John Knox

John Knox

John Knox

Protestant Reformer - 1513-1572

This is one for the feminists.

Born in Haddington, John Knox is famed for his leading part in the Reformation of the Scottish Church, but his view of the place of women in Society was a subject which was also close to this odious, self-righteous and dogmatic little man's heart.

He was not, to put it mildly, a "new man".

In 1558 he published his testosterone-fuelled tirade, "First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women", a work which was largely directed at Scotland's Regent, Mary of Guise, widow of James V, and the English Queen Mary, daughter of Henry VIII.

To Knox, the idea of having two Catholics in power was bad enough, but two Catholic women?!! That was just too much to bear.

In it, Knox declared that, "to promote a woman to bear rule, superiority, dominion or empire above any realm is repugnant to nature, contrary to God, and is the subversion of good order, of all equity and justice."

When Queen Elizabeth acceded to the English throne less than a year after its publication, she, not surprisingly, took the criticisms personally and banned Knox from ever setting foot in England.

In 1561, much to Knox's disgust, Mary Queen of Scots inherited the Scottish throne. His attitude towards the vulnerable young Queen was one of outright hostility, and the two had several interviews during which he would chastise her for just about everything she did or said, from her religion to her "unseemly" fondness for dancing. The disrespect with which he addressed her reduced Mary to tears of anger on at least one occasion.

Knox married twice, his first wife having died in 1560. His second wife, whom he married in 1564, was actually a relation to the Queen, a Stewart noblewoman some 35 years his junior, and it is said that he married her to deliberately annoy Mary. If that was the case, it worked beautifully She was utterly outraged.

Convinced to the end that his own will was really the will of God and that anyone who disagreed with him was doomed to eternal damnation, he died of a stroke in 1572, leaving his 24 year old wife less than heartbroken we would imagine.

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