Letter relating to the printing of the 'Matthew Bible' in English


The English Bible had been legalised in principle in 1536, but there was as yet no officially authorised text. In 1537, Cromwell organised the printing of the so-called 'Matthew Bible', a version of William Tyndale's text made by John Rogers, using the pseudonym Thomas Matthew. King Henry VIII then approved the text for general sale, eliciting this remarkable letter from Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. In it Cranmer rejoiced at Henry's decision, 'you have shewed me more pleasur herin, than yf you hedd given me a thowsande pounde'.

This early triumph was perhaps the high point of Cranmer's entire public career. the English bible was fundamental to everything Evangelicals hoped to achieve: Tyndale had offered never to write again if it were only published freely. Henry's decision promised – or appeared to promise – that he was ultimately on the reformer's side. This made his eventual retreat from an open-Bible policy all the more bitter a disappointment. 

Full title:
Papers relating to the Reformation
13 August 1537, Ford Place, Kent, England
Manuscript / Letter
Thomas Cranmer
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Cotton MS Cleo E V, f.348

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