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1454 [1454]

K. Henry. 8. The first examination of Anne Askew, Martyr.

MarginaliaTalke betwene the Archdeacon, and Anne Askew.sayd vnto me: Mistres wherefore are you accused and thus troubled heare before the Byshop? To whom I aunswered agayne and sayd: Syr, aske, I pray you, my accusers, for I knowe not as yet. Then tooke hee my booke out of my hand, and sayd: Such bookes as this, hath brought you to the trouble ye are in. Beware (sayth he) beware, for he that made this booke and was the author thereof, was an hereticke I warrant you, and burnt in Smithfield. Then I asked him if he were certaine and sure, that it was true that hee had spoken. And he said he knew wel the booke was of Ioh. Frithes makyng. Then I asked hym, if he were not ashamed for to iudge of the booke before he saw it within, or yet knew the truth therof. MarginaliaRashe iudgement reproued.I sayd also that such vnaduised and hastie iudgement is a tokē apparent of a very slender wytte. Then I opened the booke & shewed it hym. He sayd he thought it had bene an other, for hee could finde no fault therein. MarginaliaGood coūsell geuē to the Archdeacon.Then I desired him, no more to be so vnaduisedly rashe and swift in iudgement, till hee throughly knew the truth, and so he departed from me 

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John Frith (1503-33) was a Cambridge fellow who went into exile in 1528 but unwisely returned to England in 1533 and was burnt for heresy. He was notorious for his reformed polemic, and famously engaged in printed disputation with Thomas More over purgatory and the nature of the Sacrament. The book referred to in this passage is most likely Frith's book against Thomas More, written from prison, A Boke Made by J. Frith (1533). Nevertheless, Askew clearly did not have Frith's book with her.

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MarginaliaM. Britaine.Immediatly after came my cosine Brittaine in with diuers other, as MarginaliaEdward Hall.M. Hall of Grayes Inne, and such other lyke. Then my Lord of London persuaded my cosine Brittaine as he had done oft before, whiche was that I should vtter the bottome of my hart in any wise. MarginaliaTalke betwene Anne Askew & Boner.My lord said after that vnto me, that he would I should credite the coūsell of such as were my frendes and well wyllers in this behalfe, which was, that I should vtter all thinges that burdened my conscience: for he ensured me that I should not nede to stand in doubt to say any thyng. For like as he promised them (he said) he promised me and would performe it: which was, that neither hee nor any man for him, should take me at aduauntage of any worde I should speake: and therefore he bad me say my minde without feare. I aunswered hym, that I had nought to say: for my conscience (I thanked God) was burdened with nothyng.

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MarginaliaBoners similitude.Then brought hee foorth this vnsauery similitude: That if a man had a wounde, no wise Surgion would minister helpe vnto it before he had seene it vncouered. In lyke case (sayth he) can I geue you no good coūsell, vnlesse I knowe wherewith your conscience is burdened. I aunswered, that my conscience was cleare in all things: and for to lay a plaister vnto the whole skinne, it might appeare much folie.

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Then you dryue me (sayth he) to lay to your charge your owne reporte, which is this: MarginaliaBoners first obiection agaynst Anne Askew.You did say, he that doth receaue the Sacrament by the handes of an ill Priest or a sinner, receiueth the deuill and not God. To that I aūswered, that I neuer spake such wordes. But as I sayd afore both to the Quest and to my Lord Maior, so say I now agayne, that the wickednes of the Priest should not hurte me, but in spirite and fayth I receiued no lesse, then the body and bloud of Christ. Then sayd the Byshop vnto me, what saying is this, in spirite? I will not take you at that aduauntage. Thē I aūswered: my Lord, without fayth and spirite, I can not receiue hym worthely 

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As Bonner makes clear, Askew's use of the term 'in spirit and faith' to describe her receipt of the body and blood of Christ is provocative in implying an absence of Christ's corporeal presence in the bread and wine.

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Marginalia2. Article.Then he layd vnto me, that I should say, that the Sacrament remainyng in the pixe, was but bread. I aunswered that I neuer sayd so, but in deede the Quest asked me such a question: whereunto I would not aunswere (I said) til such tyme as they had assoyled me this question of myne, wherefore Steuen was stoned to death? They sayd they knew not. Then sayd I againe, no more would I tell them what it was.

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Marginalia3. Article.Then sayd my Lord vnto me, that I had alledged a certayne text of the Scripture. I aunswered that I alledged none other but S. Paules owne saying to the Athenians in the xvij. chap. in the Apostles actes, that God dwelleth not in Tēples made with handes. Then asked hee me what my fayth and beliefe was in that matter? I aunswered hym: I beleue as the Scripture doth teache me.

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Marginalia4. Article.Then inquired hee ofme, what if the Scripture do say that it is the body of Christ? I beleue, sayd I, as the Scripture doth teach me. Then asked he againe, what if the Scripture do say that it is not the body of Christ? My aunswere was still, I beleue as the Scripture informeth me. And vppon this argument he taried a great while to haue driuen me to make hym an aunswere to his minde. Howbeit I would not, but concluded this with him, that I beleue therin and in all other thinges as Christ & his holy Apostles did leaue them.

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MarginaliaA. Askew charged with fewe wordes.Then he asked me, why I had so fewe wordes? And I aunswered, God hath geuen me the gift of knowledge, but not of vtterance. And Salomon sayth, that a woman of few wordes is a gift of God. Prou. xix. 

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Proverbs 19 (19: 14) does not read as Askew renders it, that a woman of 'few wordes is a gift of God," but rather, that "a discrete woman is the gyfte of the Lord' (The Byble in Englyshe [London, 1539], xxxiii[r]). This is so in both the 1537 Thomas Matthew's Bible, and the 1539 'Great' Bible, placed in every parish church by order of Parliament. In a popular contemporary edition of Proverbs, the text reads 'House & goodes come from the fathers by heritage: but a wyse wife is given of the lorde' (The p[ro]uerbes of Solomon newly translated into Englyshe [London,1534], n.p.).

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Marginalia5. Article.Fiftly my Lorde laid vnto my charge, that I should say that the Masse was superstitious, wicked, and no no better then Idolatry.

I aunswered hym, no: I sayd not so. Howbeit I say the Quest did aske me whether priuate Masse dyd releue soules departed or no? Vnto whō then I aunswered: O Lord what Idolatrye is this, that we should rather beleue in priuate Masses, then in the healthsome death of the deare sonne of God? Then sayd my Lord agayne: What an aunswere is that? Though it be but meane (sayd I) yet it is good enough for the question 

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Askew is here again indicating her rejection of the idea of the mass as a propitiatory sacrifice. Bonner understands this, as he shows in his reaction: 'What an aunswer is that?' (See Megan L. Hickerson, 'Negotiating Heresy in Tudor England: Anne Askew and the Bishop of London', Journal of British Studies 46 [October 2007], 788-89.)

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Then I tolde my Lorde that there was a Priest, which did heare what I sayd there before my Lorde Maior & them. With that þe Chauncellor aunswered, whiche was the same Priest: So she spake it in very dede (sayth he) before my Lord Maior and me.

Then were there certaine Priestes, as Doct. Standishe and other, which tempted me much to know my minde. And I aunswered them alwayes thus: that I sayd to my Lord of London, I haue sayd. MarginaliaD. Standishes demaunde.Then Doct. Standishe desired my Lorde to byd me say my mynde concernyng the same text of S. Paules learnyng, that I beyng a woman, should intreprete the Scriptures, specially where so many wise learned men were 

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Standish's reference is to 1 Corinthians 14. Foxe omits, here, Askew's answer to Standish. As Thomas Freeman and Sarah Wall have noted, the passage in Foxe's base-text, Bale's 1550 (Copland) edition, reads: 'doctor Standish desired my lord, to byd me say my mind, concerning the same text of. S. Paule. I answered that it was against saynt Paules lerning, that I being a woman, shuld interprete the scriptures, specially where so many wise lerned men were'. Freeman and Wall have argued convincingly that this was a case of 'eye skip' - an error on the part of the compositor copying from Bale's 1550 (Copland) edition (See Thomas F. Freeman and Sarah E. Wall, 'Racking the Body, Shaping the Text: The Account of Anne Askew in Foxe's Book of Martyrs', Renaissance Quarterly 54 [2001], 1175-76).

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Then my Lord of London sayd hee was informed that one should aske of me if I would receiue the Sacrament at Easter, and I made a mocke of it. MarginaliaA. Askew could not haue her accuser.Then I desired that myne accuser might come forth: which my Lord would not. But hee sayd agayne vnto me, I sent one to geue you good counsell, and at the first word you called hym Papist. That I denyed not, for I perceaued he was no lesse: yet made I him none aūswere vnto it.

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MarginaliaThe Priestes of Lincolne agaynste An. Askew.Then he rebuked me, and sayd that I should report, that there were bent agaynst me three score Priestes at Lyncolne. In dede (quod I) I sayd so. For my frendes told me, if I did come to Lyncolne, the Priestes would assault me and put me to great trouble, as thereof they had made theyr boast: and when I heard it I went thether in deede, not beyng afrayde, because I knew my matter to bee good. Moreouer, I remayned there. ix. dayes, to see what would be sayd vnto me. And as I was in the Minster, readyng vppon the Bible, they resorted vnto me by. ij. and by. ij. by. v. and by. vj. mynding to haue spoken to me, yet went they their wayes agayne without wordes speakyng.

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Then my Lord asked, if there were not one that did speake vnto me. I told hym yes, that there was one of them at the last, whiche did speake to me in deede. And my Lord then asked me what he sayd? And I told hym, hys wordes were of small effect, so that I did not now remember them. Then sayd my Lord, there are many that read and know the Scripture, and yet folow it not nor lyue thereafter. MarginaliaA. Askew standeth vpon her honestie.I sayd agayne, my Lord I would wishe that all men knew my conuersation and lyuyng in all poyntes, for I am sure of my self this houre, that there are none able to proue any dishonestie by me. If you know any that cā do it, I pray you bryng thē forth 

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Whether or not Bonner implies, here, immoral living on Askew's part, this is how she interprets it, as she shows in her answer. In context, a woman's 'honesty' is her chastity, and her 'conversation' is her moral behavior. In his gloss ('Anne askew standeth upon her honesty') Foxe also suggests that this exchange is about Askew's sexual morality.

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Then my Lord went away and sayd hee would entitle somwhat of my meanyng, and so he wrote a great circumstaunce. But what it was, I haue not all in memory, for he would not suffer me to haue the copy therof. Onely do I remember this small portion of it:

Be it knowen (sayth he) of all men that I Anne As-

kew
VVV.j.