Types: Doctoral thesis
This thesis examines the portrayal of outsider, or ‘stranger’ groups in the series of\ud Protestant martyrologies known as the Livre des Martyrs. The book’s compiler,\ud editor, and publisher, Jean Crespin, placed the defence of religious doctrine as a\ud mark of a true martyr, and a central theme of the book. He also, in the manner of his\ud contemporaries John Foxe and Ludwig Rabus, wished to write a history of the true\ud persecuted Church, which led him to search for martyrs from a wider range of\ud groups who had come into conflict with the Catholic Church. These two impulses,\ud towards theological purity and the inclusion of outsiders, respectively, came into\ud conflict with the inclusion of ‘strangers’ who held views divergent from the French\ud Reformed norm.\ud Comparison of the succeeding editions of the martyrology with each other\ud and, where possible, with the original sources allows us to see that Crespin often\ud altered the content of his narratives, especially by removing theological elements\ud which conflicted with official Reformed doctrine to in effect render their content\ud ‘safer’. The changes that he made to Lutheran and Hussite passages reveal a marked\ud concern with the nature of the Eucharist, one of the primary disputes between\ud Protestant denominations of that period, while omissions from his passages from the\ud German Peasants’ War and the Vaudois reveal an uncertainty about the\ud permissibility of resistance to the State. The Livre des Martyrs, by presenting an\ud idealised vision of the wider Protestant movement allows us some insight into the\ud self-definition of the French Reformed Church, and the ways in which they\ud perceived their relationship to other groups.
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