Anne Askew (1521-1546)
I was impressed with Anne Askew’s “The Ballad which Anne Askew made and sang when she was in Newgate.” While reading it, I tried to picture what the response of her audience might be to a women speaking so strongly about her beliefs. The poem was very straight-forward and easy to understand. The strength of her faith was evident in the opening lines when she compared herself to an ‘armed knight’ who was on a mission. This displayed her vibrant character and that she was serious about what she believed. She also made her faith accessible to others by mentioning that “Thou saist, lord, who so knock, To them wilt thou attend” (Lines 21-22). These lines clearly showed that if someone wanted to know Jesus they could pray to Him. Askew’s determination to step out into the world or ‘battlefield’ and her willingness to face her enemies reinforced that she truly believed that she could trust God. I admired her focus and the stand that she took for her faith.
In “The First Examination of Anne Askew,” Askew conducted herself very wisely. She appeared respectful while being questioned. However, she did not compromise her beliefs and her faith remained strong. Askew’s responses to the questions she was asked were often answered based on the Scripture. This demonstrates that she was not simply speaking on her own authority but instead was basing her answers on the Bible. Her confidence was apparent when she said: “Seeing ye have taken the pains to ask this question I desire you also to assoil it yourself. For I will not do it because I perceive ye come to tempt me.” (The First Examination, 3). This was a wise response and one that must have taken great courage to express to an authority. Also, when she stated: “I told him I was but a woman and knew not the course of schools” (The First Examination, 3), she showed her quick wit and yet her willingness to be humble, while at the same time demonstrating her firm beliefs.
For the reading about “The Death of Anne Askew” her choice about following God was amazingly sincere and so important to her that she was willing to die for what she believed in. The description of her being burned to death was difficult to read because she was killed for not hiding her faith and truly standing up for what she believed was true and right.