On this date in 1536, British scholar William Tyndale is executed for heresy. Tyndale transformed the English language by incorporating Greek and Hebrew idioms and syntaxes; this revised form is called Early Modem English, a form that Shakespeare built upon. Tyndale translated the bible into English, drawing directly from Hebrew and Greek texts. The text of the King James version of the bible draws largely from Tyndale’s translation.
Tyndale’s article “The Obedience of a Christian Man” influenced Henry VIII to break away from the Roman Catholic Church. However, another of Tyndale’s publications, The Practyse of Prelates, led to his death. In this document, Tyndale opposed Henry VIII’s planned divorce from Catherine of Aragon on grounds that it went against scripture. Tyndale’s final words were reportedly, “Lord! Open the King of England’s eyes.” Apparently, the King’s eyes were indeed opened because within four years of Tyndale’s death, Henry VIII ordered four English translations of the bible to be published in England. All four were based on Tyndale’s work.