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65 [65]

Actes and Monumentes of the Churche.

fore. To whom he directed his auswere againe, willing them in no case to molest the Christians, except they were founde in some trespasse preiudiciall agaynst the Empire of Rome. And to me also many there be, which write, signifying their mynde in lyke maner. To whom I haue aunswered agayne, to the same effect and maner, as my father did. MarginaliaHe meaneth Hadrian whiche adopted this Antoninus of his sonne in law, to be his sonne and heyre. Wherfore if any hereafter shall offer any vexation or trouble, to such, haying no other cause, but onely for that they are such, let him that is appeached, be released and discharged free, yea although he be found to be such, (that is a Christian) and let the accuser susteyne the punishment, &c. MarginaliaO noble Edict.

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This godly Edict of the Emperour was proclaymed at Ephesus, in the publique assembly of all Asia, wherof Melito also bishop of Sardis, who florished in the same tyme, maketh mention in his Apologie written in defence of our doctrine to M. Antoninus Verus, as hereafter (Christ willyng) shall appeare. By this meanes then the tempest of persecution in those dayes began to be appeased, through the mercyfull prouidence of God, whiche would not haue hys Churche vtterly to be ouerthrowen, though hardly yet to grow.

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¶ The fourth persecution. 
Commentary  *  Close
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 Unpublished doctoral dissertation.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).

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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).

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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.

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Mark Greengrass and Matthew Phillpott
University of Sheffield

MarginaliaM. Antoninus Verus Emperour. AFter the decease of the foresayd quiet and milde Prince Aurelius Antonius Pius (who among all other Emperours of that time made the most quiet ende) followed hys sonne M. Antoninus Verus, with Lucius his brother, about the yeare of our Lord. 162. a ā of nature more sterne and seuere. And although in study of Philosophy, & in ciuill gouernement no lesse cōmendable: yet toward the Christians sharpe and fierce, by whom was moued the fourth persecution Nero. In whose tyme a great number of them which truly professed Christ, suffered most cruell tormātes and punishmātes, both in Asia and in Fraunce. MarginaliaPolicarpus the blessed Martyr Byshop of Smyrna. In the nūber of whō was Policarpus, the worthy Bishop of Smyrna, who in the great rage of this persecutiō in Asia, amōg many other most cōstaunt Saintes was also Martyred. Of whose ende and Martyrdome I thought it here not vnexpedient to commit to history, so much as Eusebius declareth to be takē out of a certaine letter or Epistle, writtē by them of his owne Churche, to the brethren of Pontus, the tenor of which Epistle here followeth:

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MarginaliaEx Euseb. hist Eccle. Lib. 4. cap. 15. Hierou. in Catalogo. The congregation whiche is at Smyrna, to the congregation which is at Philomilium, and to all the congregations throughout Pontus, mercy to you, peace, and the loue of God our father, and of our Lord Iesu Christ be multiplied. Amen. We haue written vnto you brethren of those mē which haue suffered Martyrdome, and of blessed Policarpus, which hath ended and appeased this persecution as it were by the shedding of his owne bloude. MarginaliaTwelue Martyrs in Asia. And in the same Epistle, before they enter into farther matter of Policarpus, they discourse of other Martyrs, describyng what pacience they abode and shewed in suffryng their tormentes: which was so great and admirable (saith the Epistle) that the lookers on were amased, MarginaliaThe cruell and beastly handlyng of the Christian Martyrs. seyng and beholdyng how they were so scourged and whipped, that the inward vaynes and arteries appeared, yea euen so much that the very intrailes of their bodies, their bowels and members were sene, and after that were set vpon sharpe shels taken out of the sea, edged and sharpe, and certaine nayles and thornes for the Martyrs to go vpon which were sharpened and poynted, called Obelisci. MarginaliaThe singular patience and constancie of the Christians. Thus suffered they all kynde of punishment and torment that might be deuised, and lastly were throwne vnto the wilde beastes to be deuoured. MarginaliaGermanicus a most constaunt Martyr. But especially in the foresayd Epistle, mention is made of one Germanicus, howe he most worthely perseuered and ouercame by the grace of God, that feare of death whiche is ingraffed in the common nature of all men, whose notable patience & sufferaunce was so notable, that the whole multitude wondryng at this beloued Martyr of God, for this his so bold constancie, and also for the singular strength and vertue procedyng of the whole multitude of the Christians: began sodenly to crye with a loude voyce, saying: destroy the wicked mē: Let Polycarpus be sought for. And whilest a great vprore and tumult, began thus to be raysed vpon those cryes: MarginaliaQuintus a Phrigian to hardie bold. A certaine Phrigian named Quintus, lately come oute of Phrigia, who seyng and abhorryng the wilde beastes, and the fierce rage of them, of an ouer light mynde betrayed his owne safetie. For so the same letter of him doth report, that he, not reuerently, but more malepartly then requisite was, together wt others rushed into the iudgement place, and so beyng takē, was made a manifest example to all the beholders, that no man ought rashly, and vnreuerently with suche boldnes, to thrust in hym selfe, to entermeddle in matters, wherwith he hath not to do.

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But now we will surcease to speake more of them, and returne to Polycarpus, of whom the foresayd letter consequently declareth as followeth: How that in the beginnyng, when he heard of these thyngs, was nothyng at all afrayde nor disquieted in mynde, but purposed to haue taryed still in the Citie, till beyng perswaded by the intreatie of them that were about him (which desired him instātly that he would conuey him selfe away) MarginaliaPolicarpus flyeth persecution. hid him selfe in a graunge or village not farre of from the Citie, and there abidyng with a few more in his company, did nothing els (night nor day) but abode in supplication, MarginaliaPolicarpus prayeth for the Church. wherin he made his humble peticion for the obtainyng of peace vnto all the cōgregatiōs throughout the world. For that was his accustomed maner so to do. And as he was thus makyng his prayers three dayes before he was apprehended, MarginaliaPolicarpus hath a vision of his burnyng. in a vision by night he saw the bed set on fire vnder his head, and sodainly to be consumed. And when he awaked, he told by and by, and expounded vnto them that were present his vision, and tolde them before, what thing should come to passe, that is, how that in the fire he should leese his life for Christes cause. It is further mēcioned, that when they were hard at hand, which so narrowly sought for him, that he was inforced, for the affection and loue of his brethren, to fleete into an other village, to which place notwithstanding within a little while after the pursuers came, MarginaliaPolicarpus pursued and taken. and when they had taken a couple of children that dwelt there aboutes, they so beat one of them wt whippes, that by the bewraying or cōfessiō of him, they were brought to the Inne, where Polycarpus was. And they say that the pursuers makyng no great hast to enter, found hym in the vppermost place of the house, MarginaliaPolicarpus might escape, and would not. from whence he might haue escaped into other houses, if he would, but this he would not do, saying: the will of God be done. Furthermore, when he knew that they were come, as the sayd history sheweth: he came downe, and spake vnto them with a very cherefull and pleasaunt countenance, so that it was a wonder to see those which a while agone knew not the man, now beholdyng and vewing his comly age, and his graue and cōstant countenaunce, lamented that they had so much imployed their labour, that so aged a man should be apprehended. To conclude, he commaunded that straight way without any delay the table should be layd for them, and perswaded them that they woulde eate and dyne well, and required of them boldly, that he might haue an houres respite to make hys prayers. MarginaliaPolicarpus falleth to prayer. Whiche thing after it was graunted, he arose and went to pray, so being replenished with the grace of God, that they whiche were present, and hearyng the prayers that he made, were astonyed at it, and now many of them were sory that so honest and godly an aged man should be put to death.

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After this, the foresaide Epistle or letter, prosecutyng the history addeth more as followeth: After he had made an end of his prayers and had called to his remembraunce all those thynges which euer happened vnto him and to the vniuersall catholicke church throughout all the world (whether they were small or great, glorious or els inglorious) & that the houre was now come in which they ought to set forward, they set him vpō an Asse and brought him to the Citie vpon a solemne feast day. And there met him Irenarchus Herodes, and his father Nicetes, which causing him to come vp into the chariot where they sat, perswaded him and sayd: what hurt I pray thee shall come therof to thee, if thou say (by the way of saluation.) My Lord Cæsar, and to do sacrifice, and thus to saue thy selfe? But he at the begynnyng made them none aunswere. Till that when they inforced him to speake, he sayd: MarginaliaPolicarpus refuseth to do sacrifice. I will not do as ye counsell me I shoulde. When that they saw he could not be perswaded, they gaue him very rough lāguage, and of purpose molested him, that in goyng downe the chariot from them, he might hurt or breake his legges. But he forcing very light of the matter, as though he had felt no hurt, went merely and diligently forward, makyng hast vnto the place appointed. And when there was such vprore in the place of executiō, that he could not be heard, but of a very few, MarginaliaPolicarpus conforted by a voyce from heauen. there came a voyce from heauen to Policarpus, as he was goyng into the Stage or appointed place of iudgement, saying: be of good cheare Policarpus, & play the man. No man there was, which saw him that spake, but very many of vs heard his voyce. And when he was brought in, there was a great noyse made by them whiche vnderstode that Policarpus was apprehended. The Proconsul asked him when that he was come, whether his name was Policarpus or not, and when he sayd, yea it was, he gaue him counsell to denie his name, MarginaliaPolicarpus allured to chaunge his name would not consent. and sayd vnto him, be good vnto thy selfe, and fauour thyne olde age, and many other such like wordes which they accustome to speake. Sweare sayth he, by the Emperours good

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