Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss John Foxe and his book Actes and Monuments, better known today as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Born in 1517, John Foxe was an early Protestant who was forced to flee the persecutions which ensued when the Catholic Mary came to the English throne in 1553. He was a horrified observer on the Continent as more than three hundred of his countrymen were burnt at the stake. In exile he began work on a substantial work of scholarship, bringing together eyewitness accounts of these horrifying deaths.First published in 1563, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs was one of the most elaborate early books produced, and thanks to vivid woodcut illustrations reached an audience far beyond the literate elite. Its stories of Protestant martyrdom became powerful Church propaganda in the late sixteenth century and were used by those who wished to banish Catholicism from England permanently. But despite its use as an instrument of religious factionalism, Foxe’s work remains one of the key and most read books of the early modern period.

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  • Diarmaid MacCulloch 11 episodes
    Professor of Church History at the University of Oxford
  • Justin Champion 11 episodes
    Professor of the History of Early Modern Ideas at Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Elizabeth Evenden No other episodes
    Lecturer in Book History at Brunel University

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, in the early years of the Elizabethan age, the Protestant scholar John Foxe published a work of religious history.