Knox was born in Haddington around 1510. He trained for the priesthood and became a Catholic priest. He would later call catholic priests ‘bloody wolves’ and the Roman Catholic Church ‘the synagogue of Satan’.
Knox met George Wishart and preached as a reformer during the siege of St Andrews Castle. Knox spent 18 months as a galley slave on French warships then became a Protestant preacher in England. He fled to Europe after Queen Mary I, ‘Bloody Mary’, restored the Catholic faith in England. Knox met leading Protestant theologian and reformer John Calvin in Geneva.
Knox toured Scotland in 1555, preaching reformation. The Scottish bishops burned him in effigy a year later. In 1558 Knox’s 'The First Blast of the Trumpet against the monstrous Regiment of Women' was published. It was directed against Mary - then Queen of France, later Queen of Scots - her mother Marie de Guise and Queen Mary I of England. When Elizabeth I took the throne of England she restored the Protestant faith but never forgave Knox for ‘The First Blast’, despite Knox writing to apologise.
John Knox returned to Scotland in 1559 and preached against Catholicism. The following year a Parliament in Edinburgh severed contact with the Papacy and forbade the celebration of the Catholic Mass.
When Mary Queen of Scots returned to Scotland in 1561 she was a Catholic queen in a Protestant country. She was just 17 years old and she had just lost her husband and her mother.
John Knox showed Mary no pity.
He preached venomous sermons against her from his pulpit and even wrote that God had tried to forewarn the Scots about Mary as ‘The sun was not seen to shine two days before nor two days after’ when she first arrived in Edinburgh. In the years to come, Knox met Mary face-to-face in a series of ‘audiences’ with the queen.
John Knox died in Edinburgh in 1572 after years of illness.