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Portrait of Knox from Theodore Beza's Icones[1]

John Knox (c. 1510 – 24 November 1572) was a Scottish clergyman and leader of the Protestant Reformation who is considered the founder of the Presbyterian denomination. He was educated at the University of St Andrews and worked as a notary-priest. Influenced by early church reformers such as George Wishart, he joined the movement to reform the Scottish church. He was caught up in the ecclesiastical and political events that involved the murder of Cardinal Beaton in 1546 and the intervention of the regent of Scotland, Mary of Guise. He was taken prisoner by French forces the following year and exiled to England on his release in 1549.

While in exile, Knox was licensed to work in the Church of England, where he quickly rose in the ranks to serve King Edward VI of England as a royal chaplain. In this position, he exerted a reforming influence on the text of the Book of Common Prayer. In England he met and married his first wife, Marjorie. When Mary Tudor ascended the throne and re-established Roman Catholicism, Knox was forced to resign his position and leave the country.

Knox first moved to Geneva and then to Frankfurt. In Geneva, he met John Calvin, from whom he gained experience and knowledge of Reformed theology and Presbyterian polity. He created a new order of service, which was eventually adopted by the reformed church in Scotland. He left Geneva to head the English refugee church in Frankfurt but he was forced to leave over differences concerning the liturgy, thus ending his association with the Church of England.

On his return to Scotland, he led the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, in partnership with the Scottish Protestant nobility. The movement may be seen as a revolution, since it led to the ousting of Mary of Guise, who governed the country in the name of her young daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots. Knox helped write the new confession of faith and the ecclesiastical order for the newly created reformed church, the Kirk. He continued to serve as the religious leader of the Protestants throughout Mary's reign. In several interviews with the queen, Knox admonished her for supporting Catholic practices. Eventually, when she was imprisoned and James VI enthroned in her stead, he openly called for her execution. He continued to preach until his final days.


Early life, 1505–1546

John Knox was born sometime between 1505 and 1515[2] in or near Haddington, the county town of East Lothian.[3] His father, William Knox, was a farmer. All that is known of his mother is that her maiden name was Sinclair and that she died when John Knox was a child.[4]

Knox was probably educated at the grammar school in Haddington. In his time, the priesthood was the only path for those whose inclinations were academic rather than mercantile or agricultural.[5] He proceeded to further studies at the University of St Andrews or possibly at the University of Glasgow. He studied under John Major, one of the greatest scholars of the time.[6]

Knox first appears in public records as a priest and a notary in 1540. He was still serving in these capacities as late as 1543 when he described himself as a "minister of the sacred altar in the diocese of St. Andrews, notary by apostolic authority" in a notarial deed dated 27 March.[7] Rather than taking up parochial duties in a parish, he became tutor to two sons of Hugh Douglas of Longniddry. He also taught the son of John Cockburn of Ormiston. Both of these lairds had embraced the new religious ideas of the Reformation, which were sweeping Europe.[8]

Embracing the Protestant Reformation, 1546–1547

Knox did not record when or how he was converted to the Protestant faith,[9] but perhaps the key formative influence on Knox was George Wishart.[10] Wishart was a reformer who had fled Scotland in 1538 to escape punishment for heresy. He first moved to England, where in Bristol he preached against the veneration of the Virgin Mary. He was forced to make a public recantation and was burned in effigy at the Church of St Nicholas as a sign of his abjuration. He then took refuge in Germany and Switzerland. While on the Continent, he translated the First Helvetic Confession into English.[11] He returned to Scotland in 1544, but the timing of his return was unfortunate. In December 1543, James Hamilton, Duke of Châtellerault, the appointed regent for the infant Mary, Queen of Scots had decided with the Queen mother, Mary of Guise and Cardinal David Beaton to persecute the Protestant sect that had taken root in Scotland.[12] Wishart travelled throughout Scotland preaching in favour of the reformation and when he arrived in East Lothian, Knox became one of his closest associates. Knox acted as his bodyguard, bearing a two-handed sword in order to defend him.[13] In December 1545, Wishart was seized on Beaton's orders by Patrick Hepburn, 3rd Earl of Bothwell, and taken to the Castle of St Andrews.[14] Knox was present on the night of Wishart's arrest and was prepared to follow him into captivity, but Wishart persuaded him against this course saying, "Nay, return to your bairns [pupils] and God bless you. One is sufficient for a sacrifice."[15] Wishart was subsequently prosecuted by Beaton's Public Accuser of Heretics, John Lauder. On 1 March 1546, he was burnt at the stake in the presence of Cardinal Beaton.

Knox had avoided being arrested by Hepburn through Wishart's advice to return to tutoring. He took shelter with Douglas in Longniddry.[16] Several months later he was still in charge of the pupils, the sons of Douglas and Cockburn, who wearied of moving from place to place while being pursued. He toyed with the idea of fleeing to Germany and taking his pupils with him. While Knox remained a fugitive, Cardinal Beaton was murdered on 29 May 1546, within his residence, the Castle of St Andrews, by a gang of five persons in revenge for Wishart's execution. The assassins seized the castle and eventually their families and friends took refuge with them, about a hundred and fifty men in all. Among their friends was Henry Balnaves, a former secretary of state in the government, who negotiated with England for the financial support of the rebels.[17] Douglas and Cockburn suggested to Knox to take their sons to the relative safety of the castle to continue their instruction in reformed doctrine. Knox arrived at the castle on 10 April 1547.[18]

Knox's powers as a preacher came to the attention of the chaplain of the garrison, John Rough. While Rough was preaching in the parish church on the Protestant principle of the popular election of a pastor, he proposed Knox to the congregation for that office. Knox did not relish the idea. According to his own account, he burst into tears and fled to his room. Within a week, however, he was giving his first sermon to a congregation that included his old teacher, John Major.[19] He expounded on the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel, comparing the pope with the Antichrist. His sermon was marked by his consideration of the Bible as his sole authority and the doctrine of justification by faith alone, two elements that would remain in his thoughts throughout the rest of his life. A few days later, a debate was staged that allowed him to lay down additional theses including the rejection of the mass, purgatory, and prayers for the dead.[20]

Confinement in the French galleys, 1547–1549

Knox's chaplaincy of the castle garrison was not to last long. While Hamilton was willing to negotiate with England to stop their support of the rebels and bring the castle back under his control, Mary of Guise decided that it could only be taken by force and requested the king of France, Henry II to intervene.[21] On 29 June 1547, 21 French galleys approached St Andrews under the command of Leone Strozzi, prior of Capua. The French besieged the castle and forced the surrender of the garrison on 31 July. The Protestant nobles and others, including Knox, were taken prisoner and forced to row in the French galleys.[22] The galley slaves were chained to benches and rowed throughout the day without a change of posture while an officer watched over them with a whip in hand.[23] They sailed to France and navigated up the Seine to Rouen. The nobles, some of whom would have an impact later in Knox's life such as William Kirkcaldy and Henry Balnaves, were sent to various castle-prisons in France.[24] Knox and the other galley slaves continued to Nantes and stayed on the Loire throughout the winter. They were threatened with torture if they did not give proper signs of reverence when mass was performed on the ship. Knox recounted an incident in which one Scot was required to show devotion to a picture of the Virgin Mary. It is probable that Knox, himself, was the one involved. The prisoner was told to give it a kiss of veneration. He refused and when the picture was pushed up to his face, the prisoner seized the picture and threw it into the sea, saying, "Let our Lady now save herself: she is light enough: let her learn to swim."[25] After that, according to Knox, the Scottish prisoners were no longer forced to perform such devotions.[26]

In summer 1548, the galleys returned to Scotland to scout for English ships. Knox's health was now at its lowest point due to the severity of his confinement. He was ill with a fever and others on the ship were afraid for his life. Even in this state, Knox recalled, his mind remained sharp and he comforted his fellow prisoners with hopes of release. While the ships were lying offshore between St Andrews and Dundee, the spires of the parish church where he preached appeared in view. James Balfour, a fellow prisoner, asked Knox whether he recognised the landmark. He replied that he knew it well, recognising the steeple of the place where he first preached and he declared that he would not die until he had preached there again.[27]

In February 1549, after spending a total of 19 months in the galley-prison, Knox was released. It is uncertain how he obtained his liberty.[28]

Exile in England, 1549–1554

On his release, Knox took refuge in England. The Reformation in England was a less radical movement than its Continental counterparts, but there was a definite breach with Rome.[29] The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, and the regent of King Edward VI, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, were decidedly Protestant-minded. However, much work needed to be done to bring reformed ideas to the clergy and to the people.[30] On 7 April 1549, Knox was licensed to work in the Church of England. His first commission was in Berwick-upon-Tweed. He was obliged to use the recently released Book of Common Prayer, which was mainly a translation of the Latin mass into English and was largely left intact and unreformed. He therefore modified its use along Protestant lines. In the pulpit he preached Protestant doctrines with great effect as his congregation grew.[31]

Portrait titled "The Somerville Knox"[32]

In England, Knox met his wife, Marjorie Bowes. Her father, Richard, was the younger brother of Sir Robert Bowes, a descendant of an old Durham family and her mother, Elizabeth, was an heiress of a Yorkshire family, the Askes of Richmondshire. Elizabeth Bowes presumably met Knox when he was employed in Berwick. Several letters reveal a close friendship between them.[33] It is not recorded when Knox married Marjorie Bowes.[34] Knox attempted to obtain the consent of the Bowes family, but Robert and Richard were opposed to the marriage.[35]

Towards the end of 1550, Knox was appointed a preacher of St Nicholas' Church in Newcastle upon Tyne. The following year he was appointed one of the six royal chaplains serving the king. On 16 October 1551, John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland overthrew Edward Seymour to become the new regent of the king. Knox condemned the coup d'état in a sermon on All Saints Day. When Dudley visited Newcastle and listened to his preaching in June 1552, he had mixed feelings about the fire-brand preacher, but he saw Knox as a potential asset. Knox was asked to come to London to preach before the Court. In his first sermon, he advocated a change for the second edition of the Book of Common Prayer. The liturgy required worshippers to kneel during communion. Knox and the other chaplains considered this to be idolatry. It triggered a debate where Thomas Cranmer was called upon to defend the practice. The end result was a compromise in which the famous Black Rubric, which declared that no adoration is intended while kneeling, was included in the second edition.[36]

Soon afterwards, Dudley, who saw Knox as a useful political tool, offered him the bishopric of Rochester. Knox refused, and he returned to Newcastle.[37] On 2 February 1553 Cranmer was ordered to appoint Knox as vicar of Allhallows Church in London placing him under the authority of the Bishop of London, Nicholas Ridley. Knox returned to London in order to deliver a sermon before the king and the court during Lent and he again refused to take the assigned post. Knox was then told to preach in Buckinghamshire and he remained there until Edward's death on 6 July.[38] Edward's successor, Mary Tudor, reestablished Roman Catholicism in England and restored the mass in all the churches. With the country no longer safe for Protestant preachers, Knox left for the continent in January 1554 on the advice of friends.[39] On the eve of his flight, he wrote:

Sometime I have thought that impossible it had been, so to have removed my affection from the realm of Scotland, that any realm or nation could have been equal dear to me. But God I take to record in my conscience, that the troubles present (and appearing to be) in the realm of England are double more dolorous unto my heart than ever were the troubles of Scotland.[40]

From Geneva to Frankfurt and Scotland, 1554–1556

Statue of John Knox at the Reformation Wall monument in Geneva

Knox disembarked in Dieppe, France, and continued to Geneva, where John Calvin had established his authority. When Knox arrived Calvin was in a difficult position. He had recently authorised the execution of the scholar Michael Servetus for heresy. Knox asked Calvin four difficult political questions: whether a minor could rule by divine right, whether a female could rule and transfer sovereignty to her husband, whether people should obey ungodly or idolatrous rulers, and what party godly persons should follow if they resisted an idolatrous ruler.[41] Calvin gave cautious replies and referred him to the Swiss reformer Heinrich Bullinger in Zürich. Bullinger's responses were equally cautious; but Knox had already made up his mind. On 20 July 1554, he published a pamphlet attacking Mary Tudor and the bishops who had brought her to the throne.[42] He also attacked the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, calling him "no less enemy to Christ than was Nero".[43]

In a letter dated 24 September 1554, Knox received an invitation from a congregation of English exiles in Frankfurt to become one of their ministers. He accepted the call with Calvin's blessing. But no sooner had he arrived than he found himself in a conflict. The first set of refugees to arrive in Frankfurt had subscribed to a reformed liturgy and used a modified version of the Book of Common Prayer. More recently arrived refugees, however, including Edmund Grindal, the future Archbishop of Canterbury, favoured a stricter application of the book. When Knox and a supporting colleague, William Whittingham, wrote to Calvin for advice, they were told to avoid contention. Knox therefore agreed on a temporary order of service based on a compromise between the two sides. This delicate balance was disturbed when a new batch of refugees arrived that included Richard Cox, one of the principal authors of the Book of Common Prayer. Cox brought Knox's pamphlet attacking the emperor to the attention of the Frankfurt authorities, who advised that Knox leave. His departure from Frankfurt on 26 March 1555 marked his final breach with the Church of England.[44]

After his return to Geneva, Knox was chosen to be the minister at a new place of worship petitioned from Calvin. In the meantime, Elizabeth Bowes wrote to Knox, asking him to return to Marjorie in Scotland, which he did at the end of August.[45] Despite initial doubts about the state of the Reformation in Scotland, Knox found the country significantly changed since he was carried off in the galley in 1547. When he toured various parts of Scotland preaching the reformed doctrines and liturgy, he was welcomed by many of the nobility including two future regents of Scotland, James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray, and John Erskine, 17th Earl of Mar.[46]

Though the queen regent, Mary of Guise, made no move to act against Knox, his activities caused concern among the church authorities. The bishops of Scotland viewed him as a threat to their authority and summoned him to appear in Edinburgh on 15 May 1556. He was accompanied to the trial by so many influential persons that the bishops decided to call the hearing off. Knox was now free to preach openly in Edinburgh. William Keith, the Earl Marischal, was impressed and urged Knox to write to the queen regent. Knox's unusually respectful letter urged her to support the Reformation and overthrow the church hierarchy. Mary took the letter as a joke and ignored it.[47]

Return to Geneva, 1556–1559

The Auditoire de Calvin where Knox preached while in Geneva, 1556–1558

Shortly after Knox sent the letter to the queen regent, he suddenly announced that he felt his duty was to return to Geneva. In the previous year on 1 November 1555, the congregation in Geneva had elected Knox as their minister and he decided to take up the post.[48] He wrote a final letter of advice to his supporters and left Scotland with his wife and mother-in-law. He arrived in Geneva on 13 September 1556.[49]

For the next two years, he lived a happy life in Geneva. He recommended Geneva to his friends in England as the best place of asylum for Protestants. In one letter he wrote:

I neither fear nor eschame to say, is the most perfect school of Christ that ever was in the earth since the days of the apostles. In other places I confess Christ to be truly preached; but manners and religion so sincerely reformed, I have not yet seen in any other place...[50]

The title page of The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women from an eighteenth century edition

Knox led a busy life in Geneva. He preached three sermons a week, each lasting well over two hours. The services used a liturgy that was derived by Knox and other ministers from Calvin's Formes des Prières Ecclésiastiques.[51] The church in which he preached, the Église de Notre Dame la Neuve—now known as the Auditoire de Calvin—had been granted by the municipal authorities, at Calvin's request, for the use of the English and Italian congregations. Knox's two sons, Nathaniel and Eleazar, were born in Geneva, with Whittingham and Myles Coverdale their respective godfathers.[52]

In the summer of 1558, Knox published his best known pamphlet, The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women. In calling the "regiment" or rule of women "monstrous", he meant that it was "unnatural". The pamphlet has been called a classic of misogyny. Knox states that his purpose was to demonstrate "how abominable before God is the Empire or Rule of a wicked woman, yea, of a traiteresse and bastard".[53] The women rulers that Knox had in mind were Mary Tudor, the queen of England, and Mary Stuart, the queen of Scotland. Knox's prejudices against women were not unusual in his day; however, even he was aware that the pamphlet was dangerously seditious.[54] He therefore published it anonymously and did not tell Calvin, who denied knowledge of it until a year after its publication, that he had written it. In England, the pamphlet was officially condemned by royal proclamation. The impact of the document was complicated later that year, when Elizabeth Tudor became queen of England. Although Knox had not targeted Elizabeth, he had deeply offended her, and she never forgave him.

With a Protestant on the throne, the English refugees in Geneva prepared to return home. Knox himself decided to return to Scotland. Before his departure, various honours were conferred on him, including the freedom of the city of Geneva. Knox left in January 1559, but he did not arrive in Scotland until 2 May 1559, owing to Elizabeth's refusal to issue him a passport through England.[55]

Revolution and end of the regency, 1559–1560

Knox preaching to the Scottish nobles in a painting by David Wilkie

Two days after Knox arrived in Edinburgh, he proceeded to Dundee where a large number of Protestant sympathisers had gathered. Knox was declared an outlaw, and the queen regent summoned the Protestants to Stirling. Fearing the possibility of a summary trial and execution, the Protestants proceeded instead to Perth, a walled town that could be defended in case of a siege. At the church of St John the Baptist, Knox preached a fiery sermon and a small incident precipitated into a riot. A mob poured into the church and it was soon gutted. The mob then attacked two friaries in the town, looting their gold and silver and smashing images. Mary of Guise gathered those nobles loyal to her and a small French army. She dispatched Archibald Campbell, 5th Earl of Argyll, and James Stewart, to offer terms and avert a war. She promised not to send any French troops into Perth if the Protestants evacuated the town. The Protestants agreed, but when the queen regent entered Perth, she garrisoned it with Scottish soldiers on the French pay roll. This was seen as treacherous by Campbell and Stewart, who switched sides and joined Knox, who now based himself in St Andrews. Knox’s return to St Andrews fulfilled the prophecy he made in the galleys that he would one day preach again in its church. When he did give a sermon, the effect was the same as in Perth. The people engaged in vandalism and looting.[56]

Perth's St John's Kirk in modern times

With Protestant reinforcements arriving from neighbouring counties, the queen regent retreated to Dunbar. By now, the mob fury had spilled over central Scotland. Her own troops were on the verge of mutiny. On 30 June, the Protestants occupied Edinburgh, though they were only able to hold it for a month. But even before their arrival, the mob had already sacked the churches and the friaries. On 1 July, Knox preached from the pulpit of St Giles', the most influential in the capital.[57]

Knox knew that the queen regent would ask for help from France. So he negotiated by letter with William Cecil, Elizabeth's chief adviser, for English support. Knox sailed to Lindisfarne, off the northeast coast of England, for secret negotiations, but he was forced to return to Scotland when he was recognised. When additional French troops arrived in Leith, Edinburgh's seaport, the Protestants responded by retaking Edinburgh. This time, on 24 October 1559, the Scottish nobility formally deposed Mary of Guise from the regency. Her secretary, William Maitland of Lethington, defected to the Protestant side, bringing his administrative skills. From then on, Maitland took over the political tasks, freeing Knox for the role of religious leader. For the final stage of the revolution, Maitland appealed to Scottish patriotism to fight French domination. Support from England finally arrived and by the end of March, a significant English army joined the Scottish Protestant forces. The sudden death of Mary of Guise in Edinburgh Castle on 10 June 1560 paved the way for an end to hostilities, the signing of the Treaty of Edinburgh, and the withdrawal of French and English troops from Scotland. On 19 July, Knox held a National Thanksgiving Service at St Giles'.[58]

Reformation in Scotland, 1560–1561

On 1 August, the Scottish Parliament met to settle religious issues. Knox and five other ministers were called upon to draw up a new confession of faith. Within four days, the Scots Confession was presented to Parliament, voted upon, and approved. A week later, the Parliament passed three acts in one day: the first abolished the jurisdiction of the pope in Scotland, the second condemned all doctrine and practice contrary to the reformed faith, and the third forbade the celebration of mass in Scotland. Before the dissolution of Parliament, Knox and the other ministers were given the task of organising the newly reformed church or the Kirk. They would work for several months on the Book of Discipline, the document describing the organisation of the new church. During this period, Knox's wife, Marjorie, died in December 1560, leaving Knox to care for their two sons, aged three and a half and two years old. John Calvin, who had lost his own wife in 1549, wrote a letter of condolence.[59]

Parliament reconvened on 15 January 1561 to consider the Book of Discipline. The Kirk was to be run on democratic lines. Each congregation was free to choose or reject their own pastor; but once he was chosen, they could not fire him. Each parish was to be self-supporting, as far as possible. The bishops were replaced by ten to twelve "superintendents". The plan included a system of national education based on universality as a fundamental principle. Certain areas of law were placed under ecclesiastical authority.[60] The Parliament did not approve the plan, however, mainly for reasons of finance. The Kirk was to be financed out of the patrimony of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland. Much of this was now in the hands of the nobles, who were reluctant to give up their possessions. A final decision on the plan was delayed because of the impending return of Mary, Queen of Scots.[61]

Knox and Queen Mary, 1561–1564

On 19 August 1561, cannons were fired in Leith to announce Queen Mary's arrival in Scotland. When she attended a mass that was celebrated in the royal chapel at Holyrood Palace five days later, it prompted a protest in which one of her servants was jostled. The next day she issued a proclamation that there would be no alteration in the current state of religion and that her servants should not be molested or troubled. Many nobles accepted this, but not Knox. The following Sunday, he protested from the pulpit of St Giles'. As a result, just two weeks after her return, Mary summoned Knox. She accused him of inciting a rebellion against her mother and of writing a book against her own authority. Knox answered that as long as her subjects found her rule convenient, he was willing to accept her governance, noting that Paul the Apostle had been willing to live under Nero's rule. Mary noted, however, that he had written against the principle of female rule itself. He responded that she should not to be troubled by what had never harmed her. When Mary asked him whether subjects had a right to resist their ruler, he replied that if monarchs exceeded their lawful limits, they might be resisted, even by force.[62]

Stained glass window of John Knox admonishing Mary, Queen of Scots.[63]

On 13 December 1562, Mary sent for Knox again after he gave a sermon denouncing certain celebrations which Knox had interpreted as rejoicing at the expense of the Reformation. She charged that Knox spoke irreverently of the queen in order to make her appear contemptible to her subjects. After Knox gave an explanation of the sermon, Mary stated that she did not blame Knox for the differences of opinion and asked that in the future he come to her directly if he heard anything about her that he disliked. Despite her friendly gesture, Knox replied that he would continue to voice his convictions in his sermons and would not wait upon her.[64]

During Easter in 1563, some priests in Ayrshire celebrated mass, thus defying the law. Some Protestants tried to enforce the law themselves by apprehending these priests. This prompted Mary to summon Knox for the third time. She asked Knox to use his influence to promote religious toleration. He defended their actions and noted she is bound to uphold the laws and if she did not, others would. Mary surprised Knox by agreeing that the priests would be brought to justice.[65]

The most dramatic interview between Mary and Knox took place on 24 June 1563.[66] Mary summoned Knox to Holyrood after hearing that he had been preaching against her proposed marriage to Don Carlos, the son of Philip II of Spain. Mary began by scolding Knox, then she burst into tears. "What have ye to do with my marriage?" she asked, and "What are ye within this commonwealth?"[67] "A subject born within the same, Madam," Knox replied.[67] He noted that though he was not of noble birth, he had the same duty as any subject to warn of dangers to the realm. When Mary started to cry again, he said, "Madam, in God's presence I speak: I never delighted in the weeping of any of God's creatures; yea I can scarcely well abide the tears of my own boys whom my own hand corrects, much less can I rejoice in your Majesty's weeping."[68] He added that he would rather endure her tears, however, than remain silent and "betray my Commonwealth". At this, Mary ordered him out of the room.[69]

Knox's final encounter with Mary was prompted by an incident at Holyrood. While Mary was absent from Edinburgh on her summer progress in 1563, a crowd forced its way into her private chapel as mass was being celebrated. During the altercation, the priest's life was threatened. As a result, two of the ringleaders, burgesses of Edinburgh, were scheduled for trial on 24 October 1563. In order to defend these men, Knox sent out letters calling the nobles to convene. Mary obtained one of these letters and asked her advisors if this was not a treasonable act. Stewart and Maitland, wanting to keep good relations with both the Kirk and the Queen, asked Knox to admit he was wrong and to settle the matter quietly. Knox refused and he defended himself in front of Mary and the privy council. He argued that he had called a legal, not an illegal, assembly as part of his duties as a minister of the Kirk. After he left, the councillors voted not to charge him with treason.[70]

Final years in Edinburgh, 1564–1572

St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh, where Knox served as minister from 1560 to 1572[71]

On 26 March 1564 Knox stirred controversy again, when he married Margaret Stewart, the daughter of an old friend, Andrew Stewart, a member of the Stuart family and a distant relative of the queen, Mary Stuart. The marriage was unusual because he was a widower of fifty, while the bride was only seventeen.[72] Very few details are known of their domestic life. They had three daughters, Martha, Margaret, and Elizabeth.[73]

When the General Assembly convened in June 1564, an argument broke out between Knox and Maitland over the authority of the civil government. Maitland told Knox to refrain from stirring up emotions over Mary’s insistence on having a mass celebrated and he quoted from Martin Luther and John Calvin about obedience to earthly rulers. Knox retorted that the Bible notes that Israel was punished when it followed an unfaithful king and that the Continental reformers were refuting arguments made by the Anabaptists who rejected all forms of government. The debate revealed his waning influence on political events as the nobility continued to support Mary.[74]

On 29 July 1565 when Mary married Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, some of the Protestant nobles rose up in rebellion including James Stewart. Knox revealed his own objection while preaching in the presence of the new king consort on 19 August 1565. He made passing allusions on ungodly rulers which caused Darnley to walk out. Knox was summoned and prohibited from preaching while the court was in Edinburgh.[75]

Bas-relief of John Knox preaching at St Giles in Edinburgh before the court of Mary Stuart. From left to right: James Stewart (Moray), James Hamilton (Châtellerault), Lord Darnley, Matthew Stewart (Lennox), William Maitland (Lethington), William Kirkcaldy (Grange), James Douglas (Morton), John Knox, and George Buchanan

On 9 March 1566, Mary's secretary, David Rizzio, was murdered by Protestant rebels loyal to Darnley. Mary escaped from Edinburgh to Dunbar and by 18 March returned with a formidable force. Knox fled to Kyle in Ayrshire, where he completed the major part of his magnum opus, History of the Reformation in Scotland.[76] When he returned to Edinburgh, he found the Protestant nobles divided over what to do with Mary. By now, she had abdicated and was imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle. James Stewart had become the regent of James VI. Other old friends of Knox's, Archibald Campbell and William Kirkcaldy, stood by Mary. On 29 July 1567, Knox preached James VI's coronation sermon at the church in Stirling. During this period Knox thundered against her in his sermons, even to the point of calling for her death. However, Mary's life was spared, and she escaped on 2 May 1568.[77]

The fighting in Scotland continued. James Stewart was assassinated on 23 January 1570. The regent who succeeded him, Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, was also a victim of violence. On 30 April 1571, the controller of Edinburgh Castle, Kirkcaldy, ordered all enemies of the queen to leave the city. But for Knox, his former friend and fellow galley-slave, he made an exception. If Knox did not leave, he could stay in Edinburgh, but only if he remained captive in the castle. Knox chose to leave, and on 5 May he left for St Andrews. He continued to preach, spoke to students, and worked on his History. At the end of July 1572, after a truce was called, he returned to Edinburgh. Although by this time exceedingly feeble and his voice faint, he continued to preach at St Giles'.[78]

After inducting his successor, Lawson of Aberdeen, as minister of St Giles' on 9 November, Knox returned to his home for the last time. With his friends and some of the greatest Scottish nobles around him, he asked for the Bible to be read aloud. On his last day, 24 November 1572, his young wife read from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians.[79] A testimony to Knox was pronounced at his grave in the churchyard of St Giles' by James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton and newly-elected regent of Scotland: "Here lies one who never feared any flesh".[80]

He was buried in St Giles' graveyard. Due to modern constructions, there is no marked grave or tombstone for Knox other than a small golden plaque on the ground next to the church.


Knox claimed in his will, "None have I corrupted, none have I defrauded; merchandise have I not made."[81] The paltry sum of money Knox bequeathed to his family, which would have left them in dire poverty, showed that he had not profited from his work in the Kirk. The regent, James Douglas, asked the General Assembly to continue paying his stipend to his widow for one year after his death; and the regent ensured that Knox's dependents were decently supported.[81]

Knox was survived by his five children and his second wife. Nathaniel and Eleazar, his two sons by his first wife, attended Cambridge University, and died at a young age without issue. His second wife, Margaret, remarried to Andrew Ker, one of those involved in the murder of David Rizzio. Knox's three daughters also married: Martha to Alexander Fairlie; Margaret to Zachary Pont, son of Robert Pont and brother of Timothy Pont; and Elizabeth to John Welsh, a minister of the Kirk.[82]

Knox’s death was barely noticed at the time. Although his funeral was attended by the nobles of Scotland, no major politician or diplomat mentioned his death in their letters that survive. Mary, Queen of Scots made only two brief references to him in her letters. What the rulers feared, however, were Knox’s ideas more than Knox himself. He was a ruthless and successful revolutionary and it was this revolutionary philosophy that had a great impact on the English Puritans. Despite his intolerance and dogmatism, he contributed to the struggle for human freedom as he taught that people had the duty to fight against governments in order to bring about change.[83]

Knox was notable not so much for the overthrow of Catholicism in Scotland, but for assuring the replacement of the old religion with Presbyterianism rather than Anglicanism. It was thanks to Knox that the Presbyterian polity was established.[84] In that regard, Knox is considered the founder of the Presbyterian denomination whose members number millions worldwide.[85]

Selected works

John Calvin
 Calvinism portal
  • An Epistle to the Congregation of the Castle of St Andrews; with a Brief Summary of Balnaves on Justification by Faith (1548)
  • A Vindication of the Doctrine that the Sacrifice of the Mass is Idolatry (1550)
  • A Godly Letter of Warning or Admonition to the Faithful in London, Newcastle, and Berwick (1554)
  • Certain Questions Concerning Obedience to Lawful Magistrates with Answers by Henry Bullinger (1554)
  • A Faithful Admonition to the Professors of God’s Truth in England (1554)
  • A Narrative of the Proceedings and Troubles of the English Congregation at Frankfurt on the Maine (1554–1555)
  • A Letter to the Queen Dowager, Regent of Scotland (1556)
  • A Letter of Wholesome Counsel Addressed to his Brethren in Scotland (1556)
  • The Form of Prayers and Ministration of the Sacraments Used in the English Congregation at Geneva (1556)
  • The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women (1558)
  • A Letter to the Queen Dowager, Regent of Scotland: Augmented and Explained by the Author (1558)
  • The Appellation from the Sentence Pronounced by the Bishops and Clergy: Addressed to the Nobility and Estates of Scotland (1558)
  • A Letter Addressed to the Commonalty of Scotland (1558)
  • On Predestination in Answer to the Cavillations by an Anabaptist (1560)
  • The History of the Reformation in Scotland (1586–1587)


  1. ^ Ridley 1968, p. frontispiece. Portrait facing title page. According to Ridley, this portrait is usually thought to be painted from memory by the Flemish painter Adrian Vaensoun and sent by Peter Young, an assistant of George Buchanan, to Beza.
  2. ^ MacGregor 1957, pp. 229–231; Ridley 1968, pp. 531–534. Until David Hay Fleming published new research in 1904, John Knox was thought to have been born in 1505. Hay Fleming's conclusion was that Knox was born between 1513 and 1515. Sources using this date include MacGregor 1957, p. 13 and Reid 1974, p. 15. Ridley notes additional research supports the later date which is now generally accepted by historians. However, some recent books on more general topics still give the earlier date for his birth or a wide range of possibility; for example: Arthur. F. Kinney and David. W. Swain (eds.)(2000), Tudor England: an Encyclopedia, p. 412 (between 1505 and 1515); M. E. Wiesner-Hanks (2006), Early Modern Europe, 1450–1789, Cambridge University Press, p. 170 (1505?); and Michael. A. Mullet (1989), Calvin, Routledge, p. 64 (1505).
  3. ^ Reid 1974, p. 15
  4. ^ MacGregor 1957, p. 13
  5. ^ MacGregor 1957, p. 16
  6. ^ MacGregor 1957, pp. 229–231. According to MacGregor, there is a "John Knox" recorded to have enrolled at the University of Glasgow in 1522. However, the name John Knox was quite common, and the identification of the Glasgow student as the future reformer cannot be made with certainty. John Major was known to have taught at the University of Glasgow and later at the University of St Andrews. Given the birth date calculated by Hay Fleming, he would have been too young to have attended Glasgow at the time when Major was teaching there. The time when Major was teaching at St Andrews is consistent both with Knox being of university age and with a statement made by Theodore Beza that Knox was taught by Major at St Andrews.
  7. ^ Ridley 1968, pp. 19–21
  8. ^ Reid 1974, p. 24; Ridley 1968, pp. 26, 49
  9. ^ Reid 1974, p. xiv
  10. ^ Reid 1974, p. 31; Ridley 1968, p. 26
  11. ^ Reid 1974, p. 27; Ridley 1968, p. 41
  12. ^ Reid 1974, p. 13; Ridley 1968, pp. 33–34
  13. ^ Reid 1974, p. 29; Ridley 1968, pp. 39–40; MacGregor 1957, p. 30
  14. ^ MacGregor 1957, p. 37
  15. ^ Ridley 1968, p. 43
  16. ^ Reid 1974, p. 34; Ridley 1968, p. 44
  17. ^ Reid 1974, p. 43; Ridley 1968, p. 53
  18. ^ Reid 1974, pp. 44–45; Ridley 1968, p. 52; MacGregor 1957, pp. 40-42
  19. ^ MacGregor 1957, p. 43
  20. ^ Reid 1974, pp. 48–50; Ridley 1968, p. 56
  21. ^ Reid 1974, p. 52
  22. ^ Reid 1974, pp. 53–55; Ridley 1968, pp. 60–69
  23. ^ MacGregor 1957, pp. 45–47
  24. ^ Reid 1974, p. 55; Ridley 1968, p. 66–70
  25. ^ Reid 1974, p. 57
  26. ^ MacGregor 1957, pp. 49–50
  27. ^ Ridley 1968, p. 75
  28. ^ Reid 1974, p. 68; Ridley 1968, p. 81. Reid suggests that some of Knox's friends may had appealed to the King of France. Ridley surmises that Knox's health was so poor that he was of no use for the galleys. Other theories include Guy 2004, p. 39 who claimed Somerset arranged for his release and safe conduct to London. Another theory by Marshall 2000, p. 30 proposes that Somerset conducted a prisoner exchange that included Knox to get back English military experts captured at St Andrews.
  29. ^ MacGregor 1957, p. 53
  30. ^ Reid 1974, pp. 71–74; Ridley 1968, pp. 88–89
  31. ^ Reid 1974, pp. 76–79; Ridley 1968, pp. 93–94; MacGregor 1957, p. 54
  32. ^ Ridley 1968; portrait facing page 32. According to Ridley, the authenticity of this portrait as a true image of Knox is doubtful.
  33. ^ Reid 1974, pp. 79–81; Ridley 1968, pp. 130–138
  34. ^ Ridley 1968, pp. 140–141; Reid 1974, p. 95. Reid notes that Knox's letters to Elizabeth changed in January 1553 when he started to address her as his mother rather than his sister. He speculates that Knox betrothed Marjorie in that month.
  35. ^ Reid 1974, p. 101; Ridley 1968, pp. 141–142, 161–163
  36. ^ Reid 1974, pp. 82–91; Ridley 1968, pp. 101–109
  37. ^ Reid 1974, pp. 92–93; Ridley 1968, pp. 115–119
  38. ^ Reid 1974, pp. 94–99; Ridley 1968, pp. 121–126
  39. ^ Ridley 1968, pp. 147–164
  40. ^ Ridley 1968, p. 165; Reid 1974, pp. 102–103
  41. ^ MacGregor 1957, p. 68
  42. ^ Reid 1974, p. 111; Ridley 1968, pp. 178–188. The title of the pamphlet is A Faithful Admonition unto the Professors of God's Truth in England
  43. ^ MacGregor 1957, p. 70
  44. ^ Reid 1974, pp. 123–127; MacGregor 1957, pp. 72–77
  45. ^ According to MacGregor 1957, p. 78, Elizabeth informed Knox that her husband, Richard, had died. According to Ridley 1968, pp. 265–266, however, Richard did not die until 1558 and Elizabeth left her husband to go with Marjorie and Knox.
  46. ^ Ridley 1968, pp. 223–227
  47. ^ MacGregor 1957, pp. 81–83
  48. ^ Marshall 2000, pp. 85–86
  49. ^ Ridley 1968, pp. 237–243
  50. ^ Reid 1974, p. 132
  51. ^ Laing 1895, pp. 143–148, Vol. 4; A reprint of the order of service, The Forms of Prayers in the Ministration of the Sacraments used in the English Congregation at Geneva (1556), is included in Laing's book. According to Laing, this order of service with some additions eventually became the Book of Common Order of the Kirk in 1565.
  52. ^ Laing 1895, pp. xvii–xviii, Vol. 1
  53. ^ Kingdon 1995, p. 197
  54. ^ MacGregor 1957, p. 97
  55. ^ MacGregor 1957, pp. 96–112
  56. ^ MacGregor 1957, pp. 116–125
  57. ^ MacGregor 1957, p. 127
  58. ^ MacGregor 1957, pp. 131–146
  59. ^ MacGregor 1957, pp. 148–152
  60. ^ Laing 1895, pp. 183–260, Vol. 2, The First Book Of Discipline (1560)
  61. ^ MacGregor 1957
  62. ^ Guy 2004, p. 142; Warnicke 2006, p. 71; MacGregor 1957, pp. 162–172
  63. ^ From Covenant Presbyterian Church, Long Beach, California, USA
  64. ^ MacGregor 1957, pp. 174–184
  65. ^ MacGregor 1957, pp. 185–189
  66. ^ MacGregor 1957, p. 191
  67. ^ a b MacGregor 1957, p. 195
  68. ^ MacGregor 1957, p. 196
  69. ^ Guy 2004, p. 177
  70. ^ Guy 2004, pp. 186–87; Warnicke 2006, p. 93; MacGregor 1957, pp. 198–208
  71. ^ "St Giles' Cathedral Edinburgh - The Reformation". Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  72. ^ Reid 1974, pp. 222–223; Ridley 1968, p. 432
  73. ^ MacGregor 1957, pp. 208–210
  74. ^ Reid 1974, pp. 233–235
  75. ^ Reid 1974, pp. 238–239
  76. ^ Reid 1974, pp. 242–243; Ridley 1968, pp. 447–455
  77. ^ Reid 1974, pp. 246–248, 253; Ridley 1968, p. 446–466; MacGregor 1957, pp. 213–216
  78. ^ MacGregor 1957, pp. 216–222
  79. ^ MacGregor 1957, pp. 223–225
  80. ^ Reid 1974, p. 283; Ridley 1968, p. 518
  81. ^ a b MacGregor 1957, p. 226
  82. ^ Reid 1974, pp. 283–284; Ridley 1968, pp. 520–521
  83. ^ Ridley 1968, pp. 522–523, 527, 529–530
  84. ^ Ridley 1968, p. 528; Reid 1974, p. 290
  85. ^ "John Knox - Presbyterian with a sword". Retrieved 2007-10-19.  Extract from Galli, Mark, ed. (2000), 131 Christians Everyone Should Know, Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman, ISBN 978-0805490404 . There are many sources that mention John Knox as the founder of the Presbyterian denomination (see Stockton, Ronald R. (2000). Decent and in Order: Conflict, Christianity, and Polity in a Presbyterian Congregation. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 47. ISBN 0275966682.  and Gitelman, Lisa (2003). New Media, 1740-1915. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. pp. 88. ISBN 0262572281. ). It should be noted, however, that Knox's successor Andrew Melville could also be considered as the founder as it was under his leadership that the General Assembly of the Kirk ratified his Second Book of Discipline (see Cohn-Sherbok, Lavinia (1998). Who's Who in Christianity. London: Routledge. pp. 205. ISBN 0415135826. ).



Primary sources

  • Laing, David, ed. (1895), The Works of John Knox, Edinburgh: James Thin, 55 South Bridge , OCLC 5437053.
  • Melville, James (1829), Diary of James Melville, Edinburgh: Bannatyne Club , OCLC 1697717.

Secondary sources

  • Guy, John (2004), My Heart is my Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots, London: Fourth Estate, ISBN 9781841157528 .
  • Kingdon, Robert M. (1995), "Calvinism and resistance theory, 1550–1580", in Burns, J.H., The Cambridge History of Political Thought 1450–1700, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521477727 .
  • MacGregor, Geddes (1957), The Thundering Scot, Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, OCLC 740182 .
  • Marshall, Rosalind (2000), John Knox, Edinburgh: Birlinn, ISBN 9781841580913 .
  • Reid, W. Stanford (1974), Trumpeter of God, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, ISBN 0-684-13782-8 .
  • Ridley, Jasper (1968), John Knox, Oxford: Clarendon Press, OCLC 251907110 .
  • Warnicke, Retha. M. (2006), Mary Queen of Scots, New York: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-29183-6 .

Further reading


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

None have I corrupted, none have I defrauded; merchandise have I not made — to God's glory I write...

John Knox (c. 151024 November 1572) was a key figure in the Protestant Reformation and spearheaded the Scottish Reformation and the Presbyterian denomination.


  • None have I corrupted. None have I defrauded. Merchandise have I not made — to God's glory I write — of the glorious Evangel of Jesus Christ; but, according to the measure of the grace granted unto me, I have divided the Sermon of Truth in just parts, beating down the rebellion of the proud against God, and raising up the consciences troubled with the knowledge of their sins, by declaring Jesus Christ, the strength of His Death, and the mighty operation of His Resurrection, in the hearts of the Faithful. Of this, I say, I have a testimony this day in my conscience, before God, however the world rage.
  • Last Will and Testament (May 1572); published in John Knox and John Knox's House (1905) by Charles John Guthrie

Quotes about Knox

External links

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Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

John Knox
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

'JOHN KNOX (c. 1505-1572), Scottish reformer and historian. Of his early life very little is certainly known, in spite of the fact that his History of the Reformation and his private letters, especially the latter, are often vividly autobiographical. Even the year of his birth, usually given as 1505, is matter of dispute. Beza, in his cones, published in 1580, makes it 1515; Sir Peter Young (tutor to James VI. of Scotland), writing to Beza from Edinburgh in 1579, says 1513; and a strong case has been made out for holding that the generally accepted date is due to an error in transcription (see Dr Hay Fleming in the Bookman, Sept. 1905). But Knox seems to have been reticent about his early life, even to his contemporaries. What is known is that he.: was a son of William Knox, who lived in or near the town of Haddington, that his mother's name was Sinclair, and that his forefathers on both sides had fought under the banner of the Bothwells. William Knox was "simple," not "gentle"- perhaps a prosperous East Lothian peasant. But he sent his son John to school (no doubt the well-known grammar school of Haddington), and thereafter to the university, where, like his contemporary George Buchanan, he sat "at the feet" of John Major. Major was a native of Haddington, who had recently returned to Scotland from Paris with a great academical reputation. He retained to the last, as his History of Greater Britain shows, the repugnance characteristic of the university of Paris to the tyranny of kings and nobles; but like it, he was now alarmed by the revolt of Luther, and ceased to urge its ancient protest against the supremacy of the pope. He exchanged his "regency" or professorship in Glasgow University for one in that of St Andrews in 1523. If Knox's college time was later than that date (as it must have been, if he was born near 1515), it was no doubt spent, as Beza narrates, at St Andrews, and probably exclusively there. But in Major's last Glasgow session a "Joannes Knox" (not an uncommon name, however, at that time in the west of Scotland) matriculated there; and if this were the future reformer, he may thereafter either have followed his master to St Andrews or returned from Glasgow straight to Haddington. But till twenty years after that date his career has not been again traced. Then he reappears in his native district as a priest without a university degree (Sir John Knox) and a notary of the diocese of St Andrews. In 1543 he certainly signed himself "minister of the sacred altar" under the archbishop of St Andrews. But in 1546 he was carrying a twohanded sword in defence of the reformer George Wishart, on the ,day when the latter was arrested by the archbishop's order. Knox would have resisted, though the arrest was by his feudal superior, Lord Bothwell; but Wishart himself commanded his submission, with the words "One is sufficient for a sacrifice," and was handed over for trial at St Andrews. And next year the archbishop himself had been murdered, and Knox was preaching in St Andrews a fully developed Protestantism.

Knox gives us no information as to how this startling change in himself was brought about. During those twenty years Scotland had been slowly tending to freedom in religious profession, and to friendship with England rather than with France. The Scottish hierarchy, by this time corrupt and even profligate, saw the twofold danger and met it firmly. James V., the '"Commons' King" had put himself into the hands of the Beatons, who in 1528 burned Patrick Hamilton. On James's death there was a slight reaction, but the cardinal-archbishop took possession of the weak regent Arran, and in 1546 burned George Wishart. England had by this time rejected the pope's supremacy. In Scotland by a recent statute it was death even to argue against it; and Knox after Wishart's execution was fleeing from place to place, when, hearing that certain gentlemen of Fife had slain the cardinal and were in possession of his castle of St Andrews, he gladly joined himself to them. In St Andrews he taught "John's Gospel" and a certain catechism - probably that which Wishart had got from "Helvetia" and translated; but his teaching was supposed to be private and tutorial and for the benefit of his friends' "bairns." The men about him how- ,ever - among them Sir David Lindsay of the Mount, "Lyon King" and poet - saw his capacity for greater things, and, on his at first refusing "to run where God had not called him," planned a solemn appeal to Knox from the pulpit to accept "the public office and charge of preaching." At the close of it the speaker (in Knox's own narrative) "said to those that were present, ` Was not this your charge to me ? And do ye not approve this vocation ? ' They answered, ` It was, and we approve it.' Whereat the said Johnne, abashed, burst forth in most abundant tears and withdrew himself to his chamber," remaining there in "heaviness" for days, until he came forth resolved and prepared. Knox is probably not wrong in regarding this strange incident as the spring of his own public life. The St Andrews invitation was really one to danger and death; John Rough, who spoke it, died a few years after in the flames at Smithfield. But it was a call which many in that ardent dawn were ready to accept, and it had now at length found, or made, a statesman and leader of men. For what to the others was chiefly a promise of personal salvation became for the indomitable will of Knox an assurance also of victory, even in this world, over embattled forces of ancient wrong. It is certain at least that from this date he never changed and scarcely even varied his public course. And looking back upon that course afterwards, he records with much complacency how his earliest St Andrews sermon built up a whole fabric of aggressive Protestantism upon Puritan theory, so that his startled hearers muttered, "Others sned (snipped) the branches; this man strikes at the root." Meantime the system attacked was safe for other thirteen years. In June 1547 St Andrews yielded to the French fleet, and the prisoners, including Knox, were thrown into the galleys on the Loire, to remain in irons and under the lash for at least nineteen months. Released at last (apparently through the influence of the young English king, Edward VI.), Knox was appointed one of the licensed preachers of the new faith for England, and stationed in the great garrison of Berwick, and afterwards at Newcastle. In 1551 he seems to have been made a royal chaplain; in 1552 he was certainly offered an English bishopric, which he declined; and during most of this year he used his influence, as preacher at court and in London, to make the new English settlement more Protestant. To him at least is due the Prayer-book rubric which explains that, when kneeling at the sacrament is ordered, "no adoration is intended or ought to be done." While in Northumberland Knox had been betrothed to Margaret Bowes, one of the fifteen children of Richard Bowes, the captain of Norham Castle. Her mother, Elizabeth, co-heiress of Aske in Yorkshire, was the earliest of that little band of women-friends whose correspondence with Knox on religious matters throws an unexpected light on his discriminating tenderness of heart. But now Mary Tudor succeeded her brother, and Knox in March 1554 escaped into five years' exile abroad, leaving Mrs. Bowes a fine treatise on "Affliction," and sending back to England two editions of a more acrid "Faithful Admonition" on the crisis there. He first drifted to Frankfort, where the English congregation divided as English Protestants have always done, and the party opposed to Knox got rid of him at last by a complaint to the authorities of treason against the emperor Charles V. as well as Philip and Mary. At Geneva he found a more congenial pastorate. Christopher Goodman (c. 1520-1603) and he, with other exiles, began there the Puritan tradition, and prepared the earlier English version of the Bible, "the household book of the English-speaking nations" during the great age of Elizabeth. Here, and afterwards at Dieppe (where he preached in French), Knox kept in communication with the other Reformers, studied Greek and Hebrew in the interest of theology, and having brought his wife and her mother from England in 1555 lived for years a peaceful life.

But even here Knox was preparing for Scotland, and facing the difficulties of the future, theoretical as well as practical. In his first year abroad he consulted Calvin and Bullinger as to the right of the civil "authority" to prescribe religion to his subjects - in particular, whether the godly should obey "a magistrate who enforces idolatry and condemns true religion," and whom should they join "in the case of a religious nobility resisting an idolatrous sovereign." In August 1555 he visited his native country and found the queen-mother, Mary of Lorraine, acting as regent in place of the real "sovereign," the youthful and better-known Mary, now being brought up at the court of France. Scripture-reading and the new views had spread widely, and the regent was disposed to wink at this in the case of the "religious nobility." Knox was accordingly allowed to preach privately for six months throughout the south of Scotland, and was listened to with an enthusiasm which made him break out, "O sweet were the death which should follow such forty days in Edinburgh as here I have had three!" Before leaving he even addressed a letter to the regent, urging her to favour the Evangel. She accepted it jocularly as a "pasquil," and Knox on his departure was condemned and burned in effigy. But he left behind him a "Wholesome Counsel" to Scottish heads of families, reminding them that within their own houses they were "bishop and kings," and recommending the institution of something like the early apostolic worship in private congregations. Of the Protestant barons Knox, though in exile, seems to have been henceforward the chief adviser; and before the end of 1 557 they, under the name of the "Lords of the Congregation," had entered into the first of the religious "bands" or "covenants" afterwards famous in Scotland. In 1558 he published his "Appellation" to the nobles, estates and commonalty against the sentence of death recently pronounced upon him, and along with it a stirring appeal "To his beloved brethren, the Commonalty of Scotland," urging that the care of religion fell to them also as being "God's creatures, created and formed in His own image," and having a right to defend their conscience against persecution. About this time, indeed, there was in Scotland a remarkable approximation to that solution of the toleration difficulty which later ages have approved; for the regent was understood to favour the demand of the "congregation" that at least the penal statutes against heretics "be suspended and abrogated," and "that it be lawful to us to use ourselves in matters of religion and conscience as we must answer to God." It was a consummation too ideal for that early date; and next year the regent, whose daughter was now queen of France and there mixed up with the persecuting policy of the Guises, forbade the reformed preaching in Scotland. A rupture ensued at once, and Knox appeared in Edinburgh on the and of May 1559 "even in the brunt of the battle." He was promptly "blown to the horn" at the Cross there as an outlaw, but escaped to Dundee, and commenced public preaching in the chief towns of central Scotland. At Perth and at St Andrews his sermons were followed by the destruction of the monasteries, institutions disliked in that age in Scotland alike by the devout and the profane. But while he notes that in Perth the act was that of "the rascal multitude," he was glad to claim in St Andrews the support of the civic "authority"; and indeed the burghs, which were throughout Europe generally in favour of freedom, soon became in Scotland a main support of the Reformation. Edinburgh was still doubtful, and the queen regent held the castle; but a truce between her and the lords for six months to the 1st of January 1560 was arranged on the footing that every man there "may have freedom to use his own conscience to the day foresaid" - a freedom interpreted to let Knox and his brethren preach publicly and incessantly.

Scotland, like its capital, was divided. Both parties lapsed from the freedom-of-conscience solution to which each when unsuccessful appealed; both betook themselves to arms; and the immediate future of the little kingdom was to be decided by its external alliances. Knox now took a leading part in the great transaction by which the friendship of France was exchanged for that of England. He had one serious difficulty. Before Elizabeth's accession to the English crown, and after the queen mother in Scotland had disappointed his hopes, he had published a treatise against what he called "The Monstrous Regiment (regimen or government) of Women"; though the despotism of that despotic age was scarcely appreciably worse when it happened to be in female hands. Elizabeth never forgave him; but Cecil corresponded with the Scottish lords, and their answer in July 1559, in Knox's handwriting, assures England not only of their own constancy, but of "a charge and commandment to our posterity, that the amity and league between you and us, contracted and begun in Christ Jesus, may by them be kept inviolated for ever." The league was promised by England; but the army of France was first in the field, and towards the end of the year drove the forces of the "congregation" from Leith into Edinburgh, and then out of it in a midnight rout to Stirling - "that dark and dolorous night," as Knox long afterwards said, "wherein all ye, my lords, with shame and fear left this town," and from which only a memorable sermon by their great preacher roused the despairing multitude into new hope. Their leaders renounced allegiance to the regent; she ended her not unkindly, but as Knox calls it "unhappy," life in the castle of Edinburgh; the English troops, after the usual Elizabethan delays and evasions, joined their Scots allies; and the French embarked from Leith. On the 6th of July 1560 a treaty was at last made, nominally between Elizabeth and the queen of France and Scotland; while Cecil instructed his mistress's plenipotentiaries to agree "that the government of Scotland be granted to the nation of the land." The revolution was in the meantime complete; and Knox, who takes credit for having done much to end the enmity with England which was so long thought necessary for Scotland's independence, was strangely enough destined, beyond all other men, to leave the stamp of a more inward independence upon his country and its history.

At the first meeting of the Estates, in August 1560, the Protestants were invited to present a confession of their faith. Knox and three others drafted it, and were present when it was offered and read to the parliament. The statute-book says it was "by the estates of Scotland ratified and approved, as wholesome and sound doctrine grounded upon the infallible truth of God's word." The Scots confession, though of course drawn up independently, is in substantial accord with the others then springing up in the countries of the Reformation, but is Calvinist rather than Lutheran. It remained for two centuries. the authorized Scottish creed, though in the first instance the faith of only a fragment of the people. Yet its approval became the basis for three acts passed a week later; the first of which, abolishing the pope's authority and jurisdiction in Scotland, may perhaps have been consistent with toleration, as the second,. rescinding old statutes which had established and enforced that. and other catholic tenets, undoubtedly was. But the third, inflicting heavy penalties, with death on a third conviction, on those who should celebrate mass or even be present at it, showed that the reformer and his friends had crossed the line, and that their position could no longer be described as, in Knox's words, "requiring nothing but the liberty of conscience, and our religion and fact to be tried by the word of God." He was prepared indeed to fall back upon that, in the event of the Estates at any time refusing sanction to either church or creed, as their sovereign in Paris promptly refused it. But the parliament of 1560 gave no express sanction to the Reformed Church, and Knox did not wait until it should do so. Already "in our towns and places reformed," as the Confession puts it, there were local or "particular kirks," and these grew and spread and were provincially united, till, in the last month of this memorable year, the first General Assembly of their representatives met, and became the "universal kirk," or "the whole church convened." It had before it the plan for church government and maintenance, drafted in August at the same time with the Confession, under the name of The Book of Discipline, and by the same framers. Knox was even more clearly in this case the chief author, and he had by this time come to desire a much more rigid Presbyterianism than he had sketched in his "Wholesome Counsel" of 1555. In planning it he seems to have used his acquaintance with the "Ordonnances" of the Genevan Church under Calvin, and with the "Forma" of the German Church in London under John. Laski (or A. Lasco). Starting with "truth" contained in Scripture as the church's foundation, and the Word and Sacraments as means of building it up, it provides ministers and elders to be elected by the congregations, with a subordinate class of "readers," and by their means sermons and prayers each "Sunday" in every parish. In large towns these were to be also on other days, with a weekly meeting for conference or "prophesying." The "plantation" of new churches is to go on everywhere under the guidance of higher church officers called superintendents. All are to help their brethren, "for no man may be permitted to live as best pleaseth him within the Church of God." And above all things the young and the ignorant are to be instructed, the former by a regular gradation or ladder of parish or elementary schools, secondary schools and universities. Even the poor were to be fed by the Church's hands; and behind.

its moral influence, and a discipline over both poor and rich, was to be not only the coercive authority of the civil power but its money. Knox had from the first proclaimed that "the teinds (tithes of yearly fruits) by God's law do not appertain of necessity to the kirkmen." And this book now demands that out of them "must not only the ministers be sustained, but also the poor and schools." But Knox broadens his plan so as to claim also the property which had been really gifted to the Church by princes and nobles - given by them indeed, as he held, without any moral right and to the injury of the people, yet so as to be Church patrimony. From all such property, whether land or the sheaves and fruits of land, and also from the personal property of burghers in the towns; Knox now held that the state should authorize the kirk to claim the salaries of the ministers, and the salaries of teachers in the schools and universities, but above all, the relief of the poor - not only of the absolutely "indigent" but of "your poor brethren, the labourers and handworkers of the ground." For the danger now was that some gentlemen were already cruel in exactions of their tenants, "requiring of them whatever before they paid to the Church, so that the papistical tyranny shall only be changed into the tyranny of the lords or of the laird." The danger foreseen alike to the new Church, and to the commonalty and poor, began to be fulfilled a month later, when the lords, some of whom had already acquired, as others were about to acquire, much of the Church property, declined to make any of it over for Knox's magnificent scheme. It was, they said, "a devout imagination." Seven years afterwards, however, when the contest with the Crown was ended, the kirk was expressly acknowledged as the only Church in Scotland, and jurisdiction given it over all who should attempt to be outsiders; while the preaching of the Evangel and the planting of congregations went on in all the accessible parts of Scotland. Gradually too stipends for most Scottish parishes were assigned to the ministers out of the yearly teinds; and the Church received - what it retained even down to recent times - the administration both of the public schools and of the Poor Law of Scotland. But the victorious rush of 1560 was already somewhat stayed, and the very next year raised the question whether the transfer of intolerance to the side of the new faith was as wise as it had at first seemed to be successful.

Mary Queen of Scots had been for a short time also queen of France, and in 1561 returned to her native land, a young widow on whom the eyes of Europe were fixed. Knox's objections to the "regiment of women" were theoretical, and in the present case he hoped at first for the best, favouring rather his queen's marriage with the heir of the house of Hamilton. Mary had put herself into the hands of her half-brother, Lord James Stuart afterwards earl of Moray, the only man who could perhaps have pulled her through. A proclamation now continued the "state of religion" begun the previous year; but mass was celebrated in the queen's household, and Lord James himself defended it with his sword against Protestant intrusion. Knox publicly protested; and Moray, who probably understood and liked both parties, brought the preacher to the presence of his queen. There is nothing revealed to us by "the broad clear light of that wonderful book," 1 The History of the Reformation in Scotland, more remarkable than the four Dialogues or interviews, which, though recorded only by Knox, bear the strongest stamp of truth, and do almost more justice to his opponent than to himself. Mary took the aggressive and very soon raised the real question. "Ye have taught the people to receive another religion than their princes can allow; and how can that doctrine be of God, seeing that God commands subjects to obey their princes ?" The point was made keener by the fact that Knox's own Confession of Faith (like all those of that age, in which an unbalanced monarchical power culminated) had held kings to be appointed "for maintenance of the true religion," and suppression of the false; and the reformer now fell back on 1 John Hill Burton (Hist. of Scotland, iii. 339). Mr Burton's view (differing from that of Professor Hume Brown) was that the dialogues - the earlier of them at least - must have been spoken in the French tongue, in which Knox had recently preached for a year.

his more fundamental principle, that "right religion took neither original nor authority from worldly princes, but from the Eternal God alone." All through this dialogue too, as in another at Lochleven two years afterwards, Knox was driven to axioms, not of religion but of constitutionalism, which Buchanan and he may have learned from their teacher Major, but which were not to be accepted till a later age. "` Think ye,' quoth she, ` that subjects, having power, may resist their princes? ' ` If their princes exceed their bounds, Madam, they may be resisted and even deposed,'" Knox replied. But these dialectics, creditable to both parties, had little effect upon the general situation. Knox had gone too far in intolerance, and Moray and Maitland of Lethington gradually withdrew their support. The court and parliament, guided by them, declined to press the queen or to pass the Book of Discipline; and meantime the negotiations as to the queen's marriage with a Spanish, a French or an Austrian prince revealed the real difficulty and peril of the situation. Her marriage to a great Catholic prince would be ruinous to Scotland, probably also to England, and perhaps to all Protestantism. Knox had already by letter formally broken with the earl of Moray, "committing you to your own wit, and to the conducting of those who better please you"; and now, in one of his greatest sermons before the assembled lords, he drove at the heart of the situation - the risk of a Catholic marriage. The queen sent for him for the last time and burst into passionate tears as she asked, "What have you to do with my marriage? Or what are you within this commonwealth?" "A subject born within the same," was the answer of the son of the East Lothian peasant; and the Scottish nobility, while thinking him overbold, refused to find him guilty of any crime, even when, later on, he had "convocated the lieges" to Edinburgh to meet a crown prosecution. In 1564 a change came. Mary had wearied of her guiding statesmen, Moray and the more pliant Maitland; the Italian secretary David Rizzio, through whom she had corresponded with the pope, now more and more usurped their place; and a weak fancy for her handsome cousin, Henry Darnley, brought about a sudden marriage in 1565 and swept the opposing Protestant lords into exile. Darnley, though a Catholic, thought it well to go to Knox's preaching; but was so unfortunate as to hear a very long sermon, with allusions not only to "babes and women" as rulers, but to Ahab who did not control his strong-minded wife. Mary and the lords still in her council ordered Knox not to preach while she was in Edinburgh, and he was absent or silent during the weeks in which the queen's growing distaste for her husband, and advancement of Rizzio over the nobility remaining in Edinburgh, brought about the conspiracy by Darnley, Morton and Ruthven. Knox does not seem to have known beforehand of Rizzio's "slaughter," which had been intended to be a semi-judicial act; but soon after it he records that "that vile knave Davie was justly punished, for abusing of the commonwealth, and for other villainy which we list not to express." The immediate effect however of what Knox thus approved was to bring his cause to its lowest ebb, and on the very day when Mary rode from Holyrood to her army, he sat down and penned the prayer, "Lord Jesus, put an end to this my miserable life, for justice and truth are not to be found among the sons of men!" He added a short autobiographic fragment, whose mingled self-abasement and exultation are not unworthy of its striking title - "John Knox, with deliberate mind, to his God." During the rest of the year he was hidden in Ayrshire or elsewhere, and throughout 1566 he was forbidden to preach when the court was in Edinburgh. But he was influential at the December Assembly in the capital where a greater tragedy was now preparing, for Mary's infatuation for Bothwell was visible to all. At the Assembly's request, however, Knox undertook a long visit to England, where his two sons by his first wife were being educated, and were afterwards to be Fellows of St John's, Cambridge, the younger becoming a parish clergyman. It was thus during the reformer's absence that the murder of Darnley, the abduction and subsequent marriage of Mary, the flight of Bothwell, and the imprisonment in Lochleven of the queen, unrolled themselves before the eyes of Scotland. Knox returned in time to guide the Assembly which sat on the 25th of June 1567 in dealing with this unparalleled crisis, and to wind up the revolution by preaching at Stirling on the 9th of July 1567, after Mary's abdication, at the coronation of the infant king.

His main work was now really done; for the parliament of 1567 made Moray regent, and Knox was only too glad to have his old friend back in power, though they seem to have differed on the question whether the queen should be allowed to pass into retirement without trial for her husband's death, as they had differed all along on the question of tolerating her private religion. Knox's victory had not come too early, for his physical strength soon began to fail. But Mary's escape in 1568 resulted only in her defeat at Langside, and in a long imprisonment and death in England. In Scotland the regent's assassination in 1570 opened a miserable civil war, but it made no permanent change. The massacre of St Bartholomew rather united English and Scottish Protestantism; and Knox in St Giles' pulpit, challenging the French ambassador to report his words, denounced God's vengeance on the crowned murderer and his posterity. When open war broke out between Edinburgh Castle, held by Mary's friends, and the town, held for her son, both parties agreed that the reformer, who had already had a stroke of paralysis, should remove to St Andrews. While there he wrote his will, and published his last book, in the preface to which he says, "I heartily take my good-night of the faithful of both realms. .. for as the world is weary of me, so am I of it." And when he now merely signs his name, it is "John Knox, with my dead hand and glad heart." In the autumn of 1572 he returned to Edinburgh to die, probably in the picturesque house in the "throat of the Bow," which for generations has been called by his name. With him were his wife and three young daughters; for though he had lost Margaret Bowes at the close of his year of triumph 1560, he had four years after married Margaret Stewart, a daughter of his friend Lord Ochiltree. She was a bride of only seventeen and was related to the royal house; yet, as his Catholic biographer put it, "by sorcery and witchcraft he did so allure that poor gentlewoman that she could not live without him." But lords, ladies and burghers also crowded around his bed, and his colleague and his servant have severally transmitted to us the words in which his weakness daily strove with pain, rising on the day before his death into a solemn exultation - yet characteristically, not so much on his own account as for "the troubled Church of God." He died on the 24th of November 1572, and at his funeral in St Giles' Churchyard the new Regent Morton, speaking under the hostile guns of the castle, expressed the first surprise of those around as they looked back on that stormy life, that one who had "neither flattered nor feared any flesh" had now "ended his days in peace and honour." Knox himself had a short time before put in writing a larger claim for the historic future, "What I have been to my country, though this unthankful age will not know, yet the ages to come will be compelled to bear witness to the truth." Knox was a rather small man, with a well-knit body; he had a powerful face, with dark blue eyes under a ridge of eyebrow, high cheek-bones, and a long black beard which latterly turned grey. This description, taken from a letter in 1579 by his junior contemporary Sir Peter Young, is very like Beza's fine engraving of him in the Icones - an engraving probably founded on a portrait which was to be sent by Young to Beza along with the letter. The portrait, which was unfortunately adopted by Carlyle, has neither pedigree nor probability. After his two years in the French galleys, if not before, Knox suffered permanently from gravel and dyspepsia, and he confesses that his nature "was for the most part oppressed with melancholy." Yet he was always a hard worker; as sole minister of Edinburgh studying for two sermons on Sunday and three during the week, besides having innumerable cares of churches at home and abroad. He was undoubtedly sincere in his religious faith, and most disinterested in his devotion to it and to the good of his countrymen. But like too many of them, he was self-conscious, self-willed and dogmatic; and his transformation in middle life, while it im- mensely enriched his sympathies as well as his energies, left him unable to put himself in the place of those who retained the views which he had himself held. All his training too, university, priestly and in foreign parts, tended to make him logical overmuch. But this was mitigated by a strong sense of humour (not always sarcastic, though sometimes savagely so), and by tenderness, best seen in his epistolary friendships with women; and it was quite overborne by an instinct and passion for great practical affairs. Hence it was that Knox as a statesman so often struck successfully at the centre of the complex motives of his time, leaving it to later critics to reconcile his theories of `action. But hence too he more than once took doubtful shortcuts to some of his most important ends; giving the ministry within the new Church more power over laymen than Protestant principles would suggest, and binding the masses outside who were not members of it, equally with their countrymen who were, to join in its worship, submit to its jurisdiction, and contribute to its support. And hence also his style (which contemporaries called anglicized and modern), though it occasionally rises into liturgical beauty, and often flashes into vivid historical portraiture, is generally kept close to the harsh necessities of the few years in which he had to work for the future. That work was indeed chiefly done by the living voice; and in speaking, this "one man," as Elizabeth's very critical ambassador wrote from Edinburgh, was "able in one hour to put more life in us than five hundred trumpets continually blustering in our ears." But even his eloquence was constraining and constructive - a personal call for immediate and universal co-operation; and that personal influence survives to this day in the institutions of his people, and perhaps still more in their character. His countrymen indeed have always believed that to Knox more than to any other man Scotland owes her political and religious individuality. And since his 19th century biography by Dr Thomas McCrie, or at least since his recognition in the following generation by Thomas Carlyle, the same view has taken its place in literature.

Bibliography. - Knox's books, pamphlets, public documents and letters are collected into the great edition in six volumes of Knox's Works, by David Laing (Edinburgh, 1846-1864), with introductions, appendices and notes. Of his books the chief are the following: 1. - The History of the Reformation in Scotland, incorporating the Confession and the Book of Discipline. Begun by Knox as a party manifesto in 1560, it was continued and revised by himself in 1566 as so to form four books, with a fifth book apparently written after his death from materials left by him. It was partly printed in London in 1586 by Vautrollier, but was suppressed by authority and published by David Buchanan, with a Life, in 1664. 2. - On Predestination: an Answer to an Anabaptist (London, 1591). 3. - On Prayer (1554). 4. - On Affliction (1556). 5. - Epistles, and Admonition, both to English Brethren in 1554. 6. - The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women (1558). 7. - An Answer to a Scottish Jesuit (1572).

Knox's life is more or less touched upon by all the Scottish histories and Church histories which include his period, as well as in the mass of literature as to Queen Mary. Dr Laing's edition of the Works contains important biographical material. But among the many express biographies two especially should be consulted - those by Thomas McCrie (Edinburgh, 1811; revised and enlarged in 1813, the later editions containing valuable notes by the author); and by P. Hume Brown (Edinburgh, 1895). John Knox and the Reformation, by Andrew Lang (London, 1905), is not so much a biography as a collection of materials, bearing upon many parts of the life, but nearly all on the unfavourable side. (A. T. I.)

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[[File:|thumb|John Knox]] John Knox (c. 1510 – 24 November 1572) was the man who brought the Protestant Reformation to Scotland. He was one of the founders of the Presbyterian Church. Knox joined the movement to change the Roman Catholic church in Scotland. He married twice and had five children, and continued preaching until he died.

A long-time fight between Catholic France and Protestant England for Scotland began again because of the Reformation. As the argument grew more heated, sometimes France had power, sometimes England. Knox spent many months as a galley slave; he also spent time in exile because of his Protestant beliefs. During a return visit to his native land, Knox's preaching helped the Protestant movement. Several Protestant noblemen came together and made a group called the Lords of the Congregation. When the group had more power, they invited Knox back to Scotland to stay.

During 1500 and 1561, the Scottish Parliament accepted the Reformed confession of faith made by Knox and other people. Knox argued many times with Mary, Queen of Scots. In his book History of the Reformation in Scotland he writes about his five "conversations" with the Roman Catholic queen. In one of these conversations, Mary asked Knox what right he had to rebuke the queen so directly and openly. Knox replied, "...I am a worm of this earth, and yet a subject...but I am a watchman, both over the realm (land) and the Kirk [Church] of God...For that reason I am bound in conscience (it is my duty) to blow the trumpet publicly (openly)". Mary's violent life finally made even her Catholic helpers lose their support. She gave up the throne. So, Knox was able to make the Protestant church in Scotland. Because of him, the Presbyterian church was made.


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