Mrs Prest and the True Church: the Necessity of Disobedience

  • Megan L. Hickerson


By the time he returned to England from his Marian exile in 1559, Foxe had been labouring over his history of the church for several years. The Acts and Monuments continued to develop as a project until his death in 1587, changing and growing from edition to edition; in this respect, it was never finished. Foxe began his 1554 Commentarii during Edward Vi’s reign, and it was close to ready for publication before his departure for the continent in 1554. This, his earliest attempt to prove that reformed religion was the historic religion of the true persecuted church, was designed as a compilation of the accounts of those who had suffered for it at the hands of the papacy. It traces the persecution of the elect from 1375 (the time of Wycliffe) through the early sixteenth century, mainly concentrating on the English Lollards, access to information about whom he owed largely to his collaboration with Bale. The Commentarii was intended to be the first volume of two, the second to cover the trials of the true church through the Tudor persecutions, but this second volume never appeared.1


True Religion Prayer Book Secular Authority Royal Authority Common Prayer 
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    This is not, however, the first martyrology to include accounts of the deaths of Marian martyrs. Jean Crespin was the first to publish information (as martyrology) about the Marian burnings, using as his source martyrs’ letters circulating among the exiles in Geneva (Jean Crespin, Troisieme partie du recueil des martyrs [Geneva: Jean Crespin, 1556]). Foxe did not, however, draw on Crespin’s work for the Rerum, probably because it is in French, which he did not read.Google Scholar
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© Megan L. Hickerson 2005

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  • Megan L. Hickerson

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