• Megan L. Hickerson


In the Acts and Monuments, Foxe eulogized as martyrs a number of women who at first glance it would seem neither he nor his godly associates would have wanted as wives. Engaging in long, complex debate, resisting and mocking male authority, developing intimate, if presumably spiritual, extra-marital relationships, dominating, disobeying and even leaving their husbands, these women, as Protestant icons, defy historiographical expectations when it comes to early modern ideas about virtuous female behaviour. But Foxe did not design these women to serve as models of virtuous behaviour for living female members of a godly community; rather, as characters in an historical and cosmic drama described in Bale’s Image of Both Churches and Foxe’s Christus Triumphans, they are models for disobedience to authority, whether marital, ecclesiastical or royal. Such authority had in the past, and could still, demand idolatry in worship and thus, for the elect member of the true church, adultery. In such circumstances members of the true church had to choose between obedience to earthly authority and fidelity to Christ, to whom, in election, they were married.


Sixteenth Century Virtuous Behaviour Real Presence Subversive Quality Female Domesticity 
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  1. 5.
    Timothy Bright, An Abridgement of the Booke of Acts and Monumentes of the Church: written by that Reuerend Father, Maister Iohn Fox: and now abridged by Timothe Bright, Doctour of Physicke, for such as either through Want of Leysure, or Abilitie have not the Use of so Necessary an History (London: I. Windet, 1589).Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Clement Cotton, The Mirrour of Martyrs in a Short View Lively Expressing the Force of their Faith, the Fervency of their Love, the Wisedome of their Sayings, the Patience of their Suffrings, etc… (London: T.P., 1613).Google Scholar
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  4. 8.
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    See Damian Nussbaum, ‘Whitgift’s Book of Martyrs: Archbishop Whitgift, Timothy Bright and the Elizabethan Struggle over John Foxe’s Legacy’, in John Foxe: an Historical Perspective, ed. David Loades (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999).Google Scholar
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    In an interesting twist, Thomas Brice’s doggerel verse, A Briefe Register, fails to mention Dryver at all, instead pairing Gouch with Elizabeth Launson. See A Briefe Register in meter, containing the names and patient sufferings of the Martyrs & members of Jesus Christ, afflicted … in the time of Q. Marie (London: Simon Stafford, 1599), n.p. (November 1558).Google Scholar
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© Megan L. Hickerson 2005

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  • Megan L. Hickerson

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