This Variorum Edition concentrates on the four English editions of Foxe's martyrology published in London during his own lifetime: those of 1563 ; 1570 ; 1576 and 1583. There were, of course, many editions of the work published after Foxe's death in 1587 and, like any great and controversial book, the text acquired a dynamic and a history of its own. However, the objective of this edition is to recover Foxe's sources and strategy as he sought to collect and present his picture of the protestant reformation as a transforming experience in the religious history of England and Europe, and its pre-history within the broadest historical and doctrinal context that he could conceive of. It is the dynamics of the text during the twenty years from 1563 to 1583 which this edition seeks to recover.
There are further Latin works which, whilst not included within the Variorum Edition, have a fundamental relationship to the analysis of Foxe's text. These are Foxe's earlier Latin martyrologies. Although not included as part of the Variorum Edition, they are referred to wherever relevant in the editorial commentaries as the Rerum and Commentarii respectively:
John Foxe, Rerum in Ecclesia gestarum ... (Basle: 1559)
John Foxe, Commentarii rerum in ecclesia gestarum [ ] (V. Rihelius: Argentorati [i.e. Strasbourg], 1554).
Both will be referred to as relevant in the course of the editorial commentary to the online edition.
The online edition provides facsimiles of the engravings and illustrated capital letters on the relevant pages of each edition. These images are of appropriate quality to an online publication. Readers who wish to consult facsimiles of a much higher quality and inclusive of the whole 1583 edition are urged to consult the following publication, also prepared by the John Foxe Project:
David G. Newcombe and Michael Pidd (eds), Facsimile of John Foxe's Book of Martyrs (Version 1.0 on CD-ROM, The British Academy, 2001. Published for the Academy by Oxford University Press).
For convenience, the following copies have been used in the transcription and editing of this edition. At least two copies of each edition have been used in the transcription and checking of the text. Minor variants as between one copy and another of the same edition are noted in the edition in dialogue boxes attached to the relevant variants. The copies in which the variants have been located are noted in square brackets in the form indicated below.
Magdalen College Library
 - Arch B.i.4.13 [Magd - 1563]
 - T.13.6; T.13.7 (bound in 2 vols) [Magd - 1570]
The Bodleian Library, Oxford
 - Douce F.subt.2 [Bod - 1563]
 - Mason F. 142; Mason F.143; Mason F.144 (bound in 3 vols) [Bod - 1570]
 - Mason F.148 [Bod - 1576]
 - F.3.1 and F.3.2 (bound in 2 vols) [Bod - 1583]
University of Sheffield [copy belonging to Professor Patrick Collinson]
 - RBR F 274.205 (F) [Shef - 1583]
 - STC 11223 [C U]
 - STC 11223 [Harv U]
 - STC 11224 [Huntington]
 - STC 11225