The price of faith

14 June 2017 | by Jonathan Wright


The Burning Time: The Story
of the Smithfield Martyrs
Virginia Rounding
(Macmillan, 480 PP, £20)
Tablet bookshop price £18 • tel 01420 592974

Smithfield, just beyond London’s western city walls, had long been a favoured spot for public executions but the pace quickened during the sixteenth century. Religious turmoil saw numerous victims of successive Tudor monarchs perish there: 48 in the reign of Mary I alone. Virginia Rounding provides a thorough, if rather exhausting, account of the casualties. She is sound, for the most part, on the historical context, but the tales of trials, interrogations and gruesome deaths have been told many times before.

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