By Danna Piroyansky

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Extra info for Making Martyrs: Political Martyrdom in Late Medieval England

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92 He deliberately encouraged the association between the English victories in France and King Arthur’s legendary achievements; in 1348, after the successful siege of Calais in the summer of 1347, the King founded the Order of the Garter. Although the order had practical political and military roles, it also highlighted the ethics of knightly endeavour and loyalty. 93 In reality, however, the practice of war seldom abided by the chivalric ideals of the time, and much blood was shed in circumstances which challenged knightly notions – executions in the civil wars of Edward II’s reign, violent raids (chevauchées) in 38 Martyrs in the Making France during the Hundred Years War, usurpations involving regicide, and rebellions which ended in yet more bloodshed.

He was, among other superlatives, generous, just, provident, and faithful. His political activity was regarded with approval in that he fought for the Kingdom, for the public good, and also – more importantly for the Pope – in defence of the Church’s liberty. After his unjust death he is described as happily ‘falling asleep in God’ (‘in Domino feliciter obdormivit’). 25 Another letter to the Pope, by Archbishop William Melton of York, written a few days earlier on behalf of Henry of Lancaster, also requested the Holy See to inquire into the canonization of the popular ‘saint’.

A similar martyrological tradition was invoked in Thorpe’s testimony, in which Archbishop Arundel is portrayed as a powerful tyrant. While the Archbishop loses his temper on several occasions, Thorpe describes himself as remaining calm, willing to answer questions and even lecture on theological matters. 76 In these examples we see a mimetic continuity between older martyrological traditions and new practices. Lollards, like martyrs, were not born but made. Even if they were educated from childhood on Wycliffite ideas, the pervasive martyrological language was also part of their makeup, a resource for polemical defiance and a source for inner strength.

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