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Askew, Anne


Subject Literature » Renaissance Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405194495.2012.x


Protestant martyr Anne Askew (c.1521–46) was burnt at the stake as a heretic, leaving behind the unusual first-person record of her trials at the hands of Henry VIII's officials. The examinations of Anne Askew , first published by John Bale in 1546/47, bear eloquent testimony to her unlawful torture, her defence of the right of women to read and interpret the Bible, and her concerted defiance of Catholic doctrine. She was born c.1521 to Sir William Askew or Ayscough (1498–1541) and Elizabeth Wrottesley in Stallingborough, Lincolnshire, a family with Protestant sympathies. After her elder sister Martha died, Anne was married, apparently against her will, to Martha's fiancé, Thomas Kyme. Askew bore him two children, but her open conversion to Protestantism led Kyme to drive her ‘vyolently’ away, possibly at the urging of the priests at Lincoln. In framing Askew's Examinations for publication Bale cites 1 Corinthians 7 (‘If a faytfull woman have an unbelevynge husbande, which wyll not tar-rye with her, she may leave hym’) as the scriptural authority for Askew's separation from her husband, and relates that she sought to divorce him. It is possible that Askew went first to the bishop's court at Lincoln, and failing to win support there, to the Court of Chancery in London to secure her divorce, although no extant evidence appears to exist ( Beilin 1996 ). Askew herself recounts, however, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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