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112 [112]

Actes and Monumentes of the Churche.

MarginaliaThe wicked purpose of Licinius had he not bene preuented by God and slayne by Constantinus. first face of this persecution fell out accordyng to his desire, to haue ouer ranne all the Christians: to which thyng neither counsell, nor good will, nor yet oportunitie, perchaunce wanted: vnelsse God had brought Constantinus into those parties, where he gouerned: MarginaliaLicinius ouercome in battaile by Constantinus. where, in the warres whiche he himselfe began (knowyng right well that Constantinus had intelligence of his conspiracy and treason) ioyning battaile with him, was most cowardly ouercome.

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Diuers battailes betwene them were fought, the first fought in Hungary, where Licinius was ouerthrowen: Than he fled into Macedonia, & repairyng his army, was agayne discomfited. Finally, beyng vanquished, both by sea and land: he lastly, at Nicomedia, yelded himselfe to Constantine: and was cōmaunded to liue a priuate life in Thessalia, where at length he was slayne by the souldiours.

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MarginaliaThe ende & death of the tyrauntes which were the authors of this x. persecution Thus haue ye heard, the end and conclusion of all the vij. tyrauntes, which were the authors and workers of this x. and last persecution, agaynst the true people of God. The chief Captaine, and incenser of which persecutiō was first Dioclesian, who dyed at Salona, as some say, by his owne poyson. an. 319. The next was Maximiniā, who as is sayd, was hanged of Constantine at Masilia, about the yeare of our Lord. 310. Then dyed Galerius, plagued with an horrible disease sent of God. Seuerus was slayne by Maximinian, father of Maxentius about Rauenna. an. 309. Shortly after Maxentius the wicked tyraunt was ouercome and vanquished of Constantine. an. 318. Maximinus the vj. tyraunt taried not long after, who beyng ouercome by Licinius, died, about the yeare of our Lord. 320. Lastly, how this Licinius was ouercome by Constantine and slayne. an. 324. is before declared. Onely Constantius, the father of Constantine beyng a good and a godly Emperour, dyed in the third yeare of the persecution. an. 310. and was buried at Yorke. After whom succeeded after his godly father, Constantinus, as a second Moses sent and set vp of God to deliuer his people out of this so miserable captiuitie, into libertie most ioyful.

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MarginaliaA briefe story of the most notable Martyrs, that suffered in thys x. persecution. Now remaineth after the end of these persecutors thus described, to gather vp the names & stories of certaine particular Martyrs, which now are to be set forth worthy of speciall memory: 

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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).

for their singular constancie and fortitude, shewed in their sufferinges & cruel tormentes. The names of all which that suffered in this foresayd. x. persecution, beyng in number infinite, in vertue most excellent, it is impossible here to comprehend: but þe most notable, & in most approued authors expressed, we thought here to inserte, for the more edification of other Christians, which may and ought to looke vpon their examples, first beginnyng with Albanus, the first Martyr that euer in England suffered death for the name of Christ.

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MarginaliaAlbanus,
Martyr.
At what tyme Dioclesian and Maximinian the Pagan Emperours had directed out their letters with all seueritie, for the persecuting of the Christians: Alban beyng then an infidell, receiued into his house a certaine Clerke, fleyng from the persecutours handes, whom when Alban beheld, continually both day and night to perseuer in watchyng and in prayer: MarginaliaFruite of hospitality to be noted. sodenly by the great mercy of God, he began to imitate the example of his fayth and vertuous life: MarginaliaAlbanus first conuerted, & by what occasion. wherupon by litle and litle he beyng instructed by his holesome exhortations, and leauyng the blindenes of his Idolatrye, became at length a perfect Christian. And when the forenamed Clerke had lodged with him a certaine tyme, it was enformed the wicked Prince, that this good man and Cōfessour of Christ (not yet condemned to death) was harbored in Albans house, or very neare vnto him. Whereupō immediately he gaue in charge to the souldiours, to make more diligent inquisition of the matter. MarginaliaAlbanus offereth himselfe to death for an other. Who as soone as they came to the house of Alban the Martyr, he by and by puttyng on the apparell wherewith his gest and maister was apparelled (that is, a garmēt at that tyme vsed, named Caracalla) offered him selfe in the stede of the other to the souldiours: who bindyng him, brought him forthwith to the Iudge. It fortuned that at þt instānt whē blessed Albā was brought vnto þe Iudge, they founde þe same Iudge at þe aulters offering sacrifice vnto deuils, who as soone as he saw Alban, was straight wayes in a great rage, for þt he would presume of his owne voluntary will, to offer him selfe to peril, and geue hym selfe a prisoner to the souldiours, for safegard of his gest whom he harbored: and commaunded him to be brought before the Images of the deuils whō he worshypped, saying: MarginaliaThe wordes of the Iudge to Albane. For that thou haddest rather hide and conuey away a rebell, thē to deliuer him to the officers, and that (as a contemner of our Gods) he should not suffer the punishment and merite of his blasphemy: looke what punishment he should haue had, thou for him shalt suffer the same: if I perceiue thee any whit to reuolte frō our maner of worshp-pyng. But blessed Alban, who of his owne accorde had bewrayed to the persecutors that he was a Christian, feared not at all the manaces of the Prince, but being armed with spirituall armour, openly pronounced that he would not obey his commaundement. Then sayd the Iudge: of what stocke or kindred art thou come? Alban aunswered, MarginaliaThe cōstancie & zeale of Alban. what is that to you, of what stocke soeuer I am come of, if you desire to heare the veritie of my Religion, I do ye to wyt that I am a Christiā, and apply my selfe altogether to that callyng. Then sayd the Iudge, I would know thy name, and see thou tell me the same without delay. Then sayd he, MarginaliaThe confession of Alban. my parentes named me Alban, and I worship and honour the true and liuyng God, whiche hath created all the worlde. Then sayd the Iudge fraught with fury, if thou wilt enioy the felicitie of this present life, do sacrifice (and that out of hand) to these mighty Gods. Alban replyeth: these sacrifices which ye offer vnto deuils, cā neither helpe them that offer the same, neither yet can they accomplish the desires & prayers of their suppliantes: But rather shall they, what so euer they be, that offer sacrifice to these Idoles, receaue for their meede euerlastyng paynes of hell fire. The Iudge, when he heard these wordes, was passing angrie, and commaunded the tormentors to whip this holy Confessour of God, indeuoring to ouercome the cōstancie of his hart with stripes, which had preuailed nothing with wordes. MarginaliaThe sufferyng & martyrdome of Alban. And when he was cruelly beaten, yet suffered he þe same paciently, nay rather ioyfully, for the Lordes sake. Then when the iudge saw that he would not with torments be ouercomen, nor be reduced from the worshyp of Christian Religion, he commaunded him to be beheaded.

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MarginaliaSuperfluous miracles in thys story written by Bede omitted. The rest that foloweth of this story in the narration of Bede, as of drying vp the Riuer, as Alban went to the place of his execution: then of makyng a welspryng in the top of the hill, and of the fallyng out of the eyes of him that did behead him (with such other prodigious miracles mentioned in his story) because they seeme more legendlike, then truthlike: agayne, because I see no great profit, nor necessitie in the relation therof, I leaue them to the free iudgemēt of the Reader, to thinke of them, as cause shall moue him.

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MarginaliaThe legend of S. Albā disproued. The like estimation I haue of the long story, wherin is written at large a fabulous discourse of all the doinges and miracles of S. Alban, taken out of the Library of S. Albans, compiled (as there is sayd) by a certaine Pagan, who (as he sayth) afterward went to Rome, there to be Baptised. But because in the begynnyng or Prologue of the booke, the sayd writer maketh mention of the ruinous walles of the towne of Verolamium, containyng the story of Albanus, and of his bitter punishmentes: which walles were thē fallyng downe for age, at the writyng of the sayd booke, as he sayth: Therby it seemeth this story to be written a great while after the Martyrdome of Albā: either by a Britaine, or by an English man. If he were a Britaine, how then did the Latin translatour take it out of the English toung, as in the Prologue he him selfedoth testifie. If he were an Englishman, how then did he go vp to Rome for baptisme, beyng a Pagan, when he might haue bene baptised among the Christian Britaines more neare at home.

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But among all other euidences and declarations sufficient to disproue this Legendary story of S. Alban, nothyng maketh more agaynst it, then the very story it selfe: as where he bringeth in the head of the holy Martyr to speake vnto the people after it was smitten of from the body. Also where he bringeth in the Angels goyng vp, and commyng downe in a piller of fire, and singyng all the night lōg. Item in the Riuer whiche he sayth S. Alban made dry, such as were drowned in the same before in the bottome, were foūde aliue. With other such like Monkish miracles and grosse fables, wherewith these Abbey Monkes were wont in tyme past to deceaue the Church of God, and to beguile the whole world for their owne aduauntage. MarginaliaS. Alban the first Martyr in this Realme of England. Notwithstanding this I write not to any derogation of the blessed and faythfull martyr of God, who was the first that I did euer finde in this Realme, to suffer Martyrdome for the testimonie of Christ. And worthy no doubt of condigne commendatiō, especially of vs here in this land: whose Christian fayth in the Lord, and charitie toward his neighbour: I pray God all we may follow. MarginaliaThe stories of the Saintes corrupted with lyes. As also I wish moreouer that the stories both of him, and of all other Christian Martyrs might haue bene deliuered to vs simply as they were, without the admixture of all these Abbeylike additions of Monkish myracles, wherwyth they were wont to paint out the glory of such saintes to the most, by whose offeringes they were accustomed to receaue most aduauntage.

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MarginaliaAmphibalus,
Martyr.
As touchyng the name of the Clearke mentioned in this story, whom Alban receaued into hys house, I finde in the Englishe stories to be Amphibalus, although the latine

authors
H.iij.