On Wednesday 25th March, three 6th Form A Level students form Hemel Hempstead School: Ed Gardner, Rosie Hutton & Huw Wales, gave a presentation to the members present on “Dr Robert Barnes, the English Reformer & Martyr”


The three students, accompanied by their tutor John Ross, gave a most interesting and informative talk on this little known reformer & martyr from the English reformation.

Having given a sermon at St Edwards Church Cambridge at the Christmas Midnight Mass in 1525 in which he openly attacked the church and its heretical and hypocritical values and acts, Barnes was tried at the Canonical court in front of Wolsey and four other Bishops and was given the choice of either abjuring (renouncing citizenship and agreeing to go abroad in self-imposed exile. Returning to England could result in the carrying out of the original sentence of death), or being burnt at the stake for heresy.


Having eventually moved to Germany and mixing with other reformers such as Martin Luther, Barnes met with Stephen Vaughan, an agent of Thomas Cromwell.  As a result of this recommendation Barnes was eventually to return to England to become one of Henry VIII’s chief intermediaries with Lutheran Germany. He was sent to Germany in 1535 in an attempt to get approval for Henry VIIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and four years later helped negotiate the marriage with Ann of Cleves.  However this latter task was to lead to his ruin as Henry was eventually to wreak revenge on those who had helped secure the marriage, so that by the summer of 1540 most of them were disgraced including Thomas Cromwell, the Earl of Essex and Barnes himself.                                                                                                                                                                                            



Rosie Hutton


Barnes was eventually to be burned alive on the same day ( 30 July) as others who were hanged for treason in denying the royal supremacy. Both Lutherans and Catholics on the continent were shocked.


Huw Wales

The talk by the three younger historians was well received by those present, and as well as congratulating them on the evening, Joan Hands wished them well in their forthcoming A Level exams on behalf of the society.

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