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Journal > Volumes > 46 (2015) / 4 (Winter)
Mixing Canon and Common Law in Religious Prosecutions under Henry VIII and Edward VI: Bishop Bonner, Anne Askew, and Beyond
Henry Ansgar Kelly
University of California, Los Angeles

In medieval England, religious crimes were prosecuted in the ecclesiastical courts by way of inquisitorial procedure, whereas secular crimes were dealt with in the royal courts with common-law methods. This separation between the two jurisdictions was fairly well maintained until the king was recognized in 1534 as the Supreme Head of the English Church. From this time forward, there were various attempts by statutory and other means to “improve” canonical procedures by adding or combining common-law practices. Some of these changes can be observed in practice in London under Bishop Edmund Bonner during the last years of Henry’s reign (1540–47), notably in the trials of Anne Askew in 1545 and 1546. Further alterations during the reign of Edward VI (1547–53) are detailed, when Bonner himself was deposed from his episcopal see by royal commissioners (1549). The article concludes with a brief look at Elizabeth’s reign, before and after Bonner’s demise.

Pages: 927 - 955