Heroines of the Past, The Reformation

October 1, 2008; Published by Amy Puetz; P.O. Box 429; Wright, WY 82732

Amy’s Corner

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I’m so excited about this issue of Heroines because I have three terrific articles for you about women from the Reformation. Perhaps one of the most influential women of this era is Catherine von Bora, the wife of Martin Luther. There is so much information about her that I have compiled it into an e-book (see sidebar). In this issue we will meet Anne Askew, a brave martyr; Elizabeth of Brandenburg, a steadfast follower of Christ; and Idelette Calvin, the worthy wife of John Calvin. Each of these ladies served Christ with their whole hearts and were willing to face disgrace, ridicule, estrangement from family, and hardship for the sake of Christ. The Reformation was a time of great upheaval and discord. In our society with freedom of religion, it is difficult for us to comprehend what it was like during the Reformation. These articles will let us look into the window of the past.

Celebrate Reformation Day

October is an appropriate month to remember the Reformation because on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of Castle Church in Germany. Many people have begun celebrating this day as Reformation Day.

Amy Puetz

Heroines of the Past
P.O. Box 429
Wright, WY 82732

By Cynthia Harris Browning

The Tower of London

When King Henry VIII broke with Rome and the Pope to become head of the English Church it was not with any intention to join the new learning of the Reformed leaders of Europe. Henry was Catholic. To uphold Catholic doctrine and unify his subjects he instituted the Acts of the Six Articles. By 1546 hundreds of his loyal subjects had been punished for reading the Bible in English, refusing the sacrament of the mass or otherwise violating the Six Articles.

The month of June bestowed a mild summer day on London, but inside Greenwich Palace icy glares from the council members gave way to a sudden burst of hot temper from England’s Lord Chancellor, Thomas Wriothesley.

"What, exactly, is your opinion of the sacrament?" he demanded of the queen’s lady-in-waiting, Anne Askew.

It was a question she had been asked-in various forms, and had answered many times over during the long interrogation. The question carried an automatic death sentence if care was not taken with the answer.

Unlike her inquisition a year ago in Saddler Hall, Anne no longer had her Bible with her to reference. There was no way she could have kept it with her to bring her comfort. Tyndale’s English translation was illegal and being burned into extinction. But Anne’s devoted study of God’s Word over the years had embedded scriptures deep into her memory, making every one of them a part of her being. From this deep source a truthful answer took form that would not be incriminating.

"I believe," she told the council, "as often as I, in a Christian congregation, receive the bread with thanksgiving in remembrance of Christ’s death according to His holy institution, I receive the fruits of his most glorious passion."

It was obvious from the faces of the council members that this was not what they wanted to hear. Bishop Stephan Gardiner of Winchester sprang to his feet.

"Make a direct answer, madam!"

Anne composed herself. It was important that her mood appeared neither obstinate nor arrogant. She kept her voice low, her tone well modulated.

"I will not sing a new song in a strange land."

The bishop was flustered. "You speak in parables."

"’Tis better for you," Anne replied, "for if I show you the open truth you will not accept it."

"You," Bishop Gardiner sputtered, "you are nothing more than a parrot."

The young woman looked over the council members. William Parr, the Earl of Essex and Lord Lisle, John Dudley were men she knew. She stiffened. Every member appeared ready to castigate her. Unbidden resolve surged through her and a new calm settled in.

"I am ready to suffer all things at your hands," she heard herself saying. "Not only your rebukes, but all that shall follow besides." She took a deep breath, letting it out, slowly-steadily. "Yea, I shall suffer all things gladly."

There were many rebukes from the panel before the five hour interrogation ended. The next morning, a weary Anne was brought from the private house where she was held to face the council again. Questioning resumed on the subject of the sacrament.

"I have already said what I can on the subject," Anne insisted.

When they found they were at a stalemate the council dismissed her to the antechamber where she waited-for what? More questions about the same thing?

While she waited Anne reflected on previous events leading up to this time. There was her marriage against her will to an unbeliever, followed by being expelled from her husband’s house because of her faith. Once she had been caught reading the Great Bible chained to the reading table in Lincoln Cathedral. And then there was the arrest and examinations the previous year. She had met every situation with prayer and the Word of God. Every time she had found the boldness to face her accusers with "Thus saith the Lord" and had been set free. This time was different, and Anne prayed as her mind recalled passages of scripture.

Bishop Gardiner entered the antechamber with William Parr and John Dudley. "We are your friends," one said, "and only want to help you." With tender and earnest pleadings they urged her to put an end to the questions by removing all doubts the council held. "Simply confess the sacrament to be flesh and blood and bone."

Anne looked from one man to the next. It would be an easy solution to the continuous barrage. Even as the thought crossed her mind she knew it was not an option she could take. To make the bread of the sacrament flesh, blood and bone was a lie. "’Tis a great shame," she said softly, "-a great shame for you to give counsel that is contrary to your knowledge"

Bishop Gardiner flushed. "You should be burnt!"

The answer formed on Anne’s tongue without thought, "I have searched all the scriptures, yet I never find that either Christ or his apostles put any creature to death. "Well, well," she said, "God will laugh your threatenings to scorn."

* * * * *

Anne’s quill etched the paper, leaving a trail of ink in its wake.

"Pray!" she wrote to friends beyond the walls of Newgate Prison where she had been confined. "Thus may the Lord strengthen us in the truth. Pray, pray, pray!"

It was the admonition Apostle Paul gave the Thessalonians-"Pray without ceasing." Anne took the scripture to heart and practiced it with all diligence. She realized her ordeal was just beginning to take shape and right now she needed prayer as she needed water and air.

The Sunday following the inquest Anne became sick. She had no idea where the sudden illness came from but she’d never felt so sick in her life and thought surely she would die. She asked to speak with Master Hugh Latimer but her request was denied. Instead, at the peak of illness, her body consumed with pain greater than any she had experienced before, she was moved to Newgate to await her condemnation.

A few days later the council met at Guildhall and Anne was taken to hear their verdict. "You have been decreed a heretic, and condemned by the law. Will you continue to stand in your opinion?"

"I am not a heretic," Anne replied, "neither do I deserve any death by the law of God. But concerning the faith I have uttered I will not deny it for I know ’tis true." To herself she thought, Are you ready to suffer all things at their hands? Defy the Law of the Six Articles and it will mean the stake.

"As for what you call your God," Anne drew a deep breath, Sweet Lord, assist me, "it is a piece of bread. Mark it, put into a box for three months and it will be moldy, and turn into nothing that is good. Therefore, I am persuaded it cannot be God."

"Very well then, we will call for a priest to hear your confession."

Anne felt a smile tug at the corner of her mouth. "I will confess my faults unto God. I am sure he will hear me with favor."

The council ended their questions and she was returned to Newgate. She wrote to Lord Chancellor Wriothesley to mediate for her to the king’s majesty. To King Henry VIII she wrote, "God has given me the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet not so much as my sins have deserved. Forasmuch as I am by the law condemned as an evil doer, I utterly abhor and detest all heresies. But I will not forsake the commandment of His holy lips. And what God has charged me with by his mouth, I have shut up in my heart."

To her friends Anne wrote of her examination, and sickness. And in prayer she wrote, "O Lord, I have more enemies now than the hairs upon my head. Yet, Lord, let them never overcome me with vain words, but fight thou, Lord in my stead, for on thee I cast my care. With all the spite they can imagine, they fall upon me, who am thy poor creature. Yet, sweet Lord, let me not sit by them who are against me-for in thee is my whole delight." Her enemies had more in store for Anne before they would be finished with her.

The Tower of London loomed above the River Thames. Here political prisoners were kept and here Anne was brought for more questioning.

"Upon your honor," charged Richard Rich of the council, "tell us if you know any man or woman of your sect."

"I know none."

"What about Lady Suffolk?" Master Rich suggested. "Was Lady Hertford or Lady Sussex of your number? Perhaps you are familiar with my lady Denny or Lady Fitzwilliams?"

They were all members of the queen’s household. Katharine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth wife, was long suspected of fostering the new learning. Was this line of questions an attempt to implicate her in heresy?

"If I say anything against these ladies," Anne replied, "I am not able to prove it."

"But there were gentlewomen who gave money during your imprisonment. Who were they?"

"I do not know their names or where they are from."

"Were they of your opinion?" Rich pressed the question.

Unable to get answers, Chancellor Wriothesley and Master Rich escorted Anne down the tower steps. She watched the eerie shadows the torch light cast upon stone walls as the descent narrowed. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me." In the flickering dungeon light, Anne faced a rectangular wooden frame equipped with ropes and rollers-the rack. O, Lord, be thou my stead!

Her hands were chained above her head to one roller. Her feet secured with ropes to the other. The Lieutenant of the Tower told the jailor, "Pinch her." While the jailor stretched Anne, the interrogation continued. She lay still and did not cry out, nor did she name any ladies or gentleman who shared her opinions.

"Why have you loosed her so soon?" Wriothesley demanded. "She has confessed nothing! Strain her on the rack again."

"I will not, for she is weak. Besides, I have no orders concerning gentlewomen."

"Do as I have ordered or your disobedience will be taken to His Majesty."

The lieutenant was resolute and stood back. In a fury, Wriothesley pulled off his robe and threw it to one side. Master Rich followed suit.

"Are you with child?" the chancellor asked Anne.

"There is no need to spare me for that. Do your will upon me." I am ready to suffer all things, Lord.

With their own hands Wriothesley and Rich stretched her upon the rack. With every question the ratchet increased tension on Anne’s bonds. Though she stayed still, her muscles and joints strained until she felt near death-yet she did not cry out. "I reckon the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us."

Instruments of Torture

Cartilages popped, sinews tore, but Anne never answered the inquiries. At last Wriothesley had the lieutenant release her. Anne’s ankles gave way beneath her. Although she passed out and had to be revived, the chancellor continued his interrogations for over two hours while Anne sat on the bare floor. With her body throbbing in pain, she reasoned with him but she never gave in.

* * * * *

Anne’s heart filled with thanksgiving to God for the bed supporting her aching body. She didn’t know who it belonged to but it brought a measure of relief. "My Lord, God, I thank your everlasting goodness for giving me grace to persevere. I hope I will continue to persevere to the end."

"Mistress Askew," someone interrupted her peace and rest. "Lord Chancellor Wriothesley sends word that if you will leave your opinion concerning the sacrament you shall want for nothing. But if you continue, you shall be returned to Newgate until you are put to the stake."

Anne’s body was weak, but her voice was strong. "I neither wish nor fear death’s might. Tell my lord chancellor that I would rather die than break my faith. God have the praise with thanksgiving." Lord, open the eyes of their blind hearts that truth may take place.

Because of the racking, Anne was unable to walk, so a sedan chair arrived at Newgate Prison on July 16, 1546 to convey her to the marketplace called Smithfield. Here she was fastened to the stake with a chain around her to hold her body upright. A bag of gunpowder was hung about her neck. Sharing the pyre were John Lassels, a gentleman of King Henry’s court, John Adams a tailor, and Nicholas Belenian, a priest of Shropshire.

When everything was ready for the execution, Nicholas Shaxton, who had advised Anne to recant as he had done, took the podium. He had been given the task of preaching the customary sermon. At times Anne confirmed his words, other times she retorted, "There he misses and speaks without Scripture."

Chancellor Wriothesley watched the proceedings from a bench beneath St. Bartholomew’s Church, along with other notable men. Once again he sent Anne the offer of the king’s pardon if she recanted.

Her voice was firm with conviction. "I have not come here to deny my Lord and Master!"

The men were given the same offer but, they too, rejected the terms of pardon.

The lord mayor commanded fire be put to the kindling and cried, "Let justice be done!"

One of the last things Anne wrote was this prayer, "Lord, I heartily desire of thee that thou wilt, of thy most merciful goodness, forgive them that violence which they do and have done to me."

As their bodies were consumed by the flames, Anne Askew, John Lassels, John Adams and Nicholas Belenian confirmed one another with words of encouragement.

"Happy are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

About the Author
Cynthia Harris Browning’s love of church history was born when her father presented an extended class on the subject to the small church he pastored in North Central Washington. Soon after that she was bitten by the writing bug. She’s currently working on a novel set during the time of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II, Richard the Lionheart, and Pope Innocent III. A young woman who gives all she has to copy the scriptures into the common language, but will she be required to give her very life? Cynthia has been married to her husband, Vernon, for thirty-nine years. They are the parents of two grown daughters and grandparents to Gabriella and Nathanial. They make their home in California’s San Joaquin Valley where they are active members in their local church.

Elizabeth of Brandenburg
By Emma Louise Parry, 1882

Elizabeth, Electress of Brandenburg, was a powerful agent in the Reformation, and the fruits of her mission are yet seen. Prussia is a Protestant country. This is due to her influence, and the honor of it should be accorded to her. The house of Brandenburg--one of the most powerful in Germany--lent great assistance in promoting the progress of the Reformation; and for this all gratitude should be given to the pious Electress, Elizabeth of Brandenburg.

She was a member of the royal family, granddaughter of Christian I of Denmark, sister of Christian II and in many other ways connected with the nobility. At the age of sixteen, she was married to Joachim I, Elector of Brandenburg, also a member of the house of Saxony, and royally connected. Brandenburg, which now forms part of Prussia, being among the largest of the many states into which the country was divided, wielded accordingly a powerful influence. Elizabeth, marrying the Elector of the state, would therefore have some power in directing that influence.

The marriage of Joachim and Elizabeth was looked upon as a most fortunate union; and indeed the first few years seemed to justify all the hopes of their friends. Happiness and sunshine flooded the path of the illustrious couple, and the love of Joachim for his beautiful wife was overflowing. She was called "the highest lady of the land, and also the most beautiful." Young, noble, graceful, lovely in form and features, for years she was the pride of the Elector’s heart; but the evil days came, when he had no pleasure in her. His love, though deep and passionate while it existed, was mutable. His nature was fickle, and his love for Elizabeth waned. The brightness of their home slowly disappeared, and constant little bickerings exhausted their love.

"It is the little rift within the lute,
That, by and by, will make the music mute,
And, ever widening, slowly silence all."

Not only did Joachim prove fickle, but he became faithless, and so brought heavier sorrow to his grieved wife. Trouble leads the sufferer to Christ. When all things in the world fail--love dies and the heart is desolate and sick--it seeks a refuge, which is found alone in Christ. So, Elizabeth was led to receive Him. She devoted herself to the study of religious works, and was convinced by the truth of Martin Luther’s words.

With her faith came an earnest desire and hope that she might partake of the Lord’s Supper. It became her ruling wish and longing. But, how could it be effected? Joachim was a most bigoted Romanist, a devoted zealot in the cause of Rome; Luther, Luther’s works and Luther’s religion, were all hateful to him. He was fierce and passionate, and feared by every one. Patiently she waited and never faltered in her purpose. An opportunity was presented. Her husband was called from the castle, and during his absence, she and her brother Christian I accomplished what she had so long desired, and the holy communion was celebrated in the castle.

The consequences of this act were far greater than any of the participants had feared. No sooner had the master of the house entered, upon his return, than his daughter Elizabeth bounded forward to greet him and narrate all the wonderful events that had transpired in the castle during his absence. "A man’s foes shall be those of his own household." Christ’s prophecy met a fulfillment in this household. The rage of Joachim was intense; his anger knew no bounds, and made him forget all that was due his wife. Words failed to express his passion, and he ordered her to her room. Here she was kept, as a prisoner, in solitary confinement. She thought of all that had passed, of the probable future, and asking for guidance she resolved to act--to depart if possible, from the house of Joachim.

Accordingly, arrangements were made, and on a very dark night, in the habit of a peasant woman, Elizabeth, Electress of Brandenburg, left the castle of Joachim. A rude wagon was in waiting, and in this conveyance she rode away. Her flight was not without fears, anxieties, and discouragements. Before they had reached their destination, a wheel of the wagon broke, and the driver declared they could go no further. Elizabeth’s heart sank, for she feared her lord would soon arrive and lead her back to confinement. She hastily took the handkerchief from her head and threw it to the man, who tied the broken part and hastily pressed forward. Arriving at her uncle’s, the Elector of Saxony, she found him loath to receive her, as he feared the wrath of Joachim. Her tears and prayers prevailed, especially as the Elector was one of that consecrated band that existed secretly throughout the regions where the new truth had spread, to whom the mystic watchword "In His Name," dared not pass unheeded, but claimed all the sympathy and help of a loyal, devoted follower.

So the Elector was faithful to his vows in the face of danger and wrath, and helped this needy one strong in faith. He gave her the castle of Lichtenburg, to which she retired. Here she lived a life of seclusion, of study, of consecration. She seldom appeared in company, choosing rather to employ her time in reflection and devotion. Her children, who were much attached to her, came often to see her. She never failed to speak to them upon the most necessary and the sweetest subject in the world. Her instructions were well heeded, and her influence upon those children is seen in their later lives.

After the death of Joachim, the children, who always thought of their mother with love, brought her from her retirement to her former home. Here her influence over them became greater, and although their father, in his deep hatred of the reform, made the sons promise by his dying bedside to work against it, yet--under the influence of their Christian mother--they were led to pursue an opposite course, and came out as noble and strong abettors of the cause of the Reformation, instead of its opponents, for which their father had designed them. Even her daughter Elizabeth, wife of Eric, a most bitter enemy of the Reformers and those of the new faith, she who had set husband and wife at variance (even as Christ had foretold), this strong foe at length renounced her old faith, declared herself a disciple of Christ, and became an influential ally of the right. Truly, prayer is an arm of might. So, Elizabeth’s latter days were crowned with blessing. Luther wrote her many friendly letters, for she had become a personal friend of his during her retirement at Lichtenburg. She had, during that period, officiated as godmother to his beloved daughter Magdalene, and so had become endeared to the Doctor. From him, she had learned many things, and had drank more deeply of that spiritual fount for having learned of him. All the mighty truths that the Wittenberg doctor had disclosed to her, gave her that power to lead her children in the true path.

The life of Elizabeth, Electress of Brandenburg, was not one of active, ever-varying incident and boldness. Her work in the Reformation can not be set to martial music, and awaken soul-stirring emotions, making the blood flow faster and kindling the imagination. Hers was not the position of the soldier in the midst of the fray, battling, striving, working in the glory and din of the field of action. No, her life was one of study, of solitude; of prayer, of devotion; of discourse and research--an intellectual life; and the influence of that life--quiet as it was--was most powerful. It is as some simple story, some unadorned poem, that although exercising a different power from the mighty, sublime verse of the old masters, is just as strong and as noble. Though not a hero in the ranks, helping the cause by open combat, she is as the canvasser that rouses others--appeals, convicts, incites others to enter the work--she is the voice that speaks to them, that is felt in their hearts, that leads them to brave the severest trials. She is one of those true magnetic souls that call forth nobility in every one, even the least soul whom she touches; one with whom none can be trivial or false, for her very truth and earnestness would awake the hidden seeds of truth in the lowest soul. She is one of those souls whom God has sent into the world with a divine mission--the mission of influence.

Idelette Calvin
By William Chapman, 1884

Geneva in 1602.

She was born in a small town of Guelderland, in the Netherlands; but having been married to John Störder, of Liége, the couple took up their residence at the famous town of Strasburg, where they became converts to those offshoots from the Reformation, the Anabaptists. John Störder and his wife were noted for their morality and piety, and being also persons of considerable enlightenment, they were held in high esteem. At the time when this couple was residing in Strasburg they came into contact with Calvin, who, after he had been banished from Geneva for his bold opposition to the evil lives of the people, went to Strasburg; this was in 1538. As soon as Calvin had fairly settled at this place he began his usual ministerial labors, and quickly gathered around him a group of intelligent hearers, amongst whom were John Störder and his wife. They were led to examine the tenets of the Anabaptists, and compare them with the theses of Calvin, which induced them to change their opinions, and they became firm adherents of the new pastor. But shortly after Störder had joined the band of Calvin he died of the plague, leaving Idelette with the care of several children. During the life of Störder a hearty sympathy had existed between him and the exile of Geneva: they had become intimately associated in the great work of reform, and bent with one common object all the powers of their mind. After the death of Störder, Calvin continued to be the firm friend of his widow and children, though he did not at first entertain any thoughts of a union with this lady. He was at the same time looking for a companion to assist him in the toils of life. But Calvin was one of the most unromantic men living. His idea of what a wife should be may be gathered from a letter addressed to Farel, another celebrated Reformer, in May, 1539. "Remember," says he, "what I expect from one who is to be my companion for life. I do not belong to the class of loving fools who, when once smitten with a fair figure, are ready to expend their affection even on the faults of her with whom they have fallen in love. The only kind of beauty which can win my soul is a woman who is chaste, not fastidious, economical, patient, and who is likely to interest herself about my health."

This letter was in a measure an answer to those of his friends who wished him married, and were busying themselves about the affair. Calvin was sufficiently unsentimental to be content to leave it to them. It is likely that if a dozen portraits had been laid before him, he would have taken any one of them specially recommended, and whose disposition answered his expectations as above expressed. After one or two failures to obtain what he desired, he was about to give it up altogether, when his friend Idelette, whom he highly esteemed, appeared to come nearer to his standard than any other; and in spite of her being a widow and the mother of several children, he made up his mind to marry. With Calvin to resolve was to act, and soon, to the joy of his friends, the marriage was celebrated at Strasburg in September, 1540.

The people of Geneva had hated Calvin for his stern, unbending virtue, and they banished him from the state; but when three years had gone by the magistrates revoked the sentence, and in September, 1541, he returned in triumph. Idelette, to whom he had been married about a year, was left behind at Strasburg, but shortly afterwards she rejoined her husband. Her entrance into Geneva almost resembled the arrival of a princess: the Council sent a herald to escort her, also three horses and a carriage; and when they were both in the city, which was to be their future home, the magistrates granted them a house with a garden attached to it. Here the couple, with the children of Idelette’s former marriage, could enjoy the freedom of security and the beauties of nature. Geneva itself, nestling at the foot of the great mountains, with a large, unruffled surface of water facing it, is one of the most picturesque spots on earth; and the house given to Calvin was so situated that it commanded a sweeping view of the serene and sloping banks of Lake Leman, together with the gorgeous aspect of snow-clad Mont Blanc, while again, away in the distance, could be seen the sky-towering range of the Savoyard Alps. These prospects, viewed in the gold and purple beams of morning light, were precisely those best calculated to elevate the aspiring soul, and cause it to look with horror upon anything in the conduct of men which might sully the glorious splendors of creation. That Calvin loved his wife according to his fashion, is a well-assured fact. We find that he was never in the least degree disappointed with her; and that just at those moments when the body was weary of earth and all its belongings, Idelette came to him like a soothing angel. Calvin was not the man to spend his time in praising anybody, and yet he referred to his wife in his correspondence as a "singularly exemplary woman."

John Calvin

After Calvin and his wife were established in Geneva, they had many opportunities of showing their benevolence to those who needed assistance, and at that time they were many, for the persecution to which the Protestants were exposed in other countries, particularly the Waldenses, drove great numbers of them to seek refuge in Geneva, where they were sheltered from the rigors of inclement evil, and could worship God as they wished. Many of these exiles had cause thankfully to acknowledge the unseeking charity of Calvin and his wife; they exercised towards these strangers a kindness so active that their own people were inclined to be jealous, and to blame them for attending more to their wants than to their own.

Nine years of wedded life were granted to this couple, years of devotion and benevolence; three children were given to them, but they all died in infancy, much to Calvin’s grief; the first, a son, was nearly caused the death of the mother. In writing of his birth to a brother minister, Calvin says, "My wife has been delivered prematurely, not without extreme danger. May the Lord look down upon us in mercy." And when the death of the child occurred Calvin writes again, "My wife returns her thanks for so much friendly and pious consolation. She could reply only by means of a secretary, and it would be very difficult for her even to dictate a letter. The Lord has certainly inflicted a severe and bitter wound by the death of our infant son. But He is Himself a Father, and knows what is necessary for His children." After this a daughter came, and departed; a third was also given, but it was not granted that Calvin’s name should be perpetuated by his own offspring. Calvin said, "The Lord gave me a son, but soon took him away. This is reckoned among my disgraces, that I have no children. I have myriads of sons throughout the Christian world." But though the children died away, it did not chase conjugal happiness from the home.

Calvin was thoroughly happy with his wife, and well knew her great worth; but the time approached when he was to experience her value by the contrast of an earthly separation. Idelette fell ill, and though everything was done that could be done, it was soon known that her hours were numbered. A few days before her death, a friend asked her if she had pressed the requirements of her own children upon her husband; but she answered, "The chief thing is that they should live a godly and holy life. It is not necessary to make my husband promise to bring them up in holiness and the fear of God. If they be pious, I am confident that he will be to them an unsought father; if they be not, they do not deserve that I should ask anything for them." This proved her confidence was strong in the uprightness of her husband, and having lived for nine years with him, it is probable that she had grown like him in her sympathies; hence her brief dismissal of all cares regarding her children. She must also have viewed God as a Being of justice, rather than of love; thus her summary was, "If they do right, it shall be well with them; if not, they shall suffer--and rightly." This was the view of Calvin and his wife, and though in all things we do not follow them, yet we cannot withhold our praise for their persistent bravery. They represented a phase of thought and liberty for which it was as necessary to fight as the broadest and most tolerant love. Idelette departed from the scene of her labors in April, 1549, leaving her husband to work on in his trenchant and unswerving manner.

New Book

Ladies Behind Luther

Ladies Behind Luther
Compiled by Amy Puetz
24 pages
Price $7.95

What do Ursula Cotta, Catherine von Bora, and Magdalena Luther have in common? They were influential ladies in the life of Martin Luther. When Martin Luther was a young deprived, boy Ursual Cotta took him into her home and taught him about God's love. Catherine von Bora was a nun who had been put in a Convent as a small child. When she began reading Martin Luther's books she realized that convent life was not what God wanted from her. She and eight other nuns escaped from the convent and went to Martin Luther. Eventually she and Luther were married. One of their daughters, Magdalena Luther, was such a pious girl that when she died at the tender age of thirteen her parents were grief stricken. These are their stories.

Includes an Illustrated History of Catherine von Bora and Martin Luther, seven whole pages with pictures from the life of Luther family.

A wonderful overview of the ladies behind Luther!

Bonus - two Heroines of the Past collectable cards. These are usually featured in the Heroines of the Past books but they are included here as a special bonus.

Click here for details.

New Release!
Heroines of the Past
Civil War

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Renaissance and Reformation

40991: The Tinker"s Daughter: A Story Based on the Life of Mary Bunyan

The Tinker’s Daughter: A Story Based on the Life of Mary Bunyan
By Wendy Lawton / Moody Publishers

John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, mentions only one of his six children in his memoirs--Mary. Born blind in 1650, her story still intrigues us nearly 350 years later. When her father was imprisioned for unlawful preaching, it was 10-year-old Mary who traveled the streets of Bedford each day, bringing soup to her father in prison. Mary developed a fierce determination for independence, after spending years proving that she was not hindered by her blindness. Only when she admited the she needed help did she turn to the Lord; the Source of all strength.

0786645: Foxe"s Book of Martyrs

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
By Baker

With millions of copies in print, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs has become a classic of magnificent courage and faith. This unparalleled volume chronicles the tragic yet triumphant stories of men and women who faced torture and martyrdom rather than deny their vision of truth and of God. Beginning with Jesus Christ, this exceptional historical record traces the roots of religious persecution through the sixteenth century. It examines the heroic lives of great men and women such as John Hus, John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Anne Askew, Lady Jane Grey, and Martin Luther. John Foxe also knew persecution. Forced to flee from his native England to Europe during Queen Mary’s severe persecution of those holding Reformed views, he carefully compiled records of martyred Christians. His writings possess a sense of immediacy and insight into suffering that few "objective" church historians can match. This edition has been streamlined and reorganized by W. Grinton Berry to present work in today’s language.

43685: The Hawk That Dares Not Hunt by Day

The Hawk That Dares Not Hunt by Day
By Scott O’Dell / Journeyforth

The year is 1525 and books written by reformers like Martin Luther are being burned all over Europe. For Tom Barton, who smuggles such books into England, the ban is an opportunity to make money. But when Tom meets William Tyndale, who defies the king and distributes Bibles to the common people, he realizes that the Reformation is more than a money-maker and that spreading God’s Word is worth risking one’s life. Recommended for ages 10 to 14.

66088: St. Bartholomew"s Eve

St. Bartholomew’s Eve
By Prestonspeed Publications

Philip Fletcher, the hero, is an English lad, but has a French connection on his mother’s side. This kinship induces him to cross the Channel to become involved in the Huguenot wars. Learn of Coligny’s unflinching bravery, Queen Elizabeth’s vacillating foreign policy, Catherine deMedici’s vindictive scheming, and the Queen of Navarre’s inner strength. 377 pages, hardcover with foil stamping; illustratedllustrations.

251233: Famous Women of the Reformed Church

Famous Women of the Reformed Church
By James I. Good / Solid Ground Christian Books

"The chapters of this book first appeared in the Reformed Church Magazine (1893-1895). They then received favorable comment. Since that magazine ceased publication, there have been so many inquiries for them that it is evident they met a felt want in the Church, and the Sunday-school Board of the Reformed Church in the United States has undertaken their publication in this volume. The author has added several chapters to those that appeared in the magazine. It is hoped that the lives of these Reformed saints will stimulate the ladies of our Church to greater interest in our splended Church history, and to greater activity as in missions and the practical work of the Church, in which they already excel." - from the Author’s Preface

Some of the ladies considered are the following:

  • Anna Reinhard, Zwingli’s Wife
  • Idelette D’Bures, Calvin’s Wife
  • Anna Bullinger, Henry’s wife
  • Queen Margaret of Navarre
  • Queen Jeanne D’Albret of Navarre


154215: Luther: The Movie, DVD

Luther: The Movie, DVD
By Vision Video

Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love) stars as Martin Luther, the brilliant man of God whose defiant actions changed the world, in this epic film that traces Luther’s extraordinary and exhilarating quest for the people’s liberation. Regional princes and the powerful Church wield a fast, firm and merciless grip on 16th-centur Germany. But when Martin Luther issues a shocking challenge to their authority, the people declare him their new leader - and hero. Even when threatened with violent death, Luther refuses to back down, sparking a bloody revolution that shakes the entire continent to its core. Approx. 2 hours 4 minutes. Close caption. PG-13.

Special Features:

  • Widescreen
  • English and Spanish Language Subtitles
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • 5.1 Surround
  • NTSC 1

  • 646234: Martin Luther, DVD - 50th Anniversary Edition

    Martin Luther, DVD - 50th Anniversary Edition
    By Vision Video

    The original film classic of Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide and nominated for two Academy Awards. The film traces his life from a guilt-burdened monk through the monumental events that led to a break with the Roman Church. This film is in black and white and retains the stirring impact for audiences today that it enjoyed upon it first release. Included as a special extra is "Biography of a Film," the amazing behind-the-scene 50-year story with a Robert E. A. Lee, former executive of Lutheran Film Associates. Black and white (same as video), 105 minutes.

    Special Features:

  • Bios and Photos of the Actors and Production Personnel
  • Full-Color Tour of Luther Sites
  • Chapter Titles for Easy Scene Access
  • Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Korean Tracks
  • English Subtitles
  • Fullscreen movies do not contain the black bars on the top and bottom of the screen because the image is typically cropped at the edges and has been formatted to fit a standard TV screen. This process does cut off the ends of the picture as it appeared in the theater.

    Copyright 2011 Amy Puetz, www.AmyPuetz.com