the word "martyrdom", I note again that the word is used by historians and it is in the sources. The definition of someone being put to death for refusing to renounce one's belief is in fact neutral. Cranmer, as well as Latimer and Ridley, are referred to as martyrs (see Oxford martyrs) and the use of the word reflects common usage. Whether one takes the word as a POV is a matter of one's own opinion. Gazzler has brought up an interesting point about Islamists calling suicide car-bombers as martyrs. In my opinion that is a misuse of the word. There is a difference between someone putting themselves in harm's way and someone who is unwillingly put to death for one's belief. Unfortunately the word has been hijacked by current media and its meaning is now being distorted. But the original definition, common usage in the context of Cranmer, and historical support still stands. However, Wikipedia being as it is, a !vote always seems to override scholarship or external expertise. If there is a consensus to use "execution" instead then so be it. --RelHistBuff (talk) 09:22, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
As can be seen, there is no consensus to change the word, martyrdom. I will go back to the original wording which as I stated is neutral. The word is neutral, i.e., used by both Catholic and Protestants alike (see Forty Martyrs of England and Wales) and the use of the word in the context of Cranmer has support from the sources. --RelHistBuff (talk) 09:38, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

"Saint Thomas More, so far as I am concerned, was a vicious fool and murdering hypocrite who got exactly what was coming to him, regardless of Paul Scofield's efforts. I read Utopia in high school, studied More in a graduate level course on the Reformation, and wrote a term paper on him. But that's my OR POV, and not relevant."

I think this language is totally against Wikipedia principles, even in a Talk Page, and only proves that the main problem of Wikipedia is that any "vicious fool" or brainless "hypocrite" like this user can post in here.81.193.220.166 (talk) 19:12, 4 June 2010 (UTC)

Thomas Cranmer Martyrdom and Execution[edit]

I don't understand the nature of this debate. Thomas Cranmer had already recanted his Protestant views and returned to the Roman Catholic Chuch, probably not by personal conviction, but as to respect for the queen Mary I, that he still regarded as the Head of the Church of England, and to avoid his execution by being burned at the stake. Nevertheless, even being against the Canonic Law, he was going to be executed as an heretic, so he still would have been a unlikely Catholic martyr, for being executed after his recantation, or a Anglican martyr, if would return to his previous faith. Since he had nothing to loose anymore, he choose to die as a Protestant martyr.81.193.220.166 (talk) 18:52, 4 June 2010 (UTC)

Thomas Cranmer tried to save both John Fisher and Thomas More lifes by having sworn a special oath. I think this deserves being mentioned in the article.Mistico (talk) 19:21, 4 June 2010 (UTC)

File:Book of common prayer 1549.jpg Nominated for Deletion[edit]

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File:Thomas Cranmer by Gerlach Flicke.jpg to appear as POTD soon[edit]

Hello! This is a note to let the editors of this article know that File:Thomas Cranmer by Gerlach Flicke.jpg will be appearing as picture of the day on January 28, 2013. You can view and edit the POTD blurb at Template:POTD/2013-01-28. If this article needs any attention or maintenance, it would be preferable if that could be done before its appearance on the Main Page so Wikipedia doesn't look bad. :) Thanks! — Crisco 1492 (talk) 23:36, 27 January 2013 (UTC)

Picture of the day
Thomas Cranmer

Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556, depicted in 1545) was a leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of three monarchs. Ascending to power during the reign of Henry VIII, under Edward VI he was able to promote a series of reforms in the Church of England. He was executed for treason under Mary I.

Painting: Gerlach Flicke
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Archdeacon of Taunton[edit]

While working on a new article The Old House, Milverton I came across this source from the BBC and this from the University of Bristol, which say that Cranmer was archdeacon of Taunton and lived in the house - but I'm having trouble narrowing down the dates for this. Can anyone help & should this be included in the article?— Rod talk 21:32, 7 June 2013 (UTC)

This confirms it, but the start date on him holding the office is unknown. Note that the previous officeholder held until 1531, so Cranmer's holding of the office was very brief. I'm not sure it's worth a mention, it was a minor office he held briefly. Ealdgyth - Talk 21:49, 7 June 2013 (UTC)

Vicegerency is not a hyphenated word.[edit]

"Vicegerency" and "vicegerent" should not be spelled with hyphens. Why does the author insist on it?

The Wikipedia article on "Vicegerent" does not spell it that way and yet any attempt to correct the spelling in this article gets immediately reverted.

I can't find any responsible source that hyphenates that word. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 23.119.205.88 (talk) 19:35, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

In re Tag requesting further inline citations[edit]

… see first the Edit summary, and then look at the lack of inline citations in the following—

  • the opening sentences of the opening paragraphs of the "Reforms reversed…" section
  • opening sentences of paragraphs beginning...
  1. "In 1538, the king…"
  2. "In the summer of…"
  3. "Cranmer’s first contact…"
  4. "While Cranmer was…"
  5. "Cranmer was not…"
  6. "The vice-regency brought…"

Etc., etc. Bottom line, the references and work here are exceptional, but the long tracts without inline citation make impossible followup of the material by interested readers, and make scholarly verification (and so confidence in material) somewhat limited. Since, unlike Britannica, article authors here are unknown, our basis in trust comes from the solid nature of the sourcing. Le Prof Leprof 7272 (talk) 07:08, 26 June 2014 (UTC)

The six (of 49!) paragraphs that are sourced to one footnote are not at all excessive. The six paragraphs mentioned above all go to a source with decent number of pages referenced but not so many that it's unreasonable nor difficult to verify. One paragraph distilling down six or eight pages of source material is not excessive. I mean, we could just put the same ref after each sentence and that would make it "look more referenced" but it would be useless work. Ealdgyth - Talk 18:50, 26 June 2014 (UTC)
I agree with Ealdgyth -- the paragraphs in question are indeed sourced to the best scholarly sources available. It is false to say the "authors here are unknown" --MacCulloch, for example, is professor at Oxford and one of the best known scholars of the Reformation in the world. Jasper Ridley was a well-known biographer & his book on Cranmer received very good reviews. Anyone who wants to check can easily get the books in a library. Rjensen (talk) 19:14, 26 June 2014 (UTC)