9

The English Reformation was "a series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church". It involved the killings of many religious individuals (mostly Catholic, but also Protestants, during Mary I's reign), by official order of the state/crown (some other might have died from related sectarian violence, but that is surely hard to quantify so we can omit these). All denominations other than Anglican were forbidden.

A parallel reformation and persecution process (although with it's own idiosyncrasies) happened in the Kingdom of Scotland.

The Kingdom of Ireland, being under the subjection of the Tudor dynasty since Henry VIII, also saw its own violence and persecution, exemplified by the Penal Laws.

It wasn't until the English Toleration Act 1689, when freedom of worship was granted to "nonconformists who had pledged to the oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy and rejected transubstantiation" (i.e. to non-Catholics). Finally, it was in 1791 that freedom of worship was allowed for Catholics across Great Britain.

The question is "simple". How many people died in Great Britain (England + Scotland) and Ireland from state-directed religious persecution during all the above period (starting around 1532-1534)? Ideally, it would be great to have an idea of numbers by denomination.

PS: here, for instance, there is a list of people considered "martyrs" by the Catholic Church as part of the English Reformation. Yet, not all killed were considered martyrs. So the list is incomplete.

  • 1
    Another issue in the question might be whether (and how) to count the deaths from events that were intertwined with religion. How would you count casualties from the Irish Confederate Wars for instance? – Denis de Bernardy Sep 17 at 14:52
  • 1
    Doesn't Fox's book of Martyrs have the corresponding list? – Mark C. Wallace Sep 17 at 14:53
  • 1
    @Mark C. Wallace Fox's Book of Martyrs is a pro Protestant work and so would only list Protestants who were killed by Catholics, not Catholics who were killed by Protestants over the centuries. – MAGolding Sep 18 at 17:16
  • 2
    I think you need definitions. Are you referring only to people executed by the state for heresy/apostasy/blasphemy/other religious offences, or all deaths in which religious persecution played a role? Many people died in wars fighting against what they considered religious persecution (e.g. the Covenanters in Scotland, wars in Ireland, certain groups in the English Civil War), and many people died opposing them while trying to enact religious persecution. There are also extra-legal killings by non-state actors, whether it's what would now be called a hate crime, or terrorist-like acts. – Stuart F Sep 24 at 13:14
  • 2
    The UK didn't exist until 1707 and didn't include Ireland until after 1791. So maybe you want your geographic scope to be "Great Britain" or "Great Britain and Ireland". – Spencer Sep 24 at 16:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.