On Friday, October 6, 1536, William Tyndale was brought from prison to the public square to be executed for the crime of heresy. He was tied to a stake and strangled to death by the hangman. Afterward, his body was burned to ashes. His last words, spoken in a piecing loud voice were, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.”
The reason for Tyndale’s last words being, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes,” is explained by events that occurred two years before, in 1534. Due to his Queen’s, Catherine of Aragon’s failure to give him a son and a male heir to his throne, not to mention his infatuation with the lovely Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII petitioned Pope Clement VII for an annulment of his marriage to Catherine. When the Pope refused Henry’s request, Henry usurped the supremacy of the Pope over the church in England and had himself declared the new head of the English church. Afterward, he had the priests of England grant him an annulment of his marriage to Catherine so that he could marry Anne Boleyn. This is the sorted story behind the birth of the Church of England or the Anglican Church. It is also why Tyndale’s last words were a cry for God to open the King of England’s eyes, since he, and not the pope, was now the official head of the church in England.