Providence and Prescription: The Account of Elizabeth in Foxe’s ‘Book of Martyrs’

  • Thomas S. Freeman


Insistence on the popularity and influence of John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments (commonly known as Foxe’s ‘Book of Martyrs’) has become something of a truism among scholars. Yet one section of Foxe’s text, his account of the tribulations of Princess Elizabeth during her sister’s reign, has had a pervasive impact which is impressive even when compared with the ready, indeed reverent, general reception of his book. Significant portions or the whole of this account were reprinted in such major early modern historical works as Holinshed’sChronicles and John Speed’s history of Great Britain.1 William Camden, arguably the most influential historian of Elizabeth’s reign, drew on Foxe’s narrative of the persecution of Elizabeth, even if he only made a limited use of it.2 Poets as well as historians borrowed from Foxe;William Alabaster’s Elisaeis (an imitation of the Aeneid with Elizabeth, rather then Aeneas, as its hero) took its historical substance, such as it was, from the Acts and Monuments.3


Trojan Horse Privy Council Henry VIII Implicit Criticism True Subject 
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© Thomas S. Freeman 2003

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  • Thomas S. Freeman

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