Martyrs. or a teacher (as witnesseth Martyrol. Adonis) in the Citie of Tybur, which Getulius with Cerealis, Amantius, and Primitiuus, by the commaundement of Adrian were condemned to the fire, wherein they were Martyred and put to death. MarginaliaThe vii. sonnes of Symphorosa.
Martyrs. The names moreouer of the seuen sonnes of this Symphorosa, I finde to be Crescēs, Iulianus, Nemesius, Primitiuus, Iustinus, Statteus, and Eugenius, whom the Chronicle of Ado declareth to be put to death at the commaundement of Hadrian, being fastned to. vij. stakes, and so racked with a pulley, and at last were thrust through, Crescens in the necke, Iulianus in the brest, Nemesius in the hart, Primitiuus about the nauell, Iustinus cut in euery ioynt of his body, Statteus run through with speares, Eugenius cut a sunder from the brest to the lower partes, and then cast into a deepe pyt, hauyng the name by the idolatrus Priestes, intituled Ad septem Biothanatos. After the Martyrdome of whom also Symphorosa the mother did likewise suffer, as is before declared.
MarginaliaThe Persecution in Lyons and Vienna, two Cities in Fraunce.
Ex Euseb Lib. 5. cap. 2 Vnder the sayd Antoninus Verus, and in the same persecution, which raged not in Rome and in Asia onely, but in other countreys also, suffered the glorious and most cōstant Martyrs of Lyons and Vienna, two cities in Fraunce, geuyng to Christ a glorious testimony, & to all Christian men a spectacle, or example of singular constancie and fortitude in Christ our Sauiour. The history of whō, because it is written and set forth by their owne Churches, where they did suffer, mentioned in Euseb. Lib. 5. cap. 2. I thought here to expresse the same in the forme and effect of their own wordes, as there is to be sene. The title of whiche their Epistle written to the brethren of Asia and Phrygia thus begynneth.
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).[Back to Top]
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.[Back to Top]
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.[Back to Top]
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).[Back to Top]
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.[Back to Top]
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).[Back to Top]
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.[Back to Top]
Mark Greengrass and Matthew Phillpott
University of Sheffield
MarginaliaA letter of the brethren of Fraunce to the brethren of Asia. THe greatnes of this our tribulation, the furious rage of the Gentiles agaynst vs, and the tormentes whiche the blessed Martyrs suffered, neither can we in wordes, nor yet in writing exactly, as they deserue, set forth. For the aduersary with al his force gaue his indeuour to the workyng of such preparatiues, as he him selfe lysted, agaynst his tyranous commyng, and in euery place practised he and instructed his Ministers, how in most spitefull maner to set them agaynst the seruauntes of God: so that not onely in our houses, shoppes, and markets we were restrayned, but also were vniuersally commaunded, that none (so hardy) should be sene in any place. But God hath alwayes mercy in store, and tooke out of their handes such as were weake amōgest them, and other some did he set vp as firme and immoueable pyllers, which by sufferaunce were able to abyde all violent force, and valiauntly to withstand the enemy, induryng all their opprobrious punishment they could deuise. To cōclude, they fought this battell for that intent to come vnto Christ, estemyng their great troubles but as light: therby shewyng that all that may be suffered in this present life, is not able to counteruaile the great glorye whiche shalbe shewed vpon vs after this lyfe. And first they paciently suffered whatsoeuer the multitude of frāticke people runnyng vpon head did vnto them, as raylynges, scourginges, drawynges and halynges, flyngyng of stones, imprisonnynges, & what other thyng so euer the rage of the multitude are wōt to vse and practise agaynst their professed enemyes. Then afterward they beyng led into the market place, and there iudged of the Captaine and rest of the Potentates of the Citie, after their confession made openly before the multitude, were commaunded agayne to prison, vntil the returne of the chief gouernour. After this they beyng brought before him, and he vsing all extremity that possibly he might agaynst them: MarginaliaVetius Epagathus Martyr. One Vetius Epagathus, one of the brethren, replenished with feruent zeale, both towardes God and his brethren (whose conuersation, although he were a young man, was counted as perfect, as was the lyfe of Zachary the Priest, for he walked diligently in all the cōmaundements and iustifications of the Lord, and in all obedience towardes his brethren blameles) he hauyng within him the feruent zeale of loue, and spirite of God, could not suffer that wicked iudgement which was geuen vpon the Christiās, but beyng vehemently displeased, desired that the iudge would heare the excuse whiche he was mynded to make in the behalfe of the Christians, in whom sayth he is no impietie founde. But the people cryed agayne to those that were assistētes with the chief Iustice, that it might not be so (for in deede he was a noble man born) neither did the Iustice graunt him his lawful request: but onely asked him whether he himselfe were a Christiā or not. And he immediatly with a loude, & bold voyce, aunswered & sayd: I am a Christian. MarginaliaThe stoutnes of a godly young ma&. And thus was he receiued into the fellowshyp of the Martyrs, and called the aduocate of the Christiās. And he hauyng the spirite of God more plentifully in time, then had Zacharye, the aboūdance thereof he declared, in that he gaue his life in the defence of his brethren, beyng a true Disciple of Christ followyng the Lambe wheresoeuer he goeth.[Back to Top]
By this mans example the rest of the Martyrs were the more animated to Martyrdome, and made more ioyous with all courage of mynde to accomplish the same. MarginaliaThe fayntyng of certaine weake Christians. Some other there were vnready and not so well prepared, and as yet weake, not well able to beare the vehemency of so great conflict: of whom. x. there were in number, that faynted, ministryng to vs much heauynes and lamentacion. Who by their example caused the rest which were not yet apprehended, to be lesse willyng therunto. Then were we all, for the variablenes of confession not a litle astonied: not that we feared the punishment intended agaynst vs, but rather as hauyng respect to the ende, and fearyng least any should fall. Euery day there were apprehended such as were worthy to fulfill the number of them which were fallen. In so much that of two churches, such as were chiefest, & which were the principal gouernours of our Churches were apprehended. With these also certaine of the Ethnickes, beyng our men seruantes, were apprehended (for so the gouernour commaunded, that all of vs in generall without any respect, should be taken) which seruantes beyng ouercome by Sathan, and fearyng the torments which they saw the Saintes to suffer, beyng also compelled therevnto by the meanes of the souldiours, MarginaliaFalse slaunders of the Christians. fayned against vs that we kept the feastynges of Thiestes, and incest of Oedipus, and many such other crimes, whiche are neither to be remembred, nor named of vs, neither yet to be thought that euer any man would commit the like.[Back to Top]
MarginaliaThe rage of the Heathen agaynst the Christians. These thynges beyng nowe bruted abroad, euery man began to shewe cruelty agaynst vs, in so much that those whiche before for familiarities sake were more gentile toward vs, now vehemently disdained vs, and waxed mad agaynst vs. And thus was now fulfilled that, whiche was spoken of Christ, saying: the tyme shall come that whosoeuer killeth you, shall thincke that he doth God great good seruice. Thē suffered the Martyrs of God such bitter persecution as is passing to be told: Sathan still shootyng at this marke, to make them to vtter some blasphemy by all meanes possible. Marueilous therfore was the rage both of the people and Prince, specially agaynst one Sanctus, which was Deacon of the congregation of Vienna, and agaynst Maturus, being but a litle before Baptised, but yet a worthy souldiour of Christ, and also agaynst Attalus, beyng borne in Pergama, whiche was the foundation and piller of that congregation, and also agaynst Blandina, by whom Christ sheweth, that those thynges which the world esteemed vyle and abiect, to be glorious in Gods sight, for the very loue which in hart & deede they beare toward him, not in outward face onelye. For when all we were afrayde, & specially her mistres in flesh, who also was her selfe one of the nūber of the foresayd Martyrs, least happely for the weakenes of body she would not stand strongly to her confessiō, MarginaliaThe cruell handling & great patiēce of Blandina. the foresaid Blādin was so replenished with strength & boldnes, þt they which had the tormentyng of her by course from mornyng to night, for very wearynes gaue ouer and fell downe, and were them selues ouercome, confessing that they could do no more against her, and marueiled that yet she liued, hauyng her body so torne and rent. And testified that any one of those tormentes alone without any moe, had bene inough to haue pluckt the life from her body. But that blessed woman, fightyng this worthy battel, became stronger & stronger, and as often as she spake these wordes (I am a Christian, neither haue vve committed any euill) it was to her a marueilous comfort and boldnyng to abide the tormentes.[Back to Top]
MarginaliaSanctus a Martyr. Sanctus also an other of the Martyrs, who in the middest of his tormentes, induryng more paynes, then the nature of a man might away with, also at what time the wicked supposed, to haue haerd him vtter some blasphemous wordes, for the greatnes and intolerablenes of his tormētes and paynes, that he was in, abode notwithstandyng in such constancie of mynde, MarginaliaThe notable constancy of Sanctus. that neither he told them his name, nor what countreyman he was, nor in what Citie brought vp, neither whether he was a free man or a seruaunt, but vnto euery questiō that was asked him, he aūswered in the Latine toung, I am a Christian. And this was all that he cōfessed both of his name, Citie, kinred, and all other thynges in the place of execution, neither yet could the Gentiles, get[Back to Top]