| Executed by burning at Smithfield November 22, 1538 by order of King Henry VIII |
Character's backstory: born at Norwich as John Nicolson or Nicholson. Educated at Cambridge where he graduated BA and was admitted in 1521 a fellow of Queen's college on the nomination of Queen Katherine of Aragon. Acted for some years as "Mass Priest" but according to his own account changed his name to Lambert after some episcopal persecution
compelled him to. He likewise removed himself to Antwerp where he became chaplain to the English factory forming friendship with Frith and Tyndale. Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk and other reactionaries accused him of Heresy in 1536. but reforming tendencies were still in the ascendant, and Lambert escaped . In 1538, however, the reaction had begun, and Lambert was its first victim.
His death marks a turning point in the early process of the English Reformation and with this man's blood King Henry VIII etched his warning against doctrinal liberality.
John Lambert had picked a theological dispute with a pastor in London. He didn’t buy into transubstantiation, the Catholic doctrine (still extant today) that the bread blessed on the altar became the literal body of Christ.
Though the Church of England would ditch this belief soon thereafter, it came down hard on Lambert in a show trial attended by Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Cranmer. The king himself debated theology with the accused, though mostly he left it to his august councilors.
A few months later, Henry induced Parliament to pass the <a class="external" href="http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/Documents/act_six_articles.htm" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Act of the Six Articles</a>, essentially establishing this essentially Catholic doctrine as the basis for the Church of England and criminalizing dissent.
Many historians see this as a product of the shifting balance between reformers and conservatives advising the crown. (Although Tudor historian G.W. Bernard disagrees) Lambert’s death is also sometimes interpreted in light of the international situation, as the Catholic powers of France and the Holy Roman Empire had made peace, potentially (along with Scotland) encircling England with Popish foes who might conceivably be less belligerent with a move towards traditional doctrine.
John Foxe in his Book of Martyrs suggested that Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex who had condemned him asked his pardon before he was consigned to the flames.
As for Lambert himself, he met an especially cruel version of the none-too-pleasant sentence of burning alive, allegedly being lifted by pikestaffs from the flame when his legs were burned off to prolong his suffering. He is said to have continued to call out the inspirational last words, “None but Christ! None but Christ!”
*in the series he says "All for Christ, all for Christ"
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