IF the actes & mo-numentes of the church, which haue bene so horrible and perilous, from the beginning almost of the Gospel, but especially from thys latter age of Christes Church, according to the true forewarening of thapostles, had not wanted writers and Historicians, more thē writers might haue lacked matter copious to woorke vpon:
The commentary on this block is at a preliminary stage. The project has not yet completed all its work on this portion of the text. Foxe's title to the first book of the 1563 martyrology foreshadowed that it was to concentrate on 'things DONE AND PRACTISED BY THE Prelats of the Romishe Churche, specially in this Realme of England and Scotland, from the yeare of our Lord a thousand vnto the tyme nowe present.' The revised title for the 1570 edition contained a much more ambitious agenda: 'the ful History of thinges done and practiced in the same, from the time of the first Christened King Lucius, King of this Realme of England, which is from the yeare of our Lord 180. vnto the tyme now present'. The shift of emphasis indicated in the title is a measure of the extent to which Foxe reorchestrated the whole underlying architecture for the martyrology between these two editions. The full measure of that change is reflected in this early section of the text. The first paragraph, however, remained unchanged. Like all the Renaissance humanist historians, Foxe aspired to follow the 'leges historiae' famously expounded in Cicero's De Oratore (books I-II). The first 'law' was the priority of truth. As Cicero put it: 'For who does not know history's know history's first law to be that an author must not dare to tell anything but the truth? And its second that he must make bold to tell the whole truth?' (De Oratore, II, xi). These 'laws' had frequently been adduced by humanist historians in precisely the way that Foxe already does in his opening paragraph: to scorn the credulity of medieval chroniclers. He takes the argument one step further, indicating that it was not mere credulity. The 'barbarousnes of those daies, and partly negligence in the learned sort' had contributed to creating a willful silence which had 'misshadowed & corrupted' the past. By recovering the truth, Foxe expected to 'profit the Church of Christ' and contribute to the 'sweete and mercyful reformation' of 'these reformed daies'.[Back to Top]
Mark Greengrass and Matthew Phillpott
University of Sheffield
John Wade, University of Sheffield
the law of history
Nam quis nescit primam esse historiæ legem, ne quid falsi dicere audeat?
For who does not know that the first law of history is that one should not dare to say anything that is untrue?
For the better accomplishing wherof, so to prosecute the matter, as may best serue to the profit of the reader,
MarginaliaThe order or disposition of thys history.I haue thought good first, beginning from the time of the primitiue Church, and so continuing (by the Lordes grace) to these latter yeares and daies, to comprehende or runne ouer the whole state and course of the Church in general, in such order and sort, that diuiding and digesting the whole tractation of this historye, in to fiue sundry diuersities of times:
The suffering time of the church.First wyl entreat of the suffering time or martyrdome of the Church, which continued from the Apostles age about. 300. yeares. Secondly, of the flourishing time of the Church, which lasted o- Marginalia2.
The florishinge time of þe churchther. 300. yeares. Marginalia3.
The declininge time of the church.Thirdly, of the declining or backeslyding time of the Churche, which comprehendeth other 300. yeares, vntil the loosing out of Sathan, which was about the thousand yeare after Christ.
During which space of time, the Churche, although in condicion of life, in ambition and pride, it was nowe muche altered from the simple puritye of the primitiue tyme, yet in a certaine outwarde profession of doctrine and religion was something tollerable, and had some face of a Church: notwithstanding some corruption of doctrine, with superstition and hypocrisy was then also crept in. And yet in comparison of that as followed after, it myght seeme (as I sayde) something sufferable.
The tyme of Antichrist in the churchFourthly followeth the time of Antichrist, or the desolation of the Churche, whose full swinge conteineth the space of. 400. yeares. In which time both doctrine, and sincerity of life was vtterly almost extinguished, namely in the cheife heds & rulers of this west church, through the meanes of the Romane Bishops, especially Gregory the. vij. called Hildebrand, Innocentius the. iij. and the Friars which wt him crept in. &c. And this time I count from Pope Boniface the third, til the time of Wickliffe and Iohn Husse, during. 400. yeares. Marginalia5.
The reformation of the church.Fiftly and lastly after this time of Antechrist, raigning in the Church of God by violence and tiranny, foloweth the reformation and purging of the Churche of God, wherein Antichrst beginneth to be reueled, and to appeare in his coulours, and his antichristian doctrine to be detected, & the number of his church decreaseth, and the number of the true Church increaseth. The durance of which time hath cōtinued from. 260. yeares hetherto, and how long it shal continue more, the Lord & gouernour of all times onely knoweth. For in these fiue diuersities and alteracions of times, I suppose the whole course and state of the Church may well be comprised. The which Church, because it is vniuersall, and sparsedlye through all countries dilated & therfore (my story standing vpon such a general argumēt) am bound to no one certaine nation, more then an other: yet notwithstanding, keeping mine argument aforesaid, I haue purposed principally to tary vpon suche historicall actes and recordes, as most appertaine to this my country of England and Scotland.
MarginaliaThe church of RomeAnd forsomuch as the church of Rome, in al these ages aboue specified, hath chalenged to it self the supreme title, iurisdiction, and ringleading of the whole vniuersal church on earth, by whose direction al other churches haue ben gouerned, in speaking therfore and writing of the Church of Christ, I can not but partlye must intermedle also with the actes and proceedinges of the same church, for somuch as the doinges and orderinges of all other churches from time to time, as well here in England, as in other nacions, haue this long season, chiefly depended vpon the same. Wherfore, as it is much nedefull and requisite to haue the doinges and orderinges of the said Church to be made knowen and manifest to all christen congregations: so haue I framed this historye, according to the same purpose. First in a generall description briefly to declare as in a sūmary table, the misguiding of that church, compared withall the primatiue state of the forenamed church of Rome, with these[Back to Top]