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.

The situation is clear.  The two parties exchanged assurances.  Knox prints that of the Regent’s party, not that, “on another piece of paper,” of the Congregation.  They broke their word; they “made invasion” at Lindores, during truce, as Knox tells Mrs. Locke, but does not tell the readers of his “History.” {127a} It is true that Knox was probably preaching at St. Andrews on June 13, and was not present at Cupar Muir.  But he could easily have ascertained what assurances the Lords of the Congregation “read from another piece of paper” on that historic waste. {127b}


The Reformers, and Knox as their secretary and historian, had now reached a very difficult and delicate point in their labours.  Their purpose was, not by any means to secure toleration and freedom of conscience, but to extirpate the religion to which they were opposed.  It was the religion by law existing, the creed of “Authority,” of the Regent and of the King and Queen whom she represented.  The position of the Congregation was therefore essentially that of rebels, and, in the state of opinion at the period, to be rebels was to be self-condemned.  In the eyes of Calvin and the learned of the Genevan Church, kings were the Lord’s appointed, and the Gospel must not be supported by the sword.  “Better that we all perish a hundred times,” Calvin wrote to Coligny in 1561.  Protestants, therefore, if they would resist in arms, had to put themselves in order, and though Knox had no doubt that to exterminate idolaters was thoroughly in order, the leaders of his party were obliged to pay deference to European opinion.

By a singular coincidence they adopted precisely the same device as the more militant French Protestants laid before Calvin in August 1559-March 1560.  The Scots and the Protestant French represented that they were illegally repressed by foreigners:  in Scotland by Mary of Guise with her French troops; in France by the Cardinal and Duc de Guise, foreigners, who had possession of the persons and authority of the “native prince” of Scotland, Mary, and the “native prince” of France, Francis II., both being minors.  The French idea was that, if they secured the aid of a native Protestant prince (Conde), they were in order, as against the foreign Guises, and might kill these tyrants, seize the King, and call an assembly of the Estates.  Calvin was consulted by the chief of the conspiracy, La Renaudie; he disapproved; the legality lent by one native prince was insufficient; the details of the plot were “puerile,” and Calvin waited to see how the country would take it.  The plot failed, at Amboise, in March 1560.

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John Knox and the Reformation from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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