By: Brad S. Gregory
Thousands of men and women were executed for incompatible religious views in 16th-century Europe. The meaning and significance of those deaths are studied here comparatively, providing an argument for the importance of martydom as both a window onto religious sensibilities, and a crucial component in the fomation of divergent Christian traditions and indentities. Brad Gregory explores Protestant, Catholic and Anabaptist martyrs in a sustained fashion, addressing the similarites and differences in their self-understanding.
He traces the processes and impact of their memorialization by co-believers, and he reconstructs the arguments of the ecclesiastical and civil authorities responsible for their deaths. He employs a wide range of sources, including pamphlets, martyrologies, theological and devotional treatises, sermons, songs, woodcuts and engravings, correspondence and legal records. Reconstructing religious motivation, conviction and behaviour in early modern Europe, this text shows the shifting perspectives of authorities willing to kill, martyrs willing to die, martyrologists eager to memorialize and controversialists keen to dispute.