The History of the Ottoman Empire in John Foxe’s «Acts and Monuments»
In an era when Protestantism was struggling to maintain its foothold in England immediately following the ascension of Elizabeth I (r. 1558–1603) to the throne, it would seem that polemicists defending the cause of a reformed or Protestant Church would be chiefly, if not wholly, obsessed with the Roman Catholicism. It is not readily evident that an enemy from without, which was distant and did not represent a direct threat to the survival of the fledgeling church, would warrant anything more than fleeting consideration. But, oddly enough, the mighty Ottoman Empire, stretching from modern day Iraq to Algiers and from the Hejaz to Hungary, occupied a prominent position among publications of late Tudor England. This book will look closely at one such publication by the martyrologist and church historian John Foxe (1516/17–1587). His magnum opus, The Acts and Monuments (A&M), included a history of the Ottoman Empire, The historye and tyrannye of the Turkes1 (The Turkes storye). One of the earliest works in English on the Ottoman Empire, it is also among the most neglected. This study seeks to understand the purpose of a history of this Muslim empire within the context of A&M and how and to what purpose Foxe used the image of the Turk.2
Though commonly referred to as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, A&M is more than a martyrology, aiming at nothing less than a Protestant ecclesiastical history. Foxe’s work is modeled on Eusebius of...
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