The first heretical barbecue?

burned_at_the_stakeThe Martyrs Mirror is an impressive work of religious devotion, but it is no shining example of editing. The spellings of names and towns in the body of the text frequently do not match the spellings in the captions of the book’s etchings. The whole thing seems like it was stitched together from other manuscripts without much effort made to assist the reader.

But there has only been one glaring oversight so far that really has me confused. On P. 230, we find the tale of Clement of Scotland who was burned to death in 750 C.E. for opposing “papal superstitions.” I immediately noted in my journal that this marked the first account in the Mirror of the church burning the hell out of someone. The note was significant to me, because I cannot imagine a more cruel, prolonged and painful form of execution. It seems to me to be the ultimate antithesis to anything Jesus preached.

However, imagine my surprise when I get to P. 265 and find the account of a mass roasting in 1022 C.E. of 14 “heretics” led by a man named Stephen in Orleans, France. Here, the Mirror quotes the original manuscript:

“This appears to have been the first execution (that is, by burning) of persons accused of heresy in the Roman church.”

And then there is no further discussion of this quote. It could be that the author of the original manuscript, which was apparently written at the time of the killings, was unaware of Clement’s manner of death. Fine, but why would van Braght go out of his way to quote this ignorance and then not explain it?

The Mirror is a big book, and I can understand the occasional slip of spelling and grammar, but this is a pretty big logic hole.


2 Responses to “The first heretical barbecue?”

  1. Ruth Mayer Says:

    Hi there,

    I’m working on a Nat Geo documentary, and we’re very keen to include the image mentioned under The “first heretical barbecue?” section. I’d be very grateful if you could contact me to discuss this. My number is +44 207 688 2164 (or 01144 207 688 2164 if you’re calling from the States).

    Many thanks,


    • fuzzysoul Says:

      If you are looking for an image identification or licensing, I’m afraid I can’t help you. I found this on Google Images (much like you did, apparently). Here’s the link for where I found it:

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