On July 20th, 1554, John Knox published a controversial pamphlet in which he not only denounced the Catholic Church and England’s first Queen Regnant, Mary (I) Tudor. The pamphlet titled “A Faithful Admonition to the Professors of God’s Truth in England” accused the Queen of being an “incestuous bastard” and compared her actions (of restoring the Catholic Mass) to those of Queen Jezebel. For those who can’t remember, Jezebel was the queen of the biblical King, Ahab. The prophet Elijah denounced her pagan ways and warned the King not to let her invite her priests to their land, but the King was so enchanted with her that he refused. So after her “reign of terror” began against the good God-fearing people of Israel, Elijah began plotting against her. One day he found the answer to his prayers by throwing her out the window. When she fell, the dogs came forward to lick her blood off her corpse. It was a gruesome end to this pagan queen.
Clearly, John Knox was comparing himself to the prophet Elijah, and Mary to Jezebel. To many Protestants, the Catholics were pagans because they worshiped idols and people like Mary, had to be stopped. But there was also a misogynist element to it. Mary was the first woman to ever rule England –the only other woman who came this close was her ancestor, Lady Matilda. And because of this she was constantly under attack. When John Knox accused her of being another Jezebel, he said she was worse than the original pagan queen, because she (Jezebel) had “never erected half so many gallows in all of Israel, as mischievous as Mary has done in London alone.” And he went on to criticize her intended marriage with Philip of Spain (who coincidentally arrived on England that day), saying:
“Oh England! If you obstinately will return into Egypt: That is, if you contract marriage, confederacy or league, with such princess as maintain and advance idolatry … if for the pleasure and friendship of such princes, you return to your old abominations, before used under the Popery, then assuredly, Oh England! You shall be plagued and brought to desolation by means of those whose favors you seek, and by whom you are procured to fall from Christ and to serve the Antichrist.”
Knox’s use of the bible was enough to scare any follower and turn them against their new Queen and her intended marriage with the Prince of Asturias and King of Naples. But as her father. Mary was determined to get her own way.
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- On this day in Tudor History by Claire Ridgway
- The Myth of Bloody Mary by Linda Porter
- Mary Tudor byy Anna Whitelock