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Courageous Poet Burned at Stake

Anne Askew: 1521 - 1546

Courageous woman Burned at the Stake

Anne Askew was born in Lincolnshire in 1521. When she was fifteen her family forced her to marry a Catholic man, Thomas Kyme, when she was just 15, as a substitute for her sister who had died. Anne was a Protestant and rebelled against her husband by refusing to adopt his surname.

Eventually Anne left her husband and went to London where she gave sermons and distributed Protestant books. These books had been banned and so she was arrested. Her association with the Protestant Reform movement led her to be questioned by Church and government authorities in 1545. Her husband was sent for and ordered to take her home to Lincolnshire. Anne soon escaped and it was not long before she was back preaching in London. In 1546 she was arrested again, tried and tortured in an attempt to force her to implicate fellow reformers. Sir Anthony Kingston, the Constable of the Tower of London, was so impressed with the way Anne behaved that he refused to carry on torturing her, and Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor had to take over. However, she refused to abandon her Protestant faith or to incriminate her associates so she was burnt at the stake



Courageous Poet Burned at Stake

London, England, July 16,1546: Today, the poet and member of the Reformed Church, Anne Askew, was burned at the stake after being charged twice with the crime of heresy. She is the first woman to be tortured in the Tower of London. Witnesses say that after months of torture on the rack, she was too crippled to walk to the stake and had to be carried to her execution on a chair.

Born at Stallingborough into a notable Lincolnshire family, she was forced by her father, Sir William Askew (Ayscough), to marry a Catholic man, Thomas Kyme, when she was just 15, as a substitute for her sister who had died. Anne, who bore two children, rebelled against her husband by refusing to adopt his surname. Her association with the Protestant Reform movement led her to be questioned by Church and government authorities in 1545. She was eventually released, but was tried again this year and tortured in an attempt to force her to implicate fellow reformers. However, she refused to abandon her Protestant faith or to incriminate her associates.

Anne Askew will be remembered for her courage and wit, which shine through in her writings, as well as her knowledge of the law and her subversion of male authority. Askew was a strong independent woman who has bravely presented these tumultuous times with an alternative model of Christian virtue.



Wijngaards Institute for Catholic ResearchThis website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

Visit also our websites:Women Deacons, The Body is Sacred and Mystery and Beyond.

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