Anne Askew, Reformation Martyr

Only Glory Awaits: The Story of Anne Askew, Reformation Martyr by Leslie S. Nuernberg is historical fiction. Anne Askew was a real person, but the book is written in story form with conversations imagined by the author based on what she knew of the people and situations involved.

Anne lived during the time of King Henry VIII and was even friends with one of his wives, Catherine Parr. Anne was bright and well-educated, especially for a women of her time.

The Reformation was sweeping across Great Britain, with Catholics strongly opposing it. Anne and two of her brothers, Francis and Edward, embraced the opportunity to read Scripture on their own, which Catholicism discouraged. Anne came to believe on the Lord alone for salvation at age eleven. Their father was tolerant but not interested himself. He didn’t want to change his way of life. Francis would bring Reformation literature home to Anne privately.

When Anne was fifteen, her sister was engaged to marry a local Catholic farmer, Thomas Kyme. But her sister, Martha, passed away before the wedding. Thomas and Anne’s father arranged that she should take her sister’s place. Anne pleaded and begged to be released from this obligation: not only did she have no love or interest in Kyme, she was Protestant and he was Catholic. She knew they would never agree about matters closest to her heart.

But Anne was married anyway. The book posits that Anne’s brother, Francis, persuaded her that she was to be subject to her parents and marry Thomas. He later came to regret his influence in this matter.

The marriage was a disaster from the start. Thomas and Anne were different in just about every way possible. If the book is correct, I felt Anne failed here. She treated Thomas as a heretic and argued with him instead of viewing him as a soul who needed Christ.

When Thomas was not home, Anne would meet with other women in the area to try to bring them to the Lord. Thomas forbade her “gospeling” and took her Bible away.

Anne wanted a divorce, and Thomas eventually sent her back home. But, according to the book, Thomas’s priest urged him to bring his wife home and convert her to Catholicism. Anne would not go.

Wikipedia says Anne had two children with Kyme, but the book doesn’t mention them.

She was eventually arrested and imprisoned. She was intelligent and well-versed in Scripture and stunned her questioners by her answers, especially about her views of transubstantiation (the idea that the bread and drink of communion actually become the body and blood of Christ. Catholics believe it does; Protestants believe the food and drink is merely symbolic). Her examiners also wanted her to give names of other women who believed as she did, but she refused.

She was one of only two women tortured in the Tower of London. When the torturer refused to continue and left to ask the king’s permission to stop, Anne’s questioners used the rack on her themselves, tearing muscle and pulling bones out of sockets. Anne was condemned to be burned at the stake at the age of 25. She was so broken and in such pain, she had to be carried in a chair to her execution.

This book doesn’t present Anne as a perfect heroine. She came across as proud and stubborn at times. But her loyalty to her Savior and to truth and her hunger for the Word of God are exemplary.

I thought the author did a fair job. Somehow the Kindle version’s editing fell through in the last 20% of the book, with several obvious mistakes. I hope this isn’t the case for the print version and can be corrected.

2 thoughts on “Anne Askew, Reformation Martyr

  1. Wow! I’ve done quite a bit of reading on Henry VIII and his wives, although it’s been a while, and Anne Askew does sound a bit familiar. I really feel for her. Being forced into a bad marriage and then being arrested, imprisoned, and killed unjustly sounds awful.

  2. Barbara, I’ve never heard of Anne Askew before. It sounds like she was a woman who knew what she believed and wasn’t shy about sharing it. Her story is inspirational, from what you’ve shared here. Thank you for introducing me to another hero in the faith.

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