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23 [23]

mum, id rectum est, that whiche is the firste, is right. &c. Therfore as that was the firste, and golden age: so I may well call this the olde, or brasen age of the churche. For as Daniell deuideth the times of the worlde, by the example of an Image, in fower sūdry metalls, or as Seneca distincteth the empeire of Rome into fower ages: so the churche also (thoughe she shall neuer haue ende of her age, as other empiers haue) yet she hath her deuersitie of times, and ages, which here to describe, as I find them in a certayne old writer, aboue CC. yeares brefly set forthe, it shal not be greatly from our purpose, nor perchaūce withoute fruite.

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¶ A certaine brief description of the 4. ages of the Churche.
¶ The first age of the Church. 
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The four ages of the Church

Foxe then laid out the 'order or disposition of thys history'. His periodisation into 'five ages' of the church: 'the suffering time'; 'the flourishinge time'; 'the declininge time'; 'the tyme of Antichrist' and 'the reformation' had its genesis in a much lengthier and strikingly different passage at the beginning of the 1563 edition (1563, pp. 6-16). The influence of Bale upon his own sense of periodisation is clearly in evidence in the 1563 passage (see especially Katherine Firth, The Apocalyptic Tradition in Reformation Britain, 1530-1645, [(Oxford, 1979]). In 1563 Foxe concentrated on 'four ages' of the Church to underpin why he proposed to begin his history in the year 1000AD. The general principle, he explained, was one of progressive degradation: 'the lower thou doest descend, euer the more drosse and dregges thou shalt perceyue in the bottom' - perhaps the most widespread of historical notions underpinning the renaissance itself. Foxe chose simply to rely on a quotation from Tertullian in support of the general approach: 'id est primum, id rectum est' ('what is first, is right'). With allusions to Daniel's division of world history into the 'four sundry metals' and Seneca's conception of Roman history into four ages, Foxe offered the same for Christian history, offering an implied allusion to familiar contemporary divisions of the 'ages of man'. The first age of the church was derived, as he explicitly tells us, from Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, an age of apostolic egalitarianism and innocent childhood. It was succeeded by the second, 'flourishing age' of the church, a period of growth and adolescence. In 'the middle age' of the Churche 'she wrestled with sondrie sects, schisms and shismatickes, especially such as contended for supremacie' and 'decreased in spiritual strength' as she 'increased in worldly power, riches, donations, possession, & autoritie'. This period led directly to 'the third age of the Church', the 'latter age', in which 'here nowe beginneth the fresh flouring blud of the churche to fainte and strength to defaile, opprest with cold humors of worldly pompe, auarice & tiranny'. This was the period which he defined as beginning around 1000AD, and the one which provided a relatively clear point of departure for his martyrology in 1563. As he came to provide a more substantiated history of the early church in 1570, however, he had to modify very substantially this meta-narrative. He did so by deciding to start his narrative after the apostolic age. In so doing, he began it in 180AD and reframed the first age into 'the suffering time' - thus enabling him to situate the theme of martyrdom as the sign of the true church at the very beginning of his narrative. He retained the 'flourishing time' in something like its original conception, but divided in a striking fashion the fourth age into two: 'the declining time' and 'the age of Antichrist'. This enabled him at the same time to rationalize his chronology into sections that roughly corresponded to 'about 300. yeares' in length. So, beginning in 180AD, his first three 'ages' still corresponded to the period up to 1000AD. Slightly awkwardly, 'the time of antichrist' lasts 'the space of 400. yeares' until 'the time of Wickliffe and Iohn Husse' which is when the fifth and final age of the church was ushered in: 'wherein Antichrist beginneth to be reveled, and to appeare in his coulours, and his antichristian doctrine to be detected, & the number of his church decreaseth'.

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This new schema was one that offered a potentially attractive compromise between his insistence in 1563 that around the year 1000AD something important had occurred by way of the 'loosing of Satan' within the church, and the significance, revealed through his close reading of those volumes which had appeared from the Magdeburg Centuriators by 1570, of the early persecution of the church. Foxe was able to continue to insist in the 1570 edition that he focused on 'two tymes of the churche of Rome', the first being '600. yeares which were immediatlye after Christ' and the second 'the other. 600. yeares, which now haue been in these our latter dayes'. Foxe's views, however, on this subject did not remain static. In his later years, his 'Meditations' upon the Apocalpyse (Eicasmi seu meditationes, in sacram Apocalypsin) were the focus of much of his reading and reflection. One inconvenient result of his formulation in 1570, of which he must have been rapidly aware, was how precisely the early persecutions fitted into his overall chronology. In a small, but very significant addition to the 1576 edition of the text, Foxe illustrated his growing unease with the chronological profile he had sketched out. In 1570, he had glossed these 'two tymes of the churche of Rome' as follows: 'Of the which two ages and states of the Romaine church, the first I cal the primitue church of Rome The other I cal the latter church of Rome, countying this latter church from the thousand yeares after Christ expired, from whiche time Satan hath been let louse accordying to the prophesy of the xx. chapter of S. Iohns Reuelation [1576 addition: 'counting these. 1000. yeares from the ceasing of persecution, under Constantinus Magnus, to the begynnyng of persecution of the Churches agayne under Innocentius III. and Ottomannus the first Turcian Emperor']. And thus haue ye the churche of Rome parted into two churches, in double respect and consideration of two sundry states and times'. In 1576, he added the significant clause indicated in brackets here, thus quite dramatically emphasizing the millennial 'loosing of Satan' as occurring after the end of the ten persecutions of the church.

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The fundamental difficulty for Foxe, and for reformation historians in general, was to answer the question: at what date had the church become corrupted from its original and pristine state? Foxe's answer to the question was partly (as we have just analysed) to combine a more elaborate periodisation along with the continued juxtaposition of the 'two tymes' of the church. He also, however, refined the complexity of the issues in the question in 1570 by dividing it into 'four thinges to be considered'. They included the issues of 'Title': 'Jurisdiction': 'Life'; and 'Doctrine'. Foxe evidently hoped to provide something of a 'summary description briefly to declare as in a summary table, the misguiding of that church' - his aim being reflected in the highly structured nature of the material. On each aspect, Foxe provides a personal exposition which, whilst it draws for its material on a wide range of reformation sources, should be regarded as one of his most highly worked and thoroughly considered parts of the history. On the linked issues of papal claims to supremacy and papal jurisdiction, he drew on the earliest reformation critique of papal claims, engaging with the arguments of earlier papal defenders of them (Albertus Pighius; Stanislaus Hosius) and drawing upon the proof, originally advanced by Lorenzo Valla, that the so-called 'Donation of Constantine' was a forgery. Lorenzo Valla's work had been publicized in an edition carrying a preface from Luther, and it was a commonplace among reformation protestant historians to cast suspicion on any document which came from 'the pope Bibliothecarie'.

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Mark Greengrass and Matthew Phillpott
University of Sheffield

MarginaliaOute of an olde writer aboue 200. yeares.FYrst in the boke of the ecclesiasticall history. Liber 2. Chap. 1. we reade how Eusebius allegeth Clement, in the 6. boke of his disputations, writing in this maner. MarginaliaEcclesiasti. Liber. 2. Chapter. 1.Peter (sayth he,) Iames, and Iohn, after the ascension of our Sauiour, albeit they semed to be preferred of the Lorde, almost aboue all the rest, yet they did arrogate no glory of any supremacy vnto them selues, but MarginaliaIacobus Iustus bishop to thapostles.ordeyned Iames, called Iustus, to be the Bishop of all the Apostles. &c. MarginaliaNo striuing for superioritie amongst the Apostles.Wherby may appeare the singulare modesty of thapostles, in this primitiue age of þe church, who to auoyd all stryuing, for superioritie, amongst them selues, were contente to take this man, to be a Bishop or superintendent ouer them, and to succede as it were in the place of oure Lorde Iesus Christ. Moreouer in the. 3. boke the said Eusebius writeth thus: After the martirdome of Iames, and the persecution that folowed not longe after, it is said, how the rest of thapostles and disciples of the Lorde suche as then remayned, came out of all quarters together with such, as was of their kindred in flesh, & there had a common councel, who shuld be thought mete to succede Iames, and so all together, with one generall consente, agreed vpon Simeon, the sonne of Cleophas, to succede in the seate of Iames. MarginaliaNo prerogatiue in Peter aboue the rest.Yet we heare of no prerogatiue in Peter aboue the rest. MarginaliaSix sinods of thapostlees.Let vs come further to the 6. Synods of thapostles mēcioned in the Actes 1. where thapostles conuenting together, elected Mathias in þe place of Iudas. Marginalia22. where thapostles called a coūcell together wherof thus it is written. Act 6. They then calling the multitude of Disciples together, said: it is not mete for vs to leaue the ministrie of the word, and geue attendance to tables. &c. Marginalia33. The third Sinode of thapostles is mentioned, Act 8. at what time they hearyng, Samaria to receaue the worde of God, sent thither Peter & Iohn. & c Marginalia44 The fourth Sinode is mentioned. Act. 11. The worde came to the eares of the churche, whiche was at Hierusalem, & so they sent Barnabas to Antiochia &c. Marginalia55. The fifte Sinode we reade of Actes. 3. where the holy Ghost saith, seperate to me Saule and Barnabe, to the work, I haue for them to doo. Marginalia66. Of the sixte Sinod, mention is made Act. 15. Where Iames the bishop of thapostoles, speaketh vnto them. And than it so pleased thapostles and elders with the whole congregation, to chuse out of them certaine, as Iudas called Barsabas, and Silas, and to send thē to Antiochia, with Paule and Barnabas, wryting by them after this maner of salutacion: Thapostles, and elders of the brethern, to them whiche be at Antiochia, and Siria, and Cilicia, our brethern of the Gentiles, commendations with health. &c. And theise be the councelles of thapostles, in the which we see that Peter vsurped no more to himselfe then the residue of thapostles, nor they more, then the other disciples. And this was the first infancy and growing age of the churche, to the whiche age moste properly perteyneth humblenes of mind, wherof we read in the MarginaliaPsalm. 131.Psalme. 131. If I haue not humbled my soule, like the newe wayned infant, so therafter let my soule be rewarded. &c.

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¶ Of the second age of the Churche.

LEt vs now go higher frō the birth and infancy, to the nexte age of the church. After the dispersion of thapostles. when. S. Peter came to to Antioche, there he sat, & taught the worde of God, like a faithfull Pastor. MarginaliaActes. 1.In the whiche citie of Antioche, the disciples whiche before were called Galileans by the ii. Angels. Act. 1. now had a new name geuē them, and were called Christians. Peter there teaching a certane space, aboute v. yeare; after came to Rome. And there S. Paule also ioyning with him, according to the ecclesiasticall history, they taught the churche bothe together and gouerned it, the one as well as the other, whereapon the said boke of MarginaliaEcclesiasti histo. cap. 5 Liber 2.the Ecclesiasticall historye. Cap. 51. hathe these wordes: The churche, saieth he, being founded & builded, by the blessed Apostls (meaning Paule and Peter) MarginaliaLinus.inioyned the office of the bishoprick vnto Linus. MarginaliaAnacletus.After him succedid Anacletus: MarginaliaClemens.And after him again Clemēs. And before in an other place the forsaide autor, testefying the same thyng, hath these words, as folow: at which time (saith he) Clemens þe third, after Paule and Peter, entered the bisshopricke. And yet againe in his 4. booke, he saith: MarginaliaAlexander.Alexander succeding in the firste place, after Peter and Paule, gouerned the people of Rome, for then the word of God was preached in all places, not only in Iewry, but was sparsed in euery region, & the disciples replenished with þe holy ghost. &c.

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MarginaliaEccle. Hist. Libe. 4.

¶ Of
C. iiii.