John Foxe (1517–1587) is remembered as the author of what is popularly known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, an account of Christian martyrs throughout history but especially emphasising the sufferings of English Protestants from the fourteenth century through the reign of Mary I. Widely owned and read by English Puritans, the book helped mould British and American popular opinion about Roman Catholicism for several centuries.
After the Bible itself, no book so profoundly influenced early Protestant sentiment as the Book of Martyrs. Even in our time it is still a living force. It is more than a record of persecution. It is an arsenal of controversy, a storehouse of romance, as well as a source of edification.
The Book of Martyrs, by John Foxe (first published by John Day in 1563, with many subsequent editions, also by Day), is an apocalyptically oriented English Protestant account of the persecutions of Protestants, mainly in England, and other groups from former centuries who were seen by Foxe and others of his contemporaries, such as John Bale, to be forerunners of the Protestant Reformation through whom the lineage of the church of England could be traced. Though the work is commonly known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, the full title is Actes and Monuments of these Latter and Perillous Days, touching Matters of the Church. The work was lavishly produced and illustrated with a large number of woodcuts.