His most famous work is The Apology of the Church of England which was originally written in Latin with the title Apologia pro ecclesia Anglicana, as this introduction to the work, posted at Project Canterbury, reminds us:
The great interest of Jewel's "Apology" lies in the fact that it was written in Latin to be read throughout Europe as the answer of the Reformed Church of England, at the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's reign, to those who said that the Reformation set up a new Church. Its argument was that the English Church Reformers were going back to the old Church, not setting up a new; and this Jewel proposed to show by looking back to the first centuries of Christianity. Innovation was imputed; and an Apology originally meant a pleading to rebut an imputation. So, even as late as 1796, there was a book called "An Apology for the Bible," meaning its defence against those who questioned its authority. This Latin book of Jewel's, Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae--written in Latin because it was not addressed to England only--was first published in 1562, and translated into English by the mother of Francis Bacon, whose edition appeared in 1564. That is the translation given in this volume. The book has since had six or seven other translators, but Lady Ann Bacon's translation was that which presented it in Queen Elizabeth's time to English readers, and it had the advantage of revision by the Queen's Archbishop of Canterbury, her coadjutor in the establishment of the Reformed Church of England, Matthew Parker. It was published, with no name of author or translator on the title-page, as "An Apologie or answere in defence of the Churche of Englande, with a briefe and plaine declaration of the true Religion professed or used in the same." The book was prefaced by a letter, "To the right honorable learned and vertuous Ladie, A. B." [Ann Bacon] "M. C. wisheth from God grace, honoure, and felicitie," where M. C. signifies Matthew Cantuar, Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, whom Lady Ann Bacon had made her judge, and whose judgment, the letter says, her book had singularly pleased.
Lady Ann Bacon was the second daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, who was tutor to King Edward VI. Sir Anthony gave to his five daughters a most liberal education. His eldest daughter, Mildred, married Sir William Cecil, afterwards Lord Burleigh, while Ann became the second wife of the Lord Keeper, Sir Nicholas Bacon. Their father had made Mildred and Ann two of the most learned women in England.
John Jewel was forty years old when he wrote the "Apology." He was born in Devonshire in 1522, on the 24th of May, at the village of Buden, near Ilfracombe. He studied at Oxford, where he became tutor and preacher, graduated as B.D. in 1551, and was presented to the rectory of Sunningwell. At the accession of Queen Mary he bowed to the royal authority, but he was a warm friend and disciple of Peter Martyr, who had come to England in 1547, at the invitation of Edward VI., to take the chair of Divinity at Oxford. On the accession of Queen Mary, Peter Martyr (who was born at Florence in 1500, and whose family name was Vermigli) returned to Strasburg, and went thence to Zurich, where he died in 1562. Jewel, repenting of his assent to the new sovereign's authority in matters of religion, followed his friend Peter Martyr across the water, and became vice-master of a college at Strasburg. Upon the accession of Elizabeth, in 1588 (sic, should be 1558), Jewel came back, and he was one of the sixteen Protestants appointed by the Queen to dispute before her with a like number of Catholics.
In 1559 John Jewel was appointed a commissioner for securing, in the West of England, conformity with the newly-arranged Church service, and he had to see that the Queen's orders were obeyed in the churches of his native county. Before the end of the same year he was consecrated Bishop of Salisbury. He was most zealous in performance of all duties of his charge. To his good offices young Richard Hooker owed his opportunity of training for the service of the Church. Among Jewel's writings, this Apology or Defence of the Church of England was the most important; but he worked incessantly, and shortened his life by limiting himself to four hours of sleep, taken between midnight and four in the morning. Bishop Jewel died on the 21st of September, 1571 (sic, other sources concur on September 23), before he had reached the age of fifty.
His Apologia did not go without a response: Thomas Harding, who had been the treasury of Salisbury, debated with Jewel on Anglican doctrines and its sources. The Catholic Encyclopedia has this entry:
Controversialist; b. at Combe Martin, Devon, 1516 d. at Louvain, Sept., 1572. The registers of Winchester school show that after attending Barnstaple school he obtained a scholarship there in 1528, being then twelve years old. If this information be correct, he was three years younger than is commonly stated. He went to New College, Oxford, in 1534, was admitted a Fellow in 1536, and took his Master's degree in 1542, in which year he was appointed Hebrew professor by Henry VIII. Having been ordained priest he became chaplain to Henry Grey, Marquess of Dorchester and afterwards Duke of Suffolk. He at first embraced the Reformed opinions, but on the accession of Mary he declared himself a Catholic, despite the upbraidings of his friend Lady Jane Frey, and the events of his later life proved his sincerity. In 1554 he took the degree of Doctor of Divinity and was appointed prebendary of Winchester, becoming treasurer of Salisbury in the following year. He also acted as chaplain and confessor to Bishop Gardiner. When Elizabeth became queen he was deprived of his preferments and imprisoned (Sander, "Report to Cardinal Moroni"). Subsequently he retired to Louvain to escape persecution. There he served St. Gertrude's church and devoted himself to study and to his long controversy with Jewel, the Bishop of Salisbury and champion of Protestantism.
In 1564 he published "An answere to Maister Juelles Challenge", Jewel having undertaken to conform to the Catholic Church if any Catholic writer could prove that any of the Fathers of six centuries taught any of twenty-seven articles he selected. Jewel replied first in a sermon (which Harding answered in a broadsheet "To Maister John Jeuell", printed at Antwerp in 1565) and then in a book. Against the latter Harding wrote "A Rejoindre to M. Jewel's Replie" (Antwerp, 1566) and "A Rejoindre to M. Jewel's Replie against the Sacrifice of the Mass" (Louvain, 1567). Meanwhile he had become engaged in a second controversy with the same author, and, in his confutation of a book entitled an "Apologie of the Church of England" (Antwerp, 1565), he attacked an anonymous work, the authorship of which Jewel admitted in his "Defence of the Apologie of the Churche of Englande". Harding retorted with "A Detection of Sundrie Foule Errours, Lies, Sclaunders, corruptions, and other false Dealinges, touching Doctrine and other matters uttered and practized by M. Jewel" (Louvain, 1568). In 1566 Pius V appointed Harding and Dr. Sander Apostolic delegates to England, with special powers of giving faculties to priests and of forbidding Catholics to frequent Protestant services. Harding was of great assistance to his exiled fellow-countrymen and to Dr. Allen in founding the English College at Douai. He was buried (16 Sept., 1572) in the Church of St. Gertrude, Louvain.
Image Credit of Salisbury Cathedral photograph from Wikipedia Commons.