June 18 – Catherine of Aragon protests, and Anne Askew is condemned
Posted By Claire on June 18, 2022
On this day in Tudor history, 18th June 1529, in the reign of King Henry VIII, the king’s wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon, made her protest at the Legatine Court in Blackfriars, a court that was examining the king’s case for an annulment of their marriage.
What was Catherine protesting about? What were the grounds of her appeal?
Find out in this short video or in the transcript below.
And on this day in 1546, twenty-five-year-old Anne Askew was found guilty of heresy at London’s Guildhall. She wasn’t the only one found guilty that day, Nicholas Shaxton (former Bishop of Salisbury), Nicholas White and John Hadlam were also tried and condemned.
Anne Askew has gone down in history as a Protestant martyr, after having been burned at the stake in July 1546, but also as a woman who was illegally put to the rack at the Tower of London by two of Henry VIII’s trusted men. Find out more about her story…
On 18th June 1529, Catherine of Aragon made her first appearance at the special legatine court which had opened at Blackfriars on 31st May to hear Henry VIII’s case for an annulment of their marriage.
The couple had been summoned to appear on 18th, but Henry sent proxies.
Catherine arrived with her ladies and four bishops. She read out the appeal she had lodged in writing on the 16th. Her grounds for appeal were:
- That the place was hostile
- That the judges were prejudiced, being closely associated to the King
- and that the proceedings should not be taking place while the case was still pending at Rome.
After the judges confirmed that her protestation would be answered on 21st June, Catherine departed.
On this day in Tudor history, 18th June 1546, twenty-five-year-old 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.
Chronicler and Windsor Herald Charles Wriothesley recorded the results of the hearing:
“The 18th day of June, 1546, were arraigned at the Guild Certain Hall, for heresy, Doctor Nicholas Shaxton, sometime bishop of Salisburie; Nicholas White, of London, gentleman; Anne Kerne[Kyme], alias Anne Askew, gentlewoman, and wife of Thomas Kerne [Kyme], gentleman, of Lincolnshire; and John Hadlam, of Essex, tailor; and were this day first indicted of heresy and after arraigned on the same, and their confessed their heresies against the sacrament of the altar without any trial of a jury, and so had judgment to be brent[burnt].”
Martyrologist John Foxe shares Anne Askew’s own account of her condemnation at Guildhall:
“They said to me there, that I was a heretic, and condemned by the law, if I would stand in my opinion. I answered, that I was no heretic, neither yet deserved I any death by the law of God. But, as concerning the faith which I uttered and wrote to the council, I would not, I said, deny it, because I knew it true. Then would they needs know, if I would deny the sacrament to be Christ’s body and blood. I said, ‘Yea: for the same Son of God that was born of the Virgin Mary, is now glorious in heaven, and will come again from thence at the latter day like as he went up. And as for that ye call your God, it is a piece of bread. For a more proof thereof, (mark it when you list,) let it but lie in the box three months, and it will be mouldy, and so turn to nothing that is good. Whereupon I am persuaded that it cannot be God.’
After that, they willed me to have a priest; and then I smiled. Then they asked me, if it were not good; I said, I would confess my faults unto God, for I was sure that he would hear with favour. And so we were condemned by a quest.
My belief which I wrote to the council was this: ‘That the sacramental bread was left us to be received with thanksgiving, in remembrance of Christ’s death, the only remedy of our soul’s recovery; and that thereby we also receive the whole benefits and fruits of his most glorious passion.’ Then would they needs know, whether the bread in the box were God or no: I said, ‘God is a Spirit, and will be worshipped in spirit and truth.’ Then they demanded, ‘Will you plainly deny Christ to be in the sacrament?’ I answered, that I believe faithfully the eternal Son of God not to dwell there; in witness whereof I recited again the history of Bel, Dan. xix., Acts vii. and xvii., and Matt. xxiv., concluding thus: ‘I neither wish death, nor yet fear his might; God have the praise thereof with thanks.”
According to Anne, Nicholas Shaxton visited her in her prison and counselled her “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 illegally, 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. Anne described her racking:
“Then they did put me on the rack, because I confessed no ladies or gentlewomen to be of my opinion, and thereon they kept me a long time; and because I lay still, and did not cry, my lord chancellor and Master Rich took pains to rack me with their own hands, till I was nigh dead.
Then the lieutenant caused me to be loosed from the rack. Incontinently I swooned, and then they recovered me again. After that I sat two long hours reasoning with my lord chancellor upon the bare floor; where he, with many flattering words, persuaded me to leave my opinion. But my Lord God (I thank his everlasting goodness) gave me grace to persevere, and will do, I hope, to the very end.”
What a courageous woman!
As I said, Anne, Shaxton, White and Hadlam were all sentenced to be burnt, but Shaxton and White were saved by recanting their heretical beliefs. Anne and Hadlam were burnt at the stake on 16th July 1546 with reformers John Lascelles and John Hemley. Anne had been so badly racked that she had to be carried to the stake on a chair, and the stake had to have a seat to support her body. She died for her faith and deserves to be remembered.
1 thought on “June 18 – Catherine of Aragon protests, and Anne Askew is condemned”
Heavens, how can a man torture a woman, so much for the chivalric age! So determined were these monsters to get names of so called heretics, and particularly were they gunning for the queen and her ladies they decided to turn the wheels of the dreaded rack themselves, when the Constable of the Tower refused to do so, in great haste he left for the kings residence and left Wriothesley and Rich to carry out their evil deed, but their victim was no weak woman, blessed with superhuman courage and strength of will she resisted the most excruciating of tortures man can inflict on his fellow human, and gave them nothing, no names just silence and it makes one wonder, maybe Anne Askew’s courage came from God himself, she resisted when many men had buckled on the rack, surely she possessed some divine strength something unearthly that made her resist the pain? She really was a remarkable person, and had Mark Smeaton had the mettle of this woman one knows he would never have betrayed his queen, it was illegal to torture a woman, that frail being that god made from the rib of Adam, and Henry V111 was against it yet he told the Constable heretics needed rooting out and was not that sympathetic towards Anne Askew as the Constable had hoped he would be, at her trial she answered the judges with eloquent and intelligent answers, and one can see the wisdom in her reasoning, but it was a different age where one was not allowed to have a voice or an opinion, and it makes one shudder to know how easily blood was spilt in those long ago days, heresy was seen as the scourge in Henry V111’s kingdom and his daughter was to go one step further in burning hundreds at Smithfield, Catharine Parr’s enemies were determined to bring her down, yet it is to Anne Askew’s credit, and certain amount of reasoning on the queens part, that she kept her head on her shoulders, but Anne was condemned to the flames, she was so broken by the rack that she possibly had to be carried to her trial and it is a wonder she was able to talk at all, on her execution day it was noted she had to be carried in a chair bound with chains to the stake, i have never been to the Guildhall but most likely I will one day, like many of London’s early buildings, it represents the cruelty and intolerance of days that are now, thankfully behind us.