mantius, and Primitiuus, by the commaundement of Adrian were condemned to the fire, wherein they were martyred and put to death.
The seuen sonnes of Symphora
Martyrs.The names moreouer of the. vij sonnes of this Simphorosa, I finde to be Crescens, Iulianus, Nemesius, Primitiuus, Iustin9, Statteus, and Eugenius, whom the chronicle of Ado declareth to be put to death at the commaundement of Hadrian, being fastned to. vij. stakes, and so racked wyth a pulley, and at last were thrust throughe, Crescens in the necke, Iulianus in the brest, Nemesius in the hart, Primitiuus about the nauell, Iustinus cut in euerye ioynt of his body, Statteus run through with speares, Eugenius cut a sunder from the brest to the lower partes, and then cast into a deepe pyt, hauing the name by the idolatrous Priestes, intituled Ad septem Biothanatos. After the martyrdome of whom also Symphorosa þe mother did likewise suffer, as is before declared. Marginalia The Persecution in Lyons and Viēna, two Cities in Fraunce.
Ex Euseb lib. 5. ca. 2Vnder the sayd Antoninus Verus, and in the same persecution, which raged not in Rome and in Asia onely, but in other countries also, suffered the glorious & most constant Martyrs of Lyons and Vienna, two cities in Fraunce, geuing to Christe a glorious testimonye, and to all Christian men a spectacle, or example of singular constancy and fortitude in Christe our Sauiour. The history of whom, because it is written and set forth by their own churches, wher they did suffer, mencioned in Euseb. lib. 5. cap. 2. I thought here to expres the same in the forme and effect of their own woordes, as ther is to be sene. The title of which their Epistle written to the brethren of Asia & Phrygia thus beginneth.
The section on the first 300 years of the church was, however, just the preface to the 'First Ten Persecutions', a structured 'decade' of martyrdoms in the early church that mirrored the 'centuries' into which the Magdeburg Centuries had chosen to organize its history of the Christian church. For our examination of Foxe's (extensive) borrowings from the Magdeburg Centuries, we have made use of the online edition of this text at: http://www.mgh-bibliothek.de/digilib/centuriae.htm and, for the bibliographical complexities surrounding its publication, Ronald E. Diener, 'The Magdeburg Centuries. A Bibliothecal and Historiographical Study'. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard Divinity School 1978/79). For these sections, we have undertaken a very preliminary analysis, concentrating on the following textual divisions: Introduction to first 10 persecutions (1583, p. 34; 1576, p. 34; 1570, pp. 53-4); First persecution (1583, pp. 34-5; 1576, p. 34; 1570, pp. 54-6); Second persecution (1583, pp. 35-9; 1576, pp. 35-9; 1570, pp. 56-7); Third persecution (1583, pp. 39-42; 1576, pp. 39-42; 1570, pp. 57-9); Fourth persecution (1583, pp. 42-46; 1576, pp. 42-46; 1570, pp. 59-69); Martyrs of Lyons (1583, pp. 46-50; 1576, pp. 46-50; 1570, pp. 69-74); Remainder of fourth persecution (1583, pp. 50-4; 1576, pp. 50-4; 1570, pp. 74-9); Fifth persecution (1583, pp. 54-9; 1576, pp. 54-9; 1570, pp. 79-85); Sixth persecution (1583, p. 59; 1576, pp. 59-60; 1570, pp. 85-6).[Back to Top]
In the block on the first persecutions, prepared for the 1570 edition and repeated in the later ones, Foxe cites as his source Eusebius, book 3, ch. 30. Although it is probably the case that he consulted the source, it is much more likely that, for this (as for the succeeding sections of this part of the narrative) that he drew on the published volumes of the Magdeburg Centuries, in this case, vol. 1, book 2, cols 561-4.[Back to Top]
For the second persecution, Foxe continued to use Eusebius, supplementing it (apparently) with Irenaeus' Against Heresies and the Historiae adversum paganos of Orosius. Again, although it is difficult to be certain of this at present, his direct source was likely to have been the Magdeburg Centuries. For the fourth persecution, concerned especially with the martyrdom of Polycarp, we can be clearer. Although some of the sections of Foxe's narrative (such as the Epistle to Pontus and the sayings of Polycarp to Martin the heretic, are direct translations from Eusebius, the section on the life and works of Polycarpus, which indirectly comes from Eusebius, book 5, ch. 20, is clearly lifted from the Magdeburg Centuries, II, cols 173 and 176. For the contradictory views of various authors on who were the popes at the time, Foxe clearly used the Magdeburg Centuries, I, book 2, cols 626-8 but he also consulted at least some of the other sources he mentions in order to construct an independent view. The section on the order of the popes to Eleutherius certainly is taken from the Magdeburg Centuries, II, cols 117 and 209-210.[Back to Top]
For the fourth persecution, it is evident that the Magdeburg Centuries formed the direct source for the following sections of it:- the Epistle of Pliny to Trajan and its response (p. 53 of the 1570 edition) - (II, cols 13-4); the martyrdoms under Emperor Hadrian (p. 54 of the 1570 edition) - (II, cols 15-6 and cols 231-33); the final rising of the Jews under Hadrian and subsequent slaughter, the succession of Antoninus Pius, and resumption of the fourth persecution (p. 55 of the 1570 edition) - (II, col 17); the disputed claims concerning Hyginus (p. 66 of the 1570 edition) - (II, cols 111; 141; 212-3); Eleutherius' mission to convert the British (II, cols 8-9); and the contention over the date of Easter at the time of Commodus (p. 67 of the 1570 edition) - (II, col. 118).[Back to Top]
For the fifth persecution, Foxe drew directly on the Magdeburg Centuries for the following passages:- the fifth persecution by Septimus Severus (p. 67 of the 1570 edition) - (III, cols 9-10); the martyrdom of Origen and his father - (III, cols 9-10; 150-1; 253-259); for the list of martyrs under Septimus Severus (p. 68 of the 1570 edition) - (III, cols 10; 251; 305); for Basilides and the miracles of Potomiena - (III, col. 305); for Alexander as bishop of Jerusalem - (III, col. 209); for the persecutions in the time of Septimus Severus - (III, cols 295-6; 211); for Tertullian as an ecclesiastical writer (p. 69 of the 1570 edition - (III, cols 236; 241; 242); for the controversy over Easter in the time of Victor (p. 70 of the 157- edition) - (II, cols 152-58); for the epistles of Zephirus - (III, cols 275-6); for the invasion of Britain - (III, col. 315); for the epistles of Calixtus (p. 72 of the 1570 edition) - (III, cols 276-77). Foxe clearly used other sources for this account as well, but only further research will confirm more precisely the extent to which he worked outwards from the Magdeburg Centuries to write a more independently based narrative of this section.[Back to Top]
For the sixth persecution, we have undertaken a similar analysis of the extent of Foxe's dependence on the Magdeburg Centuries. The results are less complete. It is certainly the case that he drew somewhat on that source for the beginning of the sixth persecution under Emperor Maximus (pp. 73-4 of the 1570 edition) - (III, col. 13). He also borrowed to some degree for the description of the rule of Pontianus, bishop of Rome (p. 74 of the 1570 edition) - (III, cols 177; 278); for the story of Natalius he also fairly clearly derived his material from the Centuries - (IIII, cols 287-288); for Emperor Philip the same is true (III, cols 8; 254; 279).[Back to Top]
We have not continued our analysis beyond this stage at present. It will require a more extensive and detailed examination of the full range of the sources cited by Foxe in his marginalia, and a comparison of them with what was contained in the extant volumes of the Magdeburg Centuries, which had become available to him in between the publication of the 1563 and 1570 editions, to arrive at a proper assessment of Book One.[Back to Top]
Mark Greengrass and Matthew Phillpott
University of Sheffield
Marginalia A letter of the brethrē of Fraunce to the brethrē of AsiaTHe greatnes of thys our tribulation, the furious rage of the Gentiles againste vs, and the tormentes which the blessed martyrs suffered, neither can we in wordes, nor yet in writing exactlye, as they deserue, set forth. For the aduersary with al his force gaue his indeuour to the working of such preparatiues, as he himself listed, against his tyranous comming, and in euery place practised he and instructed his Ministers, how in most spitefull maner to set them agaynst the seruauntes of God: so that not onely in our houses, shoppes, & markets we wer restrayned, but also were vniuersally cōmaūded, þt none (so hardye) should be sene in any place. But God hath alwaies mercye in store, and tooke out of their hands such as wer weake amonst them, and other some dyd he set vp as firme & immoueable pyllers, whych by sufferance were able to abide al violent force, and valiantly to withstande the enemy, induring al their opprobrious punishment they could deuise. To conclude, they fought this battell for that intent to come vnto Christ, esteming theyr great troubles but as light: therby shewing that al that may be suffered in this present life, is not able to counteruaile the great glory which shalbe shewed vpon vs after this life. And first they pacientlye suffred what soeuer the multitude of franticke people running vppon heade did vnto them, as raylinges, scourginges, drawinges and halings, flinging of stones, imprisonnings, and what other thing so euer the rage of the multitude are wont to vse and practise agaynste their professed enemies. Then afterward they being led into the market place, and there iudged of the Captayne & rest of the Potentates of the Citye, after their confession made openly before the multitude, were commaunded agayne to prison, vntil the returne of the chiefe Gouernour. After this they being brought before him, and he vsing al extremity that possibly he might against them: Marginalia Vetius Epagathus martyr.One Vetius Epagathus, one of the brethren, replenishedwith feruent zeale, both towardes God and his brethrē (whose conuersation, althoughe he were a young man, was counted as perfect, as was the life of Zachary the Priest, for he walked diligently in all the commaundements and iustifications of the Lord, & in all obedience towardes his brethren blameles) he hauing within hym the feruent zeale of loue, and spirite of God, coulde not suffer that wicked iudgement which was geuen vpon þe Christians, but being vehmently displeased, desired þt the iudge would heare the excuse which he was minded to make in the behalfe of the Christians, in whom saith he is no impietie found. But the people cryed agayne to those that were assistentes with the chiefe Iustice, that it might not be so (for in deede he was a noble mā born) neither did the Iustice graunt him his lawful request: but onely asked him whether he himselfe were a Christian or not. And he immediatly with a loude and bolde voyce, answered and sayd: I am a Christian. Marginalia The stoutnes of a godlye yong man.And thus was hee receiued into the fellowship of the Martyrs, & called the aduocate of the Christiās. And he hauing the spirite of God more plentifully in tyme, then had Zacharye, the aboundance thereof he declared, in that he gaue his life in the defence of his brethren, being a true disciple of Christ following the Lambe wheresoeuer he goeth.[Back to Top]
By thys mans example the rest of the Martyrs wer the more animated to martyrdome, and made more ioyous with al courage of mynde to accomplish the same. Marginalia The fayntyng of certayne weake Christians.Some other there were vnready and not so well prepared, & as yet weake, not wel able to beare the vehemency of so great conflict: of whom. x. ther were in number, that faynted, ministring to vs muche heauines and lamētacion. Who by their example caused the rest which were not yet apprehended, to be lesse willing therunto. Then were we al, for the variablenes of confession not a litle astonied: not that we feared the punishment intended agaynst vs, but rather as hauing respecte to the end, and fearing least any should fall. Euery day there were apprehended such as were worthye to fulfyll the number of them which were fallen. In so much that of two churches, suche as were chiefest, and whiche were the principal gouernours of our churches were apprehended. With these also certayne of the Ethnickes, being our men seruantes, were apprehended (for so the gouernour commaunded, that all of vs in generall without any respect, should be taken) which seruantes being ouercome by Sathan, and fearing the torments which they saw the saintes to suffer, being also compelled ther vnto by the meanes of the soldiours, Marginalia False slaunders of the Christians.fayned against vs that we kept the feastings of Thiestes, and incest of Oedipus, & many such other crimes, which are neither to be remēbred, nor named of vs, neither yet to be thought that euer any man would commit the like.[Back to Top]
Marginalia The rage of the Heathen agaynst the christians.These thinges beinge nowe bruted abroade, euerye man began to shew cruelty against vs, in so much that those which before for familiarities sake wer more gētile toward vs, now vehemently disdained vs, and waxed mad against vs. And thus was nowe fulfilled that, which was spoken of Christ, saying: the time shal come that who soeuer kylleth you, shall thincke that he doth God great good seruice. Then suffered the Martyrs of God such bitter persecution as is passing to be told: Satan still shooting at this marke, to make them to vtter some blasphemye by all meanes possible. Marueilous therfore was the rage both of the people and prince, specially against one Sanctus, which was Deacon of the Congregacion of Vienna, and against Maturus, being but a litle before baptised, but yet a worthi soldiour of Christ, and also against Attalus, being borne in Pergama, which was the foundacion and piller of that cōgregacion, & also against Blandina, by whom Christe sheweth, that those thinges which the worlde esteemed[Back to Top]