Foxe's Book of Martyrs
by John Foxe
"The Book of Martyrs, by John Foxe (first published by John Day in 1563, with many subsequent editions, also by Day), is an apocalyptically oriented English Protestant account of the persecutions of Protestants, mainly in England, and other groups from former centuries who were seen by Foxe and others of his contemporaries, such as John Bale, to be forerunners of the Protestant Reformation through whom the lineage of the church of England could be traced. Though the work is commonly known as Foxe's Book of Martyrs, the full title is Actes and Monuments of these Latter and Perillous Days, touching Matters of the Church. The work was lavishly produced and illustrated with a large number of woodcuts.
The first part of the book covered early Christian martyrs, a brief history of the medieval church, including the Inquisitions, and a history of the Wycliffite or Lollard movement, as Wycliffe was viewed by men such as Foxe to be "the morning star" of the Reformation. The second part dealt with the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI, and the third with the reign and persecutions of Mary.
Foxe's account of Mary's reign and the martyrdoms that took place during it became extremely influential in the formation of an English and Protestant national identity. Foxe's intention was to attack the Roman Catholic Church, centred primarily on the persecution under Mary Tudor, and to establish a historical justification for the foundation of the Church of England as the contemporary embodiment of the true and faithful church rather than a newly established Christian denomination."