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Anne Askew

Anne Askew was a female Calvinist preacher who was attacked by the pro-Catholic faction of the Royal Court for her radical sermons; she appeared only in one episode of The Tudors, "Secrets of the Heart."  Askew in fact had connections with the Seymour Family, the leaders of the pro-Lutheran faction at court; since King Henry had refused to allow further extensive reforms, Askew's sermons (which, in keeping with Calvinist doctrine, denied the actual presence of Christ in the Eucharist) could be declared heresy.

After being arrested in the middle of one of her sermons, she was interrogated by the ruthless Bishop Gardiner, but refused to divulge her friendship with Anne Stanhope, Edward Seymour's wife. Shortly afterwards, she was brutally tortured on the rack by Thomas Wriothesley and Richard Riche, yet the only thing she divulged was that she had been given money and letters by "A woman in a blue coat" which was actually Stanhope; this information led Gardiner to target Stanhope and Queen Catherine Parr for heresy, but ultimately he found no proof.  Despite excruciating pain, Anne stubbornly refused to sell out her friends or recant her Protestantism. One of the guards was so horrified by her ordeal he protested to King Henry, who replied that even women could be tortured in extreme cases of heresy.

When Anne still refused to talk after her limbs were dislocated, Gardiner angrily sentenced her to burning. Lady Hertford tearfully attended her execution, paying the executioner to tie a small bag of gunpowder around her neck.  Askew recognized Stanhope through a haze of pain and smiled weakly at her.  When her pyre was ignited, Anne screamed for several moments; however, the gunpowder pouch then caught fire and exploded, killing her instantly and ending her agony.

Anne about to be burned, after her torture. Note the gunpowder pouch around her neck, intended to kill her quickly and end her pain