Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



In 1550 Thomas Cranmer wrote A Defence of the True and Catholike Doctrine of the body and bloud of our saviour Christ. This theological work sparked a written debate between him and leading English traditionalist Stephen Gardiner in 1551. This dissertation outlines the differences between Cranmer’s newly asserted Reformed understanding of a Spiritual Presence in the Eucharist and Gardiner’s traditional doctrine of Real Presence, more commonly termed transubstantiation. The dissertation analyzes the three-book exchange between these bishops and explains how each uses the same Scripture, writings of the early Church Fathers, and contemporary Continental Reformers to establish their very different ideas. In addition to this theological context, the dissertation argues that both Cranmer and Gardiner are also writing with a personal, not solely spiritual, goal. As the Reformation continued throughout Edward VI’s reign, religious practice and doctrine in England were still quite uncertain and unstable. Thomas Cranmer was attempting to institute more reforms, taking England further from its traditional religious roots and relying on his authority as Archbishop to legislate and enforce the religious changes. Gardiner’s consistent challenge to these changes presented Cranmer a potential discrediting of his authority and the Protestant cause in England. In turn, Gardiner was imprisoned during this debate and challenged Cranmer in order to demonstrate that Cranmer was, in fact, the man who was at fault and Gardiner should not be tried and held for his ‘right’ religious views. Thus, both men were trying to prove he was the credible authority, not his opponent. This personal animosity, rife with insults, between the two theologians in 1551 was the culmination of over a decade’s worth of opposition that marked this theological debate with a complicated underlying social context. The dissertation will also show that it was because of this debate that Cranmer created a clearly defined Reformed Eucharistic position that would later be adapted in the Protestant Elizabethan settlement. Thus, this debate directly impacted the trajectory of England's Protestant Eucharistic position well beyond 1551.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Restricted at the request of Asst Dean Lane. No expiration given.

Committee Chair

Stater, Victor



Included in

History Commons