Tunstall, Cuthbert

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Tunstall, Cuthbert

Cuthbert Tunstall (both: tŭn´stəl), 1474–1559, English bishop. After studying at Oxford, Cambridge, and Padua, he entered the church and was rapidly advanced. A friend of Thomas More and of Erasmus, Tunstall served Henry VIII on many diplomatic missions, held numerous positions in the church, and in 1530 succeeded Thomas Wolsey as bishop of Durham. Although Tunstall never gave up his belief in Roman Catholic dogma and although he wrote numerous tracts in Latin defending his beliefs, he adopted a policy of passive obedience to the ecclesiastical revolution of Henry VIII. He opposed the Protestant reforms, but after they had been passed he helped carry them out. He supported Henry's oath of supremacy, and in 1537 he was made president of the Council of the North. In Edward VI's reign he supported the protectorate of Edward Seymour, duke of Somerset, and was imprisoned and deprived after Somerset's fall (1551). Restored to his bishopric at the accession of Mary (1553), he refrained from the persecution of Protestants, and there were no executions in his diocese. Tunstall refused to take the oath of supremacy when Elizabeth I came to the throne, and he was placed in the custody of the archbishop of Canterbury.

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