To the Right Vertuous, most Excellent and Noble Princesse, Queene ELIZABETH, our dread Lady, by the grace of God, Queene of England, Fraunce and Ireland, Defender of Christes Faith and Gospell, and principall Gouernour both of the Realme, and also ouer the sayd Churche of England and Ireland, vnder Christ the Supreme head of the same. &c. Iohn Foxe her humble subiect wisheth daily increase of Gods holy spirite and Grace, with long raigne, perfect health, and ioyfull peace, to gouerne hys flocke committed to her charge, to the example of all good Princes, the comforte of his Churche, and glory of hys bleßed name.
CHRIST the Prince of all Princes, who hath placed you in your throne of Maiestie, vnder him to gouerne the Church and Realme of England, geue your royall highnesse long to sit, and many yeares to raigne ouer vs, in all flourishing felicitie, to his gracious pleasure, and long lasting ioy of all your subiects. Amen.
When I first presented these ACTES and MONVMENTES vnto your Maiestie (most deare Soueraigne Queene ELIZABETH, our peaceable SALOME) which your Maiesties rare clemencie receiued in such gentle part: I well hoped that these my trauailes in this kynd of writing had bene well at an ende, whereby I might haue returned my studies agayne to other purposes after myne owne desire, more fitte then to write histories, especially in the English tong. But certaine euill disposed persons, of intemperant tongues, aduersareis to good procedings, would not suffer me so to rest, fuming and fretting, and raising vp such miserable exclamations at the first appearing of the booke, as was wonderfull to heare. A man would haue thought Christ to haue bene new borne agayne, and that Herode with all the Citie of Ierusalem had bene in an vprore. Such blustring and stirring was then against that poore booke thorough all quarters of England, euen to the gates of Louaine: so that no English Papist almost in all the Realme thoght himselfe a perfect Catholike, vnleße he had cast out some word or other to geue that booke a blow.
Whereupon, considering with my selfe what should mooue them thus to rage, first I beganne with more circumspect diligence to ouer looke agayne that I had done. In searching whereof, I found the fault both what it was, and where it lay: which was in deede, not so much in the Booke it selfe (to say the truth) as in an other certayne priuy mysterie and working of some: of whome Ionnes Auentinus shall tel vs in his own words, & shew vs who they be: Quibus, inquit, audiendi quæ fecerint, pudor est: nullus faciendi, quæ audire erubescunt. Illic vbi opus nihil verentur: hic vbi nihil opus est, ibi verentur. &c. Who beyng ashamed belike to heare their worthy stratagemes lyke to come to light, sought by what meanes they might, the stopping of the same. And because they could not worke it per brachium seculare, by publike authoritie (the Lord of heauen long preserue your noble Maiestie) they renewed again an old wonted practise of theirs: doyng in like sort herein, as they did sometymes with the holy Bible in the dayes of your renowmed father of famous memory king Henry the viij. who when they neither by manifest reason could gainstand the matter contained in the booke, nor yet abide the comming out thereof, then sought they by a subtile deuised traine to depraue the translation, notes and Prologues thereof, bearing the king in hand and
all the people, that there was in it a thousand lies, and I cannot tell how many mo: Not that there were such lies in it in very deede: but because the comming of that booke should not bewray their lying falshood, therefore they thought best to begin first to make exceptions themselues against it: playing in their stage like as Phormio did in the old Comedie, who beyng in all the fault himselfe, began first to quarell with Demipho, when Demipho rather had good right to lay Phormio by the heeles.
With like facing brags these Catholike Phormiones thinke now to dash out all good bookes, and amongst others also, these Monuments of Martyrs. Which godly Martyrs as they could not abide beyng aliue, so neither can they now suffer their memories to lyue after their death, least the acts of them beyng knowne, might bring perhapes their wicked acts and cruell murthers to detestation: and therfore spurne they so vehemently against this booke of histories, with all kind of contumelies and vprores, railing and wondering vpon it, much like as I haue heard of a company of thieues, who in robbing a certaine true man by the high wayes side, when they had found a piece of gold or two about him more then he would be acknown of, they cried out of the falshood of the world, meruailing and complaining what little truth was to be found in men.
Euen so these men deale also with me: for when they themselues altogether delight in vntruths, and haue replenished the whole Church of Christ with fained fables, lying miracles, false visions, miserable errors contained in their Missals and Portuses, Breuiars, and Summaries, and almost no true tale in all their Saintes lyues and Festiuals, as now also no great truthes in our Louanian bookes, &c. Yet notwithstanding, as though they were a people of much truth, and that the world did not perceiue them, they pretend a face and zeale of great veritie: And as though there were no histories els in all the world corrupted, but onely this history of Actes and Monumentes, with tragicall voyces they exclaime and wonder vpon it, sparing no cost of Hyperbolicall phrases, to make it appeare as full of lies and lines. &c. much after the like sort of impudencie as Sophisters vse sometymes in their Sophismes to doe (and sometimes is vsed also in Rhetorike) that when an Argument commeth against them which they cannot well resolue in deed, they haue a rule to shift of the matter with stoute wordes and tragicall admiration, whereby to dash the Opponent out of countenance, bearing the hearers in hand, the same to be the weakest & slenderest argument that euer was heard not worthy to be answered, but vtterly to be hissed out of the Schooles.
With like sophistication these also fare with me, who when they neither can abide to heare their owne doings declared, nor yet deny the same, which they heare to be true for three or foure escapes in the booke committed (and yet some of them in the said Booke amended) they neither reading the whole, nor rightly vnderstanding that they read, inueigh and maligne so peruersly the setting out therof, as though neither any word in al that story were true, nor any other story false in al the world besides. And yet in accusing these my accusers, I do not so excuse my self, nor defēd my book, as though nothing in it were to be sponged or amended. Therfore I haue taken these paines, & reiterated my labours in trauailing out the story again, doyng herein as Penelope did with her web, vntwisting that she had done before: Or as builders do sometimes, which build and take down againe, either to transpose the fashion, or to make the foundation larger. So in recognising this history I haue emploied a little more labour, partly to enlarge the argument which I tooke in hand: partly also to assay, whether by any paynes taking I might pacifie the stomacks, or satisfie þe iudgments of these importune quarellers: which neuerthelesse I feare I shall not do, when I haue done all I can. For well I know that all the heads of this hißing Hidra will neuer be cut of, though I were as strong as Hercules. And if Apelles the skilfull Painter, when he had bestowed all his cunning vpon a piece of worke, which no good artificer would or could greatly reprooue, yet was not without some controlling Sutor, which tooke vpon him Vltra crepidam, much more may I looke for the like in these controlling dayes.
Neuerthelesse committing the successe thereof vnto the Lord, I haue aduentured againe vpon this story of the Church, and haue spent not onely my paines, but also almost my health therein, to bring it to this. Which now beyng finished, like as before J did: so againe I exhibite and present the same vnto your Princely Maiestie, bleßing my Lord my God with all my heart: first for this libertie of peace and tyme, which through your peaceable gouernement he hath lent vnto vs for the gathering both of this and other like bookes, tractations and monuments requisite to the behoofe of his Church, which hitherto by iniquitie of tyme could not be contriued in any Kinges raigne since the Conquest, before these Alcion dayes of yours.
Secondly, as we are all bound with publicke voyces to magnify our God for this happy preseruation of your royall estate: so priuately for mine owne part, J also acknowledge my selfe bound to my God and to my Sauiour, who so graciously in such weake health, hath lent me time, both to finish this worke, and also to offer the second dedication thereof to your Maiesty: desiring the same to accept in worth the donation thereof, if not for the worthinesse of the thing geuen, yet as a testification of the bounden seruice and good will of one, which by this he here presenteth, declareth what he would, if he had better to geue.
And though the story being written in the popular tongue, serueth not so greatly for your own peculiar reading, nor for such as be learned: yet I shall desire both you and them, to consider in it the neceßity of the ignoraunt flocke of Christ committed to your gouernement in this Realme of England. Who, as they haue bene long led in ignoraunce, and wrapt in blindenesse for lacke specially of Gods word, and partly also for wanting the light of history, pity I thought but that such should be helped, their ignoraunce relieued, and simplicity instructed. I considered they were the flocke of Christ, and your subiectes, belonging to your account and charge, bought with the same price and hauing as deare soules to the Lord as other. And though they be but simple and vnlearned, yet not vnapt to be taught if they were applyed. Furthermore what inconuenience groweth of ignoraunce, where knowledge lacketh, both I considered: and experience dayly teacheth.
And therefore hearing of the vertuous inclination of your Maiesty, what a prouident care, & Zeale full of solicitude you haue, minding (speedely I trust) to furnish all quarters & countryes of this your realme with the voice of Christes Gospel, & faythful preaching of his word, I thought also not vnprofitable to adioyne vnto this your godly proceedinges, and to the office of the ministery, the knowledge also of Ecclesiasticall history, which in my minde ought not to be separate from the same: that like as by the one the people may learne the rules and preceptes of doctrine: so by the other they may haue examples of Gods mighty working in his Church, to the confirmation of their fayth, and the edification of Christian life. For as we see what light and profite commeth to the Church by histories in olde times set forth of the Iudges, Kinges, Machabees, & the Actes of the Apostles after Christes time: so likewise may it redound to no small vse in the Church, to knowe the Actes of Christes Martirs now since the time of the Apostles.
Besides other manifolde examples and experimentes of Gods great mercies and iudgementes in preseruing his Church, in ouerthrowing tyrauntes, in confounding pride, in altering states & kingdomes, in conseruing Religion against errours and dißentions, in relieuing the godly, in brideling the wicked, in losing and tying vp againe of Sathan the disturber of common weales, in punishing transgreßions as well against the first table as the second: wherin is to be seene Idolatry punished, blasphemy plagued, contempt of Gods holy name and religion reuenged, murder with murder rewarded, Adulterers & Wedlockbreakers destroied, periuries, extortions, couetous, oppreßions, and fraudulent councels come to nought, with other excellent workes of the Lord: the obseruing and noting whereof in histories, minister to the readers therof wholesome admonitions of life: with experience and wisedome both to know God in his workes, and to worke the thing that is godly: especially to seeke vnto the sonne of God for their saluation, & in his fayth onely to finde that they seeke for, and in no other meanes. The continuance and constancy of which fayth, the Lord of his grace and goodnes graunt to your noble Maiesty, and to his whole beloued Church, and all the members of the same, to euerlasting life. Amen.