John Knox, Scottish Reformer and His Famous Works

John Knox (c.1514-1572) was a Scottish religious reformer, born in Haddington and educated at the University of St Andrews. Ordained in the late 1530S, he began preaching for the reformed religion at St Andrews in 1547 and consequently spent two years in captivity on a French galley. In 1551 he became chaplain to Edward VI, leaving England for Europe in 1554 after the accession of Mary Tudor. He met Calvin at Geneva and was pastor of the English congregation at Frankfurt am Main, 1554-5. He toured Scotland for a year from August 1555 but judged it too dangerous to remain, and lived in Geneva from 1556 to 1559, finally returning home as leader of the reformers in the latter year.

In 1558 he published his First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women (‘Regiment’ having the older sense of ‘rule, magisterial authority’ and referring to the English reign of Mary Tudor and the Scottish regency of Mary of Guise). The First Book of Discipline (1559), of which Knox was part-author, advocated a national system of education for Scotland ranging from a school in every parish to the three universities.

His Treatise on Predestination was published in 1560, the year he was appointed minister at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh. His History of the Reformation in Scotland (1587) contains a dramatic account of the return of Mary Queen of Scots to Scotland, of his interviews with her, and of his fierce denunciations from the pulpit of St Giles’.