Thomas Cranmer: In a Nutshell is part of MadeGlobal’s “History in a Nutshell Series” – which aims to give readers a good grounding in a historical topic in a concise, easily digestible and accessible way. It’s a great idea – a kind of turbo-charged Wikipedia entry that provides you all the key information you need to know about a subject. And in this case, its a central subject: Thomas Cranmer was a fascinating figure, one of the most influential of the Tudor era. He was instrumental in solving Henry VIII’s “Great Matter” (he had the “right sow by the ear”!) and his influence steadily rose during the remainder of Henry’s reign and through Edward’s (that said, he found himself on the wrong side of politics when Mary acceded to the throne…).
The book is well organized around the key eras in Cranmer’s life: A Cambridge Scholar; A Call to Court; Husband and Diplomat; Archbishop of Canterbury; Cautious Reformer; A Man Hunted; Godfather to England’s Josiah; Intrigue and Treason; Prisoner of the Queen; Recantations; and Protestant Martyr for the Ages. These eras are then carefully tied together to create the logical whole.
The author, Beth Von Staats, is known for her mastery of the subject. A life-long history enthusiast, she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth: she is also the owner and administrator of Queen Anne Boleyn Historical Writers website, QueenAnneBoleyn.com. Von Staats offers wonderful details that draw you into a real appreciation of the man (he was an avid collector of books, for example, written in any of the seven or so languages he spoke). She is also the original proponent of the idea that Cranmer’s recantation stemmed from Stockholm Syndrome – and she makes a compelling case for it here.
In all, a great read and an important addition to any Tudor library.