Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

John Knox

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

John Knox

Article excerpt

John Knox. By Jane E.A. Dawson. (New Haven: Yale University Press. 2015. Pp. x, 373. $45.00. ISBN 978-0-300-11473-7.)

Jane Dawson's long-awaited Knox biography draws on some previously unknown source materials as well as significant advances in our understanding of sixteenth-century Britain since the landmark treatments of Knox by Jasper Ridley (1968) and Stanford Reid (1974). The subject is certainly neither unknown nor noncontroversial, in part because of the very dramatic portrait Knox gave of himself in his own rather polemical History of the Reformation in Scotland, published after his death, using materials he had left behind. Dawson does an admirable job of cutting through some of that fog and presenting a portrait of Knox for the twenty-first century, one which contextualizes his flaws without necessarily excusing them.

The major new primary source here is a small collection of letters between Knox and his friend, fellow Marian exile and sometime ministerial colleague Christopher Goodman, held in the Denbighshire Record Office. Dawson uses these to shed light on Knox's movements, particularly during 1566-67, when he was temporarily exiled from his pulpit in Edinburgh. Knox settled for a while in Ayr, on the west coast of Scotland, and the letters reveal that Goodman, who had accompanied Sir Henry Sidney to Ireland, was trying to lure Knox there to join the effort to bring a Calvinist-style reformation to that island. Knox appears to have considered but declined this offer. He returned to Edinburgh after the deposition of Mary Stewart, but not before first paying a clandestine visit to northwestern England and London. These contacts highlight Knox's transnational nature. While today he is generally associated with his native Scotland, he also held positions in the Edwardine Church of England, and ministered to the "English" congregation in Geneva. His first wife, Marjorie Bowes, was English, as was his close friend Goodman.

Dawson is also keen to stress how Knox's experience of the Church of England and its apparent overturning by Mary Tudor contributed to his inability to consider what may have been pragmatic compromises through the twists and turns of Scottish ecclesiology and politics between his return to his native kingdom in 1559 and death in 1572. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.