Fisher, John (1469–1535). Bishop. Fisher was educated at Cambridge, became fellow of Michaelhouse, and took priestly orders in 1491. Through the patronage of Lady Margaret Beaufort, whom he served as confessor, he was made reader in divinity in 1502, and two years later bishop of Rochester. At Cambridge he promoted Renaissance humanist studies, especially at Christ's and St John's Colleges; he recruited teachers of Greek (including Erasmus between 1510 and 1514) and Hebrew. His Renaissance outlook was combined with a profound respect for the church's traditions. He wrote copiously against Martin Luther, his works including the Assertionis Lutheranae confutatio (1522/3), the Defensio regiae assertionis (1523), and the Sacri sacerdotii defensio (1525). When Henry VIII sought to repudiate his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, Fisher was one of the king's most public and prolific opponents. He led resistance to the attacks on the status of the clergy in the Reformation Parliament and in convocation, and was imprisoned in 1533. In 1534 he refused the oath of supremacy. In 1535, just after his elevation to the cardinalate by Paul III, he was put on trial for treasonably denying the king's supremacy over the church, and was executed on 22 June 1535. He was canonized in 1935.
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