Title: The same cause and like quarell': Eusebius, John Foxe, and the Evolution of Ecclesiastical History ,  By: Minton, Gretchen E., Church History, 00096407, Dec2002, Vol. 71, Issue 4
Database: History Reference Center
The same cause and like quarell': Eusebius, John Foxe, and the Evolution of Ecclesiastical History

In 1563, just five years after Elizabeth ascended to the throne, John Foxe published the first edition of his Acts and Monuments. Part ecclesiastical history, part martyrology, part English chronicle, and entirely Protestant, this enormously popular work had a significant impact upon its age. The dedicatory letter to the Queen in this first edition begins with an elaborate woodcut of the letter C, in which Elizabeth sits enthroned. [See Figure 1.] This C is the beginning of the word "Constantine." Foxe writes: "Constantine the greate and mightie Emperour, the sonne of Helene an Englyshe woman of this youre Realme and countrie (moste Christian and renowned Pryncesse Queene Elizabeth) ... pacified and established the churche of Christ, being long before under persecution almost ... 400 years" (1563 Pref. vi).(n2) Thus Foxe immediately emphasizes the supposed Englishness of Constantine and builds upon this link between Rome and Britain by implying that, just as Constantine had delivered the Christians from an age of persecution, so had Elizabeth. But there is another parallel that Foxe is interested in establishing, at which he hints as the letter continues. Foxe tells the story of how Constantine once traveled to Caesaria, where he promised to grant Eusebius, the Bishop, whatever he wanted for the good of the church: "The good and godly Byshop ... made this petition, onely to obtaine at his maiesties hand under his seale and letters autentique, free leave and license through al the monarchie of Rome ... to searche out the names, sufferinges and actes, of all such as suffered in al that time of persecution before, for the testimonie and faith of Christ Jesus" (1563 Pref., vi).

With Elizabeth cast in the role of Constantine, Foxe could extend the analogy and liken himself to Eusebius, and the Acts and Monuments to Eusebius's Church History. Foxe explains near the end of the dedicatory epistle just why this connection seems appropriate to him:

The ... principall cause why I have induced this foresayde matter of Constantine and Eusebius, is this: for that your Maiestie in markyng the humble petition of the Byshop, and the gentle graunt of the Emperour, maye ... be intreated to accept this my poore and simple endeavoure, in setting forth this present history, touching the Actes and Monumentes of suche godly Martyrs as suffered before youre reigne for the like testimonie of Christ and his truth. For if then such care was in searching and setting forth the doynges and Actes of Christes faithfull servauntes, suffering for his name in the primative tyme of the Church; why should they now be more neglected of us in the latter churche, such as geve their bloud in the same cause and like quarell? (1563 Pref., vii)

Foxe's invocation of Eusebius at the beginning of the Acts and Monuments is clearly an attempt to establish a reliable precedent for his work, as well as to draw a comparison between the age of Contantine and the age of Elizabeth. To Foxe and others who had been exiled alongside him during the Marian persecution, it seemed obvious that they and the earliest Christian martyrs did indeed have "the same cause and like quarell."

Even though Foxe omitted the explicit comparison between Constantine and Elizabeth (and between himself and Eusebius) in later versions of the Acts and Monuments, his usage of Eusebius's Church History significantly increased in subsequent editions. Immediately after the 1563 publication, Foxe saw the need for an expanded version that would not only add more material about the Marian martyrs, but also include the history of the church not just from the year 1000 to the present, as this edition did, but starting instead with the Apostolic church. When Foxe expanded the historical scope of his work back to the time of Christ, Eusebius was Foxe's only major source for the history of the early church; therefore, many of the earlier portions of the Acts and Monuments contain a verbatim presentation of passages and information from the Church History. Foxe also imitates Eusebius's style (most notably, the frequent quotation of primary documents in order to validate the history of the martyrs) and concerns himself with the same subjects as his predecessor--not just the important people and events of the church, but the central roles of martyrs and of Christian writers.

Although critics readily acknowledge Foxe's debt to Eusebius, few have paid attention to the implications of this influence.(n3) My intention here is not to do a complete study of the exact nature of Foxe's use of Eusebius as source material, but rather to look at ecclesiastical history as a literary genre, and thereby to suggest that Foxe found in Eusebius a model for historical writing that foregrounds the dramatic role of martyrs while also emphasizing the stable textual documentation provided by the written record of ecclesiastical history. First I will examine the similar historical situations that made ecclesiastical history an ideal genre for both Eusebius and Foxe; then I will elucidate the ways in which Foxe follows Eusebius in his treatment of two central subjects of ecclesiastical history: martyrs and writers. I will conclude by underlining one of the key differences between these two historians, showing how Foxe's much greater interest in the Apocalypse eventually caused his ecclesiastical history to depart from the Eusebian model in significant ways.


In the preface to the Church History, Eusebius characterizes his own work as a sort of compilation of materials from others: "From the scattered hints dropped by my predecessors I have picked out whatever seems relevant to the task I have undertaken, plucking like flowers in literary pastures the helpful contributions of earlier writers, to be embodied in the continuous narrative I have in mind. If I can save from oblivion the successors, not perhaps of all our Saviour's apostles but at least of the most distinguished, in the most famous and still pre-eminent churches, I shall be content." (Church History 1.1;2)(n4) This is a standard classical rhetorical trope, and a good example of Eusebius's awareness of and interest in following some of the methodology of historians such as Polybius.(n5) Eusebius also found a precedent for chronicle and narrative history in the Bible itself--in Old Testament books such as 1 and 2 Chronicles, and in the New Testament Acts of the Apostles. Yet the Church History was never simply a history--it was an apologetic work designed to explain and validate the phenomenon of Christianity to skeptics of Eusebius's day.(n6) There was also an available model for the apologetic nature of Eusebius's enterprise, which he found in Josephus's Jewish Antiquities.(n7)

Yet, despite the methodologies Eusebius borrowed from classical historiographies, the Bible, and Jewish apologetics, what he created was, by all accounts, an essentially new genre.(n8) When Eusebius explains the aim of his project in the preface to the Church History, he allows that "It is true that in the Chronological Tables that I compiled some years ago I provided a summary of this material; but in this new work I am anxious to deal with it in the fullest detail" (1.1;2). On the very first page of the Church History, Eusebius writes that his more detailed look at this subject will include a focus on the following topics: (1) apostolic succession; (2) events and persons of the church; (3) heresy; (4) the fate of the Jews; and (5) the persecution and martyrdom of Christians.

Apostolic succession, like the related subject of the events and persons of the church, was important to Eusebius because he wanted to show an unbroken lineage that would help to prove that Catholic orthodoxy was the "true" heir of the apostolic church.(n9) Foxe, like Eusebius, lived in an age when his religion was competing with others for authenticity and popularity; thus the genre of ecclesiastical history attracted Foxe, who likewise wanted to assert the authority and antiquity of his church. As apologists for their respective churches, Eusebius and Foxe attempted to answer charges that their religion was "new-fangled" by asserting its status as the authentic and true religion of antiquity. Eusebius wanted to prove that Christians had existed in every age, in practice if not in name, and that they had always been God's chosen people. Similarly, Foxe used a method common among Reformation apologists: he argued that the Protestants had much more in common with the Apostolic church and the Fathers of the Church than the current Roman Catholics had.(nl0) Foxe compares his church to that of the Catholics, writing, "we affirm and say, that our church was, when this church of theirs was not yet hatched out of the shell" (1.9).

Eusebius's concern with heresy is related to the issue of apostolic succession because defining orthodoxy necessitated arguments of authenticity based on claims of antiquity. Whenever a precedent could be identified that connected contemporary church doctrine with that of the apostolic church, there was a reasonable claim of authority. As Robert Markus explains, "Eusebius transmitted to his followers the view he had learnt from Hegesippus: that orthodoxy was simply continuity with the apostolic church, heresy discontinuity."(n11) This meant that for Eusebius, as well as for those who followed his example, a major part of writing history involved drawing the often ambiguous line between orthodoxy and heresy.

For the Protestants who argued on theological and doctrinal grounds that they were the true church and the Roman Catholics the false, the historicization of orthodoxy as defined against heresy was also a central objective. Therefore, it is no surprise that much of the Acts and Monuments involves lengthy discussions on this issue. When Foxe writes about important people in the history of the church, he often is more interested in their views on doctrine than in their personal specific biographies. For example, when he writes about John Wycliff, Foxe begins with the story of Wycliff's early life, but then digresses to talk about the nature of the errors in the church at that time, placing Wycliff within the context of the history of doctrine: "Thus, in these so great and troublous times and horrible darkness of ignorance, what time there seemed in a manner to be not one so little a spark of pure doctrine left or remaining, this aforesaid Wickliff, by God's providence, sprang and rose up" (2.796). When Foxe finally returns to the person himself, the main issue is Wycliff's protoProtestant views on key issues (for example, justification by faith and auricular confession). This example is typical of the ways in which Foxe historicizes the debate between orthodoxy and heresy throughout the Acts and Monuments in order to prove the antiquity (and consequent authenticity) of the Protestant church.

Because of the importance of factual evidence for the kind of history that Eusebius desired to create (an emphasis that differentiated him from classical historians), the employment of others' writings and primary documents was crucial. The frequent inclusion of primary documents in the Church History--letters, decrees, theological treatises, and so on--is a practice that became central to the genre of ecclesiastical history. Nowhere is this more evident, perhaps, than in the Acts and Monuments, which includes copious documentation--so much so that this work was notoriously easy to abridge by omitting a large percentage of these documents while retaining Foxe's own narrative thread.(n12)

The final subject that Eusebius mentions--"The martyrdoms of later days down to [his] own time, and at the end of it all the kind and gracious deliverance accorded by our Saviour" (1.1;1)--is very important to the Church History, for indeed Eusebius's martyr stories comprise some of the most memorable moments of the work. This is equally the case with Foxe, who is labeled a martyrologist more often than an historian. Because Foxe was producing this ecclesiastical history during a reign of peace that followed a time of persecution, the parallels between his situation and Eusebius's are evident. Both men originally showed an interest in history and chronicle during a relatively peaceful time, but they subsequently lived through a period of persecution (under Diocletian/Mary) during which they collected information about the martyrs, but were of course not martyred themselves. Finally, both continued to revise their histories until they found completion under monarchs sympathetic to their causes (Constantine/Elizabeth). Thus, although both historians started work on their histories long before, the finished works were published from the privileged vantage point of a peaceful time.

This retrospective view of martyrs greatly influenced the nature of the martyrology that both Eusebius and Foxe included as a significant part of their histories. Robert Markus explains the growth of the "cult of the martyrs" in the fourth century following the reign of Constantine as "the need to be able to see the post-Constantinian church as the heir of the Church of the martyrs." In this way, "The struggle for the past was won over the bodies of the martyrs."(n13) This is no less true of Foxe, who was intent upon making the Marian martyrs relevant to the concerns and agendas of the Church of England under Elizabeth. For both Foxe and Eusebius, the primary goal of ecclesiastical history was to show the unbroken lineage of the "true" church from primitive times through the present, and the martyrs played a key role in this project.


A Connection with Earlier Martyrs

For Eusebius, the story of the triumph of Christianity under Constantine was made all the more impressive by contrast with what had come before. Thus he talks at length about the earlier periods of persecution, drawing upon the works of earlier writers such as Cyprian and Tertullian, as well as various martyr Acts. By concentrating on these periods of martyrdom, Eusebius could underline the unprecedented peace brought to the Christians by Constantine, while establishing a firm connection between this triumphant church and the persecuted one of the previous generations.(n14)

During the reign of Elizabeth, Foxe also needed to establish this kind of connection between the royally sanctioned Church of England in the 1560s and 70s and the persecuted church that had endured punishment under Mary. Yet this immediate historical link was not enough for Foxe's purposes; he was also interested in connecting his martyrs to those of the early church--those who are such a vital part of Eusebius's Church History. From the moment that Foxe introduces the Elizabeth-Constantine parallel, it is evident that one of his main objectives is to underline the similarities between the Protestant martyrs and those of the early church; this is precisely the point behind his "same cause and like quarell" passage in the prefatory letter to Elizabeth in 1563.

The sense of trial followed by triumph so central to the Church History is what Foxe also conveys in the Acts and Monuments; he repeats Eusebius's stories of martyrdom with little change. In fact, one of the most famous woodcuts from the Acts and Monuments is a fold-out page that depicts scenes from the ten persecutions described by Eusebius--complete with page numbers that direct the readers to the place where they can find the written account of the martyrdoms that they see graphically pictured. [See Figure 2.] Rather than marking in the text where the readers may find a picture of what is being described, Foxe and John Day (his celebrated printer, who was largely responsible for the woodcuts) provide a tantalizing picture and mark on it how a viewer can find a more thorough version of this martyrdom by reading the story. Thus Foxe keeps the emphasis upon the unbroken continuity of the martyr stories in the central texts: the Bible, the Church History, and, of course, the Acts and Monuments itself.

Foxe patterns his own accounts of Protestant martyrs after Eusebius, both in the general sense of describing several waves of persecution (the last the greatest) followed by a triumph under a divinely appointed monarch, and in the particulars of the martyr accounts. A notable example of Foxe's attempt to imitate Eusebius is the description of the deaths of the famous Protestants Latimer and Ridley: "Then they brought a faggot, kindled with fire, and laid the same down at Dr. Ridley's feet. To whom master Latimer spake in this manner: 'Be of good comfort, master Ridley and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle by God's grace in England as I trust shall never be put out" (7.550). The imperative to "play the man" occurs in Eusebius's account of Polycarp, during whose martyrdom a voice from heaven says "Be strong, Polycarp, and play the man" (CH 4.15;120). For both Foxe and Eusebius, Polycarp is a prototypical martyr, and throughout their accounts they show other martyrs following in his footsteps. Foxe had quoted the story of Polycarp verbatim from Eusebius (A&M 1.132-3); the parallel inclusion of the Latimer and Ridley episode later in the Acts and Monuments is a clear example of Foxe's attempt to illustrate the similarities between the two periods. He shows that the Protestant martyrs were no less adept at "playing the man"(n15) than their early Christian predecessors; in this way, Foxe carefully parallels both the cause for which the martyrs died and the way in which they died.

Martyrdom and the Law

For both Eusebius and Foxe, martyrology involved much more than presenting gruesome stories that would capture the readers' attention and teach them about the heroes of their faith. The strength of the faithful, even under such horrible conditions of torture, was in itself a testimony to the authenticity of their faith. Foxe was certainly sensitive to the original meaning of the word "martyr"--witness--and this is part of the reason that he, like Eusebius, exploited the legal setting of these accounts, for the connection between martyrdom and the law was apparent to Christian martyrologists from the beginning.(n16)

Like Tertullian and Cyprian, Eusebius tells of Christians on trial before Roman magistrates in order to show how the martyrs were quite literally witnesses for their own faith.(n17) The main event at these trials is the confession of one's own faith and the willingness to die for the profession of it; these actions themselves, Eusebius suggests, lend credence to the authenticity of the Christian religion.(n18) Furthermore, by highlighting and dramatizing the legal settings of these martyrdoms, Eusebius suggests that the ultimate judgement lies in a much higher court; thus these witnesses will receive their just reward precisely because of the "glory" of their martyrdom: "it is the unshakeable determination of the champions of true religion, their courage and endurance, their triumphs over demons and victories over invisible opponents, and the crowns which all this won for them at the last, that it will make famous for all time" (5.1;138).

Following in this same vein, and also following the precedent set by other Protestant martyrologists, Foxe concentrates on the examinationsand the trials of his martyrs, presenting the disjunction between the corrupt court of the Roman Catholics and the higher court of ultimate judgment.(n19) Even more so than Eusebius, Foxe presents many of his martyrs on trial in courtroom scenes.(n20) Like Eusebius, Foxe collected information about these events from other people who were there--word of mouth was essential. Eusebius set the precedent for including written material from or about the martyrs, such as Polycarp's letter that describes his trials. Foxe increases this practice tenfold, incorporating a plethora of written material, often composed by the martyrs themselves while they were in prison awaiting trial.(n21) Because of the more subtle nuances in the cause for which the Protestant martyrs were dying, Foxe shows how many of these trials focused on doctrinal issues. Inevitably, even the most simple and unlearned Protestants put the knowledge of their Roman Catholic examiners to shame. Foxe combines his interest in orthodoxy with the legal aura of the martyr scenes, providing proof of the authenticity of Protestants both through supposed transcripts of theological arguments, and by showing each martyr quite literally witnessing for his or her true faith. Thus, the "acts" of these martyrs are revealed not just through their actions, but also in their given testimony in a court. This is precisely what Bowersock notes is a key feature of the early Christian martyr accounts:

The role of the martyrs in dying is conceived as a kind of public entertainment offered by God to the communities where it takes place as some kind of far more edifying transmutation of the traditional games. It also means that the early martyrs see God or Christ himself as the agent of their martyrdom, rather than the various governors that decree their deaths. This is, in other words, a performance orchestrated by God. It must have been a comforting thought. The Roman magistrates have been assigned their roles so that the performance could take place, and so that by this means the martyrs could bear their witness.(n22)

For both Eusebius and Foxe, as with many other Christian martyrologists, the courtroom setting was an ideal (and dramatic) way to stage the witness of the faithful martyrs. This was also an opportunity to contrast the court of civic authority with the greater court, which is, of course, God's. These martyrologists were following a precedent set by Jesus' insistence that no earthly ruler (for example, Pilate or Herod) could control this divinely directed courtroom drama.

In addition to contrasting the civic and heavenly court in his text, Foxe once again employs woodcuts to underline this point, such as the famous one that illustrates the burning of Anne Askew with John Adams, John Lacels, and Nicholas Belenian. [See Figure 3.] In this picture, the crowd forms a circle around the martyrs, the Catholic preacher, and the executioners. On an elevated bench, the chancellor and others watch the show and exercise their civic authority. The ultimate surveyor of the situation, however, is implied by the angry looking clouds at the top, one of which seems to be shedding rain (in order to indicate divine vengeance). It is apparent that, although we see a stage of persecutors and the persecuted below, the ultimate control of this divine spectacle is in the hands of the universal judge.

The inevitability of divine judgment is so important to Eusebius and Foxe that they both also tell stories of how these judgments are sometimes enacted here on earth. Thus Eusebius repeats at length Josephus's account of the death of Herod Agrippa, who "was struck by an angel of the Lord, was eaten by worms, and expired" (2.9;45). Similarly, Foxe records the gruesome deaths of various persecutors who were also punished by divine wrath; the account of Bishop Gardiner's death is perhaps the most striking:

The bloody tyrant had not eaten a few bits, but the sudden stroke of God's terrible hand fell upon him in such sort, as immediately he was taken from the table, and so brought to his bed; where he continued the space of fifteen days in such intolerable anguish and torments, that all that meanwhile, during those fifteen days, he could not avoid by urine or otherwise, anything that he received: whereby his body being miserably inflamed within (who had inflamed so many good martyrs before), was brought to a wretched end. And thereof, no doubt, as most like it is, came the thrusting out of his tongue from his mouth so swollen and black, with the inflammation of his body. A spectacle worthy to be noted and beholden of all such bloody burning persecutors. (7.593)

These shameful (and "deserved") deaths of the persecutors provide a sharp contrast to the glorious deaths of God's persecuted. By exploiting the legal setting of the Christian martyrdoms, Eusebius was able to use the language of the law to argue for their authenticity. He used the spectacle of the trials to draw his community of readers together in a sort of shared "viewing" in which legal justice served as a foreshadowing of the ultimate judgment, when the righteous would have their rewards.

This was a precedent that Foxe understood well, and he imitated it thoroughly in the Acts and Monuments. There is no reason to assume that Eusebius was Foxe's only model for his martyr accounts (for instance, Foxe had clearly read Lactantius and other early martyrologists). However, it is the practice of including martyrology as a primary component of the larger account of sacred history that Foxe shared in common with Eusebius, and this parallel enterprise also precipitated a similar understanding of the relationship between the martyrs' bodies and the written word.

Flesh to Word

Despite the physical detail with which Eusebius and Foxe told of the deaths of the martyrs (and occasionally, as above, of their persecutors), their martyrologies emphasized a movement from the body to the word. The privileging of the textual body over the physical one is a version of the general Christian privileging of the spiritual world over the corporeal one. And indeed, the stories of martyrs consistently attest to the superiority of the spiritual realm. The Romans or the Catholics may burn the bodies of the faithful, but the triumph of the martyrs lies precisely in their steadfast faith in what is unseen.(n23)

Long before the Protestants were accusing Roman Catholicism of being a religion that emphasized the carnal at the expense of the spiritual, Eusebius argued that the literal-mindedness of the Jews had caused them to fall from the spiritual truth that was revealed to the people of God. Eusebius needed to help define the Christian perspective by explaining the history of its people; incorporating a constant emphasis upon the Word and upon spiritual interpretation was one of the keys. Eusebius's first task in the Church History is to explain the doctrine of the preexistence of the Word. His theology is profoundly logocentric, and this interest in the primacy of the Word influences the way that he handles his martyr accounts.

It is the triumph of Christ as logos that concerns Eusebius most; thus the flesh of Christ and of his martyrs is not nearly as significant as the ever enduring word (whether Christ himself, or the written remains of the martyrs). Time and time again in the Church History we read a graphic description of a martyr's death, only to be brought back to the textual realm, as Eusebius reminds us who recorded this account and lists his other works. We are never allowed to dwell upon the body because the body becomes text as soon as its story is recorded in written form. As Eusebius's narrative describes the early Christian martyrs, it is evident that they are always already part of a textually memorialized past. Rather than describing the death of James the brother of Jesus in his own words, Eusebius quotes the story from both Hegisippus and Josephus, calling on the strength of a textual past from very different authorities (CH 2.23;59-61). The written word works both to authenticate the martyrs and to serve as a means of spreading the message to the wider community. Eusebius makes his reason for incorporating these documents clear when he explains his rationale for including Polycarp's letter: "In this period Asia was thrown into confusion by the most savage persecutions, and Polycarp found fulfilment in martyrdom. As a written account of his end has come down to us, I am in duty bound to enshrine it in my pages. I refer to the letter sent on behalf of the church over which he himself had presided, to inform the Christian communities everywhere of what happened to him." (4.14;117)

Like Eusebius, Foxe gives an absolute prominence to the word and portrays his adversaries as hopeless slaves to the flesh. The Protestant emphasis on the word in general, and the printed word in particular, went alongside a continued assertion that the Catholics are outward and corporeal, whereas the Protestants are inward and spiritual.(n24) Any religion that chooses to emphasize reading as its center is a religion of signs and by definition removed at least one step from the corporeal or literal world. This is not to say that the Roman Catholics did not share the same belief in reading, but that Protestants chose to portray their adversaries as unwilling to share or read the signs in the Bible, because they were more concerned with clinging to ceremony than to the inner workings of the soul. Thus Foxe, like Eusebius, highlights the written record in his martyr accounts, giving prominence to the letters and written testimonies of the martyrs both before and after the description of their physical deaths. Despite the sensationalism of the portions of the book dealing with the actual executions, Foxe's greater attention is turned to the textual memorialization of these events. The mutable bodies of the martyrs are transferred into immutable texts that will survive, precisely because the martyrologist has monumentalized them in such a way.

The relationship between the body of the martyr and the text is central to Foxe's narrative strategy in the Acts and Monuments. Foxe "reads" the bodies of the martyrs and, through an allegorical movement from body to Word, encases events and people within an arena defined by Scripture. Foxe's martyrs are named, memorialized, and textually remembered.(n25) His usual habit of printing the martyrs' letters to their loved ones after he has described their deaths reinforces the textual stability of the martyrs: the story of their suffering bodies is surrounded by narrative, epistles, and documents that ensure the primacy of the text over the body. Through marginalia, illustrative woodcuts, and consistent explanation of the significance of each event that he describes, Foxe moves toward an arena of controlled interpretation; he uses the bodies of the martyrs in order to signify their meaning in accordance with the Word.

The concluding woodcut to the Acts and Monuments is an illustration of Justice holding the balances between the Protestants and the Roman Catholics. [See Figure 4.] Although the Catholics pile up prayer books, rosary beads, gold, and even their own weight (and that of a demon), the scale falls unequivocally in favor of the Protestants, who offer only one thing: the supreme weight of the verbum dei. This image illustrates the ultimate importance of the Word of God to Foxe's project. The Word is both Jesus (the supreme martyr) and the Scripture, and thus these two ideas unite in Foxe's work as they did in Eusebius's. In Foxe's narrative, the martyrs can be transformed into the Word precisely because they act in accordance with the Scripture. John Knott observes that Foxe's martyrs "often appear to be acting out a drama learned from the New Testament, repeating key texts to reassure themselves to justify their actions, as by invoking the example of the protomartyr Stephen denouncing his accusers or that of Paul and Silas singing in prison."(n26) acting out the drama of the first martyrs, these Protestant martyrs became an integral part of God's plan; at the moment of their deaths, it seems that these Protestant martyrs have become the protomartyrs whom they represent. The exemplary stories of the Bible provide a script for the martyrs to follow, and the promise of Scripture assures them of their eventual reward. Ordinary Marian martyrs "become transformed into Scriptural figures, and all the drama of their lives has become, in a way, a Scriptural event, itself a part of, and a continuation of, the sacred story."(n27) When the bodies of the martyrs and the age that produced them have passed away, the stories and the words remain.

These martyr stories and the meaning with which Foxe invests them serve to unite the readers of this work as part of a common interpretive group. Foxe's narrative impulse, as Richard Helgerson argues, "is the product of an enormous communal effort to record the sayings and doings of the martyrs and their persecutors" and it resulted in a narrative that enabled the English Protestants to "feel themselves part of an invisible church that stretched back to the beginning of human history and that would triumph with the end of time."(n28) This sense of a communal understanding of a church that has a continuous unbroken history since the beginning of time is, of course, the key objective of Eusebius's ecclesiastical history, and it is certainly at work in Foxe's own oeuvre.

Although the popularized title of his work became the "Book of Martyrs," Foxe was explicit that the title was, in fact, the Acts and Monuments, "wherein many other matters be contained besides the martyrs of Christ" (3.392). Foxe's statement, and the comprehensive nature of the Acts and Monuments itself, reflects the way in which he subsumes the martyr stories within the greater project of his ecclesiastical history. He explains that he "thought it not to be neglected, that so precious monuments of so many matters meet to be recorded as registered in books, should lie buried ... under the darkness of oblivion" (1.xxv). Foxe is interested in a textual remembering of these acts, in monumentalizing them in written form so that they become stable signifiers of imitable action. The movement from flesh to word and the superiority of the word are evident even in the title itself--the already inherently dual nature of the word "act" (which means a written record as well as action) when combined with the less ambiguous word "monument" (which refers to the written memorial alone) emphasizes the changing sense of "act" from body to word while also reinscribing it within an exclusively textual space.(n29)

Thus Foxe, like Eusebius, was primarily concerned with ecclesiastical history itself. The martyr accounts were an integral part of this endeavor, but only a part, and one that should not be emphasized at the expense of the whole. Ultimately, including martyrology as one element of these works causes the martyrs to be subsumed under the greater weight of ecclesiastical history and its documentary evidence. These potentially disjointed narratives of martyrdom are held together by the incessant adherence to the central theme, and each story serves to flesh out the greater story, thus adding mass and force to the argument. Both Eusebius and Foxe work to produce histories that connect the suffering bodies of the past to the spirits of the hopeful in the present; the narratives influence the community at large, engendering feelings of unity. "The greatest story ever told" becomes, in many ways, the only story ever told, for each narrative about a martyr repeats the sacrificial archetype of Jesus. Thus, in looking from unbroken past to unbroken future, the readers were able to tolerate the temporary breaking of the body of Christ and the bodies of his martyrs.


The difficulty for any martyrologist who portrays the holy death as the greatest contribution to the Christian cause is that he must justify the fact that he is alive to write the history, and therefore that his name is not on the list of those who died for their faith. Indeed, both Eusebius and Foxe could have been martyred, and yet they lived through the persecution and found themselves in comfortable positions in the new regime. One cannot help but notice behind Eusebius's account of Origen a certain apology for not following his great hero into martyrdom. Eusebius acknowledges this tension in his commentary on the Psalms: "We, although not held worthy to have struggled unto death and to have shed our blood for God, yet, being the sons of those who have suffered thus and distinguished by our fathers' virtues, pray for mercy through them."(n30) The only way for writers such as Eusebius and Foxe to justify their position was to emphasize the importance of the textual record provided by those who memorialize the martyrs for all posterity. Separating themselves by a somewhat artificial generation gap, these writers point out that, although they did not have the opportunity to die, they do have the opportunity to write. They both recognized that, although the act of witnessing for their faith to the point of death authenticates the Christian martyrs, only because the writers monumentalize these acts are they remembered--it is Eusebius and Foxe who give the martyrs their proper hearing by producing the martyrology: the ultimate testimony.

From Chapter 1 of the Church History, where he quotes John 1:1, Eusebius's belief in the preexistence (and thus ultimate importance) of the Word is clear. Rather than merely stating that Jesus is the Word, however, Eusebius goes one step further by identifying him as a rhetorically skilled writer who wrote a letter in answer to a query from Abgar the Toparch. Eusebius, of course, includes the text of the letter as an illustration of Jesus' position as the first Christian writer (1.13;31-2). The historian then discusses the authorship of various New Testament books before moving on to trace the history of other Writers--including pagan and Jewish ones, but primarily Christians. Despite his stated objectives to talk about apostolic succession and bishops, Eusebius is obviously equally intent upon recording the literary history of the early church.(n31) Thus he gives center stage to writers such as Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Hegisippus, and Irenaeus, seeing them as an integral part of the history of the church--perhaps the most important part--because without the words they had recorded, Eusebius would not have had the evidence necessary to construct such a history.

Similarly, although Foxe includes a variety of heroes and martyrs throughout his book, many of them illiterate, his most lengthy accounts in the Acts and Monuments tend to focus on the writers of the church--people such as Wycliffe, Tyndale, and Cranmer, whose works became central to the Church of England. Indeed, Cranmer's story centers upon his position not just as the author of the Book of Common Prayer, but also as the author of his recantation, which he reverses at his execution, dramatically thrusting his hand into the fire because it had wrongfully subscribed to the Catholic position. It is thus Cranmer's burning hand that becomes a key iconographic symbol in this section of the Acts and Monuments. [See Figure 5.]

Just as Foxe extends his definition of martyrs so that he can include Elizabeth herself (because she was imprisoned during the reign of her half sister), so he extends the lineage of the Christian writer to include himself.(n32) And, since many of the writers Foxe discusses were also martyrs, he portrays himself as a sort of living martyr-writer: "I have adventured ... upon this story of the church, and have spent not only my pains, but also almost my health therein, to bring it to this" (1570 Pref. viii). Foxe's self-promotion through these analogies went to almost dangerous proportions; he says that he wonders whether Constantine or Eusebius was ultimately more important: which of these he should "commend and extolle ... the Emperour for his rare and singular affection in favouring and furthering the Lordes church, or the Bishop in zealing the public business of the Lord, before care of himself" (1.vii). The question of whether the emperor or the writer is more worthy of praise is, however, a rhetorical one. Foxe's point is that they must work together, and this union is the foundation of the church for his time as it was for Constantine and Eusebius. This relationship between the church and state depends upon a certain kind of earthly triumphalism that had not been possible since the fourth century, and which was once again made possible by the rise of Protestantism.

The Reformers were adamant that they would follow their monarchs obediently, not privileging the Pope or any other earthly ruler over them. Thus, Protestants like Foxe were in a position to pledge allegiance to the monarch who was sympathetic to their cause. In return, of course, came the power of the written word. The rhetoric of the Acts and Monuments, with its accompanying images such as the C in which Elizabeth sits triumphant, was indeed an important part of the propaganda that helped Elizabeth to maintain control during this extremely unstable time.

Thus the close connection between the triumph of a kingdom and the triumph of Christianity (or, properly speaking, of a certain type of Christianity) in both the fourth and the sixteenth centuries was another reason that Eusebius was such an appropriate model for Foxe. The shared sense of triumphalism does impact, and in part determine, the nature of ecclesiastical history as Eusebius invented it, and as Foxe imitated it.(n33) Thus it is no surprise that within the C woodcut in the 1563 edition [See Figure 1], we see not only a victorious Elizabeth, but also both Foxe and Day beside her throne--the writer and the printer are figured as an integral part of Elizabethan triumphalism precisely because they produced an ecclesiastical history for the reformed English church.(n34)


Arnaldo Momigliano notes that "There was a very real duality in Eusebius's notion of ecclesiastical history which was bound to become apparent as soon as the Christians were safely in command of the Roman state."(n35) This duality is the tension between the history that expresses the triumph of the Christian empire and the history that concentrates on the church as a divine institution, removed from politics and other earthly concerns. Nowhere is this tension more apparent than in Eusebius's complex attitude toward eschatology.(n36) As Glenn Chesnut once commented, "one of the places where ... Constantine did fit into Eusebius' theological framework was in Eschatology .... Constantine was a charismatic, ecstatic prophet and military leader, who set about ... to build what he and Eusebius both thought would be the truly Final Empire, the Eschatological Kingdom that would reign through the last dying years of a doomed cosmos until the Seven Seals were broken and the final destruction descended on the world."(n37) Yet this kind of distinctly apocalyptic rhetoric is missing from Eusebius's eschatology. Eusebius's view of the Apocalypse was never enthusiastic, much less was he prepared to employ the Book of Revelation itself.(n38) Although Constantine's kingdom was envisioned as the last one, any direct reference to Revelation might place too much emphasis upon the end of the earthly kingdom rather than its eternal glory. Foxe's eschatological perspective was, to a certain extent, similar, because he was in no more of a position than Eusebius to preach a physical end to the world during the reign of the monarch who had at last brought peace.

However, there is an important difference between Eusebius and Foxe that should not be overlooked. Foxe was undoubtedly much more concerned with the apocalypse than Eusebius; in fact, the apocalypse is central to the themes, images, and thrust of Foxe's entire project.(n39) The frontispiece, with its trumpets and angels, illustrates the apocalyptic themes prevalent in the Acts and Monuments. [See Figure 6.] Throughout the book, Foxe systematically interprets historical events as the fulfillment of the prophecies of Revelation--a step Eusebius would never have taken. In fact, Constantine figured prominently into Foxe's apocalyptic chronology.(n40) Although he had originally dated the 1000-year tying down of Satan from the time of Christ, Foxe later shifted this viewpoint and argued instead that Satan was tied down from the time of Constantine. But if the historical situations and writing styles of Eusebius and Foxe were as closely analogous as we have seen here, how can we explain this marked difference between their treatments of the apocalypse in general and of the Book of Revelation in particular?

During the Reformation, although the impetus to write ecclesiastical history was similar to that of Eusebius, the circumstances were also different in ways that made the apocalypse a more appropriate focus for the Reformers. Whereas Eusebius set out to record the history of the true church, Foxe and other Protestants like him had to tell the story of two churches: a false and a true. Eusebius was careful to discount various heresies, but this, along with the periods of persecution, is the extent of the "opposition" over against which he seeks to show the triumph of orthodoxy.(n41) For Protestants, the circumstances were more dependent upon a sense of an oppositional struggle, for they were defining themselves against another Christian institution that had been in operation for over a millennium. Thus history for Protestants was inherently a history of persecution and struggle against a consistently defined "other" that was usually named the Roman Catholic Church.(n42) Once the identification of the Pope with the Antichrist became commonplace, Revelation was instilled as an indispensable part of Protestant polemic.(n43)

This phenomenon was especially pronounced in sixteenth-century England, where several writers formulated entire historiographies based on the framework of Revelation. Writers such as Foxe's friend and mentor John Bale brought the apocalypse into mainstream Protestant thought.(n44) Despite the learned opinion of Erasmus, and the earlier testimonies recorded by Eusebius (such as Irenaeus's) about the uncertain authorship of the Book of Revelation, these Reformers called John the Evangelist the author without hesitation and pronounced Revelation of supreme importance in the canon.

When two monarchs in sixteenth-century England had Reformers burnt to death for their beliefs, and scores of others went into exile, the fear of persecution brought the book of Revelation firmly to center stage. And even when Elizabeth ascended to the throne, thus ending the persecution, Foxe's attention to the apocalypse did not diminish. Indeed, the parts of the Acts and Monuments that were remembered and expanded upon by Foxe and his continuators were the martyr accounts and apocalypticism. Later versions, especially posthumous ones, included verses from Revelation on the title page, emphasized the martyr accounts, and cut out much of the earlier history and the copious inclusion of various documents? Thus, as the Acts and Monuments, which was originally an ecclesiastical history, became the "Book of Martyrs" in popular usage, so it lost much of what originally made it such a Eusebian endeavor.


Although the Church History and the Acts and Monuments had very different afterlives, what is so strikingly apparent in these examples of ecclesiastical history is their predilection for spawning supplements to their work or other similar projects. Ecclesiastical history, by its very nature, is an open genre that seems to ask for subsequent generations to fill in the gaps and to trace the continuation of the true church down to contemporary times, whenever those might be. As Markus puts it, "ecclesiastical historians saw themselves almost as members of a kind of diachronic syndicate responsible for the installments which would add up to make a single, cumulative, 'ecclesiastical history.'"(n46)

Eusebius had many continuators and imitators: Rufinus translated the Church History into Latin and extended the work to his own time by adding two additional books. Later Greek writers (Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius) also extended Eusebius's Church History to their own day. We also have multiple versions of the Acts and Monuments, both before and after Foxe's death, including abridgements. In the seventeenth century, it was commonplace for editors to add material about the Jacobean period or the civil war and include it as part of the Acts and Monuments with no mention that Foxe himself had been long dead by the time these events occurred.

But in addition to actual editions of the Acts and Monuments, there was another more immediate book that was an interesting offshoot of Foxe's project. Because Protestants of the sixteenth century were quite interested in patristic sources, there began to be a market for English translations of the Fathers; since Foxe's famous book was based, at least in part, on Eusebius, it is no surprise that a translation of the Church History was not long in coming. In 1577, Meredith Hanmer provided the first English translation of Eusebius's Church History, along with the histories of Evagrius and Socrates. (In later editions, the Life of Constantine was also included). Hanmer dedicated this translation to the Earl of Leicester, Elizabeth's favorite, thus the connection to the crown (despite Hanmer's proto-Puritan leanings) is clear.(n47)

Hanmer's translation, which was reprinted several times in the next century, shows that there was an interest in Eusebius and his history that was almost certainly inspired by Foxe.(n48) Furthermore, Hanmer himself connects the martyrs Eusebius describes to those of the Apocalypse; he writes, "These be they whom St. John in his Apocalypse saw in a vision under the Altar, that were martyred for the Word of God, and the testimony of Christ Jesus." By underlining the connection between martyrdom and apocalypticism, Hanmer followed Foxe's refashioning of the Eusebian model for the English Protestant nation. There was a moment near the end of the sixteenth century for a triumphalist ecclesiastical history that starred the martyrs, was directed by the writers, and was produced by the monarchy. It is no wonder that Foxe looked to the genre invented by Constantine's famous flatterer when he set about directing this historical pageant. Foxe, like many before him, continued the story that began with Eusebius's ecclesiastical history ... and added his own ending.

(1.) My deepest appreciation for assistance on this article goes to Mark Vessey, without whom I never would have conceived of this project, and to Paul B. Harvey, Jr., whose valuable suggestions for amplification and revision helped immeasurably in the completion of it.

(2.) Unless otherwise noted, all quotations from this work are taken from The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe, ed. Stephen Cattley. 8 vols. (London, 1837-41; reprint, New York: AMS Press, 1965). Quotations in my text are followed by the volume number and the page number (the prefatory letter from 1563 is included in Cattley separately from the main text, which is why the date is noted in my citation). Many critics have pointed out that this nineteenth-century edition is far from ideal (see especially John N. King, "Fiction and Fact in Foxe's Book of Martyrs," John Foxe and the English Reformation, ed. David Loades [Aldershot: Scolar, 1997] and David Loades' introduction to John Foxe: An Historical Perspective, ed. Loades [Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999]). However, until the work on the British Academy Foxe Project is complete, Cattley is still the most convenient way to cite Foxe because of the limited availability of sixteenth-century editions, especially when the argument does not depend (as mine does not) upon a detailed analysis of material that changed from one edition of the Acts and Monuments to the next.

(3.) The only full-length study on Foxe's use of Eusebius is a dissertation by Thomas S. Freeman, whose emphasis is upon the historical methodologies of these two writers. Thomas S. Freeman, "'Great Searching out of bookes and auctors': John Foxe as an Ecclesiastical Historian" (Ph.D. diss., Rutgers, May, 1995). Freeman argues that Eusebius "was not merely a stylistic model but one which shaped the research and the historical methodology of Foxe" (ii). While I am also interested in this phenomenon, there are significant differences between the way that Freeman approaches this issue and the way that I do. Freeman is interested in the "liabilities [and] advantages such a model presented to Foxe," and in how "modern" his emphasis on documentary evidence was (ii). Although my focus is very different from his, I am nonetheless indebted to Freeman's impressive analysis of the relationship between Eusebian and Foxean methodology. For a discussion of Foxe's portrayal of Constantine, see also Michael S. Pucci, "Reforming Roman Emperors: John Foxe's Characterization of Constantine in the Acts and Monuments," in Loades, Historical Perspective, 29-51.

(4.) My quotations from the Church History are taken from Eusebius: The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, Trans. G. A. Williamson (London: Penguin, 1965). See also the newer translation of the Church History by Paul Maier (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel, 1999).

(5.) Jerome used this classical trope in his introduction to de Viris Illustribus, also with reference to Eusebius. Jerome writes, "But my situation is different from those I've mentioned. For they, you see, searched through old histories and chronologies and were able to braid, so to speak, from a vast meadow a small floral garland to create their own little treatise. For what I am about to do, I follow no guide .... Nonetheless, the ten books of the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus will be of great assistance to us, as well as the works of the specific authors about whom we shall write, works which often give evidence as to the life and times of their authors." (Translation by Paul B. Harvey, Jr.).

(6.) On the apologetic nature of the Church History, see Arthur J. Droge, "The Apologetic Dimensions of the Ecclesiastical History," Eusebius, Christianity, and Judaism, ed. Harold W. Attridge and Gohei Hata (Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 1992), 492-509.

(7.) Jewish Antiquities, Book 14, passim.

(8.) As Williamson notes, "Eusebius was doing something new: no one before him had attempted a history of the Church, and earlier historians had written a very different type of history from what Eusebius attempted, which is... not only annalistic but really the extended notes of a chronologer" (xx). See also Arnaldo Momigliano, "Pagan and Christian Historiography in the Fourth Century A.D." in The Conflict Between Paganism and Christianity in the Fourth Century, ed. Arnaldo Momigliano (Oxford: Clarendon, 1963), especially 89-91; reprinted in Momigliano, Essays in Ancient and Modern Historiography (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1977), 107-26.

(9.) Arnaldo Momigliano explains that "in no other history does precedent mean so much as in ecclesiastical history. The very continuity of the institution of the Church through the centuries makes it inevitable that anything that happened in the Church's past should be relevant to its present. Furthermore--and this is most essential--in the Church, conformity with the origins is evidence of truth." Arnaldo Momigliano, The Classical Foundations of Medieval Historiography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 136.

(10.) Perhaps the most popular English use of this strategy was John Jewel's "Challenge Sermon." Jewel preached this sermon at St. Paul's Cross in 1564, defending the Church of England against the charges of its enemies by asserting that this church was much closer than the Roman Catholic Church to the primitive apostolic church and to the fathers. Jewel's "challenge" was for the Roman Catholics to show evidence from the fathers for the beliefs of their church. This was typical of the debates over authority/ authenticity in the sixteenth century. See William P. Haaugaard, "Renaissance Patristic Scholarship and Theology in Sixteenth-century England," Sixteenth Century Journal 10.3 (1979): 52-3; and Mark Vessey, "English Translations of the Latin Fathers, 1517-1611," The Reception of the Church Fathers in the West: From the Carolingians to the Maurists, ed. Irena Backus, vol. 2 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1997), 775-835.

(11.) R.A. Markus, "Church History and the Early Church Historians," The Materials, Sources, and Methods of Ecclesiastical History, ed. D. Baker (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), 6. For more on Eusebian methodology, see also Robert Grant, Eusebius as Church Historian (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980), especially Chapter 4: "The Composition of the Church History."

(12.) The most famous abridgement was that of Timothy Bright (1589), who is also known for his invention of modem shorthand (see the Dictionary of National Biography, s.n. "Bright, Timothy"). He reduced the Acts and Monuments to a fraction of the length (and cost), yet kept its essential format and structure; he did this largely by omitting the various primary documents Foxe includes. See Damian Nussbaum, "Whitgift's 'Book of Martyrs': Archbishop Whitgift, Timothy Bright and the Elizabethan Struggle over John Foxe's Legacy," in John Foxe: An Historical Perspective (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999), 135-53.

(13.) Robert A. Markus, The End of Ancient Christianity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 99, 95.

(14.) As Markus explains, "to bridge the generation gap, Eusebius and his contemporaries and successors had to convince themselves that, essentially, nothing had changed and that their church was still the church of the martyrs." Markus, End, 90.

(15.) Despite the masculine nature of this imperative, both of these martyrologists included female martyrs as a significant part of their works--most notably, Blandina for Eusebius, and Anne Askew for Foxe.

(16.) See G. W. Bowersock, Martyrdom and Rome (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

(17.) Bowersock quotes Jan den Boeff, one of the participants from a 1984 colloquium on Jewish martyrology, who remarked, "In Christian martyr acts, despite all the differences in form, the kernel is the authentic documentation of the legal hearing. That is perhaps the real difference from Jewish martyr acts, and accordingly the concept of [martus] should be understood as a typically Christian title" (27). Bowersock's argument for the non-Jewish origin of martyrdom runs directly counter to W. H. C. Frend, Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church: A Study of a Conflict from the Maccabees to Donatus (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1967), who argues that "Judaism was itself a religion of martyrdom" (31). But see now Daniel Boyarin, Dying for God: Martyrdom and the Making of Christianity and Judaism (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999), who helpfully suggests that Jewish and Christian martyrdom shared common innovations and transformations between the second and fourth centuries C.E., and that the boundaries between "Christian," "Jew," and "Roman" are not helpful in theorizing what was clearly an evolving discourse between all of these (not so clearly distinguishable) groups. See especially Boyarin, Chapter 4: "Whose Martyrdom is this, anyway?"

(18.) The central role of the legal process in Christian martyrdom is evident in many writers preceding Eusebius. Perhaps the most notable example is the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs (180 C.E.; for an English translation, see H. A. Musurillo, Acts of the Christian Martyrs [Oxford: Clarendon, 1972], 106-31). This work purports to be a document of Roman legal proceedings, but while it may reflect official protocol, it was likely a memorial recorded by a Christian witness of these events. Compare, from the Roman administrative point of view, Pliny Epist. 10.96 &97, and Hadrian's rescript to Minicius Fundanus: Eusebius 4.9, cf. 4.26.10. See A. N. Sherwin White, The Letters of Pliny: A Historical and Social Commentary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966), 691-712 and "Appendix V: The early persecutions and Roman law," 772-87; W. H. C. Frend, The Rise of Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984), 180-84.

(19.) Like Eusebius, Foxe is following a recent tradition of martyr stories that were developed during and after periods of persecution. John Bale had essentially begun the English Protestant martyrological tradition by writing on the Lollard martyr John Oldcastle and, then, concentrating on more recent times, producing The Examination of Anne Askewe--a work focused much more heavily upon the trial and Askew's theological arguments with her captors than on her eventual execution. Foxe printed his own version of this trial in the Acts and Monuments (though it was substantially copied from Bale's).

(20.) Warren Wooden describes how in the Acts and Monuments "The first movement of the stories ... involves the martyr's initial conflict with the authorities, his apprehension, and the physical oppression or torture .... The second stage derives from the success of the first. Having taken a public stand and resisted the temptation to give way under physical suffering, the martyr is examined on the grounds of his belief by a clerical court or committee made up of the bishop of his diocese and various other inquisitors drawn from the ranks of the clergy." Warren W. Wooden, John Foxe (Boston: Twayne, 1983), 60-61. On the relationship between martyrdom and law in Foxe, see Lydia Whitehead, who argues that the martyrs' recitation of Psalm 51 is connected to their sense of being part of a divine court of law. Lydia Whitehead, "A Poena et Culpa: Penitence, Confidence and the Miserere in Foxe's Actes and Monuments," Renaissance Studies 4.3 (1990): 287-99.

(21.) Or, more likely, awaiting the next in a series of trials, for most of the martyrs Foxe writes about endured long series of trials. One example is John Philpot, who had 14 examinations, all of which Foxe records (7.605ff). Despite the implication of Bowersock (cf. n. 17 above) and Pucci's claim that "martyrdom required an inquisition by a Roman magistrate as is demonstrated by the verbatim records of legal cross examination and the plethora of civic documents preserved in martyr stories" (34), in Roman law oral testimony was much more important than written testimony. The centrality of the written word in early Christianity and Protestantism alike may have contributed to an increased emphasis upon the written aspect of trials.

(22.) Bowersock, Martyrdom, 52.

(23.) As Mark Breitenberg says of Foxe's martyrs, "Without control over the visible operations performed on their own bodies, the martyrs seized their invisible and thus inviolable souls as the basis for a symbolics of power." Mark Breitenberg, "The Flesh Made Word: Foxe's Acts and Monuments," Renaissance and Reformation 25.4 (1989): 402-3.

(24.) See Foxe's Fourth Question in his Preface to the Catholics: "Why are all of your observances external and corporeal?" (xxxii).

(25.) See Catharine Randall Coats, (Em)bodying the Word: Textual Resurrections in the Martyrological Narratives of Foxe, Crespin, de Beze, and d'Aubigne (New York: Peter Lang, 1992). Coats observes that "Textual resurrection does not aim at constructing an anatomicallycorrect physiology of the martyr. What is significant is the use of reference to the body as a path to the word. In like fashion, many of the descriptions of martyrdoms effectively turn the martyr's body into a text" (39).

(26.) John R. Knott, Discourses of Martyrdom in English Literature, 1563-1694 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 7.

(27.) Philip Hughes, quoted in Knott, 31. This is also a strong element of the desert-ascetic tradition of early Christianity that was developing around the same time as Eusebius was writing. Douglas Burton-Christie explains that the desert monks interpreted Scripture by putting it into practice, thus transforming Word into event. Douglas BurtonChristie, The Word in the Desert: Scripture and the Quest for Holiness in Early Christian Monasticism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993). See especially Section II: "Approaches to the Word in the Desert."

(28.) Richard Helgerson, Forms of Nationhood: The Elizabethan Writing of England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 267.

(29.) The Oxford English Dictionary provides a range of sixteenth-century usages for "act," including: (1) A thing done; a deed, a performance; (2) A state of accomplished fact or reality; (3) Activity, active principle; (4) The process of doing; (5) Something transacted in council, or in a deliberative assembly; hence, a decree passed by a legislative body, a court of justice, etc.; (6) A record of transactions of decrees.

(30.) Quoted from Markus, End, 90.

(31.) Williamson makes the point that the Church History "is peopled not by men of events, but by those who wrote books. It is much more a survey of Christian literature" (xxiii). Grant also notes that Eusebius "intended to create a Church history that would be a literary history at the same time" (63).

(32.) By including himself as part of the lineage of Christian writers, Foxe was once again following the example of his predecessors, both late antique and recent. Jerome inaugurated a precedent in his de Viris Illustribus of cataloguing Christian writers and including his name at the end. Others who continued this literary form (such as Gennadius) imitated this practice. John Bale, in his chronicle of English writers, the Catalogus (1557), also followed suit, and undoubtedly Foxe was profoundly aware of this tradition, even when following not Jerome's western literary form, but Eusebius's eastern one (which also, of course, had its own continuators).

(33.) Both Eusebius and Foxe also came to be more measured about their original enthusiasm over the triumph of their respective monarchs. This is evident in Eusebius in the Vita Constantinii (see the introduction to the translation by Averil Cameron and Stuart G. Hall [Oxford: Clarendon, 1999], 4-12). In the case of Foxe, his changing attitudes toward the Elizabethan church and state can be seen even in subsequent editions of the Acts and Monuments. See Pucci; as well as Glyn Parry, "Elect Church or Elect Nation? The Reception of the Acts and Monuments," in Loades, Historical Perspective, 167-81; and Tom Betteridge, "From Prophetic to Apocalyptic: John Foxe and the Writing of History," in Loades, English Reformation, 210-32.

(34.) See C. L. Oastler, John Day, The Elizabethan Printer (Oxford: Oxford Bibliographical Society, 1975). Oastler describes this woodcut as "One of the finest initial-letters to appear in an English book of this (or perhaps any) period. Perhaps specially cut for the Book of Martyrs and depicting Day, Foxe and another before the Queen enthroned" (49).

(35.) Momigliano, Classical Foundations, 141.

(36.) This was a central problem for all Christian historians. As Momigliano remarks, "Calculations about the return of Christ and the ultimate end had never been extraneous to the Church. Since the Apocalypse attributed to St. John had established itself as authoritative in the Church, millennial reckonings had multiplied. Universal chronology in the Christian sense was bound to take into account not only the beginning, but also the end; it had either to accept or else to fight the belief in the millennium. Chronology and eschatology were conflated" ("Pagan and Christian Historiography," 84).

(37.) Glenn F. Chesnut, The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1986), 173.

(38.) Eusebius wavered in his view of the Apocalypse. He originally believed that it was by John the Apostle (a view expressed in Eusebius's Chronicle, as well as in Church History 3.18 and 4.18). However, Eusebius later doubted that it was written by the same John (cf. CH 3.39 and 7.25). See also Grant, 126-41, who notes that "Eusebius' thought about the New Testament canon developed as he was writing the book. The most significant changes took place in regard to the Apocalypse of John, politically and theologically unattractive during the years just after the Diocletianic persecution" (140). Eusebius's apprehension was also connected to his condemnation of various millenarian sects.

(39.) For more on Foxe and the apocalypse, see Katharine R. Firth, The Apocalyptic Tradition in Reformation Britain 1530-1645 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979), who argues convincingly that "During those years from the return of the exiles to his death, Foxe was the single most important contributor to the establishment of the apocalyptic tradition in English Protestant historiography" (84). See also Richard Bauckham, Tudor Apocalypse: Sixteenth-century Apocalypticism, Millennarianism and the English Reformation (Appleford: Sutton Courtenay, 1976); and Paul Christianson, Reformers and Babylon: English Apocalyptic Visions from the Reformation to the Eve of the Civil War (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1978).

(40.) See Pucci; and Palle J. Oleson, "Was John Foxe a Millenarian?" Journal of Ecclesiastical History 45.4 (1994): 600-24.

(41.) On Eusebius's interest in the genealogy of heresy, beginning with Simon Magus, see Droge, 505.

(42.) Momigliano notes that "What characterizes the new historiography of the Reformation and counter-Reformation is the search for the true image of Early Christianity as opposed to the false one of the rivals--whereas Eusebius wanted to show how Christianity had emerged triumphant from persecution" (Classical Foundation, 150).

(43.) This emphasis on apocalyptic and national identity was reflected in the martyrologies of continental reformers at the time as well. See Irena Backus, Reformation readings of the Apocalypse: Geneva, Zurich, and Wittenberg (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). Foxe's own interest in the apocalypse came quite early in his career, for around 1556 he wrote an "apocalyptic comedy" entitled Christus Triumphans, and he also included apocalyptic ideas in the earlier Latin versions of the Acts and Monuments (Commentarii rerum in ecclesia gestarum [1554] and Rerum in Ecclesia gestarum [1559]). Although his time in exile allowed for conversation with the continental Reformers on this subject, Foxe's apocalypticism seems to have been more closely connected to the English movement. As Firth, William Hailer, and others have argued, apocalypticism was particularly prevalent in national thinking at the end of the sixteenth century in England in a way that it was not in other countries. See William Hailer, The Elect Nation: The Meaning and Relevance of Foxe's Book of Martyrs (New York: Harper and Row, 1963).

(44.) Bale wrote the first English commentary on Revelation--The Image of both Churches (c. 1548). He had a decided influence on Foxe's own apocalyptic thought, as evidenced both in his "apocalyptic comedy" Christus Triumphans and in the larger framework of the Acts and Monuments.

(45.) In the 1632 edition, for example, the title page includes a reference to Apocalypse 7:15: "Solus sedenti super Thronum et Agno." This passage was included in the later printings of the Acts and Monuments by the Company of Stationers in 1641 and 1684, thus emphasizing the apocalyptic message from the title page onward. Later versions and abridgements, in order to save on length (and cost), invariably cut the primary documents as Bright had.

(46.) Markus, "Church History," 8.

(47.) Hanmer is often considered a proto-Puritan because of his adamant objection to any kind of images or valuable materials in the church; he was known, for instance, for removing brasses in the church and converting them to coin. See the Dictionary of National Biography, s.n. "Hanmer, Meredith."

(48.) "Patrick Collinson has speculated that Foxe may have inspired and encouraged Meredith Hanmer's translation of Eusebius Ecclesiastical History in 1577" (Freeman, 41). Collinson, "Truth and Fiction in Sixteenth-Century Protestant Historiography," Unpublished lecture (Woodrow Wilson International Center, 1993).

PHOTO (BLACK & WHITE): FIG. 1. The Initial Letter "C" of Foxe's Acts and Monuments, picturing Elizabeth 1. By permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

PHOTO (BLACK & WHITE): FIG. 2. Detail from a Table of ten first Persecutions of the Primitive Church, Acts and Monuments (1596).

PHOTO (BLACK & WHITE): FIG. 3. The burning of Anne Askew, John Lacels, John Adams, and Nicholas Belenian. By permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

PHOTO (BLACK & WHITE): FIG. 4. A lively Picture, describing the weight and substance of Gods most blessed Word, against the doctrines and vainities of mens traditions. By permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

PHOTO (BLACK & WHITE): FIG. 5. The Burning of Cranmer; with his hand, wherewith he subscribed, first thrust into the fire. By permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

PHOTO (BLACK & WHITE): FIG. 6. The Frontispiece of Foxe's Acts and Monuments (1563). By permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library.


By Gretchen E. Minton

Gretchen E. Minton is an assistant professor of English at the University of Minnesota, Morris.