John Knox statue, New College
John Knox depicted, bible-in-hand, delivering a sermon in the style of an Old Testament prophet in the courtyard of the Church of Scotland's main theological college. Knox was the key figure in the Scottish Reformation which established the Church of Scotland as a national reformed church. After being ordained a priest in 1536, he became a follower of the Lutheran preacher George Wishart who was burned as a heretic in 1546. Wishart's supporters retaliated by murdering Cardinal David Beaton in St. Andrews Castle. Following a French siege of the castle, Knox, who had joined the group, was condemned to almost two years as a galley-slave on the Loire before English protestant influence secured his release. After preaching in Frankfurt and England, he fled to the Continent to escape the persecutions under Mary Tudor. After twelve years of exile, during which time he studied in Geneva, he returned to Scotland in 1559, fortified by his Calvinist faith, and joined the armed revolt of the protestant 'Lords of the Congregation' against the rule of the Catholic Queen Regent, Mary of Guise. Whilst minister of St Giles in Edinburgh, he was the main influence behind the First Book of Discipline which regulated parish revenue, education and provision for the poor. In 1560 the Scottish Parliament abolished papal authority, banned the Mass and approved a new Confession of Faith which Knox defended in clashes with Mary Stewart after her return from France in the following year. He was instrumental in turning public opinion against the Queen who was soon deposed and fled to England. He died in 1572, leaving his legacy of the most thorough and effective protestant reformation of any country in Europe.
"No oath or promise can bind the people to obey and maintain tyrants against God …
justly may they depose and punish them." -- John Knox (1505-1572)