Is the Language of Foxe Still Compelling Today?

John Foxe was a 16th-century English historian, who is best known for his work titled: Acts and Monuments, more commonly known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. This written work retold the sufferings that the Protestant Church experienced during the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary. It described the executions and severe punishments that influential protestants such as Lady Jane Grey experienced during this time. In regard to Foxe’s writing style, a question that steps forth is the question of: is the language of Foxe still compelling today?

Foxe’s writing clearly was compelling during his time because his written works continued to be published, and are still able to be read today, which means that his historic writing is accurate historically. Yes, his writing was written in an older style of English, which the majority of modern readers will have to take some time getting used to, and there are many instances of bias(especially towards the Catholic Church), which is unavoidable. The historical events Foxe covered in Acts and Monuments, were important in influencing England’s transition from a Catholic nation to an Anglican one. 

Examples of some of the historical events that Foxe covered in, Acts and Monuments, included. The execution of Thomas Cranmer, who annulled the marriage between Queen Mary’s mother and her father Henry the 8th, Lady Jane Grey who had become queen for a short period of time, and a number of other important individuals who did not lean towards the Catholic ideology, or went against Queen Mary in some way. These persecutions of Protestants continued on until the reign of Queen Elizabeth, which turned the tide to the persecution of Catholics in England, along with Protestant groups that did not conform with the Church of England. 

These historical events covered are compelling, and most probably pique interest in individuals who have an interest in history, but the larger question is of Foxe’s writing style or language. Is the language of Foxe still compelling today? Putting aside the interesting historical events that Foxe covered and focusing on the writing style itself, I would say that his writing language would not be compelling today. This answer is influenced by the factor of an older style of English. Foxe wrote in an older style of English which most modern readers are not accustomed to or used to. For a piece of literature to be compelling to a majority of readers, it has to be written in a style that is understood and grasped by those readers.

Acts and Monuments by John Foxe is a unique piece of historic literature, that was written in a time that many modern history works cover. Though this work has survived the test of time the writing style in this piece of literature would not be compelling to most modern readers, due to it being written in an older form of English. Foxe’s language is not compelling today. 


  1. Manu says:

    Interesting read. I agree that older English when used feels hard to connect to. I have attempted in the past to read that style but have found that all my focus and effort goes towards reading and understanding what it is trying to convey that my emotions don’t have much room to be engaged with the happenings within the writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading! I am glad that you found it interesting. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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