Matthew Parker

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Matthew Parker

Matthew Parker
Matthew Parker.jpg
Archbishop of Canterbury

Matthew Parker (6 August 1504 – 17 May 1575) was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1559 until his death in 1575. He was also an influential theologian and arguably the co-founder (with Thomas Cranmer and Richard Hooker) of Anglican theological thought.
At Cambridge, Parker was influenced by the writings of Martin Luther and other reformers. In 1535, he was appointed chaplain to Anne Boleyn and in 1537 to Henry VIII.
Parker was one of the primary architects of the Thirty-Nine Articles, the defining statements of Anglican doctrine. The Parker collection of early English manuscripts, including the book of St. Augustine Gospels and Version A of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, was created as part of his efforts to demonstrate that the English Church was historically independent from Rome, creating one of the world's most important collections of ancient manuscripts.

In 1537, Parker was appointed chaplain to King Henry VIII, and, in 1538, he was threatened with prosecution, but the Bishop of Dover, however, reported to Thomas Cromwell that Parker "hath ever been of a good judgment and set forth the Word of God after a good manner. For this he suffers some grudge."

Matthew Parker was born in Norwich, in 1504, and educated at St. Mary's Hostel and at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He was ordained in 1527 and was appointed Dean of the College of St. John the Baptist at Stoke-by-Clare and Chaplain to Anne Boleyn and to the King. In 1544, he was elected Master of his College at Cambridge and Vice-Chancellor of the University; and, upon the accession of Queen Elizabeth, he took part in the revision of the Prayer Book. He was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury in Lambeth Palace Chapel in 1559. The Anglican Church owes much to the wisdom and judgement with which Parker guided her course through a time of great difficulty, when she was in peril, from the Roman party, on the one hand, and the Puritans on the other. His devotion to the cause of learning was shown by the magnificent collection of books which he made and bequeathed to his College, and by the publication of the "Bishop's Bible". He was, himself, the author of various works, chiefly on the history and the government of the Anglican Church. He died in 1575.

Sources:; The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition; G.M. Bevan's "Portraits of the Archbishops of Canterbury" (1908).

Recommended Reading: Great Tales from English History: A Treasury of True Stories about the Extraordinary People -- Knights and Knaves, Rebels and Heroes, Queens and Commoners -- Who Made Britain Great. Reviews: 'Beautifully written, full of things you didn't know and well worth a read if you want a new view on stories you though you already understood' - LIVING HISTORY '. Continued below…

A great introduction to history and legend for children and adults who've forgotten' OBSERVER 'These human high-spots flash past like a newsreel with the leading characters in close-up, leaving you thinking - what an exceptional country ours is to produce so many interesting people' Books of the Year, DAILY MAIL 'Lacey's lively snapshots are always pithy and are delivered with a winning gung-ho enthusiasm' Books of the Year, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH. Description: A feast for history lovers--the whole colorful parade of English history brilliantly captured in a single volume. From ancient times to the present day, the story of England has been laced with drama, intrigue, courage, and passion. In GREAT TALES FROM ENGLISH HISTORY, Robert Lacey recounts the remarkable episodes that shaped a nation as only a great storyteller can: by combining impeccable accuracy with the timeless drama that has made these tales live for centuries. This new paperback edition is encyclopedic in scope, gathering together all of Robert Lacey's great tales previously published in three separate hardcover volumes. The book comprises 154 delectable stories, each brimming with insight, humor, and fascinating detail. Bite-sized history at its best, GREAT TALES FROM ENGLISH HISTORY belongs on every Anglophile's bookshelf. "An informative, trustworthy distillation, less a debunking than an entertaining, wryly lucid reconstruction of the facts. . . . The tales weave a narrative as finely thatched as an English cottage." –Tennessean. "Eminently readable, highly enjoyable. . . GREAT TALES should appeal to the reader who appreciates individuals and their personalities more than mere mass movements." -St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Beautifully written, full of things you didn't know, and well worth a read if you want a new view on stories you thought you'd already understood." -Living History. About the Author: Robert Lacey is the coauthor of The Year 1000 and the author of such bestselling books as Majesty, The Kingdom, and The Queen Mother’s Century. He lives in London.

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Related Reading: Famous and Infamous Parkers

Recommended Reading: The Six Wives of Henry VIII. From Kirkus Reviews: Weir (the genealogical Britain's Royal Family--not reviewed) here uses the many public records and personal letters of the early 1500's to offer a comprehensive, factual version of the tempestuous private and public lives of Henry VIII and his six wives. The story is dominated by Henry and the devolution of his character from an ``affable,'' ``gentle,'' and gifted (he wrote poetry) lover, soldier, and ruler into a porcine, paranoid, impotent old man who was exploited and manipulated by courtiers and women, some of whom he imprisoned, beheaded, or hanged. Henry's brother's widow, Catherine of Aragon, six years the king's senior, became at 24 his first wife. Continued below…

Thirty years later, she was set aside for the ambitious "virago'' Anne Boleyn, who was in turn beheaded to make room for the gentle Jane Seymour, who died in childbirth and was replaced by the repugnant and scholarly Anne of Cleves. Soon, Anne was retired for Catherine Howard, a 15-year-old "empty- headed wanton'' who, despite Henry's passion for her, was executed--along with three alleged but innocent lovers--and replaced by the king's most "agreeable wife,'' Catherine Parr, who narrowly escaped execution herself for religious quarreling. Vowing in marriage to be "bonair and buxom/amiable/in bed and at board'' and to produce heirs, Henry's wives illustrate to Weir, through their pregnancies, miscarriages, and infants' deaths, both the profligacy of nature and the dependence of political power on sexual prowess. Yet Weir offers this sensational chapter in history in the cautious tone of a college term paper, doggedly and unimaginatively piling up facts and occasionally lapsing into naivet‚ as when Mary (whose mother, Catherine of Aragon, had been banished to die alone) and Elizabeth (still too young to understand that Henry had beheaded her mother, Anne Boleyn, in order to marry Jane) are invited to court: "At last the King,'' Weir writes, ``was settling down to something resembling family life.'' (Sixteen pages of b&w illustrations; 74 pages of responsible bibliographical essays.) (Book-of-the-Month Dual Selection for May) -- Copyright 1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. From School Library Journal: YA-- A wonderfully detailed, extensively researched collective biography. Although the book is undoubtedly the work of a Tudor scholar, with sources ranging from previous biographies of these women to private papers, letters, diaries, and diplomatic sources, it is also the work of a competent fiction writer. The narrative is free flowing, humorous, informative, and readable. Weir's research abilities and deductive reasoning have shed a whole new light on the political maneuverings of the era and thus on the myriad forces that drove Henry VIII, his wives, and his children. Personal and obscure facts about the women, Henry's relationship with his nobles, and quirks of the times enliven the text. Genealogical tables for all the families involved are included. This book can be used for research, as it contains a wealth of information. However, students who don't read the whole book (even though its size may intimidate them) are missing a once in a lifetime opportunity to have the Tudor era laid open for them. Debbie Hyman, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA. Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Recommended Reading: A History of the Church in England. Description: The text, 'A History of the Church in England', by J.R.H. Moorman, is one of the important works of Anglican history of this generation. There aren't many one-volume treatments of the whole of Anglican history; while Anglicans as a rule give a good amount of attention and authority to history (the second of the three pillars of Anglicanism - Scripture, Tradition, and Reason - has much to do with history), it is surprising perhaps that this book is rare in nature. As Moorman writes in the preface to the first edition, 'It is notoriously difficult to pour a gallon of water into a pint pot.' Moorman doesn't simply treat the period of time from Henry VIII to the present, a five-hundred year span that is also difficult to encompass in a single volume; he examines the history of the church IN England from the earliest Christian presence to the present time. Perhaps this explains the title more fully - this is not so much a history of the institution of the Church of England, but rather an exploration of the church as it continues from its earliest times to its current expression. Continued below…
Moorman concedes that his is not an unbiased reporter - indeed, such a creature is unlikely to be found, particularly among those for whom English and England are native aspects. Moorman states that 'impartial history would be very dull', and thus makes no such pretension. He is one who does not see the Church of England as being created by Henry VIII, but rather sees the church in England (of which the Church of England is the primary institutional successor) as a continuous entity. Moorman's text is an interesting read, but a bit dry by the standards of today's historical writing. I can tell by comparison to other works of the 1950s and 1960s (when the principal text was assembled) that this would have been an innovation in terms of accessibility and resistance to stodgy history (the kind that comes in dusty tomes residing on library shelves, doomed to never be read), but today reads as being a bit archaic at times. As every history is necessarily selective, this one suffers a time or two in the kinds of details left out, but generally hits all of the major events and issues of the development of Anglicanism in England, particularly from the Elizabethan time forward to the early part of the twentieth century. One of the flaws of the book is that it does not take into account the increasingly global nature of the Anglican Communion over time. Moorman treats this only briefly in a few sections (four pages in one chapter, six pages in another). Moorman also only briefly touches on intercommunion and ecumenical actions, which are increasingly important in today's society (when he writes about other churches, it is overwhelmingly about the Roman Catholic Church that he is writing). However, Moorman is an excellent text for the topic its focus. It is well documented (nearly 800 other works are referenced here), has an excellent index (24 pages of small print), and a good table of contents with chapter annotations. This is a must-read text for any Anglican, or any student of the history and culture of England.

Recommended Reading: The Life of Elizabeth I. Description: The long life and powerful personality of England's beloved Virgin Queen have eternal appeal, and popular historian Alison Weir depicts both with panache. She's especially good at evoking the physical texture of Tudor England: the elaborate royal gowns (actually an intricate assembly of separate fabric panels buttoned together over linen shifts), the luxurious but unhygienic palaces (Elizabeth got the only "close stool"; most members of her retinue relieved themselves in the courtyards), the huge meals heavily seasoned to disguise the taste of spoiled meat. Continued below…

Against this earthy backdrop, Elizabeth's intelligence and formidable political skills stand in vivid relief. She may have been autocratic, devious, even deceptive, but these traits were required to perform a 45-year tightrope walk between the two great powers of Europe, France and Spain. Both countries were eager to bring small, weak England under their sway and to safely marry off its inconveniently independent queen. Weir emphasizes Elizabeth's precarious position as a ruling woman in a man's world, suggesting plausibly that the single life was personally appealing as well as politically expedient for someone who had seen many ambitious ladies--including her own mother--ruined and even executed for just the appearance of sexual indiscretions. The author's evaluations of such key figures in Elizabeth's reign as the Earl of Leicester (arguably the only man she ever loved) and William Cecil (her most trusted adviser) are equally cogent and respectful of psychological complexity. Weir does a fine job of retelling this always-popular story for a new generation.


Recommended Reading: The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn. Description: Anne Boleyn is the most notorious of England’s queens, but more famous for her death as an adulterer than for her life. Henry's second wife and mother of Elizabeth I, Anne was the first English queen to be publicly executed. Yet what do we know of the achievements and legacy of her short reign. In The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn Eric Ives provides the most detailed and convincing portrait we have of the queen. He reveals a person of intellect with a passion for the new culture of the Renaissance, a woman who made her way in a man’s world by force of education and personality. Continued below…

She played a powerful and independent role in the faction-ridden court of Henry VIII and the unceasing struggle for royal favor that was Tudor politics. The consequences can still be detected today. Indeed, Ives shows that it was precisely because Anne was a powerful figure in her own right that it needed a coup to bring her down. She had to be stopped even by a lie. About the Author: Eric Ives is Emeritus Professor of English History at the University of Birmingham. Ives has written widely on Tudor history, the history of law, and on the development of modern higher education. In 2001 he was awarded an OBE for services to history and the University of Birmingham.


Recommended Viewing: Cromwell (1970) (DVD). Description: A magnificent portrayal of the fundamental issues, and their resolution, which formed and shaped the British nation for 300 years. There is obviously not the slightest hope of compressing the complicated historical events from 1640 to 1660 into 2 hours, but the basics are presented with excellent clarity, and produced with a marvelous balance between entertaining drama and solid essentials. Continued below…

Guinness and Harris are both on tremendous form: the defining characteristics of Charles were vacillation and weakness, and those of Cromwell force and resolution. Both were pious in their own ways. Charles, however, thought he could do what he liked in his position because God had put him there. Cromwell didn't share this belief, and that is what makes him a great man, and a great architect of the British political values which lasted for so long. The ruthless crushing of the threat in Ireland has to be addressed, of course, and perhaps I'll add something on that at a later date. Such was the man's personality, however, that even an author from a British Roman Catholic background felt obliged to title her biography: "Cromwell, Our Chief of Men".

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