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 John Bale

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John Bale

  • Birth 21 Nov 1495 Covehithe, Waveney District, Suffolk, England
  • Death Nov 1563 Canterbury, City of Canterbury, Kent, England
  • Burial Canterbury, City of Canterbury, Kent, England
  • Memorial ID 19481071

Clergyman, Dramatist, Historian. A zealous advocate of Protestant reform, he vigorously expressed his views in his writings. His drama "King John" (c.1538) is considered the first English historical play, a genre later developed to its zenith by Shakespeare. Bale was born at Cove, near Dunwich in Suffolk, England. He entered the Carmelite Order at age 12 and then studied at Jesus College, Cambridge, where he was initially exposed to Protestantism. In 1536 he left the Carmelites to become vicar of Thorndon, Suffolk, and his subsequent fortunes waxed and waned as the English throne changed hands. At one point he was charged with heresy but was saved through the powerful protection of Thomas Cromwell, chief minister of Henry VIII, who found Bale's anti-Catholic pamphlets invaluable propaganda tools. After Cromwell's execution in 1540 he went into eight years of exile in Flanders. As Anglican Bishop of Ossory, Ireland from 1552 to 1553, he enraged the local population with his preachings against the Pope and again had to flee for his life to Europe. He returned to England upon the advent of Elizabeth I and served as a Canon of Canterbury from 1560 until his death. Bale's five surviving plays all date from the late 1530s. "The Chief Promises of God", "The Three Laws of Nature", "The Temptation of Our Lord", and "A Brief Comedy of John the Baptist Preaching in the Wilderness" are parodies of medieval mystery plays and mark the beginning of the transition to the allegorical Elizabethan style. "King John" is notable for defending a monarch traditionally portrayed as a villain and weakling. Bale's most important work is the "Scriptorum illustnium majoris Britanniae" (two editions, 1548 and 1559), one of the first critical bibliographies in English Literature. It preserved the names of early British authors and lists of their writings, which otherwise would have been lost to history.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
  • Added: 22 May 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 19481071
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Bale (21 Nov 1495–Nov 1563), Find A Grave Memorial no. 19481071, citing Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury, City of Canterbury, Kent, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .