Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knox

In the past few weeks, I’ve looked at some of the major Protestant reformers on the European continent, but the British Isles remain to be addressed. The story of how King Henry VIII split with the Catholic Church for personal reasons is an interesting tale in and of itself, and one I might get to later, but for the present our area of focus is Scotland, home of John Knox.

Born in the early sixteenth century, Knox was, like many other reformers, initially ordained as a Catholic priest. It’s said to have been the preaching of one George Wishart, who was eventually burned at the stake for his convictions, that turned Knox to Protestantism. After spending some time as a galley slave for the French, Knox lived in England for a few years, where he helped King Edward VI to reform the church. He left the country after Edward died and Mary took over, bringing Catholicism back with her. Knox then went into voluntary exile on the continent, living and working in both Geneva and Frankfurt. It was during this time in his life that he met John Calvin, whose ideas were heavily influential on Knox’s own brand of Scottish Presbyterianism. It was also while living in Geneva that Knox wrote The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regimen of Women, attacking both Mary of England and Mary of Guise, regent of Scotland in the name of her young daughter, a third Mary. The author associated the idea of female rule in general with the attempts to restore full-fledged Catholicism in England and Scotland, which didn’t go over too well for him when Elizabeth took the English throne and embraced Protestantism. When Knox returned to Scotland, he helped to write the Scots Confession, which provided details for the organization of the Presbyterian Church in that nation. There was some considerable tension between Knox and Mary, Queen of Scots, but her exile and eventual execution made the conversion of Scotland into an officially Protestant country a considerably easier task. James, the son of Mary who would eventually become King of both England and Scotland, was raised as a Presbyterian, although I believe I’ve heard that he much preferred his position as head of the Church of England to his much more limited role in his native Scotland. As for Knox himself, he continued preaching until his death in 1572.

This entry was posted in Christianity, Historical Personages, History, Presbyterianism, Protestant Reformation, Religion, United Kingdom and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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