Henry VIII, the Reign
Bishop Edward Fox (c.1496-1538)
EDWARD FOX, Bishop of Hereford, was born about 1496 at Dursley in Gloucestershire; he is said on very doubtful authority to have been related to Richard Fox. From Eton he proceeded to King's College, Cambridge, and after graduating was made secretary to Wolsey.
In 1528 he was sent with Gardiner to Rome to obtain from Clement VII a decretal commission for the trial and decision of the case between Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. On his return he was elected Provost of King's College, and in August 1529 was the means of conveying to the King Cranmer's historic advice that he should apply to the universities of Europe rather than to the Pope. This introduction led eventually to Cranmer's promotion over Fox's head to the Archbishopric of Canterbury.
After a brief mission to Paris in October 1529, Fox in January 1530 befriended Latimer at Cambridge and took an active part in persuading that university and Oxford to decide in the King's favour. He was sent to employ similar methods of persuasion at the French universities in 1530-1531, and was also engaged in negotiating a closer league between England and France. In April 1533 he was prolocutor of convocation when it decided against the validity of Henry's marriage with Catherine, and in 1534 published his treatise De vera differentia regiae potestatis et ecclesiae (second ed. 1538, English transl. 1548).
Various ecclesiastical preferments were now granted him, including the archdeaconry of Leicester (1531) and the bishopric of Hereford (1535). In 1535-1536 he was sent to Germany to discuss the basis of a political and theological understanding with the Lutheran princes and divines, and had several interviews with Luther, who could not be persuaded of the justice of Henry VIII's divorce. The principal result of the mission was the Wittenberg Articles of 1536, which had no slight influence on the English Ten Articles of the same year. Bucer dedicated to him in 1536 his Commentaries on the Gospels, and Fox's Protestantism was also illustrated by his patronage of Alexander Aless, whom he defended before Convocation.
Fox is credited with the authorship of several proverbial sayings, such as "the surest way to peace is a constant preparedness for war" and "time and I will challenge any two in the world." The former at any rate is only a variation of the Latin si vis pacem, Para bellum, and probably the latter is not more original in Fox than in Philip II, to whom it is usually ascribed.
Fox died on the 8th of May 1538 and was buried in the church of St Mary Mounthaw, London. His chief distinction is perhaps that he was the most Lutheran of Henry VIII's bishops, and was largely responsible for the Ten Articles of 1536.