BECON, Thomas

(c. 1513-1567)
A preacher and propagandist whose career stretched from the reign of Henry VIII* to that of Elizabeth I,* Thomas Becon contributed to the progress and success of the Reformation in England. Becon appears to have been born in Norfolk and to have entered Cambridge University in 1527. Influenced by Hugh Latimer, Becon quickly became known as a Protestant Reformer. Ordained as a priest in 1533, he eventually ran afoul of the anti-Protestant Six Articles of 1539 with his preaching and was ordered to recant in 1541. He then retired to Kent, where he wrote a number of dialogues under the pseudonym Theodore Basille. After being forced to recant again in 1543, Becon wrote devotional works and poetry while traveling quietly in England's midlands.
Upon Edward VI's accession in 1547, Becon gained a chaplaincy in Lord Protector Edward Somerset's household. Archbishop Thomas Cranmer* also appointed him one of Canterbury's six preachers. During Edward's reign Becon contributed the "Homily against Adultery" to the Book of Homilies and wrote the most popular of his works, The Sick Man's Salve, which demonstrates how to die a peaceful Christian death.
Soon after the Catholic Mary I* came to the throne in 1553, Becon was imprisoned for a time, after which he joined several Protestants in exile on the Continent. This community smuggled anti-Catholic pamphlets into England, where they sold readily. Influenced by his fellow exiles, Becon's contributions, including An Humble Supplication unto God for the Restoring of His Holy Word unto the Church ofEngland, demonstrate an invective that would become un­characteristic of his later work. Becon returned to England after Mary's death and Elizabeth's accession in 1558, and in 1564 he produced a folio collection of his works. He eventually became canon of Canterbury, where he died in 1567.
Bibliography
D. S. Bailey, Thomas Becon and the Reformation ofthe Church in England, 1952.
Kevin Lindberg

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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