In recent years, Anne Askew has attained something of celebrity status among scholars of Tudor women’s writing and, more generally, of Tudor Reformation history. In the course of privileging Askew’s examinations above those of other female defendants (such as Elizabeth Young), scholars sometimes equate Askew’s rhetorical expertise with legal expertise. Thus, it has been argued that Askew knew the latest developments in Tudor legislation and used this knowledge to her advantage during her examinations. Was Askew aware of legal reforms? How did she and other Protestant defendants formulate their responses? These issues and other questions are addressed by comparing Askew’s defense to those of three other Protestants— Elizabeth Young, John Lambert, and William Thorpe. All four examinations appear in John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. All four defendants used the Bible to construct cogent arguments against, and critiques of, their examiners. From this, it is concluded that Protestant defendants such as Askew were highly skilled debaters, but not necessarily experts of Tudor law.
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