The Martyrs Mirror by Tieleman Jansz van Braght was first published in 1660 in Dutch and titled "The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians who baptized only upon confession of faith, and who suffered and died for the testimony of Jesus, their Saviour, from the time of Christ to the year A.D. 1660". I read in passing that it was a reworking and elaboration of another account of early christian martyrs from the first half of the 17th century.
The most famous edition of this 1200 page tome was released in 1685 and was accompanied by 104 copper engravings by Mennonite Jan Luyken (or Luiken) that depicted hanging, burning, torture, beheading, crucifixion, boiling and on and on - a veritable artistic encyclopedia of inhumanity. The book records the stories and prison accounts of the deaths of 800 mainly Anabaptist and Mennonite martyrs - the defenseless in the title refers to the Anabaptist belief in non-resistance.
Luyken was greatly influenced by the writings of Jakob Böhme and produced up to 3000 mostly religious engravings during his life. He was a well known poet also and songs or poems often accompanied his engravings. His other famous accomplishment, completed with the assistance of his son, was the engraving of illustrations for the 1694 publication, Het Menselyk Bendryf or Book of Trades, portraying occupations from the late 17th century.
- I first encountered this book through the Bibliotheek van de Universiteit van Amsterdam (translation) which possibly has the highest resolution images available but the site is slow and employs a java popup window (and is in Dutch).
- The better site to me to see all the images from the book is the Mennonite Library and Archives website, which is also in english.
- Background and publication history.
- The complete text of the Martrys Mirror.
- Further works by Jan Luyken - engravings and poetry.
- UPDATE Sept. 2008: Jan and Casper Luyken collection.