John Knox: Gynaecocracy, 'The Monstrous Empire of Women'

John Knox: Gynaecocracy, ‘The Monstrous Empire of Women’

de Abreu, Maria Zina Gonçalves

Reformation and Renaissance Review, Vol. 5.2 (2003)


This paper aims at providing a critical reading of John Knox’s views on female monarchs, based on his writings, correspondence and interviews with contemporary queens, namely Mary of Guise and her daughter, Mary Stewart, of Scotland, and Elizabeth I, of England, highlighting Knox’s religious thought and the political implications of his antigynaecocratic doctrines. From Knox’s reasonings with the British queens, one can to some extent perceive his putting into practice the theories of resistance to political authority he formulated during his exile in Geneva, as expressed in the tracts and correspondence addressed to his British friends and proselytes. By the analysis of Knox’s antagonistic views on the regiment of women, solidly grounded on the Holy Scriptures, namely the Old Testament, and on long-established tradition—classical, canonical and patristic—, one is made aware of his unwavering faith and indefatigable struggle for the Reformation of the Church, both in Scotland and in England.

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