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John Foxe - The Reformed Reader

John Foxe - The Reformed ReaderEnglish Protestant clergyman and author of The Book of Martyrs. Foxe was born in Boston, Lincolnshire. He was a tutor to the children of English poet and soldier Henry Howard from 1548 to 1553. With the accession to the English throne of Roman Catholic Mary I, he left the country, remaining on the Continent until 1559, after Elizabeth I became queen of England. He was ordained in 1560. He completed a Latin history of Christian persecutions in 1559, published in English as Acts and Monuments of These Latter and Perilous Dayes. This book became popularly known as The Book of Martyrs and was the source of the popular conception of Roman Catholics for generations of English people.

He studied at Oxford, and became fellow of Magdalen College, where he appl'ed himself to church history. Dean Nowell, Hugh Latimer, and William Tyndale were among his intimate friends and correspondents. For his Protestant sentiments he seems to have been expelled from his college: He became tutor in Sir Thomas Lucy's family, and then to the children of the Earl of Surrey for five years. During this period he issued several tracts and a Sermon of John Oecolampadiua to Yong Men aced 'Sermon (London, 1550?). After the accession of Mary he was obliged to seek refuge from persecution on the Continent. He met Edmund Grindal at Strasburg and saw through the press in that city a volume of 212 pages on the persecution of Reformers from Wyclif to 1500, entitled Commentarii rerum in ecelesia gestarum masitmarumque per totem Buropam persecutwnum a Vuwleut temporibus ad hanc =qua otatem descriptio (1554). He went to Frankfort and sought to be a mediator in the differences between Dr. Cox and John Knox and removed from there, on Knox's departure, to Basel. Poverty forced him to apply himself to the printer's trade. Encouraged by Grindal (Remains, ed. W. Nicholson for the Parker Society, Cambridge, 1843, pp. 223 aqq.) he labored diligently on his great work on the martyrs, which appeared in Latin at Basel, 1559, and was dedicated to his former pupil, now the duke of Norfolk. Returning to England he spent much time under the roof of the duke, and attended hint to the scaffold, when at the age of thirty-six be was executed for conspiring with Mary Queen of Scots. He received a prebend in Salisbury Cathedral but remained poor all his life although an annuity from the duke of Norfolk of ?20 kept him from want. Called by Archbishop Parker to subscribe -to the canons, he refused, and, holding up a Greek Testsment, said, " To this will I subscribe." He was fearless in the avowal of his convictions, and petitioned the queen earnestly but unsuccessfully to spare the lives of two Dutch Anabaptists.

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Brief Biography
Foxe's Book of Martyrs

John Foxe wrote "Acts and Monuments of these latter and perilous days," quickly known as the "Book of Martyrs," to illustrate the persecution of the Protestant people in their fight for equal rights. He also wrote about Catholic martyrs as well, but that only fueled his argument about tyranny running the country. He also used common language and a writing style so vivid, the illustration proved him genius. As a result, it was widely accepted among a majority of Low Church families as well as the simple folk of the time, and right through the 19th century.

"After the Bible itself, no book so profoundly influenced early Protestant sentiment as the Book of Martyrs. Even in our time it is still a living force. It is more than a record of persecution. It is an arsenal of controversy, a storehouse of romance, as well as a source of edification." --James Miller Dodds, English Prose.

This is a house of great antiquity, since in it, in the year 1515, was born the celebrated John Foxe, the Martyrologist, and account of whose life we shall give in another place. This house, as it appeared in 1799. --The History and Antiquities of Boston by Pishey Thompson (1856).


In 1563, the press of John Day issued the first English edition of what may indeed be the longest-titled book in history: ?The Actes and Monuments of these latter and perilous Dayes, touching matters of the Church, wherein are comprehended and described the great Persecution and horrible Troubles that have been wrought and practised by the Romishe Prelates, Epeciallye in this Realme of England and Scotland, from the yeare of our Lorde a thousande to the time now present. Gathered and collected according to tile true Copies and Wrytinges certificatorie as well of the Parties themselves that Suffered, as also out of die Bishop?s Registers, which were the Doers thereof, by John Foxe, commonly known as the Book of Martyrs?.

1684 Foxe?s Book of Martyrs Facsimile Reproduction

Measuring an impressive 14 inches tall by 8.75 inches wide, and each of the three volumes is 2 to 2.5 inches thick; this set contains nearly a thousand tall pages per volume (nearly 3,000 total pages). The binding is hardcover burgundy bonded leather, with gold stamping on the spines. We selected the 1684 edition because that is the only edition containing the full text and all of the woodcut illustrations, which also used the easier-to-read Roman Style Type Face.


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