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times. In this course of study, before the age of thirty, he had read over all the Greek and Latin fathers, the schoolmen, the councils, the consistories, and had also attained a competent skill in the Hebrew language. The consequence of this examination was, that he adopted on principle the tenets of the reformers; was convicted of heresy, and in 1545, was expelled the university, narrowly escaping with life.
He afterwards became preceptor successively to the children of sir Thomas Lucy, of Warwickshire, and to those of the earl of Surry, nephew of the duchess of Richmond, under whose inspection the children had been from the committment of the earl, and his father the duke of Norfolk, to the Tower. In this last situation he continued during the latter part of the reign of Henry VIII. the reign of Edward VI. and part of that of Mary; when through fear of Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, who had issued a warrant to apprehend him, he was compelled to fly his country; and at Basil in Germany, a common resort of our countrymen of those times from the persecutions of bigotry, supported himself
and family, by correcting the press for Opo. rinus, the celebrated printer.
On the settlement of Elizabeth on the throne, he returned to England, obtained a prebend in the church of Salisbury, which, though a non-conformist, he retained to his death. The respect of his cotemporaries would have advanced him to the first preferment in the church, could he have been prevailed upon to subscribe to canons. He died in 1587,
at the age of
His principal work is his History of the Acts and Monuments of the Church, commonly called, "Fox's Book of Martyrs." It was first published at London, 1563, in one thick volume folio; and was afterwards printed in two, and then in three. The ninth edi tion was published in 1684, with copper-plates. The full title is, "Acts and Monuments of these latter and perilous days, touching matters of the church, wherein are comprehended and described the great persecutions and horrible troubles that have been wrought and practised by the Romish prelates, specially in this realm of England and Scotland, from the
year of our Lord a thousand, unto the time now present, &c. Gathered and collected according to the true copies and writings certificatory, as well of the parties themselves that suffered, as also out of the bishops' registers, which were the doers thereof." He conceived the design of this work while a fugitive at Basil. In 1554, he had published at Strasburg, "Commentarii rerum in Ecclesia gestarum, Maximarumque per totam Europam persecutionum a Wiclavi temporibus ad hanc usque ætatem descriptarum," in one book, to which he afterwards added five more printed together at Basil, 1559, folio. The larger work is at this time republishing in numbers.
His account of the dispute between the Franciscan and Dominican friars, towards the close of the fifteenth century, about the conception of the Virgin Mary, will be more amusing, I apprehend, than stories of martyrdoms, which could only lacerate the feelings, without utility.
The Franciscans were they which did hold of St. Francis, and followed the rule of his testament, commonly called Grey Friars, or Minorites. Their opinion was this that the Virgin Mary, prevented by
the grace of the Holy Ghost, was so sanctified, that she was never subject one moment in her conception, to original sin. The Dominic friars were they, which holding of Dominic, were commonly called Black Friars, or Preaching Friars. Their opinion was, that the Virgin Mary was conceived as all other children of Adam be; so that this privilege only belongeth to Christ, to be conceived without original sin. Notwithstanding, the same blessed virgin was sanctified in her mother's womb, and purged from her original sin, so as was John Baptist, Jeremy, or any other privileged person. This frivolous question kindling and engendering between these two sects of friars, burst out into such a flame of parts and sides taking, that it occupied the heads and wits, schools and universities, almost through the whole church; some holding one part with Scotus, some the other part with Thomas Aquine. The Minorites holding with Scotus their master, disputed and concluded, that she was conceived without all spot or note of original sin; and thereupon caused the feast and service of the conception of St. Mary the virgin to be celebrate and solemnized in the church. Contrary, the Dominic friars, taking side with Aquinas, preached, that it was heresy to affirm that the blessed virgin was conceived without the guilt of original sin; and that they which did celebrate the feast of her concep
tion, or said any masses thereof, did sin grievously and mortally.
In the mean time, as this phantasy waxed hot in the church, the one side preaching against the other, came pope Sixtus the Fourth, anno 1476, who joining side with the Minorites or Franciscans, first sent forth his decree by authority apostolic, willing, ordaining, and commanding all men to solemnize this new found feast of the conception in holy church for evermore; offering to all men and women, which devoutly frequenting the church, would hear mass and service from the first even-song of the same feast to the octaves of the same, as many days of pardon as pope Urban the Fourth and pope Martin the Fifth did grant for hearing the service of Corpus Christi day, &c. And this decree was given and dated at Rome, anno 1476.
Moreover, the same pope, to the entent that the devotion of the people might be the more encouraged to the celebration of this conception, added a clause more to the Ave Maria, granting great indulgence and release of sins to all such as would invocate the blessed virgin, with the same addition, saying thus: Ave Maria gratiâ plena, Dominus tecum, benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus centris tui, Jesus Christus; et benedicta sit Anna Mater tua, de quá, sine maculâ, tua processit caro virginia. Amen. That is, hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with