My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“So this was Anne Askew, who had left her husband in Lincolnshire to come and preach in London, and said the consecrated wafer was no more than a piece of bread, which would go mouldy like any other if left in a box.”
Internet Shakespeare Editions: Anne Askew’s Examinations defies the constraints of gender and hierarchy, and attempts to expose patriarchal insecurity surrounding female involvement in traditionally male religious subjects.
Anne Askew burned at the stake. The image is provided by permission of the British Library.
“I come from Whitehall Palace, from her majesty the Queen. She begs you to see her.” “Begs?’ I answered in surprise. Queens do not beg.”
Detail from The Family of Henry VIII, c. 1545. Unknown artist, after Holbein. Hampton Court Palace. © The Royal Collection.
Copy of Katherine’s text, Lamentations of a Sinner, published in 1547 with her signature.
More details are provided by Internet Shakespeare Editions.
In Lamentation of a Sinner, Parr follows a pattern of confession and repentance, all the while stressing the importance of Christian Scripture, an emphasis which marks her work as a Reformation text:
When I consider (in the bethinking of mine evil and wretched and former life) mine obstinate, stony, and untractible heart to have so much exceeded in evilness that it hath not only neglected — yea condemned and despised — God’s holy precepts and commandments, but also embraced, received, and esteemed vain, foolish, and feigned trifles, I am (partly by the hate I owe to sin, whom I am content to edify even with the example of my own shame) forced and constrained with my heart and words to confess and declare to my creator, and how beneficial, merciful, and gentle he hath been always to me his creature, being such a miserable, wretched sinner.
“McKendrick, the Scottish soldier. Curdy, the candlemaker. Vandersteyn, the Dutch trader. Religious radicals, meeting for potentially dangerous discussions. Possibly sacramentarians , or even Anabaptists. And somehow, the Lamentation had come into Greening’s hands.”
Even if the main plot is centered on the search of Catherine Parr’s stolen manuscript, the death of Anne Askew is also investigated by Matthew Shardlake since she was the only woman recorded to have been tortured in the Tower of London. As Queen Catherine, she also wrote a “dangerous” manuscript – The Examinations.
As the previous books of this series, the author intertwines into the narrative very accurate historical facts thus given more realistic aspects even if we are dealing with a fiction book. The historical characters are quite well-known to the readers but they come to life in the hands of CJ Sansom.
Matthew Shardlake series:
4* Dark Fire
5* Winter in Madrid