Foxe's Book of Martyrs, Volume 1
by John Foxe
'Foxe's Book of Martyrs, Volume 1' Summary
The book was produced and illustrated with over sixty distinctive woodcut impressions and was to that time the largest publishing project ever undertaken in England. (Common descriptions in this paragraph and next: King 2006, Evenden & Freeman 2011, Mosley 1940, Haller 1963, Wooden 1983, White 1963). Their product was a single volume book, a bit over a foot long, two palms-span wide, too deep or thick to lift with only one hand given it exceeded 1500 pages, and weighing about the same as a small infant. Foxe's own title for the first edition (as scripted and spelled), is Actes and Monuments of these Latter and Perillous Days, Touching Matters of the Church. Long titles were conventionally expected at the time, so this title continues and claims that the book describes "persecutions and horrible troubles" that had been "wrought and practiced by the Roman Prelates, speciallye in this realm of England and Scotland". Foxe's temporal range was "from the yeare of our Lorde a thousand unto the tyme nowe present".
Following closely on the heels of the first edition (Foxe complained that the text was produced at "a breakneck speed"), the 1570 edition was in two volumes and had expanded considerably. The page count went from approximately 1,800 pages in 1563 to over 2,300 folio pages. The number of woodcuts increased from 60 to 150. As Foxe wrote about his own living (or executed) contemporaries, the illustrations could not be borrowed from existing texts, as was commonly practiced. The illustrations were newly cut to depict particular details, linking England's suffering back to "the primitive tyme" until, in volume I, "the reigne of King Henry VIII"; in volume two, from Henry's time to "Queen Elizabeth our gracious Lady now reigning." Foxe's title for the second edition (vol I) is quite different from the first edition where he claimed his material as "these latter days of peril...touching on matters of the Church'. In 1570, Foxe's book is an "Ecclesiastical History" containing "the acts and monuments of thynges passed in every kynges tyme in this realm England, specially in the Church of England". It describes "persecutions, horrible troubles, the suffering of martyrs [new], and other such thinges incident ... in England and Scotland, and new all other foreign nations". The second volume of the 1570 edition has its own title page and, again, an altered subject. Volume II is an "Ecclesiastical History conteyning the Acts and Monuments of Martyrs" [capitalized in original] and offers "a general discourse of these latter persecutions, horrible troubles and tumults styred up by Romish ['Roman' in 1563] Prelates in the Church". Again leaving the reference, to which church, uncertain, the title concludes "in this realm of England and Scotland as partly also to all other foreign nations apparteynyng".
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