Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: The First Blast of the Trumpet
  • Author: John Knox
  • Editor: Michael Best
  • Coordinating editor: Michael Best

  • Copyright Michael Best. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Editor: Michael Best
    Not Peer Reviewed

    The First Blast of the Trumpet

    From The First Blast of the Trumpet

    1Would to God the examples were not so manifest to the further declaration of the imperfections of women, of their natural weakness and inordinate appetites! I might adduce histories proving some women to have died for sudden joy; some, for impatience, to have murdered themselves; some to have burned with such inordinate lust that for the quenching of the same they have betrayed to strangers their country and city; and some to have been so desirous of dominion that for the obtaining of the same they have murdered the children of their own sons, yea, and some have killed with cruelty their own husbands and children. But to me it is sufficient, because this part of nature is not my most sure foundation, to have proved that men illuminated only by the light of nature have seen and have determined that it is a thing most repugnant to nature that women rule and govern over men. For those that will not permit a woman to have power over her own sons will not permit her, I am assured, to have rule over a realm; and those that will not suffer her to speak in defense of those that be accused, neither that will admit her accusation intended against man, will not approve her that she shall sit in judgment crowned with the royal crown, usurping authority in the midst of men.

    But now to the second part of nature, in the which I include the revealed will and perfect ordinance of god; and against this part of nature, I say that it doth manifestly repugn that any woman shall reign or bear dominion over man. For god, first by the order of his creation, and after by the curse and malediction pronounced against the woman by the reason of her rebellion, hath pronounced the contrary. First, I say, that woman in her greatest perfection was made to serve and obey man, not to rule and command him. As Saint Paul doth reason in these words: "Man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. And man was not created for the cause of the woman, but the woman for the cause of man; and therefore ought the woman to have a power upon her head," (1 Cor. 11:8-10) that is, a coverture in sign of subjection. Of which words it is plain that the Apostle meaneth that woman in her greatest perfection should have known that man was lord above her, and therefore that she should never have pretended any kind of superiority above him, no more than do the angels above god the creator, or above Christ Jesus their head. So I say that in her greatest perfection woman was created to be subject to man. But after her fall and rebellion committed against god, there was put upon her a new necessity, and she was made subject to man by the irrevocable sentence of god, pronounced in these words: "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; with sorrow shalt thou bear thy children, and thy will shall be subject to thy man, and he shall bear dominion over thee." (Gen. 3:16)

    Hereby may such as altogether be not blinded plainly see, that god by his sentence hath dejected all women from empire and dominion above man. For two punishments are laid upon her, to wit, a dolor, anguish, and pain as oft as ever she shall be mother; and a subjection of herself, her appetites, and will, to her husband, and to his will. From the former part of this malediction can neither art, nobility, policy, nor law made by man deliver womankind; but whosoever attaineth to that honour to be mother, proveth in experience the effect and strength of god's word. But, alas, ignorance of god, ambition, and tyranny have studied to abolish and destroy the second part of God"s punishment. For women are lifted up to be heads over realms, and to rule above men at their pleasure and appetites. But horrible is the vengeance which is prepared for the one and for the other—for the promoters and for the persons promoted—except they speedily repent. For they shall be dejected from the glory of the sons of god to the slavery of the devil and to the torment that is prepared for all such as do exalt themselves against god. Against god can nothing be more manifest than that a woman shall be exalted to reign above man, for the contrary sentence hath He pronounced in these words: "Thy will shall be subject to thy husband, and he shall bear dominion over thee" (Gen. 3:16).