July 16 in freethought history…

anneaskewJuly 16, 1546 – English noblewoman Anne Askew (aged 25) is burned at the stake for heresy. A Protestant forced into marriage with a Catholic named Thomas Kyme, she had two children by him but refused to take his name. Kyme eventually threw her out of the house and she sought a divorce (allegedly the first Englishwoman to do so), but was refused. She became an outspoken street preacher in London, denying (among other things) the doctrine of transubstantiation. She was arrested and became the only woman ever to be tortured in the Tower of London. She was so crippled as a result of being subjected to the rack that she had to be carried to her execution in a chair and chained upright to the stake. She went to her death never having betrayed the names of her coreligionists, nor recanting her sincere beliefs.

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