John Fisher was born the son of Robert Fisher and his wife Agnes in Beverley, Yorkshire. His father was a merchant.
Fisher began his education and it is likely that he attended the local church school.
John’s father died. His mother remarried William White but the date is not known.
John Fisher attended Cambridge University.
1485 (22nd August)
defeated Richard III
at the Battle of Bosworth Field and was proclaimed King Henry VII on the same day.
Fisher gained his Bachelor of Arts degree. He decided to continue his studies.
John Fisher gained a Master of Arts degree. He was elected a fellow of his college at Cambridge University.
1491 (17th December)
John Fisher was ordained as a Catholic priest.
Fisher was made Vicar of Northallerton in Yorkshire.
Fisher resigned as Vicar of Northallerton and became proctor of Cambridge University.
The University of Cambridge appointed Fisher master debater.
1501 (5th July)
John Fisher became a doctor of sacred theology.
1501 (15th July)
The University of Cambridge elected Fisher Vice-Chancellor.
The University of Cambridge elected Fisher as Chancellor. He would hold the position for the rest of his life.
1504 (14th October)
Henry VII appointed Fisher Bishop of Rochester. He remained in the position for the rest of his life.
Fisher became President of Queens’ College Cambridge.
1509 (21st April)
King Henry VII died of tuberculosis at Richmond Palace. He was succeeded by his son, Henry who took the throne as King Henry VIII
1509 (11th May)
King Henry VII was buried in Westminster Abbey. Bishop Fisher led the service.
1509 (11th June)
King Henry VIII married his brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon
, at the Church of Observant Friars.
1509 (29th June)
Margaret Beaufort, Henry VIII’s grandmother, died. Fisher officiated at her funeral.
1516 (late July)
St John’s College Cambridge was opened. Fisher consecrated the new chapel.
Fisher may have worked with Thomas More
and King Henry VIII on ‘Assertio’ Henry’s response to Martin Luther
. After publication the Pope rewarded Henry with the title ‘Fidei defensor’.
William Tyndale’s English New Testament was first published in Germany.
1526 (11th February)
John Fisher preached a sermon at St Paul’s Cross denouncing Luther and Protestantism.
1527 (22nd June)
Henry VIII separated from Catherine of Aragon. Henry had decided that his lack of a male heir was a punishment from God for marrying his brother’s widow. He also wanted to marry Anne Boleyn
. However, obtaining a divorce was more difficult than he thought.
Fisher was totally against Henry VIII’s divorce and declared his support for Catherine of Aragon.
1528 (early October)
Catherine of Aragon chose Fisher as a member of her legal counsel. Also representing Catherine were William Warham
, Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Henry Standish, Bishop of St Asaphs, Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of London and John Clerk, Bishop of Bath and Wells.
John Fisher ordered the arrest of Thomas Hitton, a follower of William Tyndale. He was tortured and burnt at the stake as a heretic.
1529 (31st May)
Thomas Wolsey and Cardinal Campeggio
opened the legatine court at Blackfriars. King Henry and Catherine of Aragon were summoned to appear before the court on 18th June.
1529 (16th June)
Catherine made formal protest to Rome against the Legatine Court.
1529 (28th June)
At the legatine court John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, spoke saying that in 1527 Henry had asked all bishops to voice their opinions on his marriage. The Bishop now stated that in his opinion the royal marriage was legal for he believed that the papal dispensation granted in 1503 had removed any impediments there might be to the marriage.
1529 (16th July)
Pope Clement VII decided to revoke the commission granted to Wolsey and Campeggio and refer the King’s divorce case to Rome.
1529 (17th October)
Henry VIII removed Cardinal Wolsey
from the post of Chancellor due to his failure to secure his divorce from Catherine of Aragon.
1529 (26th October)
Thomas More was appointed Lord Chancellor. He was reluctant to accept the post and did so only after Henry promised not to involve him in the divorce process. Once appointed he used the position to deal with heretics and six men were burnt at the stake on his order while he was Chancellor.
Bishop Fisher made a speech to Parliament warning them that limiting the powers of the church would lead to an end to Catholicism in England. After the speech Fisher was summoned before the King to explain himself.
A letter signed by leading churchmen and nobles was sent to Pope Clement VII asking him to annul Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Fisher refused to add his signature to the letter.
John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, together with the Bishop of Bath and the Bishop of Ely, wrote to the Pope regarding the eradication of Church authority. All three men were briefly imprisoned.
1530 (4th November)
Thomas Wolsey was arrested and began a journey south to the Tower of London.
1530 (29th November)
Thomas Wolsey died at 8 am at the Abbey of St Mary in Leicester.
John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, continued to support Catherine’s cause. He made a statement saying that it would be against God’s law for the King to make himself Head of the Church, a move Henry was now planning.
1531 (5th April)
Richard Roose, Fisher’s cook, was executed by boiling alive. He had been found guilty of poisoning food after two of Fisher’s household had died. It is likely that the poison was meant for Fisher.
1532 (18th March)
Supplication Against Ordinaries
This was a list of grievances against the Catholic Church and included questions regarding the right of the Church to make its own laws and the legality of ecclesiastical courts. Henry VIII was proclaimed Head of the Church in England.
1532 (15th May)
Bishop Fisher and Thomas More refused to sign the Submission of the Clergy which made Henry Head of the Church in England.
1532 (16th May)
Thomas More resigned his post as Lord Chancellor.
John Fisher made a public speech denouncing the King’s divorce.
1533 (25th January)
Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn in the private chapel in Whitehall Palace.
1533 (30th March)
1533 (early April)
John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester was arrested and imprisoned. It is likely that he was imprisoned at this time to prevent him opposing Anne Boleyn’s coronation.
1533 (1st June)
Anne Boleyn was crowned Queen of England in St Peter’s Abbey, Westminster. Thomas More refused to attend the ceremony.
1533 (mid June)
Fisher was released from custody.
John Fisher sent secret messages to Catherine’s nephew, Charles V, imploring him to invade England and depose Henry VIII.
John Fisher was taken ill.
John Fisher and Thomas More were both linked with the nun Elizabeth Barton, who had prophesied that the king would die and would be denied entry to heaven for divorcing Catherine of Aragon.
The Act of Annates was passed. The act determined that bishops in England would be chosen by the King.
An Act of Attainder was drawn up against Fisher for his complicity with Elizabeth Barton. He was relieved of his possessions and imprisoned. He was later pardoned after paying a fine of around £300.
1534 (23rd March)
The Act of Succession settled the succession on the children of Henry and Anne Boleyn. There was also a requirement for all of the king’s subjects to swear an oath to uphold the act.
1534 (17th April)
Thomas More was imprisoned in the Tower of London for refusing to swear the Oath of Succession.
1534 (26th April)
John Fisher refused to swear the Oath of Succession because doing so meant denying the supremacy of the Pope. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London.
1534 (3rd November)
The Act of Supremacy formally declared that Henry VIII was Head of the Church in England. The reigning monarch has held the title ever since.
This act made it a treasonable offence to deny any of the King’s titles. It stated that any malicious wish, will or desire to deprive the King or Queen of title or name of their royal estates was to be deemed treason. Slanderous publication of writing or words uttered describing the King as heretic, schismatic, tyrant, infidel or usurper would also be deemed treason.
1535 (22nd June)
Bishop John Fisher was beheaded on Tower Hill for refusing to sign the Act of Succession and accept Henry VIII as Supreme Head of the Church in England.
Published Nov 13, 2019 @ 1:15 pm – Updated –
Harvard Reference for this page::
Heather Y Wheeler. (2019 – 2020). John Fisher Bishop of Rochester 1469 – 1535. Available: http://www.totallytimelines.com/john-fisher-bishop-of-rochester-1469-1535. Last accessed October 10th, 2021