John Knox and the Monstrous Regiment of Women

Monday, September 16th, 2019

An Unnatural Monster

Monsters, in some form or another have existed in our conscious since the dawn of time. Spawning from our ideas as people, monsters have been the topic of much of the work of humanity, be it as the result of religion or as themes in fiction. However, for some famous historical figures, the idea of monsters was a very real notion that they had to contend with.

John Knox and The First Trumpet Blast

First Blast of the Trumpet (John Knox)

Written by the founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, John Knox, ‘The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women’ was a political book that opposed the idea of women serving as the head of the monarchy. The title makes this very clear – in this case the term ‘monstrous’ refers to something being unnatural, which when combined with the term ‘regiment’, at this time meaning rule, it is clear to see Knox’s thoughts on women in politics just from reading the title alone. Being an incredibly staunch Protestant, Knox rejected the rule of the female queens of his day, such as Mary I of England, on the grounds of them being Catholic. Gauged from his understanding of the Bible, Knox declared within this book that ‘God, by the order of his creation, has [deprived] women of authority and dominion’.

Through the use of his faith, Knox was able to justify to himself and his readers that women ruling over men was wrong and ‘monstrous’ – this term itself of course carrying negative connotations. Although opposed to these female sovereigns because of their Catholic faith, the situation would eventually turn on its head, and backfire on John Knox. When Elizabeth I rose to the throne, succeeding her half-sister, the new queen made herself a nuisance to Knox himself. Despite being a Protestant herself, Elizabeth was displeased with his views on Catholic queens, taking offence to the fact that Knox had stated women are not fit to rule. His involvement with the Protestant cause in England after 1559 diminished as a result of direct opposition from the queen herself.

John Knox had found what he thought to be a true brought to life monster. Ardently opposed to the idea of having a woman in a position of power, he sought to solve this problem by authoring a book on the subject. Although ultimately ending in the demise of his career, Knox provided his best effort in ensuring that the monster of women in power would be no more.

To find out more about the history of monsters listen to our podcast!

By Louie Kehoe

Further Reading:

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