- Knox, John
- (c. 1514-1572)leaderof the Scottish Reformation and founder of Pres-byterianismJohn Knox was born at Haddington, Scotland, prior to 1515. He attended school in Haddington, but there is no record of his having attended university. He managed to acquire a broad education in languages, law, and theology, and he was ordained as a priest in the Roman Catholic Church around 1536. He worked as a private tutor in the 1540s.Knox was apparently present in 1546 when George Wishart, the first major exponent of the Reformation in Scotland, was arrested and burned at the stake in St. Andrews. He himself was by this time sympathetic to the Protestant cause and was happy to see Cardinal Beaton assassinated in retaliation for Wishart's death. He was also among those who took over St. Andrew's castle and held it for three months until it was captured by French forces. Knox was imprisoned for the next 19 months.Released in 1549, Knox visited England, then in a Protestant phase under King Edward VI. Receiving a license to preach, he stayed for two years at Berwick and then became a chaplain to the king, though he turned down an offer to become bishop of Rochester. In 1554, he departed England as MARY I began her attempt to return England to Catholicism. He found a post as chaplain to British expatriates at Frankfurt and later at Geneva. In 1555, he returned to Berwick.By this time, he had become a convinced follower of John Calvin's doctrine and began to agitate on its behalf, his first public act being a letter to Mary of Guise, the queen regent in Scotland, asking tolerance for fellow Protestants. Before he returned to Geneva in 1556, he was summoned before the court in Edinburgh, condemned in absentia, and burned in effigy.In 1558, he published his famous "First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women," an attack upon England's Queen Mary I, Mary of Guise, France's Queen Catherine de' Medici, and Mary Stuart. He followed with a "Brief Exhortation to England" calling for the acceptance of Calvinistic Protestantism. Then in 1559, soon after Mary I's death, he returned to Scotland and traveled around the country mobilizing the growing Protestant strength.In Edinburgh on July 7, he was chosen minister of the Edinburgh Protestants. Two weeks later, the queen regent marched on the city. The Protestants were able to win a settlement while Knox moved to secure backing from Queen Elizabeth I of England. Elizabeth did eventually come to Knox's aid, and the queen regent took refuge in Edinburgh castle, where she died in 1560. Mary Stuart, a decided Catholic, then assumed the throne.When the Scottish Parliament met in August, it was firmly in the Protestant camp. It voted to accept the Confession of Faith that Knox had written, forbid celebration of the Mass, and withdraw any acknowledgment of the pope's authority Knox and three assistants prepared the "First Book of Discipline," which detailed how the church was to be organized.In 1566, following the murder of the queen's secretary, Knox found it prudent to retire for a period to Ayrshire, where he wrote his History of the Reformation in Scotland. He remained in Ayrshire during the momentous events that led to Mary's abdication in favor of her infant son, James, in 1567.Knox spent the remaining years of his life consolidating the gains of the Reformation in Scotland. He preached regularly in Edinburgh at St. Giles Church until 1571, when he retired to St. Andrews. He died in Edinburgh on November 24, 1572.See also United Kingdom.Further reading:■ Ian B. Cowan, The Scottish Reformation: Church and Society in Sixteenth-Century Scotland (New York: St. Martin's, 1982)■ Richard L. Greaves, Theology and Revolution in the Scottish Reformation: Studies in the Thought of John Knox (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Christian University Press, 1980)■ John Knox, History of the Reformation within the Realm of Scotland (1584; reprint, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1994)■ Richard G. Kyle, The Mind of John Knox (Lawrence, Kans.: Coronado, 1984)■ W. Stanford Reid, Trumpeter of God: A Biography of John Knox (New York: Scribner, 1974).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.