Commentary on the Text for Book 1
The first ten persecutions

The section on the first 300 years of the church was, however, just the preface to the 'First Ten Persecutions', a structured 'decade' of martyrdoms in the early church that mirrored the 'centuries' into which the Magdeburg Centuries had chosen to organize its history of the Christian church. For our examination of Foxe's (extensive) borrowings from the Magdeburg Centuries, we have made use of the online edition of this text at: http://www.mgh-bibliothek.de/digilib/centuriae.htm and, for the bibliographical complexities surrounding its publication, Ronald E. Diener, 'The Magdeburg Centuries. A Bibliothecal and Historiographical Study'. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard Divinity School 1978/79). For these sections, we have undertaken a very preliminary analysis, concentrating on the following textual divisions: Introduction to first 10 persecutions (1583, p. 34; 1576, p. 34; 1570, pp. 53-4); First persecution (1583, pp. 34-5; 1576, p. 34; 1570, pp. 54-6); Second persecution (1583, pp. 35-9; 1576, pp. 35-9; 1570, pp. 56-7); Third persecution (1583, pp. 39-42; 1576, pp. 39-42; 1570, pp. 57-9); Fourth persecution (1583, pp. 42-46; 1576, pp. 42-46; 1570, pp. 59-69); Martyrs of Lyons (1583, pp. 46-50; 1576, pp. 46-50; 1570, pp. 69-74); Remainder of fourth persecution (1583, pp. 50-4; 1576, pp. 50-4; 1570, pp. 74-9); Fifth persecution (1583, pp. 54-9; 1576, pp. 54-9; 1570, pp. 79-85); Sixth persecution (1583, p. 59; 1576, pp. 59-60; 1570, pp. 85-6).

In the block on the first persecutions, prepared for the 1570 edition and repeated in the later ones, Foxe cites as his source Eusebius, book 3, ch. 30. Although it is probably the case that he consulted the source, it is much more likely that, for this (as for the succeeding sections of this part of the narrative) that he drew on the published volumes of the Magdeburg Centuries, in this case, vol. 1, book 2, cols 561-4.

For the second persecution, Foxe continued to use Eusebius, supplementing it (apparently) with Irenaeus' Against Heresies and the Historiae adversum paganos of Orosius. Again, although it is difficult to be certain of this at present, his direct source was likely to have been the Magdeburg Centuries. For the fourth persecution, concerned especially with the martyrdom of Polycarp, we can be clearer. Although some of the sections of Foxe's narrative (such as the Epistle to Pontus and the sayings of Polycarp to Martin the heretic, are direct translations from Eusebius, the section on the life and works of Polycarpus, which indirectly comes from Eusebius, book 5, ch. 20, is clearly lifted from the Magdeburg Centuries, II, cols 173 and 176. For the contradictory views of various authors on who were the popes at the time, Foxe clearly used the Magdeburg Centuries, I, book 2, cols 626-8 but he also consulted at least some of the other sources he mentions in order to construct an independent view. The section on the order of the popes to Eleutherius certainly is taken from the Magdeburg Centuries, II, cols 117 and 209-210.

For the fourth persecution, it is evident that the Magdeburg Centuries formed the direct source for the following sections of it:- the Epistle of Pliny to Trajan and its response (p. 53 of the 1570 edition) - (II, cols 13-4); the martyrdoms under Emperor Hadrian (p. 54 of the 1570 edition) - (II, cols 15-6 and cols 231-33); the final rising of the Jews under Hadrian and subsequent slaughter, the succession of Antoninus Pius, and resumption of the fourth persecution (p. 55 of the 1570 edition) - (II, col 17); the disputed claims concerning Hyginus (p. 66 of the 1570 edition) - (II, cols 111; 141; 212-3); Eleutherius' mission to convert the British (II, cols 8-9); and the contention over the date of Easter at the time of Commodus (p. 67 of the 1570 edition) - (II, col. 118).

For the fifth persecution, Foxe drew directly on the Magdeburg Centuries for the following passages:- the fifth persecution by Septimus Severus (p. 67 of the 1570 edition) - (III, cols 9-10); the martyrdom of Origen and his father - (III, cols 9-10; 150-1; 253-259); for the list of martyrs under Septimus Severus (p. 68 of the 1570 edition) - (III, cols 10; 251; 305); for Basilides and the miracles of Potomiena - (III, col. 305); for Alexander as bishop of Jerusalem - (III, col. 209); for the persecutions in the time of Septimus Severus - (III, cols 295-6; 211); for Tertullian as an ecclesiastical writer (p. 69 of the 1570 edition - (III, cols 236; 241; 242); for the controversy over Easter in the time of Victor (p. 70 of the 157- edition) - (II, cols 152-58); for the epistles of Zephirus - (III, cols 275-6); for the invasion of Britain - (III, col. 315); for the epistles of Calixtus (p. 72 of the 1570 edition) - (III, cols 276-77). Foxe clearly used other sources for this account as well, but only further research will confirm more precisely the extent to which he worked outwards from the Magdeburg Centuries to write a more independently based narrative of this section.

For the sixth persecution, we have undertaken a similar analysis of the extent of Foxe's dependence on the Magdeburg Centuries. The results are less complete. It is certainly the case that he drew somewhat on that source for the beginning of the sixth persecution under Emperor Maximus (pp. 73-4 of the 1570 edition) - (III, col. 13). He also borrowed to some degree for the description of the rule of Pontianus, bishop of Rome (p. 74 of the 1570 edition) - (III, cols 177; 278); for the story of Natalius he also fairly clearly derived his material from the Centuries - (IIII, cols 287-288); for Emperor Philip the same is true (III, cols 8; 254; 279).

We have not continued our analysis beyond this stage at present. It will require a more extensive and detailed examination of the full range of the sources cited by Foxe in his marginalia, and a comparison of them with what was contained in the extant volumes of the Magdeburg Centuries, which had become available to him in between the publication of the 1563 and 1570 editions, to arrive at a proper assessment of Book One.

Mark Greengrass and Matthew Phillpott
University of Sheffield

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Difference between early Church and Roman Church

The commentary on this block is at a preliminary stage. The project has not yet completed all its work on this portion of the text. Foxe's title to the first book of the 1563 martyrology foreshadowed that it was to concentrate on 'things DONE AND PRACTISED BY THE Prelats of the Romishe Churche, specially in this Realme of England and Scotland, from the yeare of our Lord a thousand vnto the tyme nowe present.' The revised title for the 1570 edition contained a much more ambitious agenda: 'the ful History of thinges done and practiced in the same, from the time of the first Christened King Lucius, King of this Realme of England, which is from the yeare of our Lord 180. vnto the tyme now present'. The shift of emphasis indicated in the title is a measure of the extent to which Foxe reorchestrated the whole underlying architecture for the martyrology between these two editions. The full measure of that change is reflected in this early section of the text. The first paragraph, however, remained unchanged. Like all the Renaissance humanist historians, Foxe aspired to follow the 'leges historiae' famously expounded in Cicero's De Oratore (books I-II). The first 'law' was the priority of truth. As Cicero put it: 'For who does not know history's know history's first law to be that an author must not dare to tell anything but the truth? And its second that he must make bold to tell the whole truth?' (De Oratore, II, xi). These 'laws' had frequently been adduced by humanist historians in precisely the way that Foxe already does in his opening paragraph: to scorn the credulity of medieval chroniclers. He takes the argument one step further, indicating that it was not mere credulity. The 'barbarousnes of those daies, and partly negligence in the learned sort' had contributed to creating a willful silence which had 'misshadowed & corrupted' the past. By recovering the truth, Foxe expected to 'profit the Church of Christ' and contribute to the 'sweete and mercyful reformation' of 'these reformed daies'.

Mark Greengrass and Matthew Phillpott
University of Sheffield

1563 Edition, page 17 | 1570 Edition, page 26 | 1576 Edition, page 24 | 1583 Edition, page 24[Back to Top]
The four ages of the Church

Foxe then laid out the 'order or disposition of thys history'. His periodisation into 'five ages' of the church: 'the suffering time'; 'the flourishinge time'; 'the declininge time'; 'the tyme of Antichrist' and 'the reformation' had its genesis in a much lengthier and strikingly different passage at the beginning of the 1563 edition (1563, pp. 6-16). The influence of Bale upon his own sense of periodisation is clearly in evidence in the 1563 passage (see especially Katherine Firth, The Apocalyptic Tradition in Reformation Britain, 1530-1645, [(Oxford, 1979]). In 1563 Foxe concentrated on 'four ages' of the Church to underpin why he proposed to begin his history in the year 1000AD. The general principle, he explained, was one of progressive degradation: 'the lower thou doest descend, euer the more drosse and dregges thou shalt perceyue in the bottom' - perhaps the most widespread of historical notions underpinning the renaissance itself. Foxe chose simply to rely on a quotation from Tertullian in support of the general approach: 'id est primum, id rectum est' ('what is first, is right'). With allusions to Daniel's division of world history into the 'four sundry metals' and Seneca's conception of Roman history into four ages, Foxe offered the same for Christian history, offering an implied allusion to familiar contemporary divisions of the 'ages of man'. The first age of the church was derived, as he explicitly tells us, from Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, an age of apostolic egalitarianism and innocent childhood. It was succeeded by the second, 'flourishing age' of the church, a period of growth and adolescence. In 'the middle age' of the Churche 'she wrestled with sondrie sects, schisms and shismatickes, especially such as contended for supremacie' and 'decreased in spiritual strength' as she 'increased in worldly power, riches, donations, possession, & autoritie'. This period led directly to 'the third age of the Church', the 'latter age', in which 'here nowe beginneth the fresh flouring blud of the churche to fainte and strength to defaile, opprest with cold humors of worldly pompe, auarice & tiranny'. This was the period which he defined as beginning around 1000AD, and the one which provided a relatively clear point of departure for his martyrology in 1563. As he came to provide a more substantiated history of the early church in 1570, however, he had to modify very substantially this meta-narrative. He did so by deciding to start his narrative after the apostolic age. In so doing, he began it in 180AD and reframed the first age into 'the suffering time' - thus enabling him to situate the theme of martyrdom as the sign of the true church at the very beginning of his narrative. He retained the 'flourishing time' in something like its original conception, but divided in a striking fashion the fourth age into two: 'the declining time' and 'the age of Antichrist'. This enabled him at the same time to rationalize his chronology into sections that roughly corresponded to 'about 300. yeares' in length. So, beginning in 180AD, his first three 'ages' still corresponded to the period up to 1000AD. Slightly awkwardly, 'the time of antichrist' lasts 'the space of 400. yeares' until 'the time of Wickliffe and Iohn Husse' which is when the fifth and final age of the church was ushered in: 'wherein Antichrist beginneth to be reveled, and to appeare in his coulours, and his antichristian doctrine to be detected, & the number of his church decreaseth'.

This new schema was one that offered a potentially attractive compromise between his insistence in 1563 that around the year 1000AD something important had occurred by way of the 'loosing of Satan' within the church, and the significance, revealed through his close reading of those volumes which had appeared from the Magdeburg Centuriators by 1570, of the early persecution of the church. Foxe was able to continue to insist in the 1570 edition that he focused on 'two tymes of the churche of Rome', the first being '600. yeares which were immediatlye after Christ' and the second 'the other. 600. yeares, which now haue been in these our latter dayes'. Foxe's views, however, on this subject did not remain static. In his later years, his 'Meditations' upon the Apocalpyse (Eicasmi seu meditationes, in sacram Apocalypsin) were the focus of much of his reading and reflection. One inconvenient result of his formulation in 1570, of which he must have been rapidly aware, was how precisely the early persecutions fitted into his overall chronology. In a small, but very significant addition to the 1576 edition of the text, Foxe illustrated his growing unease with the chronological profile he had sketched out. In 1570, he had glossed these 'two tymes of the churche of Rome' as follows: 'Of the which two ages and states of the Romaine church, the first I cal the primitue church of Rome The other I cal the latter church of Rome, countying this latter church from the thousand yeares after Christ expired, from whiche time Satan hath been let louse accordying to the prophesy of the xx. chapter of S. Iohns Reuelation [1576 addition: 'counting these. 1000. yeares from the ceasing of persecution, under Constantinus Magnus, to the begynnyng of persecution of the Churches agayne under Innocentius III. and Ottomannus the first Turcian Emperor']. And thus haue ye the churche of Rome parted into two churches, in double respect and consideration of two sundry states and times'. In 1576, he added the significant clause indicated in brackets here, thus quite dramatically emphasizing the millennial 'loosing of Satan' as occurring after the end of the ten persecutions of the church.

The fundamental difficulty for Foxe, and for reformation historians in general, was to answer the question: at what date had the church become corrupted from its original and pristine state? Foxe's answer to the question was partly (as we have just analysed) to combine a more elaborate periodisation along with the continued juxtaposition of the 'two tymes' of the church. He also, however, refined the complexity of the issues in the question in 1570 by dividing it into 'four thinges to be considered'. They included the issues of 'Title': 'Jurisdiction': 'Life'; and 'Doctrine'. Foxe evidently hoped to provide something of a 'summary description briefly to declare as in a summary table, the misguiding of that church' - his aim being reflected in the highly structured nature of the material. On each aspect, Foxe provides a personal exposition which, whilst it draws for its material on a wide range of reformation sources, should be regarded as one of his most highly worked and thoroughly considered parts of the history. On the linked issues of papal claims to supremacy and papal jurisdiction, he drew on the earliest reformation critique of papal claims, engaging with the arguments of earlier papal defenders of them (Albertus Pighius; Stanislaus Hosius) and drawing upon the proof, originally advanced by Lorenzo Valla, that the so-called 'Donation of Constantine' was a forgery. Lorenzo Valla's work had been publicized in an edition carrying a preface from Luther, and it was a commonplace among reformation protestant historians to cast suspicion on any document which came from 'the pope Bibliothecarie'.

Mark Greengrass and Matthew Phillpott
University of Sheffield

1563 Edition, page 23[Back to Top]
Gregory the Great and his epistle

On the issue of the papal title, Foxe's arguments were sharpened by the observation which he had found in Erasmus' letters, to the effect that the papal title 'Summis orbis pontifex' was not to be found in any of the writings from the church before 608AD. In 1570, he also concentrated his attention on one of the famous epistles of Gregory the Great to John, Archbishop of Constantinople, and how the allusion in it to being 'universal bishop' had been misconstrued. Further work is needed on Foxe's use of the epistles of Gregory in this book, including the one that he initially included in the section of the narrative in the 1563 edition (pp. 18-20) on 'The first originall of the ii. metropolitane churches of Canterbury & York. And the vaine contention betwixte the same'. Most of this section was, in fact, abandoned in the 1570 edition, although the letter from Gregory the Great to Augustine which it contains was reworked into a later section of book III.

Mark Greengrass and Matthew Phillpott
University of Sheffield

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St. Paul's doctrine

Foxe concluded the preliminary material on the 'Title': 'Jurisdiction': 'Life'; and 'Doctrine' of the church with this extended and carefully-worked passage which summarized, with ample glosses to the Pauline epistles, what one might regard as the emerging protestant orthodoxy on the main issues of faith, the law, the sacraments, civil and ecclesiastical authority, etc. He followed it with a further 'brief recapitulation of S. Paules doctrine reduced in to v. principall braunches'. Both these sections would have been very easily compiled using the glosses of the Geneva Bible. On the basis of these two sections, it was relatively easy for Foxe to prepare the 'summary collection of the errours, heresies and absurdities conteined in the Popes doctrine' which followed

Mark Greengrass and Matthew Phillpott
University of Sheffield

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Summary of Roman Catholic heresies

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008).

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The first 300 years of the Church

Foxe's account of the first three hundred years of the church, as it was formulated for the 1570 edition, no longer emphasised the innocent childhood and adolescence of the church as it had in the 1563 edition. Instead, it was prefaced by Foxe's exposition of two classic protestant divisions. The first, which went back to the 'Zweie Reiche', or 'Two Kingdoms' in Luther's thinking, was a clear distinction between the affairs of this world (vain and mutable, 'ruled by mans violence and wisedome') and the 'kingdome of Christ' (which was ruled by 'Gods blessing & providence'). The second distinction was between the visible and invisible church, one which Foxe might have acquired from a variety of Reformed theologians, but which he probably owed particularly to John Bale and his Image of Both Churches (Antwerp, 1545 and subsequent editions). These two distinctions then became the guiding principles to the way in which he structured the material, largely from Eusebius, on the earliest persecutions in the history of the church.

Mark Greengrass and Matthew Phillpott
University of Sheffield

1570 Edition, page 62 | 1576 Edition, page 53 | 1583 Edition, page 53[Back to Top]
Novatian heresy down to martyrdom of Mappalicus

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008).

1570 Edition, page 106 | 1576 Edition, page 88 | 1583 Edition, page 87[Back to Top]
Divine punishmrent of Decius and reign of Gallus

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008).

1570 Edition, page 107 | 1576 Edition, page 89 | 1583 Edition, page 89[Back to Top]
Eighth persecution down through writings of Cyprian

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008).

1570 Edition, page 110 | 1576 Edition, page 91 | 1583 Edition, page 91[Back to Top]
Sixtus II and St. Laurence through Dionysius of Alexandria

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008).

1570 Edition, page 114 | 1576 Edition, page 94 | 1583 Edition, page 94[Back to Top]
Priscus, Malachas, Alexander and remainder of eighth persecution

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008).

1570 Edition, page 116 | 1576 Edition, page 96 | 1583 Edition, page 96[Back to Top]
Ninth persecution

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008).

1570 Edition, page 120 | 1576 Edition, page 99 | 1583 Edition, page 98[Back to Top]
Tenth persecution down to St. Maurice

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008).

1570 Edition, page 122 | 1576 Edition, page 100 | 1583 Edition, page 100[Back to Top]
St. Maurice and St. Victor

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008).

1570 Edition, page 126 | 1576 Edition, page 104 | 1583 Edition, page 103[Back to Top]
Abdication of Diocletian to death of Maximinius

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008).

1570 Edition, page 127 | 1576 Edition, page 104 | 1583 Edition, page 104[Back to Top]
Maxentius, Licentius and Constantine

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008).

1570 Edition, page 132 | 1576 Edition, page 108 | 1583 Edition, page 107[Back to Top]
St. Alban

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008).

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Romanus to Cassianus

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008).

1570 Edition, page 137 | 1576 Edition, page 113 | 1583 Edition, page 112[Back to Top]
Cassianus to Justina and Tecla

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008).

1570 Edition, page 142 | 1576 Edition, page 116 | 1583 Edition, page 115[Back to Top]
Papal martyrs down to Milles

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008).

1570 Edition, page 146 | 1576 Edition, page 119 | 1583 Edition, page 118[Back to Top]
Persecution in Persia

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008).

1570 Edition, page 148 | 1576 Edition, page 121 | 1583 Edition, page 120[Back to Top]
Exegesis of Revelation

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008).

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Constantine

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008).

1570 Edition, page 152 | 1576 Edition, page 125 | 1583 Edition, page 124[Back to Top]
Gregory VII

Although Gregory VII (1073-85) was only one of a number of reforming popes in the late eleventh century who sought to suppress clerical marriage and to end secular jurisdiction over the Church and its clergy, he was the one who most profoundly impressed contempories. Partly this was due to his dramatic conflict with Emperor Henry IV, but partly to his forceful personality and his complete inability to compromise. To Protestant reformers the causes for which Gregory had fought so hard were iniquitous and his spectacular, if ephemeral, triumph over Henry IV at Canossa made him the epitome of the antichristian pope inversing God's natural order. Their ability to demonize Gregory was enhanced by the emnities that Gregory had aroused in many of his contemporaries and the numerous hostile accounts they wrote about him.

Foxe's account of Gregory first appeared in the 1563 edition and most of it is based on two sources. From Platina's history of the popes Foxe obtained his general narrative background, including the account of Canossa and the events leading up to it as well as the events leading up to Gregory's second excommunication of Henry, the excommunication itself and Gregory's expulsion from Rome. (See Bartomoleo Sacchi Platina, Historia de vitis Pontificum Romanorum, ed. Onuphrio Panvinio [Venice, 1562], fos.131r-135v. Foxe may have drawn on Platina - a writer whom he felt to be biased in favour of the papacy and whom he did not utilize often - not only for his detailed account, but because this material was so controversial that Foxe felt safer relying on, and citing, an account by a Catholic author. This way, if criticized, Foxe could declare that he was merely repeating what an internationally respected Catholic writer had stated. As it was, however, Foxe felt free to insert his own opinions into Platina's text, as when he declared flatly - and baselessly - that Matilda of Tuscany was Gregory VII's lover).

Almost everything else in this account is drawn from Matthis Flacius's Catalogus testium veritatis (Strausburg, 1562], pp. 205-6, 211-212, 223-4 and 227-8. Because Flacius, while rich in anecdotal detail and documentation, did not providemuch in the way of background information, Foxe also drew on the annals of Lambert of Hersfeld for the synods at Mainz and Erfurt and clerical resistance to Gregory'sdrive for clerical celibacy. (See 'Lamberti Hersefeldenses annales a 1040-1077' inMonumenta Gemaniae Historiae, Scriptorum V [Hanover, 1845], pp. 217-18 and 30.This was an unusual source for Foxe to consult and he followed up references by Baleand Flacius to check it for himself. Again, this scrupulousness and care was probablydue to Foxe's concern about criticism, due to the controversial nature of the material.And Foxe could not resist including an unfounded account by Bale of Gregory VII, on his deathbed, repenting his wickedness; see Bale, Catalogus, p. 160.

In the 1570 edition, Foxe - who had already printed a letter by Cardinal Benno, a staunch opponent of Gregory VII, describing the pope as a sorcerer - addedfurther letters by the Cardinal, detailing Gregory's crimes, including sacrilege againstthe Host and attempts to assassinate Henry IV. These letters were reprinted fromFlacius, Catalogus testium veritatis, pp. 220-5. No further changes were made to this account in subsequent editions of the Acts and Monuments.

Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

1563 Edition, page 36[Back to Top]
Frederick Barbarossa

The legend that Pope Alexander III trod on the neck of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa has no basis in fact. It was first circulated by partisans of Alexander III and it was widely repeated throughout the Middle Ages. It was seized upon by the Protestants and joined the humiliation of Emperor Henry IV at Canossa as a classic example of the overweening pretensions of of the papacy to secular jurisdiction. Foxe's account of Barbarossa first appeared in the 1563 edition and was reprinted without change in subsequent editions. Apart from Barbarossa's letter to his subjects, proclaiming his authority to be superior to that of Pope Hadrian IV - and which comes from Matthias Flacius, Catalogus testium veritatis (Strausbourg, 1562), pp. 247-9 - this entire account is taken from John Bale, Catalogus, pp. 178-80 and 200-2.

Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

1563 Edition, page 51[Back to Top]
Events of 1172-78

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008). This commentary will become available in due course from the 'Late Additions and Corrections' page of the edition.

1563 Edition, page 100[Back to Top]
Waldensians

The Waldensians were of crucial interest and importance to Protestant historians and martyrologists. They traced their origins to Peter Waldo, a wealthy twelfth-century merchant of Lyons, who gave away his money and became a wandering preacher. He began to attract followers, but the ecclesiastical authorities were suspicious and denied Peter and his followers permission to preach. In 1215, the Waldensians were condemned as heretics and this, in turn, radicalized the movement. Much of what is known about the Waldensians comes from reports by Reinerius Saccho (d. 1259), a former Cathar who became an informant for the Inquisition. The Waldensians were almost completely suppressed in southern France but they spread into the Piedmont, northern Italy, southern Germany and Bohemia. Aeneas Sylvius, in his influential history of the Hussites, linked them to the Waldensians. The importance of the Waldensians to Protestant historians stems from their relative antiquity and geographical diffusion. This made them a useful counter-example to Catholic challenges that there were no Protestants before Luther. They were even more useful because, in contrast to the Albigensians, their beliefs were compatible with those of the Reformers. Interestingly, Catholic writers like Reinerius and Aeneas were particularly useful to the Protestants because both groups of writers, albeit for different reasons, wished to emphasize the continuity between the early Waldensians and late medieval heresies.

Foxe's account of the Waldensians first appeared in his 1563 edition and itwas reprinted without change in subsequent editions. It began with a history of Peter Waldo and the genesis of the Waldensians, which was taken from Matthias Flacius, Catalogus testium veritatis (Strasbourg, 1562), pp. 705-9. The list of Waldensian articles is taken directly from Flacius, although one article, stating that only baptism and communion were sacraments was - accidently? - dropped by Foxe. (Cf. Flacius, Catalogus testium, pp. 709-10). The letter from the Waldensians to the king of Hungary is excerpted from Ortwin Gratius, Fasciculus rerum expetendarum ac fugiendarum (Cologne, 1535), fos. 87v-88r, 92r and 92v-93r. All of the remaining material in the account of the Waldensians is reproduced accurately from scattered items in Flacius, Catalogus testium veritatis, pp. 711-12, 721-7, 757-6 [recte 759], and 760-1. It is worth noting that the one item in this account, the letter to the king of Hungary, not from Flacius, argued against any real or corporal presence of Christ in the sacramental bread. This belief was offensive enough to Flacius not to print (Flacius was well aware of Gratius's book) and important enough to Foxe for him toinsert it into the other material Flacius had provided on the Waldensians.

Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

1563 Edition, page 57[Back to Top]
Other incidents of Henry II's reign

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008). This commentary will become available in due course from the 'Late Additions and Corrections' page of the edition.

1563 Edition, page 104[Back to Top]
Richard I and Third Crusade

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008). This commentary will become available in due course from the 'Late Additions and Corrections' page of the edition.

1563 Edition, page 111[Back to Top]
William Longchamp

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008). This commentary will become available in due course from the 'Late Additions and Corrections' page of the edition.

1563 Edition, page 108[Back to Top]
King John

This passage reflects the remarkable English protestant reversal of the accepted historiography of the reign of King John, whom medieval chronicles had, almost without exception, vilified. The process had begun with William Tyndale's The Obedience of a Christian Man (1528), which presented John's reign as that of a good king battling heroically against papal tyranny and it reached its canonical limits with Bale's drama, King Johan (see Caroline Levin, Propaganda in the English Reformation: Heroic and Villainous Images of King John [Lewiston, NY, 1988), esp. pp. 55-104). These reassessments all had, however, the weakness that they were not based on newly-discovered evidence, but a skewed reading of the sources that were already common knowledge. Foxe's account, at the first read, seems to rectify that deficiency, supported a favourable account of John's reign with quiverfuls of new sources: Matthew Paris, Roger of Howden's Chronicle, the life of John by Ralph Niger, Caxton's edition of the Brut, and the fourteenth-century chronicle known as the Eulogium Historiarum. These are carefully enumerated in the marginalia to the 1563 account, which would become a commonplace for English protestant polemicists thereafter.

The account of John's reign is surprisingly detailed and circumstantial. It begins with Arthur, John's nephew, challenging his uncle's rights to the crown, supported by Philip Augustus, King of France. It alludes to Philip's conquest of Normandy before concentrating at length on the dispute over the election of the archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Innocent III's rejection of the royal candidate and installation of his own nominee, Stephen Langton. The consequences (the papal interdict, the royal confiscation of ecclesiastical lands and revenues, the failures of mediation and the excommunication of John) are all given substantial coverage. Following a digression to describe (and denounce) the Fourth Lateran Council, Foxe's narrative picks up the continued scheming of the clergy against the king, the Dauphin Louis' invasion, John's reconciliation with some of the rebellious nobles (Magna Carta goes unmentioned) and the king's death (by poisoning). The account was the first, thorough 'post-medieval' narrative of John's reign to be based on such a wide range of sources.

Yet, as this project has argued in extensor elsewhere (Tom Freeman, 'John Bales' Book of Martyrs?: The Account of King John in Acts and Monuments', Reformation 3 (1998), 175-223) this section was very unlikely to have been written by Foxe, and that it was very probably an account of the reign, prepared by John Bale after his return to England in 1559, as part of a long-projected continuation of his Acts of the English Votaries, originally published in its first two parts in 1551, and which had ended with the reign of Richard I. We surmised that, when Bale realised that his final illness would prevent his completing the work, he sent the account of King John to Foxe, who readily incorporated it into the first book of the Acts and Monuments, itself evidently (the tell-tale signs are its irregular pagination and the awkward transition to the next book) a late addition to the work. This circumstantial reassignation of authorship is advanced on the basis of a detailed discussion of the sources used for the narrative, and the way in which they are handled. The account relies, directly or indirectly, on the following:-a) Roger of Howden's chronicleb) Roger of Wendover's Flores Historiarumc) Matthew Paris' Cronica Majorad) Matthew Paris' Historia Anglorume) The Barnwell Chroniclef) The Eulogium Historiarum, also quoted in William Caxton's The chronicles of England (London, 1482)g) Ranulph Higden's Polychroniconh) The chronicle sometimes known as the 'Annals of Winchester'The article, cited above, examines these borrowings, and the ways in which the sources were more available to Bale than to Foxe in 1563. It also demonstrates how the ways in which they were used are much more consistent with Bale's handling of historical sources than Foxe's. Whilst Foxe was capable of the heavily partisan and selective citation of his sources to construct his narrative, he was generally not disposed to inventive elaboration of them, such as occurs in this passage.

One element of this account of King John's reign became the target for Foxe's critics after 1563. It concerned the final account of a monk poisoning the king. In 1565, the Catholic apologist Thomas Harding (in A Counterblast to M. Hornes vayne blast [Louvain, 1567], fols 312B-314A) attacked the credibility of Foxe's narrative by enumerating those sources which unambiguously attributed John's death to natural causes. Two years later, Thomas Stapleton questioned the credibility of the Eulogium Historiarum in the version edited and printed by Caxton. Foxe's response in the 1570 edition did not specifically refer to Stapleton's criticism, but responded indirectly in two ways: firstly, by the addition of another account of John's poisoning, taken from Walter of Guisborough's chronicle, in which the monks murder John with a poisoned dish of pears (see Freeman, 'John Bales' Book of Martyrs', p. 207; and p. 223). His second response was the late addition to the 1570 text of two texts, the first on the 'Primacy of the Popes' and the second entitled 'The Image of Antichrist'. Foxe's other changes in 1570 were minor (thus indicating that, even if he had not composed the narrative himself, he certainly was in accord with its views), and reflect the tensions and fears of catholic conspiracy prevalent in 1569-70. He inserted 'another chronicle' account of John's inconclusive conference with two papal legates in 1211 (taken from the Eulogium) and designed to emphasise that the Pope sought to humiliate the English king. He also expanded on a passage in 1563 in which Pope Innocent III announced that any soldiers invading England were entitled to war the livery of Crusaders. The revised passage read that the Pope promised the French king and his soldiers remission of sins if they invaded England. Foxe probably had the rebellion of the Northern Earls of 1569 in mind when he wrote that John submitted to the Pope from fear of foreign invasion and 'his own people, especially his lords and barons being rebelliouslye incited against him, as by the popes curses and interdictions against such as tooke hys part' (1570, p. 331). The passage did not change in the editions following 1570.

Mark Greengrass
University of Sheffield

1563 Edition, page 109[Back to Top]
Innocent III and the mendicant orders

Foxe moved the short tract on the life and acts of Innocent III from the end of the section on King John in the 1563 edition to the beginning of the section on Henry III's early reign in the 1570 edition. The account is almost entirely extracted out of John Bale, Scriptorum Illustrium maioris Brytanniae …Catalogus (Basel, 1557), pp. 234-5 but also supplemented with evidence from Innocent III's papal decretails, commonly called Corpus Juris Canonici. There were various manuscript versions in existence making it difficult to know which version is used here.

From this summary Foxe indulges in anti-papal polemics from the thirteenth century as a framework for his rewriting of the Cathar heresy into agents of Christ's church. First Foxe attacked the increase of Monastic Orders as a sign that the Roman Church could not even agree from within itself. The text is largely lifted from John Bale's Catalogus pp. 234-5 and The Chronicle of Walter of Guisborough, ed. Harry Rothewell, Camden Society, 3rd Series, 89 (London, Camden Society, 1957), pp. 150-1. The list of 101 Orders is interesting. Martin Luther did not produce any such list despite Foxe's reference to him. The unidentified English book that Foxe refers to is also unknown. It is possible that Foxe was relying on an unprinted list compiled by John Bale.

Next follows the prophecy of the nun, Hildegard written down in her Scivias, Liber vitae meritorum and Liber divionorum operum, which represented a popular prophecy about the Antichrist from the early thirteenth century that had transmitted to the fourteenth-century primarily through Gebeno, Prior of Eberbach's Speculum Temporum Futurorum (1220). This text had attempted to link Hildegard's prophecy to the growing Cathar heresies. Hildegard was the abbess of Disibodenberg and Rupertsberg. In the 1563 edition Foxe took this account from Matthias Flacius, Catalogus testium veritatis (Strasbourg, 1556), pp. 650-655. However, in the 1570 edition Foxe has corrected the date of the prophecy from 1170 to 1146 and rearranged the prophecy itself. This suggests that he had either consulted Flacius' source, the Chronica Martini Poloni from Matthew Parker's collection (probably CCCC MS 372 or CCCC MS 59) or alternatively from a composite manuscript (CCCC MS 404) containing various prophesies including Hildegard.

Once this prophecy is outlined Foxe begins his discussion of the Cathars (Albigenses). Foxe publishes a letter by the Pope's legate concerning the Cathars setting up of a rival Pope. This account was first printed in the 1563 edition but from the 1570 edition onwards would be followed by a larger account of the Albigensian crusade (1209-1229) after further discussion of England's financial plight. The inclusion of the 1563 account without change even though Foxe had discovered more details reveals something of Foxe's working practise for the second edition. The account is extracted from either Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora, ed. Henry Richards Luard, Rolls Series (7 vols., London, 1872-1884), vol. 3, pp. 78-9 or Roger of Wendover, Flores Historiarum, ed. Henry G. Hewlett, Rolls Series (3 vols., London, 1886-9) vol. 2, pp. 272-3.

This section is then completed by a full reproduction of a post-Wyclif Lollard tract attacking the practises and corruption of friars probably written in the early fifteenth century. Jack Upland was either mistaken as a work of Chaucer or for political and religious reasons attributed to the famous author of the fourteenth century to by-pass the ban on Lollard writings under the Six Articles. The popularity of Chaucer also made the association a powerful propaganda tool. In 1550 Robert Crawley had published a similar tract for reformist purposes entitled Piers Plowman, which had proved successful. See John N. King, 'Robert Crawley's editions of "Piers Plowman": A Tudor Apocalypse', Modern Philology, 73:4 (1976), pp. 342-352. If the reformists could show that Chaucer was a 'proto-Protestant' then this would help to popularise acceptance of the Elizabethan Church. P.L. Heyworth, 'The Earliest Black-letter editions of "Jack Upland"', The Huntingdon Library Quarterly, 30:4 (1967), pp. 307-314 has suggested that its original publication in the 1530s by John Gough and then again by John Day was to support the Henrician break from Rome and the subsequent dissolution of the monasteries. Jack Upland allowed Foxe to trace, through the association of Chaucer with Wyclif as 'faithful witnesses', the apostolic church at a time when the Antichrist was in full control of the church. The decision must also be, in part, related to John Day's earlier publication of the tract in the 1540s, which made its inclusion in the Acts and Monuments an easy addition to print. Its publication in the midst of Henry III's reign was to demonstrate the corruption of monkish orders, which Foxe had listed two pages earlier.

Matthew Phillpott
University of Sheffield

1563 Edition, page 125[Back to Top]
Papal oppression of the English Church

In this account Foxe stated that after the events of King John's reign England was now a tributary to Rome. This is the crucial point to how Foxe deals with the reign of Henry III. Through heavy taxation, neglect of royal authority and trickery the Pope consistently sends Legates to collect tithes and taxes and to trample on English sovereignty. First, Foxe has published a statement drawn up by the English Bishops explaining why they are unwilling to pay the Pope. Extracted from Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora, ed. Henry Richards Luard, Rolls Series (7 vols., London, 1872-1884), vol. 4, pp. 35, 37-8. The story then follows the events during the visitation of Legate Otto (Otho) to England and how he abused his position at the 1240 council of Bishops in London. This account is told entirely from Matthew Paris' Chronica Majora vol. 3, pp. 97, 102-3, 412, 414-7, 419-441, 473; vol. 4, pp. 6-10, 31-2. The account begins with Otto calming a contention between the Archbishops of York and Canterbury as a means to assert his own authority and act almost as if he were a 'god' overseeing his flock. The account then details the various monies that the Pope required from England to finance his war against the Emperor Frederick II. The Pope also demanded that room be made in England for 300 Romans to be beneficed. This was a result of a promise he had made the Roman Bishops in return for their support of his war. This is an excellent example of how Foxe used Matthew Paris. His translation remains true to the original manuscript Latin, but through the use of marginalia and a sentence of explanation here and there the basic facts are transformed from that of a disgruntled monk unhappy with papal interference into a powerful polemical attack against papal disregard for English authority and their abuse of taxation to fund a war which has nothing to do with England. It is interesting to note that Legate Otto's mission to England was one of church reforms and reasserting the peace after the events of King John's reign. However, Matthew Paris' suspicion of papal interference meant that his account recorded very little of the true nature of the mission. For Foxe this was a much more useful interpretation of the events than was available in other sources.

The second half of the account describes how the Pope ignored the Bishops pleas at the Council of Lyons (1245) for non-payment of tithes. The complaint, Foxe explains, was in regard to the high burden of taxation from Rome that was impoverishing the realm and acting against England's best interests abroad. In retaliation the Pope threatened to interdict England and Henry III until the king relented. This account is again extracted from Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora, vol. 4, pp. 526-9, 440-444, 558, 560-1, 580. The characterisation of Legate Otto is completed when Foxe extracted a story from Matthew Paris Chronica Majora, vol. 3 pp. 481-5 of how the Legate caused a riot at the University of Oxford.

Although it is generally believed that Foxe did not have access to the Chronica Majora for the first edition (1563) the evidence in this section proves otherwise. Neither of the series of extracts that can be found in John Bale, Scriptorum Illustrium maioris Brytanniae …Catalogus (Basel, 1557) or Matthias Flacius Illyricius, Catalogus testium veritatis (Basil, 1556) can accommodate the detailed use of Matthew Paris in the first edition of the Acts and Monuments, especially in this section. Admittedly Foxe could have used Roger of Wendover for Legate Otto's arrival to England and the demand for two prebends from every cathedral church (Roger of Wendover, Liber qui dictiur Flores Historiarum, ed. Henry G. Hewlett, Rolls Series (3 vols., London, 1886-9), vol. 2, pp. 289,295-6) but the rest of this account falls outside of that chronicles chronological range. Matthew Paris, Historia Anglorum, ed. Frederick Madden, Rolls Series (3 vols., London, 1866-9), vol. 2, pp. 276-9 also covers those events, however, from that point on all of Foxe's text is more detailed than the summaries contained in the Historia Anglorum. These accounts do however conform perfectly to the Chronica Majora. For instance the Council at London in which Otto settled a dispute between the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and laid out a series of reforming statutes can be found only as short summaries in the Historia Anglorum, vol. 2, pp. 398, 400. Similarly the story of Otto causing a riot at Oxford can only be found in a summarised form in the Historia Anglorum, vol. 2, pp. 407-8. Both accounts are to be found in full in the Chronica Majora.

A similar picture emerges from analysis of the account of King John (1563, fos. 71v-69v) by Thomas S. Freeman, 'John Bale's Book of Martyrs?: The Account of King John in Acts and Monuments', Reformation, vol. 3 (1998), pp. 175-223), in which it is shown that not all of the references to Matthew Paris in that account can be found elsewhere. It would appear, therefore, that a copy, section of a copy or detailed notes was obtained to compile the accounts of King John and Henry III.

It is also interesting to note that Foxe has largely left the text from the first edition intact, when he appears to have had only limited access to Matthew Paris. For the second edition, where he had access to Matthew Parker's copies of the Chronica Majora (CCCC MS 16 and 26), Foxe produced an entirely new account which added to and repeated much of what is stated here.

Matthew Phillpott
University of Sheffield

1563 Edition, page 129[Back to Top]
Albigensian Crusade

The Albigensian Crusade was a response to the Cathar 'heresy' flourishing principally in the Languedoc region of France and in Italy. This was the first crusade against a Christian region and resulted in the successful extermination of the Cathars. The situation was more complex than Foxe details here, with political and religious priorities making the Crusade a complex event. For an outline of these complexities, especially its connection to England see Nicholas Vincent, 'England and the Albigensian Crusade', in Björn Weiler and Ifor W. Rowlands (ed.), England and Europe in the Reign of Henry III 1216-1272 (Aldershot, 2002), pp. 67-85.

Foxe's concentration on the Siege of Toulouse taken from Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora, ed. Henry Richards Luard, Rolls Series (7 vols., London, 1872-1884), vol. 3, pp. 51-7 and ending with a description of the history of the persecution taken from Chronica Majora, vol. 3, pp. 57, 105-119 presents the Cathars and Count Raymond VI of Toulouse as holding 'true' doctrines and being unfairly treated by the machinations of the papacy. There were, in fact, a variety of differences in the dualistic and Gnostic doctrines of the Cathars to the beliefs of the Protestant reformers, however Foxe uses the lack of detailed documentation available to him to his advantage, by having previously stated that 'what these Albingenses were, it can not be wel gathered by the old popishe histories' (1570, f. 341). Instead Foxe concentrates on how the Papacy through greed, trickery and hatred forced the French to persecute the Cathars as they had done on a variety of other occasions. Thus Foxe uses the Albigensian Crusade as a characterisation assassination of the papacy and its legates.

In-between this account Foxe has added accounts of events going on in England at the same time largely taken from his favoured sources the Chronica Majora, Flores Historiarum and Nicholas Trivet. This includes the arrival of the Minorities to England from Chronica Majora, vol. 3, pp. 60-1, Matthew Paris, Flores Historiarum, ed. Henry Richards Luard, Rolls Series (3 vols., London, 1890), vol. 2, pp. 187-8 and Nicholas Trivet, Annalium continuatio; ut et Adami Murimuthensis Chronicon (Oxford, 1722), p. 211, Stephen Langton's holding of a meeting at Oxford from Nicholas Trivet, p. 210, an introduction to Hubert de Burgh from the Chronica Majora, vol. 3, pp. 71-3, 291, with whom Foxe would deal in detail after the Albigensian crusade, general conflicts between the Bishops of London and Westminster and bad storms across the country also from the Chronica Majora, vol. 3, pp. 74-75 and the Flores Historiarum, vol. 2, pp. 172-5. As an introduction to the Albigensian persecution Foxe also described Louis IX (ruled 1226-1270) becoming king of France from the Chronica Majora, vol. 3, p. 77, Flores Historiarum, vol. 2, pp. 177-8 and Nicholas Trivet, p. 212.

From other sources Foxe mentioned the building of Salisbury Minster from Arundel MS 5 (which Foxe names Scala Mundi) and the reaffirmation of Magna Charta from The Chronicle of Walter of Guisborough, ed. Harry Rothewell, Camden Society, 3rd Series, 89 (London, Camden Society, 1957), pp. 162-173. Guisborough was probably the most detailed account of Magna Charta available to Foxe, however he did not solely rely on it for his account. He took from Robert Fabian, The New Chronicles of England and France, ed. Henry Ellis (London, 1811), p. 326 a corrective on the dating of the affirmation.

Matthew Phillpott
University of Sheffield

1563 Edition, page 128[Back to Top]
Frederick II

The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008). This commentary will become available in due course from the 'Late Additions and Corrections' page of the edition.

1563 Edition, page 135[Back to Top]
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