Common Knowledge 17 (2):411-422 (2011)

The author here extends a dialogue with Jeffrey M. Perl, published in the Spring 2010 issue of Common Knowledge, under the title “`Decorate the Dungeon.'” That dialogue concerns whether Thomas More could have avoided martyrdom though he acted with heroic quietism during the Henrician Reformation. Dubious of this premise during the previous exchange, the author here examines the lives of three northern English quietists of More's time—Christopher Urswick (c. 1448–1552), Cuthbert Tunstall (1474–1559), and John Redman (1499–1551)—who never quite risked martyrdom but never abandoned their own principles either. This essay concludes that Tunstall was the most heroic of the three. As a bishop (for well over thirty years), he could have burned heretics in the 1530s and 1550s but he sent no one to death—a record perhaps better than that of Thomas More, who saw sedition in some of those brought before him as heretics when he was chancellor. A record so free of violent commitment as Tunstall's was extraordinary in his time, as in ours, and this article gives it due recognition
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DOI 10.1215/0961754X-1188094
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