The English Reformation's Most Famous Martyrs
Shaped Cranmer’s thinking
Nicholas Ridley had one of the finest minds in England, and after attending Cambridge and the Sorbonne in Paris, settled down to a scholarly career at Cambridge. About 1534, he began showing interest in Protestantism, and in 1537, he became chaplain to Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. He influenced Cranmer’s thinking, moving Cranmer from the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation.
In the 1540s, when a Roman Catholic reaction set in during Henry’s reign, he was suspected of heresy, but during the reign of Edward VI, he became bishop of Rochester, and eventually bishop of London, as well.
Ridley influenced the Book of Common Prayer, where his theology of the Eucharist was given special place: Christ’s sacrifice was not “repeated,” as in the Catholic liturgy. Instead, worshipers offered a “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.”
As bishop of London, Ridley had stone altars replaced by wooden tables for observing Communion, which caused an uproar in the city. He also instituted pastoral work in the city, aiding the poor and founding hospitals and schools.
Just before King Edward died, Ridley unwisely supported the claim of Lady Jane Grey to the throne. When Mary became queen, Ridley was imprisoned in the Tower of London. He was joined by Hugh Latimer and Thomas Cranmer, and all three were taken to Oxford, where their “heretical” opinions were examined. When given an opportunity to recant his views, Ridley declined, and he was condemned to be burned.
Hugh Latimer started out as a passionate Catholic, and his conversion to Protestantism was extraordinary.
During his years at Cambridge University (he enrolled in 1506), he gained a reputation both ...