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date: 26 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter traces the relationship between Reformist conceptions of tragedy, tyranny, and martyrdom in John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments. First published by John Day in 1563 and revised extensively in 1570, 1576, and 1583 prior to Foxe’s death, the Book of Martyrs (as it was popularly called) provided readers with sensational representations of the suffering and piety of the Marian martyrs as part of a Reformist ecclesiastic history. This chapter argues that Foxe presents this contention as a generic issue: the tragedy of death is transformed by an apocalyptic theology into a type of sacred tragi-comedy. Through Foxe’s keen sense of the polemical and conversional power of performance, the Book of Martyrs demonstrates the interplay between Reformist apocalyptic theology and early modern spectacle.

Keywords: John Foxe, tragedy, tyranny, early modern English history, martyrdom, Reformation, early modern English literature, Elizabeth I, Henry VIII, Edward VI

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