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Museum of Oxford Digital Exhibitions

Martyrs: killed for their beliefs

Religious conflicts are often violent, as people are killed for their beliefs. Yet many faiths treasure the memories of these martyrs. Some are declared saints. Still more are celebrated in memorials of different sorts. Books and buildings, pictures and statues all recall their martyrdom – often many years after the event.

Oxford is an important example of this process. It was a centre for religious debate during the Protestant and Catholic Reformations. As a result, it was also a place where people were put on trial and executed for their faith. These memorials are just a small sample of a much bigger phenomenon. They reveal the ways in which the Reformation continued to shape the City for centuries. They also show how memorials can be sites of conflict as well as mourning or worship.