1st November 1555

John Knox is appointed minister in Geneva

John Knox founded the Presbyterian Church of Scotland and was a leading figure in the reformation. Although born in East Lothian, he spent many years outside of Scotland, first as a French prisoner, later as an exile in England, and then as a traveller in Switzerland and Germany.

While in Geneva, he met John Calvin, the founder of Calvinism, a branch of Protestantism that considers God’s power to be superior to all others – even that of the monarch.

Knox imprisoned

Knox was taken prisoner by the French in 1547 when they attacked St Andrews Castle in support of the regent, Mary of Guise, and upon his release in 1549 he was exiled to England where he preached for the Church of England. He found favour at the court of Edward VI, but when the king died and the Catholic Mary Tudor assumed the throne, his fortunes underwent a dramatic change and he was forced to leave the country.

He eventually arrived in Geneva, but was on a return visit to Scotland, to visit family, when, on 1 November 1555, he was elected minister of the Geneva congregation. He returned to Geneva the following autumn.

Knox’s paper

During this second stay in Geneva he wrote a paper decrying the rule of women, which naturally caused some offence in Britain, particularly among Mary, Queen of Scots, Mary of Guise, who as Queen Regent was governing on the young Mary’s behalf, and Queen Elizabeth I of England who had not, at that point, ascended to the throne.

Elizabeth ascended to the English throne in 1558, at which point it was considered safe for protestants to return to Britain. However, when Knox returned to Scotland in 1559, Mary of Guise declared him an outlaw, and his case was not helped by the rioting that had a tendency to break out among his supporters when they gathered to hear him give speeches in public.

With religious rebellion growing, Mary of Guise called on France to send reinforcements, and Knox and his supporters called on England to do likewise. English troops pushed back those of the French, effectively bringing Mary of Guise’s reign to an end.



Other events that occured in November

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