The Tudor Society

Walter Marsh, Protestant martyr and spy

Not many people have heard of Walter Marsh, an Englishman who was burned to death in Rome's Campo dei Fiori after having his tongue cut out, his right hand cut off and his skin scorched with torches, so I thought I'd share what I've found out about him and how he came to this brutal end in Rome.

Notes and Sources

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  1. R

    While his death was horrible and obviously nobody deserved such a terrible fate, he was not a Protestant martyr, he was a spy whose sole purpose was to cause the death of real martyrs in England. He was there to spy on the priests training at the English College who if arrested in England would have been tortured, hanged, drawn and quartered for their faith. He may have been an assassin. However, his fate was terrible and cruel and excessive but it was for sacrilegious acts as seen at the time, not as a martyr. His actions in the pay of Elizabeth would have caused the deaths of many innocent people and although I agree his fate was cruel and terrible I can’t accept him as a martyr.

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Walter Marsh, Protestant martyr and spy