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Mary was crowned queen in 1553. In the space of just five years, her brutal methods earned her the macabre nickname she has carried ever since. Men such as Nicholas Ridley and Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, were burned at the stake, as were some 300 others who refused to renounce their Protestantism and accept Papal supremacy. This lucid and expert account sheds light on a dreadful episode in English history.
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UK Kirkus review
The level of religious persecution under Mary I of England has long been debated, with the traditional view of Mary as a bloodthirsty scourge of Protestants challenged by more recent interpretations. An acclaimed historian and winner of the James Tait Black prize for his biography of Lord Palmerston, Ridley has already written much about the Tudor period, and here he argues that the pendulum has swung too far - Mary's five-year reign really was merciless in its treatment of those diverging from the Roman Catholic faith. Ridley bases his research on Foxe's famous Book of Martyrs and a wide range of other contemporary records. He describes how those accused of heresy were burnt at stake, detailing the experiences of prominent churchmen, like Latimer, Hooper and his namesake Nicholas Ridley, and gives special attention to the dramatic case of Thomas Cranmer, Henry VIII's Archbishop of Canterbury. But he also tells of those who might otherwise be forgotten - the weavers, tanners and masons, the uneducated, poor, disabled and elderly, who were also faced with the stark choice of 'turn or burn', while zealots like the Bishops Stephen Gardiner and Edmund Bonner pursued suspected heretics with vigour. Ridley departs from tradition in his view of Mary's husband, Philip II of Spain, traditionally seen as a driving force in the burning of heretics in England, but here shown to have had a moderating role, and to have protected Princess Elizabeth from the worst of her sister's persecution. Ridley brings home the full horror of the sufferings of the Protestant martyrs - approaching 300 in all - and honours their courage, assessing the impact of this persecution on modern times. This is a moving and erudite account of the traumatic birth of the Protestant faith in England and Scotland. (Kirkus UK)
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