History's HEROES? 1521 - 1546

Anne Askew

Should Anne Askew be considered a hero?


Arguments for
  • Anne Askew was willing to stand up for her beliefs.
    She was willing to stand up and preach despite the fact that, as a woman of high social status, this was bound to attract the attention of the authorities. Anne had an enquiring mind, strong faith and sincerity.
  • She had great dignity.
    Sir Anthony Kingston, the Constable of the Tower of London, was so impressed with the way Anne behaved that he refused to torture her. Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor Wriothesley and Sir Richard Rich had to take over.
  • She refused to inform on her Protestant friends.
    Even after being tortured for so long that she could no longer walk.
  • Anne was exceptionally brave to defend her cause.
    During her trial and interrogation she faced one enquiry after another with fortitude.
  • She was true to her beliefs to the end.
    She would not compromise her views even to escape death. At the last moment, a written pardon from the King was offered to her, upon the condition that she would recant. Her reply was that she had not come to the stake to deny her Lord and Master.
Arguments against
  • Anne Askew was selfish.
    She did not fulfil her duty to her husband and children, but rather left to do what she wanted to do in London.
  • She courted arrest and imprisonment.
    After her first arrest, she was sent back to her home with her husband. Even though this leniency had been shown to her, she spurned it and ran away again to preach in London knowing the likely consequences.
  • Her refusal to recant at the stake was not bravery.
    Her body was so broken by the rack and she was in such pain, that it was much easier for her to choose to die than to choose to live.

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