Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
Bookmark and Share

Bishop Hugh Latimer: Protestant Martyr


(I) Introduction

Of all the English Reformers, Bishop Hugh Latimer was the most popular in his time and probably has the greatest place in the affections of posterity.1 Although a passionate preacher and a zealot for reform, in a day when religious executions were all too common, he completed his three-score years and ten, before sealing his testimony with his blood.2 This essay aims to trace Hugh Latimer through the vicissitudes and struggles of his life, showing how God preserved him in his reformatory work for further service in the English Reformation, until, having finished his course and fought the good fight, he went to be with Christ, the great shepherd of the sheep.


(II) Cambridge Scholar

(1) The "Obstinate Papist"

Hugh was the son of a Lancashire yeoman, brought up a country lad and fond of archery. John Foxe reports that he "profited in his youth at the common schools."3 With all his older brothers having died in infancy, his father was keen on his receiving a higher education. Thus we find him, as a young man (about twenty-one), enrolling at Cambridge (probably at Clare Hall) in 1506.4 He obviously had aspirations for the church, for in 1510, after gaining his B.A., he received Holy Orders and in 1514 his M.A. It appears that his scholarship merited his continuing at Cambridge, for our next glimpse of him is in 1524, when he received his B.D.

It was now seven years since Luther's Ninety-Five Theses had sparked religious controversy throughout Europe. The Reformation was gaining adherents both on the continent and in Britain. Literature was being smuggled into England through the ports and was being avidly read. Latimer's opinion on all this is easily ascertained. On his receiving the B.D., according to the custom, he delivered an oration before the university—a philippic against Melanchthon! Lollardy had made no impression on Latimer either, although he was born in Thurcaston, just twelve miles from Lutterworth, the scene of Wycliffe's later labours. Erasmus had arrived in Cambridge in 1511, but Latimer neither learned Greek from him nor imbibed his humanistic spirit.5 Another positive influence on Cambridge was George Stafford. He had graduated B.D. at the same time as Latimer, and had been appointed reader in divinity. However, he lectured, not on the schoolmen, but on Augustine and the Old and (especially) the New Testaments, from the original languages.6 Latimer had no taste for these doctrines and, Pharisee-like, sought to hinder the young students from receiving this "heretical" teaching (Matt. 23:13). In the words of an anonymous contemporary, Latimer "eloquently made to them an oration, dissuading them from this newfangled kind of study of the scriptures, and vehemently persuaded them to the study of the school-authors."7

Thus Latimer, like Saul of Tarsus before him, was the last man the church expected to leave her ranks; indeed he later described himself "as obstinate a papist as any was in England."8 But he was soon, in the providence of God, to be converted. Thomas Bilney was in the audience that heard Latimer's oration against Melanchthon. 

Herman Hanko explains,

Bilney had seen Latimer's great potential and had long pondered ways to persuade Latimer to join the movement for reform. Finally he hit upon a clever way, though under God's blessing it was also successful. Pretending to desire to make confession and be absolved from sin by Latimer, he used Latimer's naiveté and pride (Hugh Latimer thought Bilney was about to make confession for his devotion to the Reformation and ask for forgiveness) to describe for Latimer his own conversion from the comfortless doctrine of work righteousness which Rome taught to the blessed peace of faith in the perfect sacrifice of the spotless Lamb of God. Latimer was moved as never before. Humbled before God, he cast his lot with the Reformation movement.8a

As Latimer later put it, "[Bilney] perceived that I was zealous without knowledge" so

he came to me afterward in my study and desired me, for God's sake, to hear his confession. I did so; and to say the truth, by his confession I learned more than before in many years. So from that time forward I began to smell the Word of God, and forsook the school-doctors and such fooleries.9

Hugh Latimer was now firmly on the Reformed side but, ironically, it was these self-same scholastics who were soon to save his life.

(2) Bishop West and Cardinal Wolsey

Bilney had been converted through reading Eramus's Latin translation of the Greek New Testament and in particular Paul's "faithful saying" of I Timothy 1:15: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." Like the great apostle, he earnestly sought to disseminate the gospel, though he did so largely by private testimony. God was pleased, largely through his and George Stafford's efforts, to gather a group of godly men, including Nicholas Shaxton, George Joye, Robert Barnes, Miles Coverdale, Matthew Parker and Hugh Latimer. Somewhat like the Holy Club at Oxford two centuries later, they were zealous in visiting the sick and imprisoned. The group, with Bilney as its leader, met for discussion at "The White Horse" or "in Germany," as it was nick-named by their enemies. There they discussed Luther and his doctrine, Erasmus's New Testament and Tyndale's proposed translation.10 Latimer and Bilney walked together daily on Castle Hill or "Heretics Hill," as it was dubbed, discussing the Scriptures.

For Latimer, the new doctrines he received were more than mere ideas—they were the truth of God, and Latimer was not the kind of man to hide his light under a bushel. As Foxe puts it,

After his winning to Christ, he was not satisfied with his own conversion only, but, like a true disciple of the blessed Samaritan, pitied the misery of others, and therefore he became both a public preacher and also a private instructor, to the rest of his brethren within the university.11

Yet we ought not think Latimer had arrived at a fully Reformed theology. In a deed dated 28 August, 1524, he was appointed trustee to appoint a priest to perform mass for the soul of one John á Bolton, in the chapel of Clare Hall. Nevertheless his "bad company" and his emphasis on the Bible and salvation in Christ, rather than the church and her ceremonies, was keenly observed. The church was concerned, including one Bishop West of Ely.

Around the end of 1525, Ralph Morice, Thomas Cranmer's secretary, tells us that in the middle of one of Latimer's ad clerum sermons in St. Mary's, the "University Church," the heresy-hunting bishop, with his entourage, entered the church. Latimer paused while the bishop's cortège seated themselves and he sought to regain his composure. With great presence of mind, he skilfully changed the subject:

It is of congruence meet (quoth he) that a new auditory, namely being more honourable, requireth a new theme, being a new argument to entreat of. Therefore it behoveth me now to divert from mine intended purpose, and somewhat to entreat of the honourable state of a bishop.12

The pompous bishop bravely "weathered" the sermon on Hebrews 9:11, in which Latimer contrasted the high calling of the bishopric with the lamentable state into which the episcopal bench had currently fallen.13 Afterwards, knowing that to protest was merely to indict himself, West commended the sermon and requested of Latimer a small favour—that he would preach one sermon against Martin Luther and his doctrine. Latimer's reply bears repeating:

My lord, I am not acquainted with the doctrine of Luther; nor are we permitted here to read his works; and therefore it were but a vain thing to refute his doctrine, not understanding what he hath written, nor what opinion he holdeth. Sure I am that I have preached before you this day no man's doctrine, but only the doctrine of God out of the scriptures. And if Luther do none otherwise than I have done, there needeth no confutation of his doctrine. Otherwise, when I understand that he doth teach against the scripture, I will be ready with all my heart to confound his doctrine, as much as lieth in me.14

However, this passage presents a problem. Is it possible that Latimer could deliver an oration against Melanchthon without knowing Luther's views? Could Latimer really have missed the discussions of Luther's theology in "The White Horse?" Since, the "evasive ways of a timorous nature were naturally foreign" to Latimer, it is best to assert that he did tell the truth,15 but that Morice wrongly ascribed to him the assertion, that he did not know Luther's teachings. At any rate, Latimer's deft reply secured him for the moment, but gained him an enemy. The bishop retorted, "I perceive that you somewhat smell of the pan; you will repent this gear one day."16

West did not wait long to take revenge, for Latimer was soon summoned before Cardinal Wolsey.17 According to Ralph Morice, the cardinal, as a test of Latimer's orthodoxy, asked two of his learned associates to question him on the theology of the schoolmen and especially Duns Scotus. Latimer's ready answers evinced a thorough knowledge of the school doctors and Wolsey was impressed. Being persuaded of his orthodoxy, Wolsey then asked Latimer the reason for West's dislike of him. Latimer reported that he was offended because of a sermon he preached before West on the office of a bishop. The cardinal, having no great love for the bishops, promptly gave him permission to preach this doctrine "unto West's beard," and gave him a special license to preach throughout the whole of England!18

(3) The Sermons on the Cards

Latimer continued to retain his not insignificant position at Cambridge, as university chaplain. His duties included collecting rents and auditing funds, overseeing the university library, carrying the university cross (an elaborately adorned silver crucifix) and saying anniversary masses for the souls of the university's dead benefactors.19 It is clear from these last two functions that his theology was not fully developed. Like Stafford, Latimer was able to maintain his position and role in the university.20 Yet his views continually bordered on the heretical and his earnest preaching troubled the conservative Roman Catholics. His first recorded sermons (Christmas, 1529) are an excellent case in point.21

T. H. L. Parker describes Latimer's preaching as "familiar and racy" and these sermons certainly were.22 Latimer begins with the question, "Who art thou?" (John 1:19), and describes man, in himself, as "the child of the ire and indignation of God, the true inheritor of hell, a lump of sin."23 After a discussion of Adam's fall and original sin, the Incarnation of the Son of God and "the merits of the bitter passion of Christ," Latimer asserts that we are, through the sacrament of baptism, Christian men and women.24 He is "a good christian man that keepeth well Christ's rule," just "as he is a good Augustine friar that keepeth well St. Augustine's rule." Then Latimer begins the game proper and deals the cards (a customary game at Christmas) to the congregation, only the cards are "Christ's cards," which manifest the character of a true Christian.25 The first card is Christ's word in the Sermon on the Mount on the nature of killing (Matt. 5:21-22), and the second, His word on acceptable offerings (Matt. 5:23-24).26

The controversy that ensued was not due to Latimer's bringing a deck of cards with him into the pulpit or even his unorthodox homiletic technique—it was his doctrine. The relative importance between "voluntary" and "necessary" works was one big issue:

Now then, if men be so foolish of themselves that they will bestow the most part of their goods in voluntary works, which they be not bound to keep, but willingly and by their devotion; and leave the necessary works undone, which they are bound to do; they and all their voluntary works are like to go unto everlasting damnation. And I promise you, if you build a hundred churches, give as much as you can make to gilding of saints, and honouring of the church; and if thou go as many pilgrimages as thy body can well suffer, and offer as great candles as oaks; if thou leave the works of mercy and the commandments undone, these works shall nothing avail thee.27

Just as Christ's word on "the weightier matters of the law" (Matt. 23:23) stung the Pharisees, the conservatives were concerned at the effect such eloquent preaching would have on "churchy" works. Offensive too was the means Latimer used to distinguish between the more and the less important works: the authoritative Scriptures.

Buckenham, Prior of the Dominican Friars, framed his attack in a seasonal game also, this time a game of die: Cinque Quatre. The quatre were the four ancient doctors of the church (Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine and Gregory the Great) who, he alleged, were "opposed to the free circulation of the Scriptures in the vernacular."28 The cinque consists of five quotations from the New Testament that would, if allowed into the hands of the common folk, tend to the ruination of the realm. For example, should the simple read, "If thine eye offend thee pluck it out," the kingdom would be full of blind men! The baker who reads, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump," will produce poor bread and the ploughman who hears that, "No man that layeth his hand to the plough, and looketh back, is meet for the kingdom of God," will be altogether unproductive.29

Latimer responded in kind, in his next sermon, with the hapless prior in the audience, by explaining the use of metaphors:

When they paint a fox preaching out of a friars cowl, none is so mad to take this to be a fox that preacheth, but know well enough the meaning of the matter, which is to point out unto us, what hypocrisy, craft, and subtle dissimulation, lieth hid many times in these friars' cowls, willing us thereby to beware of them.30

The prior slunk away with his tail between his legs but there were more serious opponents. Five of the heads of the university houses spoke privately against Latimer, while others did so publicly, and four fellows of St. John's prepared formal articles of heresy against him.31 Cambridge did not have a quiet and peaceful Christmas in 1529.

Eventually the "preachings and counterpreachings" and the "discussions and recriminations" reached the ears of King Henry VIII.32 On 24 January, 1530, his almoner, Edward Fox, wrote to Dr. Buckmaster, the vice-chancellor of the university, to stop the controversy. Buckmaster summoned Latimer and was content that he was basically orthodox. On 29 January, he convened the university senate and in his address commanded both Latimer and his four critics from St. John's to drop the matter, under pain of excommunication. Buckmaster's speech largely exonerated Latimer, though he did reckon him immoderate at times, but we may seriously wonder why he got off so lightly. The answer is near to hand. Fox, in his letter to Buckmaster, clearly informed him of the state of play: "Mr. Latimer favoureth the king's cause, and I assure you it is so reported to the king."33

(4) Latimer's Letter Advocating an English Bible

Henry was tiring of Catherine of Aragon; she had lost her beauty and borne him no male heir. His lust for Anne Boleyn with her "black eyes and vivacious manner" prompted him to begin seeking a divorce in 1527.34 Pope Clement VII, with greater regard for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V of Spain (nephew to Catherine) than to the law of God, did not wish to grant the divorce, so he stalled. Cardinal Wolsey, unable to obtain the papal dispensation, fell from favour in the autumn of 1529 and died on the way to his execution in November 1530. A suggestion by the rising Thomas Cranmer broke the deadlock: the king should ask the opinion of the universities. English gold flowing into continental purses helped gain him the nod from Paris, Orleans, Toulouse, Bourges, Bologna, Ferrara, Pavia and Padua in 1530. It was not in the pope's power, they argued, to dispense with God's law forbidding a man to marry his deceased brother's wife. Thus Catherine, who had previously been married to Henry's late brother Arthur, had never really been married to Henry at all. However, even with the support of several foreign universities, it was still essential that Henry obtain approval from the two English universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Thus the significance of the phrase: Latimer "favoureth the king's cause."

Although Oxford was worse, Cambridge was firmly opposed to the king's request, though Cranmer, Shaxton, Crome, Bilney and Latimer of the reforming party were supporters.35 After several weeks of political skulduggery, involving bribery, the stacking of committees and the not insignificant pressurizing of the king's two "whips," Fox and Gardiner, Cambridge finally "agreed." On 9 March, 1530, Vice-chancellor Buckmaster announced to the senate that the university was favourable to the king's divorce.

The following Sunday found Latimer preaching before the king and court at Windsor. Sir William Butts, the king's highly esteemed physician, had seen Latimer's part in the debates on "the king's great matter" and had personally recommended him. Latimer's manly and forthright preaching impressed Henry, and he was court preacher for the next two Sundays as well. For each of the three sermons, he was paid the standard one pound fee and, on 16 March, the Privy Purse records he was paid the princely fee of five pounds. Chester is probably correct as seeing in this more than Henry's approbation of his preaching. It was also a token of his appreciation for his invaluable support in the "king's cause."36

Now with Latimer, Cranmer and the reforming party in general in favour with both Henry and Anne, things were looking up. Furthermore, Henry's Parliament had, in 1529, passed three bills limiting the powers of the clergy, including one against a cleric's holding more than one benefice.37 Yet in spite of his ongoing struggles with the papacy, Henry was still committed to the key Roman doctrines. He had, after all, written (with some assistance) his Assertion of the Seven Sacraments in 1521, in response to Luther's Babylonian Captivity of the Church. Henry's work included an attack on the doctrine of sola scriptura. Thus the famous letter to the king dated 1 December, 1530, advocating free circulation of an English translation of the Scriptures, was a dangerous move.38

Traditionally, the letter has been attributed to Latimer but this has been denied by several modern scholars.39 They argue, primarily, that the two copies in the Public Record Office are unsigned. In response, it could be pointed out that not all of Latimer's extant letters are signed and the two copies used by Foxe are assigned by him to Latimer. Foxe had sources unavailable to current scholarship and has never been convicted of deliberate deception. The burden of proof is clearly on those opposed to Latimer's authorship. Furthermore, the burning issue of the letter—an authorized English translation of the Bible—was very close to Latimer's heart and there is nothing in its style to militate against his authorship.

Having sided with Foxe for Latimer's writing the letter, the next issue is whether or not it was actually sent to the king. Although he believes it was written by Latimer, Chester thinks not.40 He adduces two pieces of evidence, which (he believes) force us to conclude that it was an anonymous epistle: first, the absence of a signature in Foxe's two copies and the other two manuscripts; second, Latimer's refusal to name himself as a member of the commission, which he mentions in the letter.41 Then, noting the absence of evidence that the king ever received it, he reckons that the letter was written by Latimer, though unsigned (for safety reasons), and circulated amongst the reformers.42 Thus it is vain to look for further reasons why Latimer was allowed to live, for in that it never reached, or was even intended to reach, the king, "Latimer ran no risk."43

Chester makes a reasonable case but still not a conclusive one. The idea of a circular letter amongst the reformers can remain only at best a hypothesis. Foxe still remains our primary witness and he both attributes it to Latimer and ascribes Henry VIII as the recipient. Sure it is that Latimer survived 1530. If we stick to old Foxe's account, we can still suggest possible reasons for this: Henry's admiration for one making such a bold, yet gracious request; Latimer's popularity in many circles, including with Anne Boleyn; and the king's vague promise earlier in the year that he would, when the time was right, allow an English translation. At any rate, in the summer of 1537, according to Henry's wishes, the printing of an authorized English translation of the Bible began and Latimer saw his desire fulfilled.


(III) Rector of West Kingdon

The beginning of 1531 saw Henry reward many of the Cambridge men who had supported him. Cranmer was appointed Archdeacon of Taunton and, in the next year, was to become the Archbishop of Canterbury. From 14 January, 1531 to September 1535, Latimer was Rector of West Kingdon in Wiltshire, thus ending his twenty-five year spell in Cambridge. Latimer, Foxe tells us, "did exercise himself with much diligence of teaching to instruct his flock; and not only them, his diligence extended also to all the country about."44 He seems to have enjoyed being back in the countryside and mingling with the common people. Perhaps it reminded him of his youth in Thurcaston.

Latimer had only been at West Kingdon for less than a month when he was summonsed back to London. Convocation was required to reject the pope as head of the church in England, only to admit the king to "usurp the usurper." Now King Henry VIII was "the sole protector and supreme head of the church and clergy in England," with the useless qualification subjoined: "so far as the law of Christ allows." Yet the Roman Catholic party was still very much alive, as Latimer was soon to discover.

(1) The Sermon at St. Mary Abchurch

The autumn of 1531 found Latimer, on his return from Kent, visiting London. Demaus reckons this was probably on the solicitation of his friends, William Butts and Thomas Cromwell, the Earl of Essex, but we have no sure knowledge of the reason for his trip.45 After refusing the earnest entreaties of some merchants to preach to them, he finally yielded. Wolsey had died the previous year, so he was unsure if he was licensed to preach in London. However, with the rector and curate of a nearby church (St. Mary Abchurch) encouraging him to use its pulpit and with the suggestion of the merchants that the church was outside Bishop Stokesley of London's jurisdiction, he complied. His text was Romans 6:14: "For ye are not under the law, but under grace." In the course of his sermon he advocated two "subversive" principles: first, that pilgrimages are not necessary and, second, that the bishops ought to be very careful of admitting charges of heresy from ignorant men against preachers.46

Soon afterwards, Latimer returned to West Kingdon but this was not the end of the matter. Just before Christmas, 1531, Richard Hilley, standing in for Campeggio, the Italian absentee Bishop of Salisbury, informed Latimer that Stokesley had requested his cooperation in sending Latimer to London for trial. Latimer had been caught on a technicality: preaching in a bishop's diocese without permission. Knowing Stokesley's reputation for persecution, Latimer urged Hilley that he ought to deal with the matter. Latimer argued that Hilley was his ordinary and, after all, it was now in the depths of winter and he (Latimer) was suffering from ill health.47 Hilley was satisfied with Latimer's reasoning but he eventually yielded to Stokesley's importunity and required of Latimer to make the trip to London.

On 29 January, 1532, Latimer appeared before the bishop's consistory at St. Paul's. Shortly afterwards, his case was referred to a commission of the Upper House of Convocation. There, thrice a week, he was examined before the bishops. One day, he tells us, he entered the interrogation chamber but instead of the usual five or six bishops only one was present, the one who was friendliest towards him. He also noticed that there was no fire in the grate. The bishop asked a "very subtle and crafty" question, to which he wanted a clear answer.

"I pray you, Master Latimer," said he, "speak out; I am very thick of hearing, and here be many that sit far off." I marvelled at this, that I was bidden speak out, and began to misdeem, and gave an ear to the chimney. And there I heard the pen walking in the chimney behind the cloth. They had appointed one there to write all my answers; for they made sure work that I would not start from them.48

Through many weary sessions, Latimer sought to avoid the legal and theological pitfalls prepared for him. He explained the circumstances at St. Mary's Abchurch and protested that he held to the catholic faith. He declared that he attacked not the things but the abuses of the things. Nevertheless, on 11 March, 1532, sixteen articles were drawn up to which he was required to subscribe: alms, prayer, pilgrimages and masses obtain merit; masses help those in purgatory; deceased saints are to be worshipped and invocated; the saints in heaven pray for us, etc. These doctrines and others of like ilk were unacceptable to Latimer, for they could well be used to confirm the ignorant in idolatrous devotion, so three times he refused point blank to sign. Archbishop Warham, on hearing this, declared him contumacious and promptly excommunicated him.

While in custody at Lambeth Palace, Latimer addressed a persuasive letter to Warham.49 All men know, he reasoned, that there is much superstition in the pilgrimages and devotion to the saints amongst the laity. He pleaded that he be not forced to subscribe to the "bare propositions" for he was unwilling "to be the author of any continuance of the superstition of the people; and that I may not be also at the same time the author of my own damnation."50 Latimer's moving letter may have helped persuade the archbishop but it is more likely that Latimer's friends at court, like Thomas Cromwell and William Butts, played a larger part in Convocation's leniency.51

Latimer was now required to sign only the relatively inoffensive Article 14, on the value of "consecrations, sanctifications, and benedictions, received in the Christian church," and Article 11: "That men forbidden of the bishops, by reason of suspicion, ought not to preach till such time as they had purged themselves to them or their superiors, and be lawfully restored."52 

Latimer's prayers had been answered. On his knees, he made formal submission to the bishops and begged the removal of his sentence of excommunication. However, he was not immediately permitted to sign Articles 11 and 14 and instead remained three more weeks in prison. Two reasons for this may be given. First, Archbishop Warham was ill and Stokesley, who was acting head of the commission, may have wanted to wait for Warham to recover and finally resolve the matter himself. The second reason requires some unfolding. Thomas Greenwood, one of the four fellows of St. John's who had earlier protested against Latimer over his Sermons on the Card, began spreading rumours that Latimer had made a full submission. Latimer heard of this and, in a moment of folly and pride, wrote to him a brief letter. He affirmed that he had not renounced any doctrine and that he would, though with more discretion, continue to preach the same.53 Greenwood simply handed the letter to the Convocation. It is quite possible that it was all a set-up.

Latimer's earlier joy was swallowed up in black despair. The gates of liberty had been opened to him, but they were now firmly shut again. His case had been seriously weakened and outside interference had been rendered extremely difficult. Then he caved in. On 10 April, 1532, he made full submission to the Convocation, subscribed to all sixteen articles and was absolved of his excommunication. However, the matter of the Greenwood letter had not been cleared up yet and this was made into a second case against him. He was commanded to appear before the commission a few days later on 19 April.

In the intervening days, a combination of Latimer's sharp thinking and propitious political events helped save his skin. In March, 1532, Henry's headship of the Church of England had been further strengthened. Parliament had sent to the king the famous "Supplication of the Commons against the Ordinaries," which had protested against the power of the ecclesiastical courts.54 Latimer now appealed to the king. The king said he would intervene for him and Latimer duly submitted to Convocation. Again on his knees, Latimer made an even more humbling confession:

That were he had aforetime confessed, that he hath heretofore erred, and that he meant then it was only an error of discretion, he hath since better seen of his own acts, and searched them more deeply, and doth acknowledge, that he hath not erred only in discretion, but also in doctrine.55

Now any further misdemeanour would be treated with increased severity; Latimer would be a "relapsed heretic."

Less than a week after Latimer's release he was again in prison; visiting this time. James Bainham, a prosperous lawyer, had been arrested for disseminating heretical books. Latimer's words with him tell us something of his state of mind at this time:56

I do not allow that any man should consent to his own death, unless he had a right cause to die in. Let not vain-glory overcome you in a matter that men deserve not to die for; for therein ye shall neither please God, do good to yourself, nor your neighbour: and better it were for you to submit yourself to the ordinances of men, than so rashly to finish your life without good ground.57

Bainham then argued that his cause was worthy, being grounded in the authority of the Scriptures. Upon hearing this, Latimer animated him "to take his death quietly and patiently." Bainham's response is significant: "And I likewise do exhort you to stand to the defence of the truth; for you that shall be behind have need of comfort also, the world being so dangerous as it is."58

(2) Bristol

Latimer managed to stay out of trouble for less than a year. At the invitation of some of the clergy, he preached two sermons in Bristol on Sunday, 9 March, 1533, and a third the next day. Soon he returned to his parish in West Kingdon but he had set in motion a vigorous debate in Bristol, which was to last over three months and even resulted in several riots.

Although we do not have a record of his sermons, from Latimer's correspondence defending his preaching and the allegations of his enemies, we can build up a general picture.59 First, he applied his customary distinction between voluntary and necessary works and denied that the Scriptures taught the need to pray to saints, since they pray for us anyway. The concessive clause weakens the force of Latimer's view but this still marks a progression in his theology. Second, regarding purgatory, he taught that, though it existed, the souls of those in it do not suffer torments but are happy and possess the love of God. Thus we have more need of their prayers than they of ours. Third, he inveighed against a song, sang in the churches, calling the virgin Mary Salvatris ac Redemptoris Mater, as detracting from the glory of her Son, the great Saviour of the world. Although Latimer is not entirely sure if she ever sinned, his views are essentially Protestant. In stead of the Ave Maria, which Latimer explained was only a greeting, he stressed the importance of the Pater Noster.60

The city was divided into two factions: those for, and those against, Latimer and his preaching. One conservative priest wrote a letter to the acting Bishop of Worcester, and Latimer was forbidden to preach in Bristol.61 The mayor of the city for that year, Clement Bays, was of the considerable Lollard faction. He had invited Latimer to return to preach on Wednesday of Easter week but Latimer wisely obeyed the inhibition. To counteract further Latimer's influence, the conservative clergy preached against him and even imported two fiery preachers—Hubberdin and Powell. The latter began to draft a list of Latimer's heresies.

However, Latimer's enemies made a tactical blunder and, in their zealous attacks on his "heresy," they inveighed against the king's adultery and divorce, and declared the universal supremacy of the pope. Cranmer had been consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury on 30 March, 1532 and he had formally annulled Henry's marriage to Catherine on 23 April. On 1 June, 1532, Anne Boleyn was to be crowned queen in a magnificent ceremony at Westminster Abbey. The reforming party was in the ascendancy and Mayor Bays seized the advantage by reporting the "treasonous" preaching of Hubberdin and Powell. Realizing the gravity of this, Ghinucci's "stand-in" granted a license to Latimer to preach again in Bristol, which opportunity he promptly took.

Cromwell, now chancellor of the exchequer, authorized John Bartholomew to appoint a commission to weigh evidence against Latimer and Hubberdin.62 The allegations against Latimer were few and poorly organized; both Latimer's enemies and the commissioners were aware of Latimer's friendship with Cromwell. No charges were brought against him in their final report. For Hubberdin, things were very different: he spent the next two years, at least, in the Tower of London. Powell's attack on the king's divorce had been even more severe and he was also tried. He too ended up in the Tower, where he was to remain for over seven years before his execution.

Henry's continuing struggles with the pope deepened his opposition to the papacy. The threat of attack from the Roman Catholic continental powers forced him to consider an alliance with the Lutheran princes (who were very wary) and to require the continuing support of the reforming party in England. On 12 July, 1534, the pope finally declared Henry's marriage to Catherine valid and the rift was complete.

With Cranmer's license, Latimer was able to preach with impunity in some London pulpits, much to the chagrin of Stokesley.63 Latimer was part of the commission to investigate an ignorant servant girl, "the Nun of Kent," whose raving prophecies against the king and in support of the pope were encouraged by the priests. During Lent of 1534, Latimer preached on Wednesdays before the king and court. On Cranmer's advice, he refused to use the occasion to clear his name of any old charges or to attack any of his opponents. He merely expounded the Scriptures. The king was pleased with the sermons and a few months later Latimer was appointed one of the king's chaplains. Amongst other duties, Latimer was charged by Cranmer to administer the oath to the Act of Succession to conservatives in the West Country disaffected with Henry's divorce and headship of the church. Latimer's rise continued and, upon the passing of the Act of Supremacy in 1534 and England's formal severance with the papal see, in 1535 he succeeded Ghinucci as Bishop of Worcester.


(IV) Bishop of Worcester

The zealous parson of West Kingdon continued his earnest labours in his bishopric. The French ambassador, Chapuys, described Latimer's elevation as a strong blow to the Romanist party.64 Although Latimer had to spend a considerable time attending Parliament and Convocation, he was able to promote reformed men in his diocese and sought to preach the new doctrines there as often as he could.65 Nevertheless, at Parliament in 1536 he played his part in passing two important bills: the dissolution of the smaller religious houses, and the act forbidding the use of the old theological textbooks and promoting the study of the Old and New Testaments (and Hebrew and Greek) at the universities.

(1) Convocation

On 9 June, 1536, Convocation met to formulate articles of religion for the Church of England. The break with Rome had been made but the conservatives wanted to retain all the old dogmas, whilst the reformers wished to continue the momentum and push for a more thorough reformation. Cranmer called on Latimer to deliver the opening key note address. Just four years earlier, he had been arraigned before many of those in his audience as a heretic and been in grave danger of his life. Now he was a bishop and the tide had turned.

In the morning, he denounced the awful religious abuses, including "purgatory pick-purse," but in his afternoon sermon, he proceeded to delineate the characteristics of the children of light and of the children of darkness, amongst the prelates:66

These worldlings pull down the lively faith, and full confidence that men have in Christ, and set up another faith, another confidence of their own making: the children of light contrary. These worldlings set little by such works as God hath prepared for our salvation, but they extol traditions and works of their own invention: the children of light contrary. The worldlings, if they spy profit, gains, or lucre in anything, be it never such a trifle, be it never so pernicious, they preach it to the people (if they preach at any time,) and these things they defend with tooth and nail.67

The "unpreaching prelates" had to listen in grim silence; for the moment there was nothing they could do. Latimer's Latin addresses were "speedily translated into English" and read avidly throughout the country.68

Regarding the formulation of articles, little headway was made. After three weeks of wrangling, Henry, with the help of Cranmer and perhaps others of the reforming party, drafted the Ten Articles. The first article affirms the Bible and the three ancient creeds; three sacraments, not seven were permitted, with penance being added to Baptism and the Lord's Supper; images, saints (both honouring of and praying to) and various ceremonies were permitted but with Latimer-like qualifications; and, though the souls in purgatory could be prayed for, the pope had no power to deliver from it.69 On the matter of purgatory, Latimer wrote a minute for Henry.70 The king disagreed with Latimer but it shows the esteem in which he was held that he was able (humbly) to oppose his majesty's view.

(2) The Six Articles

The aforementioned Parliamentary Act, on the dissolution of the smaller monasteries (1536), was not passed without strong opposition. Not only the Upper House, which contained a large number of prelates, but the Lower House had to be forced to "toe the line" by royal intimidation. It was also unpopular with many of the English people, so Cranmer, Latimer and those favourable to Henry's policy added a certain apologetic element to their preaching. This suited Latimer well, for he was vehemently opposed to the abuses of monasticism and he hoped in this way further to uproot superstition from the land. In 1538, with Henry's approval, the dissolution of the larger monasteries and the destruction of the shrines and relics began. Henry wished further to limit the power of the church, as against the crown. Latimer was delighted to see the idols removed and he executed the work with gusto. No longer would the simple people be cheated of their time and money, and be lead into idolatry. The Blood of Hayles, which the priests taught was the actual blood of Christ, was exposed as a fraud.71 Our Lady of Worcester, the great Sibyl, was taken to Chelsea and publicly burnt. When the statue was stripped of its decorations, it was found to be "the effigy of an unidentified bishop of the Middle Ages."72

With the execution of Anne Boleyn on 19 May, 1536 and the death of Jane Seymour, Henry's next wife, who was even more strongly attached to the reformed doctrines, on 24 October, 1537, the reformers had no advocate in the royal bedchamber. Latimer himself began to fall from favour by grieving Henry with his preaching. He argued in his sermons before the royal court that the suppressed monastic properties should be used to educate the poor and help alleviate their poverty. Neither was Henry as enthusiastic as Latimer in destroying the shrines. The king's ongoing discussions (1535-38) with the Lutheran theologians had reached something of an impasse and Henry was swinging back to the old views.73 Gardiner, the conservative Bishop of Winchester, was becoming more influential with the king. The Ten Articles of 1536 no longer pleased him; Henry's "Catholic reaction" had begun.

Henry called Parliament and a new session met on 28 April, 1539. A committee including both conservative prelates and reformed prelates (including Latimer) was appointed. No compromise document was forthcoming. Later, in one of his sermons, Latimer tells us, "there was a bishop which ever cried 'Unity, unity:' but he would have a popish unity." This did not satisfy Latimer, since for him unity must be "according to God's holy word; else it were better war than peace."74 After two weeks of intense debate, the Duke of Norfolk announced that there was no possibility of an accord being reached, so he proposed six articles to the prelates. The king had a large part in this and the articles were retrogressive and popish.75 

Article 1 affirmed transubstantiation; Article 2 denied the necessity of communion in both kinds; ordained priests were not allowed to marry (Article 3); vows of chastity ought not be observed (Article 4); private masses were to be retained (Article 5); and auricular confession was necessary (Article 6).76 For three days, Latimer and others argued fiercely against them but, on the fourth day, Henry himself came to the House of Lords and spoke on the matter. The Six Articles or "The Whip with Six Strings," as they became known, became law on 28 June, 1539.

Three days later, Latimer resigned his bishopric, whether of his own volition or upon Henry's desire or through being tricked by Thomas Cromwell is not entirely clear.77 At any rate, the king had Latimer "imprisoned" in the London house of Bishop Sampson of Chichester. Shaxton, Bishop of Salisbury, who had resigned at the same time as Latimer, was also put in ward. Martin Bucer wrote to Philip of Hesse, "Two of the most pious bishops have been taken."78 Latimer thought that his day of execution would soon be forthcoming but this seems never to have been a real possibility. His friends were allowed to visit him; he was well looked after; Henry even sent him a small pension. In July 1540, Latimer, Shaxton and all those who had been imprisoned under the Act of the Six Articles were released under general pardon. Latimer was now a quondam (a prelate without an office), was forbidden to preach and was not allowed even within ten miles of London or the two universities or his old diocese. At this time, Latimer's friends, Barnes, Garrett and Barlow, perished at the stake at Smithfield.

For the next six years, Latimer stayed on the right side of the law. Doubtless he stayed with various friends throughout the country and preached privately. Now he had more opportunity for further studies in the Scriptures and reading Reformed literature from the continent. Marchant speaks of "the slow, even laborious progress" in Latimer's "spiritual pilgrimage."79 Now his views were maturing and it was very nearly to bring about his death.

In 1546, to seek medical help after receiving a severe blow from a falling tree, Latimer returned to London.80 This was forbidden by Henry's express command and, to make matters worse, Latimer visited his friend, Edward Crome, who was currently under arrest for heresy. Latimer was discovered and charged with encouraging Crome to make an evasive recantation. The council sought to implicate him in Crome's heresy and to gain from him a confession contrary to the Six Articles, especially the first. By now Latimer had reservations about the propitiatory sacrifice of the mass but he still was not ready to reject transubstantiation. Thus, unlike Anne Askew, who flatly denied transubstantiation and was executed around this time (in July, 1546), Latimer was merely confined in the Tower. Chester adduces two additional reasons for the relative leniency of Latimer's sentence. First, at this time the Lutheran princes were fighting Charles V in the Smalkaldic War. Henry sought to restore the balance and was making overtures towards the Lutherans, even to the point of preparing to substitute a communion service for the mass. Second, there was still some residual favour toward him from the king and Latimer had powerful friends. The Earl of Hertford, Jane Seymour's brother, had risen to favour and Cranmer was still Archbishop.81


(V) Under Edward VI

In January 1547, Henry VIII died. He was an immensely capable man but religiously he was a papist, only without the pope.82 His lust and the political and practical exigencies of the time dictated his policy. With Henry VIII, "till death us do part" takes on a whole new meaning! Yet through one of his adulterous unions (with Anne Boleyn), God gave to England a veritable Josiah (as Latimer and others were to call him): Edward VI.

Under young King Edward, the Reformation progressed. Henry's Six Articles were annulled and, on 21 January, 1549, the first Act of Uniformity was passed, authorizing Cranmer's Prayer Book. Henry's legislation in 1537, commanding every church to possess an English translation of the Bible (Matthew's Bible) to be kept on public display, was promoted.83 In 1547, Parliament ordered the cup to be given to the laity; in 1548, idols were to be removed from the churches; in 1549, marriage of the clergy was legalized. Peter Martyr arrived in England in 1547 and soon was appointed regius Professor of theology at Oxford. Other reformers came over, including Ochino, à Lasco and Fagius. With the Augsburg Interim of 1548, many of the continental reformers were in danger and, in 1549, Martin Bucer joined the theology faculty at Cambridge. The Reformed faith was being propagated, though progress in the rural parts was slow.84

On the accession of Edward, Latimer was soon released. He refused his old bishopric but vigorously resumed the labour in which he excelled: preaching. The "apostle of England" had returned to the pulpit. Of Latimer's forty-three extant sermons, thirty eight are from Edward's reign, several of which were preached in Lincolnshire.85 In his famous Sermon on the Plough of 1548, Latimer asks, "Who is the most diligentest bishop and prelate in all England?"

And will ye know who it is? I will tell you: it is the devil. He is never out of the diocese; he is never from his cure ... he is ever in his parish; he keepeth residence at all times ... he is ever at his plough: no lording nor loitering can hinder him ... ye shall never find him idle, I warrant you. And his office is to hinder religion, to maintain superstition, to set up idolatry, to teach all kind of popery ... Where the devil is resident, and hath his plough going, there away with books, and up with candles; away with bibles, and up with beads; away with the light of the gospel, and up with the light of candles ... as though man could invent a better way to honour God with than God himself hath appointed.86

Later in the sermon, he goes on to attack the propitiatory sacrifice of the mass:

But as for our redemption, it is done already, it cannot be better: Christ hath done that thing so well, that it cannot be amended ... But the devil, by the help of that Italian bishop yonder, his chaplain, hath laboured by all means that he might frustrate the death of Christ and the merits of his passion.87

About this time, Latimer, through reading and conversations with the continental reformers and Cranmer, had also rejected transubstantiation.88 During Edward's reign, Latimer's views developed and were now even more markedly Protestant. He had burnt all his bridges but it was his rejection of the mass that was to prove his fatal "heresy."


(VI) Bloody Mary and Martyrdom

After only six years as king, Edward VI died on 6 July, 1553. God had given him a heart strong in faith but his body was weak and he was always a sickly child. His lawful successor was Mary Tudor but the reform party sought to place the Protestant Lady Jane Grey on the throne. The plot failed, Lady Jane Grey was later executed and Mary was crowned queen on 19 July, 1553. England was now reigned by the devout Roman Catholic daughter of Catherine of Aragon.

The writing was on the wall for Latimer. He had always expected to die for the faith and was later to aver that the stake at Smithfield "had long groaned for him."89 Yet the queen preferred the Protestant leaders to flee and gave Latimer a good six weeks, in which time he could have easily left the country, as others had done. Eventually the council resolved to summons him. It was done publicly and a sincere Protestant, John Careless, got wind of it and hurried to Latimer, who was then in Warwickshire. Latimer stayed his ground and about six hours later the queen's officer arrived. Far from escorting this "latter-day Polycarp" to London, he merely passed on the summons and left.90 Latimer obeyed the royal command and came to London, standing before the Council on 13 September, 1553. It was "a magnificently courageous recognition of the fact that where great issues are involved there comes a time when the bravest men cannot give ground."91

Latimer, with Archbishop Cranmer and Bishop Nicholas Ridley of London, was committed to the Tower but they were in different rooms. Through their trusty servants, Ridley and Latimer carried on a conversation on the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Latimer's man, Augustine Bernher (a Swiss), was the chief amanuensis and the work was later published in Zurich in 1556, with the cumbersome, yet homely, title Certain Godly, Learned and Comfortable Conferences between the Two Reverend Fathers and Holy Martyrs of Christ, D. Nicholas Ridley Late Bishop of London, and Mr. Hugh Latimer, Sometime Bishop of Worcester during the Time of their Imprisonments.92

The influx of prisoners from Wyatt's rebellion swelled the number of inmates in the Tower. In God's providence, the three friends—Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley—were placed in the one cell, enabling fellowship, corporate Bible study and prayer. "To add to their satisfaction," Demaus tells us, "John Bradford the convert of Latimer, and bosom friend of Ridley ... was removed to the Tower, and 'thrust into the same cell with them.'"93

After over six months in the Tower of London, Latimer, Cranmer and Ridley were removed to Oxford for a public trial, involving thirty-three official disputants from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. When they had been further softened up, by three or four weeks in the notorious prison of Bocardo, they were individually brought before the Council on Saturday, 14 April, 1554. Three articles, affirming transubstantiation, the corporeal presence and the mass as a propitiatory sacrifice were drafted for their signatures. All three remained steadfast and on their dismissal were now imprisoned separately. The following Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday saw Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer, respectively, questioned by the Council.94 Latimer affirmed that, in his reading through the Scriptures seven times in prison, he could not find "the marrow bones and sinews" of the mass. His parting words are indicative of his feelings at the time: "You shall have no hope in me to turn. I pray for the queen daily, even from the bottom of my heart, that she may turn from this religion."95 Their misery in prison was somewhat alleviated by the kindness of their friends in sending them gifts of food and clothing. Latimer, at this time, wrote a "general epistle" to "all the unfeigned lovers of God's truth," to encourage them during this period of persecution.96

Latimer was expecting execution any day now but was granted more time by a legal technicality. When Mary's second parliament was dissolved in May, 1554, there was still no statute on the books enabling the execution of Latimer, Cranmer and Ridley. The next Parliament met again in November 1554 and re-enacted an old heresy law, originally used against the Lollards.97 John Rogers, editor of the Matthew Bible, was burnt at the stake the following February, and John Bradford in June. Why then were Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley allowed to live so long? Essentially, the popish party wanted a recantation for they desired, if at all possible, to avoid executing such notable public figures. Sadly, with one of the three, they, in part, gained their objective. Cranmer gave in and recanted but eventually, after recanting his recantation, he was executed 21 March, 1556, holding the "unworthy right hand," with which he had signed his retraction, in the flame.

On 30 September, 1555, the Council decided to wait no longer and Latimer was again asked his opinion on the articles on the mass.98 The reformer stood fast and Doctor Weston pronounced the sentence. Latimer gave thanks: "I thank God most heartily that he hath prolonged my life to this end, that I may in this case glorify God by that kind of death." Weston retorted, "If you go to heaven in this faith, then I will never come thither, as I am thus persuaded."99

The next day, Latimer and Ridley were given one more chance.100 On 15 October, they were put through the mockery of derobing and the next day they were burnt at the stake near Balliol College, Oxford.101 Typically, the sermon was on I Corinthians 13:3: "though I give my body to be burned and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." As the torch was applied to the faggots and the smoke began to ascend to heaven, Latimer spoke those immortal words: "Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."


(VII) Conclusion

Through the thirty-odd years of Hugh Latimer's life as a reformer, God graciously preserved him by a variety of means—friends in high places, the (fluctuating) favour of Henry VIII, his own quick thinking and even, once, his own compromise.102 Latimer was converted relatively late in life (about forty) and in many ways Latimer was still a "medieval man." "Nobody," Marchant states, "was more ready to retain every belief and practice which could be called primitive, none more careful to uphold the legitimate uses of customs without their abuses."103 His own lack of a consistently biblical theology during the reign of Henry, coupled with the king's need for the reformers in the struggles with the papacy and the discussions with the Lutherans, served to stave off the stake. Right from his earliest days and his harnessing his father's horse for the king's battle, he was a royalist and sought to serve the king, as far as the law of God would allow.104 Finally, we must realize that the theological battle lines between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism were not fully drawn.105

Not only did the Lord spare Latimer but He did so for a purpose—to further the English Reformation. Latimer was pre-eminently an Englishman; he was of yeoman stock; a Cambridge scholar; an industrious country parson; a faithful English bishop; a man who could be counted upon to support the king.106 He embodied all that was best in the national character: he was hard-working, forthright, manly and eminently practical. His works of piety in visiting the imprisoned and the sick, advocating the rights of the oppressed and seeking justice for the poor were understood as the honest endeavours of one with a heart for the common man. He was in the best sense of the word, a popular preacher. His preaching labours included not just Cambridge, nor his parish, nor his diocese, nor London, but many parts throughout the country. Most importantly, he preached, so to speak, "where the people were at." Though he had fierce opposition, it could truly be said of him that "the common people heard him gladly." His sermons were earnest, witty, lively and engaging. One contemporary declared, "I have an ear for other preachers, but I have a heart for Latimer."107

At the end of his illustrious life, we see "old Hugh Latimer" stand before the commissioners at Oxford. He is a tired, failing old man, with his hat in his hand, a kerchief on his head and a Bible hanging from a long string of leather from his belt.108 His Latin is no longer what it was and his memory is failing him; he often has to appeal to "my lord of Canterbury's book."109 His pitiful condition at the trial with his noble stand for the truth and his martyrdom, coming as they did at the end of a life characterized by integrity, struck a cord in the psyche of the nation. The godly bishops and the Archbishop of Canterbury had to seal their testimony with their blood. The English people saw the true nature of the Roman Church and began to consider further and embrace the gospel, for which these worthies died.

May the candle of the gospel, kindled by such a man as Bishop Hugh Latimer, though at present merely flickering in England, continue to burn "and never be put out!"


1 Harold S. Darby, Hugh Latimer (London: Epworth Press, 1953), p. 7.
2 Latimer died in October, 1555 and it is generally accepted, especially among more recent writers, that he was born in 1485.
3 Foxe, quoted in Hugh Latimer, The Works of Hugh Latimer, Sometime Bishop of Worchester, Martyr, 1555, ed. George E. Corrie, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Parker Society, 1844, 1845).
4 Darby, Op. cit., p. 15.
5 Ibid., p. 18.
6 Robert Demaus, Hugh Latimer, A Biography (London: Religious Tract Society, repr. 1927), p. 37.
7 Quoted by Ralph Morris, Cranmer's secretary, Works II:xxvii.
8 Works I:334.
8a Herman Hanko, Portraits of Faithful Saints (Grand Rapids: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1999), p. 263.
9 Works I:334-335.
10 Allan G. Chester, Hugh Latimer: Apostle to the English (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1954), p. 21.
11 Foxe, quoted in Works II:x.
12 Morice, quoted in Works II:xxviii.
13 Darby wrongly reckons the text as Hebrews 11:11 (Op. cit., p. 29).
14 Morice, quoted in Works II:xxix.
15 Darby, Op. cit., p. 30. Darby, however, uses the point of Latimer's veracity to argue that he really was ignorant of Luther's theology but this seems to be stretching things too far.
16 Morice, quoted in Works II:xxix.
17 Chester questions the relation between Latimer's clash with West and his interview with Wolsey, and doubts the possibility of an occasion for the latter meeting (Op. cit., pp. 24-26).
18 Morice, quoted in Works II:xxix-xxxi. It has been said that heresy was more of an error with Wolsey than a crime. As George P. Fisher puts it: "Wolsey was disinclined to persecution, and preferred to burn heretical books, rather than the heretics themselves" (The Reformation [New York: Scribners, 1920], p. 270).
19 Latimer held this office from 1522 (two years before his conversion) to 1529 (Chester, Op. cit., pp. 7-8).
20 Thus the famous saying of the Reformer, Thomas Becon: "When Master Stafford read, and Master Latimer preached, then was Cambridge blessed" (quoted in Demaus, Op. cit., p. 71).
21 Latimer's first and second Sermon on the Cards are contained in his Works II:3-16, 17-24.
22 T. H. L. Parker, Calvin's Preaching (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992), p. 45.
23 Works I:3-4.
24 Works I:4-7.
25 Works I:8.
26 Works I:9-24.
27 Works I:23.
28 Demaus, Op. cit., p. 86.
29 Ibid., pp. 86-87.
30 Quoted in Darby, Op. cit., p. 47.
31 Quoted in Chester, Op. cit., p. 46.
32 "Memoir of Hugh Latimer" in Works I:iv.
33 Quoted in Darby, Op. cit., p. 48.
34 Ibid., p. 58.
35 Since Cranmer had written a book advocating the king's divorce, he was not permitted to sit on the commission but instead acted as a persuader.
36 Chester, Op. cit., p. 55.
37 See Philip E. Hughes, The Reformation in England, vol. 1 (London: Hollis & Carter, 1956), p. 211.
38 Contained in Works II:297-309.
39 Cf. Chester, Op. cit., p. 225, n. 20.
40 John K. Yost is of the same opinion ("Hugh Latimer's Reform Program," Anglican Theological Review, 53:1 [1971], p. 106).
41 Works II:305.
42 Chester, Op. cit., pp. 63-65.
43 Ibid., p. 65.
44 Foxe, quoted in Works II:xv.
45 Demaus, Op. cit., p. 126. Demaus also reckons it possible that his trip to London was in order to meet with Bilney, though again we have no record of this (p. 128).
46 The second point was particularly offensive since Bilney was currently being examined for heresy.
47 Latimer realized he was in serious trouble. Bilney had recently become the first of the Cambridge Protestants to be martyred and Stokesley was a very important bishop, held in great favour by both Sir Thomas More and Archbishop Warham, who had succeeded Wolsey.
48 Works I:294.
49 Contained in Works II:351-356.
50 Works II:355-356.
51 Demaus, Op. cit., p. 149.
52 Demaus, reckoning the number of articles after Foxe, has as the eleventh article a prescription of Lent and fast days (Op. cit., p. 146). Latimer's more recent biographers, Darby and Chester, prefer the numbering in the Latin text, preserved in the London registers (Darby, Op. cit., p. 71; Chester, Op. cit., p. 79). It takes little thought to deduce from the circumstances, which of the two "article elevens," the bishops would consider it most important that Latimer sign.
53 Works II:356-357.
54 For more on this, see Owen Chadwick, The Reformation (London: Penguin, 1964), pp. 101-104.
55 Quoted in Darby, Op. cit., pp. 78-79.
56 A record of their discussion is contained in Works II:221-224.
57 Works II:222-223.
58 Works II:223.
59 See Works II:225-239, 317-321, 357-366.
60 Later it became Latimer's practice to have the congregation repeat the Lord's Prayer with him after the sermon (cf. Works I:307-308). Chester reckons "no Englishman ever did more than Latimer to establish the place of the Lord's Prayer in Protestant worship and devotion" (Op. cit., p. 85).
61 The incumbent bishop was another Italian absentee, Ghinucci.
62 The commission took evidence 5-11 July, 1532.
63 About this time, John Frith was burnt at the stake in Smithfield for denying transubstantiation (4 July, 1533).
64 G. J. C. Marchant, "Latimer's Candle," The Evangelical Quarterly, 28 (1956), p. 19.
65 Chester reckons that he had to spend as much as thirty of the forty-five months of his bishopric in London and elsewhere (Op. cit., p. 106).
66 Latimer's first and second sermons before Convocation are in Works I:33-40, 41-48.
67 Works I:48.
68 Demaus, Op. cit., pp. 232-233.
69 Cf. Ibid., pp. 241-243.
70 Latimer's minute, complete with Henry's annotations, is found in Works II:245-249.
71 Works I:231. Hayles was a town near West Kingdon.
72 Chester, Op. cit., p. 130. In July, 1953, a seventeen foot high stone idol of "Our Lady" was erected. The writer of a commemorative pamphlet:"'mourns the destruction of the original shrine' and denounces Hugh Latimer as a 'notorious renegade from the true faith' and an 'agent from hell' but he continues 'Our Blessed Lady tilts the scales in favour of men by means of Rosary Beads' " (Sylvia Lacoski, "Hugh Latimer and The Great Sibyl and Our Lady of Penrhys," The Reformer [Nov./Dec., 1997], p. 3; italics Lacoski's).
73 Chester, Op. cit., p. 145.
74 Works I:487.
75 Bard Thompson describes them as "a rank repudiation of Protestantism in England" (Humanists and Reformers: A History of the Renaissance and Reformation [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996], p. 583).
76 At this stage, Latimer still had not given up belief in transubstantiation.
77 See Chester for discussion (Op. cit., pp. 149-151).
78 Quoted in Darby, Op. cit., p. 159.
79 Marchant, "Latimer's Candle," p. 18.
80 Following the chronology proposed by Chester (Op. cit., p. 158).
81 Chester, Ibid., p. 161.
82 Calvin's letter to Farel in 1539 could sum up Henry's reign: "The king is only half wise ... he has a mutilated and torn gospel, and a church stuffed full as yet with many toys and trifles" (quoted in Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 8 [Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendriksen, repr. 1996], p. 816).
83 Each church's Bible was to have inscribed on its title page, Psalm 119:105: "Thy word is a lantern to my feet" (Fisher, Op. cit., p. 275).
84 In 1550, Peter Martyr wrote to Brenz: "There is no lack of preachers in London, but throughout the whole kingdom they are very rare" (quoted in Philip E. Hughes, The Reformation in England, vol. 2 [London: Hollis & Carter, 1954], p. 139).
85 Chester, Op. cit., p. 168. For an analysis of Latimer's preaching regarding social criticism and the need for more funding to educate reformed preachers, see Patricia Cricco, "Hugh Latimer and Witness," Sixteenth Century Journal, X:1 (1979), pp. 21-34; and John K. Yost, "Hugh Latimer's Reform Program," pp. 103-114; "Hugh Latimer and the Reformation Crisis in the Education of Preachers," The Lutheran Quarterly, 24 (1972), pp. 179-189.
86 Works I:70-71.
87 Works I:74.
88 Cf. Works II:264-265.
89 Foxe, quoted in Works II:xxii.
90 Darby, Op. cit., p. 213.
91 Chester, Op. cit., p. 196.
92 In Nicholas Ridley, The Works of Nicholas Ridley, D.D., Sometime Lord Bishop of London, Martyr, 1555, ed. Henry Christmas (Cambridge: Parker Society, 1843) pp. 97-151.
93 Demaus, Op. cit., p. 496.
94 For an account of Latimer's trial at this time, see Works II:250-278.
95 Works II:278.
96 Contained in Works II:435-444.
97 Chester, Op. cit., pp. 207-208.
98 For an account of Latimer's trial at this time, see Works II:278-288.
99 Quoted in Darby, Op. cit., p. 231.
100 For an account of Latimer's trial at this time, see Works II:289-293. Latimer here denies that the Roman Church is the true church.
101 Schaff mistakenly reckons the deaths of Latimer and Ridley with Cranmer in 1556 (Op. cit., p. 699) and Will Durant gets, not the year but, the date wrong, stating it as 6 October (The Story of Civilisation, vol. 6 [New York: Simon & Schuster, 1957], p. 598). The correct date of the martyrdoms of Latimer and Ridley is 16 October, 1555.
102 Demaus describes Latimer's full submission before Convocation in 1532 as "the darkest page in Latimer's history" (Op. cit., p. 153).
103 Marchant, "Latimer's Candle," p. 19.
104 Works I:101.
105 On God's use of means, see Westminster Confession 3:1: "God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established."
106 Mary Tudor, not least by her marriage to Philip of Spain, showed a "habit of mind" which was "more Spanish than English" (Chester, Op. cit., p. 195). Her returning to England while remaining under the sway of "that Italian bishop yonder" was also unpopular.
107 Quoted in Chester, Op. cit., p. viii.
108 Demaus, Op. cit., pp. 529-530.
109 I.e., Cranmer's work, The True and Catholic Doctrine of the Sacrament.