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John Foxe's 'Acts and Monuments' and the Lollard Legacy in the Long English Reformation

ROYAL, SUSAN,ANN (2014) John Foxe's 'Acts and Monuments' and the Lollard Legacy in the Long English Reformation. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis addresses a perennial historiographical question of the English Reformation: to what extent, if any, the late medieval dissenters known as lollards influenced the Protestant Reformation in England. To answer this question, this thesis looks at the appropriation of the lollards by evangelicals such as William Tyndale, John Bale, and especially John Foxe, and through them by their seventeenth-century successors.

Because Foxe included lollardy in his influential tome, 'The Acts and Monuments' (1563), he was the most importrant conduit for their beliefs and ecclesiology, and indeed, existence. His reorientation of the lollards from heretics and traitors to martyrs and model subjects portrayed the lollards as members of the true church and as Protestants' spiritual forebears. Scholars have generally argued that to accomplish this, Foxe heavily edited radical lollard views on episcopacy, baptism, preaching, conventicles, tithes, and oaths, either omitting them from his book or moulding them into forms compatible with a magisterial Reformation.

This thesis analyzes the lollard narratives in his tome and concludes that Foxe in fact made no systematic attempt to downplay radical lollard beliefs, demonstrating that a wealth of non-mainstream material is present in the text. This suggests that Foxe was more tolerant of radical ideas than previously recognized, and that some of his theological views lay outside Elizabethan orthodoxy. More significantly, these radical views, legitimized by Foxe's inclusion of them in his book, allowed for seventeenth-century puritans, separatists, and religious radicals to appropriate the lollards, through Foxe, as historical validation of their theological and ecclesiological positions, including the act of separation. The thesis traces the ensuing struggle for the lollard, and indeed the Foxean, legacy between conformists and nonconformists, arguing that the same lollards that Foxe used to bolster the fledgling English church in the sixteenth century would play a role in its fragmentation in the seventeenth.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:22 May 2014 10:30

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