Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 54, 2001

John Foxe and the Jews [*].

by Sharon Achinstein

It is little known that John Foxe's Book of Martyrs included stories of Jews. Contradictory and complex, Foxe's writings on Jews show how a powerful writer conceived of the place of Jews in a newly self-concious, Protestant English national identity amidst conflicting currents of theology, race, and politics. The ideologies of Reforming Protestantism supplied the explicit political frameworks through which age-old stereotypes about the cultural or racial other could be expressed Our understanding of early modern philo-judaism and toleration should he revised accordingly.

I begin with an event that is reported to have occurred in England in 1257:

A certain Jewe...fell into a privy at Tewkesbury upon a sabboth day; who, for the great reverence he had to his holy sabboth, would not suffer him selfe to be plucked out. And so Lord Richard, Earl of Glocester, hearing thereof, would not suffer him to be drawne out on Sundaye for reverence of the holy day. And thus the wretched superstitious Jewe, remayning there tyll Mondaye, was found dead. (410) [1]

The anti-Jewish meanings of this passage are all too familiar. With a whiff of foetor judaicus, this passage makes a strong correlation between Jew and excrement, pointing to the sewer as the place where a Jew can be found; perhaps he belongs there. The story may also draw upon medieval tradition, which describes Jewish desecration of Christian ritual: in one German folktale, a Jewish mother tries to bring her converted daughter back to Judaism by undoing the baptism -- "washing off" the holy water by a three-fold immersion in human excrement. [2] In this culture's division between pure and impure, the Jew of Tewkesbury clearly belongs with the impure, and the joke of the story is that he finally found his way there; further, by the laws which defined his own Jewishness, he could not lift himself out. In the Christian world of this story, it is fitting that the Jews' stubborn allegiance to the letter of the law should be returned by a mockery that results in the Jew's death.

This anecdote about the Jew in the privy turned up in 1570 in a work by John Foxe, Actes and Monuments, also called The Book of Martyrs. Aside from the Bible, this work was the key printed text that shaped English Protestantism. What was such a story about a Jew doing in a book that told the "full History" of the Christian church? Here I shall not consider whether the story is true, but rather try to understand what it meant for a writer and audience at the time of its publication in 1570 to include Jewish matter in a history book that was of crucial importance for Protestant England's self-image. Among the many chronicle materials, historical records, and other sources he drew upon, Foxe made choices about what to put in, and he chose to put in Jews: what was the importance, indeed the necessity, of Jewish material for the story he told?

Renaissance literary critics have recently approached images of Jews in the early modern period through a rubric of cultural "otherness." James Shapiro and Emily Bartels have powerfully argued that, in Shakespeare and Marlowe's representations, English writers confronted Jewishness as a way to define their own Englishness by difference -- the Jew was other to the English. This "cultural" approach, while opening up questions about how the social imaginary functions as a repository for complexity and ambivalence is not, however, fully satisfying as a ground for thinking about social or political change. In the "Jew-as-other" model, the political distinction between theological anti-Judaism and a racial notion of difference is blurred, thus leaving out the active potentials of politics or theology to change circumstances, to explain, for example, how under the different English rulers--Elizabeth, James or Cromwell -- policies towards Jews indeed changed. [3] Considering anti-Judaism as equivalent to anti-Semitis m, those scholars who ignore the differences between theological and racialist notions of identity render null (or see only as ironic) what was thought to be a very real possibility for the Jews in the eyes of an Elizabethan reformer such as John Foxe: conversion.

The Reformation had opened up a new chapter in the history of attitudes towards the Jews. Biblical scholarship reawakened interest in the study of the Hebrew language and of the Jewish people, especially at the centers of Reformation on the Continent. Antonius Reuchlin presented the great Hebrew concordance in Basel in 1556; Hebrew grammars by Michael Neander (1575),Joannes Claius (1577), and Johann Habermann (1581) all appeared in Wittenberg. A translation of Peter Martyr's Hebrew grammar was published in English in 1593; the works of Josephus were translated into German (1597). In England, the Biblical scholar Andrew Willet composed a tract on the calling of the Jews, which cited Foxe's account of the Jews' behavior at the coronation of Richard I, and which was dedicated to William Cecil (1590). The Reformation brought new focus on the question of the Jews, and Renaissance authors brought Shylock and Barrabas into being; Foxe's work reflects and contributes to this development. [4]

With respect to the Jews, the Reformation put theological matters first, but theology, history, and ambivalent identities of Christians in the modern world intersected. At the center of this intersection we find Jews: Jews standing for the Catholic church from which Protestant England sought to separate; Jews standing for that which needed to be removed in the name of purity; Jews' continued existence standing as a challenge to the universal truth of Christian salvational history. If England was to be an "elect nation" - and William Hailer has demonstrated how Foxe's Actes and Monuments was crucial in the creation of this model -- then the Jewish status as a prior "elect" nation had to come under scrutiny. In their repudiation of the Roman Church, reformers laid fresh eyes on the history of ancient Israel, both in political and prophetic terms, as a model of a prior "church" that had to be repudiated. In constructing a providential view of temporal change, reformers faced the problem of the continued existen ce of the Jews despite the alleged supercession by Christianity. One Reformation called up anterior histories of that prior, founding reformation, the origin of Christianity out of Judaism.

Foxe's Actes and Monuments was central in constructing a history that narrated a theological continuity between the early Christian Church and modern European reformers. If cosmic history was filled with the struggle between the forces of God and Antichrist, embodied at present in the Roman Church, then stories of Jews were essential to this Christian history as a reflection and a re-presentation of many of the ambivalences in Reformation theology as it intersected with early modern nation-building. On the positive side, Foxe was interested in Biblicism and is philo-Judaic in seeing the nation England as a type of ancient Israel; on the other hand, his texts reflected Protestant reformers' theological opposition to Judaism, which was propped up by medieval stereotypes and prejudices about Jews in society. Through analysis of representations of Jews in the several editions of Actes and Monuments and in his other writings, we shall see that Foxe increasingly saw Jews in a negative light; that his interest in J ews, like Luther's, was primarily theological; and finally, that Foxe's inclusion of Jews shores up the millenarian elements in his cosmology.

Though admitting the importance of age-old stereotypes within the political unconscious, this essay will approach matters of cultural difference and the history of Jewish toleration through the question of Foxe's theology, specifically his millenarianism and apocalypticism. The Jews' offense, and indeed Jews' excremental nature, were offenses to the central myth of identity of early modern England, that of Protestantism. It is the contention here that Reforming Protestantism supplied the explicit ideological framework through which such social antipathy towards the cultural or racial other could be expressed. The Jews, indeed, were excremental--they were what was left over, an earthly remainder and a painful reminder to Protestants that their work of purging the world of material sin was not yet finished; indeed, the vitality and persistence of the Jews threatened the belief that the reformers' work was universally valid. In the case of Foxe's theology, there was the question of the meaning of the presence i n history of a people who seemed to offer a direct affront to the time that was to be Anno Domini, the era of Christianity during which Christians like Foxe looked forward to the end of time.

Foxe's textual incarnations of Jews reflect the emergence and intersection of both theological and racialist discourses on Jews, at times in contradiction, but each contributing to the history of toleration of difference in England. Foxe's representation of Anglo-Jewish history evoked a specific Elizabethan apocalyptic political ideology that drew upon this Jew-as-other model but complicated that model for political purposes. We shall see that Foxe's interest in Jews was colored by a providentialist and militantly Protestant view of an international religious landscape where forces and nations of Europe and the east vied for control. Whatever cultural ambivalence and projection took place over the figure of Jews, those fantasies took specific forms at a specific time, impelled by a writer's imaginative vision as well as by his ideological commitments. Contradictory and complex, Foxe's writings on Jews show how a powerful English writer conceived of the place of Jews in a newly self-conscious, Protestant Engl ish national identity amidst conflicting currents of theology, race, and politics. This essay explores material from those editions of Actes and Monuments printed during Foxe's lifetime and under his supervision, that is, the 1563, 1570, 1576, 1580 editions; he died in 1587. During the course of his revisions of his book over its numerous early editions, he remained committed to the stories of Jews. The question here is why.


Foxe's book, initially printed in Latin in 1559, and then in English in 1563, was a compendium history of the persecutions suffered by Protestant reformers that came to be known as the Book of Martyrs. It played a vital role in the Elizabethan settlement, so central to the state religion that it was ordered to be permanently chained down in Tudor churches, along with the English Bible, to be ever available for public perusal. At once official and not official -- bits were struck out by authorities in subsequent reprinting due to political sensitivity -- Foxe's book was reissued in nine different editions and many abridgments over the next 120 years. One estimate has it that by the end of the seventeenth century something like 10,000 copies of the work had been set in circulation in English print. [5] Foxe's book also exerted a profound influence on Renaissance English literature. [6] If communities can be made and maintained by print, it is safe to say that the community fashioned by Foxe in his work was hope d to be one, even though as the book grew in size and scope over the many published editions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, England's Protestant unity was never fully achieved. Foxe's history was history with a purpose, and it left a legacy of imperial, activist, English Protestantism.

Foxe's politics were those of an aggressive reformer, and he has been called an early tolerationist. The entire Book of Martyrs, with its accounts of Marian persecution, can be seen as pleas for toleration. [7] The author himself had fled to the continent during the reign of Mary, and he began his collection of martyrs' tales while living in Basel and working in the house of the printer Oporinus, printer of reformers' and humanists' works. While on the Continent, Foxe traveled in international circles, and it is not impossible that he associated with Sebastien Castellio, a proponent of toleration, who was lecturing in Basel while Foxe lived there. [8] While living in exile in 1557, Foxe wrote a tract appealing to the nobility of England to use their influence with Queen Mary to stop the persecution at home. He wrote, "to compel with clubs is the mark of tyranny. Let reason and calm discussion return: and if men do not agree on small points, what is the harm?" [9] In this tract, Foxe appealed to English natio nal pride: "If the doers [of persecution] were Turks or Scythians one might suffer it better. But they are our fellow-countrymen, and their victims no traitors nor criminals, nor even heretics. [10]

Foxe's tolerationist position may be seen as limited here, since his use of the term "heretics" denotes there is some belief or action deemed beyond toleration. Once Foxe returned to England with the accession of Elizabeth, he continued to plead on behalf of persecuted Protestants, attempting to intervene in the case of Flemish Anabaptists who were eventually burned at the stake in Smithfield in 1575. [11]

Yet despite his interest in toleration, Foxe saw the world as divided between the elect and the damned, and this served the political purpose in Elizabethan England of unifying the nation under the banner of Protestantism. Foxe's book imagined history in universal terms: history was a cosmic struggle between the forces of Christ and Antichrist. The architecture of the work followed the great ages of persecutions of the "true church," where Satan was bound or unbound. This cosmic or universalist history was given human and local dimensions, as Foxe sifted through documentary evidence in order to portray God's hand particularly in English history. His sources, from medieval chronicles to printed documents, are noted in the margins and in the body of the text, and modern historians consider much of the work to be highly accurate, reflecting new humanist techniques of writing history. With Constantine (given an English genealogy) bringing peace to the church at one end of the millennial period and Wycliffe risin g up to do the work of reform at the other end, England's place in the history of the true church became a crucial one. [12] Portraying Elizabeth as a second Constantine, Foxe's opening pages in his first edition present the capital "C" of "Constantine" encircling a portrait of the Queen sitting on a throne towering over the body of the Pope. Here the earthly Christian Emperor subdues the false Emperor. Foxe's work has thus been seen as essentially conservative, holding up the new state regime by its legitimating history. [13] In the words of Frances Yates, "Foxist history is propagandist history." [14] Dedicated to Queen Elizabeth, Foxe's book built "England's royal identity ... into [its] very structure." [15]

In subsequent editions, the political or earthly nature of this analogy was muted as the opening word, "Constantine," was altered to "Christ," with Elizabeth still folded into the capital "C." Elizabeth, not only in line with the secular Christian ruler, now joined in a divine mission. [16] This change might indicate that Foxe withdrew from an earthly vision of kingship; perhaps the kingdom was not of this world. The work never decisively refuted a millenarian view, however, that God's kingdom on earth could at any moment replace earthly monarchs. In the 1576 edition, the book ended (on page 2008) by concluding that the work itself was unfinished: "hauing hitherto set forth the Acres and Proceedinges of the whole Church of Christ, namely of the Church of England although not in such particular perfextion that nothing hath overpassed us." All too easily we may detect the political uses of such a history in consolidating a vision of providentially-guided English nationalism.


That millenarian impulse gave urgency to the role of the Jews in history. For the purposes of studying how Foxe conceived of Jews in his cosmic scheme, much will depend on whether his view is that heaven will arrive soon on earth, possibly through the effects of earthly actors, or whether all must wait until God's action in the Last Days. Would conversion of the Jews effect the Second Coming; or would the Jews' conversion be a sign that Christ was at hand? What role an English monarch and an English nation should play in effecting radical change will depend on whether earthly politics were deemed to matter at all. [17] If England's particular history offered visible instances of a universal apocalyptic struggle against Antichrist, in the work there is tension between a secular and sacred, particular or universal, vision of history; that tension is nowhere more clearly revealed than in the change in Elizabeth's "C." [18]

In his accounts of Jews, as we shall see, Foxe's work reveals contradictions and inconsistencies, but it also reveals the key problems Jews posed for England's special role in the development of a true Church. Millenarianism was the belief in the imminence of an earthly messianic reign, and it came to dominate radical Puritanism in England in the early seventeenth century, following the writings of Joseph Mede; this activist strand culminated in the Puritan revolution's ideal of rule by the saints in a holy commonwealth. [19] Recent historians have sought to distinguish those strands in Foxe that are apocalyptic, eschatological, and utopian, and they disagree over the nature and extent of his millenarianism. [20] Bernard Capp and Palle Olsen have argued that Foxe was no advocate of an earthly paradise; though he did see history as an ongoing apocalyptic struggle between the forces of Christ and Antichrist, there was to be no immediate earthly resolution. But Thomas Freeman and William Lamont have seen Foxe as a millenarian precursor to the seventeenth-century flowering of millenarianism -- indeed, Foxe included calculations for the end of time in the preface to his 1570 edition of Actes and Monuments. Looking at Foxe's attention to Jews contributes another dimension to this millenarian debate. Millenarians in the 1650s believed that they could hasten the Second Coming by actively converting the Jews to Christianity. Foxe, too, was keen on converting the Jews to Christianity; what light does this shed on his millenarian impulses? Did Foxe believe that earthly action could hasten the Second Coming? What was to be the place of the Jews in his divine history? In looking at the ways in which Jews figured in Foxe's national story, we can see that though Foxe opposed persecution of Protestants, universal toleration was no ideal for him. Conversion -- and with it a non-essentialist, non-racialist notion of the difference between Jews and Christians -- was a possibility.

To return to the Jew in a privy. For Foxe, Jewishness does not merely evoke physical repulsion, it more precisely signifies irrational obedience to the letter of the law, and was comparable, as we shall see, to Roman Catholic superstition. The story of the Jew in a privy is primally relevant to Reformation anti-Catholicism; it illustrates, in Foxe's words, "the blind superstition of that tyme, not onely among the Jewes, but also among the Christians." A more precise meaning of the tale is evident in its placement in Foxe's text, immediately preceding the sorry fate of one Walter Gray, archbishop of York, "who coming up to the parliament at London, an. 1255, with inordinate fasting dyd so overcharge nature, and pyned himself, and... did so dry up his brain, that he, l[os]ing therby all appetite of stomache, going to Fulham, there, wythin three dayes, dyed" (410). [21] Both the Jew in the privy and Walter Gray's fasting and "overcharging" contribute to Foxe's descriptions of the inanity of blind superstition. B oth forms of excess were deplorable by the new standards of Foxe's Protestantism--the Jew's legal literalism and Gray's fasting--and these are represented by physical signs of bodily waste. To demonstrate the dangerous excesses of ceremonialism, Philip Stubbes also added this Jew-in-a-privy anecdote to his second 1583 printing of Anatomie of Abuses, in a section on keeping the Sabbath. Amidst his scolding of his fellow Protestants about their failures to keep the Sabbath, Stubbes recounted the story of the Jew. For Stubbes, it also revealed the Jews' unwillingness to "suffer any to labour for their deliuerie," an echo of their refusal to attain the ultimate deliverance, that of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. [22]

In these cases, Jew and Catholic are different and yet the same. The Jews have not yet achieved the light of deliverance, as they stubbornly refuse to embrace Christ. But Jews and Catholics are alike in their fervent ceremonialism. In describing the degenerated condition of the church in John Wycliffe's time, Foxe says as much: "In somuch that there could be no great difference almost perceaved betwene Christianitie and Juishnes, save only that the state and condition of the Jewes might seame somewhat more tolerable, then ours (1563, 86). [23] Jewish and Catholic ceremonialism were two of a kind.

These theological meanings of this anecdote depend upon the disturbing hermeneutic effects of an emphasis of the "Christian" spirit rather than the "Jewish" letter of the law, the source of Reformation anxiety about the relation between inner truth and outward performance. The story is also about materialism and its theological ramifications; with the association of the Jew with the wholly material (matter, feces), I think about the Protestants' resolute denial of the eucharistic transformation of body to spirit. As eucharistic controversies focused on the status of the material remainder--what was the Lord's Supper--they also raised the question of the necessity of mediation, the eruption of a base physicality against a religion of unmediated spirituality. [24] Feces is also what is left over after the body has done with its process of digestion, the literal stuff of mediation, and thus serves as a powerful metaphor for the role assigned to Jews by Reformation theologians.

In addition to theology, there was also the question of Providential history. Foxe's history sought to address the question of why God permitted Rome to flourish, and it held that Rome's success was part of God's inscrutable plan. The Jews were another, related, conundrum: what accounted for their excremental nature, their continued existence even after the arrival of Christ? This question was given renewed force with changes in European attitudes towards the Jews with the Reformation. For Augustine, the existence of the Jews was necessary as proof of the truth of Old Testament prophecies, and this led to some degree of toleration of Jews within the medieval Christian world. But beginning in the eleventh century, with the crusading ideal, the concentration of power in the papacy, and the rise of nation-states, attitudes towards the Jews changed, leading to fresh legislation against Jews, particularly economic restrictions, laying the foundation of the ghetto system. [25] Early modern European state-building put new pressures on claims of identity and difference, and it was often through state-sponsored conquest and violence that claims of national belonging were decided. Spain's expulsion of the Jews in 1492 and the Muslims in 1502 brought together a national and religious policy of homogeneity. [26] The arrival of print furthered the propaganda campaign against Jews, and the notorious anti-Jewish pamphlets of Johannes Pfefferkorn made superb use of this new medium by giving lurid details of murderous Jewish rites accompanied by terrifying woodcut illustrations. [27]


Unlike the medieval anti-Judaism, with its fascination with blood magic, word-magic, and host desecration, Foxe's presentations are truly Reformed in nature. Matthew Paris, a major source for Foxe, gives another story about a Jew and a privy, which provides a contrast. A Jew sets up the image of the Virgin Mary in his latrine, "as it were in blasphemy of the blessed Virgin, he inflicted a most filthy and unmentionable thing on it, daily and nightly" (215). This iconoclastic "Jewish" blasphemy is excluded from Foxe's Actes, and its excision helps us see the Reformed nature of Foxe's representations. Ronnie Hsia has persuasively argued that Reformation anti-Jewish polemic was characterized by a shift from "obsession with Jewish magic and sacrifice to new forms of intolerance" (151), and Foxe's emendation of his medieval source largely accords with this view. [28] Reformers, it must be remembered, also attacked the Host. In keeping with reformers' battle against Roman ritual, Foxe's attacks on Jewish ceremoniali sm and superstition are recurrent themes in his treatment of the Jews, as in the case of the Jew in the privy. [29] The work did reflect persistent cultural prejudices in English society drawn from medieval chronicles when it cited instances of the blood libel (Hugh of Lincoln and others), but there is little interest in figuring the Jews as Christ-killers. Most often, Foxe chose social or political threats posed by the Jews such as usury, coin-clipping, infidelity to monarchs. These issues were vital to modern state formation, the regularization and control of currency, and the suppression of rebellion. Actes and Monuments is shot through with a concern about the Jews as an alien nation living within England's midst.

Foxe largely restricted his Jewish material to events in social and cultural history. Here is his list of reforms from the reign of Edward I:

The great conduit in Chepe began... to be made. an. 1284. And the yeare next folowyng, the new worke of the churche of Westminster (begon, as is afore premonished in the third yeare of Henry.iii.) was finished, which was lxvi. yeres in edifiying. The Jewes wer utterly banished this realme of England at the same tyme, for which the commons gave to the kynge a After that, the countrey of Wales was brought in a ful order and quiet, by the hewyng downe of their woodes, and casting down their old holdes, and building of new, which all was brought to a perfect end, about the xxiiii yeare of this kynges reigne. (425) [30]

Civic repair -- sewers again? -- the building of the church, the subduing of Wales by cutting down and rebuilding -- all these national projects are linked on the page with the expulsion of Jews. These are metaphoric as well as metonymic links; the list serves to praise the successful renovations during Edward's reign. [31] Foxe figures the Jews here as a social group, one with uneasy relations with Christian neighbors, whose banishment resembles a civic project in the nation's process of state-building.

In Actes and Monuments, Jews are repeatedly seen as a threat to English national institutions. The representation of riots against Jews at the time of the coronation of Richard I in 1189 highlights Foxe's interest in Jews' social and political relevance. Foxe reports:

The kyng the daye before his coronation, and by publique edict commaunded bothe the Jewes and their wyves not to presume eyther to enter the church or els his palace, duryng the solemnization of hys coronation amongst his nobles and Barons: yet (whilest the kyng was at dinner) the chieftaine of the Jewes wyth divers other of hys Jewish affinitie and superstitious secte, against the kynges prohibition together ... entred the court gates. (300) [32]

Foxe does not give the reason for the exclusion of the Jews, and in refraining from so doing, he emends at least one of his source accounts, that of Matthew Paris, who claimed both Jews and women were excluded "because of the magic arts which Jews and some women notoriously exercise at royal coronations." [33] In omitting the accusation of magic arts as well as the ban against women, Foxe reforms his anti-Judaism.

Foxe does not blame the Christians for the riot that ensued. When Christians rushed to protect their king against supposed plots, it was because they thought that the King, in excluding the Jews from his coronation ceremony, "had commaunded in deed." Foxe next reports that "there was a great rumor spred throughout al the City of London, that the kyng had commaunded to destroy all the Jewes." With this rumor, a large-scale pogrom ensued. In this narrative of wide-scale violence, Foxe includes a story of how a Jewish victim converted to Christianity to escape slaughter, but who later recanted; as Foxe puts it, "revolted he agayne to Judaisme" (300). [34] Thus the Jewish crime -- that of being Jewish -- was a revolt against not only Christianity, but also against a particular king, whose edict the Jews of London disobeyed in wishing to attend the coronation ceremonies. The Jews' potential insubordination -- their disobedience of Richard's edict -- could be a political threat. Further macabre detail illuminates the plight of the persecuted Jews after the pogrom -- Foxe telescopes events in time -- and the narrative jumps from September 1189 to March 1190 when Jews took refuge in a castle in the city of York. Finding themselves surrounded by armed Christians, and with their offer of money refused, the Jews killed themselves, "every one with a sharpe rayser, cut an others throte, whereby a thousand and five hundreth of them were at that present destroyed" (301). The story of the mass suicide might echo the "cutting" of the Jews in the ritual of male circumcision, a feared ritual that at once inspired dread and fascination amongst Christians. Lest Foxe's readers extend too much sympathy for these Jews, Foxe gives a moral to conclude his account: "Neither was this plague of theirs undeserved. For every yeare commonly their custome was to get some Christen mans child from the parentes, and on good Friday to crucifie him in despite of our Religion" (301). [36] Violence against the Jews is justified, then, on the grounds o f the blood libel.

For contrast, one compares this account with that of the other great Elizabethan English historian, Raphael Holinshed, whose 1577 and 1587 Chronicles also reported the same event. Holinshed, less interested in the religious dimensions of English history, has no need to see the story of the Jews as a foil to a true Christian church, and he offers a more sympathetic account. Holinshed remarks that the Jews, assembled at the coronation of Richard, "had but sorie hap, as it chanced." Holinshed goes on:

For they meaning to honour the same coronation with their presence, and to present to the king some honourable gift, whereby they might declare themselves glad for his advancement, and procure his freendship towards them, for the confirming of their privileges & liberties, according to the grants and charters made to them by the former kings: he of a zealous mind to Christes religion, abhorring their nation (and doubting some sorcerie by them to be practised) commanded that they should not come within the church when he should receive the crowne, nor within the palace whilest he was at dinner. (2:205)

First off, the Jews are represented here as seeking to do honor to the king (and this accords with the modern account of the event). [37] Not so in Foxe. In detailing the ensuing violence, Holinshed remarks, "This great riot well deserved sore and greevous punishment, but yet it passed over without correction" (2:206). And further, Holinshed turns the story into a lesson for monarchs: "Here therefore is to be observed, that the people is the princes ape" (2:206). Holinshed places blame for the pogrom on Richard, stressing that political leadership matters. Richard failed to keep his people in check, and it was Richard's "doubts" and fears of Jewish sorcery that licensed his people's outbreak against the Jews. In contrast, Foxe himself labels the Jews as superstitious. Foxe's story then can be seen as falling on the opposite end to Holinshed of a Protestant ideological spectrum regarding the place of Jews in Christian English society. For Foxe, Jews pose a threat to Christian order, both to social and politica l order. In this dark scenario, Foxe suggests it is better and fitting that the Jews kill themselves. The accounts of both Holinshed and Foxe agree, however, that the presence of the Jews is a matter of political -- and not just of ethnic or cultural -- importance. Nevertheless, that importance did not lead to a coherent picture of Jews in Foxe's work.


With a rise in Biblicism during the English Reformation, stories of Jews and Protestants were brought together. Study of the Hebrew Bible and a growing respect for Jewish commentaries and authorities were key factors in the rise of philo-semitism in England, according to David Katz, who gives a magnificent account of the Jewish rabbis' role in the divorce proceedings of Henry VIII. Foxe, however, complicates the analogy between ancient Israel and England that had become commonplace for Tudor historians. For Foxe, just as the founding of the Christian church emerged out of the rejection of the Jewish, so too did the emergence of Reformed Christianity depend on a rejection of the Roman Church.

Whether reformers looked forward to a future of apocalyptic bloodshed or messianic peace, or glanced backward to a repudiated past of superstition and idolatry, time was a central coordinate to their world view. Stories of Jews mattered in a construction of a reformed time-line. Foxe was especially interested in reading the Old Testament for signs of God's providential role in history, and he composed an entire work devoted to teasing our the relations between Old and New Testaments, left unfinished at his death and published posthumously as Eicasmi seu meditationes in sacram apocalypsin (London, 1587). There Foxe recounted the stories of the ancient Israelites recurrent periods of sufferings: under Pharaoh; in the Canaanite wars; under Moabite rule. Foxe also evoked the example of the ancient Israelites in Actes and Monuments in explaining his historical vision. The Babylonian captivity of the Israelites is seen as a type of Antichristian persecution. Though fearing "to overlay this our volume with heapes o f forein histories," Foxe includes "these great victoryes of the Turkes, and unprosperous speede of our men fightyng agaynst them," so as to "admonish and teach us, folowyng the example of the old Israelites, how to seke for greater strength, to encounter with these enemyes of Christ, then hetherto we have done" (871). [38] The history of the Spanish Inquisition makes a clear parallel between persecuted Protestants and Jews: "The cruell and barbarous Inquisition of Spayne, first began by kyng Ferdinandus and Elizabeth his wife," was "instituted agaynst the Jewes," who, "after their Baprisme maintained agayne their owne ceremonies." Yet "now it is practiced agaynst them that be never so litle suspected to favour the veritie of the Lorde" 1062). [39] Catholic persecution of Jews is a parallel to Catholic persecution of Protestants. And Turkish persecution of Jews is a parallel to Turkish persecution of Protestants.

That comparison, however, is not identity. Both ancient Israel and modern England might be "elect nations," and yet Foxe holds that the modern elect nation supercedes the ancient Hebrew one. For Foxe, the time of Jewish prophecies was over; the Jews were no longer God's chosen people. Providence had begun to work against the Israelites under Nero, and Foxe glosses the margin of his account of the unsuccessful Jewish revolt against Rome in Eicasmi with the phrase, "God's Judgment against the Jews" (Vin-dicta Dei contra Iudaeos), as if to insist on that point (73). Drawing upon Josephus' history, in one instance Foxe narrates the story of the Jewish rebellion just before the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul, and here Foxe sees a shift in God's favor: "Even at the same time that that rebellious and factious people never ceased raising tumults against the Roman legions, it came to pass that divine punishment burned against them." [40]

In his sermon on the conversion of a London Jew, Foxe reiterated his claim that God had turned away from the Jews:

the utter destruction of that nation was decreed upon by the secrete counsell of God, to the ende they should become a president, whereby the wicked myght be forewarned of the severe Justice of God: as also for this cause chiefly, by reason that els the vaine persuasion, that hath taken roote so long in the hearts of the people, touching the righteousnes of the Law, touching circumcision, peace offrings, & sacrifices.. [41]

That turning away from the Jews was a precedent for God's turning away from the superstitious unbelief of the Romish church: "Then if God excluded the Jewes for their unbeleefe (as he dyd) what argument myght enduce him to have more compassion upon the Gentiles, who were sometymes as voyde of fayth, as they are nowe?" [42] God's departure from his chosen people becomes a precedent to justify the Protestant Reformation, and the abandonment of the Roman Catholicism.

Foxe is interested in the end of one church and the beginning of another; his history of what is perceived as God's rejection of Israel's religion serves as a precedent for Christian reformers' rejection of Romanism. Continued adherence to Jewish ways was merely a superstitious, outdated attachment to ceremony, and the language here reflects commonplace reformers' attacks on the Roman church: "And therefore it pleased Almightie God, to make manifest to all men, that those externall rytes, shadowes, and Ceremonies, were not avaylable to procure true righteousnesse." [43] It was pure unreasonableness to continue to be a Jew today: "Neyther yet cease you to runne onwarde, styll gaping after, I know not after what Messhias to come.. . Howe long will yee yeelde yourselves a mockery not to God onely, but a Jesting stocke also to all other nations of the worlde." [44] With current impetus for reform as a backdrop, it is not hard to observe Foxe's justifications for breaking with Rome seeking legitimacy from the his torical abandonment of the Jews.

Foxe was also clear that the coming of Jesus meant the end of the Old Testament prophecies. Even though he concedes in Actes and Monuments that "the sayde people of that olde Testament, beareth a lyvely image and resemblance, of the universall Church, which should folow, planted by the sonne of God through the whole earth," Foxe, however, insists on the meaning, not the immanent truth of their prophecies:

So that as the Prophetes of God, speakyng to them from the mouth and worde of God, prophesied what should come to passe in that people: so likewise the whole course and historie of those Israelites, exemplifieth and beareth a propheticall image to us, declaryng what is to be looked for in the universall Church of God dispersed through the world. (904) [45]

Foxe does not press too far the analogies -- both in relation to history and prophecy -- between England and ancient Israel. Indeed, the analogy to ancient Israel at this time was a source of conflict in early modern Britain. First there were political reasons. Scriptural models for secular government, such as those of George Buchanan, were thought to smack of republicanism. Foxe never goes as far in the direction of toleration as John Knox, whose praise for Edward VI of England was for his policy of toleration, "his liberality towards the godly and the learned, that were in other realms persecuted, was such as Germans, Frenchmen, Italians, Scots, Spaniards, Poles, Greeks and Hebrews born, can yet give sufficient document" (1:117). Knox, too, insisted on the Bible as a model for history writing and a model for politics, a view that was rejected by Aylmer. [46] Biblical history already in the sixteenth century had a taint of republicanism, and Elizabeth's supporters were clear in distinguishing their church fr om that of the Calvinist Netherlands. Foxe is, after all, writing a monarchist history.

Unlike Knox and Buchanan, Foxe's Biblicism does not see England as a type of Israel; in fact, Foxe takes care to deny that relationship, holding that with the coming of Christianity, the Jewish nation was no longer God's special beloved. [47] His interest in thwarting that analogy does political work in justifying the break from Rome. In Actes and Monuments Foxe's citations to texts are rarely to the Hebrew Bible, and Foxe denied that prophecies of ancient Israel held for modern-day England: "the Prophecies of the old Testament, if they bee taken in theyr proper and native sense, after my judgement, do extend no further, then to the death of our Saviour, and to the end of the Jewes kyngdome." Foxe hedges a bit on this, however, "Albeit herein I do not prejudicate to any mans opinion, but that every man may abounde in his owne sense" (872). [48] Instead of Old Testament prophecy, Foxe relies heavily on New, on the scheme in Revelation of the ever-present forces of Antichrist in history. The end of the Jewish church was an end of its prophecies; likewise, Romanism was outdated. Foxe rewrites Old Testament history to highlight God's mission as revealed by the ongoing struggle between the forces of Christ and Antichrist: ongoing Reformation.

After the first Reformation, the coming of Christ, the Jews' stubborn resistance leads to God's abandonment. The Roman case can be aligned to the Jewish, as Foxe makes clear in a syllogism in his Eicasmi:

The Messiah awaited by the Jews will never come.

The Messiah awaited by the Jews, like that of the papists, will be Antichrist.

The interest here is in disqualifying the papist promise by calling upon the example of the Jewish promise; the syllogism, after all, ends with the papists. The supercession of the Jewish church by Christianity is thus a type of supercession of the Roman church by Reformed Protestantism. In Eicasmi, Foxe redoubles his condemnation of the Jews' obstinacy in denying the coming of Christ and in retaining the expectation of the Messiah. He decries the false prodigies (fictitijs suis prodigijs) and hypocritical justifications (iustitiae simulatione) by which the Jews are deluded; adherence to Judaism is ipso facto a denial of the true church, and Foxe becomes exasperated with their failures. [50] His contempt for the Jews is coupled with the logic of his anti-Catholicism: "Just as the Jews err in their messiah, so the papists in their Antichrist." In their refusal to acknowledge the True Messiah, the Jews commit an error as great as the Papists' in their worship of Antichrist. [51] Foxe reworks typology so that th e hand of God is observed rejecting Israel, as fits a Reformation scheme of rejecting Rome.

Therefore, the Antichrist of the papists will never come. [49]

Foxe's vision of Protestant history, while detaching Jewish from modern Christian history, at the same time deploys its archetypical or typological habits. Although he insists that "the scriptures and prophets of the Old Testament were properly sent to that people, and have their relation properly to things done, or that should be done in that commonwealth, of which prophets John Baptist was the last and made an end," in a table included in the 1570 edition, he does use the prophecies from holy scriptures to foretell the final ruin and destruction of the kingdom of the Turks, in a plot that parallels the brothers Cain and Abel (904). [52]

The scheme is based on a repudiation of the Old Law in favor of the New. In his preface to a translation of Martin Luther's A Commentarie upon the fifteene psalmes, Foxe praised Luther especially "for the discerning and discussing the difference betwene the law and the Gospell, how these two partes are to be separated, and distincted asonder as repugnant and contrary." [53] Current Roman practice, Foxe argues, fails to make this distinction: "if we loke into the later times of the Romish Church, where for want of right distinguishing betwene these two, great errors have risen, and no great marvel." [54] "Where is the new covena[n]t of God made by his sonne, if the olde covenant made by Moses doe yet remaine? if it do not remaine, then must there needs be a differe[n]ce betwene the law & the gospel: betwene the old Testame[n]t & the new: betwene the law of works & the law of faith: betwene Moses & Christ." [55]

That the Jews stubbornly continue to await a Messiah is not only an indelible sign of their loss of God's favor; it is also a direct affront to Christianity:

This kind of infidelitie of al others is most horrible & execrable, when as men do rushe headlong into such obstinate resistance, that they wil not only not acquaint themselves with the trueth, being layd open before their eyes, but will wittingly shut up their senses from the beholding thereof, because they will not see it, & wil spourne thereat not in words and profession only, but wil cruelly persecute the same also wt al maner of outrage, slaughter & blood, blasphemies & most despiteful execrations. And this is that unbeliefe, which being more noysome then any pestilenct botch, may rightly & properly be called the Jewish Infidelitie, & seemeth after a certaine maner their inheritable disease, who are after a certaine sort from their mothers wombe, naturally caned through perverse frowardnes, into all malitious hatred, & contempt of Christ, & his Christians. [56] Jews are anachronistic and deny Christian time. Once Jesus has come, there is no need for Jews, and Foxe's language echoes Reformation critique o f Roman prelacy: "These olde motheaten shadowes had their tyme, and not their time onely, but their lawfull use also: that so under shadowes, types, and figures, they might prefigure the certeintie, and trueth of thinges to come. But after that he was once manifested ... what needed then any further shadowes?" [57]

Foxe's theological placement of the Jews alongside the papists reflects counter-Reformation controversies taking place on the continent that bred an increasingly virulent strain of anti-Judaism. Luther himself had penned the notoriously anti-Jewish "On the Jews and their Lies" in 1543, seeming to reverse his earlier pro-Judaic stance. This tract betrayed the author's exasperation with Jews who would stubbornly refuse to convert, and Luther went so far as to recommend violent action. His tract culminates in an exhortation to Christians to burn synagogues, to raze Jewish homes, to seize and destroy prayer books and religious reading material, and finally, to reduce Jews to servitude and expulsion. His reasoning? This must be done "so that we do not become partakers of their abominable blasphemy and all their other vices and thus merit God's wrath and be damned with them." [58] While some consequences followed -- in Neumark, the right to safe conduct for Jews was withdrawn, and from Philip of Hesse and in Elect oral Saxony, new measures were introduced specifically citing Luther's tract -- Luther's views were not universally appreciated. [59] Even though Martin Bucer and John Eck (Luther's usual sparring partner) also wrote diatribes against Judaism, the churches of Zurich nonetheless repudiated them, along with Melanchthon and Osiander. Foxe usually came our on the side of Luther and was a promoter of his works in England, choosing several sermons for publication and writing forwards to them. [60] However, he did not recommend physical violence against the Jews or their property. Although in his apocalyptic work Eicasmi seu meditationes in sacram apocalypsin Foxe castigates the erroneous Jews for continuing to wait for their Messiah when it is clear to him that the Messiah has already come, and though it reflects some of Luther's language, Foxe still held out for the conversion of the Jews (114-15). Foxe's contribution is to rework the logic of typology to express the supercession of one church by another.

For Foxe, the conversion of the Jews was not explicitly linked to the purpose of hastening the Second Coming, but that connection could not be denied. In contrast, John Bale had coupled the conversion of the Jews with the Second Coming. Reading Revelation, Bale had thundered, "The Jews must be sealed with the word of verity: they must have the sure sign of faith: they must know and confess Christ, whom God afore promised by the prophets, that twelve thousand of every tribe may be sealed unto salvation. For that time must the Antichrists cease. Their false interpretations of scripture, their wretched traditions, their doctrine of devils, their lies in hypocrisy, their errors, their stinking chastity ... with all their other filthiness, they must lay aside" (335-36). With the force of the imperative ("they must... they must... they must... they must"), Bale's Protestant mission terrifyingly calls for a compulsory conversion.

Foxe is less explicit than Bale in coupling the arrival of the apocalypse with the conversion of the Jews. To extirpate blasphemy -- and the conversion of the Jews was just that -- would further the task of Reformation. Foxe's sermon on the conversion of a Jew was addressed to fellow Christians, and it was an exhortation to continue the work of rooting out superstition, adopting the now-familiar language of anti-Roman polemic: "it is wel now, thanked be Christ, that these offensive baggage & image worshippings are forever more part defaced & scraped out of christian churches, & the ancient puritie of christian profession, is begun to rake so good footing, that now amongst us remaine no dregges in our temples, in our religion, nor in our doctrine." [61] There is no evidence in this sermon that by converting the Jews, Foxe and the gentiles were actively contributing to the arrival of the Last Days whose coming would be hastened by the wholescale conversion of the Jews, as would become a common theme in millena rian discourse in the seventeenth century. [62] That goal is left unstated. Rather, to convert the Jews would be to participate in the ongoing reforming process, to continue to wage battle against Antichrist, an apocalyptic war whose ultimate conclusion would be decided by God. The sermon reaches a crescendo in its conclusion that speaks less to the matter of Judaism and more to the business of Reformation:

There is no hope at all els then by purging and cleansing the filthie puddles of our superstitions, the unsaverie stench whereof the Jewes can by no meanes digest.. . . those grosse monuments of manifest idolatrie, those fantasticall devises and frivolous forgeries of signes and Images, and those stagelike gestures and pelting trumperies, frequented in Churches, as are the praying for the dead, worshipping of creatures & signes, forbidding priests marriages, & such like pievish absurdities (wherwith the Jewes were never acquainted) which are manifestly repugnant to the expresse word of God, yea and contrary to common reason almost, may be rooted out and banished from Christian Churches and congregations. [63]

That purgation, in addition to drawing upon antiprelatical satire, also makes use of anti-Jewish imagery of the sewer, but it hopefully includes the radical conversion of those currently outside the Christian embrace: "that so wee may open an entry to the Jewes and Turkes, to conceive an inward desire to be joyned to the sonne of God: or if we will not do this for the Jewes sake, let us yet at the least have due regard to our owne estate." [64] If conversion was not for the sake of the Jews, then it was for the sake of the Christians.

As testified by this sermon, Foxe himself was an advocate of Jewish conversion. Yet despite his hopes for conversion, the sermon he preached on the conversion of the London Jew nonetheless eerily echoes Luther's troubling "Lies" tract with its images of organic otherness. Luther had held it was "impossible" to convert the Jews, since they had "failed to learn any lesson" from their 1400-year long exile. [65] He had likened the Jews to a debilitating disease: rulers "must act like the good physician who, when gangrene has set in, proceeds without mercy to cut, saw, and burn flesh, veins, bones and marrow." [66] Like the horrifying conclusion of Luther's tract, Foxe calls Jews' unbelief "more noysome then any pestilenct botch," using words that evoke fears about the responsibility of the Jews for the Black Death, and playing upon the metaphor of society as an organic body which underscores deep anxieties about disunity and difference. Foxe at times evokes an essentialist or racialist notions of the Jewish "dise ase," suggesting that Jewishness is tied to links of blood: "their inheritable disease, who are ... from their mothers wombe, naturally caried through perverse frowardnes, into all malitious hatred." [67]


Foxe does not follow these organic metaphors to their fullest conclusions, although they give his work an ambivalence that undermines his overt hopes for Jewish conversion. Foxe, unlike Luther, did not give up on the Jews. Instead, he held out for their conversion. In Actes and Monuments, the story of the Jew in a privy finds a mirror inversion in another Jewish "incident" from the same work. This is the "aromatic Jew" story, in which a converted Jew, murdered by the Turks in Constantinople in 1528, was left to rot on the streets. Foxe writes, "Wherein the marvellous glorie and power of Christ appeared, for the dead corps lying so by the space of iii. dayes in the middest of the streates, reteyned so his native colour, & was so freshe without any kynde of fylthines or corruption, not without a certayn pleasant and delectable sent or smel, as if it hadde bene lately slayne, or rather not slayne at al. Which thyng when the Turkes behelde, they were marvellously astonied. And being greatly afrayde they themselve s toke it up, and caried it to a place hard without the towne and buried it" (1563, 440). [68]

The illustration accompanying this "aromatic Jew" story (see fig. 1) might cause us to wonder why this representation of the wounds on this body resembles that of the alleged blood libel -- where Jews bleed a Christian dry by multiple stab wounds. Be that as it may, this figure does not look like the stereotypical demonized Jew, but "passes" and, as Shapiro has argued, may in some ways have been even more threatening to a society terrified by the disjunction between inner belief and outward appearance. [69] Yet this aromatic Jew belongs not merely in a story about ethnic or racial difference (and the difficulty of assigning labels); it is also a story about the possibility of full conversion. Here the Christianization of this Jew is complete, as the body itself gives evidence. Foxe, unlike Erasmus, shows by this example that a Jew's Jewishness could be washed off. Such total Christianization is also a story of anti-Judaism, where the erasure of Judaism serves the larger goal of reform in the preparation of a true Protestant community, an apocalyptic hope. [70] Along the tolerationist spectrum, there is a hint perhaps in the direction of some kind of universal humanism (even if that assumption is put to intolerant ends): all peoples could effectively be convertible. Here is no racialized notion of Jewishness.

The strategic literary and political context of this converted "aromatic" Jew bears on our interpretation of Foxe's humanitarianism, however, since the Jew figures in a story concerned with Turkish threats. The Turks murdered this Jew precisely because he had converted to Christianity:

When the Turkes understtode this matter, they wer vehemently. . . exasperat against him that he forsaking his Jewishnes, should be regenerate to the faith of Christ, and fearing lest that his conversion should be any detriment or hurt unto their Alchoranum, or Mahumetical law, they went about and sought meanes to put him to death. (1563, 440) [71]

In Foxe's apocalyptic scheme, Turks and Catholics were structurally allied with Antichrist. In theory and in practice, Jews were seen to fit in variously in this struggle, depending upon the circumstances. In the case of the Aromatic Jew, the Jew only figures in this struggle when he converts to Christianity, in this case Eastern Christianity, perhaps untainted by the prelatical defilement of the Catholic Church under the Roman popes. [72] The Jew only becomes visible once he becomes a Christian. At other times in this text, Jews are said to conspire with the Turks and lepers "to impotionate, and infecte all christendome" (492). [73] So the Jews could go either way, and at times, did go both ways.

An apocalyptic world-view underpins this anecdote. The history of the Turks is an important component of Foxe's story, not only in telling of those martyrs who suffered under their "wicked procedynges, their cruell tyranny, and bloudye victories" but because the Turkish threat is part of the divine plan. "This horrible persecution of the Turkes rising chiefly by our discord and dissention among ourselves," Foxe explains, means that knowing the history will "reduce us again from our domesticall warres, in killyng and burning one of another, to joyne together in Christian patience and concord" (231). [74] Turks figure in the text as one of a series of evil empires, a list that includes Spain, France, and Germany. In subsequent editions of Foxe's book, these continental histories became more prominent, as lists of martyrs and massacres poured in over the late sixteenth century. In this apocalyptic struggle, the Jew was figured to disrupt the simple binarism between evil and good empires, sometimes as a third te rm, and sometimes as a screen on which to project the ambivalent relations of Protestants towards their own history and its traumatic break with the mother Church.

It is thus almost shocking to find that Foxe does include in his Book of Martyrs one martyr who is a Marrano Jew. This is one Gonzales Baez, victim of the Spanish Inquisition in Valladoid, who, along with twenty-nine Christians in 1559, burned at the stake. Baez's story, rather than arousing sympathy for this Jewish victim, exemplifies instead for Foxe the cruelty of Spain: "with these also was joyned a Portugale, named Goncalo Vaes of Lisbone, whiche was borne a Jewe, afterwards Baptised, and then returned agayn to hys Judaisme." Even though Baez is mentioned along with the others in this list, Foxe notes that his presence was merely "for more shame to the other, [he] was put also in the same tale and number, as the two theeves were joyned with Christ, and was also with them condemned to be burned, and his Goods seased" (1065). [75] The Spaniards enact a latter-day Crucifixion in which the Jew in the text serves to add shame -- or, in Foxe's reading, luster -- to the Protestant sufferings. The sole Jew in F oxe's text who made it into the roll of martyrs is thus presented as a blemish on the others, as a sign of the extent of Spanish supererogatory wickedness, and in his typological evocation of the founding moment in Christian history, Foxe admits the theological multivalence for modern readers. It is hard to avoid the powerful and chilling anti-Judaism of this account.


Contradictions in representations of Jews may be seen in the different placement and emphasis within the presentation of Jewish material across the many early editions of the text. Over the course of its several published editions, Jewish material, it turns out, did not stand still, but migrated through the text, in a kind of "wandering Jew" motif, as if Foxe himself was not quite sure how to make best use of it. In Foxe's 1583 account of civic renovation, cited above, the expulsion of Jews (which took place in 1290) came to be connected with the charge of ritual murder in Norwich in 1144. In his earlier version of the telling of the expulsion, however, Foxe did not make a connection between the expulsion and charges of ritual murder, although he did present instances of ritual murder (the murder at Norwich in 1144 is retold in volume two at 188, 839). In early editions of Foxe, the stories of ritual murder were separated from the story of the expulsion, but in the 1583 edition, all these stories relating to the Jews were brought together on one page, page 327. In the later editions, Foxe adds an incident of coin-clipping to his account of the expulsion. This consolidation makes the "Jewish question" more visible, more thematically unified. There are other changes too; the story of riots against Jews at the time of the coronation of Richard I was not published in the first edition of 1563, and appears only in the second English edition of Foxe, added in 1570. Much of the material that considers Jews is added with that edition, and may reflect concerns relevant to Elizabethan England of the 1560s. In the second English edition, the book "grew" from 1800 folio pages to 2300, and added over one hundred new woodcuts. In reading the reworkings of this text, we see changes in the presentation of Jewish material. Why was it important to add and consolidate the Jewish material between 1563 and 1583?

Investigating the indexes, many-pages long, to these later volumes gives us a preliminary way of gauging how material relating to Jews was meant to be read. Though the contribution of Foxe to his indexes may never be known, their changes over time nonetheless reflect a conscious decision to organize material differently. Though Foxe's work is roughly chronological, the indexes give us a snapshot of the ways that material was thematically organized and meant to be read, thus giving us evidence for how a book can fashion readers' responses by a textual apparatus. Fashioning readers' responses was clearly an intention of the producers of the work, Foxe and John Day included, as the indexes and reference materials grew in length with each edition, as more help was needed to guide readers through the unwieldy text. These index entries form a thematic guide to the work as a whole, pointing to topics to which an imaginary reader might want reference.

The earliest English edition, 1563, registers an interest in Jews that might be called ecumenical or even anthropological. In this first English edition, the six entries indexed to "Jews" are the following: "know and practice scriptures"; "of good Intent putt Christ to death"; "and papists compared together"; "reasoning with M. Wilbart"; "in Constantinople"; "religion more tollerable then the Papists." These index entries lead readers to pages where the following may be found: a defense of the translation of the Bible into the vernacular; a consideration that the Hebrew language is evidence that God's law is for every man; a consideration and rejection of Aaron's priesthood as a prototype for the Christian church; and denigration of the Catholic Church by evidence from Judaism. There is only one mention in passing of the Jews' murder of Jesus, in an excerpt from the Book of Mammon, a work attributed to Tyndale, quoted by a Protestant martyr in his investigation in 1531.

Later editions, however, give a different view of Jews, emphasizing more clearly the danger Jews posed to Christian society -- socially, politically, and theologically. The second edition of Foxe's book, that of 1570, was a much more extensive history, printed on a larger page, with fuller textual apparatus as well as additional woodcut illustrations. As can easily be seen, many of these changes denoted a royal program; there was an entirely new dedication to Queen Elizabeth. [76] This edition added much material, including more material about Jews. But, most significant for us here, it also organized the previous material about Jews differently, and the "positive" uses of Jews indexed in the 1563 edition dropped out of the guide to the reader, though they did not drop out of the text of the work.

In this edition, material relating to Jews is indexed to a clearer theological program against the Jews. Eleven entries now list Jews: "crucified every yeare a childe in Yorke"; "their faith"; "Jewes Destruction under Nero"; "always enemies to the Christians"; "they are slain in London and houses burnt"; "Crucified a childe in Lincoln"; "Norwich"; "banished out of Fraunce"; "banished out of England"; "jew through his own superstition (the privy story); "jew that was christened and martyred." More focus is on the purported crimes of the Jews. This and subsequent editions cull even more events out of medieval chronicles to give examples of Jewish perfidy and criminality, though there are none of the following staples of medieval Jewish libel: no cases of Jewish blood-drinking, word magic, dangerous poisoning physicians, circumcision fears, and, of course, no Host desecration. In avoiding the magic, Actes and Monuments has brought attacks on Jews up to date. Further editions expand the index on Jews to include even more entries, in 1576 adding: "conspire with Turkes and lepers to infect Christendome"; "burned for murdering Syr William Paris"; "burned at Northampton and require leave to depart England"; "Baptised through feare." The text thus organizes references to Jews more negatively over time and drops positive references to Jews and Judaism. None of the indexes names Gonzales Baez, the sole case I have found of a Jewish martyr.

By these indexes, we can see how the work asked to be read. The 1570 edition of Actes and Monuments added an introduction on the "True Church," and its short history of Antichrist, embodied in the papacy and the Turks, sharpened the apocalyptic focus of the work. Palle Olsen sees these changes as marking a changed view of history towards apocalypticism, and the increasing consolidation of Jewish material in successive editions confirms this account. Foxe's consolidation of Jewish material contributes to this development of an apocalyptic scheme, simplifying the complex and contradictory representations in order to serve a political purpose in Elizabethan England, a growing commitment to Protestant universal hegemony.


If the anti-Jewish images were mediating current political and theological needs, as I have been arguing, if Foxe calls upon age-old stereotypes in order to construct a new relation to Jews for reforming purposes, then we may well ask what was the actual condition of Jews and of Anglo-Jewish relations in Foxe's own day that might have provoked his increasingly hostile representation? In the 1560s up until the 1580s, according to historians, Jews living in England were mostly Marranos and New Christians, and they lived in relative peace and harmony with their Christian neighbors. Jews had been consulted in the debates over the Levirite law in Henry VIII's "great Matter." Lucien Wolf's classic study, as well as the more recent work of Professors Israel and Katz, gives us a picture quite unlike that of medieval persecution -- at least until the 1590s and the Lopez plot. Elizabethan England, it is true, was cracking down on aliens, beggars, and vagabonds, but this was not an explicitly anti-Jewish policy. There m ay have been negative representations of Jews, as in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, which placed the Jew in the position of the alien, as a kind of "safety valve" for anti-alien sentiment, but the actual living conditions for Jews had improved vastly. [77] In the mid-seventeenth century, Jews were within striking distance of achieving formal legal status; historians agree that the population of Jews in England over the course of the seventeenth century felt increasingly at home there. Foxe's new retellings of the myths of blood libel and of the Jews' wickedness, then, seem an anachronism, a distortion of realities. Theological concern for the place of Jews in the modern, reformed Christian world explains why Foxe reduced a complex and ambivalent set of cultural materials to a very negative portrait of Anglo-Jewish history.

Foreign policy may also have been a significant factor in the hardening of anti-Jewish attitudes in the 1560s and 1570s, and this was a reflection of the apocalyptic theology coming to dominate Foxe's view. Within the politics of Elizabethan England, and especially in the circles closest to Elizabeth that were watching and debating England's role in international affairs, Foxe's work can be seen as a radical text, more in line with the militant policies advocated by hard-line Puritans Sir Francis Walsingham and the Earl of Leicester. [78] Foxe's book echoes and supports a radical, universal Protestantism, in a rhetoric that has been seen to speak to Elizabeth's foreign policy. Though it is only a history book, its history shapes a view of Foxe's own world, in which the international powers of Spain, France, and the Netherlands vied for trade, power, and religious hegemony in Europe. The story Foxe tells, of a cosmic struggle between the forces of light and darkness, where Catholics and Turks represent the lat ter, suggests a confessional international policy. Foxe's goal was Protestant universal hegemony, a goal only reluctantly embraced by Elizabeth in the later 1580s when the challenges of Mary Queen of Scots and the Spanish military threat were undeniable. Over the 1570s and early 1580s, it seemed that Elizabeth was uninterested in a confessional foreign policy; she was, indeed, reducing expenditures and involvement with France and the Low Countries. The imperial image, it has been argued, came later in Elizabeth's reign. David Loades believes that Foxe's tone changed from an optimism in the 1560s to a darker shade in the 1570s, when his "triumphalism had disappeared, to be replaced by a gnawing anxiety that the Roman enemy had not been finally defeated, after all" (33). Foxe's repeated insistence on God's repudiation of the Jews, to serve as a type of rejection of the Antichristian Romists, makes more sense in this climate. Mary Queen of Scots hovering on the border, and the rebellion in the North all shaped a perception of reform in decline.

In this ideological landscape, Foxe's revised accounts of Jews could also betray increasing worries about the ideological vision of England as committed to the Protestant cause. Foxe's personal associations with the most single-minded Protestant ideologues lends credence to this view, as does the message he publicly preached in the sermon at the conversion of a London Jew in 1578. Foxe's aim was the assimilation of all Jews into the "true Christian," that is, Protestant church, as a necessary part of the cosmic scheme. His commitment to this anti-Judaism was primarily theological, though he did not hesitate to make use of cultural and social materials, which sometimes worked in opposite directions. The ideological drive may have sought to resolve the ambivalences and even contradictions in the representations of Jews. Though he preached the conversion sermon publicly, Foxe repeated it in a private audience of Secretary of State, the radical protestant Francis Walsingham, in 1578. In that conversion sermon, Fo xe envisioned a unified, uniform community. Addressing his remarks to Christians as well as to Jews, Foxe hoped

to allure the whole remnant of the circumcised Race, by this his example, to be desirous of the same communion: So that at the length, all nations, as well Jewes as Gentiles, embracing the faith, and Sacramentes of Christ Jesu, acknowledging one Shephearde, united together in one sheepefold, may with one voice, one soule, and one generall agreement, glorifie the only begotten sonne our saviour. [79]

Judaism is to be repudiated as it offers an exception to Foxe's idea of a universal "true" church. Foxe claimed that Jews acted arrogantly, "as though no nation in the whole earth myght offer sacrifice unto the Lorde, except you alone," in an echo of Luther's objection to Jewish exceptionalism. [80] Foxe insists that the true church is a universal one: "the calling upon the name of the Lorde, is not unseparably bound to place, tyme or persones: but that the largesse of his mercie is extended also upon all people, nations, and tongues, whether they be Jewes, or Gentiles, Scythians or Indians." [81] Foxe's universalist view strikingly repudiates nationhood. England's mission -- as it has been always, as he shows in this history -- is to restore truth against the bondage of Satan. Foxe cared so much for this sermon that he sought to have it translated into German, for the benefit of both Christians and Jews in Germany. [82]

The international scene in the period 1560-1580 thrust England into conflicts with foreign powers that were increasingly figured along religious lines. In occupying the United Provinces in the 1560s, Catholic military might was within 200 miles of London. Watching foreign events -- the 1572 Bartholomew's Day massacre of Huguenots in France and the Dutch Revolt -- and with the powerful gesture of Elizabeth's excommunication by the Pope in 1570, English policy-makers had much to fear in the expansions of Spain and the Catholic Continental powers. England increasingly chose allies along confessional lines. Foxe's book may be seen to do very great work in the service of securing a worldview broken along sharp Catholic and Protestant lines. The Protestant analysis of popery, as Peter Lake puts it, "proceeded through a series of binary oppositions" (73). Jews, in this increasingly hardened scheme of binary oppositions, could be integrated into one or another term, though they fell into both. Foxe overtly came to m elt Jews in with the Catholic Antichrist, theologically rooted in a rejection of the Jewish adherence to "outwarde shadowes and ceremonies," but the Jews in the text remained a source of ambivalence and even identification. [83]

By looking at Jews in Foxe's Book of Martyrs, then, we find a record not only of early modern cultural attitudes towards Jews as inscribed into a lasting text by a major English author, but understand also the theological and political complexities of such stories and myths. If The Book of Martyrs offers no coherent treatment of the Jews, and if Foxe gives neither a consistent perspective of Judaism as theologically nor as racially determined, nonetheless, these contradictions illuminate the ways that Jews override conventional categories of difference. My focus on the uses of anti-Judaism in relation to reformed theology and politics is not meant to detract from the very real and very grim potency of the irrational, age-old anti-Jewish stereotypes that repeatedly serve as a primal fund to be drawn upon in times of need. Indeed, the theological and politically explicit programs give shape to the contradictions and violent ambivalence that arise from these pre-conscious realms for identification and different iation. I, myself, was not able to read the history of the repeated physical and economic cruelty recounted in Foxe, nor to view the symbolization through potent primal images -- much harsher than in Holinshed -- without thinking of more recent catastrophes of systematic oppression and annihilation that drew upon some of the same imagery. Examining such representations from the past, especially when they are inscribed in a culture's key texts, gains us some perspective in celebrating that culture's achievements, and asks us to conceive of "toleration" with sharper scrutiny. Looking at Jews in Foxe, I think, is not looking at a part of the text that is extraneous. On the contrary, I hope I have shown in just what ways Jewish stories are central to the themes of this work, its interests in civil obedience, national community, and international reform, and its fears about difference and identity. This theological anti-Judaism served to give shape to a powerful national identity out of archaic, ambivalent materia ls, and Foxe's theology ultimately forged an annihilationist discourse--it would not tolerate a Judaism it saw as a direct threat. For Foxe, the existence of the Jews came to be seen as identical to blasphemy; it was a denial of the primal truth of Christianity, and its eradication was in some sense a re-enactment of Christ's rejection of his own Jewishness. A full-scale drive towards Jewish conversion would contribute to reform and purification, a re-Christianization of the world, and it contributed to such fantasies of unity and organic wholeness that have had terrifying political consequences. Protestant theology, anxiously repudiating Roman procedures, gave shape to the many cultural stereotypes about Jews, and our attention to the particular political histories of anti-Judaism offers a more precise rendering of the processes of cultural differentiation than simply attending to the age-old stereotypes. Fashioning himself as a warrior seeking to emplot God's scheme for historical change and to prepare for the upcoming millennium, Fox offered no place to Jews in his commonwealth.

(*.) writing and research for this essay were supported by an NEH Fellowship for University Teachers. A 1998 seminar led by Peter McCullough at Oxford University offered sound advice, as did a session organized by Linda Gregerson at the MLA Annual Convention in Toronto in 1997. I thank Jacob Lassner for inspiring me to speak on this topic, and I gratefully acknowledge Tom Freeman, Jonathan Gil Harris, Robert Lerner, and Janel Mueller, whose help made this essay richer.

(1.) Pratt 2:535. All in-text citations of Foxe's Actes and Monuments are to the 1570 edition unless otherwise indicated. Cross-references to the 1877 Pratt edition of Foxe will be given in footnotes.

(2.) Baron, 11:128. Luther gives another link between Jews and excrement, relating a story where a "malicious rabbi does not call the dear mother of Christ Maria but haria -- i.e., sterquilinium, a dung heap," thus tying in a Reformation interest in Hebrew philology; see "On the Jews," 261. Harris, 79, discusses this anecdote as retold by Philip Stubbes. In a psychoanalytical reading, these associations ofJews with feces may be linked to the question of money.

(3.) Israel sees the allowance of the Jews back into England under Cromwell as "an act of raison d'Etat in the face of powerful theological and popular objections" (131). See also Katz, 1982.

(4.) For the Reformation's impact on the Jews see Oberman; Hsia; Israel; Katz; Baron, vols. 11 and 13.

(5.) Haller, 13-14.

(6.) On the literary tradition involving Foxe, see Greenblatt, 1990, 74-114; Keeble, 5; King; Knott; Lewalski; Norbrook.

(7.) See Elton and McNeill.

(8.) V. Norskov Olsen, 201-02.

(9.) Foxe, Ad Inclytos, translated in Mozley, 54-55.

(10.) Ibid., 54.

(11.) Jordan 1:181-82.

(12.) Wooden, 1983, 25.

(13.) Also pursuing the "conservative" Foxe is Lamont, 1969, 24. Facey argues that Foxe gives the Elizabethan church a needed history to justify itself.

(14.) Yates, 1966, 78. See also Aston, 238.

(15.) Helgerson, 260.

(16.) See Yates, 1975, 38-47.

(17.) On the political radicalism of the work, see Aston and Christianson. On its political uses later in the century, see Nussbaum.

(18.) Christianson, 41; Haller insists that for Foxe contemporary history only matters insofar as it served a cosmic purpose. See also Palle J. Olsen.

(19.) See Christianson; Ball; Capp.

(20.) See Capp, 1974, and Palle J. Olsen. For Lamont, 1996, Foxe is not "technically a millenarian," even though, towards the end of his life, Foxe did hint at a this-worldly future (146).

(21.) Pratt, 2:535

(22.) Stubbes, 86v. Harris cites the Stubbes material in making a suggestive case that Jewishness was often likened to excrement as a gesture of nationalist "othering" (79 and 104); this, though, may miss the Christological significance of the anecdote.

(23.) Pratt, 2:793.

(24.) See Greenblatt, 1996, on the cultural work of eucharistic controversy in England.

(25.) Hood, 13 and passim; Roth, 1932, 642-49.

(26.) On Spain, see Shell.

(27.) See Pfefferkorn's Libellus and Speculum adhortationis, and yet Pfefferkorn's interest flows from this renewed interest in the recovery of ancient Hebrew. See, for example, his In hoc libello, which includes textual analysis of Biblical Hebrew along with its condemnation of the Jews.

(28.) Hsia also describes the Lutheran anti-Jewish discourse as constituting an anti-magical approach (134-35). Thomas Freeman, 1995, analyzes Foxe's relation to his source material, focussing on the development of the martyrological tradition and apocalyptic thought.

(29.) See Oberman on this theological anti-Judaism.

(30.) Pratt, 2:578

(31.) On medieval anti-Judaism, see Rokeah.

(32.) Pratt, 2:277.

(33.) Matthew Paris, Hist. Angl. 2:9, cited in Roth, 1964, 19. Paris also cites coin-clipping and the blood-libel, and gives instances of Jewish host-desecration in Chronicles 95, 214-15, and 231. For contrast, Foxe's source, Matthew of Westminster, merely lists Richard's coronation and the massacre of the Jews, but does not go into detail. See Westminster, 2:78.

(34.) Pratt, 2:277.

(35.) Ibid.

(36.) Ibid.

(37.) Roth, 1964, 19.

(38.) Pratt, 4:18-19

(39.) Ibid., 4:451.

(40.) Foxe, 1587: "Cum enim nunquam desineret gens rebellis & factiosa, contra Romanas legiones tumultuati; euenit tandem, excandescente in eos diuina vindicta" (73).

(41.) Foxe, 1578b, Ki.

(42.) Ibid., Mi(v).

(43.) Ibid., Ki(r)-Ki(v).

(44.) Ibid., Cvi.

(45.) Pratt, 4:94.

(46.) "On the Biblicism of Buchanan and Knox, see Williamson, 1994a; on the political alliance of Scots with Republicans with Jews, see Williamson, 1994b.

(47.) Loades, 3.

(48.) Pratt, 4:20-21.

(49.) Foxe, 1587: "Messias expectatus a Iudaeis nunquam venturus est./ Messias expectatus a Iudaeis, iuxtapapistas, erit Arutichristus./ Ergo, Antichristus papistarum nunquam veniet" (114). My translation.

(50.) Ibid. Also: "vt non tam Iudaei in suo Messia, quam Papistae in suo Antichristo errare videantur" (114).

(51.) "Ut Iudaei in suo messia, ita papistae similiter in suo Antichristo errant" (114); see also 115.

(52.) Pratt, 4:94.

(53.) "Foxe, 1577b, ii(v).

(54.) Ibid., ii(v)-iii(r).

(55.) "Ibid., iii.

(56.) Foxe, 1578b, Biii. For Luther the greatest "lie" of the Jews is their repeated rejection of the Messiah, in "On the Jews," 176-254, and passim.

(57.) Ibid., Biiii.

(58.) Luther, 1971, 292. According to Sherman, 125-30, in 1543, Luther may indeed have not reversed his earlier 1523 tract That Jesus Christ was born a Jew (which had been welcomed by leading rabbis with joy); see also Rupp.

(59.) Sherman, 135.

(60.) Foxe published Martin Luther, A Commentarie upon the XV Psalms (London, 1637) and Martin Luther, Special and Chosen Sermons (London, 1581).

(61.) Foxe, 1578b, Mviii.

(62.) On the conversion of the Jews hastening the millennium, see Ball, 149-53; Hill.

(63.) Foxe, 1578b, Mviii(v)-Ni(r).

(64.) Foxe, 1578b, Ni(r)-Ni(v).

(65.) Luther, 1971, 137, 138.

(66.) Ibid., 292.

(67.) Foxe, 1578b, Biii.

(68.) Pratt, 4:555.

(69.) Shapiro, 146-47. See also Wolf.

(70.) Williamson, 1991, shows how such philo-semitism and anti-semitism have common conceptual structures.

(71.) Pratt, 4:555.

(72.) I owe this point to Janel Mueller.

(73.) Pratt 2:721.

(74.) Ibid., 4:18

(75.) Ibid., 4:456.

(76.) Haller, 129.

(77.) Shapiro, 189.

(78.) Guy, 280-83, on Walsingham and Leicester.

(79.) Foxe, 1578b, Ai(v).

(80.) Ibid., Kii(v). Cf. Luther, 1971, 147.

(81.) Ibid., Kiii(r).

(82.) John Foxe to the Frankfurt printer Andreas Wechelus BL Harl. MS 417 fol. 114b [no date]. In a letter written to Archbishop Whitgift circa 1584, Foxe describes a large sum of money given for the support of the converted Jews. See Freeman, 1995, 277.

(83.) Foxe, 1578b, Ev.


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