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Anne Askew and others suffer martyrdom in Smithfield

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  • In this overhead view of Smithfield, Askew and two companions stand chained to stakes and await martyrdom. Workers prepare faggots, and a very large crowd observes, some from windows and surrounding roofs. Nicholas Shaxton, the one-time Bishop of Salisbury who resigned his bishopric following the passage of the Act of Six Articles (1539), preaches from a portable pulpit. Shaxton recanted his Protestant belief prior to this scene in order to avoid the fate of Askew and her companions. Religious authorities had illegally tortured Askew, prior to this execution, in an attempt to extract information from her concerning the identity of Protestant sympathizers at the royal court. In the center of the image, observers view the execution from a platform, which has been raised outside the church of St. Bartholomew the Great. Thunder descends from a cloud above, and soldiers on horseback manage spectators on the fringe of the crowd. This woodcut appears in the first through fourth editions (1563, 1570, 1576, and 1583) but first appears in Robert Crowley, The confutation of xiii. articles, wherunto N. Shaxton, late byshop subscribed (1548). Luborsky and Ingram 6083/1, 11222/21, 11223/54. JPEG file (1.23 MB).
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