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It includes a polemical account of the sufferings of Protestants under the Catholic Churchwith particular emphasis on England and Scotland. The book was highly influential in those countries and helped shape lasting popular notions of Catholicism there.
The book went through four editions in Foxe’s lifetime and a number of later editions and abridgements, including some that specifically reduced the text to a Book of Martyrs.
The book was produced and illustrated with over sixty distinctive woodcut impressions and was to that time the largest publishing project ever undertaken in England. Long titles were conventionally expected at the time, so this title continues and claims that the book describes “persecutions and horrible troubles” that had been “wrought and practiced by the Roman Prelates, speciallye in this realm of England and Scotland”.
Foxe’s temporal range was “from the yeare of our Lorde a thousand unto the tyme nowe present” . Following closely on the heels of the first edition Foxe complained that the text was produced at “a breakneck speed”the edition was in two volumes and had expanded considerably. The page count went from approximately 1, pages in to over 2, folio pages.
The number of woodcuts increased from 60 to As Foxe wrote about his own living or executed contemporaries, the illustrations could not be borrowed from existing texts, as was commonly practiced. The illustrations flx newly cut to depict particular details, linking England’s suffering back to “the primitive tyme” until, in volume I, “the reigne of King Henry VIII”; in volume two, from Henry’s time to “Queen Elizabeth our gracious Lady now reigning”.
Foxe’s title for ols second edition vol I is quite different from the first edition where he claimed his material vox “these latter days martiress peril InFoxe’s book is an “Ecclesiastical History” containing “the acts and monuments [no capitals] of thynges passed in every kynges tyme in this realm [England], specially in the Church of England”.
It describes “persecutions, horrrible troubles, the suffering of martyrs [new], and other such thinges incident The second volume of the edition has its own title page and, again, an altered subject. Volume II is an “Ecclesiastical History conteyning the Acts and Monuments of Martyrs” [capitalized in original] and offers “a general discourse of these latter persecutions, horrible troubles and tumults styred up by Romish [‘Roman’ in ] Prelates in the Church”.
Again leaving the reference, to which church, uncertain, the title concludes “in marttires realm of England and Scotland as partly also to all other foreign nations apparteynyng”. Actes and Monuments for almost all its existence has popularly been called the Book of Martyrs.
The linking of titles is an expected norm for introducing John Foxe’s sixteenth martire work. William Haller observed that “[Bishop] Edmund Grindal called it a book of martyrs, and the name stuck. That his appeal was ineffective in his own time is not surprising, very few people would even have read it. Continuing this practice in academic analyses is being questioned, particularly in light of Foxe’s explicit denial.
I wrote no such booke bearying the title Booke of Martyrs. I wrote a booke called the Acts and Monumentes There is also evidence that the “martyr” xe referred only to the abridgments, as used by John Milnerdf friend to Foxe, whose major work Milner situates at the centre of efforts to “inflame hatred” against Catholics in the eighteenth century.
We find the lying Acts and Monuments of John Foxe, with large wooden prints of men and women, encompassed marties faggots and flames in every leaf of them, chained to the desks of many county churches, whilst abridgements of this inflammatory work are annually issued from the London press under the title of The Book of Martyrs. Foxe’s account of church history asserted a historical justification that was intended to establish the Church of England as a continuation of the true Christian church rather than as a modern innovation, and it contributed significantly to encourage nationally endorsed repudiation of the Catholic Church.
The sequence of the work, initially in five books, covered first early Christian martyrsa brief history of the medieval church, including the Inquisitionsand a history of the Wycliffite or Lollard movement. The final book treated the reign of Queen Mary and the Marian Persecutions. John Foxe died in His text, however, continued dee grow.
The matires was cheaply done, with few changes, but for the printing Foxe added a “Discourse of the Bloody Massacre In France [St. Day, ]” and other short pieces. The fifth edition was essentially a reprint of the edition. martirrs
The next editor, however, followed Foxe’s example and in brought the work “up to the time of King James” and included a retelling of the French massacre. The edition added a topical outline and chronology, along with a “continuation of the foreign martyrs; additions of like persecutions in these later times” which included the Spanish fodand the Gunpowder Plot The editor for the edition brought it to “the time of Charles, now King”,and added a new copperplate portrait of John Foxe to accompany Simeon Foxe ‘s “Life” of his father.
The most “sumptuous” edition of anticipated James with gilt-edged, heavy bond paper and copperplate etchings that replaced worn-out woodcut illustrations. As edition followed edition, Actes and Monuments or “Foxe” began to refer to an iconic series of texts; unless constrained by a narrow band of time, Acts and Monuments has always referred to more than a single edition.
The popular influence of nartires text declined, and by the nineteenth century it had narrowed to include mainly scholars and evangelicals. It was still sufficiently popular among them to warrant at least fifty-five printings of various abridgements in only a century, and to generate scholarly editions and commentary. Debate about Foxe’s veracity and the text’s contribution to anti-Catholic propaganda continued. Actes and Monuments survived whole primarily within academic circles, with loa only of the original text appearing in abridgements, generically called The Book of Martyrsor plain Foxe.
Some copies, including that presented to Matthew Parkerwere hand-coloured.
Foxe began his work induring the reign of Edward VI. Over the next thirty years, it developed from small beginnings in Latin to a substantial compilation, in English, filling two large folio volumes. Inin exile, Foxe published in Latin at Strasbourg a foreshadowing of his major work, emphasising the persecution of the English Lollards during the fifteenth century; and he began martjres collect materials to continue his story to his own day.
Foxe published the version in Latin at Basel in Augustlacking sources, with the segment dealing with the Marian martyrs as [ disputed for: John Foxe matrires a reputation through his Latin works. Foxe did not publish these works; but a second volume to the Basel version was written by Henry Pantaleon Publication of the book made Foxe famous; the book sold for more than ten shillings, three weeks’ pay for a skilled craftsman, but with no royalty to the author.
The second edition appeared inmuch expanded. New material was available, including personal testimonies,  and publications such as the edition of Jean Crespin ‘s Geneva martyrology. Harding, in mwrtires spirit of the age, called Acts and Monuments ‘ “that huge dunghill of your stinking martyrs,” full of a thousand lies’. Where he could rebut the charges, “he mounted a vigorous counter-attack, seeking to crush his opponent under piles of documents. The edition was well received by the English church, and the upper house of the convocation of Canterbury, meeting inordered that a copy of the Bishop’s Bible and “that full history entitled Monuments of Martyrs” be installed in every cathedral church and that church officials place copies in their houses for the use of servants and visitors.
The decision repaid the financial risks taken by Day. Foxe published a third edition inbut it was virtually a reprint of martirees second, although printed on inferior paper and in smaller type.
It seems safe to say that it is the largest and most complicated book to appear during the first two or three centuries of English printing history. The title page included the poignant request that the author “desireth thee, good reader, to help him with thy prayer. The first abridgment appeared in Offered only two years after Foxe’s death, it honoured his life and was a timely commemorative for the English victory against the Spanish Armada Based with greater or lesser degrees of exactitude on the original Acts and Monumentsyet influenced always by it, editors continued to tell its tale in both popular and academic venues although a different tale was told to each gathering.
Martirss majority of the editors knew Foxe’s text as a martyrology. Taking their material primarily from the final two books of Acts and Monuments that is, volume II of the editionthey generated derived texts that genuinely were “Book s of Martyrs”.
Famous scenes from Acts and Monumentsin illustrated amrtires, were revived for each new generation. The earliest printed book bearing the title Book of Martyrshowever, appears to be John Taylor’s edition in While occurring again periodically, that title was not much in use beforeand not regularized as the title of choice before The title, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs where the author’s name reads as if part of the title appears first in John Kennedy’s edition, possibly as a printing error.
Characterized by some scholars as “Foxe’s bastards”, these Foxe-derived texts have received attention as the medium through which Foxe and his ideas influenced popular consciousness.
Very little, still, is known about any of these editions. The author’s credibility was challenged as soon as the book first appeared.
El libro de los mártires
Detractors accused Foxe of dealing falsely with the evidence, of misusing martiires, and of telling partial truths. In every case that he could clarify, Foxe corrected errors in the second edition and third and fourth, final version for him.
In the early nineteenth century the charges were taken up again by a number of authors, most importantly Samuel Roffey Maitland. Mozley maintained that Foxe preserved a high standard of honesty, arguing that Foxe’s method of using his sources “proclaims the honest man, the sincere seeker after truth. If not the father of lies, Foxe was thought to be the master of inventions, and so readers of the Encyclopedia [ sic ] Britannica were advised and warned.
Foxe based his accounts of martyrs before the early modern period on previous writers, including EusebiusBedeMatthew Parisand many others. He compiled an English martyrology from the period of the Lollards through to the persecution of Protestants by Mary I. Here Foxe had primary sources to draw on: Cooper who became a Church of England Bishop strongly objected to Crowley’s version of his history and soon issued two new “correct” editions. Foxe’s book is in no sense an impartial account of the period.
He did not hold to later centuries’ notions of neutrality or objectivity, but made unambiguous side glosses on his text, such as “Mark the apish pageants of these popelings” and “This answer smelleth of forging and crafty packing. He makes no attempt to make martyrs out low Wyatt and his followers, or anyone else who was executed for treason, except George Eagles, whom he describes as falsely accused. Maryires also lod some specific errors and suggested that John Foxe plagiarized.
Freeman observes that, like a hypothetical barrister, Foxe had to deal with the evidence of what actually happened, evidence that he was rarely in a position to forge. But he would not present facts damaging to his client, and he had the skills that enabled him to arrange the evidence so as to make it conform to what he wanted it to say.
Like the barrister, Foxe presents crucial evidence and tells a side of the story which must be heard, but his text should never be read uncritically, and his partisan objectives should always be kept in mind. By the end of the 17th century, however, the work tended to be abbreviated to include only “the most sensational episodes of torture and death” thus giving to Foxe’s work “a lurid quality which was certainly far from the author’s intention.
It is true that Acts and Monuments “tended to be abbreviated”. The second part of the claim, however, is in error. It could be simply deleted as an error, but it repeats and elaborates William Haller’s second maritres as if a fact, that the later Foxe-derived abridgements had lost entirely intellect’s levening influence.
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The “Elect Nation” was Haller’s first thesis. Haller read through some of the Foxe-derived martyrologies, editions by Martin MadenJohn Milner and John Wesleyand observed “a progressive corruption and vulgarization of the original for the propagation of an increasingly narrow Protestant piety”.
William Haller did not refer to “sensational episodes of torture and death”, nor did he report on any texts reduced “only” to such matter. Neither has any specific edition been exhibited as proof, yet, it is conventionally believed and so frequently asserted that Sydney Lee, and Thomas Freeman after him, state it as a true overgeneralization.
Thus, it should not be deleted as a simple error in fact, even if it is wrong. A scan of the titles for Foxe-derived editions make the claim unlikely, and Reflexive Foxe: The ‘Book of Martyrs’ Transformedprove it false; findings supported by Haller and Wooden’s less comprehensive glimpses into the later abridgments.