Lord, open the King of England’s eyes!” cried William Tyndale at the stake this date in 1536 … just before he was strangled and burned.
“Translated the Bible into English,” reads Tyndale’s epigraph;
Tyndale was equally stubborn in defense of his life’s mission to put a Bible in the hands of the English ploughboy
Even when the once-staunch Catholic Henry VIII broke with Rome over Anne Boleyn, the English manhunt for Tyndale continued: Henry’s reformation did not share radical Protestant objectives like scriptural authority, and the king was not shy about enforcing his version of orthodoxy.
Luckily for posterity, the English crown wasn’t biting, leaving Tyndale’s mellifluous rendering of Holy Writ to enter the English tongue.
And leaving Tyndale, eventually, to enter the martyrs’ ranks.
In 1536, an English bounty hunter befriended the fugitive translator and betrayed him to the authorities in Vilvoorde, near Brussels. It was the Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire that did the dirty work of their rivals in the Isles.
By the end of the decade, a Bible in English drawn from Tyndale’s version (revised by former Tyndale assistant Myles Coverdale under Thomas Cromwell’s direction; prefaced byThomas Cranmer) was by regal authority placed in every parish of the Church of England.
The Tyndale Bible became the basis for the King James Bible that remains for manyauthoritative to this day