8 - The Imagery of John Foxe
As a work of cultural propaganda, the Actes and Monuments was an unprecedented success. In spite of its enormous bulk (over 2,000 pages in the 1583 edition), and consequent expensiveness, its influence permeated down to the lowest social levels and helped to create that popular anti-Catholicism which was such a feature of the England of the 1580s. Its first edition, in 1563, was supported among others by Sir William Cecil, but it was never officially promoted, and indeed its second edition of 1570 was by implication highly critical of the Queen for failing to press on with the reform programme. What it did, most effectively, was to present the Catholic Church as a conspiracy of clerical pride and cruelty, anti-Christian and inspired by the devil.
We find in all ages from the beginning (gentle reader) that Satan hath not ceased at all times to molest the church of Christ, with one affliction or another to the trial of their faith, but yet never so apparent at any time to all the world as when the Lord hath permitted him power over the bodies of his saints to the shedding of their blood, and perverting of religion, for then sleepeth he not, I warrant you, from murdering of the same unless they will fall down with Ahab and Jesabell, to worship him and so kill and poison their own souls eternally. As in these, the miserable latter days of Queen Mary hard by our doors, yea even in our houses sometimes, and also afar off we have felt heard and seen the practice of the same
Queen Mary herself was represented as a victim of this clerical conspiracy, the protagonists of which were Stephen Gardiner and Edmund Bonner. She was guilty mainly by association for having married a Spaniard, who not only reintroduced the Pope, but brought in the ungodly ways of his own nation, so that Catholicism became not only cruel and unnatural, but also foreign.
- The Religious Culture of Marian England , pp. 129 - 144Publisher: Pickering & ChattoFirst published in: 2014