John Knox and the Reformation eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 293 pages of information about John Knox and the Reformation.

He was allowed to go home—­it might not have been safe to arrest him, and the Lords, unanimously, voted that he had done no offence.  They repeated their votes in the Queen’s presence, and thus a precedent for “mutinous convocation” by Kirkmen was established, till James VI. took order in 1596.  We have no full narrative of this affair except that of Knox.  It is to be guessed that the nobles wished to maintain the old habit of mutinous convocation which, probably, saved the life of Lethington, and helped to secure Bothwell’s acquittal from the guilt of Darnley’s murder.  Perhaps, too, the brethren who filled the whole inner Court and overflowed up the stairs of the palace, may have had their influence.

This was a notable triumph of our Reformer, and of the Kirk; to which, on his showing, the Queen contributed, by feebly wandering from the real point at issue.  She was no dialectician.  Knox’s conduct was, of course, approved of and sanctioned by the General Assembly. {235} He had, in his circular, averred that Cranstoun and Armstrong were summoned “that a door may be opened to execute cruelty upon a greater multitude.”  To put it mildly, the General Assembly sanctioned contempt of Court.  Unluckily for Scotland contempt of Court was, and long remained, universal, the country being desperately lawless, and reeking with blood shed in public and private quarrels.  When a Prophet followed the secular example of summoning crowds to overawe justice, the secular sinners had warrant for thwarting the course of law.

As to the brethren and the idolaters who caused these troubles, we know not what befell them.  The penalty, both for the attendants at Mass and for the disturbers thereof, should have been death!  The dear brethren, if they attacked the Queen’s servants, came under the Proclamation of October 1561; so did the Catholics, for they “openly made alteration and innovation of the state of religion. . . . " They ought “to be punished to the death with all rigour.”  Three were outlawed, and their sureties “unlawed.”  Twenty-one others were probably not hanged; the records are lost.  For the same reason we know not what became of the brethren Armstrong, Cranstoun, and George Rynd, summoned with the other malefactors for November 13. {236}

CHAPTER XVII:  KNOX AND QUEEN MARY (continued), 1564-1567

During the session of the General Assembly in December 1563, Knox was compelled to chronicle domestic enormities.  The Lord Treasurer, Richardson, having, like Captain Booth, “offended the law of Dian,” had to do penance before the whole congregation, and the sermon (unfortunately it is lost, probably it never was written out) was preached by Knox.  A French apothecary of the Queen’s, and his mistress, were hanged on a charge of murdering their child. {237a} On January 9, 1564-65, Randolph noted that one of the Queen’s Maries, Mary Livingstone, is to

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