Acts and Monuments - Books 10 - 12: Historical Introduction
by David Loades

These three books cover the reign of Mary (1553-1558), and constitute the climax of Foxe's historical and teleological argument. They also form one of the principal sources for the history of the reign. Much of the information which they contain can be verified, or modified, from other sources; but in some cases Foxe's narrative is unique. Oral sources are sometimes identified, sometimes not; all are equally unverifiable. Where written sources can be identified, sometimes they survive in their original form, sometimes modified, and sometimes not at all. The nature of these sources will be discussed in a proper place,[1] but it is important to remember when evaluating Foxe as an historian, that he was very close to the events that he was describing, had excellent contacts among the English protestants, and a clearly defined agenda.

The religious persecution which lasted from January 1555 to November 1558, and cost nearly 300 lives, was the Queen's policy. She was not generally cruel, but she considered heresy to be an evil which it was her duty to eradicate. Foxe, seeing the events of these years as part of a cosmic struggle, could represent her merely as an instrument of the false church, and hence as an agent of Divine judgement, but to the modern historian she was unequivocally the responsible authority.

Mary was Henry VIII's oldest surviving child, and the only surviving child of his first marriage. Henry had been English by both parents, but Mary's mother, Catherine of Aragon, had been Spanish by both parents.[2] Consequently Mary was by blood equally English and Spanish. She had, however, been brought up entirely as an English princess, had no Spanish servants, and had never set foot outside England. When Henry repudiated his first marriage in 1533, he did so on the grounds of nullity, and Mary consequently had been declared illegitimate. In order to secure these verdicts, the king had renounced his allegiance to the pope, and taken his realm into schism.

As a child Mary had been unusually close to both her parents, who had shared responsibility for her education. However, when the issue of nullity had arisen she was already a young adolescent, and her emotional commitment was entirely to her mother. When the crisis came, both Catherine and Mary refused to accept the king's decision, and both were placed under house arrest. Although forbidden to meet, they communicated using trusted servants and notes written, apparently, in Spanish.[3] This is the only evidence we have for Mary's knowledge of Spanish, and it is entirely circumstantial. Subsequent testimony suggests that her command of the language in later life was minimal. Catherine died in January 1536.

As soon as (and indeed before) his first marriage was declared null, Henry VIII had married again. His second wife was Anne, the younger daughter of Thomas Boleyn, later Earl of Wiltshire, and in September 1533 she bore him a daughter, who was christened Elizabeth. Mary hated and despised both Anne and her daughter, bitterly resenting the fact that the latter had displaced her in the order of succession. In April 1536 Anne fell from favour and was executed on specious charges of witchcraft and adultery.[4] Her marriage to the king was declared null, and Elizabeth thus also became illegitimate.

Mary expected complete rehabilitation, having convinced herself that Anne Boleyn was solely to blame for her own, and her mother's humiliation. To her intense chagrin, she discovered that her father remained committed to the schism which he had created, and enforced her submission upon pain of High Treason.[5] Her only consolation was that Elizabeth, now equally excluded, no longer outranked her. By the time this crisis was passed in July 1536, Henry had married again and his third wife, Jane Seymour, was studiously careful to be friendly to both her husband's daughters. Mary was now 20, and her health had been seriously undermined by the stresses of the last three years. Having secured her submission, however, Henry again became an affectionate father. Mary was received back into favour, and apparently reconciled both to him and to her new circumstances. The birth of Prince Edward in 1537 distanced her from the issue of the succession, and Henry's last succession act of 1543 replaced her in the order, after Edward but before Elizabeth without, however, legitimating either of the girls.[6]

When Henry died in January 1547, Edward succeeded without challenge. In the eyes of catholic Europe, Mary was the true heir because Edward, having been born while the realm was in schism from the church, was the product of an unlawful union. The Emperor Charles V carefully avoided exchanging greetings with the new king until it was clear that Mary was not going to press her claim.[7] However Mary, although insistent upon her own legitimacy (and consequently the illegitimacy of Elizabeth), seems never to have contemplated challenging her brother. The illogicality of her attitude puzzled Charles, but it may have been based upon no more than a pragmatic realisation that she would have stood no chance against an heir whose position in English law was unassailable. Mary's commitment to what was loosely called 'the old faith' was strong and well known, but exactly what 'the old faith' embraced during Edward's reign is less clear. When first the Lord Protector and then the earl of Warwick began to move the English church in a protestant direction, she objected vociferously and refused conformity. However, her declared position was always in defence of her father's settlement. She defended the mass, and many other traditional rites, and insisted on using them, but said nothing about the papacy or religious orders. The main thrust of her argument was always that her brother must make up his own mind when he came to his majority.[8] There was no suggestion that the royal supremacy was unlawful.

In fulfillment of her father's will, Mary was granted a substantial independent estate, valued at over �3,000 a year, and although her official title was simply 'The Lady Mary, the King's sister', she became by far the greatest landowner in East Anglia, and built up a substantial clientage, particularly from among the traditional Howard affinity, left stranded by the attainder of the Duke of Norfolk in 1547. She declined, however, to play any active part in the politics of the reign, apart from her ritual protests against the Prayer Books.[9] Conservatives tried to persuade her to claim the Regency when the Lord Protector was overthrown in October 1549, but she disclaimed any such ambition.

Mary continued to profess a warm affection for her brother, refusing to recognise the increasingly obvious fact that as he became an adolescent he also became a committed, not to say bigotted protestant. These views she insisted upon attributing to his advisers, particularly Archbishop Cranmer and the earl of Warwick, for both of whom she entertained the liveliest hatred. When it became common knowledge that Edward was ill in the spring of 1553, Mary at first expressed a sisterly concern, but she was provided with extremely accurate information from the court, and had probably concluded that his illness was fatal before either Warwick (now Duke of Northumberland) or the king himself had accepted the fact. She also knew at least a month before Edward died, that he was proposing to deprive her of the right of succession, naming instead her cousin Jane, grandaughter of her father's sister Mary, and married to Northumberland's youngest son.[10]

There was no shred of legal justification for this. The succession act of 1543 (confirmed by Henry's will) had declared that if Edward died without heirs of his body, the Crown should pass first to Mary and then to Elizabeth, provided that neither of them had married without the council's consent. Only if both had disqualified themselves, or died, should the Crown pass to 'the Suffolk line', which at this time would have meant Frances, Jane's mother. Whether the diversion of the succession was originally Edward's idea, or Northumberland's is probably beyond recall, but it was certainly the king who commanded his councillors and judges upon their allegiance to accept it.

Mary knew perfectly well what was going on, and as Edward's death became more imminent, she took herself off from the London area to her East Anglian estates, and the protection of her affinity. This time she not only had no doubt about the lawfulness of her claim, she also knew that she had a moral obligation to insist on it. Edward died on the 6th July 1553, and if it had been only his will which had sustained Jane's claim, then it could have been quietly abandoned. However, Northumberland also had an interest. Jane was his daughter-in-law, and he could reasonably have expected to dominate the new reign, as he had the old. At the same time he had every reason to believe that he could win. The councillors had committed themselves to the plan on oath, and the powerful protestant party would surely support a 'godly' candidate against one so obviously conservative as Mary. Both Mary and Elizabeth were unmarried, and it was argued that either or both might marry foreign princes and bring the realm into subjection - the very fear which had motivated so many people to support Henry VIII in his desperate search for a son.[11] Northumberland may or may not have cared much about the threat to protestantism from Mary's claim, but he cared a great deal about the threat to himself.

Even observers who supported Mary believed that she would fail, and Charles V made no move to help her, but Northumberland's whole position unravelled in a matter of days. When it came to the point, she was better prepared than he was. Her proclamations were written and ready to send out, and her affinity was ready to ride at a few hours warning. By contrast, Northumberland had virtually no men of his own, and no mercenaries. The troops he was dependent upon had belonged either to the king or to his fellow nobles, and were not reliable. Most important of all the protestants, with a few exceptions, declared for Mary. Foxe later claimed that she cheated in order to obtain that support, promising the men of Suffolk that she would make no changes to her brother's church, but in fact it came from many places other than Suffolk, and involved some of the most radical protestant leaders, like John Hooper. There were a number of reasons for this. Most probably believed that her conservatism did not extend beyond her father's settlement, and what was to be expected was 'religion as King Henry left it'. This was distasteful but bearable, and an inexperienced ruler could probably be influenced. Others (including Hooper) believed that the protestant establishment had failed to tackle sin and corruption, and that Mary was 'the scourge of the Lord'.[12]

But the most important consideration was the undoubted lawfulness of her claim. Whatever some radicals might later come to claim, in 1553 'Godliness' was not a necessary qualification for the succession, and throughout the trauma which followed, hardly a voice was raised to challenge the lawfulness of Mary's authority. Foxe certainly did not challenge it, however much he deplored the queen's actions.

This is a very important aspect of the historiography of the Acts and Monuments. Foxe consistently describes Mary as unfortunate, misled, and the victim of evil men, but never as evil herself. In spite of the fact that she insisted upon celebrating a requiem mass for Edward (an action which would have driven him apoplectic with fury), and swiftly revealed to her council her intention to restore the papal authority, Foxe's agenda did not allow him to hold her responsible. He was forced to gloss over the fact that both these decisions were made before either of his chief villains, Stephen Gardiner and Edmund Bonner, were in a position to influence the Queen's mind; and although he pointed out that Gardiner had changed his mind over the royal supremacy, he never drew attention to the fact that Mary appeared to have done the same.

At the same time, because she is the legitimate queen, she is entitled to marry whom she chooses, and although Philip is an affliction, he too is the lawful king. Consequently Foxe's martyrs, whenever they get the chance, profess their loyalty, very often coupling this profession with some variant of the qualification that 'but for evil councillors, they would do well enough'.[13] Unlike John Bradford (the Cheshire agitator, not the martyr) Foxe was not particularly anti-Spanish, and the good protestants whom he portrays never indulge in the kind of 'racist' language which appears in some of the contemporary propaganda.[14] Nor does his commitment to the royal supremacy ever waver, in spite of his dissent over such issues as vestments. Mary is the Supreme Head, whether she herself recognises it or not. In this respect, Foxe's logic was better than his history. The Henrician statutes had never claimed to create the Supremacy, but to recognise (and to enforce with penalties) an authority which in theory had always existed. Mary, therefore, with the consent of parliament, could lawfully withhold that recognition, however wrong it was to do so. Withholding recognition did not invalidate the authority itself, so we have Nicholas Ridley deliberately doffing his bonnet to the Queen's representatives, and replacing it when addressing the Pope's. This theme underlies the whole sad story. However unchristian and unlawful papal jurisdiction may be in itself, it has been enjoined in England by the legitimate authority of the Queen, and therefore it must be endured, and not resisted.[15] There is no trace in Foxe of the idea found in Christopher Goodman, and in some later writings of Luther and Calvin, that willful ungodliness dissolved the bonds of allegiance.

Secular magistrates like Edmund Tirell, although they may be described as 'great persecutors', and their cruelty deplored, are not accused of acting ultra vires, provided they follow the due processes of law. Occasionally Foxe alleges that burnings took place before the proper writ had arrived, and such action is sharply denounced. However, no magistrate is condemned simply for doing his duty, although he may be condemned for enjoying it.

The great scapegoats are the clergy, from Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, down to the 'fat headed priest' who tormented Richard Woodman. Although the intensity of the condemnation varies somewhat, they are regularly depicted as vindictive, ignorant and vainglorious.[16] This acrimony was not just because their calling put them in the front line of theological controversy. To Foxe the idolatry represented by the 'sacrament of the altar', which was one of the keys to their faith, was deeply evil. Every catholic priest was by definition self deceived and a deceiver of others; and the idea that his orders alone gave him authority over laymen was consistently rejected. A priest was a man using false doctrine to sustain unjustifiable claims to power and status. However, here too there were distinctions. A duly appointed and consecrated bishop was an Ordinary and had the authority of his office, just as did a Sheriff or a Justice of the Peace. A bishop, like a royal commissioner, might condemn a protestant under his jurisdiction unjustly, but he had the lawful authority to do so; other clergy, whatever their pretensions, did not. Whether the interminable wrangles about jurisdiction which feature in some of the martyr stories actually took place may be doubted. From Foxe's point of view however they should have taken place because an important issue was involved.

Foxe was writing to demonstrate, among other things, that the Roman church was the church of Antichrist. The persecution of the godly was thus an inherent activity, and injustice and cruelty were its natural methods of self expression. Indeed persecution was a defining activity of the false church; a true church being constitutionally incapable of such action. To be a priest of any status in such a church was thus to be an agent of evil. Catholic laymen, on the other hand, even zealous ones, are not essentially wicked. They may be gullible, greedy, misled or just frightened and confused. Foxe has no a priori opinion, so we get 'persecutors', 'false friends' and other enemies on the one hand; and supporters, helpers and prayer companions on the other. Realistically, we also get many indifferent bystanders, and magistrates discharging distasteful duties.

Foxe's approach to the secular history of the reign is sketchy, considering his proximity to events, but remarkably objective. He makes no attempt to make martyrs out of Wyatt and his followers, or anyone else who was executed for treason, except George Eagles, who he describes as falsely accused. Even Jane Dudley, that model of piety and learning, whose Godly end is celebrated, is not described as a martyr. Mary's false pregnancy is naturally set out in unsympathetic terms, but his conclusion is restrained. God intends the fiery purgation of his church to be short, and therefore intends Elizabeth to succeed. Mary is not being punished, because she is herself an agent of the Divine purpose, to which her childlessness and short life contribute. Nothing happens in England except by the will of God and to his glory, but the false church is not exonerated from responsibility. The allusion appears to be to the betrayal and death of Christ, which was ordained by God, but was still the responsibility of those men who brought it about. Like Pontius Pilate, the King and Queen might be held guiltless; but not the high priest. Rather surprisingly, the high priest is not Pole, in spite of the fact that the persecution was triggered by his arrival, and initially carried out largely by his Legatine authority. Foxe cannot possibly exonerate the Cardinal from responsibility, but he studiously plays it down, even making occasional references to his mercy.[17] Pole, like Mary, was a dutiful persecutor rather than an enthusiastic one; also he did not soil his hands with personal involvement. But he never made the slightest attempt to dissociate himself from the policy, nor could he have done so. Perhaps Foxe believed that he was half won for the Godly cause, and therefore saw reluctance where none existed; perhaps he respected his learning and royal blood. One or two other prelates, notably Tunstall of Durham, were also described as 'no great bloody persecutors', suggesting that Foxe's conscience as a recorder of events was not always subordinated to his need for a clear picture in black and white.

The Acts and Monuments teems with clerical villains, but the principals are Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, and Edmund Bonner of London. Gardiner, as Lord Chancellor and the senior prelate before Pole's arrival, was an obvious target. He could be represented as a turncoat because of his earlier support for the Royal Supremacy. He was the initiator of the early policy of arrest and harassment, and a warm supporter of the first burnings. However, he died in November 1555, when the persecution was less than a year old, and his successors in both his offices were comparative nonentities.

His role as chief tormentor fell naturally to Bonner, whose abrasive and sometimes brutal personality appeared to suit him admirably to the role. Foxe is unduly hard on the Bishop of London, who was caught in a very difficult situation. Not only was his diocese one of the main protestant strongholds, he was also right on the council's doorstep, and the recipient of a stream of instructions and exhortations. It was all very well for Tunstall in far away Durham to be easy on dissenters; Bonner did not have that option, and his attempts to intimidate his victims into submission in preference to burning them were very easy to misrepresent. Foxe was not responsible for dubbing the Queen 'Bloody Mary', but he was responsible for 'Bloody Bonner', who runs like a scarlet thread through these books of the story. The celebrated woodcut of Bonner flogging a victim in his orchard is probably the nearest thing to an authentic portrait in the whole Acts and Monuments.[18]

It is important to remember that, in describing the Marian church in these terms, Foxe was placing the persecution within the context of that struggle between the True and False churches which had been envisaged by John Bale.[19] Although Foxe is realistic enough to recognise that actual people (even priests) are never wholly bad, the false church is essentially evil. By the same token the members of the true church, however visibly they may be flawed, are essentially good.

Consequently he is writing in two modes. On the one hand he is telling stories, ostensibly as they really happened, keenly aware that many living people know the truth of some of the events which he is describing. On the other hand he is fitting near contemporary events into a cosmic struggle of unseen forces which can only be perceived with the eye of faith. The theatrical air of many of his martyr stories was not, however, created entirely by Foxe. Victims who were literate often wrote their own accounts of the imprisonment and examinations which they had undergone. Sometimes through the carelessness of the authorities, sometimes through collusion, and sometimes through the extraordinary ingenuity of their families and friends, a number of these accounts survived. They were, of course, written for the edification of their fellow protestants and were not necessarily (or even probably) accurate records.[20]

Had Mary and her church survived, they would have circulated clandestinely among the faithful, and constituted a literature of subversion. A number came into Foxe's hands, but their authenticity is almost impossible to determine. The carefully recorded behaviour of many of the martyrs was also stage managed; the prayers, the words of forgiveness, the sometimes dramatic gestures, all reflect the self consciousness of men and women aware that they have been cast in a life and death drama. Foxe had seen one burning in his Oxford days, and it seems to have made a deep impression upon him.[21] He did not actually witness any Marian executions, because he was out of the country, and was consequently dependent upon the accounts of eyewitnesses. Some of the stories were undoubtedly embellished with such details as opportune bursts of sunshine, and the reactions of unnamed spectators. His informants must often have been tempted to tell him what they knew he wanted to hear, but there is sufficient contemporary and independent testimony to authenticate at least a proportion of the tales of heroism and self sacrifice which he recorded.

Another heavily used source was letters; letters by the victims, to them, and about them. Although ostensibly private communications, these were also carefully composed works of edification, intended to be circulated, if not published. Many of these survive, far more than Foxe used, and something can be learned about his methods by observing what he reproduced, what he edited, and what he rejected. Because of his agenda, he removed expressions of opinion which did not conform to the standard of orthodoxy which he was endeavouring to portray. There were things which martyrs were supposed to say and do, and things which were not appropriate. Cases of such selective reproduction are noted, where appropriate, in the apparatus. In this connection it is also important to remember that the models of martyrdom had been established in the early church, and that in many cases the embellishments which Foxe added to his stories were designed to be reminiscent of one or other of the great heroes of antiquity.[22]

The Acts and Monuments, however, is not merely a latter day Legenda Aurea. Although much of his material came from sources with the same partisan agenda as himself, he also used official records of unimpeachable validity. Some of these he appears to have consulted himself, others were selectively transcribed for him. He used episcopal registers (which mostly survive) and the records of Pole's Legatine Commission (which do not). He was also given access, probably by Cecil, to the act books of the Privy Council, and in some places reproduced the wording of his source verbatim. Foxe was writing sacred history, but it was still history and his purposes would not have been well served if it could have been demonstrated that major parts of his story had been fabricated.

When it first appeared in 1563 his work was fiercely attacked, but the factual structure of who died, when and where was seldom challenged.[23] Most of the criticism focussed either on comments made about the role of the persecutors - many of whom were still alive - or upon the inclusion of victims whose opinions had allegedly been far removed from the Edwardian orthodoxy attributed to them. Many of the changes which took place between the first and second editions were for these reasons. In some cases Foxe was persuaded that he had been mistaken, or misled; more often new material was sent to him. The minor story of the burning of Rose Allin in 1557, which appeared in 1563 from the formal record of her examination and execution, was extensively embellished in 1570 from the testimony of one William Kandler, who claimed to be an eyewitness of some of the events.

The major changes introduced in 1570 take the story back from Wycliffe to Diocletian, and do not affect this part of the work, but there was a great deal of development, reflecting not only the availability of fresh evidence and response to legitimate criticism, but also changes in Foxe's own attitude. The powerful optimism of 1563 had become tempered with doubt as catholics continued to be tolerated and the programme of Godly reform was repeatedly blocked by the Queen. Foxe never doubted that Elizabeth was God's instrument for the redemption of England, but he began to find the ways of the Lord unexpectedly mysterious.

This part of the Acts and Monuments had a localised political agenda, as well as a broader eschatological one. Mary and Elizabeth were unreconciled enemies, for reasons which reached beyond their doctrinal disagreements.[24] As she recognised her approaching death in October and November 1558, the queen was obliged to accept her half sister as the heir, for lack of any acceptable alternative, but the two did not meet or exchange any message. Elizabeth not only demolished her sister's church, she also dismissed all her intimate servants and three quarters of her council. Although she was careful not to criticise her predecessor directly, the new queen signalled the repudiation of her policies with every public gesture.[25] To protestants such as Foxe this was God's work, and Elizabeth was compared to the Emperor Constantine who had rescued the church from its earlier ordeals under the pagan Emperors.

However, they did not see this as a complete or unconditional victory, and certainly not as their own victory. God had tested the English church, and found it worthy to proceed to the next stage of its probation. So much remained to be done. The appeal of the old ways was still strong, and every method had to be used to convince the people that the church of Rome was the synagogue of Satan. Consequently the catholic clergy had to be shown, with unwearying repetition and emphasis, as cruel, unjust, unreasonable and ignorant. They were malicious neighbours who betrayed those who trusted them, blindly superstitious, and greedy of power and gain. It might be axiomatic to the faithful that the agents of Antichrist would behave in such a way, but for most people the argument was the other way round. It was only by showing them so behaving that their true nature could be demonstrated.

The protestant writers of the early 1560s were engaged (and knew they were engaged) in what we would now call a 'hearts and minds' struggle; and if that was not won then the ecclesiastical settlement would not endure. No one believed, let alone knew, that Elizabeth would live for another forty years. Her achievement, like her life, was in the hand of God, and her subjects had to prove that they were worthy of their calling. This urgency not only helps to explain why Foxe wrote as he did, it also explains the support and encouragement which he received, particularly from William Cecil, Archbishop Matthew Parker, and Bishop Grindal of London. They saw, as clearly as he did himself, not only the general need for a protestant martyrology, but for one which went as far as possible to discredit their ideological enemies.

The participation of John Day in the project can be explained in the same way. He was a committed protestant who had had more than one brush with the Marian authorities.[26] He was an established printer on a fairly large scale, and a rich man. He not only printed the Acts and Monuments, he invested his own money in it. Like Cecil, he had a major vested interest in the success of the new regime, and was one of a substantial number of London citizens who supported the reformed church with money and with their international connections.[27] Such men might be broadly described as 'Godly', but it was not only religious considerations which motivated them. England's close involvement with the Habsburgs had brought war, serious disruptions to trade, and none of the benefits of access to New World markets which had been anticipated. The city of London supported the new queen's independent agenda for a number of reasons which had nothing to do with protestantism, but which could easily be made to appear virtuous.

Foxe's other main support came from a totally different quarter. During Edward's reign he had been in the household of the Duchess of Richmond, as tutor to the children of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, who had suffered a traitor's death in January 1547. In 1559 his erstwhile protégé, Thomas Howard, was the fourth Duke of Norfolk. Norfolk was not a particularly enthusiastic protestant, but he was a great friend and admirer of John Foxe, and it was in the Duke's household that the latter found employment on his return out of exile. For ten years, until he purchased his own house in 1569 he lived in one or other of Norfolk's residences, usually in Norwich or London, with an adequate living and no formal duties. Cecil secured him a prebend in Salisbury cathedral, which also required neither residence nor cure of souls, and between these two patrons he was able to pursue his studies and writing undistracted.[28] Foxe was not interested in ecclesiastical preferment, perhaps recognising where his principal talent lay, and in these favourable circumstances was able to complete the immense labour that was involved in the production of the Acts and Monuments.

For reasons which will be examined in due course, this great book should be seen as a whole, because it is directed to a single coherent end. However, the political context is that of the early 1560s, and the Marian persecution provides its immediate and overwhelming occasion. It is the supreme test described in these pages which represents the climax of Christian history as Foxe perceived it. The way in which he tells this part of the story thus provides most of the clues which are needed to understand his meaning, and assess the quality of his achievement.


See the section of this introduction by Dr. T. S. Freeman.


Catherine was the youngest daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. Her elder sister, Juana, was the mother of the Emperor Charles V, and theoretically co-ruler of Spain until her death in 1555.

Henry VII's father, Edmund Tudor, had been half Welsh and half French, so Henry himself was one quarter Welsh (and one quarter French), but he thought of himself, and was regarded by most of his subjects, as English.


Catherine seems not to have written in her own hand, but to have used either Anthony Roke or Miguel Soa, her Spanish physician. The only surviving note is written in English.

D. Loades, Mary Tudor; a life (Oxford, 1989), pp. 77-78.


There have been many detailed discussions of the reasons for the fall and execution of Anne Boleyn, but the two main interpretations are summed up in

E. W. Ives, Anne Boleyn (Oxford, 1986), and

Retha Warnicke, The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn (Cambridge, 1989).

It is possible that Edward VI regarded the charges against her as proven, which would explain his decision to exclude Elizabeth as well as Mary from the succession, in spite of finding her personally and religiously congenial.


See particularly Mary's letter to Cromwell of 26th June 1536.

British Library, Cotton MSS, Otho C x, f.283.

Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the reign of Henry VIII … (ed.) J. Gairdner (Public Record Office 1862-1932), X, p. 968.


35 Henry VIII, c. 1.

When Henry's first marriage was dissolved in 1533, it was still being argued that Mary was legitimate bona fide parentum, but that was overturned by the first succession act of 1534.

(25 Henry VIII, c.22).

No such argument could be applied to Elizabeth, who was bastardised by the second succession act of 1536:

(28 Henry VIII, c.7).

Neither of these acts was repealed until the first parliaments of their respective reigns, but the act of 1543 was held to be sufficient basis for both their claims.


Emperor to Francois Van der Delft (Ambassador In England), 20th February 1547:

'We went no further than this with regard to the young king, in order to avoid saying anything which might prejudice the right that our cousin the princess might advance to the throne ...',

Calendar of State Papers, Spanish, IX, 38.


For example, Mary to the Privy Council, 22nd June 1549; one of the letters printed by Foxe:

A&M, 1583, (Book 9 - not yet available - 2003) p. 1332.


D. Loades, Mary Tudor; a life (Oxford, 1989), pp 149-50.

In 1550 she made a half hearted attempt to escape to the continent, but changed her mind at the last moment.

D. Loades, Mary Tudor; a life (Oxford, 1989), pp 153-57.


Jane was the daughter of Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, and of Frances (nee Brandon), the elder daughter of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and Mary Tudor 'the French Queen'. She had been married (against her will, apparently) in May 1553 to Guildford Dudley. The origin of the scheme to devise the succession upon her is much debated. The traditional view, endorsed by

W. K. Jordan, Edward VI, The Threshold of Power (London, 1970), p. 514.

is that Northumberland bullied and cajoled the young king into this idea.

My own view

D. M. Loades, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland 1504-1553, (Oxford,1996), pp. 240-42.

is that the idea originated with Edward himself. There is no doubt that both were committed to it in the last few weeks of the king's life.


The idea that Henry's actions were almost universally unpopular, and that he coerced parliament and the country at large into accepting them is based on misunderstanding. Catherine was well liked, and Anne Boleyn was unpopular, but the king's need for a son was generally understood. Although many voiced criticisms, there was equally no shortage of those prepared to denounce such 'traitors', and the only serious resistance came after Catherine's death.

G. R. Elton, Policy and Police (Cambridge, 1972), passim.


See Hooper's letter to Heinrich Bullinger, 3rd September 1553.

Original Letters relative to the English Reformation, (ed.) H. Robinson, 2 vols. (Parker Society, 1846), I, p. 100.


e.g. John Bradford (A&M, 1583, p. 1608).


The copye of a letter sent by John Bradforth to the Right Honorable Lordes the Erles of Darbie, Shrewsbury and Penbroke (? 1556).

One printed copy survives in the British Library. A different version, modified for a protestant readership, survives among Foxe's MSS in the Harleian collection, and was printed by

John Strype Ecclesiastical Memorials III, App. no. xlv).

The anti-Spanish sentiments are equally strong in both.


As Story put it at Cranmer's trial,

'… the same laws [canon law], being put away by a parliament, are now received again by a parliament, and have as full authority now as they had then. … '

A&M, 1583, p. 1875.


e.g. The dealings of Thornton and others with John Bland.

A&M, 1583, pp. 1665-76.


Foxe's attitude to Pole in the later editions may have been influenced by Nicholas Harpsfield's critique of the first edition in

Nicholas Harpsfield, Dialogi Sex contra Summi Pontificatus, Monasticae vitae, … Sanctorum, … Sacrarum … imaginum … oppugnatores, …et Pseudomartyres (Antwerp, 1566).


A&M, 1563, p. 1689.

For a possible reaction by Bonner himself, see

J. Harrington, A Briefe View of the State of the Church of England (London, 1653), pp. 15-17.

M. Aston, 'The Iconography of the Acts and Monuments', in D. Loades, (ed.), John Foxe and the English Reformation (Aldershot, 1997), pp. 66-142.


John Bale, The Image of bothe churches (Antwerp, c.1545).


e.g. John Rogers:

A&M, 1583, p. 1492.


The burning of William Cowbridge in September 1538:

A&M, 1583, p. 1131.


Foxe explicitly compared Hooper to Polycarp:

A&M, 1583, p. 1512.

For an implicit comparison between William Tyndale and St. Paul, see:

David Daniell, 'Tyndale and Foxe', in John Foxe; an historical perspective, (ed.), D. Loades (Aldershot, 1999), pp. 15-28.


Most notably by Harpsfield in Dialogi Sex;:

Nicholas Harpsfield, Dialogi Sex contra Summi Pontificatus, Monasticae vitae, … Sanctorum, … Sacrarum … imaginum … oppugnatores, …et Pseudomartyres (Antwerp, 1566);

but also in letters and unpublished tracts.


This enmity went back to the days when Mary (aged 17) had been forced to live under house arrest in the infant Elizabeth's household. It seems that Mary not only believed that Anne Boleyn was a whore and a witch, but also that Henry was not Elizabeth's true father.

D. Loades, Mary Tudor; a life (Oxford, 1989), pp. 289-90.


Particularly in her reactions to the pageantry provided by the City of London for her coronation entry.

The Passage of our most dread Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth, through the City of London to Westminster the day before her coronation (London, 1559);

reprinted in

A. F. Pollard, Tudor Tracts (London, 1903), pp. 367-95.


C. L. Oastler, John Day, the Elizabethan Printer Oxford Bibliographical Society Occasional Publication 10 (Oxford, 1975).

See also the contribution of Dr Elizabeth Evenden to this Introduction.


Brett Usher, 'Backing Protestantism; the London Godly, the Exchequer and the Foxe circle', in John Foxe; an historical perspective, (ed.), D. Loades (Aldershot, 1999), pp. 105-134.


J. F. Mozely, John Foxe and his Book (New York, 1940), pp. 62-68.

Type a keyword and then restrict it to a particular edition using the dropdown menu. You can search for single words or phrases. When searching for single words, the search engine automatically imposes a wildcard at the end of the keyword in order to retrieve both whole and part words. For example, a search for "queen" will retrieve "queen", "queene" and "queenes" etc.
Humanities Research Institute  *  HRI Online  *  Feedback
Version 2.0 © 2011 The University of Sheffield