King - William Tyndale, John Foxe, John Day, and Early Modern Print Culture
Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 54, 2001

"The Light of Printing": William Tyndale, John Foxe, John Day, and Early Modern Print Culture [*].

 by John N. King

John Foxe, the martyologist, and John Day, the Elizabethan master printer, played central roles in the emergence of literate print culture following the death of William Tyndale, translator of the New Testament and parts of the Bible into English. In so doing, Foxe and his publisher contributed to the accepted modern belief that Protestantism and early printing reinforced each other. Foxe's revision of his biography of Tyndale in the second edition of Acts and Monuments of These Latter and Perilous Days (1570) and his collaboration on Day's 1573 publication of Tyndale's collected non-translation prose place intense stress upon the trio's active involvement in the English book trade. The engagement of Foxe and Day with Tyndale's publishing career exemplifies ways in which these bookmen exploited the power of the printing press to effect religious and cultural change.

According to tradition, the advent of the European printing trade afforded a necessary precondition for the Protestant Reformation. [1] Nevertheless, Protestants never monopolized a revolutionary technology that Johannes Gutenberg introduced sixty-four years before Martin Luther tacked his ninety-five theses on the door of Schlosskirche (Castle Church) in Wittenberg. It is undeniable that trade in books printed on the hand press with movable type thrived in Roman Catholic and Protestant Europe and played an important role in the advancement of both the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. Printed books afforded a vehicle, for example, both for Thomas More's attack on translation of the Bible into the vernacular and for William Tyndale's translation of the New Testament. More was out-of-step with other religious conservatives, however, because European printing presses had produced Bible translations in all European countries other than England. Regardless of whether the trade in printed books afforded an esse ntial precondition for the different phases of the Reformation, no doubt exists that it played a critical role in the dissemination of strongly felt religious ideas.

The combination of the life and works of William Tyndale, as documented and edited by John Foxe and collected and printed by John Day, contribute greatly to the modern belief that sixteenth-century English print culture and Protestantism reinforced each other. Recognition of the centrality of Day and Foxe in the transformation of English book culture following the publication of Tyndale's translation of the New Testament and other sections of the Bible takes on great significance at the present moment, as revisionist historians interpret early English Protestantism as a relentlessly destructive, if not malevolent, force. [2] In focusing on the smashing of saints' images, shattering of stained-glass windows, dismantling of altars, and despoliation of shrines, these scholars maintain an embarrassing silence about the emergence of a richly diverse and powerful literature grounded upon Tyndale's scriptural translations.

Although revisionists rightly claim that English Protestantism remained a minority movement until well into the reign of Elizabeth I, they have yet to explain the popularity as a highly saleable commodity of Tyndale's publications and books published by John Day and like-minded printers. Dozens of affordable editions of Tyndale's tracts and hundreds of editions of the Bible spawned by Tyndale's translation project sold out across the sixteenth century. Historical revisionists furthermore ignore the collaboration of Foxe and Day on the editing and publication of Tyndale's non-translation prose. Although religious beliefs motivated John Day and many other printers, they could not live by faith alone. Day based his success as an entrepreneur upon publication of books that sold well at his Aldersgate shop, at crowded book stalls in the vicinity of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, and at market squares throughout England. To understand sixteenth-century English print culture, we need to come to terms with the enga gement of Foxe and Day with Tyndale's publishing career.

Tyndale was no stranger to the printing house. Indeed, he and his earliest biographer, John Foxe, shared an intimate acquaintance with printing houses in both England and continental Europe. Foxe's publisher, John Day, the great Elizabethan master printer, played a crucial role both in the dissemination of the Tyndale martyrology constructed by Foxe out of divergent manuscript materials and in their collaboration on the first collected edition of Tyndale's non-translation prose works. (His Bible translations alone come to over a million words.) As Tyndale's earliest biographer and editor, Foxe has exerted an enduring influence upon Tyndale's life history and Reformation historiography in general.

The story about Tyndale's migration from England to Germany in search of a publisher is deservedly famous. In 1525 he supervised the first effort to print the English New Testament at the Cologne premises of Peter Quentell. When John Dobneck (Joannes Cochlaeus) reported on the Tyndale project, local authorities attempted to suppress it. In traveling up the Rhine to Worms, Tyndale and his assistant, William Roy, carried fresh quarto sheets from the disrupted Cologne printing run. [3] Peter Schoeffer printed the Worms New Testament in 1526. It was customary for learned authors and editors such as Tyndale and Roy to correct proof sheets. Such involvement would have been essential in production of books printed from type set by German compositors who knew little or no English. Tyndale's attention to detail is evident in the glosses and running headlines that he provided for the unique fragment of the Cologne printing preserved at the British Library (shelf mark G.12179).

We may note Tyndale's presence in the printing house of Martin de Keyser, the leading Protestant printer in Antwerp, in an apologetic postscript to The Parable of the Wicked Mammon (1531): "Be not offended, most dear reader, that diverse things are overseen through negligence in this little treatise." [4] During the 1520s and 1530s, de Keyser printed books by Tyndale and his associates and co-workers, John Frith, William Roy, and William Barlow. To avoid capital punishment, de Keyser employed the saucy pseudonym of Hans Luft and the false imprint of "Marburg, in the Land of Hesse." [5] Protestant associations clung to the real Hans Luft, a Wittenberg printer who produced many publications by Martin Luther.

Like Tyndale, John Foxe got printer's ink on his hands. Exiled to the Continent during the reign of Mary I, he resided with his close associate, John Bale, in the household of Johannes Oporinus, a prominent printer in Basel. Bale himself had been a habitue of printing houses in Antwerp and Wesel before he established a bookshop near St. Paul's Cathedral during Edward VI's reign. During employment by Oporinus as a proofreader, Foxe compiled Rerum in Ecclesia Gestarum, published by Oporinus and Nicolaus Brylinger in 1559. It is the Latin precursor of Acts and Monuments of These Latter and Perilous Days (1563), which has been known from the beginning by the popular tide of Foxe's "Book of Martyrs." At the same time, Bale concluded Scriptorum Illustrium maioris Brytanniae... Catalogus (Basel, 1557-1559), a massive bibliography of British authors whose historical sections complement Foxe's emerging collection of martyrologies. Honoring Tyndale as an "Apostle of Jesus Christ," Bale praises the translator as the "f irst person in the English region, after John Wyclif, who promoted the cause of divine truth against the perverse Balaamites" (i.e., religious conservatives). [6]

Returning to London after the death of Queen Mary, Foxe was a familiar figure at the Aldersgate printing house of John Day. They collaborated on the production of increasingly massive editions of the "Book of Martyrs." Although Foxe lived across London at the residence of the Duke of Norfolk near Aldgate, he received correspondence at Day's Aldersgate establishment and used the printing house as his address. In one letter, Foxe refers to Day's operation as "our printing treadmill." He must have carried books and manuscripts back and forth from Aldgate to Aldersgate. In the dedication of his 1607 edition of Foxe's Christ Jesus Triumphant, Day's son, Richard, reminisces that the martyrologist "traveled weekly every Monday to the most worthy printing house of John Day: In that my father's house many days and years, and infinite sums of money were spent to accomplish, and consummate his English Monuments [i.e., Acts and Monuments] and other many most excellent works in English and Latin." [7]

Foxe entertained no doubt about whether the advent of printing provided a necessary precondition for the Reformation. In a section entitled "The Benefit and Invention of Printing," the first edition of the "Book of Martyrs" (1563) asserts that divine providence assured the invention of printing: "Notwithstanding, what man soever was the instrument, without all doubt God himself was the ordainer and disposer thereof" In Foxe's view, the rapid propagation of the vernacular Bible and treatises by Martin Luther and other reformers enabled printing to "set the triple crown so awry on the pope's head, that it is like never to be set straight again." [8] The martyrologist's history of Martin Luther claims that printing is a divinely ordained tool for inculcating "doctrine and learning": "It pleased God to open to man the art of printing, the time whereof was shortly after the burning of Hus and Jerome. Printing, being opened, incontinent [i.e., immediately] ministered to the church, the instruments and tools of lea rning and knowledge." [9] In defending the evangelical ferment of Edward VI's reign, Foxe refers to his own callings as a cleric, dramatist, and editor in the alliterative declaration that "preachers, players, and set up of God, as a triple bulwark against the triple crown of the pope, to bring him down." [10]


Foxe's Acts and Monuments has played a seminal role in the construction of Tyndale's reputation as the father of the English Reformation. Scholars have noted that the life of Tyndale in the second edition differs markedly from that in the first edition of 1563. This version, in turn, had transformed the page-long story in Rerum in Ecclesia Gestarum Commentarii (Basle, 1559), which Foxe transcribed out of Halle's Union of the Two Noble and Illustrate Houses of York and Lancaster (1548) and Bale's Catalogus. [11] The 1563 text supplements those brief extracts with transcriptions from manuscripts no longer extant. In articulating the problem of "why Foxe should have chosen to expand, reconstruct, and modify the polemical thrust of Tyndale's story in his 1570 edition," Patrick Collinson notes that the accentuation of Tyndale's anti-Catholic inspiration is "typical of Foxe's intensified antipapal animus in the year of the publication of the bull of excommunication of Queen Elizabeth" (73).

Foxe's reliance on autobiographical moments in Tyndale's prologues and tracts has raised a question concerning the value of the 1570 martyrology. J. F. Mozley instructs readers to apprehend Tyndale's life "in its original form [i.e., the 1563 version], and not in the later editions, where Foxe edited it, and combined it with reflections of his own, and with quotations from Tyndale's works." With reference to Tyndale's youthful service as a tutor at Little Sodbury, for example, Mozley prefers an unembellished version of the dramatic account filled with dialogue that Foxe received in manuscript, presumably from Richard Webb of Chipping Sodbury (I shall refer to Webb as the source). A natural tale-teller with an eye for colorful detail, Webb eventually joined the household of Hugh Latimer, a spellbinding preacher whose sermons were published by John Day in many editions. [12] Mozley ignores ways in which Foxe's research improved and expanded the martyrology in line with Day's parallel project of preserving and republishing all of Tyndale's texts.

From its beginning in the 1563 "Book of Martyrs," the reader encounters manuscripts and printed books everywhere in Tyndale's story. Foxe augments the meager printed sources at his disposal by stitching together richly detailed manuscript witnesses. The recognizable voice of Richard Webb begins abruptly: "First Master Tyndale being in service with one master Walsh a knight, who married a daughter of Sir Robert Poyntz, a knight dwelling in Gloucestershire, the said Tyndale being schoolmaster to the said Master Walsh's children, and being in good favor, sat most commonly at his own table... [with] many diverse great beneficed men." In a tale filled with local color concerning Tyndale's two years at Little Sodbury, Webb details his hero's outwitting of unlearned clerics with whom he debated the "new learning" of Erasmus and Luther. His opponents came to harbor a "secret grudge in their hearts" because of Tyndale's adherence to the Lutheran doctrine of sola scriptura (scripture alone), which led him to expose th eir alleged errors by demonstrating in "the book the places, by open and manifest scripture." [13]

Two generations after the events had transpired, the fallibility of Webb's memory contributes to both the authenticity and the authority of his report. The narrator is not quite sure about the identity of the manuscript translation of Erasmus that Tyndale gave to the Walshes: "But then did he translate into English a book called as I remember Enchiridion Militis Christiani." It apparently played a crucial role in their conversion. Webb is not absolutely certain about details concerning a meeting of priests to which the bishop's chancellor summoned Tyndale: "And whether he had knowledge by their threatening, or that he did suspect that they would lay to his charge, it is not now so perfectly in my mind, but thus he told me, that he doubted their aminations, so that he in his going thitherwards prayed in his mind heartily to God to strengthen him, to stand fast in the truth of his word." [14]

Richard Webb narrates the remaining incidents at Little Sodbury, notably Tyndale's famous rejoinder to "a learned man" who defended papal authority over divine law. Foxe preserves his reporter's direct quotation of the most memorable words attributed to Tyndale: "I defy the pope and all his laws... If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause a boy that driveth the plow shall know more of the scripture than thou dost." [15] Surely the speaker recalls words from Paraclesis, the introduction to Erasmus's Greek New Testament, which advocate the setting of scriptural texts to popular tunes: "Would that, as a result, the farmer sing some portion of them at the plow" (101). Of course, a gulf yawns between "Erasmus' 'Would that' and Tyndale's 'I will cause.'... What Erasmus is willing to express as a wish, Tyndale puts as his personal mission." [16] Webb's narration ends when Tyndale departs from Gloucestershire for London.

A brief transitional segment then sketches in the evangelist's migration to Germany and the Low Countries. Scriptural typology enhances meager commentary on Tyndale's production of books for export to England, in which an unknown reporter or Foxe himself claims apostolic status for Tyndale by comparing his authorship of an unpublished attack on the Mass to St. Paul's opposition to the "great goddess Diana" during the journey to Ephesus recounted in Acts 19. [17] This story likens belief in transubstantiation and Roman-rite Mass to pagan idolatry of the early Christian era. [18]

The 1563 life concludes with a prolix account of the end of Tyndale's life, which Foxe received from Thomas Poyntz or someone close to him. (This essay will attribute the lost manuscript to Poyntz.) Poyntz was a kinsman of Lady Anne Walsh, and ran the English house at Antwerp; Tyndale lodged with Poyntz prior to his apprehension and execution. (John Rogers, the first martyr under Mary I, whose "Matthew's Bible" combined translations by Tyndale and Miles Coverdale, served as chaplain to English merchants resident at this lodging.) Surely some of the merchants who lived there engaged in smuggling copies of Tyndale's New Testament into England. It may be that a paucity of biographical information led Foxe to place undue stress upon Poyntz's undiluted eye witness testimony in the longest of three manuscript witnesses assimilated into the 1563 biography. The story details the treachery of Henry Phillips, an Englishman who ingratiated himself into Tyndale's company in order to hand him over to Imperial authorities. An added gloss underscores Poyntz's judgment that Tyndale unwittingly courted arrest "for in worldly wiliness he was very simple [i.e., innocent]." [19] A hagiographical coda celebrates Tyndale's "most upright manners and pure life" [20] and his achievement as translator of the New Testament and author of an Obedience of a Christian Man.

As an addendum to Tyndale's biography, Foxe includes a miraculous story that subtly enhances Tyndale's status as a latter-day apostle. Derived from the oral testimony of an English merchant, it first appeared in the 1559 Rerum in Ecclesia-Gestarum. This story about the translator's apotropaic power to neutralize the "devilish magic arts" of an Antwerp juggler incorporates an allusion to St. Paul's blinding of Elymas, a magician at Antioch. [21] The text represents the juggling wizard as a kinsman of Roman Catholic clerics against whom Tyndale railed. After all, Foxe's 1570 revision quotes from Tyndale's preface to The First Book of Moses Called Genesis (1530) in alleging that Roman clerics had fabricated "traditions of their own making, founded without all ground of Scripture: either else juggling with the texts, expounding it in such a sense, as impossible it were to gather of the text, if the right process, order, and meaning thereof were seen." [22] Following Tyndale's lead, Bale, Foxe, and others absorbed words such as "juggler" and "necromancer" into the Protestant polemical lexicon as cant terms for Roman Catholic priests. [23]

Foxe then ends the 1563 account with two consolatory letters that Tyndale had sent to stiffen the resolve of his friend, John Frith, as he awaited execution in the Tower of London. In the manner familiar from Foxe's compilation of Acts and Monuments, these autograph letters, or copies derived from them, supplement the eye-witness testimony of Webb and Poyntz.


Either Foxe or Day provide a new title in the second edition: "The Life and Story of the True Servant and Martyr of God, William Tyndale, Who, for His Notable Pains and Travail, May Well Be Called the Apostle of England in This Our Later Age." [24] By stressing a thesis absent in the 1563 story, it calls attention to Foxe's abandonment of the unmediated transcription of manuscript witnesses. The new title affords a decided contrast to the simple summary in the 1563 title: "The conversation of Master William Tyndale and his first occasion of his departure out of this realm of England, and how traitorously he was taken and brought into the hands of God's enemies." [25]

The declaration that Tyndale is not an apostle, but "the Apostle" of England, transcends apostolic allusions in the 1563 text, including newly deleted references to the imprisonment of many Apostles according to the Acts of the Apostles. [26] Addition of an otherwise unsubstantiated story concerning Tyndale's shipwreck en route to Hamburg, where he planned to publish his translation of Deuteronomy, brings to mind the predicament of Apostle Paul according to 2 Corinthians 11:25: "I suffered thrice shipwreck." Miles Coverdale, who helped Tyndale to retranslate the Pentateuch manuscript lost at sea, may have provided that report. [27] Nevertheless, that story may be a pious fiction designed to enhance Tyndale's status as a latter-day saint who recalls the earliest Christian apostles. [28] It may be that Foxe (or Coverdale) recalled the Pauline coloration of John Bale's claim to apostolic status through survival of a dangerous sea voyage: "Thus had I in my troublous journey from Ireland into Germany all those ch ances in a manner that St. Paul had in his journey of no less trouble, from Jerusalem to Rome, saving that we lost not our ship by the way." [29] Foxe's addition of another story concerning Tyndale's conversion of his jailer and members of his household enhances his apostolic status by allusion to St. Paul's conversion of his jailer at Philippi (Acts 16). [30]

Insistence on Tyndale's apostleship echoes declarations in Bale's Latin catalogues of English authors. [31] Bale did not coin an epithet first used in A Book Made by John Frith ... answering unto Master More's Letter (Munster [i.e., Antwerp], 1533). During Tyndale's lifetime, Frith praised his friend's contentment "with such a poor apostle's life as God gave his Son Christ." Foxe and Bale therefore collaborated in the transmission of a reformist alternative to the papal claim of apostolic succession, one that aligns Tyndale with Wyclif in a native English line of religious dissent based upon translation of the Bible into the vernacular. This claim to ancient apostolic authority enabled Protestants to counter charges that they were religious innovators with the counterclaim that Roman Catholic tradition constitutes a mystifying human invention.

In the revised martyrology in the second edition of the "Book of Martyrs," Foxe's mediation of the narratives of Richard Webb and Thomas Poyntz goes beyond the few marginal glosses that he added in 1563. Incorporating many additions, expansions, and marginal notes, the 1570 revision includes changes in wording both major and minor. Foxe incorporates the results of research into London diocesan registers dating from the time of Bishop Tunstall and a royal proclamation that banned books by Tyndale and other reformers. Above all, Foxe replaces material in the original life with wording from Tyndale's own books, thus allowing the martyr to attest first hand to his own experience. Foxe enhances Tyndale's achievement and the pathos of his final days by eliminating the anticlimactic conclusion of the 1563 editon. Excision of this long-winded account of the imprisonment, interrogation, and escape of Thomas Poyntz during the aftermath of Tyndale's arrest constitutes a signal improvement. Foxe also cuts superfluous de tail concerning Henry Phillips, the spy who betrayed Tyndale, whom the narrative otherwise demonizes as a latter-day Judas.

Preparing the way for Webb's account of the Little Sodbury years, an added preamble summarizes Tyndale's education at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, where he surreptitiously instructed students and fellows "in the knowledge and truth of the Scriptures." It includes an otherwise unsubstantiated reference to a sojourn at Cambridge. [32] Foxe eradicates Webb's personal voice and delivers the story in the third person from the vantage point of an omniscient narrator. At times this change weakens the force of Tyndale's own testimony by relegating it to unsubstantiated indirect discourse, rather than words recounted by a recognizable tale-teller. Both the 1563 and 1570 versions of the Antwerp narrative refer to Poyntz in the third person. Claiming authority with the refrain "as Tyndale saith," Foxe quotes and paraphrases from Tyndale's texts in a way that allows the translator to join Webb and Poyntz as a narrator. Tyndale's polemical voice now intrudes through interpolations within the body of his life story. Marginal gl osses added by Foxe direct the reader to accept unambiguously tendentious interpretations. Thus a marginal clarification informs the reader flatly that Tyndale "instructeth Master Walsh and his wife in the truth." This gloss complements an interpolated attack on high-ranking clerics at the Walshes' table for "uttering their blindness and ignorance without any resistance or gainsaying." Another polemical note attacks the learned man with whom Tyndale debated for preferring "the pope's law. . . before God's law." [33]

The major expansion in the Little Sodbury section incorporates material from Tyndale's preface to the Pentateuch. Direct quotation allows the translator's vivid autobiographical testimony to supplement newly impersonalized material derived from Webb. One interpolation indicates that the chancellor "threatened him grievously, reviling and rating him as though he had been a dog." His own voice further decries the ignorance of Gloucester-shire clerics "who have seen no more Latin than that only which they read in their portases and missals (which yet many of them can scarcely read), except it be Albertus, De Secretis Mulierum, in which yet... they pore day and night, and make notes therein, and all to teach the midwives, as they say." In satirizing the clerics for being more learned in folk remedies than theology, Tyndale indicates that they show undue attention to feminine physiology. Moving from quotation to paraphrase, the narrative attacks "the priests of the country clustering together, [who] began to grud ge and storm against Tyndale, railing against him in alehouses and other places." [34]

The bookishness of Tyndale's attack aligns his biography with Reformation controversial literature. Reformers associated St. Albert the Great, the twelfth-century philosopher and natural scientist renowned in his own age for universal learning, with what they regarded as the duncery of Scholasticism. Tyndale thus associates priests who pore over De Secretis Mulierum (Concerning the Secrets of Women) with the peddling of superstitious nonsense antithetical to scriptural understanding. Portable breviaries and missals were stock symbols of clerical misunderstanding in Protestant texts and pictures ranging from satires published under Edward VI to Spenser's Faerie Queene. Luke Shepherd fictionalizes Tyndale's propagandistic charges in composing Doctor Double ale (1548), for example, a memorable satire on a negligent priest who abandons pastoral care for the sake of his ale pot. The drunken cleric cannot read the portas that he carries into taverns where he mumbles a disconnected muddle of dog Latin phrases that mock the Latin-rite liturgy. The antagonist of the unlearned cleric, a cobbler's boy well versed in the English Bible, is a reincarnation of Tyndale's learned plowboy.

Quotation from Tyndale's preface to the Penrateuch fills a gap concerning his London years. The text takes on a quasi-autobiographical dimension when Foxe transmits the translator's undiluted account of what is likely to be the best-remembered incident in his life story. Rebuffed by the hostility of clerics in Gloucestershire, Tyndale decided that he could only produce the English New Testament under the protection of an episcopal patron capable of licensing the translation project. Recalling Erasmus' commendation of the erudition of Cuthbert Tunstall, Tyndale approached the Bishop of London, who had assisted the Dutch scholar in producing the Latin translation of his Greek New Testament. Tyndale made his overture in the bookish manner of the learned humanist who had converted the master and mistress of Little Sodbury with a manuscript translation. Tyndale demonstrated his mastery of classical Greek with a gift copy of his own translation of an oration by Isocrates. This text failed to win patronage from Bis hop Tunstall, however, who rebuffed him with the reply "That his house was full." [35]

A remote possibility exists that a gospel allusion resonates in Tyndale's memorable lament that "not only was there to be no room in the bishop's house for him to translate the New Testament: but also that there was no place to do it in all England." [36] Within very few years Peter Schoeffer would print the Worms New Testament in which Tyndale's translation of chapter two of the Gospel of Luke describes Mary's delivery of Jesus: "And she brought forth her first begotten son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them within the inn." If Tyndale's personal narrative alludes to the Nativity, it bears out David Daniell's observation that "Tyndale's stories about his own life ... have all a larger frame, a bigger point" (1994, 199). For Tyndale, completion of the vernacular New Testament despite every obstacle would constitute a typological fulfillment of the Incarnation. Foxe renders that point explicit when he likens official opposition to its publicatio n to "the birth of Christ, turbatus est Herodus & tota Hierosolyma cum eo." [37]

In fleshing out the story of Tyndale's emigration from England, Foxe once again resorts to his subject's tracts in order to explain his motivation for translating the Bible into the vernacular so "that the poor people might also read and see the simple plain word of God." The 1570 Acts and Monuments paraphrases from the epistle and prologue of The Obedience of the Christian Man in order to explain Tyndale's goal of enabling common folk to attain biblical understanding without mediation by non-scriptural traditions or the "idolatries" and "sophistry" of the "pharisaical clergy." In particular, Foxe expounds the translator's famous attack on the fourfold method of allegorical interpretation in order to explain his hostility to clerics who wrest "the Scripture unto their own purpose, contrary unto the process, order, and meaning of the text; and so delude them in descanting upon it with allegories, and amaze them, expounding it in many senses laid before the unlearned lay people." [38] Quoting yet again from Ty ndale's preface to the Pentateuch, Foxe commends the translator's concern for accuracy in appending to the New Testament a call for the correction of errors. [39] We should recall that Foxe and, in all likelihood, Tyndale went into printing houses in order to proofread newly printed sheets and insert stop press corrections into their books.

Foxe's resculpting of Tyndale's life in the 1570 edition of the "Book of Martyrs" demonstrates the inadequacy of the highly emended text in the nineteenth-century edition, which haphazardly conflates the 1563 and 1570 versions, contains many errors, and effaces important elements in the typography, layout, and illustration of the editions published by John Day. Defense of the nineteenth-century edition on the ground that it "is far closer to the 'original,"' because "access to any text is always mediated by previous interpretations," is not persuasive. [40] We may well ask "Which original" -- that of the printed texts of 1563 or 1570, or the lost manuscripts that preceded them? In actual fact, Stephen R. Cattley, the Victorian editor, denies the historicity of Acts and Monuments and masks the indeterminacy of its various texts, including the highly mediated form of the 1583 reprint of the 1570 life of Tyndale that he used as a rough-and-ready basis for a crude conflation that exists in no preceding edition. Although we may discern traces of lost manuscript exemplars in the different versions of Foxe's narrative and many others throughout the "Book of Martyrs," the original versions are lost in the mists of time. Nonetheless, contrasts between the 1563 and 1570 versions of the Tyndale martyrology yield rich information concerning the lost originals from which Foxe compiled the narrative.


In providing a list of books absent in the 1563 martyrology, Foxe makes it clear that his 1570 revision of Tyndale's life represents an outgrowth of John Day's project of publishing a collected edition of Tyndale's non-translation prose: "He wrote also diverse other works under sundry titles, among the which is that most worthy monument of his entitled The Obedience of a Christian Man...with diverse other treatises: as of The Wicked Mammon: The Practice of Prelates, with expositions upon certain parts of the Scripture, and other books also answering to Sir Thomas More and other adversaries of the truth, no less delectable, than also most fruitful to be read." [41] Those documents augment the many monuments cited in the formal title of the Acts and Monuments. Foxe's conception of monument plays upon the word's different senses of sepulcher, written document, and funerary memorial. [42] The compiler's incorporation of texts into martyrological testimonials of faith supplants emphasis upon relics and miracles in medieval legends of the saints.

Emphasis upon textuality infuses the Calendar prefixed to Acts and Monuments (it is absent from the 1570 edition), which substitutes Protestant martyrs and their medieval predecessors (e.g., John Wyclif and Jan Hus) for the panoply of medieval saints. (Retention of St. George was an exception because of his status as patron saint of England and its royal family.) The names of most martyrs are printed with black ink, but John Day followed the medieval tradition of rubrication by employing red lettering to emphasize not only important saints' days and church festivals grounded upon the Bible and included in the Book of Common Prayer, but also a small number of "confessors" (e.g., Martin Luther and Edward VI) and martyrs who wrote a significant body of theological texts. Day did this despite the added effort and expense of the separate type setting and imposition necessitated by red lettering. The printing of Tyndale's name in red ink on the anniversary of his execution, 6 October, places him in the company of new-style saints whose writings afforded a basis for the Elizabethan settlement in religion. They include John Hooper, Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, and Hugh Latimer.

John Day's business acumen governed his collaboration with Foxe. Religious zeal motivated the publisher, but he also enhanced book sales by altering and expanding successive editions of Acts and Monuments in such a way as to afford an incentive to churches, officials, and private individuals to buy new editions. Business considerations accordingly inform an advertisement, which the martyrologist incorporates into the 1570 "Book of Martyrs," for Day's forthcoming collection of Tyndale's polemical prose: "which partly yet being unknown to many, partly also being almost abolished and worn out by time, the printer hereof intendeth (good reader) for conserving and restoring such singular treasures, shortly (God willing) to collect and set forth in print the same in one general volume all and whole together, as also the works of John Frith, Barnes, and others, as all seem most special and profitable for thy reading." [43] After Foxe recounts Tyndale's execution, another advertisement declares: "As concerning the works and books of Tyndale, which extend to a great number, thou wast told before (loving reader) how the printer hereof mindeth by the Lord's leave, to collect them all in one volume together, and put them out in print. Wherefore it shall not greatly at this time be needful to make any several rehearsal of them." A marginal gloss urges the reader to watch for the forthcoming publication: "William Tyndale's works looked for to be all set out in one volume." [44]

Foxe's 1570 revision of the life of Tyndale incorporates the results of research that he was conducting in connection with John Day's projected edition of The Whole Works of William Tyndale, John Frith, and Doctor Barnes, Three Worthy Martyrs and Principal Teachers of this Church of England, Collected and Compiled in One Tome together, Being Before Scattered, and Now in Print Here Exhibited to the Church (1573). The 1570 Acts and Monuments accordingly quotes extracts from two texts in that forthcoming collection. [45] Patrick Collinson hypothesizes that Foxe edited the tracts of Tyndale, Frith, and Barnes "to serve as a kind of prophylactic against the harmful pastoral effects of the determinism too easily read in to Calvinistic soteriology" (74).

Surely John Day organized republication of Tyndale's collected prose at his Aldersgate printing house, where many hand-operated presses were in constant use. Indeed, Day himself had published several Tyndale editions at that location. As compositors marked off copy prior to setting type, Day or an overseer supervised press operations. Foxe may have been present as he attached new glosses and place-indicators to the margins of tracts from which the compositors set type for the Whole Works. [46] The compositors also carried over marginalia printed in earlier single-text editions. It seems likely that Day and Foxe referred to the lists of Tyndale's books in John Bale's Latin catalogues. The Practice of Popish Prelates affords a good example of their alteration of Tyndale's titles. Insertion of the adjective "popish" confers a tendentiously alliterative twist upon the original title. The collection includes all of Tyndale's non-translation prose including two works of uncertain attribution: "A Protestation of the State of the Souls Departed" and "A Supper of the Lord Wherein is Confuted the Letter of Master More Sent Unto John Frith, A Fruitful Treatise Upon Signs and Sacraments, Supposed to Be Written by Tyndale." It also carries over from the "Book of Martyrs" items derived from manuscript exemplars: "Two Notable Letters That He Sent Unto John Frith."

At the outset of Whole Works, Foxe's preface reflects praise upon Day in celebrating "this science of printing" and printers "who occupy the trade thereof" as divinely ordained instruments for the "furtherance of true religion" and "repairing of Christ's church." The panegyric exceeds the lengthy praise of printing in the 1570 Acts and Monuments. Foxe praises printers in general for restoring "such fruitful works and monuments of ancient writers, and blessed martyrs: who as by their godly life, and constant death, gave testimony to the truth." At the same time, that wording refers specifically to the compiler's ongoing collaboration with John Day on both the "Book of Martyrs" and the Whole Works, in which "the printer of this book hath diligently collected, and in one volume together, enclosed the works I mean of William Tyndale, John Frith, and Robert Barnes: chief ringleaders in these latter times of this Church of England." [47]

The two printing projects fit together hand and glove, given Day's abandonment of the plan announced in the 1570 Acts and Monuments of adding writings by reformers other than Barnes and Frith. Whole Works provides complete texts of writings whose length precludes inclusion among the shorter documentary monuments found in the ever-expanding text of the "Book of Martyrs," to which the 1573 collection constitutes a sequel:

Wherefore according to our promise in the book of Acts and Monuments, we thought good herein to spend a little diligence in collecting and setting abroad their books together, so many as could be found, to remain as perpetual Lamps shining in the Church of Christ, to give light to all posterity. And although the Printer, herein taking great pains, could not peradventure come by all (howbeit, I trust there lack not many) yet the Lord be thanked for those which he hath got and here published unto us. [48]

John Day's religious zeal contributed to his landmark editions of textual monuments by Protestant luminaries, but he based his career upon sound business principles. His monopolies on publication of the most often reprinted sixteenth-century English books, The ABC with Little Catechism and The Whole Book of Psalms, afforded the foundation for his prosperity as a very successful Elizabethan master printer. The holder of other lucrative monopolies, he served as Printer to the City of London from 1564 until his death twenty years later (see STC, 3.51-52). The sheer volume of his output made him a wealthy man, who kept many presses in constant operation. For example, the Whole Works of Tyndale, Frith, and Barnes joined other publications in maintaining book sales during the interval between the 1570 and 1576 editions of Acts and Monuments.

The interlocking publication of Whole Works and multiple editions of the "Book of Martyrs" represents the capstone of a printing career whose advent we may date with certainty to the heyday of the Reformation during Edward VI's reign. Maintaining a remarkably high output for a novice printer, Day had published selected sermons by Hugh Latimer, Edmund Becke's revisions of both the Matthew and the Taverner versions of the Bible, and many other books. [49] Going underground after imprisonment under Queen Mary, Day may have operated the secret press that produced anti-Catholic polemics under the false imprint of "Michael Wood" in "Rouen." Michael Wood publications included books by Protestant luminaries including John Bale, John Hooper, and Lady Jane Grey. [50]

Returning to his Aldersgate premises at the accession of Elizabeth I, Day set to work publishing sermons and theological tracts by influential reformers, beginning with The Works of Thomas Becon (1560-1564) in three massive volumes. Dated 25 November 1563, the colophon of the third Becon volume indicates that it was in press at the same time, or soon after, completion of the first edition of Acts and Monuments on 20 March of the same year. Day monopolized publication of sermons by Hugh Latimer -- a hero of the "Book of Martyrs" -- and writings by Becon, which included the Elizabethan best sellers, the Pomander of Prayer and Sick Man's Salve. Augustine Bernher's two-volume edition of Hugh Latimer's collected Sermons went on sale a year earlier. The second edition was in press during 1571 and 1572, years that intervened between publication of the second edition of Acts and Monuments and the Whole Works.

The "Book of Martyrs" influenced Foxe's preface to the Whole Works, which praises Tyndale as "the Apostle of England," a Pauline epithet that likens him to Epaphroditus, the "Apostle of the Philippians" (Phil. 2.25, 4.2). Foxe explains: "For as the Apostles in the primitive age first planted the Church in truth of the Gospel: so the same truth being again defaced and decayed by enemies in this our latter time, there was none that travailed more earnestly in restoring of the same in this realm of England, than did William Tyndale." [51] First in priority among the lives of the three writers that Foxe abbreviates out of the 1570 Acts and Monuments is "the history and discourse of the life of William Tyndale out of the book of Acts and Monuments briefly extracted." It begins with an advertisement that refers the reader to Foxe's already published martyrology:

Forsomuch as the life of William Tyndale author of this treatise immediately following, is sufficiently and at large discoursed in the book of Acts and Monuments, by reason whereof we shall not need greatly to intermeddle with any new repetition thereof, yet notwithstanding because as we [i.e., Foxe and Day] have taken in hand to collect and set forth his whole works together, so we thought it not inconvenient, to collect likewise some brief notes concerning the order of his life and godly conversation. [52]

Although Foxe and Day carried over marginalia from the 1570 text, three additional glosses elaborate upon the significance of Tyndale's achievement: "The Scripture in the vulgar tongue, a special manifesting of truth"; "Ignorance of Scripture cause[s] all mischief and errors in religion"; and "The reprobate are always offended at the truth" (B1v-2).

It is a tribute to Foxe's indefatigable energy as a compiler that the abridged life of Tyndale in the 1573 edition of Whole Works concludes with new information, "a few notes touching his private behavior in diet, study, and especially his charitable zeal, and tender relieving of the poor." This unique material appears nowhere in any edition of the "Book of Martyrs." Presumably the information came from an intimate acquaintance of Tyndale at Antwerp, possibly Thomas Poyntz. [53] The paragraph informs us that Tyndale "hallowed to himself two days in the week, which he named his days of pastime." On Monday and Saturday respectively, he visited English religious refugees and distributed to the poor money that he received from the English merchants. Wholly dedicating the "rest of the days in the week ... to his book," he devoted Sunday to Bible readings before audiences made up of English merchants who assembled both before and after dinner. A quietly eloquent encomium concludes the hagiography: "He was a man wit hout any spot, or blemish of rancor, or malice, full of mercy and compassion, so that no man living was able to reprove him of any kind of sin or crime." Given the commitment of Tyndale, Foxe, and Day to accuracy in printing, it seems fitting that a list of "Faults escaped in the Printing" follows the conclusion of that abbreviated life. [54] Surely it represents the fruit of Foxe's Monday visits to Day's Aldersgate premises, where the editor read proof sheets that were still wet from the printing presses.

Between Foxe's preface and abridgement of Tyndale's life, John Day arranged for the insertion of a large double-column woodcut entitled "The Martyrdom and Burning of William Tyndale in Brabant, by Vilvorde Castle" (A4r). The publisher commissioned it for the first edition of the Acts and Monuments (fig. 1). Because no genuine portrait of Tyndale exists, this illustration may be his earliest extant portrayal (see Trapp). This woodcut exemplifies Day's careful attention to the commissioning of more than one hundred woodcuts that made Foxe's collection the best illustrated book of the Elizabethan age. [55] Surely he preserved this valuable wood block among others under lock and key at his Aldersgate establishment.

The execution scene portrays Tyndale chained to the stake as the executioner garrotes him before burning. The loin cloth that he wears is a naturalistic detail, but a remote possibility exists that it suggests allusion to the iconography of the nakedness of truth. The crowd surrounding the scaffold includes jeering friars conventional in Foxean woodcuts in addition to soldiers, officials, and townspeople. Day used this woodcut in all four of his editions of the "Book of Martyrs." The printer had inserted it into the 1563 edition without caption, but he or Foxe added the following legend in the second:

At last, after much reasoning, when no reason would serve, although he deserved no death, he was condemned by virtue of the emperor's decree, made in the assembly at Augsburg (as is before signified) and upon the same, brought forth to the place of execution, was there tied to the stake, and then strangled first by the hangman, and afterward with fire consumed in the morning, at the town of Vilvorde, A.D. 1536; crying thus at the stake with a fervent zeal, and a loud voice: "Lord, open the King of England's eyes." [56]

Although these last words appear nowhere in Foxe's 1563 or 1570 narratives, we may read them in the banderole extending from the victim's mouth. The words are not carved into the wood, because John Day instructed the compositor to set moveable type inside an aperture within the wood block. In the 1563 woodcut, we see this wording: "Lord ope the king of Englands eies." Accidentals change in the illustration for Whole Works (fig. 2): "Lord ope the K. of Englads eyes." [57] The pictures are otherwise identical. The theological motif of blindness versus seeing spiritual light also informs the woodcut border for the collection as a whole (fig. 3), where it symbolizes John Day's career as a printer and his contribution to emergent English book culture. He commissioned this fine title page one-quarter of a century earlier, when he used it originally for his folio edition of Edmund Becke's Bible, a revision of the Taverner Old Testament and Tyndale's New Testament. Day reserved the border for use in folio editions of religious books such as Becon's Works, the Whole Book of Psalms by Sternhold and Hopkins, and Peter Martyr's Most Learned Commentaries upon the Epistle to the Romans. With the royal motto and coat of arms in the top compartment, the illustration symbolizes the circulation of the vernacular Bible by permission of the Crown. Portrayals in the side compartments of the raising of Lazarus and Resurrection of Christ are linked to a rebus in the bottom compartment. It symbolizes the printer's name, trade, and religious faith. Depicting the resurrection of the body in terms of the awakening of one scantily clad man by another, this device and Day's motto, "Arise for It is Day," continue the interlocking symbolism of divine revelation and resurrection. With the New Jerusalem in the background, the scene alludes to the widespread conceit of Christ as the rising sun.

This motto and device exemplify the intertwining of John Day's printing career and religious faith through allusion to an apocalyptic exhortation in 1 Thessalonians 5:5, which symbolizes the end of the world as the dawning of a New Day. This reference affords a network of puns on the publisher's surname. Tyndale translates the text thus: "Of the times and seasons brethren ye have no need that I write unto you: for ye yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord shall come even as a thief in the night.... But ye brethren are not in darkness, that that day should come on you as it were a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day. We are not of the night neither of darkness." The text beneath the title, Mortui resurgent ("The dead will rise"; 1 Cor. 15:52), extends the promise of resurrection to the three authors.

The printer uses the same border on title leaves that introduce the second and third parts of the collection: "The Works of the Excellent Martyr of Christ, John Frith" and "The Works of Doctor Barnes." These borders precede martyrologies for each author, which Foxe abbreviates out of Acts and Monuments. The contents of the compartments enumerate the works of each author collected by John Day. These reuses of the woodcut border complement Foxe's "Epistle or Preface to the Christian Reader" as a witty advertisement for Day as a Protestant publisher par excellence. When Day commissioned the wood block during the reign of Edward VI, his books went on sale at the printer's shops at Holborn and Cheapside. His sign of the Resurrection bore a picture of the rising sun. Zealous Protestant readers would have gone there in search of the light of Day.

Two more woodcuts complete Day's illustration of the Whole Works. The first appears at the head of "A Brief Discourse of the Life and Doings of Robert Barnes, Doctor in Divinity, a blessed Servant and Martyr of Christ, summarily extracted out of the book of Monuments" (fig.4). Reused from the 1563 and 1570 editions of the Acts and Monuments, it portrays "The death and burning of the most constant martyrs in Christ, Dr. Robert Barnes, Thomas Garrett, and William Jerome, in Smithfield, Anno 1541 [sic]." [58] In 1540 the three reformers preached Lenten sermons at Paul's Cross. In a sermon delivered on the third Sunday in Lent (28 February), Barnes incurred the displeasure of Bishop Stephen Gardiner for attacking his censure of the Lutheran doctrine of justification by faith. The three companions died as heretics on 30 July of the same year. Surrounded by a crowd of onlookers, they await conflagration amidst faggots ready for the torch. Mounted individuals such as the man on horseback symbolize unjust authority in woodcuts in the "Book of Martyrs."

Related more closely to Tyndale's achievement (fig. 5), the final woodcut in Whole Works represents the Reformation as a battle between the Bible as the self-revelatory Book and unwritten traditions embodied in Roman Catholic books and ritual practices. The bookishness of this contest reflects praise upon the contribution of Tyndale, Foxe, and Day to emergent English print culture. Entitled "A lively picture describing the authority and substance of God's most blessed word, weighing against popish traditions," the allegorical scene portrays the power of the Bible, presumably a lar translation even though it bears a legend in Latin: Verbum Dei (Word of God). The iconoclastic scene portrays the blindfolded figure of Justice, armed with sword and scales, who provides "Judgment Indifferent." Those emblems are classical, but they also symbolize the spiritual "weight" of the Bible that triumphantly outweighs the heaped pile of decrees, decretals, rosaries, images, and wealth of the ecclesiastical hierarchy of the Church of Rome. Even the attendant demon cannot tip the balance in its favor. Surely the martyrologist composed the fourteener couplets that explicate the woodcut on whose design he apparently collaborated with Day:

How life is chaff of popish toys, if thou desire to try,

Lo Justice holds true beam without respect of partial eye:

One balance holds God's holy word, and on the other part,

Is laid the dregs of Antichrist, devised by popish art:

Let friars and nuns and baldpate priests, with triple crown of pope,

The cardinal's hat, and devil himself, by force pluck down the pope:

Bring bell, book, candle, cross, & beads, and mitred Basan bull,

Bring bulls of lead and pope's decrees, that balance down to pull:

Yet shall these tares and filthy dregs, invented by man's brain,

Through force of God's most mighty word, be found both light vain.

The postscript comes from 3 Esdras 4: "Magna est veritas & preualet, Great is the truth and prevaileth." [59]

Although Day employed this "Allegory of Christian Justice" for the first time as an appendage to Whole Works, it seems unlikely that he commissioned the wood block expressly for this collection. Religious tracts are generally unillustrated, and the other narrative woodcuts constitute convenient reuses of blocks tailor-made for Acts and Monuments. It seems likely that Day commissioned it for the third edition of the Acts and Monuments, forthcoming in 1576, in which it functions as a visual coda for the first volume under the title of the "Allegory of Christian Justice." [60] Its iconography affords a fitting postscript to the preceding set of a dozen pictures entitled "The Proud Primacy of Popes Painted Out in Tables," that is, woodcuts. Day added them to the second edition of the "Book of Martyrs "as the visual basis for a polemical commentary that Foxe extracted from a tract contained in Whole Works, John Frith's An Antithesis between Christ and the Pope. Originally published in 1529, this translation of Lu ther's Offenbarung des Endchrists (Wittenberg, 1524) claims that nearly eighty deeds of Christ have undergone contradiction by unjust papal authority. Luther's text expands upon the famous Passional Christi und Antichristi (Wittenberg, 1521), which contains thirteen pairs of antithetical woodcuts carved in the atelier of Lucas Cranach the Elder and accompanied by polemical captions.

In accordance with the Lutheran doctrine of sola scriptura (scripture alone), the final woodcut in Whole Works symbolizes the centrality of the Bible in Protestant book culture to which Tyndale, Foxe, and Day dedicated their careers. Gathering at the left hand side of this "Allegory of Christian Justice," Jesus Christ and his apostles complement praise of Tyndale as the Apostle of England and the woodcut illustration of the translator's execution. Not only do Tyndale's dying words, "Lord, open the king of England's eyes" (fig. 1), conflate apostolic utterances by Saints Stephen and Paul, [61] they constitute a memorable appeal for free circulation of the vernacular Bible. Tyndale's speech further recall the prologue "To the Reader" in his 1534 New Testament, which addresses those "that have now at this time our eyes opened again through the tender mercy of God" (7). This passage alludes to many scriptural texts, notably the opening words in Tyndale's translation of the Gospel of Saint John, which juxtapose t he familiar imagery of darkness versus the light of day:

In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God: and the word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by it, and without it, was made nothing, that was made. In it was life, and the life was the light of men, and the light shineth in the darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:1-5)

Tyndale's last words echo Johannine declarations concerning ignorant blindness and spiritual insight, which pervade texts such as Jesus' declaration that "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). The martyr's scaffold speech further recalls his own writings in defense of the vernacular Bible. For example, his prologue to Genesis declares that literalistic understanding of the Bible is insufficient because "we must also desire open our eyes, and to make us understand and feel wherefore the scripture was given." [62]

Foxe associates scriptural imagery of light and darkness, sight and blindness, with the emergence of Protestant book culture in his own writings. His account of the invention of printing in Acts and Monuments declares "that through the light of printing the world beginneth now to have eyes to see, and heads to judge." [63] Likening Tyndale's translation and his non-translation prose to "the birth of Christ," Foxe's 1570 martyrology attributes opposition to the vernacular Bible to conservative clerics who fear "lest by the shining beams of truth, their false hypocrisy and works of darkness should be discerned" (DDD2v). They allegedly follow "Satan the prince of darkness, maligning the happy course and success of the gospel." The martyrologist here paraphrases from The Obedience of a Christian Man: "So great was then the froward devices of the English clergy (who should have been the guides of light unto the people) to drive the people from the text and knowledge of the the intent (as Tyndale sa ith) that the world [is] being kept still in darkness." [64] Charges of this kind recall allegations concerning the "blindness and ignorance" of the clerics with whom Tyndale debated at Little Sodbury. [65] By contrast, Tyndale's wording for the Nativity account in chapter two of the Gospel of Luke describes shepherds who experience spiritual illumination as they watch "their flock by night. And lo: the angel of the Lord stood hard by them, and the brightness of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid."

The preface to Whole Works reinforces Foxe's long-term praise of printing for restoring "the lost light of knowledge to these blind times, by renewing of wholesome and ancient authors: whose doings and teachings otherwise had lien in oblivion, had not the benefit of printing brought them again to light, or us rather to light by them." This affirmation that printers such as John Day, who publish "monuments of ancient authors,... give now no less light to all ages and posterity after them" (A2r), may allude to their collaboration on the "Book of Martyrs." Their "multiplying good books" has enabled printers to dispel "ignorance and blindness [that] so prevailed among the people" (A3v). Foxe advertises his collaboration with John Day in publishing the collected tracts of Tyndale, which constitute a "defense of truth against willful blindness" (A3). According to Foxe, Tyndale, Frith, and Barnes "stood in the like defense of Christ's true religion, against blind error." Like a divine sunburst, their writings "rema in as perpetual Lamps, shining in the Church of Christ, to give light to all posterity" (A2v-3r).

In further describing Tyndale, Frith, and Barnes as worthy successors of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Lollards, Foxe contrasts the mechanical reproduction of a multitude of books with the laboriousness of copying manuscripts out by hand. In so doing, he again celebrates the emergence of print culture as a providential happening. Of those proto-Protestant luminaries, Foxe laments: "And would God the like diligence had been used of our ancient fore-elders, in the time of Wyclif, Purvey Clark, Brute, Thorpe, Hus, Jerome [of Prague], and such other, in searching and collecting their works and writings. No doubt but many things had remained in light, which now be left in oblivion. But by reason the art of printing was not yet invented, their worthy books were the sooner abolished" (A3r).


Foxe shared the belief of John Bale that Tyndale led the way in publishing printed copies of the few Lollard texts that did survive. By contrast, modern scholars are dubious about Tyndale's responsibility for books that George Constantine or George Joy may have edited. [66] Foxe and Day included purported Tyndale editions not in Whole Works, but in Acts and Monuments. Examples include a joint edition of two Lollard writings printed in Antwerp by johannes Hoochstraten, The Examination of Master William Thorpe Priest Accused of Heresy. The Examination of Sir John Oldcastle (1530), which Bale and Foxe ascribe to Tyndale. Bale supplemented the latter text by compiling A Brief Chronicle concerning the Examination and Death of Sir John Oldcastle (Antwerp, 1544) out of extant manuscripts by those who condemned the Lollard martyr. Foxe drew on both sources in compiling his Oldcastle martyrology. In assimilating the whole of Thorpe's Examination into the "Book of Martyrs," he lodges the plausible claim that he worked from a manuscript in Tyndale's own hand. [67] The compiler thus preserved a work at risk of total oblivion. After all, only four copies of the 1530 edition are extant. [68]

Foxe pays tribute to Tyndale as a bookman par excellence when he identifies him as the editor of Agricolae Praecatione, Bale's quaintly Latinized title for The Prayer and Complaint of the Plowman Unto Christ (Antwerp, 1531?). Only three copies of this rare Lollard text remain extant, but Day or Foxe succeeded at locating the copy that they absorbed into the 1570 Acts and Monuments. [69] Deleted from the 1576 edition, the Prayer and Complaint returns in the 1583 revision and posthumous editions that follow. In dating this text to the mid-fourteenth century, Foxe's 1570 introduction anticipates the editorial rationale of Whole Works:

Which book, as it was faithfully set forth by William Tyndale, so I have as truly distributed the same abroad to the reader's hands; neither changing anything of the matter, neither altering many words of the phrase thereof. Although the oldness and age of his speech and terms be almost grown now out of use, yet thought I it best, both for the utility of the book to reserve it from oblivion, as also in his own language to let it go abroad, for the more credit and testimony of the true antiquity of the same. Adding withal in the margin, for the better understanding of the reader, some interpretation of certain difficult terms and speeches, as otherwise might perhaps hinder or stay the reader. [70]

Publication of the archaic text accords with Tyndale's defense of the vernacular as a fitting vehicle for Bible translation. True to form, Foxe employs marginal place-indicators to highlight ways in which the Prayer and Complaint conforms to sixteenth-century Protestant doctrine. Examples include: "Against auricular confession"; "What inconvenience by the unmarried lives of priests"; "He complaineth of images in church"; "The pope proved a false antichrist in earth." [71]

The reader encounters a mirror image of Tyndale's plowboy in the proto-Protestant Plowman of the Prayer and Complaint, who is an agrarian radical critical of abuses and doctrinal inadequacies of the medieval Church. The speaker is a literary cousin of Piers Plowman, the agrarian malcontent whom sixteenth-century reformers regarded as a "fore-elder." Although William Caxton had published the works of Chaucer, Gower, and Malory, The Vision of Piers Plowman attributed to William Langland was a notable exception. It remained in manuscript until Robert Crowley, whose friendship with Foxe dated back to their days at Magdalen College (their graves are under the same stone at the London parish church of St. Giles Cripplegate), printed the alliterative masterpiece in 1550 as a work prophetic of the Reformation in England. His interpretation is not original, however, because it flourished among earlier manuscript readers. Crowley also published a Wycliffite Bible prologue. [72]

Piers Plowman spawned a host of imitations, notably the pseudo-Chaucerian Plowman's Tale. Sixteenth-century editors absorbed a revision of this Lollard allegory into The Canterbury Tales as an anticlerical satire purportedly delivered by the brother of the Parson who joins the pilgrimage to Canterbury. Not only does Foxe accept The Plowman's Tale as a bone fide composition by Chaucer, but he claims that the poet "seemeth to be a right Wicklevian, or else was never any." [73] Foxe had no need to reprint this text in Acts and Monuments, because it was available in contemporary editions of Chaucer's collected works. The martyrologist does emulate Tyndale as he understands him when he assimilates Jack Upland, another Lollard satire, into his encyclopedic collection as an ancient treatise compiled by Geoffrey Chaucer by way of a dialogue or questions moved in the person of a certain uplandish and simple plowman of the country." If it were not for publication by Foxe and Day, this Lollard text might have fallen in to oblivion because it is otherwise extant in only two copies of a circa 1536 edition.

According to the mythic worldview of Foxe, Day, Bale, Crowley, and their co-religionists, The Prayer and Complaint of the Plowman Unto Christ and related works of agrarian discontent are in touch with a "true" apostolic tradition that extended to Tyndale from early Christian apostles via Wyclif, thus bypassing the apostolic succession claimed by the papacy. Whether or not Tyndale actually edited this text or others, Foxe leads readers to associate it with the translator. Its publication is compatible with Tyndale's elevation of the authority of the vernacular Bible over the Medieval Latin liturgy and non-scriptural traditions endorsed by the Church of Rome.

Foxe's "Book of Martyrs "and The Whole Works of Tyndale, Frith, and Barnes attest to Tyndale's situation at a point when the early modern transition from orality to literacy and manuscript to print was in progress. His Bible translations exerted a profound influence upon emergent English print culture. In transcribing documents from Foxe's unpublished papers, for example, J. J. Strype records a story about how Robert Barnes, still a member of Austin Friars, convinced some Lollards to purchase Tyndale's Worms New Testament. Within a year of its publication, Barnes insisted on the superiority of the printed translation to the archaic language of the Wycliffite New Testament in their possession: "Which books the said friar did little regard, and made a twit of it, and said, 'A point for them, for that they be not to be regarded toward [i.e., compared with] the new printed Testament in English, for it is of a more cleaner English." [74]


The Acts and Monuments contains a richly woven web of stories about the revolutionary impact of Tyndale's life and works, that is his personal acts and monuments, on early generations of English Protestants. Foxe thus includes a hagiographical addition to Tyndale's biography by Humphrey Monmouth, his London patron, in defense against heresy charges lodged by John Stokesley, who succeeded Cuthbert Tunstall as Bishop of London. Monmouth describes how he "took him into his house for half a year, where the said Tyndale lived (as he said) like a good priest, studying both night and day. He would eat but sodden [i.e., boiled] meat, by his good will, nor drink but small single beer. He was never seen in that house to wear linen about him, all the space of his being there." [75] Tyndale's simplicity of life affords a sharp contrast to the extravagance of prelates whom he continuously attacked.

Thomas Bilney's martyrology records his parting gift of Tyndale's New Testament and The Obedience of a Christian Man as he set forth to die at the heretic's stake at Lollards' Pit in Norwich: "And so setting forward on his journey toward the celestial Jerusalem, he departed from thence to the anchoress in Norwich, and there gave her a New Testament in Tyndale's translation, and the obedience of a Christian man." [76] In the case of Simon Fish, Foxe claims that "the light of the gospel, working mightily in Germany" inspired the London lawyer to compose A Supplication for the Beggars (Antwerp, 1529), an influential attack on the doctrine of purgatory as a tool for prelatical aggrandizement through the sale of indulgences. [77]

The inclusion of Tyndale's publications among prohibited books listed in proclamation after proclamation attests to his uncontrollable influence. For example, James Bainham's apprehension for possession of illicit copies of Tyndale's New Testament, in addition to "the Wicked Mammon, the Obedience of a Christian Man, the Practice of Prelates, [and] the Answer of Tyndale to Thomas More's Dialogue," led to imprisonment and torture at Thomas More's Chelsea household. The Lord Chancellor then transferred him to the Tower of London for racking. Riven by guilt over his recantation, according to Foxe's narrative, Bainham was burnt alive because he insisted on standing in the midst of a congregation at the Church of St. Austens, London, to withdraw his abjuration and testify to his beliefs. He did so "with the New Testament in his hand in English, and the Obedience of a Christian man in his bosom." [78] Although this highly symbolic gesture attests to "the crucial significance of the printed book," it is impossible to determine whether the second reference is to an octavo copy of a Tyndale tract carried in Bainham's breast pocket or to his heartfelt internalization of Tyndale's denial of auricular confession in such a way as to make a fatally public testimonial of faith. [79]

Tyndale's publications intertwined with oral tradition concerning Bainham's testimonial in exerting a profound impact on Lawrence Staple, who underwent questioning for urging an acquaintance "to learn to read the New Testament" and announcing his desire to join Bainham in heaven. As a serving man, Staple is an urban variation of Tyndale's plowboy. During Interrogation he affirmed: "'I would I were with Bainham, seeing that every man hath forsaken him, that I might drink with him, and he might pray for me.'" Concealing a bundle of four Tyndale New Testaments within his garments, Staple traveled from Greenwich to Cambridge to deliver the books to Thomas Bilney shortly before the latter's burning. [80]

Such stories are legion, and Foxe has fine eye for gathering stirring tales about Tyndale's life, his work, and his influence. Without the prodigious labor of the martyrologist and his publisher, John Day, we would know little about the translator aside from occasional autobiographical details in his non-translation prose. The weight of circumstantial detail added to the original story in the second edition of Acts and Monuments and the Whole Works of Tyndale, Frith, and Barnes conveys an aura of historical accuracy, even though we can recognize the legendary quality of certain incidents (e.g., the story about Tyndale's encounter with the Antwerp juggler) that contribute to Foxe's highly crafted saint's life.

Tyndale, Foxe, and Day exerted a profound influence upon the emergence of literate print culture during an age when it coexisted with both oral tradition and manuscript circulation. Indeed, these men self-consciously contributed to the construction of the prevailing view that Protestantism and print go hand in hand. Foxe's long-term engagement with the publication of printed books shaped his revision of the 1563 life of Tyndale in the 1570 Acts and Monuments. Foxe's collaboration on John Day's 1573 collection of Tyndale's tracts contributed to the intense stress upon the translator's active involvement in the book trade in both the revised martyrology and its abridgement in the Whole Works of Tyndale, Frith, and Barnes. Foxe's involvement with Tyndale exemplifies ways in which both scholars and John Day exploited the power of the printing press to effect religious and cultural change. Foxe's work extended to the resuscitation of Lollard texts thought to have been edited by his hero. The massive editorial pro jects of Foxe and Day generated Protestant propaganda that has molded Tyndale's enduring reputation not only as the Apostle of England, but as a personification of the "light of printing" in early modern England.

(*.) This essay originated in a lecture delivered at the 1998 William Tyndale Conference at Oxford University, organized by David Daniell and sponsored by the Tyndale Society. The argument began to take form when I was Scholar in Residence at the Reformation Studies Institute of St. Andrews University in 1996. I am indebted to Andrew Pettegree and Bruce Gordon for that Scottish interlude and to James Bracken, Ruth Samson Luborsky, Andrew Pettegree, and an anonymous reviewer for Renaissance Quarterly for helpful comments on various drafts of this essay. I gratefully acknowledge support for research in the form of a Lilly Fellowship in Religion and the Humanities from the National Humanities Center, Faculty Professional Leave from The Ohio State University, and grants from Ohio State's Department of English, Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and College of Humanities. Mark Bayer, Kevin Lindberg, Christopher Manion, and Justin Pepperney have provided valuable assistance.

(1.) Eisenstein, 367-78. For recent work, see Gilmont. London is the place of publication in pre-1800 books and reference is to first editions unless otherwise noted. The abbreviation sig. is omitted from signature references. All texts are modernized, and contractions are expanded. Italics supply my added emphasis. Scriptural texts are from Daniell, 1989.

(2.) See, for example, Duffy, 377-477; Haigh, 1-21.

(3.) Daniell, 1994, 108-111.

(4.) Tyndale, 1848, 126. The research of Guido Latre of the Catholic University of Leuven has established the identification of de Keyser.

(5.) Pollard [hereafter, STC] nos. 1462.5, 2350, 3021, 10493, 11394, 24446, 24455.5, 24465.

(6.) "Hic Iesu Christi Apostolus... in Anglica regione primus habebatur, post Ioannem Vviclevum, qui divinae veritatis contra iniquos Balaamitas promoveret causam" (1.Oolv).

(7.) Oastler, 26.

(8.) John Foxe, ed, 1570. Acts and Monuments of These Latter and Perilous Days, DD5r-v; hereafter cited as Foxe, 1570. Cf. Foxe, 1843,3:718-20. The notes include cross-references to Foxe, 1843, despite its unreliability, because it is the most commonly available version of the "Book of Martyrs." The cross-references to this edition, when available, will appear in parentheses after the primary citation. Under the general editorship of David Loades, the British Academy project to edit Foxe's Acts and Monuments, which proceeds under sponsorship from the British Humanities Research Board, is in the process of superseding Foxe, 1843. Its first installment is Foxe, 2000. For a report on this edition-in-progress, see Loades.

(9.) Foxe, 1570, DDd5r (4:252).

(10.) Ibid., DDDd3v (6:57).

(11.) Foxe, 1554, s4v-tlr; Halle, PPP5r-v; Bale, 1557-1559, 1.658-59. See Daniell, 1999, 15-28.

(12.) Mozley, 1937, 26. See Daniell, 1994, 61.

(13.) Foxe, 1563, AA5r-v (5:115).

(14.) Ibid., AA5v (5:115).

(15.) Foxe, 1563, AA5v (5:117).

(16.) Greenblatt, 106

(17.) Foxe, 1563, AA6r (5:119).

(18.) Daniell, 1999, 18.

(19.) Foxe, 1563, AA6v (5:123).

(20.) Ibid., BB2v.

(21.) Ibid., BB2v. (5:129); Acts 13:6-12. A s noted by Fuller, 3.162-63. See Collinson, 73.

(22.) Foxe, 1570, DDD2v (5:118). Compare Tyndale, 1573, Clr; Tyndale, 1848, 394.

(23.) For example see Bale, 1990, line 1239. See Thomas, 38.

(24.) Foxe, 1570, DDD1v (5:114).

(25.) Foxe, 1563, AA6r.

(26.) Foxe, 1563, AA6, BB2.

(27.) Foxe, 1570, DDD3r (5:120). See also Mozley, 1940, 151.

(28.) Daniell, 1999, 26-27.

(29.) Bale, 1990, lines 213-17.

(30.) Fuller, 3.162-63.

(31.) Bale, 1548, III4v; Bale, 1557-1559, l.Oolr.

(32.) Foxe, 1570, DDD1v (5:115).

(33.) Ibid., DDD2r (5:117). Compare Tyndale, 1573, A4v, Blr; Tyndale, 1848, 396.

(34.) Ibid., DDD2r (5:116). Compare Tyndale, 1573, Clv; Tyndale, 1848, 394-95.

(35.) Ibid., DD2v (5:118). Compare Tyndale, 1573, Blv; Tyndale, 1848, 396.

(36.) Ibid., DD2v (5:118).

(37.) "Herod was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him." Foxe, 1570, DDD3r (5:120). See Matt. 2:3.

(38.) Foxe, 1570, DDD2v (5:118). Compare Tyndale, 1573, Clr; Tyndale, 1848, 43.393.

(39.) Ibid., DDD2v-3r (5:120). Compare Tyndale, 1573, Clr; Tyndale, 1848, 392.

(40.) Breitenberg, 381-82. On the inadequacy of the nineteenth-century edition, see King, 1997, 13-14; Freeman, 23-46; and Loades, 1-14.

(41.) Foxe, 1570, DDD2v (5:119).

(42.) King, 1982, 438.

(43.) Foxe, 1570, DDD2v (5:119).

(44.) Ibid., DDD4v (5:129).

(45.) For Foxe's assimilation of material from John Frith's "Book of the Sacrament" (originally published in Antwerp in 1533 [STC, 11381]) and "Tyndale's Supplication to the King, Nobles, and Subjects of England" from the Practice of Prelates (originally printed in Antwerp in 1530), see Foxe, 1570, DDD4v-5r (5:130-31); Tyndale, 1573, CC3v-4r.

(46.) Volumes in The Independent Works of William Tyndale, in progress, contain lists of marginal notes found only in the Whole Works. See Tyndale, 2000.

(47.) Tyndale, 1573, A2r.

(48.) Ibid., A3r.

(49.) King, 1982, 94-113, and passim. See also Oastler, and Davis.

(50.) Fairfield. See also Baskerville, 53; and STC 10383.

(51.) Tyndale, 1573, A3r.

(52.) Ibid., A4r.

(53.) Mozley, 1937, 264. See Collinson, 83.

(54.) Tyndale, 1573, B3r.

(55.) See Luborsky and Ingram; entries for STC 11222-25 and 24436.

(56.) Foxe, 1570, DDD4r (5:127).

(57.) Foxe, 1563, BB2r. Compare Tyndale, 1573, A4r.

(58.) Tyndale, 1573, AAa1v.

(59.) Ibid., 3R4v.

(60.) Foxe, 1576, XX4r, Luborsky, 82-83.

(61.) Daniell, 1999, 19.

(62.) Tynda1e, 1573, C2v. See Tyndale, 1848, 398.

(63.) Foxe, 1570, DD5r (3:720).

(64.) Ibid., DDD3r (5:120-21).

(65.) Ibid., 1570, DDD2r (5:115).

(66.) Hume, nos. 18, 20, 29.

(67.) An exciting recent discovery confirms that Foxe owned a manuscript of a different Lollard text copied in Tyndale's own hand. Papers collected by Foxe include a portion of Tyndale's own copy (British Library, MS Harley 425, fols. 1-2) of a Lollard tract attributed to John Purvey. Tyndale may have played a role in its 1530 publication at "Marburg in the land of Hesse, [by] Hans Luft" (i.e., Martin de Keyser) under the title of A Compendious Old Treatise, Showing How That We Ought to Have the Scripture in English (STC 3021). See Cooper, 323-33.

(68.) STC 24045. See Bale, 1548, KKK1r; Bale, 1557-1559, 1.659; Foxe, 1570, 13r (3:244).

(69.) STC 20036. See Bale, 1548, KKK1r; Foxe 1570, Ulv-5r (2:728-47).

(70.) Foxe, 1570, U1v (2:727-28).

(71.) Ibid., U1v-5r, and passim (2:728-47).

(72.) King, 1982, 98-100, 319-39, 434.

(73.) Foxe, 1570, DDd4r (4:249).

(74.) John Strype, Ecclesiastical Memorials Relating Chiefly to Religion and the Reformation of It, and the Emergencies of the Church of England (1721), 1.2.54-55. As quoted from Dickens, 34.

(75.) Foxe, 1570, SSs4r (4:618).

(76.) Ibid., TTt4v (4:642).

(77.) Ibid., Uuu1v (4:657).

(78.) Ibid., XXx4v (4:702).

(79.) "Greenblatt, 84-85


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