John Foxe as Historian
by Patrick Collinson

John Foxe disowned the title of 'martyrologist', the label most often attached to his name, almost to the extent that for English writers and readers of history it belongs to nobody else. Foxe wanted to be known as a 'story teller', which is to say, an historian.[1] (How we distinguish between story tellers and historians, and even whether we should make such a distinction, are questions to which we shall have to return.) What was 'history' for those who inhabited the sixteenth century? Until very recently, the standard accounts of sixteenth-century historiography were what historians, following Sir Herbert Butterfield, have learned to call 'whiggish', which is to say, broadly progressive.[2] The writers of history were awarded brownie points according to their capacity to write what, for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (but not, perhaps for the Postmodernist twenty-first century), was 'proper' history.[3] By the end of the sixteenth century, writers of 'politic' or 'civil' history, such as, in England, William Camden, were already getting there.[4] They had begun to resemble us, in their dispassionate approach to the subject and their respect for the archival record. But as Quentin Skinner and others have taught us,[5] that is not the way to write intellectual history. It is not our business to be cocking our ears for the first cuckoo in spring, or looking out for the first swallow which almost makes a summer. Sixteenth-century historians had their own protocols, which deserve respect, if we want to understand what they were about. When they loudly proclaimed their fidelity to the truth (a mantra, derived from Cicero, which they all repeated) we need to know what they understood by 'truth'. If, like Camden, they penetrated the archives, we have to ask what drove them to that arduous occupation.

First of all, what was history, for them? Conventional studies of English sixteenth-century historiography have followed a well-trodden path, taking us in a modern and secularising direction from the chronicle, assumed to have been an essentially medieval art form; whether monastic chronicles or those town chronicles which were structured by the mayoral year and obsessed, wrote a scornful Elizabethan critic, with 'the great frost' and other locally remarkable events.[6] Sixteenth-century chronicles went national, with rival versions of national history competing for the market: John Stow versus Richard Grafton. The genre came to its apotheosis with a blockbuster, the product of a consortium, which we know as Holinshed's Chronicles (1577, 1587), the principal source for Shakespeare's history plays.[7] The book was so large, so expensive, that this was almost a case of self-destruction. No printer could afford to update such a monster at regular intervals (but to be sure people did not throw their copies away, and Holinshed would continue to be read, for generations to come.) In the following decades the mega-chronicle broke up into more manageable and derivative genres: historical ballads published as broadsheets, pamphlets, soon the precursors of newspapers.[8] In much the same way, relatively cheap and ephemeral publications fed into Foxe's Actes and Monuments and out again, as broadsheets, pamphlets, abridgements, play texts.[9]

Presently the rather different discipline of 'chorography', falling somewhere between what we should call geography and history, accompanied by the precocious cartography of Christopher Saxton and his team of map-makers, began to give Elizabethan readers conceptual and imaginative possession of the land which they inhabited: William Lambarde on Kent, John Stow on London, Richard Carew on Cornwall. These and other 'perambulations' and 'surveys' came to a climax in successive editions of William Camden's Britannia (1586). Written originally in Latin for the intelligentsia of continental Europe, who professed a frank ignorance of the British Isles and its history, Camden's great work was naturalised for moderately well educated English readers, let us say the more bookish of the gentry, in Philemon Holland's translation of 1610, Britain, or a chorographicall description of England, Scotland and Ireland, beautified with mappes.[10]

The history of history in the sixteenth century, as it has been portrayed, 'how the West got it right',[11] was punctuated with big names, learned and innovative men who were thought to transcend English insularity and provincialism: the Italian Polydore Vergil, whose Anglica Historia (editions, Basle, 1534, 1546, 1555) was the first version of English history to test received accounts against the standards of critical humanist scholarship invented in Italy by the likes of Lorenzo Valla.[12] Polydore Vergil's demolition job on the mythical account of British origins enshrined in that twelfth-century work of historical fiction, Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia regum Britanniae (printed in Paris in 1508), provoked a patriotic backlash from the widely accomplished scholar and poet John Leland, whose English and Welsh itineraries were establishing the chorographical tradition in this country. Leland, backed up by Humphrey Lhuyd and other learned Welshmen, continued to assert the truth of the Galfridian myth of the foundation of Britain by Brutus, the grandson of the Trojan Aeneas, and they remained attached to the legends of King Arthur.[13] Why did Leland persist in his belief that a charter preserved by the monks of Westminster had been granted by Arthur, even when John Rastell, his inferior in learning, pointed out that Westminster had not been founded at the time that Arthur was supposed to have reigned, that in those ancient days such documents were not authenticated by wax seals, and that even if the thing had been so authenticated the wax would long since have perished?[14] These were the kinds of arguments which Valla had deployed against the fraudulent Donation of Constantine, and they had an affinity with the development of perspective in painting.[15]

Conventional accounts of sixteenth-century history writing have got hold of the animal by the wrong leg when they have had difficulty in explaining how the supposedly critical 'new' Tudor historians could continue to believe such stuff. As Anthony Grafton has taught us, in this post-Renaissance age the best critics were often the greatest forgers, and vice versa.[16] Their truths were not quite the same thing as ours. Annius of Viterbo made up a wholly fictitious pseudo-history which he attributed to the ancient Babylonian writer Berosus (who did really exist), in order to 'prove' that his native city of Viterbo was the cradle of 'Roman' civilisation. Another writer exposed the pseudo-Berosus, but proceeded to make equally implausible claims on behalf of his native Frisia;[17] while in Scotland Hector Boece, another product of a Parisian higher education, egged the pudding of a largely imaginary history of his own nation.[18] Your national origins myth is rubbish. Mine is genuine. The capacity to examine evidence critically was not an invention of something called the Renaissance (Geoffrey of Monmouth had severe critics in his own time) still less equivalent to more modern critical capacities. But the motives which determined its application to particular questions were not always those of disinterested scholarship.

And what of Sir Thomas More, whose own acutely critical capacities were kept firmly under control? More's fascinating and, as he began to use his pen to denounce heresy, less than fascinating works included one attempt at history: his King Richard III. As with everything that More wrote, especially Utopia, on which he was engaged at the same time, this was a slippery text. Was More's dramatic exposure of hateful tyranny intended to butter up the Tudors, as in Henry VII's speech after Bosworth, as rendered by Shakespeare? ('We will unite the White Rose and the Red. Smile heaven upon this fair conjunction.') But if so, why did More leave the book, in its Latin version, unfinished (he seems to have written in Latin and English more or less simultaneously)? Did he begin to fear that tyranny was repeating itself in the new dispensation: a prolepsis perhaps of what his own fate would prove to be? Was he even sending up the historian's claim to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, a sceptical interrogation of history itself?[19] More's account of Richard's usurpation made much use of rumour. That must have been self-conscious, even ironical, and appears to anticipate Sir Philip Sidney's comment, from later in the century, that the historian's 'greatest authorities are built upon the notable foundation of hearsay'.[20] (More would write of the radical common lawyer Christopher St Germain: 'all his some says be of his own saying.')[21]

But the sixteenth century itself considered that More was the only star in their historical firmament. As one Elizabethan wrote, he had given his country 'the only story worthy of reading.[22] More's history was ingested intact in the chronicles, Halle, Grafton, Holinshed. Shakespeare in The tragedy of King Richard the third put it on the stage, without much alteration, except of course in the spoken lines. Towards the end of the century, the Roman historian Tacitus was all the rage, the tersely judgmental account in his Annales of the corruptions of degenerative power widely imitated, even. we might say, plagiarised.[23] This Tacitean mode was an important source of the kind of 'politic' history written by Camden, with which early modern English history is conventionally regarded as having come of age. But Sir Thomas More had read his Tacitus (such of it as was then available) nearly a century earlier, and it is not clear that his account of the reign of Richard III was more 'primitive' than Camden's Annals of Queen Elizabeth; while it was in many respects superior to the history with which it can be most appropriately compared: Sir Francis Bacon's The historie of the raigne of king Henry the seventh (1622), a thinly-researched rhetorical exercise and a prescriptive political treatise, written for the instruction of James I and the future Charles I. For far too long Bacon exercised a dubious influence on later biographers and historians of the first Tudor monarch. Linear-progressive accounts of sixteenth-century historiography don't work.

We have still to put our finger on what is wrong with this way of handling the subject. It has imposed its own, anachronistic, understanding of what history meant for the sixteenth century. It is blind to the broader context of memory, and to applications of the past in early modern society and culture more widely and generally. Early modern discourse, both public and private, was 'saturated' in historical references and allusions.[24] Conventional accounts disguise the fact that most of the history which college tutors would have read with their pupils was what we call ancient history, either in the original Latin, or even Greek, or in the translations which took away the tears from this study for the less literate, and especially, perhaps, for schoolboys: North's Plutarch (1579), Chapman's Homer (an enterprise begun in 1598), Sir Henry Savile's Tacitus (1591). These translations were late excursions into a kind of cultural nationalism, a little like bible translation. A properly balanced bibliographical scholarship will tell us that Elizabethans of any learning bought most of their books from overseas, and that applied as much to history as to any other field of knowledge. Livy, in particular, (only rendered into English in 1598, by Camden's translator, Philemon Holland), was regarded as essential reading for statesmen and soldiers, and the Cambridge scholar Gabriel Harvey conducted more than one reading of this almost definitive Roman historian with students and friends, who included Sir Philip Sidney.[25] This may remind us of the master classes conducted nowadays by distinguished musicians. Sallust, the historian of the Catiline Conspiracy, who was a mode! for Tacitus, went through half a dozen London editions in Latin, and was not translated into English until 1608. (But Sallust, unlike Tacitus, wrote easy Latin.) When a Kentish gentleman, Thomas Wootton, writing a promotional blurb for Lambarde's Perambulation of Kent, commended to his fellow countrymen the reading of English history, and in particular Kentish history, he was making a novel and almost paradoxical suggestion.[26] The history professorship which William Camden endowed at Oxford we should call a chair of Ancient History.

But the history which would have been most familiar to sixteenth-century churchgoers, which is to say, in principle, everyone, was not Greek and Roman history but the Old Testament, the stories out of Exodus, Judges, Kings and Chronicles, and for those who listened to sermons and made notes of what they heard, the lessons from history drawn from the Old Testament prophets, Jeremiah and Hosea. These were the historical parallels most often invoked by the preachers, and by politicians too. A seventeenth-century preacher told his auditory that if they would not learn from history, this history, God would make them the next history.[27] When Elizabeth I was called to order by her subjects, particularly for failing to execute Mary Queen of Scots, the precedent cited was not the deposition of Richard II, or the murder of Julius Caesar, but God rejecting Saul (who had failed to kill King Agag) and choosing David in his place.[28] The wicked Old Testament Queen Jezebel was alive and well in the sixteenth century, identified by Protestants with Mary Queen of Scots, by foreign Catholics with Elizabeth, who had in the end executed Mary, if only, in her perception, by proxy.[29]

In calling the Old Testament into renewed existence in order to redress the balance of their own evil times preachers, and we must assume their hearers, did without a sense of anachronism, which is arguably an indispensable precondition for any mental activity which is properly historical. Ancient Israel and modern England were, if not quite one and the same place, 'right parallels'. London was for the preacher's purpose Jerusalem, over which Christ had shed tears. 'Oh England, England! Oh London!'[30] In the same way the speeches and characterisations to be found in the pages of Tacitus were made to fit more modern times and situations. Implicit in what may look to us like anachronistic plagiarism was the assumption, on our terms deeply ahistorical, even antihistorical, that human nature and behaviour are unchanging constants, and that once described in classical antiquity, it was not necessary to invent new descriptions of those qualities.[31]

If we want to find in the sixteenth century the sense of anachronism, of the past as another country where they did things differently, and as an ever shifting target, the essence of historical thought, then we have to turn from the history written in that century to other intellectual areas and pursuits, not at the time considered to be part of history. Antiquaries, in the sixteenth century, were a different species from historians, although William Camden with both antiquary (above all, as the author of Britannia) and, in his Annales of Elizabeth, historian. John Pocock even comments on 'a great divorce' between the two disciples. History, as Cicero had defined it, was a branch of rhetoric. 'Do you not see how far history must be a job for the rhetorician?' (My rendering of: 'Videstine, quantum munus sit oratoris historiae?' Tom Freeman hardly exaggerates when he remarks that Foxe 'lived in an age where originality in historical writing as in all forms of rhetoric and literature … was regarded as a defect.'[32] What antiquaries got up to was closer to what we should regard as historical scholarship.

And it was the labour of the antiquarians, moving progressively from the study of texts to the recovery of things, which we call archaeology, which worked with what, for 'politic' history, was almost irrelevant: a sense of the unattainable 'otherness' of the past. A particularly striking, and novel, feature of some sixteenth-century mentalities was fascination with the old, the obsession of antiquaries 'with the sight of old things', and almost, according to those who caricatured their labours, the smell of them.[33] It is less to the point that, in attributing to a Greek manuscript in his possession an original provenance associated with his seventh-century predecessor, Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop Parker was wrong, out by nine hundred years, than that he wanted to claim the utmost antiquity for that and, indeed, all other Greek MSS in his library.[34] There were many pasts in early modern England, not just the past of the self-styled historian. The lawyer knew of one past, the herald of another, the Derbyshire lead miner, whose very livelihood depended upon his capacity to invoke past traditions, and laws, of yet another.[35]

Let us single out language.[36] Those whose business was language were especially sensitive to both evolutionary change, and decay. At this time the English language was in a state of rapid evolution, importing more loan words, mainly from Latin, than at any other time in its history, and contemporaries were well aware of this, alert to the threat to native language posed by so much neologizing and lexicographical accretion, at the same time as they were thrilled by the promise of an enriched linguistic toolkit. In The arte of English poesie (1589), George Puttenham wrote of language 'by little and little, as it were insensibly, bringing in of many corruptions that creep along with the time.' He also wrote a treatise (now lost) on 'the originals and pedigree of the English tongue', adopting a rhetorical fashion from Italian and French models, celebrating the vernacular.[37] The schoolmaster Richard Mulcaster, who taught the poet Edmund Spenser, knew that languages are organisms which have their primitive beginnings, grow to maturity, but then decline into over-sophisticated senescence. Mulcaster believed that in his own day English was just right, standing where Greek had stood at the time of Demosthenes, Latin in the mouth of Cicero. (And since he wrote when Shakespeare had recently left school, who is to say that he was wrong?) But he warned: 'When the age of our people, which now use the tongue so well, is dead and departed, there will another succeed, and with the people the tongue will alter and change.'[38] The affinity of language and the sense of historical development is well captured in the adage: sensus grammaticus, sensus historicus.

II

It is time to turn to John Foxe, who was surely the greatest English historian of his age, a claim which we shall hope to justify. Why is this not acknowledged in the literature which we have been reviewing? Why does Foxe receive no mention in the chapter on 'Editing the past: classical and historical scholarship' in the relevant volume of The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain (2002)? The answer is only in part that Foxe wrote biassed, protestant history, and that in the nineteenth century and through the early decades of the twentieth it was a widely held and influential opinion that he was not to be trusted, reviving the charges laid against Actes and Monuments by Catholics in Foxe's own time, that it was a tissue of lies: 'so many lines, so many lies.'[39] If not the father of lies, Foxe was thought to be the master of inventions, and so readers of the Encyclopedia Britannica were advised and warned.

Foxe stands to one side of the canon for a rather different and more fundamental reason. Yes, he wrote protestant history, a history designed to replace the received, catholic history of the Christian Church, which made him the greatest revisionist of all time. But, more to the point, he wrote ecclesiastical history, which was understood to be a different matter from history, which for thousands of years before anyone said so in the nineteenth century was for the most part 'past politics'.[40] It had been defined and constructed as a separate discipline ever since Eusebius of Caesarea in the fourth century wrote his 'Ecclesiastical History' and claimed to be the originator of this new subject. As Ferdinand Christian Baur put it, in the title of a book published in Tubingen in 1834, Comparatur Eusebius Caesariensis, historiae ecclesiasticae parens, cum parente historiarum, Herodoto Halicarnassensi. A modern authority claims that the Church History was one of the four or five most important seminal works in the history of Western historiography, determining to a large degree the way history was written for the next thousand years, which looks like an underestimate.[41]

The fact that the sixteenth century cheerfully juxtaposed 'sacred', biblical stories with secular happenings might suggest that this was no more than a formal rhetorical trope. But it was more than that. When the first incumbent of Camden's Oxford chair complained that he was expected to lecture on ecclesiastical history, which was not his subject, Camden reassured him. He had no need to do so since this had not been the founder's intention.[42] Camden himself, in his Annales of Queen Elizabeth explained that he could not entirely omit 'ecclesiastical matters', since 'Religion and the Commonwealth cannot be parted asunder.' But he would deal with them 'with a light and chary hand', and indeed in the text which followed almost all his references to ecclesiastical persons and historians (and he must have meant Foxe) are disparaging. Dislike of enthusiastic religion, what on one occasion Camden called religious 'effervescence', was one reason for that. But all writers of 'civil' 'politic' history self-consciously cultivated a certain secularity of tone as well as of matter.[43]

III

As Freeman has remarked, ecclesiastical history on the Eusubian model expressed 'a different system of values'. Foxe displays the hallmarks of Eusebian historical writing: 'massive quotation of documents, indifference to stylistic conventions and the neglect of military and political topics'.[44]

Here is Foxe at his most Eusebian, in one of the prefaces to Actes and Monument, a passage which first appeared in 1563, and, with some few alterations, in 1570:

Nowe if men commonly delite so much in other Chronicles which intreate onely vpon matters of pollicye, and reioyce to beholde therein the variable euentes of worldlye affayres, the Stratagemes of valiaunt captaynes, the terrour of foughten fieldes, the sacking of Cities, the hurlye burlies of Realmes and people. And if men thinke it such a gaye thing in a common wealth to committe to history such olde antiquities of thinges prophane, and bestow all theyr ornamentes of wit and eloquence in garnishing the same: how much more then is it meete for Christians to conserue in remembraunce the liues: Actes and doynges, not of bloudy warriours, but of myld and constant Martyrs of Christ, which serue not so much to delight the eare, as to garnish the lyfe, to frame it with examples of great profite, and to encourage men to all kinde of Christian godlines? […] Such as these, are the true Conqueroures of the world, by whome we learne true manhoode, so many as fight vnder Christ, and not vnder the world. With this valiantnes did that most milde Lambe and inuincible Lyon of of the tribe of Iuda first of all go before vs, of whose vnspeakeable fortitude we heare this prophetical admiration: who is this (sayth he) which walketh so in the multitude of hys strength? Forsooth the high sonne of the high God, once conquered of the world, and yet conquering the world after the same maner he was conquered.[45]

The publication of Actes and Monuments was accompanied by a Eusebian renaissance, in the sense that in 1577 Meredith Hanmer, doubtless with encouragement from Foxe, to say no more, published the first English translation of his Church History (further editions in 1585, 1607, 1619 and 1637)

Most prefaces to historical works of the period are properly regarded as essays in the rhetorical genre ars historica. Often these elegant little orations bear little relation to the text which follows, especially when they invoke the classical value of absolute verity. Foxe was writing an ars historica ecclesiastica.

Eusebius's History of the Church is not prefaced by an essay of this kind. On the face of it, it is a painstakingly annalistic and factual work, from which its author never appears to stand back as far as Foxe stood from his own even more tremendous enterprise. It was however an implicitly apologetic work, not content with 'the way it was', the principle for ever associated with Leopold von Ranke, but concerned with 'the way it should have been'.[46] And it was the apologetics which explain the dichotomy which Foxe posited, between two kinds of history. Eusebius wrote: 'I am the first to venture on such a project and to set out on what is indeed a lonely and untrodden path. … As far as I am aware no previous Church historian has been interested in records of this kind; records which those who are eager to learn the lessons of history will, I am confident, find most valuable.[47] What other historian had found it appropriate to begin his story with God, the creation of the world, the Garden of Eden, and 'a conception too sublime and overwhelming for man to grasp - the dispensation and divinity of our Saviour Christ'?[48]

This providential and teleological vision, with a point of culmination, or at least fulfilment, in the conversion and triumph of the Emperor Constantine, distinguishes the Christian Eusebius from the pagan preoccupation with Fate, or Fortune, as the causative agent of a directionless flux in human affairs.[49] This was a history in direct continuity with the biblical record. As St John's Gospel put it in its final verse: 'And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.' It was the Roman Catholic historian Philip Hughes who noted that Foxe's martyrs (modelled on Eusebius's martyrs) were 'transformed into Scriptural figures, … all the drama of their lives … a Scriptural event, itself a part of, and a continuation of, the sacred story'.[50] Hence, the world-filling Eusebius, and hence, in due time, Foxe. It was the history of a people, even a nation (like Josephus's Jewish nation), sharply differentiated from the secular nation of Romanitas.

The new kind of history which Eusebius invented, the path which Foxe would follow more than a thousand years later, was in its method and conventions no less alien to the classical tradition of history writing, partly in the length of the timespan which Eusebius covered (most history in the classical tradition was quite recent history), partly in the kind of evidence employed. Eusebius was original in his extensive use of authenticated documents - Foxe's 'monuments' - and in his avoidance of invented speeches: in the words of a modern authority, 'more like an archivist's collection of material than a historical narrative'. 'Scissors and paste were the classical method of ecclesiastical historiography.'[51] This tradition persisted at least as far as John Strype, the early eighteenth-century historian of the Tudor Church, whom a detractor (probably Henry Sacheverell) called 'our modern appendix monger'.[52] This was Foxe's method, reproducing entire documents, with a special emphasis on the documentation of martyr trials, much of it supplied by the victims themselves. These are the most substantial of Foxe's 'monuments', and they underline the fact that the true and original meaning of 'martyr' is 'witness', witness to the truth in a truly forensic sense. The point was often made that the true judge in these processes was none other than God himself, whose judgments were in many cases summarily visited upon the corrupt earthly judges. Here Foxe was following Eusebius's contemporary Lactantius in his 'De Mortibus Persecutorum'.[53]

Foxe's history writing as essentially the compilation of original documents, sometimes of great length, has led his modern admirers to credit him, anachronistically, with 'modern' methods. A. G. Dickens used to say that among his other claims to fame, Foxe discovered the Public Record Office. He has also been credited with discovering a kind of social history, history from the wrong side of the tracks, since his martyrs included characters who would not be seen dead (if the pun can be forgiven) in the pages of a historian in the classical mould: a poor illiterate Cardiff fisherman, the daughter of a Suffolk farmer, raised not at the university but at the tail of a plough. In many respects the kinds of history nowadays labelled 'new', as in 'the new social history', derive from the model of ecclesiastical history, not from classical historiography.

The whole enterprise of Actes and Monuments was a sustained engagement with Antiquity, the replication of the Eusebian story in the entire history of the Church; more especially in its recent history, the history of an essentially Roman persecution in Foxe's own nation, although in the 1570 and subsequent editions Foxe pushed his story back to the centuries of primitive Christianity. As he declared in a preface on 'the utility of this story', theirs was 'the same cause and like quarrel':

Now then if Martyrs are to be compared with Martyrs, I see no cause why the Martyrs of our tyme deserue any lesse commendation, then the other in the primatiue Churche, which assuredly are inferiour vnto them in no poynt of prayse: whether we view the number of them that suffered, or greatnes of theyr tormentes, or theyr constancie in dying, or also consider the fruite that they brought to the amendment of posteritie, and encrease of the Gospell. They did water the truth with theyr bloud, that was newly springing vp: so these by theyr deathes restored it agayne, being sore decayed and fallen downe.[54]

The parallelism on which Foxe is so insistent is particularly evident in the most famous of all his narratives, the account of the martyrdom of Bishops Ridley and Latimer. When Latimer, in words which appeared for the first time in 1570, tells Ridley to be of good comfort and 'play the man', either he, or Foxe's informant (whose identity so far as this passage is concerned cannot be established), or Foxe himself, is consciously echoing the voice from heaven which told the aged Polycarp, for the post-Apostolic age a protomartyr: 'Be strong, Polycarp, and play the man.' (Latimer too is depicted as an old man.) Foxe took the story of Polycarp from Eusebius verbatim.[55]

A figure somewhat less sublime than Jesus Christ was the Emperor Constantine, but nonetheless climactic, and, indeed, in addition to his almost cosmic role in history, a supportive patron of Eusebius. Foxe comes closest to Eusebius in his perception, typical for his age, that Queen Elizabeth was another Constantine, 'right parallel', and he sought Elizabeth's patronage in the Eusebian-Constantinian tradition.[56] Dr Michael Pucci has identified four aspects of Foxe's characterization of Constantine: the instrument of divine providence, 'the historical instrument of God's temporal limitation on persecution'; the antitype of both ancient and modern persecutors; a true Christian; and the embodiment of the proper, indeed ideal, relationship between Church and State.[57] It is relevant, and important, that both Eusebius and Foxe embarked on their historiographical enterprises at a time of persecution, and then imposed the mentality of persecution and martyrdom on dispensations which were very different, when the Church enjoyed Constantinian peace, in many respects a distorting emphasis, inviting their readers to live in the constant memory of persecution, and even to prepare themselves for renewed persecution.[58]

Yet the age of persecution was over. Eusebius saw in the rise of Constantine the time promised by the prophet when the earth would be filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea.[59] Constantine, in Eusebius's very skewed perception, for Eusebius too was a citizen of Rome, writing not just about the Church but about the Empire, was 'God's friend', 'the champion of the good', 'pre-eminent in every virtue that true religion can confer'.[60] So Foxe, dedicating the 1563 edition of Actes and Monuments to Elizabeth, begins with the name of Constantine, and a great ornamented 'C' which encircles the enthroned figure of the queen herself. 'At length the Lord sent this mild Constantinus, to cease blood, to stay persecution, to refresh his people.[61] Admittedly in later editions, and as Foxe became less confident about the queen's credentials as a reformer, and therefore more admonitory, even prescriptive, the great initial capital became attached to the name not of Constantine but of Christ. But Eusebius's encomium for the Emperor, 'God's great Commander-in-Chief'[62] needs to be read with some care, since it is not always altogether clear whether he is talking about Constantine or Christ, who are rhetorically almost conflated, just as Christus Triumphans and the Emperor are one and the same in Byzantine art, the Ravenna mosaics for example. And if Foxe later toned down much of his uncritical adulation of Elizabeth, and disclosed some ambiguity in his attitude to christian magistracy more generally,[63] he stuck by Constantine (unlike some other protestant writers), and the Christian Emperor now became a model for the queen to emulate.[64] Similarly, Archbishop Edmund Grindal, a friend and sometime collaborator, in a letter attributed by Foxe to Bishop Nicholas Ridley and given an Edwardian provenance but more probably written by Grindal and addressed to Elizabeth, advised her to refer decisions on matters of religion to her bishops, 'according to the example of Constantine the Great and other christian emperors.'[65]

It was a source of difficulty and tension for Foxe to reconcile a perception of the Church as true because persecuted, a 'little flock', with a Church enjoying a Constantinian peace.[66] This was equally a problem for Eusebius and all his many successors as historians of the early centuries of the Church, and again it was a methodological problem. The clear line of demarcation between the Church as a nation in its own right and the secular state of the Roman Empire, which was sharply drawn in Eusebius's pre-Constantinian chapters, was hard to sustain when the Church became almost coterminous with that Empire, as Christendom. How could the church historian now manage to write his history as if it were a separate story when manifestly it was not? It has been suggested that only the Venerable Bede managed to effectively synthesise the two subjects as if they were one, in making the history of the English people an ecclesiastical history.[67]

A cruder solution, and one which has persisted into our own more recent past, was to write the history of the Church as essentially the history of its bishops and other clergy; the separate nation, or people, had become a separate, tonsured caste.[68] Thomas Carlyle complained about this clericalist bias in the nineteenth century, and only in the twentieth were the laity rediscovered, even as they began to play a more prominent part in the current affairs of many religious organisations; while the organisations themselves were becoming more sectarian, not so thickly entangled with politics, with politics in its turn disengaging, becoming more secular. There is a paradox here. Modern historians of religion deal as a matter of course with its many political and social integuments. They are proud to write 'religious history' rather than 'ecclesiastical history', at the very time when churches, denominations and sects are becoming once again discrete entities, with histories which it should be possible to write with rather less reference to the world beyond their doors, pulpits, altars and steeples: for the benefit of anyone who still wants to know about such things. But, of course, the market for ecclesiastical history in the narrow, denominational sense, is shrinking even as the churches themselves, like Alpine glaciers exposed to global warming, retreat.

To return to our proper subject, Foxe, from this disquisition on the changing parameters of ecclesiastical history: the clericalist solution to the subject's dilemma was obviously not one to which he could resort, since, for much of the story he had to tell, the clergy were the villains of the peace, functionaries of a false Anti-Church, not the repositories and guardians of truth; whereas the true Church had existed for many centuries as 'a secret multitude of true professors', consisting for the most part of lay people. So how was Foxe to depict the protestant clergy, and especially the protestant hierarchy? Here was another aspect of the circus trick in which the rider straddles two horses at once. When it came to assessing Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and the many internal contradictions which his life and career embraced, not least in its last twenty-four hours, Foxe's ambivalence is clear.[69]

The true Church for Eusebius had been defined by lineal succession. 'Orthodoxy was simply continuity with the apostolic church, heresy discontinuity.[70] Similarly, Foxe's contemporary, Archbishop Matthew Parker (with whom Foxe had an uneasy relationship), in his history of what he called the British Church, cast it in the form of seventy chapters on the seventy archbishops of Canterbury, he being the seventieth.[71] Such an emphasis on continuity in office was exceptional in the Elizabethan Church. For example, it was not an argument for the validity of that Church which it would ever have occurred to Bishop John Jewel to employ in his long-running controversy with the Catholic Thomas Harding.[72]

It follows that an important difference between Eusebius and Foxe and, for that matter, his mentor, John Bale, was that Eusebius's history was not a tale of two churches, the one true, the other false. As the first, pioneer historian of the subject, Eusebius had no need to challenge and reverse the judgments of earlier writers. Heresies, to be sure, had occurred, were wrong, and had to be put down. But they were sports, suckers from the true vine and the true stock, which would either wither of their own accord or could easily be pruned out; whereas Foxe was putting the axe to a monstrous trunk, reaching for the sky, as in the last scene of 'Jack and the Beanstalk', bringing that ogre, the pope, crashing to earth, while the true vine grew up from beside the corpse of the hideous giant, in whose shadow it had always obscurely flourished.

The axe Foxe wielded was the history of the Church, properly understood. He wrote in the preface addressed to 'the true and faithful congregation of Christ's Universal Church … wheresoever congregated or dispersed through the Realm of England' (a formulation more redolent of a kind of congregationalism than of an established, imperial church whose ideology he is often credited with inventing):

For first to see the simple flocke of Christ, especially the vnlearned sort, so miserably abused, and all for ignoraunce of history, not knowing the course of times, and true discent of the Church, it pittyed me, that part of diligence so long to haue bene vnsupplyed in this my countrey Church of Englande. Agayne considering the multitude of Chronicles and story writers, both in England, and out of England, of whome the most part haue bene either Monkes or Clientes to the sea of Rome, it grieued me to behold how partially they handled theyr storyes. […] Wherby the vulgare sort hearing and reading in theyr writinges no other church mentioned or magnified but onely that Church which here florished in this world in riches and iollity, were drawne also to the same persuasion, to thinke no other Church to haue stand in all the earth, but onely the Church of Rome.[73]

Foxe was the arch-revisionist, claiming to sweep into oblivion what he called 'this partial dealing and corrupt handling of histories', which he replaced with 'a full and complete story', opening 'the plain truth of times lying long hid in obscure darkness of antiquity', the bishops of Rome, 'under colour of antiquity', having 'turned truth into heresy'.[74]

IV

What, we now have to ask, were Foxe's intellectual and evidential resources in undertaking this colossal rewriting of history? Eusebius was a source in a more prosaic sense than has yet been mentioned. When, after 1563, Foxe pushed his history back to the early Christian centuries and the Apostolic church, Eusebius was one of his main sources, so that the early pages of the final version of Actes and Monuments consist partly of passages taken verbatim from Eusebius.[75]

But an inspirational source of critical significance was the last book of the Bible, Revelation, or the Apocalypse, and Eusebius was not an apocalyptic writer, and even had his doubts about the canonicity of the Book of Revelation. John Bale led the way for Foxe in a very different estimation of the authority, and value, of that extraordinary text. Bale's Images of both churches was after the reuelacion of saynt Johan the euangelyst[76] and so, no less, was Foxe's Actes and Monuments. Both churches! The Book of Revelation was the taproot for a dualistic vision of the true and the false in church history. The Apocalypse provided Foxe not only with a vision of that history which was martyrological and triumphantly proleptic ('these are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb' (Revelation 7.14)), but with a grand metahistorical footings, framework and chronology which, with some indebtedness to the Danielic tradition, was simply apocalyptic, and divinely paradoxical. That which had seemed to be true was false, the despised 'heresy' the simple truth. (Martin Luther was a master of that kind of paradox, the genre to which his Ninety-Five Theses formally belonged. But that did not mean that Luther shared the Foxeian fascination with the Apocalypse).

But no historian of the Middle Ages, not even Foxe, can dispense with the historical sources which the Middle Ages generated. So, just as John Leland rescued the material chronicles and other documents from the ruins of a religious system which he despised and disparaged,[77] so Foxe could not disguise his indebtedness to a historiography which was riddled with error, but whose utility was not to be denied. So, in that same preface, he acknowledged that his 'full and complete story' was 'faithfully collected out of all our monastical writers and written monuments', 'with a moderate discretion, taking the best of every one.'[78] Foxe included in his Actes and Monuments the fullest account ever heretofore written of the murder of Thomas a Becket, for all that he considered Becket to be 'far from the cause and title of a martyr … being a plain rebel against his prince.'[79] But he could hardly have done so without all those 'monastical writers'. How, we may ask (and Dr Freeman has answered), did Foxe have access to chronicles, most of which were not yet printed when he published the 1570 edition of Actes and Monuments? The answer appears to be Archbishop Matthew Parker, whose copies and editions of, for example, Matthew Paris and Thomas Walsingham, can still be explored in his library in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.[80]

But Foxe's history was much more than a bowdlerised plagiarism of what we call medieval chronicles. Whenever possible, he went behind the chronicles to original materials, and especially to the records of ecclesiastical processes, insofar as they concerned that 'secret multitude' who were the Lollards. These were exploited to the full, and indeed exhaustively, in Foxe's account of the trials of the Lollards of the Chiltern Hills, conducted by Bishop Longland in 1520-21. Because the 'register' of those trials which Foxe cites no longer exists, and through a willful misunderstanding of what a bishop's 'register' was (nothing about the Lollards in what we may capitalise as Longland's Register), the nineteenth century, which was engaged in its own enterprise of historical revisionism, basically the ditching of Foxe, suggested that Foxe, like all Protestants tending to Puritanism, was a liar who simply made these stories up.[81] This we now know to have been an absurd and injurious suggestion. Foxe never made anything up. In other cases involving, for example, Lollard heresy in the diocese of London in the 1520s, or in Kent in 1510, we can compare his account with the very sources he used, and which still exist.[82] Foxe was certainly capable of judicious omissions and of subtly misleading translations of terms in the original Latin, in order to suggest to the reader that these heretics were identical in their beliefs to Elizabethan Protestants, which often they were not. His history was not dispassionate and disinterested but highly partisan and polemical, arousing furious repsonses from his no less biassed catholic critics. But Foxe was not a liar, and, in the tradition of ecclesiastical history, he stuck more faithfully, even slavishly, to the documented record than many modern historians of some fame who could, but on this occasion will not, be named and shamed.[83]

The final point of reference in this anatomy of Foxe as historian must be the histories and martyrologies of his near-contemporaries on the continent of Europe. We tend to be insular in our approach to the subject of Foxe and his book. Although he wrote in English, for 'this my country church of England', and with particular reference to events in England, an account 'framed chiefly of the English Church', Foxe was not insular. Ever since William Haller wrote Foxe's Book of Martyrs and the Elect Nation (1964), Foxe has been misinterpreted as an Anglocentric writer who was interested only in the martyrological history of his own nation, to the extent that his Miltonic conviction that England was not only (like all other Christian nations) an elect nation under God, but the elect nation, was an intellectual taproot of the British Empire. Although people were capable of reading Foxe in as many ways as they chose, and of reading into Foxe elect nation notions (the study of the reception of a text like this must verge on a kind of postmodernist relativity), this was emphatically not the message which Foxe himself intended to convey. His subject was ecumenical, the Church (in Eusebian terms a nation in its own right), not the English nation, still less the future British Empire. The 1583 edition devoted 50 pages to Luther, 18 to the Reformation in Switzerland, and in 1563 Foxe had found room for 57 pages on Jan Hus and Bohemia.[84] Foxe's reliance on continental scholarship and erudition has been overshadowed by the Hallerian argument and needs to be acknowledged.

So the final port of call in our cruise around Foxe's credentials, methods and resources as a historian must concern his indebtedness to his contemporaries on the continent of Europe, historians of what we call the Middle Ages and of the Reformation itself. We cannot always trust the references which Foxe supplies. Unlike modern historians (and sometimes they too need to be told this) Foxe had not learned that he should cite only the source, whether in manuscript, print or oral testimony, which he himself had seen or heard. So in many many cases we may be confident that what he had actually read and exploited were not so much what we would call 'original' sources but, for example, the thirteen volumes of the massive Magdeburger Zenturien, compiled by a large team of researchers and writers based on the city of Magdeburg and managed by a Lutheran theologian of Croat origins called Matthias Flacius Illyricus.

In telling the story of the pontificate of Pope Sylvester II, Foxe cited Giovanni Stella, Peter the Praemonstratensian, Johannes Nauclerus, Antoninus, Robert Barnes and John Bale, when in fact the whole account had been lifted bodily from the Centuries. Dr Freeman tells us: 'Foxe was quite capable of reprinting a substantial portion of a work without supplying any indication of where it came from or even the fact that the words were not his own. More importantly, what appear to be Foxe's opinions or commentary can simply be passages transcribed from other authors and reprinted without acknowledgement'. Again and again, when Foxe writes 'in myne opinion', the opinion is not his at all but that of the source he was following, word for word. So whoever wants to know what parts of what he is reading in Foxe are Foxe, or Foxe's source, or what Foxe's source actually was, is engaged in an elaborate paper-chase, or exercise in orienteering.[85]

The Magdeburg Centuries, organised as one volume per century and apparently the source for our use of the word to denote a hundred years and as a basic (and meaningless?) tool of periodization, has been described as 'the first comprehensive church-historical work' since Eusebius, and (the Eusebian inspiration of the work will be obvious) 'a cornucopia of original sources', assembled in an extensive search 'from Scotland to Constantinople', employing an archival technique which Flacius had first learned in the school of San Marco in Venice. Freeman tells us that the Centuries will be found to be the sole source of Foxe's account of the primitive church, from St Peter through to the martyrdom of Marcellinus in the Great Persecution; although we know that Eusebius and his continuators lie behind the Centuries. But we cannot even be sure that Foxe had always done his homework in those thirteen massive volumes, since Flacius had usefully provided a smaller and more manageable source collection called Catalogus testium veritatis.[86]

We know that Foxe also made use of another work edited by Flacius and printed in Nuremberg in 1558: Ioannis Hus, et Hieronymi Pragensis Confessorum Christi Historia et Monumenta, as well as Flacius's source, the German chronicle of Ulrich Richtental, and references to Richtental in John Cochlaeus's Historiae Hussitarum Libri Duodecim (Mainz, 1549), which Foxe is known to have used for his account of Hus; and that these were the source of the woodcuts celebrating Hus and Jerome of Prague which appeared in Actes and Monuments.[87] We also know that the most prodigious woodcut in the 1570 edition of Actes and Monuments, a massive tripartite foldout, larger than three folio pages, depicting the first ten persecutions of the Primitive Church, while iconographically indebted to Albrecht Durer's great woodcut The Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand (about 1496), closely followed the account in the Centuries of the myth of the martyrdom by crucifixion on Mount Ararat (but impalement according to a German variant on the legend depicted by Durer) of a whole army of newly converted Roman soldiers.[88]

Foxe's dependence on his friend John Bale's Catalogus[89] was equally massive. The Catalogus was, after all, revised when Bale and Foxe were sharing the same house in Basle. And Bale, not Foxe, was the true author of the story of King John as it appears in Actes and Monuments.[90]

Flacius and Bale together contain most of the truth we need to know about how Foxe informed himself on many aspects and episodes of the history he ingested into Actes and Monuments. For, as Dr Freeman has shown, both Bale and Flacius were themselves ingesting and synthesising the work of several preceding generations of scholars, culminating in the immediately pre-Reformation German humanists and a number of Lutheran writers. What this means is that if Foxe had not spent the years of the Marian Exile on the Continent, acquiring, reading and otherwise familiarising himself with these deep accretions of continental scholarship, he could not have written the Actes and Monuments which we know.

V

The time has come to assess John Foxe as an historian. Was he, a Thatcherian question I once put, with tongue in cheek, to William Camden, 'one of us'?[91] To have established to what extent Foxe borrowed, ingested, plagiarised, and, in other words, did what all other historians of his time did, but did it on a more heroic and systematic scale, may be to lower him in our estimation. It certainly becomes difficult, even impossible, to evaluate his style and literary merit as a historian, which authorities as eminent as C. S. Lewis have done,[92] since often the words we are reading are not his. For example, the whole of the most memorable story of all, Latimer and Ridley at the stake, was supplied to Foxe by eyewitnesses, who we know to have been Ridley's brother-in-law, George Shipside and Latimer's Swiss disciple and amanuensis Augustine Bernher, with the apparent exception of Latimer's ever famous words to Ridley, the Polycarpian echo, which appeared for the first time in 1570, and which Foxe may just possibly have invented, as a piece of literary-hagiographical inspiration.[93] In this and countless other places Foxe acted as editor, not author. In a sense his great book wrote itself, or was written by the very people who were to be its readers.[94] In responding as literary critics to the many kinds of prose which we find in Actes and Monuments, we are listening and reacting to the many voices of the sixteenth century almost as a whole.[95] This is overtly the case when we read the letters of the Marian martyrs which the text incorporates and which, with suitable editorial modifications, were separately published by Foxe's collaborator Henry Bull, under the name of Miles Coverdale.[96] But in many other places, where Foxe is not writing within, as it were, quotes, we should not assume that it is his own voice that we are hearing.

Plagiarism? What is plagiarism? Even academic colleagues in the modern world, denizens of departments of English Literature and History, cannot always agree on what to rule out and what to rule in. And the protocols of Foxe and his generation were very different from ours. And yet while the word 'plagiarism', or 'plagiary', was not apparently known until a little after Foxe's time (1621 according to the O.E.D.) the concept was already accessible. Francis Bacon told Queen Elizabeth that Sir John Hayward was more likely to have been guilty of theft then of treason in writing his notorious Life and raigne of king Henrie the IIII because he had stolen his best lines from Cornelius Tacitus.[97] Milton wrote that literary 'borrowing', 'if it be not bettered by the borrower, among good authors is accounted plagiary.[98]

And Foxe did 'better' his many authorities and sources. He may have been what Sacheverell called John Strype, an 'appendix monger', but what an appendix monger! Just as Annabel Patterson has detected method in the incoherence, if not madness, of Holinshed's Chronicles,[99] Thomas Freeman, with rather more justice and reason, has demonstrated that Foxe was much more than an industrious compiler of materials. If he was more editor than author, he was a creative editor. He carefully shaped the sources he amassed and used to his own ends, even in what looks like so much detritus, the bits and pieces or leftovers with which Actes and Monuments ends.[100] The first target of this critical edition of the Actes and Monuments, inspiring further work where it has not itself hit the bullseye, must be to establish in detail what Foxe's sources were, the complex and genealogical gestation of the work. But that will lead on to a more informed understanding of what Foxe did with these building blocks, which is to say, what kind of history he was writing, and to what end.

[f1]

John Foxe, Actes and Monuments of matters most speciall and memorable, happenyng in the Church, with an vniversall history of the same. Wherein is set forth at large the whole race and course of the Church, from the primitive age to these latter tymes of ours ... especially in this realme of England and Scotland (London, 1583), p. 702.

All subsequent references to Actes and Monuments (A. and M.) are to the 1583 edition, unless otherwise stated.

I am grateful to Professor David Loades and Dr Tom Freeman for their comments on an earlier draft of this essay.

[f2]

Patrick Collinson, 'History' in Michael Hattaway, ed., A Companion to English Renaissance Literature and Culture (Oxford, 2000), pp. 58-70.

[f3]

F. J. Levy, Tudor-Historical Thought (San Marino, 1967).

[f4]

Patrick Collinson, 'One Of Us? William Camden and the Making of History', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th ser. 8 (1998), pp. 139-63.

[f5]

Quentin Skinner, 'Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas', History and Theory, 8 (1969), pp. 3-53; reprinted, with extensive discussion and input from others, in James Tully, ed., Meaning and Context: Quentin Skinner and his Critics (Oxford, 1988).

[f6]

A. B. Grosart, ed., The Complete Works of Thomas Nashe (London. 1884), ii. p. 62.

[f7]

Annabel Patterson, Reading Holinshed's Chronicles (Chicago and London, 1994).

[f8]

D. R. Woolf, 'Genre into Artefact: The Decline of the English Chronicle in the Sixteenth Century', The Sixteenth Century Journal, 19 (1998), pp. 321-54.

[f9]

Patrick Collinson, 'Truth, lies, and fiction in sixteenth-century Protestant historiography', in Donald R. Kelley and David Harris Sacks, eds., The historical imagination in early modern Britain: History, rhetoric and fiction, 1500-1800 (Cambridge, 1997), pp. 63-64;

Patrick Collinson, 'John Foxe and National Consciousness', in Christopher Highley and John N. King. eds., John Foxe and his World (Aldershot, 2002), pp. 31-34;

David Scott Kaston, 'Little Foxes', in Christopher Highley and John N. King. eds., John Foxe and his World (Aldershot, 2002), pp. 117-29.

[f10]

Richard Helgerson, Forms of Nationhood: the Elizabethan Writing of England (Chicago, 1992);

S. Tyacke and J. Huddy, Christopher Saxton and Tudor Map-Making (London, 1980);

William Lambarde, A Perambulation of Kent (Chatham, 1826, reprinted, ed. R. Church, Bath, 1970);

John Stow, A Survey of London, ed. C. L. Kingsford (2 vols., Oxford, 1908);

Patrick Collinson, 'John Stow and Nostalgic Antiquarianism' in Julia Merritt, ed., Imagining early modern London: Perceptions and Portrayals of the city from Stow to Strype, 1598-1720 (Cambridge, 2001), pp. 27-51;

Richard Carew, The Survey of Cornwall, ed., F. E. Halliday (London and New York, 1937);

T. D. Kendrick, British Antiquity (London, 1950), pp. 134-67;

Stuart Piggott, 'William Camden and the Britannia', Proceedings of the British Academy, 37 (1951), pp. 199-217;

F. J. Levy, 'The Making of Camden's Britannia', Bulletin d'Humanisme et Renaissance, 26 (1964), pp. 70-97;

Patrick Collinson, 'One Of Us? William Camden and the Making of History', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th ser. 8 (1998).

[f11]

Daniel Woolf, The Social Circulation of the Past: English Historical Culture 1500-1730 (Oxford, 2003), p. 8 n. 24.

[f12]

Polydore Vergil's English History, ed. Sir Henry Ellis, Camden Society (London, 1846);

The Anglica Historia of Polydore Vergil A.D. 1485-1537, ed. Denys Hay, Camden Ser. 74 (1950).

[f13]

Geoffrey of Monmouth: The History of the Kings of Britain, tr. Lewis Thorpe (London, 1966).

(The Historia Regum Britanniae was written c.1136, first printed in Paris in 1508, but long before that absorbed into a succession of English chronicles.)

Humfrey Lhuyd (tr. Thomas Twyne), The Breviary of Britayne, (London, 1573);

The famous Historie of Chinon of England by Christopher Middleton. To Which Is Added The Assertion of King Arthure Translated by Richard Robinson from Leland's Assertio Inclytissimi Arturii, ed. W. E. Mead, Early English Text Society, 165 (1925);

T. D. Kendrick, British Antiquity (London, 1950).

[f14]

John Rastell, The pastyme of people: the Chronycles of dyvers realmys and most specyally of the realme of England (London, 1529), Sigs. A-Aii, Ciii.

[f15]

Daniel Woolf, The Social Circulation of the Past: English Historical Culture 1500-1730 (Oxford, 2003), p. 3.

[f16]

Anthony Grafton, Forgers and Critics: Creativity and Duplicity in Western Scholarship (Princeton, 1990);

Anthony Grafton, 'Invention of Tradition and Traditions of Invention in Renaissance Europe: the Strange Case of Annius of Viterbo', in Anthony Grafton and Ann Blair, eds., The Transmission of Culture in Early Modern Europe (London, 1990);

also in Anthony Grafton, Defenders of the Text: The Traditions of Scholarship in an Age of Science, 1450-1800 (Cambridge Mass. and London, 1994), pp. 76-103.

Annius of Viterbo (Giovanni Nanni) published his Commentaria in 1498.

Amongst other mischief which he caused, see John Bale's lllustrium majoris Britanniae scriptorum … summarium … per omnes aetates a Japheto sanctissimi Noah filio (Ipswich, 1548, Wesel, 1549, Basle, 1557, 1559.)

[f17]

Anthony Grafton, Defenders of the Text: The Traditions of Scholarship in an Age of Science, 1450-1800 (Cambridge Mass. and London, 1994), pp. 102-03.

[f18]

Hugh Trevor-Roper, 'George Buchanan and the ancient Scottish constitution', English Historical Review, Supplement 3 (1966);

Roger A. Mason, 'Scotching the Brut: politics, history and national myth in sixteenth-century Britain', in Roger Mason, ed., Scotland and England l286-l815 (Edinburgh, 1987), pp. 73-74;

Peter Roberts, 'Tudor Wales, national identity and the British inheritance', in Brendan Bradshaw and Peter Roberts, eds., British consciousness and identity): The making of Britain, 1533-1707 (Cambridge, 1998), pp. 26-27.

[f19]

The Complete Works of St Thomas More, ii. History of Richard III, ed. Richard S. Sylvester (New Haven and London, 1963);

Alison Hanham, Richard III and his Early Historians, 1483-1535 (Oxford, 1975), pp. 152-90, 188-219;

Alistair Fox, Thomas More (Oxford, 1982), pp. 75-107;

Alistair Fox, Politics and Literature in the Reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII (Oxford, 1989), pp. 108-27.

[f20]

Sir Philip Sidney, An Apology for Poetry or The Defence of Poesy, ed. G. Shepherd (London, 1965), p. 105.

[f21]

Quoted, A. G. Dickens, The English Reformation (2nd edn., London, 1989), p. 120.

[f22]

Francis Alford to Sir Francis Waisingham, n.d., Inner Temple Library, MS Petyt 538.10, fol. 11v.

[f23]

J. H. Salmon, 'Seneca and Tacitus in Jacobean England', in L. L. Peck, ed., The Mental World of the Jacobean Court (Cambridge, 1991), pp. 169-88;

Malcolm Smuts, 'Court-Centered Politics and the Uses of Roman Historians, c.1590-1630', Blair Worden, 'Ben Jonson among the Historians', both in K. Sharpe and P. Lake, eds., Culture and Politics in Early Stuart England (Basingstoke, 1994), pp. 21-43, 67-89;

Lisa Richardson, 'Sir John Hayward and early Stuart historiography', unpublished University of Cambridge Ph.D. thesis, 1999.

[f24]

Daniel Woolf, The Social Circulation of the Past: English Historical Culture 1500-1730 (Oxford, 2003);

D. R. Woolf, The Idea of History in Early Stuart England: Erudition, Ideology and 'The Light of Truth' from the Accession of James I to the Civil War (Toronto, 1990);

D. R. Woolf, Reading History in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 2000);

Arthur B. Ferguson, Clio Unbound: Perceptions of the Social and Cultural Past in Renaissance England (Durham, NC, 1979).

[f25]

Lisa Jardine and Anthony Grafton, '"Studied for Action": How Gabriel Harvey Read his Livy', Past and Present, 129 (1990), pp. 30-78.

[f26]

William Lambarde, A Perambulation of Kent (Chatham, 1826, reprinted, ed. R. Church, Bath, 1970); pp. vii-ix.

[f27]

Patrick Collinson, 'Biblical rhetoric: the English nation and national sentiment in the prophetic mode', in Claire McEachern and Debora Shuger, eds., Religion and Culture in Renaissance England (Cambridge, 1997), pp. 15-45;

Alexandra Walsham, Providence in Early Modern England (Oxford, 1999), Chapter 6, '"England's Warning by Israel": Paul's Cross Prophecy'.

[f28]

Proceedings in the Parliaments of Elizabeth I, i. 1558-1581, ed. T. E. Hartley (Leicester, 1981), pp. 274-82.

[f29]

Patrick Collinson, The English Captivity of Mary Queen of Scots (Sheffield, 1987);

Patrick Collinson, 'The Elizabethan exclusion crisis and the Elizabethan polity: the Raleigh Lecture 1993', Proceedings of the British Academy, 84 (1994), pp. 51-92;

Patrick Collinson, 'William Camden and the Anti-Myth of Elizabeth: Setting the Mould?', in Susan Doran and Thomas S. Freeman, eds., The Myth of Elizabeth (Basingstoke, 2003), pp. 88-92;

Mark Taviner, 'Robert Beale and the Elizabethan Polity', unpublished University of St Andrews Ph.D. thesis, 2000, chapter 7, 'Robert Beale and Mary Queen of Scots 1563-1587: a "Succession" or "Exclusion" Crisis?'

[f30]

Patrick Collinson, 'Biblical rhetoric: the English nation and national sentiment in the prophetic mode', in Claire McEachern and Debora Shuger, eds., Religion and Culture in Renaissance England (Cambridge, 1997).

[f31]

Lisa Richardson, 'Sir John Hayward and early Stuart historiography', unpublished University of Cambridge Ph.D. thesis, 1999.

[f32]

John Pocock, The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law (Cambridge, 1987), p. 6;

Patrick Collinson, 'One Of Us? William Camden and the Making of History', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th ser. 8 (1998), pp. 144-46.

[f33]

Daniel Woolf, The Social Circulation of the Past: English Historical Culture 1500-1730 (Oxford, 2003), p. 148;

Christopher de Hamel, 'Archbishop Matthew Parker And His Imaginary Library Of Archbishop Theodore of Canterbury', Lambeth Palace Library Annual Review 2002 (London, 2003), pp. 52-68.

See John Earle's character of 'An Antiquarian' in The Autograph Manuscript of Microcosmographie (Leeds, 1966), pp. 26-30:

'Old women should like him well, for he is enamoured of wrinkles, and loves all things, as Dutchmen do cheese, the better for being mouldie and wormeated'.

[f34]

Daniel Woolf, The Social Circulation of the Past: English Historical Culture 1500-1730 (Oxford, 2003), pp. 170-71;

Christopher de Hamel, 'Archbishop Matthew Parker And His Imaginary Library Of Archbishop Theodore of Canterbury', Lambeth Palace Library Annual Review 2002 (London, 2003).

[f35]

John Pocock, 'England', in Orest A. Ranum, ed., National Consciousness, History and Political Culture in Early Modern Europe (Baltimore, 1975), p. 99;

Andy Wood, The Politics of Social Conflict: The Peak Country 1520-1770 (Cambridge, 1999).

[f36]

Daniel Woolf, The Social Circulation of the Past: English Historical Culture 1500-1730 (Oxford, 2003), pp. 36-37.

[f37]

George Puttenham, 'The Arte of English Poesie', in Brian Vickers, ed., English Renaissance Literary Criticism (Oxford, 1999), pp. 190-91, 225-26.

[f38]

Richard Mulcaster, The First part of the Elementary (London, 1582), pp. 82-3, 178-79.

[f39]

Patrick Collinson, 'Truth and Legend: The Veracity of John Foxe's Book of Martyrs', in Collinson, Elizabethans (London and New York, 2003), pp. 151-52.

[f40]

On the (contested) origins of the definition of history as 'past polities', see:

Patrick Collinson, 'De Republica Anglorum: Or, History with the Politics Put Back', in his Elizabethans, (London and New York, 2003), p. 7 n. 21.

For a robust defence of that principle and tradition, see G. R. Elton, Political History: Principles and Practice (London, 1970).

[f41]

R. A. Markus, 'Church History and Early Church Historians', in D. Baker, ed., The Materials Sources and Methods of Ecclesiastical History, Studies in Church History 11 (Oxford, 1975), pp. 1-17;

Glenn F. Chesnut, The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius (Paris, 1977), p. 31.

And see the influential contribution of A. Momigliano in 'Pagan and Christian historiography', in A. Momigliano, ed., The conflict between paganism and Christianity in the fourth century (Oxford, 1963), pp. 79-99;

and in his The Classical Foundations of Medieval Historiography (Berkeley, 1990).

For the Eusebian influence on Foxe, see:

Thomas S Freeman, '"Great searching out of bookes and autors"; John Foxe as an Ecclesiastical Historian', unpublished Rutgers University PhD. dissertation, 1995.

I am indebted to Dr Freeman for sight of his thesis and permission to cite it.

[f42]

H. Stuart Jones, 'The Foundation and History of the Camden Chair', Oxoniensa, viii, ix (1943-4), p. 175.

[f43]

Patrick Collinson, 'William Camden and the Anti-Myth of Elizabeth: Setting the Mould?', in Susan Doran and Thomas S. Freeman, eds., The Myth of Elizabeth (Basingstoke, 2003), pp. 87-88;

Patrick Collinson, 'Elizabeth I and the verdicts of history', Historical Research, 76 (2003), pp 469-91.

[f44]

Thomas S Freeman, '"Great searching out of bookes and autors"; John Foxe as an Ecclesiastical Historian', unpublished Rutgers University PhD. dissertation, 1995, pp. 48, 65.

[f45]

A. and M., sig. *vir

[f46]

Arthur J. Droge, 'The Apologetical Dimensions of the Ecclesiastical History', in Harold W. Attridge and Ghei Hata, ed., Eusebius, Christianity and Judaism (Detroit, 1992), pp. 492-509.

[f47]

Eusebius, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, tr. G. A. Williamson (New York, 1966), p. 32.

[f48]

Eusebius, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, tr. G. A. Williamson (New York, 1966), p. 33.

[f49]

Glenn F Chesnut, The First Christian Histories, (Macon, GA, 1986), Chapter 2 'The Pagan Background', Chapter 3 'Eusebius, Fate, Fortune, Free Will and Nature'.

[f50]

Philip Hughes, The Reformation in England, 3 vols., (London, 1950-54), II, p. 275.

Gretchen E. Minton, '"The same cause and like quarell": Eusebius, John Foxe, and the Evolution of Ecclesiastical History', Church History, 71 (2002), pp. 731-32.

[f51]

R. A. Markus. 'Church History and Early Church Historians', in D. Baker, ed., The Materials Sources and Methods of Ecclesiastical History, Studies in Church History 11 (Oxford, 1975), pp. 3, 9.

[f52]

Patrick Collinson, Archbishop Grindal 1519-1583: The Struggle for a Reformed Church (London and Berkeley, 1979), pp. 18-19.

[f53]

See Foxe's appendix, 'The severe punishment of God upon the persecutors of his people and enemies to his word, with such, also, as have been blasphemers, contemners, and mockers of his religion'. A. and M., pp 2099-2115.

See also Thomas S Freeman, 'Fate, Faction, and Fiction in Foxe's Book of Martyrs', Historical Journal, 43 (2000), pp. 601-23.

There is a definitive account of a parallel text, drawing upon the same generic tradition, and with some helpful references to Foxe's sources and informants:

Alexandra Walsham, Providence in Early Modern England (Oxford, 1999), Chapter 2,'"The Theatre of Gods Judgements": Sudden Deaths and Providential Punishments'.

[f54]

A. and M., sig. *viv

See Michael S. Pucci, 'Reforming Roman Emperors: John Foxe's Characterization of Constantine in the Acts and Monuments', in David Loades, ed., John Foxe An Historical Perspective (Aldershot, 1999), pp. 29-51; and

Gretchen E. Minton, '"The same cause and like quarell": Eusebius, John Foxe, and the Evolution of Ecclesiastical History', Church History, 71 (2002).

[f55]

Gretchen E. Minton, '"The same cause and like quarell": Eusebius, John Foxe, and the Evolution of Ecclesiastical History', Church History, 71 (2002), pp. 723-24.

See also Foxe's comparison of Bishop John Hooper with Polycarp (A. and M., p 1512) and his comparison of Laurence Saunders with St Laurence (A. and M., pp. 1998-99).

[f56]

Gretchen E. Minton, '"The same cause and like quarell": Eusebius, John Foxe, and the Evolution of Ecclesiastical History', Church History, 71 (2002), pp. 715-17.

[f57]

Michael S. Pucci, 'Reforming Roman Emperors: John Foxe's Characterization of Constantine in the Acts and Monuments', in David Loades, ed., John Foxe An Historical Perspective (Aldershot, 1999), p. 30.

[f58]

R. A. Markus. 'Church History and Early Church Historians', in D. Baker, ed., The Materials Sources and Methods of Ecclesiastical History, Studies in Church History 11 (Oxford, 1975), pp. 1-2;

Damian Nussbaum, 'Appropriating Martyrdom: Fears of Renewed Persecution and the 1632 Edition of Acts and Monuments', in David Loades, ed., John Foxe and the English Reformation (Aldershot and Brookfield Vt, 1997), pp. 178-91.

[f59]

Henry Chadwick, 'The Early Christian Community', in John McManners, ed., The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity (Oxford, 1990), p. 61.

[f60]

Eusebius, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, tr. G. A. Williamson (New York, 1966), pp. 412-13.

[f61]

Foxe, A. and M., sig. B1v

[f62]

Eusebius, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, tr. G. A. Williamson (New York, 1966), p. 387.

[f63]

Glyn Parry, 'Elect Church or Elect Nation? The Reception of the Acts and Monuments', in David Loades, ed., John Foxe An Historical Perspective (Aldershot, 1999), pp. 167-81;

Thomas S Freeman, 'Providence and Prescription: The Account of Elizabeth in Foxe's Book of Martyrs', in Susan Doran and Thomas S. Freeman, eds., The Myth of Elizabeth (Basingstoke, 2003), pp. 27-55.

[f64]

Michael S. Pucci, 'Reforming Roman Emperors: John Foxe's Characterization of Constantine in the Acts and Monuments', in David Loades, ed., John Foxe An Historical Perspective (Aldershot, 1999).

[f65]

A. and M., pp. 2128-31;

Patrick Collinson, Archbishop Grindal 1519-1583: The Struggle for a Reformed Church (London and Berkeley, 1979), pp. 97-98.

[f66]

Patrick Collinson, 'John Foxe and National Consciousness', in Christopher Highley and John N. King. eds., John Foxe and his World (Aldershot, 2002), pp. 23-30.

[f67]

R. A. Markus, 'Church History and Early Church Historians', in D. Baker, ed., The Materials Sources and Methods of Ecclesiastical History, Studies in Church History 11 (Oxford, 1975), 7, pp. 12-17.

See also R. A. Markus, 'Bede and the Tradition of Ecclesiastical History', in R. A. Markus, From Augustine to Gregory the Great: History and Christianity in Late Antiquity (London, 1983), pp. 3-19.

[f68]

R. A. Markus. 'Church History and Early Church Historians', in D. Baker, ed., The Materials Sources and Methods of Ecclesiastical History, Studies in Church History 11 (Oxford, 1975), pp. 15-16.

[f69]

A. and M., p. 1888.

[f70]

R. A. Markus. 'Church History and Early Church Historians', in D. Baker, ed., The Materials Sources and Methods of Ecclesiastical History, Studies in Church History 11 (Oxford, 1975), p. 6.

[f71]

De antiquitate Britannicae ecclesiae & priuilegiis ecclesiae Cantuarensis, cum archiepscopis eiusdem 70 (1572).

[f72]

The Works of John Jewell, ed. J. Ayre, 4 vols., Parker Society (Cambridge, 1845-50);

A. C. Southern, Elizabethan Recusant Prose, 1559-1582 (London and Glasgow, 1950), pp. 61-66;

Peter Milward, Religious Controversies of the Elizabethan Age: A Survey of Printed Sources (London, 1977), Chapter 1 'Anglican Challenge'.

For the developing and evolving stances adopted on the question of succession among apologists for the Church of England at a rather later period, see

Anthony Milton, Catholic and Reformed: The Roman and Protestant Churches in English Protestant Thought 1600-1640 (Cambridge, 1995), Chapter 6.

[f73]

A. and M., sig. *iiiv

[f74]

A. and M., sig. *iiiv

[f75]

Gretchen E. Minton, '"The same cause and like quarell": Eusebius, John Foxe, and the Evolution of Ecclesiastical History', Church History, 71 (2002), pp. 723-24.

[f76]

Katharine R. Firth, The Apocalyptic Tradition in Reformation Britain, 1530-1640 (Oxford, 1979);

Honor McCusker, John Bale, Dramatist and Antiquary (Freeport, NY, 1971);

Leslie P. Fairfield, John Bale, Mythmaker for the English Reformation (West Lafayette, Ind, 1976);

John N. King, English Reformation Literature: The Tudor Origins of the Protestant Tradition (Princeton, 1982).

[f77]

John Bale, The laboryouse journey and serche of Johan Leylande (1549);

The Itinerary of John Leland In Or About The Years 1535-1543, ed. Lucy Toulmin Smith, 5 vols. (repr. Carbondale, Ill, 1964).

Leland's rescue operations and their significance for the somewhat abortive Royal Library and for the Cotton Library are the subject of ongoing work by Professor James P. Carley.

[f78]

A. and M., sig. *iiiv

[f79]

A. and M., sig. *iiiv; the quotation is on p. 205.

[f80]

I am reliant here and for much of what immediately follows on Dr Tom Freeman's Introductory Essay, '"St Peter did not do thus": Papal history in the Acts and Monuments'.

[f81]

Patrick Collinson, 'Truth and Legend: The Veracity of John Foxe's Book of Martyrs', in Collinson, Elizabethans (London and New York, 2003), pp. 155-56;

A. G. Dickens, 'Heresy and the Origins of English Protestantism', in his Reformation Studies (London, 1982), pp. 364-70;

David Loades, 'Introduction: John Foxe and the Editors', in in David Loades, ed., John Foxe and the English Reformation (Aldershot and Brookfield Vt, 1997), pp. 8-11.

[f82]

J. A. F. Thomson, 'John Foxe and Some Sources for Lollard History: Notes for a Critical Appraisal', Studies in Church History, 2, ed. G. J. Cuming (London, 1965), p. 253;

Heresy Trials in the Diocese of Nonwich, 1428-1431, ed. Norman Tanner, Camden Society 4th ser. 20 (1977);

Kent Heresy Proceedings 1511-12, ed. Norman Tanner, Kent Records (Maidstone, 1997);

J. H. Fines, 'Heresy Trials in the Diocese of Coventry and Lichfield, 1511-12', Journal of Ecclesiastical History,13 (1962), pp. 160-74;

Susan Brigden, London and the Reformation (Oxford, 1990), pp. 640-47.

[f83]

Patrick Collinson, 'Truth and Legend: The Veracity of John Foxe's Book of Martyrs', in Collinson, Elizabethans (London and New York, 2003), pp. 159-69.

[f84]

Patrick Collinson, 'John Foxe and National Consciousness', in Christopher Highley and John N. King. eds., John Foxe and his World (Aldershot, 2002), p. 11;

Andrew Pettegree, 'Haemstede and Foxe', in David Loades, ed., John Foxe and the English Reformation (Aldershot and Brookfield Vt, 1997), pp. 278-94;

David Watson, 'Jean Crespin and the First English Martyrology of the Reformation', in David Loades, ed., John Foxe and the English Reformation (Aldershot and Brookfield Vt, 1997), pp. 192-209.

Brad S. Gregory provides the widest possible context for the European history and historiography of martyrdom in his Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge Mass. and London, 1999). See especially Chapter 5 'Witnesses for the Gospel: Protestants and Martyrdom', including sections on 'The Midcentury Martyrologies' (pp. 165-87), and 'The Protestant Martyrologies in National Contexts' (pp. 187-96).

[f85]

Thomas S Freeman, '"Great searching out of bookes and autors"; John Foxe as an Ecclesiastical Historian', unpublished Rutgers University PhD. dissertation, 1995, pp. 14-19;

Dr Tom Freeman's Introductory Essay, '"St Peter did not do thus": Papal history in the Acts and Monuments'.

[f86]

Oliver Olson on Magdeburg, and on Matthias Flacius Illyricus, in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation (New York, 1996).

[f87]

Margaret Aston and Elizabeth Ingram, 'The Iconography of the Acts and Monuments', in David Loades, ed., John Foxe and the English Reformation (Aldershot and Brookfield Vt, 1997), pp. 90-98;

Thomas S. Freeman, 'New Perspectives on an Old Book: The Creation and Influence of Foxe's 'Book of Martyrs', Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 49 (1998), pp. 317-18.

[f88]

Margaret Aston and Elizabeth Ingram, 'The Iconography of the Acts and Monuments', in David Loades, ed., John Foxe and the English Reformation (Aldershot and Brookfield Vt, 1997), pp. 101-20.

[f89]

Scriptorum illustrium maioris Brytanniae, quam nunc Angliam et Scotiam vocant: Catalogus a Iapheto per 3618 annos, usque ad annum hunc Domini 1557 (Basle, 1557).

[f90]

Tom Freeman, 'John Bale's Book of Martyrs?: The Account of King John in Acts and Monuments, Reformation, 3 (1998), pp. 175-223.

[f91]

Patrick Collinson, 'One Of Us? William Camden and the Making of History', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th ser. 8 (1998).

[f92]

Patrick Collinson, 'Truth, lies, and fiction in sixteenth-century Protestant historiography', in Donald R. Kelley and David Harris Sacks, eds., The historical imagination in early modern Britain: History, rhetoric and fiction, 1500-1800 (Cambridge, 1997), pp. 66-68.

[f93]

Thomas Freeman, 'Texts, Lies and Microfilm: Reading and Misreading Foxe's "Book of Martyrs'", Sixteenth Century Journal, 30 (1999), pp. 42-45.

[f94]

Patrick Collinson, 'John Foxe and National Consciousness', in Christopher Highley and John N. King. eds., John Foxe and his World (Aldershot, 2002), pp. 13-16.

[f95]

John King, 'Fiction and Fact in Foxe's Book of Martyrs', in David Loades, ed., John Foxe and the English Reformation (Aldershot and Brookfield Vt, 1997), pp. 12-35.

[f96]

Susan Wabuda, 'Henry Bull, Miles Coverdale, and the Making of Foxe's Book of Martyrs', in Diana Wood, ed., Martyrs and Martyrologies, Studies in Church History, 30 (Oxford, 1993), pp. 245-48.

Dr Freeman is currently engaged in editing the 'Letters of the Martyrs' (scil., Emmanuel College, Cambridge, MSS 260, 261 and 262) for the Church of England Record Society.

[f97]

The First and Second Parts of John Hayward's The Life and Raigne of King Henrie IIII, ed. John J. Manning, Camden 4th ser. 42 (1991), p. 2.

And see Lisa Richardson, 'Sir John Hayward and early Stuart historiography', unpublished University of Cambridge Ph.D. thesis, 1999, for the sheer and hitherto unsuspected extent of Hayward's 'plagiarisms'.

[f98]

Iconoclastes. Chapter 23.

[f99]

Annabel Patterson, Reading Holinshed's Chronicles (Chicago and London, 1994).

[f100]

Thomas S Freeman, 'Fate, Faction, and Fiction in Foxe's Book of Martyrs', Historical Journal, 43 (2000)

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