Review: Peter Wickins, ‘Victorian Protestantism and Bloody Mary’

Mary Tudor

My review of Peter Wickins’s book Victorian Protestantism and Bloody Mary: the legacy of religious persecution in Tudor England (Bury St Edmunds: Arena Books, 2012) has just appeared in vol. 43, part 1 of Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History. This is a fascinating book that juxtaposes a furious debate about a monument to the Marian ‘martyrs’ in Bury St Edmunds at the turn of the twentieth century with another look at the historical evidence for the martyrs themselves. What emerges is that the religious debates of the early twentieth century had more to do with civic identity than religion, while the range of beliefs that the martyrs themselves died for (everything from Unitarianism to Lollardy to Lutheranism) hardly corresponded to what the worthies of Edwardian Suffolk considered ‘Protestantism’ to be. It is an excellent example of a study of nineteenth-century historical perception, which in so many ways remains with us and needs to be recognised and challenged at every opportunity.

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