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by John Knox



“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety” (1 Timothy 2:12-15). 



[The following extract is from the preface of a treatise written in opposition to the practice of admitting women to positions of political power. The sentiments expressed are similar to those held by some of the 19th century opponents of female suffrage, though in places the language is rather more vehement, especially when addressing the barbarous cruelty of the opponents of the Reformation.]

I AM assured that God hath revealed to some in this our age, that it is more than a monster in nature that a woman shall reign and have empire above man. And yet with us all, there is such silence, as if God therewith were nothing offended. The natural man, enemy to God shall find, I know, many causes why no such doctrine ought to be published in these our dangerous days: first, for that it may seem to tend to sedition[1]; secondarily, it shall be dangerous, not only to the writer or publisher, but also to all such as shall read the writings, or favour this truth spoken; and last, it shall not amend the chief offenders, partly because it shall never come to their ears, and partly because they will not be admonished in such cases.

I answer, if any of these be a sufficient reason, that a truth known shall be concealed, then were the ancient prophets of God very fools, who did not better provide for their own quietness, than to hazard their lives for rebuking of vices, and for the opening of such crimes as were not known to the world. And Christ Jesus did injury to his Apostles, commanding them to preach repentance and remission of sins in his name to every realm and nation. And Paul did not understand his own liberty, when he cried, “Woe be to me, if I preach not the evangel” (1 Corinthians 9:16). If fear, I say, of persecution, of slander, or of any inconvenience before named might have excused, and discharged the servants of God, from plainly rebuking the sins of the world, just cause had every one of them to have ceased from their office. For suddenly their doctrine was accused by terms of sedition, of new learning, and of treason. Persecution and vehement trouble did shortly come upon the professors with the preachers. Kings, princes and worldly rulers did conspire against God and against his anointed Christ Jesus (Matthew 26:57-68; Acts 18:12-16, 21:28-39; Psalm 2; Acts 4:1-33).

But what? Did any of these move the prophets and apostles to faint in their vocation? No. But by the resistance, which the devil made to them by his supporters, were they the more inflamed to publish the truth revealed unto them and to witness with their blood, that grievous condemnation and God’s heavy vengeance should follow the proud contempt of graces offered. The fidelity, bold courage, and constancy of those that are passed before us, ought to provoke us to follow their footsteps, unless we look for another kingdom than Christ hath promised to such as persevere in profession of his name to the end.

If any think that the empire of women is not of such importance, that for the suppressing of the same any man is bound to hazard his life, I answer, that to suppress it, is in the hand of God alone. But to utter the impiety and abomination of the same, I say, it is the duty of every true messenger of God, to whom the truth is revealed in that behalf. For the especial duty[2] of God’s messengers is to preach repentance, to admonish the offenders of their offences, and to say to the wicked, “Thou shalt die the death, except thou repent.” This, I trust, will no man deny to be the proper office of all God’s messengers to preach (as I have said) repentance and remission of sins. But neither of both can be done, except the conscience of the offenders be accused and convicted of transgression. For how shall any man repent not knowing wherein he hath offended? And where no repentance is found[3], there can be no entry to grace. And therefore I say, that of necessity it is, that, this monstiferous empire of women, (which amongst all enormities that this day do abound upon the face of the whole earth, is most detestable and damnable) be openly revealed and plainly declared to the world, to the end that some may repent and be saved. And thus far to the first sort.

To such as think that it will be long before such doctrine come to the ears of the chief offenders, I answer that the verity of God is of that nature, that at one time or at other, it will purchase to it self audience. It is an odour [aroma] and smell that can not be suppressed[4]. Yea it is a trumpet that will sound in despite of the adversary. It will compel the very enemies to their own confusion, to testify and bear witness of it. For I find that the prophecy and preaching of Elijah was declared in the hall of the king of Syria by the servants and flatterers of the same wicked king (2 Kings 6:12), making mention that Elijah declared to the king of Israel, whatsoever the said king of Syria spake in his most secret chamber. And the wondrous works of Jesus Christ were notified to Herod (Matthew 14:1-2), not in any great praise or commendation of his doctrine, but rather to signify that Christ called that tyrant a fox: and that he did no more regard his authority than did John the Baptist, whom Herod before had beheaded for the liberty of his tongue.

But whether the bearers of the rumours and tidings were favourers of Christ or flatterers of the tyrant, certain it is that the fame, as well of Christ’s doctrine, as of his works came to the ears of Herod. Even so may the sound of our weak trumpet, by the support of some wind (blow it from the south or blow it from the north it is no matter) come to the ears of the chief offenders. But whether it do or not, yet dare we not cease to blow as God will give strength (Romans 1:15-17). For we are debtors to more than to princes, to wit, to the multitude of our brethren, of whom, no doubt, a great number have heretofore offended by error and ignorance, giving their suffrages, consent and help to establish women in their kingdoms and empires[5], not understanding how abominable, odious and detestable is all such usurped authority in the presence of God. And therefore must the truth be plainly spoken, that the simple and rude multitude may be admonished.

[Note 1: Three chief reasons that do stay [keep] man from speaking the truth.]

[Note 2: It is necessary for every man to open the impiety which he knoweth to hurt his commonwealth.]

[Note 3: No man can repent except he know his sin.]

[Note 4: The property of God’s truth.]

[Note 5: The ignorant multitude hath set up the authority of women not knowing the danger.]



John Knox, The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment [Unnatural Rule] of Women, 1558.





John Knox (c.1505-1572) was the leader of the Scottish Reformation. He was born near Haddington, of respectable parents, and received a broad education. As a Roman priest he began studying Fathers such as Augustine of Hippo, and he came to a saving knowledge of Christ while still in his youth. He became strongly attached to George Wishart, whose early martyrdom did not daunt him but rather stirred him to continue steadfast in the faith. After a time of preaching in the castle of St Andrews, Knox was captured by the French (1547) and used as a galley-slave until his release in 1549. He preached in England under Edward VI until the accession of 'Bloody Mary' in 1553, when he fled for his life to Europe. In Geneva he came into contact with the Frenchman John Calvin, and helped to translate the Geneva Bible. Receiving a call from Scotland he returned in 1559, where, by the grace of God, he saw the emergence of a Protestant nation. Knox's boldness and influence were unsurpassed, and he was not ashamed to speak the truth before hostile rulers. He had a great love for Jesus Christ and His infallible Word, his doctrine being warmly evangelical and imprinted with a firm knowledge that truth cannot reign safely alongside error. Today John Knox is widely known not only as a Reformer, but also for his controversial treatise "The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women", in which he opposes the woman usurping authority over the man.