Emma Stansfield as Anne Askew in "The Tudors".
Emma Stansfield as Anne Askew in “The Tudors”.

On this day in history, 18th June 1546, Anne Askew, estranged wife of Thomas Kyme, was found guilty of heresy at London’s Guildhall along with Nicholas Shaxton (former Bishop of Salisbury), Nicholas White and John Hadlam. All four of them were condemned to be burnt, but Shaxton and White were saved by recanting their heretical beliefs.

According to Anne herself, her account being published by martyrologist John Foxe, Nicholas Shaxton visited her in her prison and “counselled me to recant as he had done. I said to him, that it had been good for him never to have been born.” Anne was then put to the rack at the Tower of London by Sir Richard Rich and Sir Thomas Wriothesley, in the hope that she would give them the names of reformers at court, particularly ladies linked to Queen Catherine Parr.

Nicholas Shaxton died a natural death, dying on 5th August 1556, whereas Anne and John Hadlam were burnt at the stake on 16th July 1546 with reformers John Lascelles and John Hemley.

Read more about Anne Askew and her condemnation…

Also on this day in history, 18th June 1529, Queen Catherine of Aragon made her first appearance at the Legatine Court – click here to read more.

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4 thoughts on “18 June 1546 – Anne Askew found guilty of heresy”
  1. Anne Askew must have flagged up to religious conservatives just how potentially anarchic the new ideas could become. A woman leaves her husband and children and sets out to confound the Establishment with the depth of her scriptural learning?! Why, next week it could be their own wife! – wives lecturing husbands! – wives abandoning families and taking to the pulpit! – wives nodding knowingly at husbands and warning, “If you think I’m bad, you should hear Queen Catherine Parr!”

  2. Please tell me that she didn’t really walk up the steps of the pulpit and rant? That scene always pops up when I visualize Anne Askwe. This lady was fiesty and brave and clever. She was a wife who had abandoned her unhappy marriage, made powerful friends at court, spread the beliefs about the Sacrament that she held, stood firm, been denounced before and warned about her unorthodox beliefs and now she was back from the country, bringing attention to herself and standing on her faith still. She was just twenty-five years old. But wss Anne targeted merely for her known lapse back into “heresy” or was she a scapegoat, a means by an alarmed Tudor government to get the names of her friends at court who were in the reformed faith, the main target being the highly outspoken Queen Katherine Parr who supported the reformed faith and the Countess of Hereford, her friends?

    1. This topic is covered extensively in CJ Sansom’s “Lamentation”. Anne Askew readily admitted that which amounted to heresy. After being condemned to death the law would have no further interest in her. She could not be questioned about the heresy any further. However, we know that she was subsequently racked. The gaoler went to speak to the King to ask forgiveness for torturing a woman, leaving Rich and Wriothesley to turn the rack themselves. Their only interest was obtaining information to use against the reformist Queen. As a post scriptum it is noted that the King did not approve of Anne being tortured because she was a woman, but he was quite content for her to be burned alive.

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