The Illustrations: Books 10 - 12
by Margaret Aston

The Acts and Monuments was one of the most ambitiously illustrated English works of its time, and as such it is important for judging the abilities and limitations of the art of the woodcut in sixteenth-century England. Foxe's woodcuts, like his text, reflect the use of continental sources, and the illustrations made a major contribution to the Book of Martyrs from the first appearance of the work in English in 1563. Their role in the account of the horrible and bloudye tyme of Queen Mary,[1] was, from then on, specially influential. A large proportion of the woodcuts was devoted to this climax of the martyrology in all four Tudor editions. In the 1563 edition, 30 out of 57 illustrations are in the account of Mary's reign, and in 1583 the proportion was also approaching half (to 72 out of a total of 153 illustrations). The large increase in the woodcut total took place in the much enlarged edition of 1570, when the pictorial element grew together with the text, and here too we find a concentration in the years 1553-58, which provided 77 of the 153 illustrations in the two volumes.[2]

Foxe's was an unusually famous book with an exceptional pictorial content, resulting in the claim that the illustrations entered national consciousness.[3] If we were to count the eventual number of illustrated editions and borrowed images of martyrs in different media (still reflecting, if growing away from, the originals) that may seem indisputable. Yet it is hard to estimate the impact of these woodcuts. They are vivid enough in their usual black-and-white form, and still more so when coloured like the copy of the 1570 edition in the Cambridge University Library, which perhaps approximates to the appearance of the book owned by Francis Drake, very likely illuminated by his young cousin John.[4]

We may suppose that portrayals of men and women dying in the flames were specially poignant for the first generation of readers and viewers of Foxe's great work, and for those who claimed family connection with or descent from the martyrs. It is possible that for people who were still close in time to the experience of the Marian fires, these stark portrayals spoke with a shocking directness comparable to the realistic impact of the atrocities of war on twentieth-century contemporaries who first saw photographs in Picture Post and, later, television imagery.[5]

Knowing about the horrors of death is not the same as seeing them. That said, we have always to remember that people of the sixteenth century, unlike today's readers of Foxe, lived with death and physical mutilation as experienced commonplaces (through both the order of nature and the penalties of the law), which must to some extent have affected their responses to the representation of martyrdom. No age is immune from enjoying frissons at the macabre, and public executions would no doubt collect a crowd in any society. Burning, it should not be forgotten, was a secular as well as an ecclesiastical penalty in Foxe's day. And that fact actually interacted with one of the woodcuts in the Acts and Monuments.[6]

Contemporaries certainly did not underestimate the effect that the illustrations had on the reception of the Book of Martyrs. Robert Parsons for one pointed to the poisoning of simple souls (those traditionally supposed to be most susceptible to the influence of images) by the deceptive lure of the representation of martyrdoms, which delighted the gaze of those unable to read the text.[7] The damage done by seeing the steadfast courage of a man or woman dying in the flames might be perpetuated by presence in imagination through the picture. It was Stephen Gardiner who admitted in 1546 that wilful death in obstinacie could serve for an argument, to prove the truth of their opinion.[8] A decade later, after the death of Rowland Taylor at Hadleigh in Suffolk, a preacher warned that perseverance was a develishe thynge for it moveth many mindes to see an heretyke constante and to dye.[9] It was that very constancy unto death that so many of Foxe's pictures were designed to imprint in faithful minds.

Foxe himself was surely well aware of the effect that depictions of the Marian martyrs might have on his readers He (and John Bale) may already have been on the lookout for visual sources while he was abroad in the 1550's and the first (Latin) edition of his work, as well as some of the images of continental martyrs in the first English edition, are suggestive of his visual interests.[10] His printer, John Day, must also have been closely involved in this side of the work. It is impossible not to suppose that author and printer collaborated closely over the provision of the illustrations as the book developed. Some woodcuts which were drafted in from other publications produced by Day's house could have presented models (or been on trial runs) for the author and publisher when discussions took place about the format of the English martyrology in the first and second editions.[11] Apart from the cases in which we know of such borrowing, there are some others in which it may be postulated.

Three striking woodcuts of a distinctive style, vividly representing martyrs in pyres, were used in Foxe's first edition with self-evident difficulty and expense for the printer, who had to arrange special layout for the pages on which they appeared.[12] Since these were all of exactly the same size and so conspicuously unsuited to the printer's needs, it seems most likely that they came from a borrowed source. But despite their misfit, they were not immediately jettisoned. One was replaced in 1570, another in 1576, but the third was still in use in 1583. Their reappearance, with the blocks trimmed at the sides (but still too big) is itself an indication of the enormous efforts that were made, both to illustrate the work to the full, and to use whatever material was to hand.

All told the provision of the illustrations called for a vast amount of work, even after strategic decisions had been made as to the allocation of topics, numbers and kind and size of pictures to be included. There long continued to be headaches over the layout, directions had to be given to the designers (which must have included providing them with access to text), and close supervision was called for over the tricky tipping in of the largest woodcuts. Given all the editorial burdens relating to pictures as well as text we should not underestimate Day's role, and it is entirely appropriate that he should himself feature pictorially in the book, both alongside the author in the large initial C at its beginning, and, more grandly, in the fine profile of his bearded head in the solitary dignity of the colophon.[13]

Before looking at the woodcut sequence in more detail, it is worth asking whether Foxe and Day were consciously breaking new ground. How innovatory was it to bring out an illustrated martyrology on such a scale? Was this large pictorial input in any way problematical?[14] By the time that Foxe began work on his martyrology, the Protestant reformers had imposed serious provisos on the role of imagery in Christian worship. Arguments against the use of images in devotional and ecclesiastical use and worship had gone far in many places, including England, in effecting removal and destruction. But we should pause before concluding that Foxe, in deciding to muster visual as well as narrative material in his monumental armoury, was in any way challenging this reforming trend, or that he and Day were deliberately avoiding potential transgressions. Certainly it was the case that other comparable Reformed martyrologies were as lacking in illustrative matter as Foxe's was rich in it. But there was another criterion that counted, beside the possible consideration of developing attention to religious proprieties inside the covers of books: the intended readership.

The works produced in the 1550s by Jean Crespin and Adriaan van Haemstede, though in their vernaculars, were austere books whose lack of pictures (as well as eventual scale) must have had an effect on their circulation. That was of course essentially the case with Foxe's Rerum in ecclesia gestarum of 1559, which contained only a handful of woodcuts, designed rather in the manner of title pages, rare adornments in a Latin text destined for learned readers. The English Acts and Monuments deliberately set out to win quite another, much broader range of readers. The trend Foxe followed - or decided momentously to join - when he set to work on his return to England at Elizabeth's accession, was that which promoters of the English Bible had by then long been promoting: to get his work into the hands and onto the laps or the reading desks of vernacular readers. And, in terms of the literacy of those days, that meant viewers, hearers, handlers of books and partial readers, those who were becoming conversant with letters without Latin. Such people could properly be attracted to learn by seeing, reading pictures with texts, hearing and seeing words attached to pictures. It was the leap from the defined world of Latin into vernacular use of this kind that was important. Combined with that was the ambitious readiness to place this broad appeal in a heavy folio - just the kind of book that most vernacular readers could not be expected to handle.

There was one great exception to this: the Bible. It was to be one of Foxe's extraordinary achievements that his Acts and Monuments acquired a near-biblical status. In the 1560s, when his first English edition appeared, that was not to be expected. But the biblical analogy is important for the role given to the woodcuts. For there was a Bible version that appeared in England in this decade that was illustrated just as lavishly as the Acts and Monuments, authorised at the highest level. The illustrations in the official church Bible known as the Bishops' Bible produced under Archbishop Parker's auspices in 1568 were themselves as firm a demonstration as could be that the English reformers fully endorsed the value of religious images on the page. Visual anxieties were defined by place and worship. Yet the story of the Bishops' Bible, contemporary as it was with Foxe's developing Book of Martyrs, also tells something of the nervous or extreme attitudes that reflected back on that illustrated book. For not only did Archbishop Parker have to doctor his borrowed woodcuts, but in the end his magnificently illustrated folios were displaced by church Bibles in which the scriptural text was unadorned. Foxe's book, with its borrowings from medieval iconography, could later be seen as aligned with Lutheran tradition, even cited in support of the restoration of church images. That was a supreme irony, given Foxe's own views, and the pictorial evidence in his book that pointed up the contrast between papal imagery and protestant rejection of it.

Yet there is a sense (alien though it would have seemed to the author himself) in which the relation ship between text and image in the Book of Martyrs was more comparable to Lutheran than Calvinist thinking. The word Description used in the heading of a number of the woodcuts [15] is itself indicative of the intermeshing of verbal and pictorial representation. Illustration and text were working together to present readers, hearers, and viewers of the open page with a full grasp of events. No image stood on its own. Its assumed role was to present in complementary form the passage it was related to. Words, either in the shape of headings accompanying the woodcut, or vital statements or names set within them, are always present, an integral part of the complete score, the comprehension of which was a double act of reading and seeing. See therfore I say, read, and behold your actes and factes. And when you have seen, then judge what you have deserved.[16] The presence of the image enhances comprehension of the printed page, to which in general the designers and cutters were faithful, to the extent that an image designed for the first edition might be rendered inaccurate by subsequent authorial changes to his text.[17]

Woodcuts could also be used to effect or advertise the author's corrections. One such concerned the picture describing (in this case not wholly accurately) several prisoners in the Lollards' Tower in 1555. The 1563 woodcut, showing four prisoners in the stocks, named them as T Leyes, Ri. Smith, Tho. King, and Androws upside down for William Andrew. By 1570 Foxe knew better. Richard Smith had become John Wade and Thomas King was corrected to George King, while in due course the printer got Andrew's name the right way up.[18] The fact that the labels of the seven burned together at Smithfield were left blank in the first edition indicates the way in which the blockmakers might hang on the author's information or instruction to avoid possible discrepancy between image and text.[19]

At the same time, careful as we may find the illustrators in general to have been in echoing the verbal reporting, they were also capable of going beyond it, and making their own unscripted contribution - with or without editorial consultation we shall never know. The way in which the woodcuts make an important contribution to Foxe's written words is in the attitudes of bystanders. It is the illustrations, not the text, that give readers more than hints that Bishop Bonner's cruelty was so extreme (burning hands or beating) that even his own servants were shocked.[20]

It is the woodcuts too that enable readers to stand in imagination alongside contemporary witnesses, understanding something of the feelings of those who were present. Some martyrdoms show only the figures of officials in charge of the event, the sheriff, mounted (identifiable by the official badge on his hat), and the armed men who guard the crowds with their halberds at the ready, sometimes making a kind of spiked fence around the scene. On other occasions the presence of the people becomes an opportunity to show animated participation (as at the burning of thirteen at Stratford) or, alternatively, the impassive patience of a great throng, almost breathless with expectation (as at the burning of Latimer and Ridley), apparently silent as they listened in awe at the exchanges before the crackle of the lighted pyre. It may even seem possible to engage in eye-contact with a sufferer (such as the young woman among the prisoners being taken up to London from Colchester, who turns aside looking towards the reader) or with a bystander (like the man glimpsed full face between sherrif and pyre of the seven martyrs of Smithfield).[21] Such contributions to the drama of events were interpretations which had considerable bearing on viewers' readings, and it has to be supposed that there were collaborative discussions as the preparations for the illustrations went ahead.

The uneven distribution of the woodcuts through the work is itself a reflection of the grand concept embodied in the title: Acts and Monuments. Some strategic decisions settled the allotment of the pictorial to the grand design. The early church was given restricted illustration in the shape of the single huge foldout of the ten first persecutions, hinged to the text by the page references within it. If the evangelical witness of those who had suffered in recent persecutions consisted of these two forms of transitory performed deeds and lasting memorial, the core of the record resided in the scripted testimony. There was no call to add pictures to the trials and letters of the men and women who were ready to put their lives at risk for their fidelity to the word. So the word remains supreme and alone throughout the many pages of Foxe's book in which the record of evangelical fidelity stands on its own, in unpictured script. But these monuments were proved by acts, and the acts of martyrs suffering at the hands of persecuting Romish Prelates, a part of the story that lay beyond as well as in words, called for pictorial representation. The choice of emphasis in portraying the leading martyrs bears some relationship to their literary record. Those singled out for notable illustration were the individuals whose writings were printed in the 1564 edition of Certain most godly… letters of … Saints and … Martyrs. John Bradford, whose letters occupied more space in this work than any other martyr, was alone in being given three large woodcuts in the Book of Martyrs, while John Philpot, together with Archbishop Cranmer and Bishop Latimer made two visual appearances each, the latter sharing one of the largest images with Ridley in the picture of their joint martyrdom in Oxford. Yet, as we try to assess the pictorial coverage, questions may remain about martyrs who were not portrayed at all, or who were not given large woodcuts.

John Day's combined use of blocks in Foxe's work and other publications of his house might suggest some co-ordinated planning. Foxe's Rerum in Ecclesia Gestarum of 1559 had already included some woodcuts, and pictorial planning (and picture collecting) may already have been in his head before his return to England. Day's input into the new English martyrology is undoubted. The large woodcut of Latimer preaching before Edward VI first appeared in the 1562 edition of Latimer's 27 sermons, a quarto volume for which it was unsuited.[22] It reappeared the following year in Foxe's first English Book of Martyrs,alongside a number of other large woodcuts all of which were approximately the same size. This seems to indicate that Day may already have had in hand detailed plans and perhaps also a number of woodblocks for the new work that was to be published in 1563. And it is also conceivable, since these large cuts were misfits on the page of Foxe's 1563 edition, that ideas might have already existed for a wider folio which eventually (and more expansively and expensively) printed them on pages they properly fitted. The forward planning of the pictorial scheme may remain unfathomable, but perhaps another clue for the 1570 edition lies in the small woodcut of six martyrs in flames that found repeated use in the expanded editions of the Acts and Monuments. This scene (which was used five times in 1570 and 1583) first appeared as the sole illustration in the 1564 edition of the Letters of … Martyrs. It too could have been a prototype for the series of small cuts that first featured in Foxe's second 1570 edition. For its dimensions (and formula) correspond exactly with the smaller single-column cuts produced for that edition.[23]

The woodcuts of the 1570 and later editions fall into three categories, differing in size and content.[24] First there are the large cuts, all of a more or less uniform size (of about 13 x 18 cm filling half the page and spanning both columns of text),[25] that represent historical scenes in the narrative, and which in the main are faithful pictorial accounts of Foxe's words. Second, there are the more numerous smaller portrait-shaped cuts (all measuring approximately 108 x 70 mm) depicting martyrs - one, two, or up to ten together - at the stake. And third there are some much larger woodcuts of major events.

In the 1563 edition it was the larger narrative scenes which constituted the main part of the illustrations, and although their content proves them to have been designed for the text, they do not sit happily on the pages of the book. A number of the earlier woodcuts were tipped in where spaces had been left in the text and had no headings. Even when, as work progressed, they were incorporated in the text (and duly headed) they spilled out beyond the printed columns, allowing no room for the marginal information which in later editions helped to guide and inform the reader, and modern binding in some cases takes one side into the gutter.[26]

In 1570 and thereafter the printer improved this unsatisfactory situation by widening the page layout so that the columns of text matched the breadth of the woodcuts. John Day also experienced difficulties with the third type of illustration: the very large woodcuts of particularly significant events in Foxe's history. These were too big to fit conveniently on the page, and the expedient adopted was that of tipping them in as fold-outs. The grandiose fully peopled scenes of this kind to be found in the account of Mary's reign are of the two great themes of Foxe's history: martyrdom and persecution. The Table describing the burning of Bishop Ridley and Father Latimer at Oxford shows the moment before the lighting of the fire that consumed two of England's leading Protestants; it is depicted as a scene of ceremonial stillness and credal tension. By contrast, The order and maner of burning M. Martin Bucers and Paulus Phagius bones at Cambridge, shows the other side; a huge procession of the persecuting church circles round the towering flames in which the exhumed bodies of the continental reformers were being burned in two new coffins.

Unpaginated, loosely attached woodcuts of this kind were at risk, and even if these two were not intended (as some others of this kind in earlier books may have been) to serve decorative or instructive purposes outside the book, they were often damaged or went missing. Problems of this kind were obviated in the 1570 edition by printing both these woodcuts sideways in the paginated text, and giving them additional headings at the top of the page. The fact that the 1583 edition reverted to the earlier method is one of the signs that the illustrations, like the text itself, continued to be remodelled by Foxe and his printer. One might indeed suppose that the changes in the design and layout of the entire work which took place in 1570 and 1583 could well have been dictated in part by the requirements of the illustrations, and in the latter fine edition the aesthetics of the page were allowed to take precedence over some aspects of its content and accuracy.[27]

The major change in pictorial input took place in 1570, but while the main woodcut series was repeated from 1563 to 1583, the woodblocks (showing some signs of wear and tear through reuse) were not left unaltered. Changes were made both to the texts of their titles, and to the words on the blocks themselves. Sometimes these alterations were corrections, such as the one already mentioned. Other such alterations are, however, less easily accounted for. The words of the martyrs set in bandaroles scrolling from their mouths were all continually altered from edition to edition - not as to content, but in the form of lettering and spelling and punctuation sometimes resulting in damage to the outline of the label.

In the case of John Hooper, Lord Jesu receive my soul in gothic in 1563 was changed to italic Lord lesu receave my soule in 1570 and then to roman form in both 1576 and 1583, but with different spellings. Cranmer's Lord receive my spirit alternated between roman and italic (also with minor spelling changes) in each edition. What was the reason for this? If the choice of typeface here was a matter for the compositors, was it some printerly perfectionism that effected these changes of lettering and sometimes positioning of the text? Or should we rather see these seemingly fiddly alterations as a reflection of the great importance of these final utterances? Obviously thought continued to be devoted to them, witness the translation of Ridley's In manus tuas domine into English in 1570 and back again into Latin in 1583. They were an integral and repeating part of the depictions of all the leading martyrs, and it is worth noticing their inclusion even in those scenes of the moments before the pyres were lit - necessitating a temporal juggling which appears to have caused no sense of unease. Laurence Saunders was shown as his chain was being nailed to the stake at the same time as uttering the words Welcome life - in a bandarole whose emptiness in the first edition points to the blockmaker's lack of necessary instruction. The almost sacred import of martyrs' last words is powerfully suggested by John Bunyan's placing echoes and imitations of them in the mouths of Stand-fast and other characters, including Mr Ready-to-Halt, who used Saunders' Welcome life.[28] Yet, weighty though these utterances appear to have been, the words by which Latimer became immortalised were not those scrolling from his mouth in Foxe's picture, but his attributed comforting of Ridley with the thought of their flaming bodies lighting an inextinguishable candle.[29]

The theatrical propaganda value of such last words was of course not limited to Protestant martyrs. The same soteriological importance came also to be attributed to the final speech of the English Catholic martyrs, though in their case it was the scaffold not the stake that was the effective pulpit site of utterance. Here last words gave the final proof that the condemned died for religion, not for a treasonable cause, evidence that was exploited in gallows reports and then in such fuller works as the Concertatio ecclesiae Catholicae in Anglia of 1583, which has been called the Catholic equivalent of the Acts and Monuments.[30] It was the illustrations in Foxe's martyrology that gave this feature particular prominence.

The series of small single column woodcuts which were introduced in the 1570 edition played an important illustrative role. They offer clues both as to the intentions of the designers and the possible reception of viewers. Their arrival gave the 1570 text quite a different appearance from its predecessor, and made it what we might nowadays call more user-friendly. The new pictures served a valuable function in marking out the individuals or groups whose stories filled so many of Foxe's pages. Although some of them were used with a freedom we may find surprising, they helped readers and users of the book to identify sufferers much more easily than was the case in 1563, before these illustrations were introduced. They may seem like icons in that they present a repeating visual formula that seems more conducive to devotion than reading and understanding. But in fact closer inspection shows that they were attached in various ways to the narrative of Foxe's text and shared features with the large and more obviously narrative woodcuts. They were specifically tagged and identified both by headings and by names and dates in the margin, and to that extent they acted as reference points in the text. And they were not all of one kind.

There were 25 of these small blocks, all (within a millimetre or so) the same size (107 x 70 mm). It seems clear that they were custom made to fit the double columned layout of the 1570 edition (into which they fitted so neatly), though one of them had been used the previous year in another of John Day's publications. The figure of a bald man praying in the flames, first used in 1570 to illustrate the burning of Bishop Farrar (small cut [c]) is identified by its chipped comer as coming from the block that had illustrated the burning of Doctor Johannes Egidius, canon of Seville, in Day's 1569 edition of Montanus's De Heylighe Spaensche Inquisitie. Whoever designed this block was responsible for eleven or twelve of the small woodcuts, which had distinctive scrolling plumes of smoke (reminiscent of ionic capitals, as Ruth Luborsky suggested).[31] Alongside this group (here designated Type 1) we can identify as the work of another hand (Type 2) six of the small woodcuts that have flames and figures of martyrs of a different kind (flaring, more hatched flames and smoke, and well characterised heads).

When considering the role played by these smaller images an immediate contrast can be made with the larger woodcuts. Of the 29 large woodcuts in the last three books, only half (15) are of executions. The other 14 are devoted to depictions of other kinds of suffering inflicted on the persecuted, some directly related to the martyrdoms. Among the small cuts, on the other hand, all bar two [32] depict martyrs in pyres with a focus that their size renders the more intense. And only two of these 23 are of unlit pyres - which again is in contrast to the larger woodcuts, where the majority (nine out of 14) of the pictures of burnings depict the moments (dramatic enough in themselves) before the fire was lit.[33] The two small cuts of such unkindled fires [e] and [i], both attributable to the same hand, the former block reduced in size) are different in style and content from the others. They show tall, elongated piles of faggots and the presence of both bystanders and halbardiers, who do not feature in the rest of the series - an aspect that also concentrates attention on the martyr in the fire.[34]

Iconic though they may seem to have become (partly through sheer repetition) the small woodcuts should not be regarded as forming a different category from the large illustrations. Five were as closely related to the narrative and quite as specific as the large narrative woodcuts.[35] In addition there are others that may perhaps have been intended as descriptive of the martyrs portrayed and specific to the text relating to them, even though this is not immediately apparent. The woodcut that illustrates the burning of Rawlins White is full of character and seems accurate for the martyrologist's words about the good old man. This cut was not among those that were reused. The same goes for the small cuts of three women burned at the stake: Margery Polley, Cicelie Ormes and the woman of Exeter (Prestes wyfe). Each of these is illustrated by a woodcut with very distinct individualised features. Here again the blocks were used for one person alone, convenient and economical though it would have been to resort to repetition. If this tells us something about the author's respect for the martyrs thus honoured, it also suggests that some of the small tailor-made woodcuts aimed, within their limits, at individual portraits. Given the self-evident and quite well-fulfilled intention of presenting likenesses of both Bishop Bonner and Archbishop Cranmer, that is not impossible. Only in Cranmer's case are we in a position to compare woodcut with contemporary painting (posthumous in the case of the bearded archbishop), but Bonner is said himself to have been amused by his likeness, and in the eyes of the martyrologist lesser martyrs who died for the faith were surely just as deserving of personal recognition.

All this indicates that we should not underestimate the effect of the small woodcuts. Part of that effect was achieved by the frequency of their reuse, which might seem to suggest both a cavalier attitude towards pictorial representation and the printer's over-stretching of his resources. For they were freely reused, even up to seven times.[36] The Five martyrs of Smithfield become the Five martyrs of Coventry; the group of six martyrs in the fire (which as we have seen came from Day's 1564 Letters of … Martyrs) does duty for the six martyrs of Colchester, Canterbury, and Brainforde, as well the seven at Smithfield. This recycling increases towards the end of the reign in Book 12, suggestive of pressures on the printer and his stock as the rates of martyrdom and illustrative demand mounted, and sometimes two illustrations of this kind were placed on one page. Readers of the 1570 edition might have noticed that the five martyrs burned at Canterbury on 10 November 1558 (two women and three men) were accompanied by a woodcut showing four individuals (one woman with three men), and the situation was not improved for readers of the 1583 work, whose cut showed five men at the stake. However it would be a mistake to assume that contemporary readers or viewers of the Book of Martyrs would have taken the illustrations any the less seriously on this account. Repetition of this kind was not uncommon in early book illustration, and it was possible to read different kinds of images in different ways. The repeating woodcuts of men and women suffering, or about to suffer, death at the stake, could be read as icons of the victims of England's great persecutions and horrible troubles.[37]

In Books 11 and 12 of the 1583 edition, 23 small woodcuts of martyrs at the stake were used through repetition to illustrate nearly twice as many burnings. The repetitions are themselves interesting. For the first 150 pages of this edition (pp. 1535-1683) eight of such images were used, of which all but one (a double burning p. 1676) were of solitary individuals, one being a woman (p. 1679). Only two of these images were repeated - once each towards the end of this section (pp. 1682, 1683). In the 350 pages that follow (pp. 1688-2052) we find 15 new small cuts, all but one of which (p. 2023) are of groups of martyrs numbering between two and six, but the number of reuses (including those of the single-figure cuts) reaches 20, making a total of 35 of these images. In these books therefore there are 23 small martyr woodcuts making a total of 45 appearances.

The amount of pictorial representation, and with that, of repetition, increased considerably in the text of the martyrology from the summer (June and July) of 1555, and the images seem to crowd into the story, sometimes with two to a single page or three to a spread, as the work reached its close.[38] It almost seems as if Foxe and Day were forced into compromise. The desire to give pictorial presence to the growing number of martyrs made it necessary to surrender hopes of accurate portrayal. A realistic decision had to be made. It was impossible to produce woodcuts that would fit all the possible permutations of different groups burned in a single fire. So while there were nine different variants of single figures in flames (three being of women), the 13 small woodcuts of two or more being burned together did not include any for a group of seven (so that the one cut for six found multiple use), and while there was a cut for three women, there was none for four men, so the four men burned at Bury St Edmunds were represented by a group of three men and a woman.[39] The largest number to be illustrated by one of these small woodcuts was the ten burned at Lewes, for which a unique block was cut, though it did not attempt to show more than six individuals.[40] The thirteen burned at Colchester (p. 1915) like the seven at Smithfield (p. 1858) were granted larger-sized cuts.

Yet there is no reason to suppose that such shortcomings bothered contemporary users of the book. If for the makers of the work it was more important to have a picture for a given event than to have an accurate image, the multiplying small woodcuts may be assumed to have made their mark. Perhaps here above all were the martyr images that might have lodged in people's heads as irremovably as images of the crucifixion and God the Father had lodged in the heads of their predecessors. The image of a figure or figures standing chained to the stake in flames recurred with inescapable insistence, sometimes affirmed by an image within the image, as in the burning of Rose Allin's hand, or in The Image of the true catholicke Church of Christ.[41] Something like a subliminal effect could have taken place through the eyes of those who turned the pages of the last books of Foxe's history. And it was the small recurring images that, above all, were responsible for planting the memory of martyrs engulfed in flames.

But of course there were limits to what any pictorial scheme could present, and contemporary readers read and viewed with different eyes from our own. The sequence of illustrations in these books was designed to reinforce the text with particular ends in view. First there was the appeal to the sense of shared suffering and identification with the condemned. The persecuted church of Foxe's title-page presented its instructive models as a foundation stone for the Elizabethan church. The series of narrative woodcuts of these latter and perillous dayes was framed to focus attention on the most outstanding of these models, and the most important martyrs whose sufferings were recounted in the text also captured attention through simple stratagems, such as the size and frequency of their pictorial presence.

The other main theme of the larger illustrations was to emphasise the tortures and cruelties of Romish prelates. It was the bishops who were represented as stirring up horrible troubles and tumultes, and though the worst took place in the horrible and bloudy tyme of Queene Marye,the queen herself, conventionally, was exempt for overt detraction.[42] The brunt of animus against the persecutors fell in particular on Edmund Bonner (restored to the see of London in 1553, and deprived for the second time after the accession of Elizabeth), and Stephen Gardiner (likewise restored to Winchester, which he held for two years before his death in 1555). They, specially Bonner, were the recipients of the anger and hostility ricocheted from the crown (though of course at the end of the day, this avoidance stratagem ceased to be needed).[43] Bonner appears repeatedly, in image as well as text, as a persecutor whose personal cruelties caused even his own servants to wince.

If we are struck by the ugly features of persecuting friars and the hard expressions of officials presiding over pyres, we need to remember that contemporary readers might well have felt better equipped than we are to judge the characters portrayed in the woodcuts - even before or without reference to their adjoining texts. For they had access to illustrated books (including cheap editions) explaining how to interpret physiognomy and read the lines and forms of individual faces. They could tell the great vice of cruelty from a deeply wrinkled brow, or a phlegmatic character from a fat blowen visage. This was a subject in which John Day was personally interested and these quotations come from the book which he published in 1558.[44] The designers of the woodcuts in the Book of Martyrs were certainly well versed in such lore.

Foxe wanted his readers to see and understand how these terrible punishments could be transformed into collaborative ceremonies, inspiring sacrificial, almost celebratory rites. Those who, like Ridley (as we read in his account) prepared joyfully for their deaths as triumphant spiritual departures, made every effort to issue exhortatory statements at the stake. This did not usually get far, but they could continue to make triumphal gestures of endurance in the fire, and bystanders emitted their own signals of support.

John Philpot (like Laurence Saunders) on reaching the place of his execution kissed the stake as comparable to Christ's cross, and then meekly recited Psalms 106-8.[45] George Roper, one of three men burned at Canterbury in 1555 was likewise mindful of the crucifixion. So soon as the flame was about him, the said Roper put out both his arms from his body like a rood, and so stood steadfast in this position until the fire destroyed his arms. Cranmer was not the only martyr to prove his faith by commanding a limb to be burned.

Both the narrative and iconic depictions are vivid, sometimes horrific, in their account of martyrdom, and they can tell us quite a lot about readings of those events, or Foxe's intended readings. The great patience and endurance of the martyr is conveyed by the gesture of praying hands - either clasped together or raised upwards with open palms. Though still familiar and instinctive today in some congregations and some parts of the world, modern readers, for whom it is no longer familiar currency, perhaps need to be alerted to the ancient ritual of this latter gesture, which would have been so readily legible to Foxe's contemporaries. Foxe himself described it, for instance at the moment when Ridley, with the aged Latimer puffing along behind, reached their place of burning at Oxford. As he saw the stake Ridley marvellous earnestly holding up both his hands, looked towards heaven. Or there is Hooper, bound to the stake, who lifting up his eyes and handes unto heaven, … praied to himselfe. We find this attitude of salutation or supplication or commitment to God's will repeated through the woodcuts of the burnings, among both sufferers and sympathisers.

Not all the ritual actions could be portrayed by the illustrators. Sounds such as psalms escape us in these scenes. The saying or singing of psalms was important, though it could come more readily from the lips of the condemned than those of witnesses to their death. Foxe reported of the four women and one man burned at Canterbury that when the fire was flaming about their ears [they] did sing psalms, moving Sir John Norton to tears. The illustrators were as faithful as they could be to Foxe's text, but there were limits to what they could do. Certainly one could not readily deduce singing from the woodcut of the burial of Thomas Wiseman, who after condemnation as a heretic was cast out … into the fieldes and thereafter given burial by some good Tobies. The woodcut follows the martyrologist's words in representing the archers in the fields standyng by at this work of mercy, but the company's singing together psalmes at their buriall is not clear.

There remained many aspects of these scenes for Elizabethans to ponder as they read, heard read or looked at the histories of the martyrs. Foxe's illustrations, carefully tailored to complement the main themes of his book, had a lasting effect on the future of the book and its viewers and readers. They helped to monumentalise Elizabethan consciousness of their church as founded in persecution and martyrdom. The pictures could themselves serve to advertise and proselytise the strength of this reformed communion. Woodcuts in the Book of Martyrs of a man in a fire and a papal image were used by Drake on his voyage of circumnavigation in 1579 to lecture or hector his Spanish prisoners (after a demonstrative ceremony of prayer and the recitation of psalms) on the arrogance of the Supreme Pontiff and those who were martyred in Castile.[46] It was not only simple souls who were baited by the power of the pictures accompanying the histories in Foxe's book. And the prominent focus on the Marian martyrs held a large share of responsibility for this visual impact. It is no surprise that Mary Tudor herself, unlike her father, brother and sister, was allowed to make no visible entry into the great work that allotted so many pages and pictures to her reign. That did not prevent her subsequently drawing to herself the epithet with which Foxe so unsparingly smeared Bishop Bonner.


Acts and Monuments, 1563, p. 889.


R. S. Luborsky and E. M. Ingram, A Guide to English Illustrated Books 1536-1603 (Tempe, Arizona, 1998), i, pp. 367-82;

R. S. Luborsky, 'Connections and disconnections between images and texts: the case of secular Tudor book illustration', Word & Image. 3 (1987), pp. 74-85, n. 12, p. 82.


Julian Roberts, 'Bibliographical Aspects', in David Loades (ed.), John Foxe and the English Reformation (Aldershot, 1997), p. 41.


New Light on Drake: A Collection of Documents relating to his Voyages of Circumnavigation 1577-1580. (ed.) Z. Nuttall (Hakluyt Society, 2nd Series 34, 1914), pp. 118-19, 348.

There seems to be good reason to see the colouring of the 1570 Cambridge copy as original. While undoubtedly vivid the over painting inevitably sometimes obscures detail in the woodcut.


See the remarks of Brett Usher on Foxe's raw material, the eyewitness accounts which were the equivalent of today's telephone calls or messages on an answering machine.

Brett Usher, 'Backing Protestantism: The London Godly, the Exchequer, and the Foxe Circle', in David Loades (ed.), John Foxe: An Historical Perspective, (Aldershot, 1999) pp. 105-34, at p. 124.


See note on 'the burning of Cecelie Ormes',

1563, p. 2219; 1570, p. 1916; 1583, p. 2023.


M. Aston and E. Ingram, 'The Iconography of the Acts and Monuments', in David Loades (ed.), John Foxe and the English Reformation (Aldershot, 1997), p. 70.


Alee Ryne, 'The Unsteady Beginnings of English Protestant Martyrology', in David Loades, (ed.), John Foxe: An Historical Perspective, (Aldershot, 1999), pp 52-66, at p. 53.


Mark Byford, 'The Price of Protestantism' (D Phil Thesis, Oxford, 1988) p. 115;

Mark Byford, 'The Birth of a Protestant Town', in Patrick Collinson and John Craig (eds.), The Reformation in English Towns (Basingstoke, 1998) p. 32;

Brad S. Gregory, Salvation at stake. Christian martyrdom in early modern Europe, Harvard Historical Studies 134, (Cambridge, Mass; London, 1999) pp. 7-8, 16-18.


This is a matter that will be discussed more fully in the introduction to the earlier books of the Acts and Monuments.

See also M. Aston and E. Ingram, 'The Iconography of the Acts and Monuments', in David Loades (ed.), John Foxe and the English Reformation (Aldershot, 1997).


R. S. Luborsky, 'Connections and disconnections between images and texts: the case of secular Tudor book illustration', Word & Image. 3 (1987), pp. 82-3.

R. S. Luborsky and E. M. Ingram, A Guide to English Illustrated Books 1536-1603 (Tempe, Arizona, 1998), 1, pp. 407-8.

on RSTC 11997, 12000 and 12000.5.

See my comments in the text on woodcuts of Bishop Farrar, the burning of Bucer and Phagius's bones, Latimer preaching and six martyrs in flames (small cut [h])

1563, pp. 1100, 1548-49, 1353; 1570, p. 2090


These are the cuts illustrating the burnings of William Sawtry, Bishop Farrar, and that of a man and woman of Norwich (also used for Simon Miller and Elizabeth Cooper, and Alexander Gouch and Driver's wife), discussed in place in the text notes.

1563, pp. 1100, 1603.


On Day see

Julian Roberts. 'Bibliographical Aspects', in David Loades (ed.), John Foxe and the English Reformation (Aldershot, 1997), pp. 36-51.

Elizabeth Evenden, Thomas S. Freeman, 'John Foxe, John Day and the Printing of the Book of Martyrs' in Robin Myers, Michael Harris, Giles Mandelbrote (eds.), Lives in Print: Biography and the Book Trade from the Middle Ages to the Twenty-first Century (New Castle, DE; London, 2002), pp. 23-54.

James A. Knapp, Illustrating the Past in Early Modern England: The Representation of History in Printed Books, (Aldershot: 2003), n. 25, pp. 132-33 in Chapter 4 on The Acts and Monuments.


See on this matter

Andrew Pettegree, 'Illustrating the Book: A Protestant Dilemma', in Christopher Highley and John N King, (eds.), John Foxe and his World (Aldershot, 2002), pp. 133-44;


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

James A. Knapp, who in Illustrating the Past makes much of 'the special risks' involved in illustrating the martyrology (pp. 142-43, quoted at p. 161) in view of a potential charge of idolatry that Foxe and Day sought consciously to avoid, fails to take account of the fact that, as Pettegree points out, this kind of alarmism was only injected into the English scheme after the first edition of the Book of Martyrs.

James A. Knapp, Illustrating the Past in Early Modern England: The Representation of History in Printed Books, (Aldershot: 2003)

We should judge the careful integration of the text and image on wider grounds. It is worth nothing that the differing concerns of the reformers were reflected in Day's editions of Luther's and Calvin's sermons, the former containing a large woodcut, the latter (like all of Calvin's texts published by Day) without illustrations or woodcut embellishments.

For consideration of Day's works and his illustrators, including pictorial characteristics that resemble those in the Book of Martyrs, see

Elizabeth Evenden, 'Patents and Patronage: The Life and Career of John Day, Tudor Printer' (unpublished PhD dissertation, University of York, 2002); including pp. 88-90 on Conrad Gesner, The Treasure of Euonymus (1559), RSTC 11800.

I am very grateful to Elizabeth Evenden for her help.


For instance those for the burning of John Hooper and Rowland Taylor, 1563), pp. 1064, 1080.


Acts and Monuments, 1563, sig. B4v, cited

James A. Knapp, Illustrating the Past in Early Modern England: The Representation of History in Printed Books, (Aldershot: 2003), p. 149.


See note on woodcut of the burning of Tomkins' hand at 1563, p. 1101.

John R. Knott, 'John Foxe and the Joy of Suffering', Sixteenth Century Journal, 27 (1996), pp. 721-34, at p. 726;

Thomas Freeman, 'Texts, Lies and Microfilm', Sixteenth Century Journal, 30 (1999), pp. 23-46, at p. 39-40.


Acts and Monuments, 1563, p .1272; 1570, p. 1878; 1583, p. 1703.

Other examples of how Foxe's corrections and own descriptions are related to the illustrations will appear in the commentary on earlier books.


Acts and Monuments, 1563, p. 1451; 1570, p. 2031.

These blanks also occur in titles and headings, and in many copies, particularly of the 1570 edition, a date or year missing in the headings has been filled in by hand.



Deborah Burks, 'Polemical Potency The Witness of Word and Woodcut', in Christopher Highley and John N. King, (eds.) John Foxe and his World (Aldershot, 2002), pp. 263-76


Acts and Monuments, 1563, pp. 1451, 1566; 1570, pp. 2031, 2158; 1576, pp. 1751, 1864; 1583, pp. 1858, 1973.


Day included the woodcut in both his editions of Latimer's 27 Sermons (RSTC 15276), in pt 1, after sig. D4, and Frutefull Sermons (1571, RSTC 15277), f.22v.

Both were quarto volumes which the woodcut did not fit, being tipped into the former and printed sideways on the page in the latter, with part of the heading cut off (leaving 'before King Edward the vi'), and the lower part of the woodcut disappearing into the gutter. It seems a reasonable hypothesis that the block was designed as part of the Acts and Monuments series.


For a list of the woodcuts shared with other publications of John Day see

Ruth Luborsky, 'The Illustrations Their Pattern and Plan', in David Loades (ed.), John Foxe: an Historical Perspective (Aldershot, 1999), p. 70.


For discussion of the categories see

M. Aston and E. Ingram, 'The Iconography of the Acts and Monuments', in David Loades (ed.), John Foxe and the English Reformation (Aldershot, 1997);

Ruth Luborsky, 'The Illustrations Their Pattern and Plan', in David Loades (ed.), John Foxe: an Historical Perspective (Aldershot, 1999).


The sizes range between a millimeter or so either side of these figures, partly owing to the varying thickness of the outside framing line of the blocks.


For the problems presented by the printing of the large woodcuts in 1563 (more details of which will be considered in discussing those in earlier books) see

Julian Roberts. 'Bibliographical Aspects', in David Loades (ed.), John Foxe and the English Reformation (Aldershot, 1997), pp. 45-46,

who suggests that the large half-page woodcuts 'entered into the planning of the book at a late stage', which would account for their treatment in the first edition, and one mistake that was made.


This applied for instance to the page numbers of cross-references, as Elizabeth Evenden points out.

Elizabeth Evenden, 'Patents and Patronage: The Life and Career of John Day, Tudor Printer' (unpublished PhD dissertation, University of York, 2002)


John R. Knott, Discourses of Martyrdom in English Literature 1563-1694, (Cambridge and New York, 1993), p. 213.



John King, 'Fiction and Fact in Foxe's Book of Martyrs', in David Loades (ed.), John Foxe and the English Reformation (Aldershot, 1997), pp. 23-4,

and the comment on this woodcut.


Anne Dillon, The Construction of Martyrdom in the English Catholic Communicty, 1535-1603 (Aldershot: 2002), pp. 73-83 (cited at p. 81), 90, 287;

Peter Milward, Religious Controversies of the Elizabeth Age (London: 1978), pp. 67-69; nos. 251. 264.


For a discussion of these smaller woodcuts which I have drawn on here see

Ruth Luborsky, 'The Illustrations Their Pattern and Plan', in David Loades (ed.), John Foxe: an Historical Perspective (Aldershot, 1999), pp. 67-84.

The distinctive scrolls in the martyrdoms of George Marsh and John Denley suggests these as other possible members in this group (Type 1) of the narrative small cuts, alongside the martyrdom of the blind man and lame man.

For the suggestion that the small generic cuts, by being less closely attached to the text, 'reinforced an independent vocabulary of martyr types', see

James A, Knapp, Illustrating the Past in Early Modern England: The Representation of History in Printed Books, (Aldershot: 2003), p. 159.


These two are both narrative cuts; 'The cruel burning of John Laurence' and 'The description of a Popish Priest'.


This is a count of the double column woodcuts, which omits the odd-man-out misfit of the Norwich man and woman/Alexander Gouch and Driver's wife.


Also perhaps by the same hand is the small narrative cut of John Laurence.


These five are those mentioned in note 30 and the burning of George Marsh, the martyrdom of John Denley, and the martyrdom of the blind man and lame man

Ruth Luborsky, 'The Illustrations Their Pattern and Plan', in David Loades (ed.), John Foxe: an Historical Perspective (Aldershot, 1999), pp. 76-79.


For earlier discussion listing of the repetitions see

Ruth Luborsky, 'The Illustrations Their Pattern and Plan', in David Loades (ed.), John Foxe: an Historical Perspective (Aldershot, 1999);

R. S. Luborsky, 'Connections and disconnections between images and texts: the case of secular Tudor book illustration', Word & Image. 3 (1987), p. 82 and fig 16.

R. S. Luborsky and E. M. Ingram, A Guide to English Illustrated Books 1536-1603 (Tempe, Arizona, 1998), i, pp. 365-82.


Acts and Monuments 1563, title page: 'latter Persecutions, horrible troubles and tumultes' in the 1576 title page.

Knapp argues that the small generic cuts helped to strengthen the growing sense of a Protestant community.

James A. Knapp, Illustrating the Past in Early Modern England: The Representation of History in Printed Books, (Aldershot: 2003), pp. 158-60,


Acts and Monuments, 1583, pp. 2047, 2052, 2053.


Acts and Monuments, 1583, p. 2047, headed 'Foure burned at S Edmondsbury'. The four (named above in the text but not in the margin next the woodcut) were John Cooke, Robert Myles, Alexander Lane and James Ashley.


Acts and Monuments, 1570, p. 2195; 1576, p. 1895; 1583, p. 2003.

The group was formed by six men and four women. This woodcut does not appear elsewhere, so it may be supposed that it was attempting to indicate a larger number by dint of suggesting three stakes and concealed figures.


Another example is the title-page of

Timothy Bright, An abridgement of the booke of Acts and Monumentes of the Church: written by John Foxe, and abridged by Timothie Bright (London, 1589).


David Loades (ed.), John Foxe and the English Reformation (Aldershot, 1997), pp. 78, 18


Acts and Monuments, 1576, Title; Acts and Monuments, 1563, opening of fifth section or tome, p. 889;

John N. King, Tudor royal iconography. literature and art in an age of religious crisis, Princeton essays on the arts (Princeton, N.J., 1989), p. 137.


The earliest use of 'bloody Mary' in the OED is Charles Dickens, A child's history of England, (1851-53).


I thank Elizabeth Evenden for this and other information about John Day, including extracts from RSTC 14075; Brief introductions, both natural, pleasaunt, and also delectable unto the Art of Chiromancy, or Manuell divination, and Physiognomy (John Day for Richard Jugge, 1558) at sigs. G7v-G8r.

See: Elizabeth Evenden, 'Patents and Patronage: The Life and Career of John Day, Tudor Printer' (unpublished PhD dissertation, University of York, 2002)


But perhaps, as we now know, Philpot, who had wanted to die in a shirt with a red cross on back and front, was more flamboyant, if not ostentatious in his execution plans.

Elizabeth Evenden, Thomas S. Freeman, 'John Foxe, John Day and the Printing of the Book of Martyrs' in Robin Myers, Michael Harris, Giles Mandelbrote (eds.), Lives in Print: Biography and the Book Trade from the Middle Ages to the Twenty-first Century (New Castle, DE; London, 2002), pp. 39-40.


New Light on Drake: A Collection of Documents relating to his Voyages of Circumnavigation 1577-1580 (ed.), Z. Nuttall (Hakluyt Society, 2nd Series 34, 1914), pp. 348, 354-57;

Kenneth R. Andrews, Trade, plunder and settlement (Cambridge, 1984), p. 146.

The Spanish deponent, who reported the book as being of the same size as the Lives of the Saints, and tried to assess its character by looking for scriptural passages and mentions of Christ and the Virgin, was told by Drake that it was 'it was to them [the English] what the Bible is to us'.

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