John Mirk (active 1403?), Festial

[Oxford?: Printer of Mirk], 14 October 1486

Political and religious changes frequently left their marks on early books. When the cult of St Thomas of Canterbury, the murdered Archbishop Thomas Becket, was proscribed by Henry VIII in 1538, references to him had to be deleted from service books and devotional works throughout the land. The image of the martyrdom of Thomas in this fragment of Mirk’s Festial is crossed out relatively lightly, suggesting a hope that the proscription might be reversed, as it was, briefly, under Mary Tudor. The owner of the linked copy of The golden legend, a popular compendium of saints’ lives, did the job more thoroughly, removing two leaves entirely and crossing out the remainder of the entry on St Thomas


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