John Foxe & The Book of Martyrs
John Foxe (1517-1587) was born in Boston, Lincolnshire in 1517. He never rose to occupy high office within the Church of England, but the incomparable literary work for which he is most well-known, and for which he will forever be remembered was as the chronicler of the Christian martyrs from the earliest times. Originally titled by him as “Actes and Monuments of these Latter and Perillous Days, Touching Matters of the Church”, it is more usually referred to today as “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs”.
The expansive original comprised a large number of volumes, detailing as it did the martyrdom of many early Christians, as well as giving an account of important figures such as John Wycliffe, the morning star of the Reformation, the life and story of the ‘True Servant and Martyr of God, William Tyndale, the trial, condemnation, and martyrdoms of Ridley and Latimer, Thomas Cranmer, plus accounts of many, many more less well-known Christian folk who suffered at the hands of the Catholic Queen, often referred to as Bloody Mary. She, it was who condemned hundreds of people to death, principally going to their early end by being burnt at the stake, simply for being Protestant and refusing to recant their firmly held beliefs.
The version of Foxe’s Book of Martyr’s which is available to us today is greatly abridged and often edited for modern readers, but it still remains a remarkable work, and one which has been hugely helpful in informing our understanding of Foxe, and the subjects he covered.
This address, gives us a brief sketch of John Foxe’s life and also provides a few examples of those who gave up their lives, becoming martyrs, for Christ’s sake.