Edited by William Byron Forbush This is a book that will never die — one of the great English classics. . . . Reprinted here in its most complete form, it brings to life the days when “a noble army, men and boys, the matron and the maid,” “climbed the steep ascent of heaven, ‘mid peril, toil, and pain.” “After the Bible itself, no book so profoundly influenced early Protestant sentiment as the Book of Martyrs. Even in our time, it is still a living force. It is more than a record of persecution. It is an arsenal of controversy, a storehouse of romance, as well as a source of edification.”
Fox’s Book of Martyrs is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Rise and Progress of the Protestant Religion in Ireland; with an Account of the Barbarous Massacre of 1641 part 1 of 20
The gloom of popery had overshadowed Ireland from its first establishment there until the reign of Henry VIII when the rays of the Gospel began to dispel the darkness, and afford that light which until then had been unknown in that island. The abject ignorance in which the people were held, with the absurd and superstitious notions they entertained, were sufficiently evident to many; and the artifices of their priests were so conspicuous, that several persons of distinction, who had hitherto been strenuous papists, would willingly have endeavored to shake off the yoke, and embrace the Protestant religion; but the natural ferocity of the people, and their strong attachment to the ridiculous doctrines which they had been taught, made the attempt dangerous. It was, however, at length undertaken, though attended with the most horrid and disastrous consequences.
The introduction of the Protestant religion into Ireland may be principally attributed to George Browne, an Englishman, who was consecrated archbishop of Dublin on the nineteenth of March, 1535. He had formerly been an Augustine friar, and was promoted to the mitre on account of his merit.
After having enjoyed his dignity about five years, he, at the time that Henry VIII was suppressing the religious houses in England, caused all the relics and images to be removed out of the two cathedrals in Dublin, and the other churches in his diocese; in the place of which he caused to be put up the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments.
A short time after this he received a letter from Thomas Cromwell, lord-privy seal, informing him that Henry VIII having thrown off the papal supremacy in England, was determined to do the like in Ireland; and that he thereupon had appointed him (Archbishop Browne) one of the commissioners for seeing this order put in execution. The archbishop answered that he had employed his utmost endeavors at the hazard of his life, to cause the Irish nobility and gentry to acknowledge Henry as their supreme head, in matters both spiritual and temporal; but had met with a most violent opposition, especially from George, archbishop of Armagh; that this prelate had, in a speech to his clergy, laid a curse on all those who should own his highness’ supremacy: adding, that their isle, called in the Chronicles Insula Sacra, or the Holy Island, belonged to none but the bishop of Rome, and that the king’s progenitors had received it from the pope. He observed likewise, that the archbishop and clergy of Armagh had each despatched a courier to Rome; and that it would be necessary for a parliament to be called in Ireland, to pass an act of supremacy, the people not regarding the king’s commission without the sanction of the legislative assembly.
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