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Exchanging the Old with the New: Medieval Influences on Early Modern Representations in The Examinations of Anne Askew Open Access


Other title
Marian devotion
Mulier fortis
Early modern representation
Medieval hagiography
Reformation historiography
Medieval historiography
Medieval women's writings
Early modern women's writings
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Dear, Natalie E.
Supervisor and department
Brown, Sylvia (English and Film Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Bowers, Rick (English and Film Studies)
Brown, Sylvia (English and Film Studies)
Caulfield, Catherine (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Gay, David (English and Film Studies)
Reimer, Stephen (English and Film Studies)
Parkinson, David (University of Saskatchewan, Department of English)
Department of English and Film Studies
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
In The Examinations, Anne Askew represents herself as a reform martyr. Her editors John Bale and John Foxe further this representation in their comments on her responses, and situate her in the mulier fortis literary tradition. Bale’s commentary results in his self-representation as a historian of the reformed church. I argue that these representations are shaped by Askew’s and her editors’ employment of conventions associated with medieval hagiographies and histories. Medieval saints’ lives celebrate the heroes of the traditional religion. Why, and how, did Askew and her editors appropriate conventions of saints’ lives when, as reformers, they were against saints’ cults? This dissertation participates in the growing scholarship on Askew by being the first monograph dedicated to her text. I explore the ways in which Askew and her editors refashion the medieval representation of the martyr to present her as a reform martyr and mulier fortis. I also examine Bale’s self-representation as a sixteenth-century ecclesiastical historian. Chapter One investigates Askew’s reference to St Stephen with whom she aligns her self-representation as a martyr. Chapter Two analyzes Bale’s representation of Askew as a mulier fortis and his own representation as a historian. The chapter includes a brief survey of the mulier fortis tradition in order to situate Bale’s representation of Askew. Chapter Three examines Bale’s fashioning Askew with Marian features. Reformers recognized the Virgin Mary, a biblical example of a mulier fortis, as Christ’s mother, but negated all features of Marian devotion that conveyed saints’ cults. Chapter Four examines John Foxe’s inclusion of The Examinations in his Acts and Monuments and the possible medieval influences on his text. I argue that his treatment of Askew resembles John Capgrave’s representation of St Katherine. This dissertation underscores the relationship between history and textual representation: representations from the past are refashioned to produce representations in the present. I contribute to the current studies on periodization and to the discussions on the blurred border between the medieval and early modern literary periods. The medieval representation of the Christian martyr provides a framework for the construction of the early modern reformist martyr.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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