Bishop John Fisher Historical Profile

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Bishop John Fisher
Historical Profile

June 1535 Ambassador Chapuys wrote to Emperor Charles V:

"As soon as this King heard that the bishop of Rochester (Fisher) had been created cardinal, he was so angry and indignant at it that he said to many who were present at the time, that he would soon give him another and better hat, for he would send the Bishop's head to Rome for that purpose; immediately after which he sent to the Tower for the members of his Privy Council to summon again the Bishop to their presence, as well as Master Mur (More), and make them acknowledge him as head of the Church, threatening, unless they did so, to have them executed as traitors before St. John's Day. But no threats or promises have as yet had any effect on them, and it is generally believed that both will be shortly executed. As, however, they happen to be men of great reputation and credit throughout this kingdom, the King has already ordered that sermons should be preached against them in almost all the churches of this city. That work commenced on Sunday last, and is to continue through the next in order to silence the murmurs of the people. Yet as there seems to be no sufficient cause to sentence them to death, the King is looking out for some misprision of treason to convict them thereof, and an investigation is now being carried, on to ascertain whether the Bishop really applied to Rome for the cardinal's hat, to which end several relatives of his, and even gaolers and guards, have been arrested. It is impossible to describe the sorrow and affliction of the Queen and Princess at hearing of such doings, they themselves being afraid that after the execution of those personages, the King may proceed to further violence, as I have already informed Your Majesty."

Effigy of Fisher

"On the 17th inst. the good and holy bishop of Rochester was sentenced to death for having refused to swear to the statutes lately made against the Pope, and the Queen's rights, and on the 22nd he was publicly beheaded at the same place where the duke of Buckingham was executed. There is no describing the immeasurable regret and pity felt by all people. They tell me that on the scaffold he was often and often solicited to comply with the King's wishes, grace and pardon being offered to him in the King's name, but that he kept firm to the last and died most exemplarily. They gave him as a confessor a sworn enemy of his, and the staunchest Lutheran in the world, as well as the originator of all the devillish acts practised here; who, however, was so much edified by the Bishop's countenance and noble behaviour on the scaffold that he ceases not to say that one of the best and holiest men in the world has been executed. Cromwell tells me that the Pope (Paul) was the real cause of the Bishop's death, for having foolishly made a cardinal of the King's bitterest enemy; and that the reason he alleged was still more foolish, for when he heard of the Bishop's execution he said to Sir Gregory da Casale, "I did " it in contemplation of the approaching Council, for as I " intended to summon cardinals from all provinces and " kingdoms in the world, I thought of him, and gave him " a hat that he might represent England therein."
~ Ambassador Chapuys June 30th 1535 in a letter to Emperor Charles V - Spanish Calendar