Truth, lies and fiction in sixteenth-century Protestant historiography

Patrick Collinson

in This England

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780719084423
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702031 | DOI:
Truth, lies and fiction in sixteenth-century Protestant historiography

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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John Foxe had a great deal to say on the subject of ‘truth’. But he was accused by his religious opponents of telling lies on an unprecedented scale. Like his friend and mentor, John Bale, he was a myth-maker. In approaching the question of truth, and of different orders or kinds of truth, as well as the distinctions to be made between truth and falsehood, fact and fiction, this chapter begins with Sir Philip Sidney's Apologie for Poetrie. According to Sidney, history claimed to stand for truth and the practical and ethical value of historical truth. The case as it concerns sixteenth-century literary and subliterary tastes and genres can be illustrated at random from the titles of relatively ephemeral products of the Elizabethan and early Stuart press, in which reports, however improbable and unreliable, were presented to the gullible reader as ‘true’ and fully attested.

Keywords: John Foxe; myth-maker; John Bale; Philip Sidney; Apologie for Poetrie; falsehood; historical truth

Chapter.  14615 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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