Foxe's Book of Martyrs

Foxe's Book of Martyrs
   The Book of Martyrs is a famous Protestant text documenting the persecution of Christians through the ages, with a special focus on Protestants executed during the reign of Queen MARY I (r. 1553-58) of England. Written at the time of the Protestant breakaway from the Roman Catholic community, it was both a record of the intensity of the controversy and a means in later years to keep the enmity between the two communities alive.
   The author, John Foxe (1516-87), was born in Boston, Lincolnshire, England. He was expelled from Oxford University for his Protestant ideas, then worked as a tutor until the beginning of Mary's reign. Shortly thereafter, he left for the Continent. At Basel, he began his multivolume history of Christianity with particular attention to the theme of martyrdom. As Protestant leaders were being executed by Mary, he accepted a suggestion to add current material to his history, which was first published in Latin in 1554, with the material on Mary appearing in 1559.
   Following the coronation of Elizabeth I, Foxe returned to England and set about the task of translating his book. The English edition appeared in 1563 under various titles, including Acts and Monuments. The book was ordered to be placed in every cathedral church in England. It enjoyed widespread sales, going through four editions during Foxe's life, and confirming Protestant opinion of the cruelty of Catholics in general and "Bloody Mary" in particular. It would help mold
   Protestant-Catholic relations in the English-speaking world into the 20th century.
   Foxe's text recounts the history of martyrdom in Western Christianity, squarely placing much of the blame at Rome's door. About half of the text concerns the trials that began with protoProtestants such as John HUS and John WYCLIFFE. Foxe died on April 18, 1587. His book has gone through numerous editions (under various titles), and new material was added on Protestant martyrs in the post-Reformation era.
   See also Marian exiles; Puritanism.
   Further reading:
   ■ John Foxe, The New Foxe's Book of Martyrs, rewritten and updated by Harold J. Chad-wick (Gainesville, Fla.: Bridge-Logos, 2001) - one of many editions; Christopher Highley and John N. King, ed., John Foxe and His World (Aldershot, Hampshire, U.K.: Ashgate, 2001)
   ■ D. M. Loades, ed., John Foxe: An Historical Perspective (Aldershot, Hampshire, U.K.: Ashgate, 1999)
   ■ James Frederic Mozley, John Foxe and His Book (London: SPCK: 1940)
   ■ V Norskov Olsen, John Foxe and the Elizabethan Church (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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