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Waiting for Deborah: John Knox and Four Ruling Queens

John Knox and Robert M. Healey
The Sixteenth Century Journal
Vol. 25, No. 2 (Summer, 1994), pp. 371-386
DOI: 10.2307/2542887
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2542887
Page Count: 16
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Waiting for Deborah: John Knox and Four Ruling Queens
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Abstract

Knox's thought on female monarchy reflected his study of scripture and his era's estimate of women's abilities. Rule by women opposed God's will; no natural or historical circumstances justified a woman's exercising civil authority. Concerning the exceptions of Deborah's and Huldah's rule of Israel, Knox attributed their authority to God's suspension of divine commandment (something no human could repeat) solely to proclaim God's Word. By contrast, queens of England and Scotland claimed royal office as inheritance; two had by marriage conveyed their realms to strangers and betrayed their peoples' liberties to idolaters. Knox's dealings with Mary Tudor, Mary of Lorraine, Elizabeth Tudor, and Mary Stuart revealed initial hope that each might become a Deborah (i.e., become Protestant and reform the nation's religion), followed by disappointment and bitter comment in despair. The Deborah in Elizabeth did not meet Knox's standards, and in three queens named Mary, Deborah did not appear at all.

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