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Thomas Cranmer's Register: a record of archiepiscopal administration in diocese and province



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Ayris, Paul 


Thomas Cranmer's Register in Lambeth Palace Library forms an important record of the archbishop's administration in diocese and province. Called from relative obscurity in 1533 to be archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer was thrust into the heady world of Tudor politics. The government’s use of the archbishop's diocesan and metropolitioal jurisdiction enabled them to control that prelate's powers to enforce the political settlement in the country. With the creation of the Vice-Gerenoy, the archbishop of Canterbury was no longer the principal minister of the King's spiritual jurisdiction. Cromwell used his office as Vice-Cerent with skill and insight to place the authority of the English episcopate upon new foundations. He himself was able to supplement the jurisdiction of the archbishop as metropolitan. Thomets Cranmer's Commonplace Books give evidence of his efforts to elaborate a doctrine of Christian Obedience. The Reformatio Legum Bcclesiasticarum shows that by the 1550s, Thomas Cranmer had evolved a careful plan to reform the administration of the English church. Ihe key to such an attempt was the archbishop's concept of ministry. Thomas Cranmer was able to implement certain reforms in diocese and province and he used traditional administrative practices to achieve that end. It is clear, nonetheless, that there are many parallels in Cranmer's Register with the Registers of his mediaeval forbears. The theological and political reformation of the sixteenth oentury left unchanged certain aspects of ecclesiastical administration and discipline. In asserting its supremacy within the English churoh, the Tudor monarchy strove to extirpate Roman Jurisdiction in England. Cranmer fully accepted such claims on theological grounds and strove to implement in diocese and province spiritual and administrative reforms grounded in the tenets of the New Divinity. Such developments find no parallel in mediaeval episcopal Registers. The Reformatio Legum records Cranmer’s mature ideas concerning administration and discipline in the English church.




Brooks, P. N.



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge