Mary Tudor's reign (1553-1558) is still remembered with a shudder due to the burning of 228 men and 56 women who refused to renounce their protestant faith.
The ferocity of their punishment is ascribed to a reactionary monarchy determined to restore the status quo ante.
In this confident and persuasive work, Eamon Duffy argues that Marian England was actually in the vanguard of catholicism.
Reginald Pole, Mary's ruthless archbishop, was a devoted disciple of the Council of Trent, which initiated the counter-reformation. He pursued the Marian restoration with "originality, depth and imaginative power".
Duffy's use of vivid detail and the actual words of protagonists bring the reader within sniffing distance of the blazing stakes.