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The Martyrs:    Previous Stories of the Martyrs

John Fox's
Book of Martyrs

Previous Stories of
The Martyrs

(It should be understood that the accounts of the martyrdoms of the apostles are mainly traditional.)

Joris and Joachim       * Featured Account *
The bailiff also asked Joachim whether he was baptized. He replied, "I hold to one baptism, one faith, one Lord, and God." Eph. 4:5, 6. Then the lords sentenced them according to the king's mandate, whereupon Joachim, hearing his sentence, said, "My lords, we thank you for your trouble with us; but may God forgive you the blindness of your heart, and grant that you may become enlightened."

Pelagius   A lad of thirteen suffered much for the true Christian faith. A. D. 925
When he was about thirteen and a half years old, he was brought before the king, and, standing there, immediately began to confess his faith, declaring that he was ready to die for it. When the tyrant perceived the immovable steadfastness of this youth, he commanded that they should cut him limb from limb, and throw the pieces into the river.

The Christian martyrs at Rome   Nero's Persecution of 64-67 A. D.
To stop the rumors, Nero decided to blame someone else, and he chose a group of renegade Jews called Christians, who had caused trouble before, and already had a bad reputation in the city. Earlier, about the year 49, the Emperor Claudius had banished some of them from Rome for starting upheavals in the Jewish synagogues of the city with their disputes about Christ.

John Styaerts, and Peter   A. D. 1538
Thus after a certain time they were led to the slaughter. Peter; who came forth first to die, casting his eyes up to heaven, boldly called out to John Styaerts, "Fight valiantly, my dear brother; for I see the heavens open above us." Acts 7:56. They were together put to death with the sword at Vinderhout.

William Tyndale   Strangled by the hangman, and afterwards burned.
Such was the power of his doctrine, and the sincerity of his life, that during the time of his imprisonment (which endured a year and a half), he converted, it is said, his keeper, the keeper's daughter, and others of his household.

Mark   The Evangelist
Mark was martyred in Alexandria around A. D. 68. On Sunday the 24th of April, pagans seized him as he was preaching, tied his feet with cords and dragged him about the rocky streets, as pieces of his flesh were scattered on the ground.

The Manners of the Christians and the Reason of Their Persecution
Mathetes, the author of this epistle from around A. D. 130, calls himself "a disciple of the Apostles". Here we present two chapters from this letter dealing with the life and the manners of the Christians and the reason of their persecution.

Anne Askew   Anne Wouldn't Tell
The Lord Mayor of London, asked her, "You foolish woman, do you say that the priests cannot make the body of Christ?" Anne replied, "I say so, my Lord; for I have read that God made man; but that man can make God, I never read, nor, I suppose, ever shall read." For this she was burned.

The Young Girl Rose Allen   Faithful Unto Death
In case you think this is only a matter for grown-ups, I will tell you of a young girl, Rose Allen, of Colchester, who served the Lord Jesus, not merely with her lips, but with her heart and was called upon to witness with her life.

Jim Elliot   The Seeking Life
On January 8, 1956, Elliot and four companions were speared and hacked to death by warriors from the Auca tribe. Other Indians fear them but the missionaries were determined to reach them. Said Elliot: "Our orders are: the Gospel to every creature."

The Ten Persecutions of the Early Christians
The best account of these ten persecutions is the Church History of Eusebius of Caesarea. Eusebius (c AD 260-340) was an eyewitness to many martyrdoms in Caesarea (an important city in Palestine) during the tenth persecution stirred up by Diocletian. After the persecution ended in 313, Eusebius became the bishop of Caesarea. Eusebius was one of the most voluminous writers of antiquity.

Maertens Janss and Jan Hen Drickss
Jan Hendrickss was likewise gagged, to prevent him from speaking; but when he nevertheless spoke, namely, "Now is the time, now the truth must be fully sealed," a great clamoring, confusion and running arose among the people, so that the lords, filled with fear, caused Jan Hendrickss to be brought inside, until the commotion and turbulence of the people had subsided.

Persecutions of John Bunyan   Author of "Pilgrim's Progress"
His hardships were genuine, on account of the wretched condition of the prisons of those days. To this confinement was added the personal grief of being parted from his young and second wife and four small children, and particularly, his little blind daughter.

Martyrdom of William Hunter   Seal his Faith with his Blood
Then the bishop, calling William, asked him if he would recant, and finding he was unchangeable, pronounced sentence upon him, that he should go from that place to Newgate for a time, and thence to Brentwood, there to be burned.

During the Fourth Persecution
Under Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, A. D. 162
When the Christian graves have been opened the skeletons tell their own terrible tale. Heads are found severed from the body, ribs and shoulder blades are broken, bones are often calcined from fire. But despite the awful story of persecution that we may read here, the inscriptions breathe forth peace and joy and triumph.

Faes Dircks, and Two Others   A. D. 150
Faes Dircks, a chairmaker by trade, was very unmercifully and tyrannically tortured by the bloodthirsty servants of antichrist, and led forth under the blue sky, and on the 30th of May of the same year, put to death, and burned for the genuine faith of the truth, following the footsteps of his Lord and Master Christ Jesus.

Five of the Disciples of Origen
Put to death for the faith in Egypt 203 AD
Besides these four martyrs, there is mentioned a fifth, who was the second of the aforementioned men named Serenus. Refusing to apostatize, he, after many severe torments, was beheaded, like the last-mentioned two; and thus attained to a blessed end, together with his slain fellow brethren.

John Styaerts, and Peter   A. D. 1538
Thus after a certain time they were led to the slaughter. Peter; who came forth first to die, casting his eyes up to heaven, boldly called out to John Styaerts, "Fight valiantly, my dear brother; for I see the heavens open above us." Acts 7:56. They were together put to death with the sword at Vinderhout.

Claes Van Armentierss, and Lijntgen, a young maiden   A. D. 1575
In the year 1575 there was burnt alive at Antwerp, for the faith of the truth and the testimony of Jesus, a God-fearing, pious brother, named Claes van Armentiers, a lace-maker; and with him, a young maiden, named Lijntgen, a servant maid. Claes van Armentiers, having been imprisoned first, said Lijntgen called to him into prison, "Strive valiantly, my dear brother, for you have the genuine truth."

Willem De Kleermaecker   A. D. 1560
"My lords, judge not according to the king's decree, if you do not want to be lost; but think of that day which no one can escape, in which you will regret it, unless you become converted." He was then sentenced, and his sentence read to him; whereupon, though it was still early in the morning, he was taken to the marketplace, and there strangled and burnt at the stake.

Trijnken Keuts   From "Martyrs Mirror"
The priests also questioned her concerning the sacrament, whether she did not believe that when the priest had pronounced five words over the bread, Christ was present in it, essentially with flesh and blood, just as He had hung on the cross. Trijne said that she believed that Christ had ascended to heaven, and was sitting on the right hand of God, His heavenly Father. And she asked, saying, "How should He come into the bread?"

An Account of the Persecutions in Bohemia Under the Papacy
In A. D. 1375, some zealous friends of the Gospel applied to Charles, king of Bohemia, to call an ecumenical Council, for an inquiry into the abuses that had crept into the Church, and to make a full and thorough reformation. The king, not knowing how to proceed, sent to the pope for directions how to act; but the pontiff was so incensed at this affair that his only reply was, "Severely punish those rash and profane heretics."

Persecution of John Huss
When the chain was put about him at the stake, he said, with a smiling countenance, "My Lord Jesus Christ was bound with a harder chain than this for my sake, and why then should I be ashamed of this rusty one?"

Douwe Eeuwouts   A. D. 1571
Finally the bishop condemned him as a heretic, and delivered him to the secular judges, that they should deal with him according to the king's decree, for these so-called Christians, like the Pharisees, can put no one to death. But in consequence of the bishop's delivering him, Douwe Eeuwouts, after long imprisonment, was sentenced to death on the 12th of October, A. D. 1571, to be drowned the following night.

Silas, compaion to the apostle Paul   Died a martyr about 70 A. D.
Died a martyr after having done much preaching. This much is certain, according to the testimony of Holy Scripture, that he was not only apprehended and scourged for the Gospel's sake, but suffered many indignities before his end.

John the Beloved   "Whom Jesus Loved"
The Book of Acts usually mentions John and Peter together. They preached, healed the sick and were cast into prison together. John was a pillar among the apostles (Gal. 2:9). He wrote the Gospel of John around AD 90 in the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor. He wrote his epistles around the same time. Emperor Domitian had started a fierce prosecution against the Christians in the whole Roman Empire.

An Account of the Life and Persecutions of John Bunyan
His hardships were genuine, on account of the wretched condition of the prisons of those days. To this confinement was added the personal grief of being parted from his young and second wife and four small children, and particularly, his little blind daughter. While he was in jail he was solaced by the two books which he had brought with him, the Bible and Fox's "Book of Martyrs."

The First Persecution, Under Nero   A. D. 67
Nero even refined upon cruelty, and contrived all manner of punishments for the Christians that the most infernal imagination could design. In particular, he had some sewed up in skins of wild beasts, and then worried by dogs until they expired; and others dressed in shirts made stiff with wax, fixed to axletrees, and set on fire in his gardens, in order to illuminate them.

An Account of the Life of George Wishart
The hangman, that was his tormentor, sat down upon his knees, and said, "Sir, I pray you to forgive me, for I am not guilty of your death." To whom he answered, "Come hither to me." When that he was come to him, he kissed his cheek, and said: "Lo, here is a token that I forgive thee. My heart, do thine office."

James the Great   James the son of Zebedee
It was not until ten years after the death of Stephen that the second martyrdom took place; for no sooner had Herod Agrippa been appointed governor of Judea, than, with a view to ingratiate himself with them, he raised a sharp persecution against the Christians, and determined to make an effectual blow, by striking at their leaders.

Stephen   The First Christian Martyr
In his powerful sermon, Stephen defended the Christian faith before the council, explaining that Jesus Christ was the Messiah and fulfilled the ancient prophecies. He denounced the Jews as "betrayers and murderers" of God's Son, the Just One (Acts 7:52).

An Account of the Life of John Wesley
At Oxford he was a leader, and during the latter part of his course there, was one of the founders of the "Holy Club," an organization of serious-minded students. His religious nature deepened through study and experience, but it was not until several years after he left the university and came under the influence of Luther's writings that he felt that he had entered into the full riches of the Gospel.

Persecution Under Julian the Apostate
The persecution raged dreadfully about the latter end of the year 363; but, as many of the particulars have not been handed down to us, it is necessary to remark in general, that in Palestine many were burnt alive, others were dragged by their feet through the streets naked until they expired; some were scalded to death, many stoned, and great numbers had their brains beaten out with clubs.

Rudolf Suhner   About A. D. 1643
But finally one of the lords, beholding his misery, gave permission that they should give him some thing to eat again. Which when it was done, he could eat or bear it no more, and thus died famishing in his bonds; for which the Lord shall hereafter, at His heavenly table, reward him with eternal satiation. "Blessed are ye that hunger now for ye shall be filled." Luke 6:21.

Summary of the Inquisition
It might have spread literature, peace, freedom, and Christianity to the ends of Europe, or the world. But its nature was hostile; its fuller triumph only disclosed its fuller evil; and, to the shame of human reason, and the terror and suffering of human virtue, Rome, in the hour of its consummate grandeur, teemed with the monstrous and horrid birth of the INQUISITION!

The Sixth Persecution, Under Maximus   A. D. 235
During this persecution, raised by Maximinus, numberless Christians were slain without trial, and buried indiscriminately in heaps, sometimes fifty or sixty being cast into a pit together, without the least decency.

Tortures and Torments of the Christian Martyrs
A horrific description of the methods used to torture those who professed themselves to be Christians. Warning, the descriptions are graphic.

Resources On
The Martyrs

Why Were Our Reformers Burned?   J. C. Ryle      
300 years ago, there were men who were certain they had found out truth, and were content to die for their opinions. A very popular history of our English hardly mentions the martyrdoms of Queen Mary's days! Yet Mary was not called "Bloody Mary" without reason, and scores of Protestants were burned in her reign. Last, but not least, it is thought very bad taste in many quarters to say anything which throws discredit on the Church of Rome. Yet it is as certain that the Romish Church burned our English Reformers as it is that William the Conqueror won the battle of Hastings.

From The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915) In the Epistle to the Hebrews, persecution in the days of the Old Testament is summed up in these words: "Others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were tempted, they were slain with the sword... of whom the world was not worthy".

Fox's Book of Martyrs
On his resettlement in England, John Fox employed himself in revising and enlarging his admirable Martyrology. With prodigious pains and constant study he completed that celebrated work in eleven years. For the sake of greater correctness, he wrote every line of this vast book with his own hand, and transcribed all the records and papers himself.

The History of the Early Christian Martyrs
Christ our Savior, in the Gospel of St. Matthew, hearing the confession of Simon Peter, called him (alluding to his name) a rock, upon which rock He would build His Church so strong that the gates of hell should not prevail against it. That the same Church, notwithstanding the uttermost of the devil and all his malice, should continue.

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