We do not know who planned and financed the plot that ended his life (whether English or continental authorities), but we do know it was carried out by Henry Phillips, a man who had been accused of robbing his father and of gambling himself into poverty. Phillips became Tyndale’s guest at meals and soon was one of the few privileged to look at Tyndale’s books and papers.
In May 1535, Phillips lured Tyndale away from the safety of his quarters and into the arms of soldiers. Tyndale was immediately taken to the Castle of Vilvorde, the great state prison of the Low Countries, and accused of heresy.
Trials for heresy in the Netherlands were in the hands of special commissioners of the Holy Roman Empire. It took months for the law to take its course. During this time, Tyndale had many hours to reflect on his own teachings, such as this passage from one of his tracts:
“Let it not make thee despair, neither yet discourage thee, O reader, that it is forbidden thee in pain of life and goods, or that it is made breaking of the king’s peace, or treason unto his highness, to read the Word of thy soul’s health—for if God be on our side, what matter maketh it who be against us, be they bishops, cardinals, popes.”
Finally, in early August 1536, Tyndale was condemned as a heretic, degraded from the priesthood, and delivered to the secular authorities for punishment.
On Friday, October 6, after local officials took their seats, Tyndale was brought to the cross in the middle of the town square and given a chance to recant. That refused, he was given a moment to pray. English historian John Foxe said he cried out, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes!”
Then he was bound to the beam, and both an iron chain and a rope were put around his neck. Gunpowder was added to the brush and logs. At the signal of a local official, the executioner, standing behind Tyndale, quickly tightened the noose, strangling him. Then an official took up a lighted torch and handed it to the executioner, who set the wood ablaze. (131 Christians everyone should know (349–350) ).
Have a happy Tyndale Day.
Tagged: William Tyndale