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Foxe's Book of Martyrs

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Publisher writes

'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.' Hugh Latimer's famous words of consolation to Nicholas Ridley as they are both about to be burnt alive for heresy come from John Foxe's magisterial Acts and Monuments, popularly known as the Book of Martyrs.

This vast collection of unforgettable accounts of religious persecution exerted as great an influence on early modern England and New England as the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. It contains many stirring stories of the apprehension, interrogation, imprisonment, and execution of alleged heretics. The narratives not only attest to the fortitude of individuals who suffered for their faith not many years before the birth of Shakespeare, but they also constitute exciting tales filled with graphic details and verbal wit. This modernized selection also includes some of the famous woodcuts that illustrated the original text, as well as providing a comprehensive introduction to Foxe's life and times and the martyrology narrative. 

Author Information

John Foxe, (edited by John N. King)

John N. King is editor of Reformation and co-editor of Literature and History. His publications include English Reformation History: The Tudor Origins of the Protestant Tradition (Princeton UP, 1982), Milton and Religious Controversy: Satire and Polemic in Paradise Lost (CUP, 2000), and Foxe's Book of Martyrs and Early Modern Print Culture (CUP, 2006).

Judges' and contributors' comments

William Whyte: This is not a good book. It’s a bad one; indeed, it’s a terrible book, in every sense. But it’s also incredibly important. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs was, of course, a foundational text for English Protestants in the 17th and 18th centuries, helping to shape their view and their fears of Roman Catholics. For modern Anglicans, it’s a reminder of our unsavoury past and a warning about our present and our future. Foxe’s book was about competitive martyrdom – something we’ve heard rather a lot about recently as rival parties within the Church each claim to be most pained by debates over gender or sexuality. The passive-aggressive cult of victimhood is not new – but it is almost always degrading, as Foxe’s volume reveals.

Reader comments


18 December 2014 @ 18:13

I couldn't finish it. A horrible book that repeats over and over that catholics are blood thirsty monsters and protestants only know true Christianity. After a while I had no sympathy at all for those losing their lives for their integrity as the story was being manipulated so unfairly.

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