thus to write vnto them, but onely to sue vnto thē and desire a serious and righteous kinde of dealyng in their iudgementes and sentences. For it becommeth Princes to folow vprightnes and pietie in their iudgements, not tyranny and violence: & also in playne wordes chargeth as well the Emperour as the Senate with manifest wrong. For that they did not graunt the Christians, that which is not denyed to all other malefactors, iudgyng men to death not conuicted, but onely for the hatred of the name: Other men whiche be appeached (sayd he) in iudgement, are not condemned, before they are conuicted. But on vs you take our name onely for the crime, whē as in deede you ought to see iustice done vpō our accusers. And agayne (sayth he) if a Christian beyng accused, onely deny that name, him you release, beyng not able to charge him with any other offence. But if he stand to his name, onely for his confession you cast hym, where in deede it were your duety rather to examine their maner of lyfe what thyng they confesse or deny, and accordyng to their demerites see iustice done. And in the same further he sayth, you examine not the causes, but incēsed with rash affections as with the spurre of furie, ye slay and murder them not cōuicted, without any respect of Iustice.[Back to Top]
MarginaliaThe Lord take away this spur of furie, condemnyng innocentes before they be conuicted. And further he addeth. Some peraduēture will say certaine of them haue been apprehēded and taken in euill doynges: as though (sayth he) you vsed to enquire vpon them beyng brought afore you, and not commōly to cōdemne them before due examination of their offence for the cause aboue mencioned. where also in the end of the sayd Apologie after this maner he reprehendeth them: You do degenerate (quoth he) from the goodnesse of your predecessors, whose example ye follow not: for your father Adrian of famous memorie, caused to be proclaymed that Christians accused before the iudge, should not be condemned, vnlesse they were found giltie of so notorious crime. I finde that all hys vehement and graue Apologie standeth vpon most strong & firme probatiōs: deniyng that the Christians ought by conscience at the will and commaundement of the Emperor and Senate to do sacrifice to the Idols. For the which they beyng cōdemned, affirme that they suffer open wrong: approuyng moreouer, that the true & onely Religion, is the Religion of the Christians: whose both doctrine and conuersation hath no fault. Iustinus although with these and such lyke persuations dyd not so preuayle with the Emperor, to cause him to loue his Religion and become a Christian (for that is not written) yet thus much he obtained, that Antoninus writyng to his Officers in Asia in the behalfe of the Christians, required and commaūded them, that those Christians which onely were founde giltie of any trespasse, should suffer, and such as were not conuicted, should not therfore onely for the name be punished, because they were called Chr stians. By these it is apparent with what zeale and fayth this Iustinus did striue agaynst the persecutors, whiche (as he sayd) could kill onely, but could not hurt.[Back to Top]
This Iustinus by the meanes and malice of Crescens the Philosopher as is before declared, suffered Martyrdome vnder Marcus Antoninus Verus a litle after that Polycarpus was martyred in Asia, as witnesseth Eusebius Lib. 4. MarginaliaEx Euseb. Lib. 4. cap. 16. Here is to be gathered how Epiphanius was deceiued in the time of his death, MarginaliaA place of Epiphanius foūd faulty. saying that he suffered vnder Rusticus the president, and Adrian the Emperour, beyng of xxx. yeares of age, which in deede agreeth not neither with Eusebius, nor Ierome, nor Swide, nor other moe, which manifestly declare and testifie how he exhibited his Apologie vnto Antoninus Pius, which came after Adrian. Thus hast thou good reader the life of this learned & blessed Martyr although partly touched before, yet now more fully and amply discoursed for the better commendation of his excellent & notable vertues, of whose finall end thus writeth Marginalia[illegible text] Photius saying, that he sufferyng for Christ dyed chearefully and with honor.[Back to Top]
MarginaliaThe singular modestie of the foresayd martyrs declared.
Ex Euseb. Lib. 5. cap. 2 Thus haue ye heard the whole discourse of Iustinus, and of the blessed Saintes of Fraunce, Vetius, Zacharias, Sanctus, Maturus, Attalus, Blandina, Alexāder, Alcibiades, with other, recorded & set forth by the writyng of certaine Christian brethren of the same Church and place of Fraūce. In the which forsayd writyng of theirs moreouer appereth the great meekenes and modest constācie of the sayd Martyrs described in these wordes: such folowers were they of Christ, who when he was in the forme of God, though it no robberie, to be equall with God, beyng in the same glory with him, that they not once nor twise, but oft times sufferyng Martyrdome, and taken agayne from the beastes, and bearyng woundes, tearynges and skars in their bodies, yet neither would count them selues Martyrs, neither would suffer vs so to call them: but if any of vs either by word or letter, would call them Martyrs, they did vehemently re-buke them: MarginaliaThe holy Martyrs refuse to be called Martyrs. saying that the name of Martyrdome was to be geuen to Christ, the faithfull and true Martyr, the first borne of the dead, and the captaine of lyfe, testifiyng moreouer that Martyrdome belōgeth to such, who by their martyrdome were already passed out of thys lyfe, and whom as Christ by their worthy confession hath receiued vnto him selfe, and hath sealed vp their Martyrdome by their end finished: As for them, which were not yet cōsummated, they (sayd they) were not worthy the names of Martyrs, but onely were humble & worthy confessors, desiryng also there brethren with teares, to pray without ceasing for their cōfirmation. Thus they performyng in deede that which belonged to true Martyrs, in resistyng the Heathen with much libertie, and great pacience, without all feare of man, beyng replenished with the feare of God, refused to be named of their brethren for Martyrs. And after in the sayd writyng it foloweth more: They humbled themselues vnder the mighty hand of God, by whiche they were greatly exalted. Then they rendred to all men a reason of their fayth, they accused no man, they loosed all, they bounde none. And for them which so euill did entreat them, they prayed, followyng the example of Stephen the perfect Martyr, which sayd: O Lord impute not this for sinne to them. And after agayne: Neither did they proudly disdaine agaynst them, which fell: but of such as they had, they imparted to them that lacked, bearing toward them a motherly affectiō, sheddyng their plentyfull teares for them to God the father, and prayed for their lyfe and saluaciō, and as God gaue it them, they also did communicate to their neighbours. And thus they as conquerers of all thynges departed to God. They loued peace, and leauyng the same to vs, they went to God, neither leauyng any molestation to their mother, nor sedition or trouble to their brethren, but ioy, peace, concorde, and loue to all.
Out of the same wrytyng moreouer concernyng these Martyrs of Fraunce afore mentioned, is reported also an other history, not vnworthy to be noted, taken out of the same booke of Eusebius. cap. 3. MarginaliaEx Euseb. Lib. 5. cap. 3. which history is this.
There was among these constaunt and blessed Martyrs, one Alsibiades, as is aboue specified: MarginaliaAlcibiades. The straite fastyng of Alcibiades corrected by the holy Ghost. which Alcibiades euer vsed a very straight diet, receiuyng for his foode and sustinaunce nothyng els, but onely bread and water: when this Alcibiades now beyng cast in prison, went about to accustome the same straightnes of dyet, after his vsuall maner before, it was reueled by God to Attalus afore mentioned, one of the sayd company, beyng also the same tyme imprisoned, after his first conflict vpon the scaffold, that Alcibiades did not well, in that he refused to vse and take the creatures of God: and also thereby ministred to other a pernicious occasion of offensiue example. Wherevpon Alcibiades beyng aduertised, and reformed, began to take all things boldly and with gyuing of thankes, MarginaliaA lesson for scrupulous consciences. whereby maye appeare to all scrupulous consciences, not onely an wholsome instruction of the holy Ghost, but also here is to be noted, how in those daes they were not destitute of the grace of God, but had the holy spirite of God to be their instructor. Hæc Euseb.[Back to Top]
MarginaliaIreneus newly made minister, and commended to Eleutherius The forsayd Martyrs of Fraunce also, the same time, commended Irenæus newly then made minister, with their letters vnto Eleutherius Byshop of Rome: as witnesseth Euseb. in the x. chap. of the same booke, which Irenæus first was the hearer of Polycarpus, them made minister (as is sayd) vnder these Martyrs. And after their death, made Byshop afterward of Lyons in Fraunce, and succeded after Photinus.
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