William Tyndale

Posted: July 30, 2018 in History, London, Medieval History, UK
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William Tyndale was born in Gloucestershire in 1494. He attended Oxford University and obtained a first degree in 1512 and his master’s degree 3 years later. He began studying Theology. In 1517 he moved from Oxford to Cambridge where he remained until 1521. He then took up a post as chaplain and tutor to a family in Gloucestershire, but after 2 years left to travel to London seeking permission to translate the Latin Bible into English. Finding no support in England for his project, he travelled to Wittenberg in Germany where he began working on the translation. The first copies were printed in Antwerp and Worms in 1526 and some of these found their way back to England. Bishop Tunstall obtained some copies and promptly burnt them, although this proved to be a controversial action even amongst those who opposed the translation from Latin. In 1529, Cardinal Wolsey declared that Tyndale was a heretic and the following year Tyndale wrote an essay opposing the annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Infuriated, Henry petitioned the Emporer Charles V for Tyndale’s arrest and extradition. Tyndale was eventually arrested in 1535 and put on trial at Vilvoorde near Brussels on a charge of Heresy. It is interesting to note that one person who urged the court for clemency was Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s chief minister.  Tyndale was found guilty and sentenced to execution. His last words were reported as “Lord, open the eyes of the King of England”. By 1540, Henry had commisioned the production of ‘The Great Bible’ an English language translation to be used in all churches in the new Church of England. Its core source was Tyndale’s translation.

This Bronze statue of Tyndale was erected in Victoria Embankment Gardens in 1884. Beside Tyndale is an open Bible resting on a printing press.

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