List of people burned as heretics

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This is a list of people burned after being deemed heretics by different Christian Churches. The list does not attempt to encompass the list of those executed by burning for other reasons (such as victims of witch hunts or other persecutions). The Catholic Encyclopedia states that "with the formal recognition of the Church by the State and the increase of ecclesiastical penalties proportioned to the increase of ecclesiastical offences, came an appeal from the Church to the secular arm for aid in enforcing the said penalties, which aid was always willingly granted...deviations from the Catholic Faith, were by the State made punishable in civil law and secular penalties were attached to them."[1] Canon 3 of the Ecumenical Fourth Council of the Lateran, 1215 required secular authorities to "exterminate in the territories subject to their jurisdiction all heretics" pointed out by the Catholic Church,[2] resulting in the inquisitor executing certain people accused of heresy. Some laws allowed the civil government to employ punishment.[3] After they were convicted by the Church, they were turned over to the local government for execution because of religious restrictions that kept ecclesial clergy from actually carrying out the executions.[citation needed]

During the Leipzig Debate prior to his ex-communication, then-Catholic priest Martin Luther made commentary against the morality of burning heretics to death. His position was summarized as "Haereticos comburi est contra voluntatem Spiritus" (It is contrary to the Spirit to burn heretics).[4] As such, it was one of the statements specifically censured in the 1520 papal bull Exsurge Domine.[5] When he failed to accept the bull and give a broad recantation of his writings, he was excommunicated in the subsequent 1521 papal bull Decet Romanum Pontificem.

Pre-Reformation Roman Catholic Europe[edit]

Burning of the Templars, 1314
Burning of William Sawtre, 1401
John Badby burned in a barrel, 1410
Burning of Jan Hus in Constance, 1415
Joan of Arc at the stake, 1431
Rogers' execution at Smithfield, 1555
Burning of John Hooper in Gloucester, 1555
Burning of Thomas Hawkes, 1555

Roman Catholic Countries[edit]

Burning of Latimer and Ridley, Oxford, 1555
Contemporary illustration of the auto-da-fé of Valladolid, in which fourteen Protestants were burned at the stake for their faith, on May 21, 1559

Protestant Countries[edit]

Burning of Anne Askew and John Lascelles, 1546

Eastern Orthodox Countries[edit]

The "baptism by fire" of Old Believer leader Avvakum in 1682

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Catholic encyclopedia. "Jurisdiction". Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  2. ^ Schroeder, H. J. "Medieval Sourcebook: Twelfth Ecumenical Council: Lateran IV 1215". Internet Medieval Source Book. Fordham University. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  3. ^ Grolier encyclopedia, vol. 5, pp. 436-437
  4. ^ Haereticos comburi est contra voluntatem Spiritus in Google books, list of the propositions
  5. ^ Bainton, Roland H. (1950). Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther. Abingdon-Cokesbury Press., pp. 145–147.
  6. ^ Fiume, Giovanna; Il santo moro: i processi di canonizzazione di Benedetto da Palermo (1594-1807), 2000.
  7. ^ Foxe, John (1831). Book of Martyrs: Or, A History of the Lives, Sufferings, and Triumphant Deaths, of the Primitive as Well as Protestant Martyrs : from the Commencement of Christianity, to the Latest Periods of Pagan and Popish Persecution ... A. B. Roff. p. 443 – via Internet Archive. stephen cotton.
  8. ^ Bloch, Isaac (1906). "Antoine, Nicolas". Jewish Encyclopedia. Kopelman Foundation. Retrieved 21 November 2018.

External links[edit]