JOHN KNOX (1505 - 72)


The dominant figure of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, Knox has been roughly handled by posterity, leaving him with a reputation which, some historians argue, is inaccurate and largely undeserved. Knox is associated in the public mind with a narrow bigotry, the promotion of guilt and joylessness, and a philosophy that effectively stunted artistic expression. A more balanced judgment might be that Knox, a powerful preacher and influential leader, has inevitably drawn the blame for the consequences of powerful forces which were abroad in the land and with which Scots by temperament felt an emotional sympathy.
Born near Haddington, East Lothian, Knox was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest but in 1547 joined those Protestant Reformers who had captured St Andrews Castle. When the castle was retaken by the French, Knox was sentenced to the galleys. Released some two years later, he studied in Europe before returning to Scotland, where he became the leading figure of the Reformation. His tract "Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women" gave permanent offence to Queen Elizabeth of England and he was a stern opponent of Mary, Queen of Scots.

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