Over his lifetime, John Knox had personal contact with four female rulers, and his relationship with each was a stormy one.

The first was Mary Tudor of England (Mary I, 1553–1558, also called “Bloody Mary”). Knox was ministering in England when this Catholic monarch ascended the throne; he anticipated the coming persecution of Protestants and fled to Europe. Seeing the imprisonments and martyrdoms inflicted by Mary Tudor, Knox sent instructions back to his English brethren on how to pray for her and her government:

“Delay not thy vengeance, O Lord! but let death devour them in haste; let the earth swallow them up; and let them go down quickly into hell. For there is no hope of their amendment … consume them in thine anger, and let them never bring their wicked counsels to effect.”

Pray this way sincerely, Knox assured his flock in England, and God will send a Jehu to slay Jezebel and her followers!

Knox originally showed more hope for Mary of Guise, queen regent governing Scotland (1554–1560). At first, Mary of Guise tolerated Protestants, and Protestants increased their numbers. When Knox’s 1555 preaching tour of Scotland was so successful that a frightened Catholic hierarchy charged him with heresy, Mary of Guise suppressed his trial.

Hoping she might support the Reformation, Knox wrote a letter urging her to reform the church. If she obeyed God’s will, God would “crown your battle with double benediction and reward you with wisdom, riches, glory, honor, and long life in this your [temporal rule], and with life everlasting.”

The letter failed. She called it a joke. Worse, after Knox had left Scotland, the bishops revived his trial and burned him in effigy. He never forgot that Mary of Guise had ridiculed him and let him ...

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