Verity, whose Blood from under the Altar crieth aloud to be avenged.’
The attitude of Knox, avowed in the ‘First Blast,’ towards the political government of women was dictated by the hostility to the Reformation already displayed by Mary Tudor, Catherine de' Medici, and Mary of Guise. Knox laboured to prove that ‘to promote a woman to bear rule, superiority, dominion, or empire above any realm is repugnant to nature, contrary to God, and, finally, it is the subversion of good order, of all equity and justice.’ His work was published without his name, but the authorship was well known, and it was intimated that he would himself announce it when he blew his third ‘Blast,’ which never appeared. The ‘Blast’ did not produce the effect intended. Foxe the martyrologist expostulated with Knox, who replied on 18 May 1558, admitting his vehemence, but adding, ‘To me it is enough to say that black is not white, and man's tyranny and foolishness is not God's perfect ordinance.’ Calvin, more inclined to compromise, assured Cecil two years later that ‘for a whole year he was ignorant of its publication,’ that he had never read it, and that he dissuaded Knox from publishing it. On 17 Nov. 1558, within the year of its publication, Mary Tudor died and Elizabeth reigned. It was then seen how imprudent had been the argument of Knox. The new queen, the most powerful ally of the reformers among crowned heads, treated the work as a personal insult, and would not allow Knox to pass through England. Her attitude through life towards the Scottish reformation was affected by the untimely publication. It required all the tact of Cecil to prevent an open breach. It was in vain that Knox attempted to explain. ‘My First Blast,’ he writes, ‘hath blown from me all my friends in England.’ John Aylmer [q. v.], afterwards the bishop of London, one of the English exiles, wrote an answer to it, in which he speaks favourably of Knox's ‘honesty and godliness,’ and even says that he will not disdain to hear better reasons. Knox has been sometimes represented as having withdrawn his opinion out of deference to Elizabeth, but he himself wrote later to the queen: ‘I cannot deny the writing of a Book against the usurped Authority and unjust Regiment of Women; neither yet am I minded to retract or call back any principal point or proposition of the same till truth and verity do further appear.’ Still he felt he had gone too far, and in the summary of the ‘Second Blast’ his propositions are altered from special application to women to a general argument that a king can only lawfully reign over a people professing Christ by election, not by birth nor propinquity—a doctrine as little palatable, though not so irritating, to Elizabeth.
Knox left Geneva on 7 Jan. 1559, after receiving the freedom of the city. Reaching Dieppe in March, he sailed for Leith on 22 April, and arrived at Edinburgh on 2 May. Next day he wrote to Mrs. Lock, one of his English friends: ‘I am come, I praise my God even in the heart of the battle. … Assist me, sister, with your prayers, that now I shrink not when the battle approacheth.’ Remaining only two nights, he went straight to Dundee, where the reformers of Angus and Mearns were assembled. With them he advanced to Perth. John Erskine of Dun brought in May the news that Mary of Guise was, contrary to her promise, proceeding with the trial of the ministers who championed the Reformation. Knox was included in the number, and was one of those who were outlawed for not appearing. On the day of Erskine's arrival in Perth, Knox preached against the mass as idolatry. A priest began to celebrate by opening the tabernacle on the high altar. A riot followed, stones were thrown, and the altar was soon demolished. The people, proceeding to seek ‘some spoil’ (in Knox's phrase), sacked the monasteries of the Grey and Black Friars and the Charterhouse. In two days only the walls remained of the religious foundations in the city. Knox calls these the acts of ‘the rascal multitude,’ but his voice gave the signal. He stayed in Perth to instruct the people who were ‘young and rude in Christ,’ while the men of Angus returned home; but hearing that Mary of Guise was determined to avenge the monasteries, they came back, fortified the town, and on 22 May addressed a letter to her, declaring that they had taken up arms solely because pursued for conscience sake, and threatening to appeal to the king of France, Mary their queen, and her husband. Knox probably was the author of this letter, and of another addressed to the nobility, claiming their aid. In reply to messengers sent by Mary of Guise to ask the meaning of the movement in Perth, it was stated by the leaders of the reforming party that if the regent ‘would suffer the religion then begun to proceed, they, the town, and all they had were at her command.’ But Knox went to the messengers' lodgings on 25 May, and boldly directed them to tell Mary in his name that she was fighting not against man, but God. This speech was reported, according to Knox, ‘so far as they could.’ Her reply was to send the Lyon herald, ordering Knox and his