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FOXE, John

WITH THE VERY RARE BROADSIDE

Acts and monuments of matters most speciall and memorable, happening in the Church,  with an vniuersall historie of the same. .. Whereunto are annexed certaine additions of like persecutions, which haue happened in these later times.

London, Adam Islip, Fœlix Kingston, and Robert Young, anno Domini, 1632.

£12,500.

Folio. Three vols. pp. [cxxviii], 756, 767-1034; 113, 112-788, [ii]; [iv], 584, 595-1030; [xiv], 106, 105-106, [cxiv]. [3] plates (2 folded). pi⁴, 2[par.]⁸, 3[par.]⁸, (-)⁶, (A)-(H)⁴, (I)⁶, A-4P⁶, 4Q⁸; ²A-I⁶, K⁸, L-3T⁶, 3V⁴; ³A-4P⁶, 4Q⁸; ⁴A-O⁴, P⁶, 4R-5G⁴. {without first blank in vol 1, last blank in vol 2, and first and last blanks in vol. 3] Black letter, some Roman and Italic, double column. Title pages to each vol. within fine woodcut border, representing the Last Judgement, the burning of martyrs, the celebration of the Mass, and Protestant and Roman preaching (McKerrow & Ferguson. Title-page borders, no. 120.), three folding woodcut plates, after 2E4, ²2Z6, and ³2V1, with a monumental broadside “A table of the X first persecutions of the primitive Church under the heathen Tyrannes of Rome, continuing the space almost of CCC yeeres after Christ” bound after page 44 in vol. 1, many column width and half page woodcuts in text, woodcut initials head and tail-pieces. Light age yellowing with some offsetting, spotting and browning in places, minor light occasional waterstains, occasional small tears to lower margins, 3B6 in volume 2 with closed tear through lower third of leaf, broadside with several closed tears at folds, endpapers renewed in vol. 3. A very good copy in handsome contemporary calf, covers single gilt and double blind ruled to a panel design, fleurons gilt to corners of outer panel, large lozenge with olive wreath and scrolls gilt stamped at centres, spines with raised bands, gilt ruled in compartments, large fleuron gilt at centres, titles gilt on morocco labels, wide brass clasps and catches, stamped and engraved, small loss to head of vol 2, volume 3 rebacked with original spine laid down, upper compartment lacking, a little rubbed at extremities, covers a little scratched. Early shelf mark and monogram B:E to upper margin of t-p in vol. 3

A very handsome copy of this enlarged and beautifully illustrated copy of Foxe’s monumental and hugely influential work containing a very large and exceptionally rare broadside not mentioned in ESTC or Copac. It was most probably made for this edition, as it contains instructions as to where it should be placed in the text, (after page 44) which are not found on the previous version made for the 1622 edition. This broadside on the martyrdom of the early Christians, is printed from three woodblocks, each filled with separate incidents of persecution, each described by text in a cartouche; with letterpress title along the top and description below. It was first published for the 1570 edition of Foxe’s ‘Book of Martyrs, and was also published separately. See Sheila O’Connell, ‘The Popular Print in England’, BM 1999, no.4.24, and D. Loades, ‘John Foxe and the English Reformation.’ We can find no mention of it in another copy. 

The Actes and Monuments, popularly known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, is a work of  Protestant history and martyrology including a polemical account of the sufferings of Protestants under the Catholic Church, with particular emphasis on England and Scotland. This text, and their scholarly interpretations, helped to frame English consciousness (national, religious and historical), for over four hundred years. Evoking images of the sixteenth-century martyred English, of Elizabeth enthroned, the Enemy overthrown, and danger averted, Foxe’s text and its images served as a popular and academic code. The book was highly influential and helped shape lasting popular notions of Catholicism. It went through four editions in Foxe’s lifetime. The three volumes here amount to 2,300 pages of over 3 million words and very numerous woodcuts. This 1632 edition adds a chronology and a topical outline as well as a continuation of foreign martyrs.

“Even today ..the Acts and Monuments … is an impressive tome, vastly more ambitious than anything previously printed in England. John Foxe’s text – itself drawing on the work of many other writers – not only tells the stories of the men and women persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church, but prints vast amounts of documentary support in the form of letters, interrogations, and debates, .. It is also ,… the single most important body of biographical life-writing in post Reformation Britain. Although initially conceived as a new ecclesiastical history for the English Protestant Church, and as a repository for the documentary evidence for that history, Acts and Monuments became most celebrated as a collection of martyr’s lives, a Book of Martyrs, as it became popularly known.” The Oxford history of Life-Writing.

John Foxe began his great work while a refugee in Rhineland Europe and away from Queen Mary’s persecution back in England. Its intellectual genesis therefore lay at the heart of the revolutionary changes inspired by the sixteenth-century protestant reformation – which is to say, on the continent of Europe. Yet, successively reworked and republished in English.., the cultural impact of Foxe’s work was to sever England from the catholic roots of continental Europe. After his death, Foxe’s work became a vehicle that sustained anti-catholic sentiment which, in turn, cloistered a fundamental suspicion of continental Europe -.. Foxe’s  Book of Martyrs had played an important part in creating a sense of English national identity.” Mark Greengrass, Thomas S. Freeman ‘The Acts and Monuments and the Protestant Continental Martyrologies.’

A very handsome copy, rare complete and in a contemporary binding, with the exceptional, large broadside.

ESTC S123057. STC 11228. Lowndes II 829. 

L3089