32 Facts About John Fisher


John Fisher was executed by order of Henry VIII during the English Reformation for refusing to accept him as the supreme head of the Church of England and for upholding the Catholic Church's doctrine of papal supremacy.


John Fisher was named a cardinal shortly before his death.


John Fisher is honoured as a martyr and saint by the Catholic Church.


John Fisher was born in Beverley, Yorkshire, in 1469, the eldest son of Robert Fisher, a modestly prosperous merchant of Beverley, and Agnes, his wife.


John Fisher's mother remarried and had five more children by her second husband, William White.


John Fisher seems to have had close contacts with his extended family all his life.


John Fisher studied at the University of Cambridge from 1484, where at Michaelhouse he came under the influence of William Melton, a pastorally-minded theologian open to the new current of reform in studies arising from the Renaissance.


John Fisher earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1487 and in 1491 proceeded to a Master of Arts degree.


Also in 1491 John Fisher received a papal dispensation to enter the priesthood despite being under canonical age.


Under Fisher's guidance, his patroness Lady Margaret founded St John's and Christ's Colleges at Cambridge, and a Lady Margaret Professorship of Divinity at each of the two universities at Oxford and Cambridge, Fisher himself becoming the first occupant of the Cambridge chair.


John Fisher's strategy was to assemble funds and attract to Cambridge leading scholars from Europe, promoting the study not only of Classical Latin and Greek authors, but of Hebrew.


John Fisher placed great weight upon pastoral commitment, above all popular preaching by the endowed staff.


John Fisher's foundations were dedicated to prayer for the dead, especially through chantry foundations.


John Fisher had a vision to which he dedicated all his personal resources and energies.


Nonetheless, John Fisher stayed there, presumably by his own choice, for the remaining 31 years of his life.


Re-elected annually for 10 years, John Fisher ultimately received a lifetime appointment.


Besides his share in the Lady Margaret's foundations, John Fisher gave further proof of his zeal for learning by inducing Erasmus to visit Cambridge.


In 1512 John Fisher was nominated as one of the English representatives at the Fifth Council of the Lateran, then sitting, but his journey to Rome was postponed, and finally abandoned.


John Fisher has been named, though without any real proof, as the true author of the royal treatise against Martin Luther entitled "Assertio septem sacramentorum", published in 1521, which won for King Henry VIII the title "Fidei Defensor".


In 1529 John Fisher ordered the arrest of Thomas Hitton, a follower of William Tyndale, and subsequently interrogated him.


When Henry tried to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, John Fisher became the Queen's chief supporter.


The Commons, through their speaker, complained to the King that John Fisher had disparaged Parliament, presumably with Henry prompting them behind the scenes.


John Fisher was to remain in the Tower for over a year, and while he was allowed food and drink sent by friends, and a servant, he was not allowed a priest, even to the very end.


John Fisher was found guilty and condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn.


John Fisher met death with a calm dignified courage which profoundly impressed those present.


John Fisher's body was treated with particular rancour, apparently on Henry's orders, being stripped and left on the scaffold until the evening, when it was taken on pikes and thrown naked into a rough grave in the churchyard of All Hallows' Barking, known as All Hallows-by-the-Tower.


John Fisher was beatified by Pope Leo XIII with Thomas More and 52 other English Martyrs on 29 December 1886.


John Fisher was canonised, with Thomas More, on 19 May 1935 by Pope Pius XI, after the presentation of a petition by English Catholics.


John Fisher is listed along with Thomas More in the calendar of saints of some of the other Churches of the Anglican Communion, such as The Anglican Church of Australia.


Several portraits of John Fisher exist, the most prominent being by Hans Holbein the Younger in the Royal Collection; and a few secondary relics are extant.


John Fisher's walking-staff is in the possession of the Eyston family of East Hendred, in Oxfordshire.


John Fisher was portrayed by veteran actor Joseph O'Conor in the film Anne of the Thousand Days, by Bosco Hogan in the miniseries The Tudors, by Geoffrey Lewis in the 1971 miniseries The Six Wives of Henry VIII and by Richard Durden in the 2015 miniseries Wolf Hall.