John Knox

John Knox

John Knox was born around 1514 and was a leading figure in the Scottish Reformation which sought to replace the Catholic faith with Protestantism. Knox studied at the University of Glasgow and was ordained into the priesthood. He first publicly professed the Protestant faith in 1545 as a convert of George Wishart and ran the Protestant ministry in St Andrews preaching his new message of reform.

The Protestant reformers were persecuted by the Catholic Church and Wishart was burned at the stake as a heretic. A year later the castle of St Andrews, which had provided a haven for Protestant dissenters was captured by the French and Knox ended up serving as a French galley slave for nineteen months. This hardship seems to have hardened his character and permanently affected his health.

He was released in 1549 but remained in voluntary exile in England, serving as a minister in the Church of England, and then on the continent. He preached in Geneva for a while and then returned to Scotland in 1555 and tried to persuade people to stop attending mass and join him in his reformed rituals. In 1556 he was summoned to Edinburgh but his trial did not proceed and he returned to Geneva. While in Geneva he published his First Blast Against the Monstrous Rule of Women.

In 1559 Knox returned to Scotland and sparked a national crisis which led to Mary of Guise being deposed and a provisional government with military support from the Protestant Elizabeth I. In 1560 the Catholic faith was denounced and Protestantism became the new national religion. The First Book of Disipline which was largely the work of Knox laid out the central ideas of the new church. Knox was appointed a minister at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. When Mary, Queen of Scots came to Scotland in 1561 her Catholicism was common knowledge and angered Knox greatly.

His hatred for the Catholic faith seemed to grow and grow and he never missed an opportunity to berate the Queen and her, in his eyes, evil faith. When Mary lost the throne in disgrace Protestant reformers such as Knox seized the opportunity to strengthen their new Church of Scotland. He wrote a number of public letters and books including his History of the Reformation in Scotland and earned the title Father of the Church of Scotland.

His personal life was touched by tragedy when his young wife died in 1560 leaving him with two sons. However in 1564 he remarried and there was a hint of scandal about it since his new bride was just seventeen years old, a third his age. His second wife bore him three daughters. John Knox died in Edinburgh on the 24th of November 1572 and was buried in the churchyard of St Giles his funeral was very well attended.