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Stephen Gardiner

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For the British architect, see Stephen Gardiner .


Stephen Gardiner (c. 1483 / c. 1497 - 12 November 1555) was an English Roman Catholic bishop and politician during the English Reformation period who served as Lord Chancellor during the reign of Queen Mary I of England.

  Biography  

 early life
He was born in Bury St Edmunds, but the date of his birth is suspect. His father is known to have been William Gardner, a substantial cloth merchant of the town where he was born, who took care to give him a good education. His mother, Helen, was an illegitimate daughter of Jasper Tudor, 1st Duke of Bedford.

In 1511 Gardiner, still a boy, met Erasmus in Paris. He had probably already begun his studies at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he distinguished himself in the classics, especially in Greek. He then devoted himself to canon and civil law, in which subjects he attained so great a proficiency that no one could dispute his pre-eminence. He received the degree of doctor of civil law in 1520, and of canon law in the following year.

 legacy
It is as a statesman and a lawyer, rather than as a theologian, that he was notable. He was the author of various tracts in defence of corporal presence of the Eucharist against Cranmer's idea of spiritual presence, some of which, being written in prison, were published abroad under a false name. Controversial writings also passed between him and Bucer, with whom he had several interviews in Germany, when he was there as Henry VIII's ambassador. He was a friend of learning in every form, and took great interest especially in promoting the study of Greek at Cambridge. He was, however, opposed to the new method of pronouncing that language introduced by Sir John Cheke, and wrote letters to him and Sir Thomas Smith upon the subject, in which, according to Roger Ascham, his opponents showed themselves the better critics, but he the superior talent. In his own household he loved to take in young university men of promise; and many whom he thus encouraged became distinguished in after life as bishops, ambassadors and secretaries of state. His house was spoken of by John Leland as the seat of eloquence and the special abode of the muses.

He died, probably in his early sixties, and was buried in Winchester Cathedral, where his effigy is still to be seen. Some claim that his last words were Erravi cum Petro, sed non flevi cum Petro .

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Stephen Gardiner", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.