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Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 54, 2001

Racking the body, shaping the text: The account of Anne Askew in Foxe's "Book of Martyrs" (*)

by Thomas S. Freeman , Sarah Elizabeth Wall

Current scholarship on Anne Askew has tended to disparage the editorial tactics of John Bale, her first editor, as intrusive and distorting. In contrast, the reprinting of her text by John Foxe, in his "Book of Martyrs," has been commended for its lack of editorial intervention. Yet afresh consideration of Foxe's work with Askew's narrative suggests that Foxe's shaping force in the text was as strong as Bale's, if more subtle. Furthermore, attempts to locate Askew's authorial agency within one text or the other impose modern ideas about authorship on a period in which such ideas were still being formed.

At the time of her death, Anne Askew (1521-46) had already begun to attract what was, to the authorities who executed her, unwelcome publicity. (1) Her ashes were barely cold when her account of her interrogations and trial was apparently smuggled out of England by German merchants and published by John Bale. (2) Bale's edition of Askew's Examinations was reprinted at least four times by 1560. (3) Meanwhile, John Foxe had incorporated the Examinations, in Latin translation, into his martyrology the Rerum in Ecclesia Gestarum ... Commentarii, printed in 1559. When he published the first English edition of his martyrology the Acts and Monuments, four years later, Foxe printed the English text of the Examinations; Foxe would continue to reprint his version of the Bale text in each edition of the "Book of Martyrs." Thanks to this wide diffusion of her autobiographical account, Askew became a celebrated figure, and even the subject of ballads during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and for most of the twentieth, Askew's account was often reprinted, with varying degrees of faithfulness to the original, but was seldom analyzed. Interest in Askew has revived dramatically among scholars in recent years, however, as readers have tried to reinstate the authentic voices of women in the early modern canon, and studies of the Examinations have become a staple of academic publications in several disciplines. (4) While they have added to our knowledge about Askew and produced notable insights, most of these recent studies have been marked by a certain critical imbalance: they have emphasized Askew herself, as a heroine and as an author, while neglecting the role of her early editors, Bale and Foxe. Where the impact of these editors has been considered, it has usually been in an attempt to determine whether they facilitate or hinder our knowledge of the "real" Anne Askew. This article will attempt to redress this imbalance through a consideration of the w ays in which Askew's first editors, Bale and Foxe, shaped her text for their own purposes, becoming collaborators with her, and contributors in their own right to the text now known as The Examinations of Anne Askew.

One reading of Bale's editions that has now become conventional envisions Askew's narrative as an embattled text: an authentic narrative, the autobiography of a learned and valiant woman, onto which Bale has imposed an insensitive, misogynistic misreading. Critics of Askew seem to assume that these two parts of the first edition of the Examinations -- Askew's text and Bale's text -- are detachable from each other, and that they can be read as separate entities. "Continually remarking on [Askew's] inherent womanly weakness," Elaine Beilin says, Bale

can safely applaud the unwomanly or unnatural power in her words by attributing them to divine grace. But to examine Askew's text without Bale's framework is to find Askew's depiction of herself a much less easy assimilation of the "weak vessel of the Lord" with the learned, argumentative, courageous woman who defied the male hierarchy of both Church and State. If we look at the Examinations in their two different settings, with and without Bale's commentary, we have an interesting opportunity to compare the way a woman created herself and the way an admiring man adorned her. (1987, 31)

In her language, Beilin sets up a contrast of genre between "Askew's text" and "Bale's framework," evidently dividing the parts of the work into the intrinsic (narrative) and the dispensable (apparatus). John King echoes this viewpoint in the introduction to his facsimile edition: "By presenting Askew in the stereotypical role of a weak woman who can resist injustice only through divine grace, Bale distorts the victim's own fashioning of her self as a strong woman motivated by intense religious conviction" (1996, ix). Readers like Beilin and King decry Bale's edition of Askew as a misreading and mis-shaping of Askew's story, and prefer editions such as Foxe's in which Bale's apparatus does not appear. These advocates of Askew believe that only Foxes version allows her voice to be heard clearly and liberates her to represent herself. Diane Watt denigrates Bale's "intrusive voice" (83), contrasting with approval "Foxe's contention that the godly testimony of Askew and the damning behavior of her examiners speak for themselves" (110). King provides the classic formulation:

Bale had presented [Askew] in the stereotypical role of a weak woman who lacks the fortitude of a male, but Foxe, by stripping away Bale's hyperbolic commentary, allows the martyr to utter a more direct testimonial to her faith and personal resolve. ... Although Bale's tendentious commentary styles Askew in terms of the traditional obligation of silence, chastity, and obedience, the unannotated text in the Book of Martyrs emphasizes how she exploits the traditional pose of silent obedience in order to contradict, indeed to satirize, male antagonists for inadequate comprehension. (1997, 16-17)

The reader may observe that King moves Askew from the grammatical position of object, when he talks about Bale's text -- "Bale's ... commentary styles Askew in terms of the traditional obligation of silence" -- to the position of subject, when he talks about Foxe's text: "she exploits the traditional pose." Indeed, critical accounts like these are written all over with the language of subjectivity and authorial agency: Beilin says "Askew decided ... to create herself. ... She presented herself independently. ... [She] assumes for herself intellect, assurance, and strength" (1987, 30-35). Askew's Examinations, as we will see below, might be studied as a key text in the current reconsideration of the nature of authorship in the early modern period.

In an interesting way these critics' desire to read Askew in a form free from Bale's commentary replicates the dynamics of Askew's interrogation. As she is being questioned, Askew frequently manages to avoid implicating herself by evading questions or giving equivocal replies. When asked to elucidate a controversial passage from Scripture, Askew declines to comment, saying disdainfully "I wolde not throwe pearles amonge swyne, for acornes were good ynough" (1546, sig. A2v). (5) Later, when the bishop of Winchester presses her for "a dyrect answere," she again demurs: "I sayd, I wolde not synge a newe songe to the lorde in a straunge lande" (1547, sig. B8r). Finally, when forced to sign a recantation, she adds a caveat to her signature: "I Anne Askewe do beleve thys if Gods worde do agre to the same, & the true catholick churche" (1547, sig. G4v). In essence, she tries, often successfully, to evade the framing narrative of confession and condemnation that her male accusers try to impose on her discourse. Her m odern readers seek to reenact this successful evasion of a male framing narrative by liberating Askew's words from Bale's apparatus. Bale might be seen as bringing Askew back, textually, into a rehearsal of the same male-controlled discourse that she had resisted in the flesh. In Foxe's text, in which the first-person account appears uninterrupted and gloriously alone on the roomy folio page, the critics quoted above see Askew's words once again subverting male control.

Without question, these scholars of Askew must be given credit for their important achievements in restoring Askew to her rightful place among canonical Reformation writers. But the critical narrative created by these readers -- according to which Foxe's edition reveals the integrity of the text that Bale's obscures and fragments -- inaccurately diminishes what is actually Foxe's active, shaping role in creating the distinctive voice we now conventionally call Anne Askew's. At the same time, such a narrative imposes contemporary notions of the author onto a culture that conceived of the production of texts in a radically different way. Far from being the ideal twentieth-century editor who aspires to invisibility within the text, Foxe imprints his influence, his beliefs, and his politics all over Askew's narrative. Instead of the benign, enabling presenter of her true voice, he might be more accurately characterized as her collaborator, her mediator, her shaper, just as much as the now critically despised Bale .

It is important to emphasize an issue that is often elided in consideration of Askew's Examinations -- that, precisely speaking, it does not exist. The formulation "Anne Askew's Examinations" is actually a misnomer; the text we have might more properly be called Bale's Examinations of Anne Askew or Foxe's Examinations of Anne Askew, and so forth. An autograph manuscript of Askew's text has never been found. (6) Askew never comes to us directly, but only through the mediating hand of one or more editors. Even the idea that an Askew autograph MS ever existed, let alone that it was faithfully printed in Bale's edition, is an assumption, albeit not an unreasonable one. Bale himself claims an autograph basis for his text: in his Summarium, he stresses that "she wrote this in her own hand and I illustrated it with preface and notes." (7) It is Bale, then, who first founded this critical narrative in which his commentary is merely the "illustration" to Askew's text, while Askew's story, denoted in his account by the word "this," i.e. the main referent, is the primary element. In the preface to the first part of the Examinations, moreover, Bale had reported that Askew's account was sent abroade by her owne hand writynge" (1546, sig. A5r). The fact that Bale insists on his text's authentic origins shows that early modern print culture valued such a material link -- through hand, ink, and paper -- between Askew and the published text. But at the same time, Bale's apparent need to advertise the provenance of his text does suggest that the possibility of changes and adulterations also lurked.

It seems highly unlikely that Bale invented Askew's narrative, but an associated question remains: how heavy was his editorial hand in the Examinations? As Watt has rightly observed, "While there is no good reason to doubt that Bale did base his text on Askew's own accounts, the texts as we now know them may well have been heavily revised" (94). Indeed, Stephen Gardiner, an informed, if hostile, witness, claimed in a letter of 2l May 1547 to the Duke of Somerset that Bale's "untruth apereth evidently in setting forth the examination of Anne Askew which is utterly misreported." (8) It is notable here that Gardiner complains not about Askew's misrepresentation of the events but of Bale's, suggesting that Bale's material role in the production of the narrative was acknowledged in his own time. More specifically, Leslie Fairfield points out an interesting example, however small, of Bale's possible revision of Askew's text. The Bale edition of the Latter Examination contains the line "The breade and the wyne were left us, for a sacramentall communyon, or a mutuall pertycypacyon of the inestymable benefyghtes of hys most precyouse deathe and bloud shedynge" (1547, sig. B3v) as part of Askew's narrative. While fully reconcilable with Askew's sacramentarian beliefs, the passage also has a suspiciously Baleian ring: Fairfield notes that the specific phrase "mutuall pertycypacyon" was one of Bale's signature idioms in his writing on the Eucharist, and that other contemporary writers did not often use those exact words (158). Did Bale elect to embellish Askew's text and reinforce her argument with his favorite theological rhetoric? Given this, could he have made similar, undetectable changes elsewhere? (9)

A Continental martyrology points to a passage in which it appears that Bale might have deleted material from Askew's text. Adriaan van Haemstede printed Askew's Examinations in his 1559 Dutch martyrology and included an exchange which is not in Bale's (or Foxe's) account. In Haemestede's version, Stephen Gardiner reprimands Askew during her examination by the Privy Council, telling her "A woman has no more business with Scripture than a sow has wearing a saddle." (10) Askew retorts, "My lord, a sow has as much business wearing a saddle as an ass does wearing a bishop's miter." (11) Either Haemstede interpolated this passage into Askew's narrative or Bale suppressed it. Haemstede did not normally make such additions to his sources and it is hard to see what benefit (other than humor) he would have derived from inserting this passage. On the other hand, it is easy to see why Bale would have wanted to excise a passage in which Askew's rudeness to her superiors might have alienated even sympathetic readers.

It must be observed that, apart from this passage, Haemstede's version correlates in substance with Bale's version, although it does not include Bale's commentary. If Haemstede did draw on a version of Askew's Examinations that was independent of Bale then it would appear that while Bale may have made a few, significant, changes to individual passages in Askew's text, he left it largely intact.


Foxe's version of Askew's story, in which the sections of praise and interpretation with which Bale had bracketed her account are absent, inevitably produces a different narrative emphasis. Yet the distinct light in which Askew's narrative appears in Foxe's version is not an effect of Foxe's editorial restraint, or, as in Beilen's or King's readings, of his commendable non-interference in the transmission of an autonomous female voice. Instead, the different experience of reading Foxe's Askew is an intentional result of his active editing, and his alternative construction of her words.

To understand how Foxe molded the narrative of Anne Askew, and his reasons for implementing this editorial shaping, we must first know the nature and provenance of Foxe's sources of information on Askew. Foxe's first account of the martyr, printed in the Rerum, was, as we have observed, largely a translation of her Examinations. For the most part, this is a faithful translation, although Foxe alters the text to make certain allusions clear to non-English readers, (12) and at times embellishes the text by multiplying adjectives. (13) Moreover, probably inadvertently, a portion of Askew's summary of her condemnation at the Guildhall was omitted from the Rerum. (14)

It seems clear that the edition used by Foxe in the Rerum and the Acts and Monuments was The fyrst [lattre] Examination of the worthy seruaunt of god, Maisters Anne Askew, probably printed in 1550 by William Copland. This text consists of the narratives of Askew's two examinations, in continuous signatures, without Bale's commentary. (15) There are many reasons to believe that this edition is Foxe's copy-text. For one thing, Foxe must have used a text like the 1548 or 1550 complete versions, instead of one of the individual first editions of 1546 and 1547. Like those later editions, Foxe's texts omit not only Bale's commentary but also the substantial critique of William Paget, principal secretary to Henry VIII, who had succeeded in keeping his office under Edward VI, that appears in the 1547 Latter Examination. Foxe could have had a separate political reason for striking the Paget references from any base-text he used, but it must be noted that his cut is exactly the same as the excision made in these two ed itions. (16) Further, Foxe made six distinct errors in Biblical citations while incorporating the texts of the Examinations into the Rerum and the Acts and Monuments, such as "Exo. xxiii" for Exodus 34 and "Ihon vii" for John 6 (1559, 194; 1563, 675). In each of the six cases, the first editions of the Examinations give the citation correctly and in Arabic numerals. The citations in the 1548 and 1550 texts are in lowercase Roman numerals, which would be much easier to misread, especially since the contemporary convention was to write the number four as "iiii." Five of the six citations are correct in 1548 and 1550, but the single erroneous citation makes an identification of one of the two as Foxe's base-text almost indisputable. Both the 1548 and 1550 editions of Askew, quoting Christ's words to the disciples at the Last Supper, wrongly cite "Luce. xi." (B5v and B4r, respectively) where the 1547 first edition of the Lattre Examinacyon correctly cites Luke 22 (B3v). This error is preserved in the Rerum, and i n the 1563 Acts and Monuments as "Luk.xi." (682 [recte 673]).

Narrowing the field of candidates for the base-text yet further, unique textual connections exist between the 1550 edition and Foxe's versions, the most remarkable of which are two passages in which Foxe seems to delete several words included in all the other texts of the Examinations. This omission can be explained as eye-skip due to the singular page layout of 1550. Early in the First Examination, Askew relates a conversation with a Catholic priest. The layout of the text is approximated here (see figs. la and lb for the original text):


he asked me if I were shriven, I tolde

him no. Then he said, he wold bring one

to me, for to shryve me. And I told him

[page break]

so that I might haue one of these iii....


In the 1563 Acts and Monuments, Foxe prints "Thirdly he asked me, if I were shriven, I tolde him so that I might have one of these .iii." (670). (17) It seems likely that the compositor's eye could have skipped from one "told" to another, losing the line in between. Later in the 1550 edition, Askew debates Bonner and Standish on St. Paul's opinion on women's right to interpret Scripture. In the 1550 edition, Askew's text is presented thus (see Figure 2):


ning the same texte of .S. Paule. I an

swered yt was against saynt Paules


(B lv)

Foxe renders this passage as "concerninge the same text of Saint Paules lerning" (1563, 672). (18) As before, it is evident that an omission could easily have happened if a compositor was reading quickly. Together, these unique mistakes indicate that the 1550 edition was Foxe's base-text. Further, since Foxe seems to have used the 1550 edition as his base text, we can effectively rule out the possibility that he had access to a copy of the original manuscript of Askew's Examinations.


The changes made by Foxe when he came to print this 1550 text of Askew's narrative are both stylistic and substantive; by design, they direct the reader toward a different interpretation of Askew's story. One of Foxe's tools in his editorial craft is the division of the text into paragraphs. Bale made section divisions in his edition whenever he wanted to pause the narrative in order to comment on it. Subsequent printers make extremely sparing use of paragraph breaks. The 1548 edition, for instance, has nine paragraph breaks in forty-six pages of text; the 1550 text that Foxe likely used has eleven breaks in fifty pages. Instead of accepting the divisions of the editor or printer whose text he worked with, Foxe breaks the same narrative up into twenty-nine paragraphs in 1563 and sixty-six paragraphs in 1570. (19) Foxe also exhibits a much greater sensitivity to the text's dramatic possibilities, its pace and rhythm, deftly alternating flow and pause, to compelling effect. Yet while we enjoy Foxe's version, pe rhaps even preferring it to Bale's as a literary experience, we must be sure to understand that Foxe's skill as an editor in the Acts and Monuments consists of active shaping of the text, and not the reticent, hands-off approach that many current scholars praise. For instance, in the Lattre Examinacyon of 1547, at the end of Askew's interrogation, Rich asks her who has sent her money during her imprisonment; Askew carefully avoids implicating her friends, equivocating "I am not suer who sent it me, but as the men ded saye" (F3v). Here, Bale breaks off her narrative, pausing to compare her to holy women from the Bible. It is not until two pages later that Askew's story resumes, with Rich questioning her on the same point, as if there had been no break:

Then they sayd, there were of the counsel1 that ded mayntene me. And I sayd, no. Then they ded put me on the racke, by cause I confessed to no ladyes nor gentyllwomen to be of my opynyon, and thereon they kepte me a longe tyme. And bycause I laye styll and ded not crye, my lorde Chauncellour and mastre Ryche, toke peynes to racke me their owne handes, tyll I was nygh dead. (F4v-5r)

Foxe, however, presents the section including the questioning of Askew as a continuous episode, and the paragraph division comes between "And I said, no" and "Then they did put me on the rack" (1570, p. 1418). By giving Askew's horrific torture its own paragraph, Foxe accords the event its due weight and importance, much more than if he had relegated it to the second sentence of a section, following a relatively mundane continuation of the action of the previous section. Similarly, in Bale, when Bonner forces Askew to sign a confession, Bale mutes the dramatic momentousness of her ingenious evasion by burying it in the middle of a paragraph:

Then he made a coppye, whych is now in prynt, & requyred me to sett therunto my hande. But I refused it. Then my ii. suertyes ded wyll me in no wyse to stycke thereat. For it was no great matter, they sayd. Then with moch a do, at the last I wrote thus. I Anne Askewe do beleve thys if Gods worde do agre to the same, & the true catholick churche. (1547, G4r-v)

Not only the unwillingness with which Askew puts her name to the statement ("with moch a do"), but also the great resourcefulness of her dodge -- putting the qualifier of God's approval and the true church's on her words -- are obscured by Bale's editing, making it seem as if signing the confession is Askew's capitulation to the Bishop's demand and her friends' urging. In Foxe, the paragraph break comes between "they said" and "Then with much ado," setting up for the reader the contrast, rather than consistence, between what Askew is almost made to do and what she does (1570, p. 1419). Bale's editing has a predictable way of breaking the suspense, while Foxe's editing heightens suspense and tension, expertly manipulating the narrative to make readers feel its importance.

Finally, in Askew's declaration of her faith just before she goes to the stake, Bale makes the following passage into one continuous paragraph:

For I take hym [God] to witnesse, that I have, do, and wy11 do unto my lyues ende, utterlye abhorre them [her persecutors] to the uttermost of my power. But thys is the heresye whych they report me to holde, that after the prest hath spoken the wordes of consecracyon, there remayneth breade styli. (1547, G7r)

Bale halts Askew's story here to comment on the controversy of the transubstantiation, rather than at the end of the previous sentence, where there is an obvious cue for a transition between the highly charged language of Askew's feelings of rage and the quiet resolve of her restatement of the belief she will die for. When the narrative resumes after Bale's interjection, Askew is still discussing the presence of Christ in the Sacrament, following straight on from the last line of the previous passage. In the Acts and Monuments, Foxe places the paragraph break between "to the uttermost of my power" and "But thys is the heresye" (1570, p. 1419), effectively creating a change in register that throws into relief first passionate anger and then calm resignation. In all these cases, Foxe's placement of paragraph breaks displays his subtle awareness of the potential drama of Askew's story; and his skill in manipulating flow and break to create a heightened, soliloquy-like aesthetic. Meanwhile, Bale's section divisio ns rudely bisect some key moments and subordinate others, destroying dramatic tension. Comparing the effect produced by their two versions demonstrates how much of the rhetorical power of her story is actually produced by Foxe's layout.

In addition to shaping it on the page, Foxe also constructs his version of Askew's text by interacting with it on the verbal level and, in small but important ways, adding to it. Certain words and brief phrases appear in Foxe's version of Askew's account that are nor in Bale's text or in any earlier edition. In the First Examination, Askew recounts how the Archdeacon of London warned her against a certain book by the reformer John Frith. Bale has "he that made it, was brent in Smythfelde. Then I asked him, if he were sure" (Askew, 1546, C5r). In Foxe the passage becomes "he that mayde this booke and was the author thereof, was an heretic I warrant you and burnt in Smithfield. Then I asked him if he were certain and sure" (1563, 671). Later, Bale's "The counsell of my fryndes" (Askew, 1546, C6v) reads "The counsell of my frendes and well-wyllers" in Foxe (1563, 671). Finally, "The Mass was ydolatrye" (Askew, 1546, D5r) in previous texts becomes "The Mass was superstitious, wicked, and no better than ydolatrye" in Foxe (1563, 671).

All these appearances of an extra word or phrase in Foxe correspond to the bottom or near-bottom of a page in Bale, a circumstance that might give the impression that Bale's compositor was saving space. If Foxe used a Bale-derived text, like the 1550 edition, as his copy-text, where did these new scraps of text come from? It seems unlikely that Foxe, or his compositor, made them up to fill out lines; for one thing, all these instances of added text appear in the top half of a page in Foxe. More probably, we can actually see Foxe here actively revising earlier editions of Askew's narrative for stylistic or theological reasons. In the first two examples, Foxe makes a single word or term into two: "he that made this book and was the author thereof"; "if he were certain and sure"; "my friends and well-willers." Foxe works with Askew's words on a poetic level, creating alliterative dyads: not merely "sure" but "certain and sure"; not just "friends" but "friends and well-willers." These additions, balancing one wor d against another, give a touch of oratorical polish to Askew's straightforward, laconic style. Foxe may even be thinking of a particular rhetorical model: Stella Brook has observed that the diction of the 1549 Prayer Book is full of such doublings. For example, in the General Confession worshippers admit "manifold sins and wickedness," while in the Exhortation to Morning Prayer the priest says "When we assemble and meet together," and in the marriage service spouses promise to remain faithful "for better for worse, for richer for poorer." Brook goes on to argue that, post-1549, English prose writers can be seen beginning to use this Cranmerian structure (64-90). Brook does not cite Foxe as an example, but it seems fitting that Foxe might have been influenced by another monumental Protestant document in his production of the Acts and Monuments. The additional information about Frith, meanwhile, might have been added by Foxe to identify Frith's offense, heresy, to those readers who had never heard of him. In t he final instance, Foxe replaces one term for the Mass, "idolatry," with three: "superstitious, wicked, and no better than idolatry." Careful readers will note that the line scans well as trochaic octameter. Foxe may, again, have added this for the sake of the metrical cadence, or in order to underscore and intensify Askew's charge against the Mass.


In addition to comparing the ways in which Foxe lays out his text with Bale's paragraph breaks, and analyzing the few verbal additions he makes, in order to understand Foxe's shaping of Askew's narrative, we must examine closely the progress of his textual conception of Askew from his first Latin edition to his later English works. Askew's Examinations are prefaced in the Rerum by a prolix introduction, in which Foxe declares that the martyrs offer examples to be imitated by Christians in their daily struggles against the sins of the world, a godly corrective to the existing monuments that trumpet the glory of secular heroes. No martyr, of the past or present, Foxe proclaims, is more virtuous or worthy of praise than Anne Askew. She was born into a respected family and her father, Sir William Askew, was a virtuous knight. Her education was worthy of her birth, and her intelligence made her apt for instruction, while divine grace supplied whatever was lacking in her formal study (Foxe, 1559, 144 [recte 184]-86 ).

After his translation of the Examinations, which follows this panegyric, Foxe describes her execution. He claims that Askew had been tortured so severely that she had to be carried to Smithfield in a chair; he also states that the martyr was offered a pardon if she would recant, but refused it. He concludes with an account of the burning, along with Askew, of John Lascelles, John "Adams" and "Nicholas Belenian" (1559, 199). The names of Askew's fellow martyrs are taken from John Bale's Catalogus (670) -- no other source gives these names -- and the other details are in no printed sources; Foxe must have obtained them from oral reports. (20) A poem by Foxe, clearly modeled on Prudentius' Peristephanon, and praising Askew's constancy, completes the account of Askew in the Rerum.

The narrative of Anne Askew's life and martyrdom published four years later in the first edition of Foxe's Acts and Monuments saw major changes made to the account of Anne Askew. For one thing, the introductory comments that preface Askew's martyrdom in the Rerum were dropped, never to be reprinted. At first glance, this is rather surprising. The themes of this introduction -- the contrast between secular heroes and the even more glorious martyrs, and the importance of the martyrs as exemplars to be followed in daily life -- are leitmotifs of Foxe's martyr narratives; similar passages occur throughout the different editions of his work. (21) Why then are these passages praising Askew omitted?

Very likely, the answer is that Foxe now thought that, in some respect, Askew was not an appropriate model for the godly to imitate. When Foxe wrote about Askew in the Rerum, he probably did not know about her troubled marital history; her separation from her husband Thomas Kyme was not mentioned in Bale's Catalogus or in the edition of Askew's Examinations that, as argued above, was available to him. (Certainly, Bale could have told Foxe about this issue, but there was no obvious reason for him to have done so.) But Foxe would have known about Askew's separation by 1563; for one thing, it was discussed in Miles Hogarde's polemic against the Marian Protestants, a work of which Foxe was certainly aware and which he likely read. (22) And at some point, Foxe must have learned of Bale's discussion of Askew's marriage, even if he did not read it, since he would add a marginal note in the 1570 edition of his work (placed next to the Privy Council's inquiries about Askew's husband) which reads "Concerning that which they demmaunded as touching M. Kime, read in the Censure of Ioh. Bale wryting upon this place" (1417). The very terseness and evasiveness of this note, the only mention of Askew's marriage in the Acts and Monuments, is indicative of Foxe's uneasiness about this matter. Foxe also omits from the 1563 edition the specific details about Askew's parentage that he had supplied in the Rerum. (23) Since Foxe seems otherwise anxious to emphasize Askew's gentle birth, it is likely that this omission is also intended to deflect attention away from Askew's domestic life.

Foxe's discomfort with this element of Askew's character may have stemmed partly from his awareness that Askew's separation from her husband made her vulnerable to attack by Catholic writers; the issue of Protestant wives leaving their husbands had already been effectively exploited by Hogarde, and on other occasions, Foxe deleted material from the Acts and Monuments in response to it. (24) But Foxe probably also disapproved of Askew's conduct himself. In a letter to Bishop Edwin Sandys of London, written around 1576, Foxe advised the Bishop about a woman who had left her husband and her children for reasons Foxe did not specify. Foxe not only condemned the wife as "mulier nimis ingrata, ne dicam improba" (a woman excessively ungrateful, not to say wicked), but maintained that a woman's leaving her husband was an irreligious act, undermining a holy institution of God (BL Harley MS 417, fol. 130v).

When Foxe reprinted his English text of Askew's Examinations in 1563, he made one striking change to it: he interpolated the text of Askew's "confession" affirming her belief in the Real Presence in the Sacrament, copied from Bishop Bonner's register, into the section of Askew's first examination in which she justifies having signed this document. At first glance this is also a surprising decision: generally Foxe was anxious to conceal or at best minimize the recantations of notable Protestants during Henry VIII's and Mary's reigns. (25) But Foxe had noticed an apparent anomaly in the copy of Askew's confession in Bonner's register: a preamble to the confession that states that it was made on 20 March 1544 (i.e., 1545), and also that Askew had been in open cowrte arrayned and condempned," which happened on 9 July 1546 (Guildhall MS 9531/12, fol. 109r). Foxe used this discrepancy in dating to argue that the confession was a forgery and that the Catholics had stooped to fraud to try to maintain that Askew had r ecanted (1563, 681-82). (26) In other words, Foxe printed Askew's confession because it undermined, or appeared to undermine, the claim that she had recanted. Foxe hammered this point home with marginal notes added to the 1570 edition of the Acts and Monuments: "Anne Askew answering to the false suspicion of her recantation" and "A. Askew falsely suspected to recant, and upon what occasion" (p. 1419).

In the Rerum, Foxe had mentioned a letter written by Askew's fellow martyr, John Lascelles, but it was only in the 1563 edition of the Acts and Monuments that Foxe first printed the letter (666 [recte 678]-676 [recte 680]). (27) He reprinted it, with minor emendations, from Uvicklieffes Wicket, a collection of Protestant writings published within a year or so of Lascelles's death. (28) Lascelles's letter stands in stark contrast to Askew's Examinations; it is impersonal, reticent about the circumstances in which it was written, and it consists almost entirely of theological arguments about the Eucharist. It is under-appreciated that Askew's Examinations is virtually unique among the many examples of the genre printed in the Acts and Monuments in its lack of detailed theological debate; Askew scored her polemical points by refusing to discuss, much less argue, her theological convictions. (29) It is even less appreciated that to Foxe this was a lacuna, if not a liability; significant sections of the Acts and M onuments were given over entirely to doctrinal argument. (30) Lascelles' letter enabled Foxe to use the martyrdom of Askew, Lascelles and their companions as a pulpit from which to denounce Catholic teachings on the Eucharist. When Foxe reprinted Lascelles' letter he added four marginal notes to it; three were Scriptural citations and the fourth read "The wickedness of the Masse" (1563, 667 [recte 679]). Among the handful of other marginal notes in the 1563 edition are: "The belefe of Anne Askew concerning the sacramentes" (675), "The masse abhominable Idol," and (appended to Askew's statement that she was convicted of heresy for denying the Real Presence) "The matter and cause why Anne Askewe suffered death" (680 [recte 677]). These notes were reprinted in every edition of the Acts and Monuments and, in the multitude of marginal notes added to the 1570 edition (and also reprinted in each subsequent edition), Eucharistic controversy still predominated as the topic of greatest concern. (31) What Bale had accom plished through commentary interpolated directly into the text, Foxe accomplished, in typical fashion, through the addition of documents (i.e., Lascelles' letter) and in the forest of marginal notes he planted around his text; this process, begun in the 1563 edition, was finished in the edition of 1570.

In this second edition Foxe reprinted the version of Askew's Examinations from the 1563 edition, including the text of Askew's confession, without changing the text (although changes were made to the marginal notes), except for a new interpolation after Askew related that she had been racked:

Touching the order of her racking in the Tower, thus it was. First she was led downe into a dungeon, where Sir Anthony Knevet the Lieuetenant commanded his Gayler to pinche her with the racke. Which being done so much as he thought sufficient, went about to take her downe, supposing he had done enough. But Wrisley the Lord Chauncellour, not contented that she was loosed so soone confessing nothing, commaunded the Lieuetenant to streine her on the racke agayn. Which because he denied to doo, tendering the weakeness of the woman, he was threatened therfore grevously of the sayd Wrisley, saying that he woulde signifie hys disobedience unto the king: and so consequently upon the same, hee and Syr Iohn Baker throwing of[f] theyr gownes, would nedes play the tormenters them selves: first asking her ifshee was with childe. To whom she aunswering againe, sayd: ye shall not neede to spare for that, but do your wylles upon me: And so quietly and paciently praying unto the Lorde, she abode their tyranny till her bones a nd ioyntes almost were plukt asunder, in such sort, as she was carried away in a chair. When the racking was past, Wrysley and hys felow tooke theyr horse toward the Court. In the mean tyme, while they were making their way by land, the good Lieuetenant eftsoones takyng boate, sped him in all hast to the Court to speake with the kyng before the other, and so did. Who there makyng his humble sute to the kyng, desired his pardon and shewed hym the whole matter as it stoode, and of the rackyng of Mistres Askew, and how he was threatened by the Lord Chauncellor, because at his commaundment, not knowyng his highnes pleasure, hee refused to racke her: which hee for compassion could not finde in his hart to do, and therfor humbly craved hys highnes pardon. Whiche when the kyng had understand [sic], seined not very well to lyke of their so extreme handlyng of the woman, and also graunted to the Lieuetenant his pardon, willing hym to returne and see to his charge. Great expectation was in the meane season among the Wa rders and other officers of the Tower, waytyng for his returne. Whom when they saw come so cherefullye, declaryng unto them how he had spedde with the kyng, they were not a little ioyous, and gave thankes to God therfore. (1570, p. 1419)

The chance survival of a page of his notes supplies a view into how Foxe acquired this information. On what is now the front of the document are two notes hastily scrawled by Foxe, probably at the same time, as they were written with the same color ink and apparently with the same pen, both of which are different in the notes on the reverse of the page. The first of the notes on the front of the page is headed "Anne Askew" and reads:

Syr Anth. knevyt liewtenant of the towre and of the privy chamber in kynge Henrys tyme. because at the commandment of wrysley, and Syr Iohn baker, he would not racke so extremely as they required, they put of their gownes, and racked her themselves, and fell out with Mr knevet. he mystrustyng them therewith, went fyrst to the kyng and shewed hym the whole matter and obtained so much favor of hym, that [he] cam a glad man home. (32)

The second note maintained that Sir Richard Southwell sent a defective harness to Calais, when it was besieged by the French in 1558, and that Cardinal Pole conspired with the French to betray the town. (33) The material in the second note was never printed by Foxe, but the first note was clearly the basis for the more detailed and elaborate account of Askew's racking and Knevet's dash to court that was printed in the 1570 edition.

Foxe's two notes were probably taken during an interview with an informant, with the martyr-ologist jotting down anecdotes of particular interest to him. (The concerns reflected in both anecdotes point to the informant having been a soldier, very probably in the Tower garrison and possibly in the Calais garrison afterwards.) Foxe probably then asked the informant to send him a written account of the incident which he printed.

Foxe made one another addition to the account of Anne Askew in the 1570 edition: he now presented a more detailed narration of Askew's execution. After repeating his description of Askew being carried to the stake in a chair, Foxe then related that Askew interrupted Nicholas Shaxton's sermon (Shaxton was a prominent evangelical preacher who as part of his own recantation was obliged to preach at Askew's execution) with her own commentary Foxe's account continued with a description of Lord Chancellor Wriothesley, the third Duke of Norfolk, Lord John Russell and the mayor of London watching Askew's execution from a bench under the church of St Bartholomew and the fears that that these notables would be injured when the gunpowder under Askew and her fellow martyrs exploded. (These fears were assuaged by Lord Russell's assurances that the spectators were at a safe distance from the explosion.) This new account of Askew's execution concluded with her refusing the pardon offered to her by Wriothesley, saying "that shee came not thither to deny her Lord and Mayster" (1570, p. 1420).

John King and Diane Watt have claimed that Foxe invented the dialogue between Shaxton and Askew, but this is unlikely; not least because of Foxe's reluctance to invent details about the executions of the martyrs. (34) Rather, all of the new material on Askew's execution almost certainly came from eyewitnesses, or a single eyewitness, to her death. One of these sources was very probably Francis Russell, the second Earl of Bedford. The Earl had given Foxe valuable documents for use in the 1570 edition, and he seems to have been an oral informant for Foxe as well. (35) (A number of anecdotes praising John Russell, and describing him as a protector of evangelicals, first appear in the 1570 edition; it is very likely that Foxe received them from Francis Russell. (36) In this regard, it is worth noting that John Russell is a central figure in the anecdotes about Askew's execution.) Since John Russell was at Askew's execution, it is quite reasonable to suppose that his son accompanied him and Francis Russell, who wa s about twenty years old at the time, would certainly have remembered the derails of what occurred.


The material on Askew's racking and execution which Foxe added to the 1570 edition demonstrates his reliance on oral informants. But Foxe used this information selectively; it is interesting, for example, that Foxe never printed the information on Askew sent to him by Archdeacon John Louth, who was also an eyewitness to her execution. (37) Why then did Foxe print these stories about Askew's racking and execution? Russell's anecdotes about Askew's execution flatly contradict Miles Hogarde's claims that Askew reviled the officials who offered her a pardon and made insulting gestures at Shaxton during his sermon -- behavior that, as Hogarde pointed out, did not conform to early modern ideals of martyrdom (fol. 39r-v). (Here again, we can see Foxes account of Askew being shaped to meet the demands of confessional propaganda.) Both sets of stories also further emphasized Askew's remarkable constancy in the face of torture and death and, in doing so, helped to counter the accusations of inconstancy raised by her re cantation. The story of her racking also underscored the cruelty of her persecutors and the ambivalent role of Henry VIII in abetting although (in Foxe's narrative) not condoning this persecution.

This last theme predominates in the most significant changes to the account of Askew in the 1570 edition. These changes were not made to the account itself but in the arrangement of the narrative before and after the account. In the 1563 edition, the account of Askew's martyrdom was preceded by accounts of the martyrdoms of John Kirby and Roger Clerk in Ipswich in 1546, the recantation of Edward Crome (1546), the execution of Peter Sapience in Paris in 1545, the persecution in Calais (1540-1543), the providential punishments of Lord Lisle and others responsible for the persecution in Calais (1540-1542), the assassination of Cardinal David Beaton in 1546 (another example of divine retribution on a persecutor), and the penance imposed on William Button, a crossbowmaker of Calais, for anticlerical remarks made in 1539 (1563, 654-69). The account of Askew's martyrdom was then followed by a proclamation banning heretical books, dated 8 July 1546, which, in turn, was followed by Foxe's commentary on the inability o f of persecutors to destroy the True Church. Then came qualified praise of Henry VIII and unqualified praise of his wise (i.e., Protestant) counselors. Foxe ended the account of Henry VIII's reign with a list of godly preachers forced to recant (1563, 676 [recte 680]-674 [recte 683]). There is certainly no chronological order to this sequence and, in fact, no apparent order to it at all.

Seven years later, Foxe framed Askew's martyrdom in a very different manner. After recounting the martyrdoms of Kirby and Clerk in 1546, Foxe broke out of chronological order to print a speech which Henry VIII gave to Parliament in November 1545. The king exhorted his subjects to charity; concord and unity. Foxe's response to this appeal is expressed pithily in a marginal note: "Charitie and concorde in common wealthes be changes most necessary but in matters of religion, charitie and concorde is not in-ough, without veritie and true worship of God" (1570, p. 1412). A commentary which Foxe appended to Henry VIII's oration began on the same note: "Princes which exhorte to concorde and charitie, do well: but Princes which seeke out the causes of discorde & reforme the same, do much better" (1570, p. 1413). Foxe goes on to criticize Henry VIII for urging his subjects to be charitable but allowing persecution of the godly, and caustically comments on "what charitie ensued after this exhortation of the kyng to cha ritie, by the rackyng and burnyng of good Anne Askew" (p. 1413). (38) This judgment is followed by a description of how "the charitable prelates for all the kyngs late exhortation unto charitie" compelled Edward Crome, a prominent evangelical preacher, to recant the doctrines he had preached. "And if he had not [recanted], they would have dissolved hym and his argument in burnyng fire, so burnyng hoate was their charitie, according as they burned Anne Askew" (p. 1413).

The account of Askew's martyrdom which follows the story of Crome's recantation is itself followed by the brief account of a martyrdom in Norfolk, which begins "Lyke as Winchester and other Byshops did set on kyng Henry agaynst Anne Askew and her fellow martyrs, so did D. Repse Byshop of Norwich did incite no lesse [y.sub.[subset]] old Duke of Norfolke against one Rogers in the countrey of Northfolke" (1570, p. 1422). This episode is followed in turn by the notorious tale of Stephen Gardiner and Thomas Wriothesley attempting to persuade Henry VIII to have Katherine Parr charged with heresy. That story, Foxe writes, "putteth me in remembraunce of an other lyke story of hys [Stephen Gardiner's] wicked workyng in like maner, a litle before, but much more pernicious and pestilent to the publicke Church of Iesus Christ" (p. 1425). What ensues is an account of how the Bishop of Winchester, while on an embassy to secure a triple alliance of Charles V and Francis I with Henry VIII, prevented the "reformation of some superstitious enormities in the church" (i.e., the removal of roods and the banning of ringing the church bells on All Hallows Day) by warning Henry that such reforms would jeopardize the projected alliance (pp. 1425-27).

Foxe then describes how Sir George Blage, a favored courtier, was arrested for heresy the "Sonday before Anne Askew suffered," condemned to death, and only saved by a royal pardon. Foxe resumes,

But to let thys matter of Syr George Blage passe, we will now reduse our story agayne to Askew and her fellow Martyrs, who the same weeke were burned and coulde find no pardon. Then the Catholike fathers, when they had brought thys Christian woman with the residue... unto theyr rest, they being now in their ruffe and triumphe, like as the Pharisees when they had brought Christ to hys grave, devise with themselves how to keep hym downe stil, and to over treade truth for ever. (1570, P. 1427)

Their means of accomplishing this goal is the proclamation banning heretical books, which is reprinted from the 1563 edition. (39)

The material that framed Askew's martyrdom in the 1570 edition was, in contrast to the 1563 edition, arranged in a thematic -- although not chronological -- order. Askew's martyrdom does not stand as an isolated account; it is instead the keystone for a series of incidents emphasizing a number of linked themes: the implacable opposition by evil or, at best, misguided councilors to the progress of religious reformation; the monarch's responsibility to carry out those reforms whatever the obstacles (be they domestic discord or foreign policy reverses) and the disastrous consequences of a failure by the monarch to do so (at best the proliferation of superstition, at worst persecution of the godly and Catholic renewal).

These messages, with their emphasis on religious reform and the monarch's imperative duty to implement it, are a reflection of Foxe's increasing impatience with Elizabeth's failure to eradicate the vestiges of popery in the English church. Foxe was utterly opposed to Archbishop Parker's efforts to compel the clergy to wear vestments, and the marytrologist labored unceasingly for revision of the Book of Common Prayer; the 1570 edition of his martyrology already contained emendations intended to promote the religious reforms for which Foxe yearned. (40) Unwilling to criticize Elizabeth directly, Foxe made his point by juxtaposing the moral strength and constancy of Askew with the moral weakness of Henry VIII, who allowed worldly considerations to prevent the complete reform of the Church. (It is a significant indication of the extent of Foxe's disappointment in Elizabeth that while Bale had compared Askew to Elizabeth as a means of praising the princess, Foxe compared Askew to Elizabeth as a means of criticizin g the queen. (41) The other additions Foxe made to the 1570 edition -- an expanded account of Askew's courage at the stake and an expanded account of her racking, which showed the utter lawlessness and cruelty of the Catholics when the monarch did not hold them in check -- underscored his use of the female martyr to exhort the female monarch to ensure the triumph of the gospel. And the magistrates and citizens of Elizabethan England who read Foxe's work would have in the account of Askew's martyrdom and the stories linked to it an unmistakeable warning of the dangers in not weeding out all traces of Catholic doctrine and practice.

The account of Askew's Examinations and martyrdom was reprinted, without change, in the next edition of the Acts and Monuments, printed in 1576. (42) This was, with one exception, also true of the 1583 edition, the last edition of the Acts and Monuments published in Foxe's lifetime. (43) That exception, however, while small, is not without interest. Where the previous two editions had, based on the testimony of the informant from the Tower garrison, identified Sir John Baker as the Privy Councillor who, along with Thomas Wriothesley, racked Askew, in the 1583 edition, Baker's name was replaced with that of Sir Richard Rich (p. 1239) (44) In the same edition, a story, which had been printed in the previous two editions, of Sir John Baker having beaten the wife of a Marian martyr over the head with a staff, was also omitted. (45)

If not for this fact, it might be supposed that the substitution of Rich's name for Baker's was simply the result of Foxe adjusting his text to make it conform to Bale's version of Askew's Examinations, in which Wriothesley and Rich are identified as her torturers. (46) Two separate omissions of Baker's heinous (at least in Protestant eyes) actions in the same edition, however, suggest a deliberate effort by Foxe to conceal Baker's misdeeds. On other occasions, Foxe omitted stories from the Acts and Monuments which were discreditable to people with influential friends or family (especially if these were godly) to intercede for them with the martyrologist. (47) Although Baker died in 1558, his family remained influential: his eldest daughter married Sir Thomas Scott, the head of one of the most powerful families in Kent and another daughter married Thomas Sackville, the first Earl of Dorset, while his son, Sir Richard Baker, was an MP and High Sheriff of Kent in 1562 and 1582. (48) Any of these powerful people would have had an interest in protecting Baker's reputation. The same motives which led the second Earl of Bedford to reveal details about Askew's martyrdom probably led someone to put pressure on Foxe to conceal Baker's persecution of Askew.


Not only was Foxe's account of Askew different from Bale's account, but each edition of the Acts and Monuments presented a different portrait of Askew, shaped by the different religious and political contexts in which each edition was written. From being simply a model for the godly in their daily lives, Askew also became, in Foxe's later editions, a more politically charged figure, a personification of the horrible consequences of royal and magisterial indifference to religious reform. Foxe also accumulates rhetorical devices in the succeeding editions of the Acts and Monuments, including marginal notes and the incorportation of Lascelles' letter with its detailed explanation of sacramental theology to make Askew's doctrinal positions more explicit.

Yet in one important respect, we find complete conformity between the accounts of Askew in the different editions of Foxe and Bale. Elaine Beilin maintains that "One key difference between Askew's Examinations and others collected by Bale and Foxe is that she frequently makes her gender the topic of the dialogue. Continually, she shapes the interviews with these powerful male officials of church and state so that each concludes with the discomfiture of her interrogators by a 'weak' woman" (1996, xxx). Actually, it is not only Askew but also her editors who bring her gender into play in constructing her persona; Bale and Foxe both use this paradox of gender and power strategically. Bale deals with Askew's gender by persistently emphasizing the paradigm of the "weak" woman made stronger than men through the power of the Holy Spirit, as embodied by, for instance, the holy Blandina (Askew 1546, [section]7r-u2r). Of Askew, he says "Ryght farre doth it passe the strength of a yonge, tendre, weake, and sycke woman . .. to abyde so vyolent handelynge. ... Thynke not therfor but that Christ hath suffered in her, and so myghtelye shewed hys power" (F6r-v). Furthermore, this paradigm was one Foxe employed throughout the Acts and Monuments. (49) Bale and Foxe both used this model because it explained the constancy of female martyrs in a way that did not discredit them, and yet, at the same time, did not subvert conventional ideas of greater male moral and physical strength.

At the same time, Askew's gender, and her failure to conform to the contemporary restrictions imposed on it, were viewed not only by Bale but also by Foxe as grave polemical liabilities that had to be minimized or concealed. If anything, Foxe was more concerned about this issue than Bale and went to greater lengths to airbrush away what he regarded as her domestic blemishes; where Bale confronted the issue of Askew's marriage with argument and impassioned rhetoric, Foxe dealt with the problem by omission, evasion and studied silence.

Indeed, this treatment is typical of Foxe's editing of Anne Askew's writings and his narrating of her martyrdom. Far from being a latitudinarian, non-interventionist editor, as he has been portrayed, Foxe zealously and systematically shaped the account of Askew's martyrdom; he simply did it through more subtle means than Bale had done. Where Bale employed an extensive commentary interpolated throughout Askew's Examinations and lengthy introductions and conclusions, to shape his account of Askew, Foxe relied on marginal notes, additional stories and documents, omissions and the arrangement of his narrative, to shape his account of Askew. Foxe's unobtrusive, but considerable, editorial and rhetorical skills ensured that the potentially subversive figure of Anne Askew was transformed into an effective icon for the causes he cherished. In her lifetime, Askew's body was mangled in an effort to extract information from her; after her death both Bale and Foxe would manipulate, if not mangle, her words and the facts of her life, to ensure that she provided the proper information to their readers.


Clearly, literary scholars interested in the reception of Askew's narrative have much to learn from a survey of the ways in which her editors shaped Askew's Examinations, as do historians anxious to recover, from beneath the rewriting of Bale and Foxe, a first-person narrative of crucial importance. But there are wider implications for a re-examination such as the one presented here of Foxe's role in the portrayal of Askew in the Acts and Monuments: these issues are connected to the important question of Foxe's authorial role in his history. Critics have certainly examined Foxe's shaping hand in his history before; his willingness to rewrite his sources, and the relative historical accuracy of the Acts and Monuments, have been the subjects of extensive discussion. (50) However, as illustrated above, the image of Foxe as a non-interventionist editor has still prevailed in the critical literature on Askew's Examinations. Moreover, all previous analyses of Foxe's editorial practices have focused on the facts of his text, especially on the alterations he makes to his sources or his omissions, but have almost completely ignored the ways in which he shapes the reader's experience of his text in the process of presenting it. This article has constituted an attempt to evaluate Foxes's manipulation of the reader's response to Askew's story by means of marginal notes, paragraph breaks, and the arrangement of the text that precedes and follows the account of Askew's martyrdom.

Analysis of these subtle, but significant, editorial interventions in the Acts and Monuments are essential to an understanding of Foxe's true authorial role. If we understand "the author" as the agent who actually composes a particular text, then Foxe can be considered, at most, the author of only isolated portions of the Acts and Monuments. Large sections of Foxe's book consist of extracts from other writers, which he incorporated into his great history with less substantive rewriting than he practiced while reprinting Askew's Examinations. (51) But if we understand the author to be the agent who controls the text and shapes its message, then Foxe is the indisputable author of the Acts and Monuments. Yet the nature of Foxe's authorship has not been fully understood, because the extent of his editorial control has been unappreciated.

There are a number of reasons for this oversight, among them the failure of many scholars to work with Foxe's original editions, let alone to compare them to each other. Scholars also neglect to read Foxe's sources or to cornpare them to his text. Another factor is the persistence of anachronistic ideas of authorship among students of early modern texts. All too often, scholars of early English print culture have discussed complex works by what can only be termed syndicates of writers, such as Holinshed's Chronicles, or the Acts and Monuments, as if they were the work of a single author -- allowing themselves to be limited by modern (certainly not post-modern) ideas of authorship. (52) As a result, critics have consistently, and erroneously, made the assumption that what appears in Foxe or Holinshed was written by Foxe or Holinshed, and thus instantly and inherently embodies the values and beliefs of Foxe and Holinshed. They have imagined single authorship where there has actually been not completely consensu al collaboration between the compiler and the authors of his sources. The constant subterranean struggle of the author/editor to shape his less-than-tractable sources, both oral and written, has not been merely unexamined, but unacknowledged. In Foxe's case, this has meant that critical analysis and discussion have been deflected away both from the techniques he uses to incorporate other authors within his text and from the extent to which his text incorporates the works of other authors. This deflection, in turn, is symptomatic of the way in which scholarship has tended to concentrate on early modern writers while ignoring, or minimizing the contributions of, the editors of their texts.

This tendency is perhaps especially noticeable in the study of early modern women writers. Since most women lacked the means to bring their own texts to print, the published works of female authors of this period were often edited by other hands, usually male. Scholars have made extremely important and long-overdue efforts in recent years to bring women's texts into the early modern canon, correcting previously biased and incomplete perceptions of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literary landscape as a male preserve. But these efforts, such as the revival interest in Anne Askew, have too frequently led to analyses of women's texts in misleading isolation. In the process of publishing women writers, editors and printers framed, shaped, and refashioned their texts, often modifying the messages of the original works. Sometimes, we must remember, this editing process constituted a distortion or a subversion of the original texts. Yet it is crucial for modern readers to be aware of the contributions of male editors whether beneficial or malign. Far from retrogressively denying authorial agency to early modern women, such a heightened awareness of the collaborative process should serve to illuminate the complex nature of authorship itself in early English print culture.

Modern readers of the Examinations seem to begin, in Stephen Greenblatt's famous words, with the desire to speak with the dead. (53) Like faithful onlookers at a martyrdom who clamored for a piece of the martyr's clothing to cherish as a relic, they seek the authentic traces of Anne Askew in her text. Meanwhile, the narrative of Askew's trial insists on its own authenticity, as in Bale's note that it was "sent abroade by her owne hande wrytinge" and in the Latter Examination's intimate address to "a secrete frynde of hers." (54) But a search for the "real" Askew, an attempt to discern an individual authorial voice, is finally frustrated by the bibliographical facts: her voice only exists as it has been constructed by Bale and Foxe, male editors with their own agendas. Even if Bale and Foxe did not radically change Askew's actual words, they shaped profoundly the ways in which her words were presented, and thus they influenced powerfully the ways in which they were read, using those words as the basis for mess ages that Askew did not want, could not have wanted, to transmit. Askew's body was racked and burned by those determined to defend the Catholic faith, and her text was shaped by the reformers to serve their own church. When we examine the Examinations, it is important for us to remember that the existing texts can only be regarded as the joint work of the author and her editors. It is wrong to characterize Bale and Foxe as bad and good editors of Askew; both interact with, shape, and change her text for their own objectives. These changes, moreover, reflect not only the different goals of her editors but also the different circumstances in which these editions were produced. The account of Askew in the Acts and Monuments was shaped increasingly in reaction to the problems Foxe faced in being part of an established church, not an underground minority. Where Bale, for example, was free in exile to castigate individual members of the Privy Council, Foxe had to avoid giving offense to their influential relations. Where Bale's Askew is a model to exhort readers to constancy in the face of persecution, Foxe's Askew is a model to exhort readers to godliness in their daily lives, and magistrates and monarchs to the complete reformation of the church. Like Askew, who qualified her statement of faith with "If God's word do agree to the same," we must qualify our readings of her narrative with the knowledge that it is not purely her voice that we read, remembering the many editorial hands through which it has passed, and by which it has been shaped, since her hand, now lost to us, sent it abroad.

(*.) The starting point for this article was an essay by Wall, in King, ed., forthcoming. The authors wish to thank Professor King, Professor Patrick Collinson, Professor Fran Dolan, Professor Barbara Lewalski, and other members of the Harvard Renaissance Colloquium for their comments on that essay and other earlier drafts of this article.

(1.) Askew's torture and condemnation were reported by a London merchant in a letter to his brother in Calais, dated 2 July 1546 (in Brewer, vol. 21, pr. 1, no. 1180.). Ecclesiastical concern with the notoriety of Askew's case is discussed in note 22 below.

(2.) Bale maintains in his preface that his copy of Askew's narrative had been "sent abroade by her owne hande writynge" (Askew, 1546, sig. A5r). Bale's version of the text was initially published in two parts; the second is Askew, 1547; STC 850. See also Watt, 92, in which she suggests that the text of the Examinations may have been supplied to Bale by a member of the English royal court.

(3.) For a more detailed account of the early publication history of Askew's narrative, see Beilin, ed., 1996, xxxix-liii.

(4.) The first significant study of Askew, which founded the line of criticism described here, is in King, 1982, 72-75 and 78-80. Beilin, 1987, built on his pioneering work; which has been joined by extended treatments of Askew in book chapters by Diane Watt and Thomas Betteridge (1999); and in artides by Beilin (1991), Paula McQuade, King (1997), and Betteridge (1997a). There have also been two recent editions of the Examinations, one a facsimile introduced by King (1996) and the other the original-spelling, annotated text edited by Beilin (1996).

(5.) For all sixteenth-century quotations, we have retained original spellings, except for common abbreviations, which we have expanded.

(6.) Watt, 94, suggests that the manuscript may have been destroyed with the rest of Bale's library when he fled Ireland; but it is not listed in the extant catalogues of Bale's library.

(7.) Qtd. in translation in King. 1982, 72.

(8.) Qtd. in Foxe, 1563, 733.

(9.) See Shell, 4 and 107-08, for a discussion of the editorial revisions Bale made to the text of another early modern Protestant woman, the young Elizabeth I, in her Glasse of the Sinful Soul.

(10.) "Het en betaemt een vrouwe niet meer de Schriftvere te handeln, den het een Zoghe betaemt een zadel te droghen" (161).

(11.) "Mijn heere, het betaemt so wel een Zoghe den Zadel te droghen, alst doet den Ezel, een Bisschops Mijter" (161).

(12.) For example, the Rerum renders a passage in the Examinations in which Askew's cousin appeals to the Lord Mayor of London to have Askew released on bond as "petens ab co honestorum hominum et sponsorum satisdatione facta, permitteret e custodia me emancipari" (Foxe, 1559, 188; cf. Askew, 1546, sig. B7v.)

(13.) See Askew's declaration in the Examinations that an answer of hers was "meane... yet was it good ynough for the question" (1546, sig. D5v), translated in the Rerum as "non optima fortassis, nec doctissima, et quae satis tamen illorum digna interrogatis viderari poterat" (Foxe, 1559, 190).

(14.) See Foxe, 1559, 195; cf. Askew, 1547, sig. E1r-2r.

(15.) "The sole surviving copy of STC 852.5 is held in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York City (PML 984). The date and printer have been inferred from a handwritten annotation of unknown date on the last page, sig. D3r, which remarks that the woodcut ornament at the bottom that page was "used by Copland and his successor, Middleton." It is an interesting, if probably unresolvable, question whether Copland used one of Bale's editions of Askew's text, stripping it of Bale's commentary, or whether he obtained a version of Askew's examinations independent of Bale's version and printed that. In either case, like Bale and Foxe, Copland (in at least one instance) felt free to alter the text for his own purposes, deleting a hostile reference to William Paget.

(16.) Elsewhere in his book, Foxe showed no hesitation in accusing Pager of much worse. In the 1563 edition, Foxe related the story of an English nobleman who advised Mary and Philip that England would never be at peace until Elizabeth was executed (p. 1714). In the 1570 edition, after Paget was safely dead, Foxe identified him as the nobleman who had advised Elizabeth's execution (p. 2294).

(17.) See also Foxe, 1559, 187.

(18.) This passage is not in the Rtrum; cf. Foxe, 1559, 190.

(19.) Copies of letters printed by Foxe, still surviving among his papers, contain paragraph notations in Foxe's handwriting (see, for example, Emmanuel College Library MS 260, fats. 160r-161v, and British Library Additional MS 19400, fol. 50r-v). These manuscripts indicate that it was Foxe, and not a compositor, who made these layout decisions.

(20.) One of the oral sources was likely Bale himself; he and Foxe lived in the same house while Foxe was compiling the Rerum. See Bale, 763 [recte 733].

(21.) See Foxe, 1559, 203-04 (translated in Foxe, 1563, 874-75); Foxe, 1563, sigs. B5v-6v; Foxe, 1570, sig. 3r-v.

(22.) See Foxe, 1563, p. 1157. Foxe's close friend Robert Crowley had engaged in controversy with Hogarde; see Martin, 84 nn. 5, 90, and 98. In addition, a poem attacking Hogarde's slanders of the martyrs appeared in Bale's Catalogus, 728-29.

(23.) Foxe, 1559, 199; cf. Foxe, 1563, 680 [recte 677]. Ironically, Mullaney, who appears not to have compared Foxe's Latin martyrology with the Acts and Monuments, claims that "Although normally chary with the details of the lives of female as opposed to male martyrs, Foxe details Askew's life as well as her death" (244). Actually the opposite is true: Foxe concealed details about Askew's life that were available to him.

(24) See Freeman, 2000b. For examples of attacks on Protestantism for encouraging disobedience in wives and separation from their husbands, see Christopherson, sigs. T2v-3r, and Hogarde, fols. 15v-16r.

(25.) See Freeman, 1997a, and Wabuda.

(26.) In fact, the explanation for the late date to the preamble of the confession is less sinister. In Banner's register, inserted between items of normal diocesan business, are documents pertaining to the recantations of three prominent evangelicals: Nicholas Shaxton (fols. 108v-109r), Anne Askew (fol. 109r) and Edward Crome (fol. 109v). Since Askew's condemnation and Shaxton's recantation occurred on 9 July 1546, these documents could not have been entered into the register before that date. Since the preamble to Askew's confession speaks of her as still being alive and does not mention her execution, it was probably inserted before she was burned on 16 July 1546. Apparently Bishop Bonner wanted a record made of the recantations of Shaxton and Crome in case they later tried to deny having made them. Interestingly, Bonner added Askew's confession to this record even though it was over a year old; his intention could only have been to discredit Askew on the eve of her execution. The expressed purpose of the preamble to her confession -- to cast doubt on Askew's credibility -- may indicate that a version of her Examinations was already in circulation. Even if this is not the case, the unusual step of recording Askew's confession in the episcopal register demonstrates how sensitive an issue Askew's recantation was.

(27.) Cf. Foxe, 1559, 199.

(28.) See Uvicklieffes Wicket, sigs. B7v-C2r; cf Foxe, 1563, 666 [recte 678]-676 [recte 680].

(29.) Betteridge, 1999, 99-100 and 110, comments shrewdly on the challenge Askew's reticence has posed for editors of her works from Bale to Beilin.

(30.) E.g., Foxe, 1570, pp. 1298-1346 and 15 57-64.

(31.) See Foxe, pp. 1414, 1416-19, and 1421.

(32.) BL Harley MS 419, fol. 2r. Foxe seems to have omitted the word "he" in the next to last line.

(33.) British Library Harley MS 419, fol. 2r.

(34.) See King, 1982, 440, and Watt, 111. For Foxes refusal to invent details about the deaths of the martyrs, and the reasons for it, see Freeman, 1999, 38-39 and 44.

(35.) Proof that the second Earl of Bedford supplied Foxe with information is furnished in an account of a heresy trial extant in Foxe's papers. A note in Foxes handwriting on the account reads "Inquire of the I. bedford" (British Library, Harley MS 421, fol. 2r.).

(36.) For example, John Russell defends Thomas Cromwell to Henry VIII when Cromwell is defamed (Foxe, 1570, p. 1348); Sir George Blage is pardoned for heresy as a result of "sute made to the kyng, especially by the good Earle of Bedford the Lord privy Scale" (p. 1427) and Lord Russell upbraids the Privy Council for the attempt to incriminate Cranmer in the "Prebendaries Plot" (p. 2041). Describing the suppression of the 1549 rebellion in Devonshire, Foxe emphasizes that Russell, although outnumbered by the rebels, was victorious "through the gratious assistance of the Lordes helpe" (p. 1499). Conversely, the Duke of Northumberland, although also out-numbered by rebels in Norfolk, is described by Foxe as winning because he led trained soldiers against a "rude and confused rabble" (p. 1500).

(37.) British Library Harley MS 425, fols. 142r-143r. See also Nichols, 39-47.

(38.) By contrast, both Askew and Bale tried to distance Henry VIII from Askew's racking; like Foxe they blamed the deed on evil councilors, but unlike Foxe they insisted that Henry VIII had no knowledge of what was being done by them (see Askew, 1547, sigs, F1r-F2v and G2v-G3v).

(39.) Foxe, 1570, p. 1427; cf. Foxe, 1563, 676 [recte 680]-681.

(40.) Foxe's opposition to vestments is discussed in Mozley, 63-75. Betteridge, 1997b, 225-31, discusses some of the emendations Foxe made in his 1570 edition to promote further reformation of the English church and to buttress the anti-vestitarian position. Similar emendations, as well as Foxe's efforts to revise the Book of Common Prayer, are discussed in Freeman, 1997b.

(41.) For Bale's comparison of Askew with Elizabeth, see Marguerite of Angouleme, sig. F6v.

(42.) Foxe, 1576, PP. 1205-12.

(43.) Foxe, 1583, pp. 1234-41.

(44.) Similarly, a marginal note which read "The Lord Wrysley and Syr John Baker play the tormentors" (Foxe, 1570, p. 1419, and Foxe, 1576, p. 1209) was changed to read: 'The L. Wrisley and M. Riche play the tormentours' (1583, p. 1239). Surprisingly, a marginal note identifying Baker as the Privy Councillor who accompanied Rich on a visit to Askew in the Tower was not changed (Foxe, 1583, p. 1238); this was probably a simple oversight.

(45.) The story was printed in Foxe, 1570, p. 1418 and Foxe, 1576, p. 1209, but not in the 1583 edition; also see Freeman, 1994, pp. 203-11.

(46.) 1t is impossible to say just who racked Askew. In her Examinations, the martyr stated that her torturers were Rich and 'my Lord Chancellor' and Bale correctly identified Thomas Wriothesley as the Lord Chancellor (Beilin, 1996, 127 and 187). As has been discussed, Foxes informant, who appears to have been quite well-informed, claimed that it was Wriothesley and Baker. It is possible that this discrepency was the result of deliberate distortion on someone's part, but it is more likely that it was the product of simple confusion. (One possible source of this confusion may have been a similarity in titles; Wriothesly was the Lord Chancellor, while Baker was the Chancellor of the Exchequer). Baker was a religious conservative who was zealous in persecuting heretics. Rich's religious beliefs ate more elusive, but he was capable of ruthlessness in suppressing religious dissent.

(47.) For examples of this, see MacCulloch, 191, and Freeman, 2000b.

(48.) DNB, sv. Thomas Sackville and Sir Richard Baker.

(49.) E.g., Foxe, 1563, p. 1504; and 1570, pp. 130, 2167, and 2251.

(50.) An excellent overview of Foxe as a historian is Collinson, 151-77; see also Freeman, 1995. For Foxe altering facts to allow his narrative to conform to typological models, see Daniell, 26-27, and Freeman, 1997a. For illustrations of Foxe emending his text from edition to edition, see Freeman, 1998b and 1999.

(51.) For a derailed examination of one example of Foxe's incorporation of other texts, see Freeman, 1998a, 175-223.

(52.) On Holinshed, see, for instance, Patterson. See also Masten's excellent work on authorial collaboration in seventeenth-century drama.

(53.) Greenblatt, 1.

(54.) Askew 1546, sig. A5r.


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