Author Archives: Marie Macpherson

About Marie Macpherson

Author of The Knox Trilogy, published by Knox Robinson Publishing

Marie de Guise Carved Roundels

The Dunrobin Attic Sale, 20 April 2021, lot 381. © bonhams.com

An Important set of carved oak armorial panels, from The Queen Regent’s House, Blythe’s Close, Edinburgh. Three probably 16/17th century, the fourth 18th century
Carved in low relief and showing (clockwise from top right), the arms of the King of France, the arms of the Duke of Hamilton and the arms of the King of Scotland impaling those of Mary of Guise and the arms of the City of Edinburgh.

The first panel shows the arms of the King of France and the monogram HR (Henricus Rex) is likely to refer to King Henry II 1547-1559. This armorial has a paper label pasted to the reverse which reads “From the roof of a staircase in the Queen Regent’s House, Blythe’s Close, left hand side”

The second panel shows the arms of the Duke of Hamilton and are accompanied by the monogram JH, they are likely to be the arms of James Hamilton (1606-1649) and from 1643 1st Duke of Hamilton and Earl of Cambridge. This armorial has a label pasted to the reverse which reads “From the roof of a room in the Queen Regent’s house, Blythe Close, Edinburgh, left hand side of the close, The Arms of Hamilton”

The third panel shows the impaled arms of the King of Scotland, specifically King James V (1512-1542) and Mary Guise Duchesse of Longville and the daughter of Claude Duke of Guise by Antionette Bourbon. They were married 1538 at Notre Dame. Their daughter Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587) would have displayed the same arms but after her death they would have ceased to be used, so the arms were in use for the period 1538-1587. This armorial has a paper label pasted to the reverse inscribed “From the roof of a room in the Queen Regent’s House, Blythe’s Close, it was not in its original condition when last taken down, being fixed (to) a plaster ceiling, the Queen Regents arms, g.d with those of Scotland”

The fourth roundel showing the Arms of The City of Edinburgh is clearly in different style to the remainder and was probably never intended to part of the set. The date of the patent is 1732 and they were registered at the Lyon Court in 1774. There is no image of these arms in the register and for this reason slight variations are found in early depictions. They have been viewed by a number of officers who consider them to be unusual and likely to be of the earliest date.

Queen Regent’s House was situated at the top of the Mound in Edinburgh, just below the castle and was built immediately after the burning of Holyrood Palace and the city by the English in 1544. James Grant writing in his 19th Century book Old and New Edinburgh, described how the widowed queen, whose husband died in 1542, “would naturally seek a more secure habitation within the walls of the city, and close to the Castle guns.” Following the death of James V, the couple’s infant daughter became Mary Queen of Scots with her mother Mary of Guise ruling Scotland as Queen Regent on the child’s behalf from 1554 to 1560.
Mary was the second wife of James V and it is thought that she probably lived in Queen Regent’s House from 1542 to 1554. From 1557 the house was occupied by Alexander Acheson of Gosford, a merchant and local landowner, and his wife Helen Reid. Their coats of arms were added to the door.

Accounts of the later years of the building detailed large handsome fireplaces, clustered pillars, high ceilings, fine stucco and elaborate recesses. A carved oak door is in the collections of the National Museum of Scotland. Robert Chambers, in his 1802 book Traditions of Edinburgh, said: “It was interesting to wander through the dusky mazes of this ancient building, and reflect that they had been occupied three centuries ago by a sovereign princess, and of the most illustrious lineage.

Grant wrote: “Since then it shared the fate of all the patrician dwellings in old Edinburgh, and became the squalid abode of a host of families in the most humble ranks of life.” The house and the close was demolished in 1845-46 to provide a site for the Assembly Hall and New College.

Relics of a Franco-Scotland: Three 16th century armorial roundels for sale at Bonhams

Marie de Guise-Lorraine 1515-2025

It’s a pretty grand discovery. At the end of March, browsing my Twitter account, I stumbled upon BonhamsDunrobin Attic Sale in Edinburgh on Tuesday 20 April 2021. I started a quick research on Dunrobin Castle, family seat of the 25th Earl of Sutherland, “the Highlands’ premier ducal palace” and “one of Scotland’s grandest and most historic castles”, says Charlie Thomas, Director of House Sales at Bonhams. Skimming through the auctioneers’ website, amidst paintings and portraits, marble sculptures, dinner services and furniture, there appeared lot 381 and I read, holding my breath: “An important set of carved oak armorial panels, from the Queen Regent’s House, Blythe’s Close, Edinburgh”.

The Dunrobin Attic Sale, 20 April 2021, lot 381. © bonhams.com

This “Queen Regent” is Marie of Lorraine, Queen consort of James V, King of Scots (1512-1542), dowager queen and later Queen Regent of Scotland (1554-1560)…

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Lauderdale Aisle, St Mary’s Kirk, Haddington

courtesy Clan Maitland

Lauderdale Aisle, Haddington near Edinburgh


Patrick, the 17th Earl recalls “In the mid 1950s, Fr. Patten, restorer of the Anglican Shrine at Walsingham, said to me “One day you must restore the Shrine of Our Lady of Haddington”. Until then, I had little notion of the relevant history. The Lauderdale Aisle had been overlooked in the details of the Maitland/Lauderdale inheritance, and my recent predecessors had therefore cared little about it.

Detailed research convinced me of the importance of the Aisle. Our Lady of Haddington was a major focus of mediæval devotion in the British Isles, with a Shrine at Whitekirk, which was in the old county of Haddingtonshire. However, English invasions left the Shrine desecrated, and Whitekirk in ruins. Subsequently, the Forrest family endowed “an Altarage of the Blessed Virgin and the Three Kings of Cologne” in the “Northwest corner” of the recently dedicated Church of St. Mary in Haddington, and this was presumably a revival of Whitekirk’s Shrine. St. Mary’s subsequently suffered severe damage during the Siege of Haddington, and details of the precise position and appearance of the Shrine were lost. Initially, I thought that it was situated in the North Transept, but it was most likely located where the current bookshop stands. The only clue to its likely appearance was a mediæval carved panel of the Adoration of the Magi, now in the crypt of St. Nicholas East Church, Aberdeen. This depicted the Kings literally running in haste to bring their gifts to the Christ-Child, and clad in toga-like plaid kilts. Here, then, was a model costume for the Three Kings. Moreover, I learned of a seal of the erstwhile Priory of Haddington, deposited in the British Museum, with the inscription ‘House of Our Lady at Haddington’. Thus, equipped with two images, and stimulated by the surge of interest in restoring St. Mary’s, I commissioned a wood carver from Oberammergau, then living in Norfolk, to carve figures of the Magi and of Christ in his Mother’s arms. The result is a wonderfully tranquil portrayal of Christ’s Mother, visible to all in the Lauderdale Aisle.

Once the Aisle had been converted back to its original use as the private chapel of the Lauderdales, it was consecrated for public worship by the Bishop of Edinburgh, the late Primus Alastair Haggart, during one of the early Pilgrimages in the 1970s. An ecumenical service – never before seen in Scotland – followed. The Primus presided; Dr. Roy Sanderson, then a former Moderator, also participated and offered prayers; then the Polish Orthodox priest in Edinburgh offered a prayer; and the Abbot of Nunraw blessed the figures which had been newly instated.

Since then the Aisle has been visited by many hundreds of people, and is the focus of an annual ecumenical pilgrimage . Intercessions are requested by people from all around the world. Many people write back to thank us for the prayers that have been offered, and tell us that their prayers have been answered. The Aisle continues to maintain its reputation for holding special healing qualities.

Patrick, Earl of Lauderdale

The Aisle is the former sacristy of the great 15th century parish church, with a splendid monument of the early-17th century, in marble, with alabaster effigies. St Mary’s is one of the ‘three sisters’ Scottish Collegiate churches, set in capitals and former capitals of Scotland, including Edinburgh and Linlithgow.

St Mary’s Haddington was known as the ‘Lamp of Lothian’ due to its beauty and spiritual significance. The church was badly damaged during the Siege of Haddington (1548-9) when the English barricaded the town against the joint forces of Scots and French.

St Mary’s is the longest parish church in Scotland, and is of cathedral scale. The Lauderdale Aisle – an Episcopal Chapel within a Church of Scotland Building with strong Catholic and Orthodox influences – was the inspiration for the annual international ecumenical pilgrimage on the second Saturday in May.

Today St Mary’s Church maintains a tradition of ecumenicalism. The Aisle is the burial place of the Earls and of the Duke of Lauderdale.

In addition to spaces in the burial vault for the interment of the coffins of the Earls and Countesses of Lauderdale, there are niches in the vault for the interment of ashes. Any clansfolk who would like their ashes to be interred in the vault of the Aisle should contact the Chief.  

Recent history of the Aisle – Classification as an ancient monument

The Minister of Public Buildings and Works determined in 1964 that the Aisle with its outstanding 17th century alabaster monument, one of the finest of its period in Scotland and the United Kingdom, should be classified as an ancient monument, and that the Minister was of the opinion that the preservation of the monument was a matter of public interest by reason of the historical, traditional and archaeological interest attaching thereto. The Minister undertook the maintenance of the fabric of the Aisle, whilst the Earl of Lauderdale undertook day to day operation of the aisle and to provide free access.  Historic Scotland has taken over the responsibilities of the Minister of Public Buildings and Works.               

The Lauderdale Aisle on the north side of the church of St Mary, Haddington is a burial aisle which incorporates a memorial dedicated to Sir John Maitland, 1st Baron Maitland, Chancellor of Scotland, who died in 1595 and to his son, John Maitland, 1st Earl of Lauderdale, who died in 1645 and their wives. Around 1590, the Lord Chancellor, John,1st Lord Maitland who  had the friendship of King James VI  was allowed to use this vestry as his mortuary aisle. The present monument was probably ordered by the 1st Earl in the 1640’s. The entrance to the aisle is through a 13th century Romanesque doorway, but the present structure seems to date from the 16th century. It is not clear what structure lay beyond the doorway, though it is thought that it was the former vestry. 

         Before the Reformation, Maitlands were interred in the floor of the church.   Following the Siege of Haddington (1548 – 1550) which left the choir and transepts derelict, Sir John Maitland (shown above) began to restore the Aisle, and around this time a family crypt on the west side of the Aisle was built to accommodate burials, because the Kirk began to discourage interments in the church.

         The memorial may have been planned by the 1st Earl, who died in 1645, but it was probably erected by the 2nd Earl, and only Duke of Lauderdale, after the Restoration. Its design is attributed to Nicholas Stone (died 1647), and is similar to the memorials to the first Earl of Dunbar at Dunbar, and to Viscount Stormont at Scone Palace. These memorials were made in London by Italian craftsmen but erected by local labour. Close to the Aisle was the “Altarage of the Blessed Virgin and the Three Kings” which was derelict after the siege of Haddington, and had disappeared by 1590.

         On May 6th 1978 the ancient Altarage was restored in the private chapel by the XVIIth Earl of Lauderdale with the intention that the chapel should be used for ecumenical worship and use by Christians of all Trinitarian traditions.

         The Collegiate Church of St Mary the Virgin is a Church of Scotland parish church in Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland. Building work on the church was started in 1380, and further building and rebuilding has taken place up to the present day.

 http://www.stmaryskirk.co.uk/

Review of The Last Blast of the Trumpet by Lisa Redmond, The Madwoman in the Attic

http://lisareadsbooks.blogspot.com/2020/11/the-last-blast-of-trumpet-by-marie.html

The Last Blast of the Trumpet is the final book in Marie Macpherson’s trilogy about John Knox and the turbulent years of the reformation in Scotland. The book opens with Knox’s triumphant return to Scotland and the groundswell of support this brought his way in opposition to the Regent Mary of Guise who is in increasingly frail health. While it seems that victory may be his, Knox cannot rest easy as the young Queen returns to Scotland and the Scottish Lords begin to fall under her spell. Macpherson tells the story from both sides, creating such strong and convincing characters that they leap from the page. Despite the enormous differences between the two sides both are drawn with sympathy and both feel they are on the right of history. This is where the author has shown great skill; conveying the inner thoughts, motivations and beliefs of Knox, and his followers and Mary and her court without judging them. A complex and dangerous period of history is brought vividly to life in this accomplished and triumphant tale. Perfect for fans Hilary Mantel, Carol McGrath and Ken Follett.

Mary Stuart’s Open Ruff

All Things Robert Dudley

Mary Stuart by Nicholas Hilliard, 1570s

When Mary Queen of Scots was in English captivity she was allowed the lifestyle of a queen in exile, for example she kept a small household with servants and ladies-in-waiting and regularly took seat below a royal canopy. She also had herself painted by Nicholas Hilliard at least once, in 1578. There survive several versions of this portrait. Such pictures were acquired by noble and gentry households for portrait collections of famous people; also, Mary Stuart, for as long as she lived, was de facto Queen Elizabeth I’s heir presumtive and some of Elizabeth’s subjects would have liked to demonstrate their loyalty to the possible future Queen of England.

Mary Stuart in 1578

Nicholas Hilliard would have painted Mary from life and he and his workshop would then have produced other versions on commission. Mary herself would have ordered miniature portraits of her to…

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BookReview — The Last Blast of the Trumpet (Book 3 of the Knox Trilogy) by Marie Macpherson #HistoricalFiction #MaryQueenOfScots @Scotscriever @PenmorePress1

BookReview — The Last Blast of the Trumpet (Book 3 of the Knox Trilogy) by Marie Macpherson #HistoricalFiction #MaryQueenOfScots @Scotscriever @PenmorePress1

The Last Blast of the Trumpet

(Book 3 of the Knox Trilogy) 

By Marie Macpherson

Publisher: Penmore Press

Series: The Knox Trilogy

Print Length: 409 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction / Biographical Fiction

Conflict, Chaos and Corruption in Reformation Scotland. 

He wants to reform Scotland, but his enemies will stop at nothing to prevent him. 

Scotland 1559: Fiery reformer John Knox returns to a Scotland on the brink of civil war. Victorious, he feels confident of his place leading the reform until the charismatic young widow, Mary Queen of Scots returns to claim her throne. She challenges his position and initiates a ferocious battle of wills as they strive to win the hearts and minds of the Scots. But the treachery and jealousy that surrounds them both as they make critical choices in their public and private lives has dangerous consequences that neither of them can imagine.

In this final instalment of the trilogy of the fiery reformer John Knox, Macpherson tells the story of a man and a queen at one of the most critical phases of Scottish history.

‘Now’s the time to break from the fetters of Rome, brother. Scotland is on the brink of civil strife. We’re in dire need of a skipper to take the helm…’

Joshua may have only needed a trumpet to bring down the walls of Jericho, but Scotland was no Jericho and John Knox was no Joshua. Knox does have the one thing that Joshua did not though, he has a pulpit. It is here, in the church, before his congregation that Knox will draw the battle lines. He will fire up his congregation until the very demons of Hell will fear to stand against them, to stand against him. Nothing will stop his dream from coming to fruition, and no one will get in his way—not even a young and charismatic queen. 

With the tragic death of Francis II, Mary, the former Queen of France, has no choice but to return home. But the kingdom of her birth is a land in crisis. Mary must be careful, for her throne is surrounded by vultures desperate to profit from her ruination, and there are many who would rejoice if she were to fall from grace. None more so than Knox. Mary does not fear Knox, but she does fear the power of his ideas. Scotland needed stability now more than ever, and therefore she is willing to listen to Knox and to find a mutual agreement in which everyone gets a little of what they want.

Knox, however, will not bow down to a papist queen. There is no other way but his way, and it would be wise of Mary to remember that…

The Last Blast of the Trumpet (John Knox Trilogy Book 3) by Marie Macpherson is a Historical Fiction masterpiece.

Macpherson’s careful use of foreshadowing builds suspense throughout this novel, which imbues it with an atmosphere that can only be described as hauntingly beautiful. As Macpherson asks those who are long dead to breathe again, to experience the grandeur and the horrors once again, one cannot help but feel compassion for their plight. To be stabbed 57 times, or to be faced with a corrupted form of justice, and to be condemned for nothing more than the greed and vanity of the prosecutor gives the reader pause to think about how vastly different this time was to our own. This was a violent time in Scottish history, and this novel reflects this volatile age.

Knox is known as the founding father of Protestant Reformation in Scotland, but his story may not be quite what you expect it to be. While Knox waited for the death of the old regime in Scotland, he knowingly perpetuated this seemingly never-ending circle of violence. His God came with a sword. Macpherson has captured his fiery oratory as well as his determination to destroy anything that differed from his beliefs. In this story, as he did in life, Knox deplores the papist rules and teachings. He does nothing to hide his disgust at the grandeur of the Catholic Church. Neither does he have any sympathy for those who refuse to embrace his religion. His inability to compromise is greatly telling of how he saw the world. Anyone who dared to challenge him, such as the Regent, Mary of Guise, and then later her daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots, was deserving of a terrible fate. They deserved to die, which made him an exceedingly unlikeable character. At times he is the antagonist in this tale. His thoughts, his beliefs, make it incredibly difficult for a reader to sympathise with him. He is so blinkered that while he is chasing this ideal religion and this violent God, he fails to see the poverty all around him and when he is confronted with it, he is extremely blasé about these poor starving people, his people, his congregation. One could say that he is an extraordinarily bad shepherd—he lets his flock starve while he chases his corrupted dream of what God was and how one should praise him. 

Macpherson has given her readers a realistic, very rounded, characterisation of Knox. When he is not in the pulpit, when he is not arguing theology with people whom he considered inferior because of their beliefs, he is very much a family man. He is a father who adores his children and his wife. I thought the domestic Knox was a much easier man to like than the religious fanatic who seemingly thrived on fire and brimstone. Macpherson shows her readers a gentler side to him, a compassionate side when surrounded by his family. I thought this two-sided Knox worked incredibly well and made him particularly real in the telling.

There are a lot of characters in this story, and there are several points of view, which I thought gives this book a remarkably balanced account of this time in Scottish history. This is not a one-sided account, for this novel encompasses both sides of the argument. The reader bears witness to the dangerous and exceedingly volatile court of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary is a historical person who has always attracted my sympathies simply because of how terribly she was treated. In this novel, the young and newly widowed Mary is quite literally thrown to the wolves. Her inexperience and her desperate desire to appease the like of Knox, and her desperate attempt to seek a compromise makes her all the more admirable. Her story is told through the eyes of Isabelle Hepburn. Isabelle is a wonderful, brave heroine who witnesses the most terrible injustices and of course the devastating damage that men such as Knox were causing. I thought Isabelle’s depiction was fabulous. Through her eyes, we witness it all. 

The historical detailing of this story is staggering. The hours and hours that Macpherson has dedicated to research shines through in the thoroughly enthralling narrative. The historical backdrop of this story is magnificent, there was no doubt in my mind while I read this book as to which century I was in. When Historical Fiction is written like this, then there is no such thing as too much. Macpherson has brought 16th century Scotland back to life.

Although this is book 3 of a trilogy, it stands firmly on its own two feet. I have not read the previous two books, but at no time did I feel that I was adrift. The Last Blast of the Trumpet (John Knox Trilogy Book 3) by Marie Macpherson was a book that I could not wait to get back to. It is utterly enthralling from start to finish, and it is one that is certainly deserving of a place on your bookshelf.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde

The Coffee Pot Book Club

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The final book in a trilogy about Scottish reformer John Knox, Marie Macpherson’s The Last Blast of the Trumpet is available now. Read on to find out more about the book, the author and how to order your copy.

From the back of the book

Conflict, Chaos and Corruption in Reformation Scotland

He wants to reform Scotland, but his enemies will stop at nothing to prevent him.

Scotland 1559: Fiery reformer John Knox returns to a Scotland on the brink of civil war. Victorious, he feels confident of his place leading the reform until the charismatic young widow, Mary Queen of Scots returns to claim her throne. She challenges his position and initiates a ferocious battle of wills as they strive to win the hearts and minds of the Scots. But the treachery and jealousy that surrounds them both as they make critical choices in their public and private lives…

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The Writing Desk: Guest Blog Tour 26 October 2020

Blog Tour Guest Post ~ The Last Blast of the Trumpet (Book 3 of the Knox Trilogy) By Marie Macpherson

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US
Scotland 1559: Fiery reformer John Knox returns to a Scotland on the brink of civil war. Victorious, he feels confident of his place leading the reform until the charismatic young widow, Mary Queen of Scots returns to claim her throne. She challenges his position and initiates a ferocious battle of wills as they strive to win the hearts and minds of the Scots. But the treachery and jealousy that surrounds them both as they make critical choices in their public and private lives has dangerous consequences that neither of them can imagine.

The Influence of John Knox The louring figure of John Knox has cast a long, deep shadow over Scottish history and, love him or loathe him, you cannot deny his influence not only on our culture and psyche but also on the development of English Puritanism and the establishment of Presbyterianism around the world. To the great Victorian historian Thomas Carlyle, Knox was ‘the one Scotsman to whom the whole world owes a debt’ and who takes his rightful place alongside the leading reformers, Calvin, Beza and Farel on the Reformation Wall in Geneva.

For many, however, Knox is a prophet without honour in his own land. Carlyle’s fulsome praise was certainly not echoed by the Scottish bard, Robert Burns, a frequent victim of the cutty stool, a punishment for fornication. In Holy Willie’s Prayer he mocks the ‘unco guid’ the pious, self-righteous and dour Elect created by the doctrine of predestination. Knox is blamed for the stringent, puritanical restrictions that grasped Scotland in a tight iron grip for centuries and the caricature of the long-bearded, black-robed, Old Testament prophet spouting fire and brimstone endures. It is difficult nowadays to imagine but the preachers was a charismatic performer whose sermons drew huge congregations. Catholic congregations who’d been used to standing behind a rood screen at mass, cut off from priests chanting in Latin, were enthralled to hear scripture being expounded in their own language. 
Nevertheless, Knox’s extremism has become an embarrassment to his own Church of Scotland and his achievements have been overshadowed by his polemical pamphlet, The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, which has marked him out as a rampant misogynist and violent revolutionary. Contrary to popular opinion, Knox did not hate women. Far from it. He was quite the ladies’ man as his two young wives and flock of female admirers and correspondents would testify. Nonetheless, he believed that because women were ‘the weaker vessel’ they were unsuited for any form of public office, let alone that of supreme monarch. He was appalled and bewildered by the prevailing situation when so many women were ruling the roost: Mary Tudor in England, Mary of Guise in Scotland, as regent for her daughter Mary, Queen of Scots, and Catherine de Medici, regent in France. This was not only monstrous, against the laws of nature, but against divine law. Taking his inspiration from Paul in Timothy 2:12, he famously wrote:
To promote a woman to bear rule, superioritie, dominion or empire above any realme, nation, or citie, is repugnant to nature.
Knox was not a lone wolf crying out in the wilderness, however. Most of his male contemporaries, and indeed the law, deemed women to be second-class citizens. Meanwhile in various Protestant countries subjects were beginning to question the validity of despotic rulers. In 1550, the authors of the Apology of Magdeburg urged its citizens to take up arms against a tyrannical magistrate. In 1556 an exiled English bishop, John Ponet, argued that tyrants could be deposed by common authority, a sentiment shared by Knox’s colleague, Christopher Goodman, as a popular rhyme of the time recorded:   No Queen in her kingdom can or ought to sit fastIf Knox or Goodman’s books blow any true blast.But no one was as vehement and violent as Knox who clamoured for the Catholic female rulers not only to be brought down but executed. This alarmed many including John Aylmer who accused Knox of overstepping the mark and ‘cracking the dutie of obedience’ to a monarch. For this rebuttal Queen Elizabeth rewarded Aylmer with the bishopric of London and banned Knox from ever setting foot on English soil. 
Knox in EnglandIt’s often forgotten that Knox once had a promising career in the English church. Released after a 19-month stint in the galleys, the heretic was outlawed in his own country but welcomed in England where he served as pastor in Berwick-upon-Tweed and Newcastle. When the young King Edward VI invited the charismatic preacher to London as one of his chaplains, Knox’s career in England seemed assured. However, his uncompromising Calvinist beliefs startled the moderate Anglican bishops who sought to dilute them by offering him plum jobs–vicar of All Hallows in London and the bishopric of Rochester–if he followed their liturgy. Knox who abhorred idolatry in all its forms, refused to bend the knee at communion and wear episcopal vestments. No compromise was the motto of God’s chosen messenger.

Knox in GenevaEdward’s premature death in 1563, followed by the succession of Mary Tudor, was a great blow for Knox. Chased out of England he sought refuge in Geneva, confident that Calvin would back his call to depose the ‘wicked Jezebel’ who was persecuting Protestants. When Calvin advised obedience and passive resistance, Knox approached other leading reformers in Switzerland and Germany but failed to drum up support. Sensing the fiery Scot was more Calvinist than he was, Calvin sent him as trouble-shooter to Frankfurt where Canon Cox, leader of the English exiles, was sneaking dregs of popery into the English rite. Knox failed to convert Cox who hounded the zealot and his radical followers out of Frankfurt. Though Knox didn’t realise it at the time, the Church of England’s door had been slammed firmly behind him. 
Angry and frustrated, Knox picked up his pen to write The First Blast of the Trumpet against the cursed Jezebel of England. Conscious of the criticism it would provoke he published his vehement attack anonymously. A furious Calvin banned its publication in Geneva and wrote to William Cecil, that the ‘thoughtless arrogance of one individual’ had endangered the lives of the English exiles.

For all his legendary gift of prophecy, Knox didn’t foresee Mary Tudor’s demise in November 1558, nor her succession by another woman. At least Elizabeth was a Protestant, Knox conceded, and promised his support if she acknowledged that God had allowed her to reign as a special case to restore the true Protestant faith. This arrogance combined with his misogynistic comments greatly offended the young queen who refused his request to return to England. I fear that my First Blast hath blown from me all my friends in England, Knox complained.
It must have stuck in his craw to hear that his bitter rival, Canon Cox had officiated at Elizabeth’s coronation. It needed no gift of prophecy to see that ‘bells and smells’ were turning the queen’s head.His austere Calvinist Presbyterianism may not have been to Elizabeth’s taste, but Knox still exerted influence amongst rebels in the Anglican church who, sensing ‘creeping papistry’, were unwilling to submit to her seemingly trivial demands. Those who refused to use Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer or wear vestments were mockingly called ‘Puritans’ or ‘precisians’ and went on to form a dissident arm of the Church of England.
Knox in Scotland Outlawed in England, Knox returned to his homeland to lead the Lords of the Congregation in deposing the Catholic regent Mary of Guise and establishing Protestantism as the official religion of Scotland. With the regent’s sudden death, victory seemed assured and, in 1560, Knox set about producing The First Book of Discipline, his manifesto for a Christian commonwealth with education for all children, more universities, and a system of poor relief. However, because the nobility refused to hand over the rich benefices they’d purloined from the Roman Catholic Church, his visionary, democratic ideas were never put into practice during his lifetime. 

Statue of Knox the teacher, outside Knox Academy by John Denham, Wikipedia
The Protestant honeymoon period was cut short with the arrival of the charismatic young widow, Mary Queen of Scots, to claim her throne. And so began a bitter battle of wills between the minister and the monarch for the hearts and minds of the Scots. Many of the lords, embarrassed by his constant attacks on Mary, dropped their support for Knox and baulked at the idea of deposing their anointed queen. Nor did they dare execute Knox for his treacherous sermons for fear of making a martyr of him.

Knox reproving Mary Queen of Scots by David Wilkie
In the end it was not the revolutionary democrat Knox but her sister queen, Elizabeth Tudor, who signed Mary’s death warrant, on the advice of her powerful minister. By removing this threat to his mistress’s throne, William Cecil had one of his wishes granted and then in 1603 another one. The accession of James VI of Scots as James I of England signalled the Union of Crowns under a Protestant monarch, laying the foundation for the Union of Parliaments and the establishment of the United Kingdom in 1707. This dramatic change in the troubled relationship between the auld enemies, England and Scotland, it could be argued, was in no small measure a result of John Knox.
Meanwhile, after a tumultuous life, Knox died peacefully in his bed and was buried in the churchyard outside St Giles Cathedral Edinburgh where lot No. 23 in the car park marks the spot. Ironically, Knox the great iconoclast who ordered the destruction of graven images, is forever set in stone. How long in this iconoclastic age will the statue in New College depicting the preacher in full flow remain standing?

John Knox in New College, from Wikipedia

Discovering Diamonds Review

Monday, 19 October 2020

The Last Blast of the Trumpet by Marie Macpherson

Shortlisted for Book of the Month

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon CA
Amazon AU
Goodreads

Fictional Saga
150os / Mary Tudor
Scotland
(John Knox Trilogy Book 3) 


“Scotland 1559: Fiery reformer John Knox returns to a Scotland on the brink of civil war. Victorious, he feels confident of his place leading the reform until the charismatic young widow, Mary Queen of Scots returns to claim her throne. She challenges his position and initiates a ferocious battle of wills as they strive to win the hearts and minds of the Scots. But the treachery and jealousy that surrounds them both as they make critical choices in their public and private lives has dangerous consequence that neither of them can imagine.”
I have thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in this series – and was so hoping that the final conclusion would not let the side down. I need not have worried; if anything, Book Three even surpasses the other two.
John Knox is a character you either like or loathe, depending on your view of his determination, passion and conviction. Here is a man of a complex nature, living in a complex period with complex motivations. But then, this entire period of Scottish history was complex – the religious reformation, the political situation – all wrapped up in the diversity of support (or lack of it) for Mary, Queen of Scots. 
Ms Macpherson skilfully juggles all these complexities of the political situations with apparent ease. The passionate views and goals of her characters come over as real, flesh-and-blood people, with her writing as passionate as their personal convictions. The author immerses the reader into the upheaval of the period as if we are there, watching on the sidelines as the political and religious battles are set into action by some of the most well known and controversial people who were a part of Scottish history.
A superb ending to an equally as superb trilogy. This is one of those series about history that should be compulsory reading for upper-grade students at school – or anyone interested in Tudor-period history, come to that.
The books are stand alone – but do start at the beginning, it is well worth it!

Very highly recommended
Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Anne Holt
e-version reviewed