June 18 – Catherine of Aragon protests, and Anne Askew is condemned

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.

Related Post