ABSTRACT

WHILE the Pope was pronouncing him contumacious for taking no care to obey his citation 1 and was condemning him to be deprived and degraded as an obstinate heretic, and while he was being burnt in effigy at Rome, 2 Cranmer was engaged in drawing up an appeal to a General Council. The law of nature, 3 he wrote to a legal friend whose assistance he sought, required every man to defend his own life so far as it might be done without offence to God; and lest he should seem rashly and unadvisedly to cast himself away he had resolved to follow Luther’s example in appealing from Leo X. He was bound by oath, he said, never to consent to the reception of the Pope’s authority in England; from this came all his trouble, so that the quarrel was personal between him and the Pope, and no man could be a lawful and indifferent judge in his own cause; therefore, he had good reason in appealing to a General Council. 357Not that he thought his life would thereby be saved; he was well aware that in 1460 Pius II. by his “execrable” Bull 1 had forbidden all such appeals to a General Council, and had thus made absolute his own jurisdiction. “The chiefest cause in very deed (to tell you the truth),” wrote Cranmer, “of this mine appeal is that I might gain time (if it shall so please God) to live until I have finished mine answer against Marcus Antonius Constantine 2 which I now have in hand.”