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Antoninus Pius (Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Pius)

(86 - 161) [ODNB]

Roman emperor (138 - 61); chosen by Hadrian as his successor

Advanced into Scotland, built the Antonine Wall; advanced the frontier in Germany

Antoninus was mild and gentle, and there was no persecution of Christians during his reign. He wrote to the people of Asia, ordering that Christians not be persecuted. 1570, p. 67, 74; 1576, pp. 41-42, 50; 1583, pp. 41-42, 50.

In a letter to Henry VIII, Philip Melancthon referred to Antoninus Pius as an emperor who received the apologies and defences of the Christians kindly. 1570, p. 1340; 1576, p. 1144; 1583, p. 1172.

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Eusebius of Caesarea

(263 - 339) [Catholic Encyclopedia]

Christian scholar, presbyter at the church at Caesarea; wrote History of the Church

Eusebius said that he himself had known the martyrs in Palestine who died during Diocletian's persecution. 1570, p. 110; 1576, p. 78; 1583, p. 77.

He personally witnessed the persecutions in the Thebiade. 1570, p. 113; 1576, p. 80; 1583, p. 80.

He was present at the martyrdom of Philoromus at Alexandria. 1570, p. 128; 1576, p. 93; 1583, p. 92.

Eusebius received a letter from Constantine, instructing him to build and repair churches in Caesarea. 1570, p. 141; 1576, p. 104; 1583, p. 103.

Foxe uses Eusebius extensively as a source throughout Book 1.

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C2 Christian martyr from Smyrna (Izmir)

He was martyred before Polycarp of Smyrna. 1570, pp. 59, 61; 1576, pp. 42, 44; 1583, pp. 42, 44.

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Irenarchus Herodes

C2 head of police in Smyrna said to have arrested Polycarp

He tried to persuade Polycarp to sacrifice to the gods; he molested Polycarp when he refused. 1570, p. 60; 1576, p. 42; 1583, p. 42.

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Lucius Verus

(130 - 169) [P. B. Peacock]

Roman emperor (161 - 69), with Marcus Aurelius; both were adopted by Antoninus Pius; son-in-law of Marcus Aurelius

In a letter to Henry VIII, Philip Melancthon referred to Lucius Verus and Marcus Aurelius as emperors who received the apologies and defences of the Christians kindly. 1570, p. 1340; 1576, p. 1144; 1583, p. 1172.

Foxe calls him Marcus Aurelius Commodus here, but it was Lucius Verus and his brother and co-emperor, Marcus Aurelius, who fought together in the Germanic War referred to by Foxe. 1570, p. 75; 1576, p. 51; 1583, p. 51.

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Marcus Aurelius

(121 - 180) [H. W. Benario]

Roman emperor (161 - 80), with adopted brother Lucius Verus to 169; philosopher. (born M. Annius Verus)

[Foxe refers to him as M. Antoninus Verus and Marcus Antoninus]

Marcus Aurelius was an able philosopher and civil governor, but he encouraged the persecution of Christians. 1570, p. 59, 67; 1576, p. 42; 1583, p. 42.

The prayers of the Christians brought rain, and Marcus Aurelius became gentler towards the sect. 1570, p. 75; 1576, p. 51; 1583, p. 51.

In a letter to Henry VIII, Philip Melancthon referred to Lucius Verus and Marcus Aurelius as emperors who received the apologies and defences of the Christians kindly. 1570, p. 1340; 1576, p. 1144; 1583, p. 1172.

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Nero (Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus)

(d. 68) [D. J. Coffta]

Roman emperor (54 - 68); deposed, committed suicide

Nero was lecherous, murderous and cruel. He burned Rome and blamed the Christians, and was forced to commit suicide. 1570, p. 38; 1576, p. 31; 1583, p. 31

The first persecution of the Christians began under Nero. 1570, p. 42-44; 1576, pp. 34-35; 1583, pp. 34-35.

Melito of Sardis, in his Apology, refers to him, along with Domitian, as the worst persecutors of Christians. 1570, p. 75; 1576, p. 51; 1583, p. 51.

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Father of Herodes, C2 head of police in Smyrna

With his son, he tried to persuade Polycarp to sacrifice to the gods; they molested Polycarp when he refused. 1570, p. 60; 1576, p. 42; 1583, p. 42.

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Polycarp of Smyrna (St Polycarp)

(d. 155) [Gams; Catholic Encyclopedia]

Bishop of Smyrna (c. 106 - 117); martyr

Polycarp was visited by Ignatius of Antioch. 1570, p. 58; 1576, p. 40; 1583, p. 40.

He sent Andoclus into Gaul. 1570, p. 80; 1576, p. 55; 1583, p. 55.

According to Jerome and Nicephorus, Polycarp visited Rome in 157 to discuss the controversy over Easter day with Pope Anicetus. 1576, p. 44; 1583, p. 44.

A letter gives an account of Polycarp's examination by the proconsul and martyrdom. 1570, pp. 59-61; 1576, pp. 42-44; 1583, pp. 42-44.

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C2 Phrygian

Quintus provoked martyrdom and ended by denying the faith before his execution. 1570, p. 59; 1576, p. 42; 1583, p. 42.

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Akşehir (Philomelium) [Philomilium]

Konya, Turkey

Coordinates: 38° 21' 27" N, 31° 24' 59" E

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Aegean coast, Anatolia, Turkey

Coordinates: 38° 26' 0" N, 27° 9' 0" E

65 [42]

The first Booke conteyning the X. first persecutions, of the Primitiue Churche.

And to me also many there be, which write, signifiyng their mind in like maner. To whome I haue aunswered againe, to the same effect and maner as my father did. MarginaliaHe meaneth Hadrian which adopted this Antoninus of hys sonne in law, to be hys soune & heyre.Wherefore, if any hereafter shal offer any vexatiō or trouble, to such, hauing no other cause, but onely for that they are such, let him that is appeached, be released and discharged free, yea although he be founde to bee such, (that is a Christian) and let the accuser sustaine the punishment, &c. MarginaliaO noble edict.

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This godly Edict of the Emperour was proclaymed at Ephesus, in the publique assēbly of all Asia, wherof Melito also Byshop of Sardis, who florished in the same tyme, maketh mention in his Apologie written in defence of our doctrine to M. Antoninus Verus as hereafter (Christ willing) shall appeare. By this meanes then the tempest of persecution in those daies began to be appeased, through the mercifull prouidence of God, which would not haue hys Church vtterly to be ouerthrowne, though hardly yet to growe.

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The fourth Persecution. 
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The first ten persecutions

The section on the first 300 years of the church was, however, just the preface to the 'First Ten Persecutions', a structured 'decade' of martyrdoms in the early church that mirrored the 'centuries' into which the Magdeburg Centuries had chosen to organize its history of the Christian church. For our examination of Foxe's (extensive) borrowings from the Magdeburg Centuries, we have made use of the online edition of this text at: and, for the bibliographical complexities surrounding its publication, Ronald E. Diener, 'The Magdeburg Centuries. A Bibliothecal and Historiographical Study'. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard Divinity School 1978/79). For these sections, we have undertaken a very preliminary analysis, concentrating on the following textual divisions: Introduction to first 10 persecutions (1583, p. 34; 1576, p. 34; 1570, pp. 53-4); First persecution (1583, pp. 34-5; 1576, p. 34; 1570, pp. 54-6); Second persecution (1583, pp. 35-9; 1576, pp. 35-9; 1570, pp. 56-7); Third persecution (1583, pp. 39-42; 1576, pp. 39-42; 1570, pp. 57-9); Fourth persecution (1583, pp. 42-46; 1576, pp. 42-46; 1570, pp. 59-69); Martyrs of Lyons (1583, pp. 46-50; 1576, pp. 46-50; 1570, pp. 69-74); Remainder of fourth persecution (1583, pp. 50-4; 1576, pp. 50-4; 1570, pp. 74-9); Fifth persecution (1583, pp. 54-9; 1576, pp. 54-9; 1570, pp. 79-85); Sixth persecution (1583, p. 59; 1576, pp. 59-60; 1570, pp. 85-6).

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In the block on the first persecutions, prepared for the 1570 edition and repeated in the later ones, Foxe cites as his source Eusebius, book 3, ch. 30. Although it is probably the case that he consulted the source, it is much more likely that, for this (as for the succeeding sections of this part of the narrative) that he drew on the published volumes of the Magdeburg Centuries, in this case, vol. 1, book 2, cols 561-4.

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For the second persecution, Foxe continued to use Eusebius, supplementing it (apparently) with Irenaeus' Against Heresies and the Historiae adversum paganos of Orosius. Again, although it is difficult to be certain of this at present, his direct source was likely to have been the Magdeburg Centuries. For the fourth persecution, concerned especially with the martyrdom of Polycarp, we can be clearer. Although some of the sections of Foxe's narrative (such as the Epistle to Pontus and the sayings of Polycarp to Martin the heretic, are direct translations from Eusebius, the section on the life and works of Polycarpus, which indirectly comes from Eusebius, book 5, ch. 20, is clearly lifted from the Magdeburg Centuries, II, cols 173 and 176. For the contradictory views of various authors on who were the popes at the time, Foxe clearly used the Magdeburg Centuries, I, book 2, cols 626-8 but he also consulted at least some of the other sources he mentions in order to construct an independent view. The section on the order of the popes to Eleutherius certainly is taken from the Magdeburg Centuries, II, cols 117 and 209-210.

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For the fourth persecution, it is evident that the Magdeburg Centuries formed the direct source for the following sections of it:- the Epistle of Pliny to Trajan and its response (p. 53 of the 1570 edition) - (II, cols 13-4); the martyrdoms under Emperor Hadrian (p. 54 of the 1570 edition) - (II, cols 15-6 and cols 231-33); the final rising of the Jews under Hadrian and subsequent slaughter, the succession of Antoninus Pius, and resumption of the fourth persecution (p. 55 of the 1570 edition) - (II, col 17); the disputed claims concerning Hyginus (p. 66 of the 1570 edition) - (II, cols 111; 141; 212-3); Eleutherius' mission to convert the British (II, cols 8-9); and the contention over the date of Easter at the time of Commodus (p. 67 of the 1570 edition) - (II, col. 118).

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For the fifth persecution, Foxe drew directly on the Magdeburg Centuries for the following passages:- the fifth persecution by Septimus Severus (p. 67 of the 1570 edition) - (III, cols 9-10); the martyrdom of Origen and his father - (III, cols 9-10; 150-1; 253-259); for the list of martyrs under Septimus Severus (p. 68 of the 1570 edition) - (III, cols 10; 251; 305); for Basilides and the miracles of Potomiena - (III, col. 305); for Alexander as bishop of Jerusalem - (III, col. 209); for the persecutions in the time of Septimus Severus - (III, cols 295-6; 211); for Tertullian as an ecclesiastical writer (p. 69 of the 1570 edition - (III, cols 236; 241; 242); for the controversy over Easter in the time of Victor (p. 70 of the 157- edition) - (II, cols 152-58); for the epistles of Zephirus - (III, cols 275-6); for the invasion of Britain - (III, col. 315); for the epistles of Calixtus (p. 72 of the 1570 edition) - (III, cols 276-77). Foxe clearly used other sources for this account as well, but only further research will confirm more precisely the extent to which he worked outwards from the Magdeburg Centuries to write a more independently based narrative of this section.

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For the sixth persecution, we have undertaken a similar analysis of the extent of Foxe's dependence on the Magdeburg Centuries. The results are less complete. It is certainly the case that he drew somewhat on that source for the beginning of the sixth persecution under Emperor Maximus (pp. 73-4 of the 1570 edition) - (III, col. 13). He also borrowed to some degree for the description of the rule of Pontianus, bishop of Rome (p. 74 of the 1570 edition) - (III, cols 177; 278); for the story of Natalius he also fairly clearly derived his material from the Centuries - (IIII, cols 287-288); for Emperor Philip the same is true (III, cols 8; 254; 279).

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We have not continued our analysis beyond this stage at present. It will require a more extensive and detailed examination of the full range of the sources cited by Foxe in his marginalia, and a comparison of them with what was contained in the extant volumes of the Magdeburg Centuries, which had become available to him in between the publication of the 1563 and 1570 editions, to arrive at a proper assessment of Book One.

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Mark Greengrass and Matthew Phillpott
University of Sheffield

AFter the decease of the foresayd quiet and milde Prince Aurelius Antonius Pius (who among all other Emperours of that tyme made the most quiet end, followed his sonne M. Antoninus Verus, MarginaliaM. Antoninus Verus Emperour.with Lucius his brother, about the yeare of our Lord. 162. MarginaliaAnno. 162.a man of nature more sterne and seuere. And although in study of Philosophy, & in ciuile gouernement no lesse commendable: yet toward the Christians sharpe and fierce, by whome was moued the fourth persecution after Nero. In whose tyme a great number of them which truely professed Christ, suffered most cruel tormentes, and punishments, both in Asia and in Fraunce. In the number of whome was Policarpus, the worthy Bishop of Smyrna. MarginaliaPolicarpus, the blessed Martyr Byshop of Smyrna.Who in the great rage of this persecution in Asia, among many other most constant Saintes was also Martyred. Of whose end and Martyrdome I thought it here not vnexpedient to cōmit to history, so much as Eusebius declareth to be taken out of a certaine letter or Epistle, written by them of hys owne Churche, to the brethren of Pontus the tenor of which Epistle here followeth.

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The congregation which is at Smyrna, to the congregation which is at Philomilium, and to all the congregations throughout Pontus, mercy to you, peace, and the loue of God our father, and of our Lord Iesu Christ, be multiplied, Amen. MarginaliaEx Euseb. hist. Eccles Lib. 4. Cap 15. Hieron. in Catalogo.We haue written vnto you brethren of those men which haue suffred Martyrdome, and of blessed Polycarpus which hath ended and appeased this persecutiō, as it were by the shedding of his own bloud. And in the same epistle, before they enter into farther matter of Polycarpus, they discourse of other Martyrs, MarginaliaTwelue Martyrs in Asia.describing what patience they abode and shewed in suffring their torments: which was so great and admirable (saith the Epistle) that the lookers on were amased, MarginaliaThe cruell and beastly handling of the Christian Martyrs.seeing and beholding. how they were so scourged and whipped, that the inward vaynes & arteries appeared, yea euen so much that the very intrailes of their bodies, their bowels and members were seen, & after that, were set vpon sharp shels taken out of the sea, edged, and sharpe, and certaine nailes and thornes for the Martyrs to go vpon, which were sharpned and pointed called Obelisci. Thus suffred they all kind of punishment and torment that might be deuised: MarginaliaThe singular patience, and constancie of the Christians.and lastly, were throwne vnto the wild beasts to be deuoured. But especially in the foresayd Epistle, mention is made of one Germanicus, MarginaliaGermanicus a most constant he most woorthily perseuered and ouercame by the grace of God, that feare of death which is ingraffed in the common nature of all men, whose notable patience & sufferaunce was so notable, that the whole multitude wondring at this beloued Martyr of God, for this his so bold constancie, and also for the singular strength and vertue proceeding of the whole multitude of the Christians: began sodenly to cry with a loud voyce, saying: destroy the wicked men, let Polycarpus be sought for. And whilest a great vprore and tumult began thus to be raised vpon those cries: A certaine Phrigian named Quintus, MarginaliaQuintus a Phrigian to hardie hold.lately come out of Phrigia, who seyng and abhorring the wilde beasts, and the fierce rage of them, of an ouer light mynd betrayed his own safetie. For so the same letter of him doth report, that he, not reuerently, but more malipertly then requisite, was together with others rushed into the iudgement place, and so being takē, was made a manifest example to all the beholders, that no man ought rashly and vnreuerently with such boldnesse, to thrust in himself, to entermeddle in matters, wherwith he hath not to do.

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But now we will surcease to speake more of them, and returne to Polycarpus, of whome the foresayd letter consequently declareth as foloweth: How that in þe beginning, when he heard of these things, was nothing at all afraydnor disqueted in mynd, but purposed to haue taried stil in the Citie, till beyng perswaded by the intreatie of thē that were about him (which desired him instātly that he would conuey himselfe away) his himselfe in a grange or village not farre of from the Citie, MarginaliaPolicarpus, flyeth persecution. and there abidyng with a fewe more in his company, did nothing els (night nor day) but abode in supplication, wherin he made his humble petitō for the obtaining of peace vnto all þe congregatiōs through out the world. MarginaliaPolicarpus prayeth for the church. For that was his accustomed maner so to doe. And as he was thus making his prayers three dayes before he was apprehended, in a vision by night he saw the bed set on fire vnder his head, and sodainly to be cōsumed. And when he awaked, he told by and by & expounded vnto them that were present, his vision, and told them before what thing should come to passe, that is, how that in þe fire he should lose his life for Christes cause. MarginaliaPolicarpus hath a visiō of hys burning.It is further mentioned. that whē they were hard at hand, which so narowly sought for him, that he was inforced for the affection and loue of his brethren, to fleet into an other village, to which place notwithstanding within a little while after the pursuers came, and when they had taken a couple of children that dwelt therabouts, they so beat one of them wþ whips, þt by the bewraying or confession of him, they were brought to the Inne where Polycarpus was. MarginaliaPolicarpus pursued and taken.And they say that the pursuers making no great hast to enter, found him in the vppermost place of the house, from whence he might haue escaped into other houses, if he would, but this he would not do, saying: the wil of God be done. MarginaliaPolicarpus might escape and would notFurthermore, whē he knew that they were come, as the said history sheweth: he came downe, and spake vnto them with a very chereful and pleasant countenaunce, so that it was a wonder to see those which a while agone knew not the man, now beholding & viewyng his comely age, and his graue & constant countenaunce, lamented that they had so much employed their labour, that so aged a man should be apprehēded. To conclude, he commaunded that straightway without any delay the table should be layd for them, and persuaded thē that they would eate and dine well, and required of them boldly, that he might haue an houres respite to make his prayers. Which thing after it was graunted, he arose and went to pray, MarginaliaPolicarpus falleth to prayer. so being replenished wich the grace of God, that they which were present, and hearyng the prayers that he made, were astonied at it, and now many of them were sory that so honest and godly an aged man should be put to death.

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After this, the foresaid Epistle or letter, prosecuting the historie, addeth more as followeth: After he had made an end of his prayers, & had called to his remēbrance al those things which euer hapned vnto him, and to the vniuersal catholike church throughout all the world (whether they were small or great, glorious or els inglorious) and that the houre was now come in which they ought to set forward, they set him vpon an Asse, and brought him to the Citie vpon a solemne feast day. And there met him Irenarchus Herodes, and his father Nicetes, which causing him to come vp into the chariote where they sate, persuaded him & sayd: What hurt I pray thee shall come thereof to thee, if thou say (by the way of salutation.) My Lord Cæsar, and to do sacrifice, and thus to saue thy selfe? MarginaliaPolicarpus refuseth to doe sacrifice.But he at the beginning made them none aunswere. Till that when they inforced him to speake, he sayd: I wil not do as ye counsail me I should. When that they sawe he could not be persuaded, they gaue him very rough language, & of purpose molested him, that in goyng doune the chariot from them, he might hurt or breake his legs. But he forcing very light of the matter, as though he had felt no hurt, went merily and diligently forward, making hast vnto the place appointed. And when there was such vprore in the place of execution, that he could not be heard but of a very few, there came a voyce from heauen to Polycarpus, MarginaliaPolicarpus comforted by a uoyce from heauē.as he was going into the Stage or appointed place of iudgement, saying: be of good cheare Polycarpus and play the man. No man there was, which saw him that spake, but very many of vs heard his voyce. And when he was brought in, there was a great noise made by them which vnderstood that Polycarpus was apprehended. The Proconsul asked him whē that he was come, whether his name was Polycarpus or not, and when he said, yea it was, he gaue him counsail to deny his name, MarginaliaPolicarpus allured to chaunge hys name would not consent.and said vnto him, be good vnto thy selfe, and fauour thyne old age, and many other such like words which they accustome to speake. Sweare saith he, by the Emperours good fortune, looke vpō this matter, say thou with vs: Destroy these naughtie men. Then Polycarpus beholding with constant countenance the whole multitude which was in the place appointed, and geuing a great sigh, looked vp to heauen, saying: Thou, thou it is that wilt destroy these wicked naughty men. And the Proconsul thus being earnest-

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