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2. Elizabeth as Sacred Monarch In 1558 the Scots reformer John Knox published his First Blast ofthe TrumpetAgainst the Monstrous Regiment ofWomen. Knox vehemendy described female rule as blasphemous against God, given the essential quality of woman's nature. "I am assured that God hath reveled to some in this our age, that it is more then a monstre in nature that a Woman shall reigne and have empire above a Man. . . . howe abominable, odious, and detestable is all such usurped authoritie." Knox argued that God not only ordained that women were barred from authority, but given their weaknesses they would be incapable of wielding authority ifthey illegitimately usurped it. Yet women, who were avaricious, deceitful, cruel, oppressive, and proud, sought domination over men, and some men foolishly allowed it. "To promote a Woman to beare rule, superioritie, dominion, or empire above any Realme, nation, or Citie, is repugnant to Nature ... it is the subversion ofgood order, of all equitie and justice." Men must "acknowledge that the Regiment ofa Woman is a thing most odious in the presence ofGod ... she is a traitoresse and rebell against God ... they must studie to represse her inordinate pride and tyrannie to the uttermost of their power." Knox claimed divine authority for his views. "By the Holy Ghost is manifesdy expressed in these words, I suffer not a woman to usurp authority above the man. So both by God's law and the interpretation of the Holy Ghost, women are utterly forbidden to occupy the place ofGod in the offices 'foresaid, which he has assigned to man, whom he hath appointed to be his lieutenant on earth. The aposde taketh power from all women to speak in the assembly." Aimed at Mary I, Mary Stuart, and her regent mother, Mary of Guise, Knox had the bad timing of having his work appear only a few months prior to the beginning of Elizabeth's reign. Though in no way arguing for the overthrow of Elizabeth, Knox was committed to the proposition that for a woman to be the head of government was "monstrous." In the "apology" he sent Elizabeth he stated, "I can not deny the wreiting of a booke aganis the usurped Authoritie , and injust Regement of Women; neither [yit] am I myndit to Elizabeth as Sacred Monarch n retract or call back any principall point, or proposition of the same, till treuth and verritie do farder appeir." Knox was not primarily a political theorist, and he was mostly concerned with matters of religion. But in the sixteenth century monarchy, politics and religion were completely intertwined.1 Knox was answered the following year by John Aylmer in his Harborroweforfaithfull and trewe subjectes. Tutor for Lady Jane Grey and friend of Roger Ascham, Aylmer was one of those who had fled abroad during Mary's reign. Though defending Elizabeth's right to rule, Aylmer in the end was almost as limiting to the power of a woman to rule as Knox, suggesting that Knox's wrong thinking came "not of malice but of zele." Aylmer conceded that God did not want women to be priests, but this is separate from "cyvill pollycie." Aylmer supports Elizabeth's right to rule, since God sent her "by birth" to the English people. But he adds, better in England, "then any where [since] the regiment ofEngland is not a mere Monarchie," but rather a combination of "monarchy, oligarchy, and democratie ." Parliament limited the power of the ruler, who "can ordein nothing without them.... ifto be short she wer a mere monark, and not a mixte ruler, you might peradventure make me to feare the matter the more, and the les to defend the cause. . . . [but] it is not in England so daunger[ous] a matter, to have a woman ruler."2 Aylmer accepted the view that women are less competent, but that hardly means they are incompetent . "The male is moore mete to rule then the female" does not mean the woman is unfit, but only less so. "Chalke is whyter than cheese, ergo cheese is black" is ridiculous, he argued. When the Bible is opposed to women and children ruling, Aylmer argued, this is a metaphor for poor rule. "Not boyes in age, but in manner ... not women in sexe, but in feblenes of wit . . . such as women be of the wurst sort, fond, folish, wanton, flibbergibbes, tatlers, trifles, wavering witles, without counsell, feable, careles, rashe, proude ... talebearers, evesdrippers, rumor raisers, evell tonged . . . and in everyre wise, dotefied...


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