Item History and Pricing
Year Printed: 1641Author: John Foxe
Modified Item: NoSubject: Religion & Spirituality
Country/Region of Manufacture: United KingdomOriginal/Facsimile: Original
Topic: Christianity, BiblesLanguage: English
Binding: Fine BindingPublisher: Company of Stationiers
Region: EuropePlace of Publication: London
Original Description:
[Church History] [Persecutions of Christians] [Martyrologies] [Chronicles] [Early Illustrated English Books - 17th century]

Printed in London by the Company of Stationiers, 1641.

Text in English (with some passages in Latin and a few in Greek).A monumental 3-volume set of the Eighth Edition of this important and vastly popular source of English Church history, richly illustrated with numerous woodcuts in text, three woodcut plates, and a fine engraved portrait frontispiec...e by George Glover, and four fine woodcut title-borders.Foxe's famous Book of Martyrs was "one of the most widely read, popular, and influential works of the Elizabethan Age" (DLB)."Widely read, often the most valued book beside the Bible in the households of English Puritans, it helped shape popular opinion about Roman Catholicism for at least a century. The feeling of the English populace against Spain, important in the politics of the age, was fanned by the book's description of the Inquisition. It dealt chiefly, however, with the martyrdom of English Protestants from the 14th century through the reign of Queen Mary I in Foxe's own time." (Encyclopedia Britannica)This is the second 3-volume edition, and THE FIRST EDITION TO INCLUDE THE BIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FOXE WRITTEN BY HIS SON SIMEON.This is also the last edition to be PRINTED IN BLACK LETTER.This massive set with leaves measuring over 37-cm tall may be a Large Paper exemplar, as almost all copies of this edition that appear on the market measure are 34-35.5 cm tall.Due to the book's enormous popularity, almost all 16th- and 17th-century copies that appear on the market are quite imperfect and defective. By contrast, our set offered here is in solidly Very Good condition, and is virtually complete (perhaps lacking 1 or 2 plates), but, quite uncommonly, including all the title-pages, an engraved portrait frontispiece of Foxe, three woodcut plates, all the preliminaries, all the indexes, and even the rare half-title in Vol.I and two integral blanks.Our set also includes (bound at the end of Vol.III) the additional work "A Continuation of the histories of forreine martyrs..." (with a special title page (in a fine architectural woodcut border, and separate pagination), dealing with later events including the Spanish invasion (1588), and the Gunpowder Plot (1605).It has also been noted that this 1641 edition includes (at the beginning of Vol.II) letters of Stephen Gardiner (1483 - 1555), an English bishop and politician who served as Lord Chancellor during the reign of Queen Mary, which were omitted from all previous editions, except the First: "Several of Gardyner's letters, which were inserted in the first edition of Foxe, were omitted in the subsequent ones. They were however again printed, though not in their proper place, in the edition of 1641." (Henry Jenkyns, The Remains of Thomas Cranmer, p. xlvii)Foxe's Acts and Monuments, or "Book of Martyrs," as it has been called ever since its first English publication, a massive polemical work of ecclesiastical history, punctuated with its vividly horrific illustrations, was one of the most widely read English books for two centuries. Foxe's account justified the establishment of the Church of England as a continuation of the true Christian church while strongly prejudicing the English nation against Roman Catholicism. 
"In his popular 'Book of Martyrs,' John Foxe (1516-87) presents the ordeals of early English Protestants in the context of the persecution and martyrdom of early Christians under the Romans, and contributes to the formation of England's national Protestant identity" (Cressy & Ferrell, Religion and Society in Early Modern England, 32).
The Acts and Monuments originated as an augmented English translation of the Foxe's Latin treatise 'Rerum in Ecclesia gestarum ... Comentarii' (Basel, 1559).The original 1563 edition was in a single volume comprising five 'books': first covering the early Christian martyrs, a brief history of the medieval church, and the Wycliffite or Lollard movement. It then examines the reign of Henry VIII during which the dispute with Rome led  to the separation of the English Church from papal authority. The final book treats the reign of Queen Mary and the Marian Persecutions. Subsequent editions extended the history to include more recent events: for example, the 1583 printing added a section on the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of 1572.Foxe based his accounts of martyrs before the early modern period on writers such as Eusebius, Bede, Matthew Paris, and others. His English martyrology (Lollards through the Marian Persecutions) was compiled from primary sources such as episcopal registers, trial reports, and eyewitness testimonies."John Foxe's survey of Christian martyrs throughout history laid strong emphasis on those who had died for their faith during the reign of Queen Mary (1553 - 58), and was widely read during the 16th and 17th centuries. It had a great influence on popular opinion with regard to Catholicism over the following centuries, providing support for the legal oppression of Catholics until the 19th century. Foxe began his work before Catholic Mary's reign and the persecution of the Protestants. His first studies were of the early Christian martyrs, the victims of the Inquisition, and the followers of Wycliffe and Tyndale, who supported the reading of the Bible in English."As a Protestant in exile in Germany he continued writing, as news of the persecutions in England reached him. The first edition of his book, in Latin, was published in 1559, and contained little information about the recent Protestant martyrs, whose stories were included in the much fuller edition published in English in 1563. While Foxe was by no means an impartial writer, and his presentation of history is selective and peppered with comment, his access to the evidence from very recent trials and eye-witness accounts renders his work generally reliable." (British Library)John Foxe (1516-1587) was born at Boston in Lincolnshire, England, and educated at Brasenose College and Magdalen College, Oxford. He joined the Reformers early in life and under Edward VI acted as tutor to the children of the recently beheaded Earl of Surrey. In Mary's reign he fled to Germany and joined the exiles at Frankfort. In the controversy which arose there he took sides with Knox and the extremists and after the break up of the Frankfort colony he went to Basle where poverty compelled him to take service with the Protestant printer Oporinus. In 1539 he returned to England and entered the ministry, he was helped by his old pupil the Duke of Norfolk and was mainly occupied with his martyrology. He still belonged to the extremists and objected to the surplice.  Besides his "Acts and Monuments" he published a number of sermons, translations, and controversial attacks on Catholicism. He died in 1587."Even before leaving England in 1554 Foxe had begun the story of the persecutions of the Reformers. The result was the publication of a little Latin work dealing mainly with Wyclifism. While at Basle he was supplied by Grindal with reports of the persecution in England and in 1559 he published a large Latin folio of 740 pages which began with Wyclif and ended with Cranmer. After his return to England he began to translate this book and to add to it the results of fresh information. The "Acts and Monuments" were finally published in 1563 but came almost immediately to be known as the "Book of Martyrs". The criticism which the work called forth led to the publication of a "corrected" edition in 1570. Two more (1576 and 1583) came out during his life and five (1596, 1610, 1632, 1641, 1684) within the next hundred years."The first volume besides introductory matter contains the story of early Christian persecutions, a sketch of medieval church history and an account of the Wyclifite movement in England and on the continent. The second volume deals with the reigns Henry VII and Edward VI and the third with that of Mary. A large number of official documents such as injunctions, articles of accusation, letters, etc., have been included. The book is illustrated throughout by woodcuts, some of them symbolizing the triumph of the Reformation, most of them depicting the sufferings of the martyrs. "The Convocation of the English Church ordered in 1571 that copies of the "Book of Martyrs" should be kept for public inspection in all cathedrals and in the houses of church dignitaries. The book was also exposed in many parish churches. The passionate intensity of the style, the vivid and picturesque dialogues made it very popular among Puritan and Low Church families down to the nineteenth century. Even in the fantastically partisan church history of the earlier portion of the book, with its grotesque stories of popes and monks and its motley succession of witnesses to the truth (including the Albigenses, Grosseteste, Dante, and Savonarola) was accepted among simple folk and must have contributed much to anti-Catholic prejudices in England. When Foxe treats of his own times his work is of greater value as it contains many documents and is but largely based on the reports of eyewitnesses." (Catholic Encyclopedia)Bibliographic references:Wing F2035 + C5965. Lowndes p.742.Physical description:Three thick Folio volumes; measuring 382 mm x 255 mm (i.e. 15 x 10 inches); leaves measure 373 mm x 238 mm.; wide margins, probably a Large Paper exemplar (as most sets appearing in trade measure 34-35 cm). Uniformly bound in late 18th-century quarter-calf over marbled boards; each spine with a gilt-lettered maroon morocco label.Pagination:
Vol. I. [128], 756, 767-1033, [1] pages + Portrait frontis + 1 plate facing p.332;
Vol.II. [42], 22, [3], 6-113, 112-788 pages + 1 folding plate facing p.554;
Vol.III. [2], 584, 595-1030, [14], 106 (i.e. 108), [96] pages + 1 plate.
All COMPLETE, except for 1 or 2 plates. Illustrated with three fine historiated woodcut title-page borders and a woodcut architectural border to title of "A Continuation"; engraved frontispiece portrait of Foxe by George Glover (picturing him in year 1587 at the age of 70); also 3 (of 4 or 5) woodcut plates (not included in pagination); and numerous woodcut illustrations in text (including a map of England, most others depicting persecution, torture and burning of Protestant martyrs).Numerous ornamental and grotesque woodcut head- and tail-pieces; numerous woodcut initials, including a very large 24-line woodcut initial "C" depicting Queen Elizabeth enthroned in her coronation robes (at opening of the dedication in Vol.I) used in the 1563 first edition.Main text printed in double-columns, chiefly in Black Letter (gothic) type, also using roman and italic, and occasionally Greek type. Printed marginal notes.Preliminaries in vol.I include (rare) half-title (reading 'The Booke of Martyrs'); the Calendar; a 'dedication to Jesus Christ' in Latin (Ad Dominum Jesum Christum); a  dedication to Queen Elizabeth, Foxe's prefaces "To the true and faithfull congregation of Christes universall Church"; "The Utility of This Storie"; "To All the Professed Friends and Followers of the Pope's Proceedings"; followed by several laudatory poems (in Latin) on Foxe and his book by various authors; "A Table of Tables"; and an extensive "Chronologie".
Preliminaries to Vol.II include (the 1st edition of) the biography of the author "The Life of Mr John Foxe" (ascribed to Foxe's son Simeon) in both English and Latin.Included at the end of Vol.III is an epistle "Edward Bulkeley to the Christian reader", followed by "A Continuation of the Histories of Forreine Martyrs... " with a special title-page within woodcut border; followed by an extensive Index ("A Table of All the Principall Persons and Things...").The integral blanks at the end of the preliminaries of Vol.II and at the end of "A Continuation of the Histories" are present.Provenance:An armorial bookplate with motto "Providentia tutamen" affixed to front pastedown of each volume, indicating 18th- or 19th-century ownership by either Thomson family of Kenfield, Kent, or Toker family of Ospringe, Kent.Condition:Very Good antiquarian condition. Complete, except for 1 or 2 plates. Bindings rubbed with some scuffing to marbled boards, wear to edges; corners bumped and worn (a few worn through). Ends of spine worn and slightly chipped with minor loss of leather. Joints somewhat worn; front joint of Vol.I split, but held firmly by binding cords; all boards securely attached, binding tight. Internally with occasional light soiling, some minor ink-smudges; a few leaves with marginal pen-trials or calculations in early hand. Vol.I: Half-title with some light ink-stains. Portrait frontispiece with some soiling, harmless creasing, and a marginal repair to bottom outer corner (without loss to image). A few leaves with minor marginal worming at gutter. Vol.II: First two leaves with tiny marginal repair at top edge (no loss); leaf Lll2 with a small torn hole affecting about 5 words. Some intermittent light water-staining (rather inconspicuous). Vol.III: Woodcut plate with minor marginal repair (image not affected); two leaves (M3-4) fully remargined (window-mounted) without loss of text, and somewhat soiled; leaves Vv1, Ddd5 and Xxx5 with somewhat heavier soiling (but not affecting legibility). A couple leaves slightly creased; Vv2 with a neatly repaired tear (without loss); Ddd6 with a short tear in inner margin (text not affected). Light marginal water-staining to top outer corner to some leaves at the end of the volume. In all, a very desirable, essentially complete, and very tall set (possibly Large paper); generally very clean, solid, and wide-margined.
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