Heretics of London - The Smithfield Martyrs
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Smithfield, just outside the Old City Walls in London was known as The Smoothfield, a rendevous for cattle traders, jousting, duelling and the raucous Barthlolomew fair which ran for 700 years. It was also known for the execution of criminals with its Elms Gallows. Scottish rebel William Wallace was hung, then drawn and quartered in Smithfield. Peasant revolt leader Wat Tyler was also killed in Smithfield. Smithfield was also the site of the burning alive of heretics. From 1401 The Universal church along with the Parliament of England issued the statute "Heretico Comburendo", concerning the burning of heretics. The ecclesiastical courts could examine heretics, those who rejected the Catholic doctrine, especially the Eucharist and if they did not publicly recant they would be condemned and burnt at the stake. The first heretic to be burnt at Smithfield was in the same year as Heretico Comburendo in 1401. Heretics included Bible translaters John Wycliffe, William Tyndale and John Rogers. If the accused heretic would not recant they would be burned alive at the stake under a common law writ issued by the Monarch. The film tells the stories of heretics burnt at the stake during the reign of Henry V111 until Mary 1st. Out of at least 280 heretics burnt at the stake in England at least 65 were burnt in Smithfield. The stories of heretics Friar John Forest, Anne Askew, Joan Bocher and even Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer are featured in the film along with the historical complexities of the Reformation. Bishop Edmund Bonner condemned over 200 heretics and the bitter feuds which resulted from the Act of Supremacy along with the fascinating stories of the Reformation and the battle for the Bible are told in this atmospheric and informative documentary.