Famous Scots - John Knox (1513-1572)

John Knox was born in Haddington, a town not far from Edinburgh, and he went to university there, briefly, before starting work as a lawyer. In 1546 he supported the murder of David Beaton, Archbishop of St Andrews, and was imprisoned for 18 months on a French galley (The French Mary of Guise, widow of James V, was Regent of Scotland at this time).

After his release he travelled extensively, gaining favour at the English court of the Protestant King Edward VI. While in Geneva, he was influenced by the ideas of Calvin and in 1558 he published his "First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women". In it he wrote "to promote a woman to bear rule, superiority, dominion or empire above any realm is repugnant to nature, contrary to God." This was aimed at Mary of Guise but Queen Elizabeth of England, who came to the throne in the same year, took it personally.

John Knox Knox came back to Scotland in 1559 and became minister at St Giles in Edinburgh. In 1560 the Scottish Parliament, with guidance from Knox, drew up the "Confession of Faith" which established Protestantism and government in the Church of Scotland along the lines he had learned in Geneva.

The Catholic Mary Queen of Scots returned from France in 1561 and she was subjected to an unrelenting onslaught from Knox. Around this time Knox married (for the second time - his first wife died in Geneva). His wife was just 16 and he was 51. A powerful orator with a dogmatic style, his belief in a rigorous discipline produced a bleak and joyless legacy. In later years he wrote a "History of the Reformation in Scotland" which immodestly portrayed Knox as the only leader of the Reformation.

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