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Ambrose (St Ambrose)

(c. 340 - 397) [Catholic Encyclopedia]

Bishop of Milan (374 - 397); doctor of the church

He is mentioned by Foxe: 1570, pp. 15, 20, 56, 91, 128, 131, 146; 1576, pp. 12, 16, 35, 63, 92, 95, 102, 108; 1583, pp. 12, 16, 35, 63, 91, 94, 101, 107.

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Dionysius of Corinth

Bishop of Corinth c. 170; ecclesiastical writer [Catholic Encyclopedia]

He wrote epistles to many churches. 1570, pp. 56, 78; 1576, pp. 35, 53; 1583, pp. 35, 53.

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Domitian (Titus Flavius Domitianus)

(51 - 96) [J. Donahue]

Studied rhetoric and literature; brother of Titus

Roman emperor (81 - 96); murdered

The second persecution of the Christians began under Domitian. He caused himself to be worshipped as a god and persecuted senators. 1570, pp. 56-58; 1576, pp. 35-37; 1583, pp. 35-37.

Melito of Sardis, in his Apology, refers to him, along with Nero, as the worst persecutors of Christians. 1570, p. 75; 1576, p. 51; 1583, p. 51.

Domitian was persuaded to release the Jews he had seized and to cease the persecution of Christians. 1570, p. 64; 1576, p. 37; 1583, p. 37.

He is mentioned by Foxe: 1570, p. 38; 1576, p. 31; 1583, p. 31.

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Eusebius of Caesarea

(263 - 339) [Catholic Encyclopedia]

Christian scholar, presbyter at the church at Caesarea; wrote History of the Church

Eusebius said that he himself had known the martyrs in Palestine who died during Diocletian's persecution. 1570, p. 110; 1576, p. 78; 1583, p. 77.

He personally witnessed the persecutions in the Thebiade. 1570, p. 113; 1576, p. 80; 1583, p. 80.

He was present at the martyrdom of Philoromus at Alexandria. 1570, p. 128; 1576, p. 93; 1583, p. 92.

Eusebius received a letter from Constantine, instructing him to build and repair churches in Caesarea. 1570, p. 141; 1576, p. 104; 1583, p. 103.

Foxe uses Eusebius extensively as a source throughout Book 1.

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Isidore of Seville (St Isidore)

(c. 560 - 636) [Catholic Encyclopedia; Gams]

b. Cartagena, Spain; Archbishop of Seville (599 - 636); scholar and historian

He is mentioned by Foxe: 1563, p. 4; 1570, pp. 56, 96, 143, 1319; 1576, pp. 36, 67, 106, 1128; 1583, pp. 36, 67, 105, 1154.

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Nero (Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus)

(d. 68) [D. J. Coffta]

Roman emperor (54 - 68); deposed, committed suicide

Nero was lecherous, murderous and cruel. He burned Rome and blamed the Christians, and was forced to commit suicide. 1570, p. 38; 1576, p. 31; 1583, p. 31

The first persecution of the Christians began under Nero. 1570, p. 42-44; 1576, pp. 34-35; 1583, pp. 34-35.

Melito of Sardis, in his Apology, refers to him, along with Domitian, as the worst persecutors of Christians. 1570, p. 75; 1576, p. 51; 1583, p. 51.

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Paul Orosius

(c. 385 - c. 420) [Catholic Encyclopedia]

Historian, theologian; disciple of Augustine at Hippo; assisted Jerome against Pelagius in Palestine. Wrote a history of the world.

Orosius attended the Council of Carthage in 420, along with Augustine and Prosper. 1570, p. 12; 1576, p. 10; 1583, p. 10.

He is mentioned by Foxe: 1563, p. , 1570, pp. 19, 54 -, 86, 94, 107, 113; 1576, pp. 15, 34 - , 60, 66, 76, 81; 1583, pp. 15, 34 - , 60, 66, 75, 80, 452.

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Porcius Festus

Procurator of Judea c. 58 - 62 CE

He is mentioned by Foxe: 1570, pp. 54-55; 1576, pp. 33-34; 1583, pp. 33-34.

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Prudentius (Aurelius Prudentius Clemens)

(348 - after 405) [Catholic Encyclopedia]

Spanish Roman Christian poet; lawyer; provincial governor; retired to become an ascetic

He is mentioned by Foxe: 1570, pp. 56, 86, 101, 104, 124, 126, 129; 1576, pp. 35, 60, 71, 74, 90, 92, 93; 1583, pp. 35, 59, 71, 74, 89, 92.

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Symeon Metaphrastes

(fl. 2nd half C10) [Catholic Encyclopedia]

Byzantine hagiographer

He is mentioned by Foxe: 1570, pp. 56, 127, 132; 1576, pp. 35, 92, 96; 1583, pp. 35, 91, 95.

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Tertullian (Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus)

(c. 155 - c. 230) [Catholic Encyclopedia]

of Carthage; Christian convert and writer, church leader

Tertullian was a man of learning and eloquence who defended the Christians under persecution. 1570, p. 80; 1576, p. 55; 1583, p. 55.

Tertullian commended Irenæus for his learning. 1570, p. 80; 1576, p. 55; 1583, p. 55.

Tertullian recorded that Christianity came to Britain in the time of Pope Eleutherius in C2. 1570, p. 145; 1576, p. 107; 1583, p. 106.

Tertullian was a married priest, according to Jerome. 1570, p. 1319; 1576, p. 1128; 1583, p. 1154.

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Titus (Titus Flavius Vespasianus)

(39 - 81) [J. Donahue]

Son of Vespasian; participated in Judaean campaigns with his father

Roman emperor (79 - 81)

Titus and his father were responsible for the destruction of the Jews. 1570, p. 38; 1576, p. 31; 1583, p. 31.

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Vespasian (Titus Flavius Vespasianus)

(9 - 79) [J. Donahue]

Soldier; invaded Britain in 43; suppressed Jewish revolt in 66

Roman emperor (69 - 79)

Vespasian and his son were responsible for the destruction of the Jews. 1570, p. 38; 1576, p. 31; 1583, p. 31.

The first persecution of the Christians ended under Vespasian. 1570, p. 44; 1576, p. 35; 1583, p. 35.

58 [35]

and there brought vp in the knowledge of the law, at the feete of Gamaliel, MarginaliaSaule brought vp vnder Gamaliell.and was at the death of Stephen a doer. And when he had receiued letters from the high Priest to persecute the Christians, by the way going to Damascus, was stroken downe of the Lordes glory, and of a persecutor, was made a professor, an Apostle, a Martyr, a witnesse of the Gospell, and a vessell of election. MarginaliaSaule a persecutor. Saule conuerted.

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Among his other manifold labors & trauails in spreading the doctrine of Christ, he wan Sergius Paulus, the Proconsul of Cyprus, to the faith of Christ, whereupon he tooke his name as some suppose, turned from Saulus to Paulus. MarginaliaSaulus turned to Paulus.After he had passed through diuers places and countries in his laborious peregrinations, he tooke to him Barnabas, and went vp to Hierusalem, to Peter, Iames, and Iohn, where he was ordained and sent out with Barnabas to preach vnto the Gentils. MarginaliaPaule sent to the Gentiles.

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And because it is in the Actes of the Apostles sufficiently comprehended, concerning the admirable conuersion, & conuersation of this most worthy Apostle; that which remaineth of the rest of his history, I will here adde, how the sayd Apostle Paule, the 25. yere after the passion of the lord, in the second yeare of Nero, what tyme Festus ruled in Iewrie, was sent vp in bondes to Rome, MarginaliaAct. 28.where he remaining in his free hosterie two yeares together, disputed daily against the Iewes, proouing Christ to be come. And here is to be noted, that after his first answer or purgation there made at Rome, the Emperor Nero, not yet fully confirmed in his Empire, & yet not bursting out into those mischiefs, which histories report of him, he was at that tyme by Nero discharged, and dismissed to preach the Gospell in the West partes and about the coastes of Italy, as he himselfe writing vnto Timothie, Marginalia2. Tim. 4.afterward in his second apprehension, in his second Epistle witnesseth, saying: In my first purgation, no man stoode with me, but did all forsake me, the Lord lay it not to their charge. But the Lord stood with me, & did comfort me, that the preaching of his word might proceed by me, & that all the Gentiles might heare and be taught, and I was deliuered out of the Lions mouth, &c. In which place by the Lion he plainly meaneth Nero. And afterward likewise saith: I was deliuered from the mouth of the Lion, &c. And againe, the Lord hath deliuered me out from all euill workes, and hath saued me vnto his heauenly kingdom, &c. speaking this, because he perceiued thē the tyme of his Martyrdome to be nere at hand. For in the same Epistle before, he saith: I am now offred vp, and the tyme of my dissolution draweth on.

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Thus then, this worthy preacher and messenger of the Lord, in the 14. yeare of Nero, and the same day in which Peter was crucified (although not in the same yeare as some write, but in the next yeare following) was beheaded at Rome for the testimonie of Christ, and was buried in the way of Ostia. The yeare after the passion of the Lord 37. He wrote ix. Epistles to seuen Churches: MarginaliaThe Epistles of S. Paule to vii. Churches. to the Romains one, to the Corinthians two, to the Galathiās one, to the Ephesians one, to the Philippians one, to the Colossians one, to the Thessalonians two. Moreouer, he wrote to his Disciples, to Timothie two, to Titus one, to Philemon one.

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The Epistle which beareth the title to the Hebrues, is not thought to be his, for the difference of the stile & phrase, but either iudged to be written of Timothie, as Tertullian supposeth, or of S. Luke as other do thinke: or els of Clement afterward Bishop of Rome, who as they say, was adioyned with Paul, and compiling together his sayings and sentences, did phrase them in his stile and maner. Or els, as some do iudge, because S. Paul wrote vnto the Hebrues, MarginaliaThe Epistle to the Hebrues.for the odiousnes of his name among that people, therefore he dissimuled, and confessed his name in the first entre of his saluation, contrary to his accustomed condition. And as he wrote to the Hebrues he being an Hebrue, so he wrote in Hebrue, þt is, in his own tongue more eloquently. And that is thought to be the cause why it differeth from his other Epistles, and is after a more eloquent maner translated into the Greeke, then his other Epistles be. Some also read the Epistle written to Laodicea, MarginaliaThe Epistle to Laodiciabut that is explosed of all men. Thus much Hierome.

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As touching the tyme and order of the death and Martyrdome of S. Paule, as Eusebius, Hierome, Maximus and other authors doe but briefly passe ouer: So Abdias (if his booke be of any substātial authoritie) speaking more largely of the same doth say: MarginaliaAbdias de viris. lib. 2.that after the crucifying of Peter, & the ruine of Simon Magus, Paule yet remayning in free custody, was dimissed and deliuered at that time from Martyrdome by Gods permission, that all the Gentiles might be replenished with preaching of the Gospell by him.

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And the same Abdias proceeding in his story, declareth moreouer, that as Paule was thus occupied at Rome, hewas accused to the Emperour, not onely for teaching new doctrine, but also for stirring vp sedition against the Empire. For this he being called before Nero, and demaunded to shew the order and maner of his doctrine, MarginaliaPaule declareth his doctrine to the Emperour.there declared what his doctrine was, to teach all men peace and charitie how to loue one an other, how to preuent one an other in honor, rich mē not to be puft in pride, nor to put their trust in their treasures, but in the liuing God. MarginaliaThe summe of Paules doctrine.Meane men to be contented with foode and rayment, and with their present state. Poore mē to reioyce in their pouertie with hope. Fathers to bring vp their children in the feare of God. Children to obey their parents. Husbandes to loue their wiues. Wiues to be subiect vnto their husbands. Citizens and subiects to giue their tribute vnto Cæsar and to be subiect to their magistrates. Maisters to be curteous not currish to their seruaunts. Seruants to deale faithfully with their maisters. And this to be the summe of his teaching, which his doctrine he receiued not of men nor by men, but by Iesus Christ, and the father of glory, which spake to him from heauen, the Lord Iesus saying to him, that he should goe and preach in his name, and that he would be with him, and would be the spirit of life to all that beleued in him, and that whatsoeuer he did or said, he would iustifie it, &c. After that Paule had thus declared vnto the Emperour, shortly after sentence of death was prounounced against him, that he should be headed. MarginaliaPaule condemned.Vnto whose executiō then Nero sent two of his Esquiers Ferega, and Parthemius to bring him word of his death. They comming to Paule, instructing then the people, desired him to pray for them that they might beleue. Who told them that shortly after they should beleue, and be baptised at his Sepulchre ( as Abdias writeth.) This done, the souldiours came and led him out of the Citie to the place of execution, where he after his prayers made, gaue his necke to the sword. MarginaliaPaule suffereth.Abdias reporteth, that as his head was strokē off, in stead of blood issued out white milke, MarginaliaA Legene miracle.and that at laying downe his head he signed himselfe with the signe of a crosse in his forehead; but this being found in no other historie, Abdias semeth either to adde of his own, or els to borow out of the Legend as he doth many other things beside, MarginaliaThe story of Abdias suspected.wherof more shalbe sayd (Christ willing) hereafter. Although the same miracle of milke flowing out of his necke, is referred also vnto Ambrose, who in his sermon 68. (if it be not counterfaited) seemeth to affirme the same. Of the tyme and yeare when these blessed Apostles did suffer, histories doe not all agree. MarginaliaHistoryes doe varry about the tyme of their Martyrdome. They that follow the commō opinion, and the Popes decrees say, that both Peter and Paul suffred both in one day and in one yeare, which opinion semeth to be taken out of Dionysius bishop of Corinth. Hierome in his booke De viris illustr. affirmeth that they suffred both in one day, but he expresseth not the yeare. So doth Isidorus and Eusebius. Symon Metaphrastes bringeth in the opinion of some, which thinke that Paul suffred not with Peter, but after Peter. Prudentius in his Peristephano, noteth that they both were put to death vpon the same day, but not in the same yere, and saith that Paule followed Peter a yeare after. MarginaliaIf this be true that Prudētius. recordeth of Paule to suffer vnder Nero, and the yeare after Peter: then is it false, which Hierome before testifieth [illegible text]

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Abdias aboue mentioned, recordeth that Paule suffered two yeares after Peter. Moreouer, if it be true which Abdias saith, that after the crucifiyng of Peter, Paul remained in his fyare custody at Rome, mētioned in the Actes of the Apostles, which was as Hierom witnesseth the 3. or 4. yere of Nero, then must it be x. yeare betwixt the Martyrdome of Peter and of Paule, for as much as it is by all writers confessed, that Paule suffered the 14. yeare, which was the last yeare of Nero. And so Abdias seemeth neither to agree with other authors, nor with himselfe. And thus much of the first persecution.

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The second 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: 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

THe first Romaine persecution beginning vnder Nero, as is aforesaid, ceased vnder Vespasianus who gaue some rest to the poore Christians. After whose raigne was mooued not long after the second persecution, by the Emperor Domitian brother of Titus. MarginaliaThe second persecution. Anno. 69.Of whome Eusebius and Orosius so write, that he first beginning mildly, afterward did so farre outrage in pride intollerable, that he commaunded himself to be worshipped as God, and that images of gold and siluer in his honour should be set vp in Capitolio. MarginaliaEx Orosio. Lib. 7.The chiefest nobles of the Senators, either vpon enuy, or for their goodes, he caused to be put to death, some openly, and some he sent into banishment, there causing them to be slaine priuilie.

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And as his tiranny was vnmeasurable, so the intemperancie of his life was no lesse. MarginaliaThe tyranny and intemperaunce of Domitian.He put to death all the nephewes of Iuda, called the Lordes brother, and caused to be sought out, and to be slayne all that could be found of the