To the verteuus and godlie Elizabeht by the grace of GOD quen of England etc John Knox desireht the perpetuall Encrease of the Holie Spiritt. etc.
As your graces displeasur against me most Iniustlie conceaned, hath be[en] and is to my wretched hart a burthen grevous and almost intollerabill, so is the testimonye of a clean conscience to me a stay and vphold that in desperation I sink not, how vehement that ever the temptations appear, for in GODDis presence my conscience beareht me reacord that maliciouslie nor of purpose I inoffended your grace, nor your realme. And therfor how so ever I be ludged by man, I am assured to be absolued by him who onlie knoweht the secreatis of hartes.
I can not Deny the Writeing of a booke against the vsurped aucthoritie and Iniust regiment of wemen, neyther yet am I mynded to retract or to call any principall point or proposition of the sam[e], till treuth and veritie do farther appear, but why that eyther your grace, eyther yit ony such as vnfeanedlie favourthe libertie of England should be offended at the aucthor of such a work I can perceaue no iust occasion.
For first my booke tuchheht not your graces person in especiall, neyther yit is it preiudiciall till any libertie of the realme yf the tyme and my Writing be indifferently considered. How could I be enemy to your graces person? for deliuerance quhairof I did mor[e] study, and interprise farther, than any of those that now accuse me. And as concerning your regiment how could? or can I envy that? which most I haue thrusted and for the which (as obliuion will suffer) I render thankis vnfeanedlie unto GOD that is, that it hath pleased Him of His eternall goodnes to exalt your head (which tymes wes in Daunger) to the manifestation of his glorie and extirpation of Idolatrie.
And as for any offence whiche I haf committed against England eyther in writeing that or of any other werk I will not refuse that moderate and indifferent men Iudge and decerne betwixt me and thost that accuse me. To witt Whither of the partijs Do most hurt the libertie of England, I that afferme that no woman may be exalted above any realme to mak[e] the libertie of the sam[e] thrall to a straunge, proud, and euell nation, or thai that approve whatsoeuir pleaseth princes for the tyme.
Yf I were wer[e] asweall disposed till accuse, as som of them (till thair owne schame) haue declared thame selves I nothing dowbt but that in few wordis I should lett ressonabill men vnderstand that som that this Day lowlie crouche to your grace, and lauboure to make me odious in your eyes, did in your aduersitie neyther shew thame selvis faithfull frendis to your grace, neyther yit so loving and cairfull ouer thair native cuntry as now thai wold be esteamed.
But omitting the accusation of others for my owne purgation and for your graces satisfaction I say. That nothyng in my booke conceaued Is, or can be preiudiciall to your graces iust regiment prouided that ye be not found vngrate unto GOD. Vngrate ye shalbe proued in presence of His throne, (howsoeuir that flatterairs Iustifie your fact) yf ye transfer the glory of that honour in which ye now stand to any other thing, then to the dispensation of His mercy which onelye mackethe that lauthfull to your grace Which nature and law Denyeth to all woman. Neyther wold I that your grace should fear that this your humiliation befoir GOD should in any case infirm or weaken your Iust and lauthfull authoritie befoir men. Nay madam such vnfeaned confession of goddis benefittis receaued shalbe the establishment of the sam[e] not onelye to your self, bot also to your sead and posteritie. Whane contrariwise a prowd conceat, and eleuation of your self shalbe the occasion that your reing shalbe vnstabill, trublesum and schort.
GOD is witness that vnfeanedlie I both love and reverence your grace, yea I pray that your reing may be long, prosperous, and quyet. And that for the quyetnes which Christis membris before persecuted haue receaued vnder yow but yit yf I should flatter your grace I were no freind, but a deceavabill trater. And therfor of conscience I am compelled to say, that neyther the consent of peopill, the proces of tyme, nor multitude of men, can establish a law which GOD shall approve, but whatsoeuer He approveht (by his eternall word) that shalbe approued, and whatsoeuer he dampneth shalbe condampneth, though all men in earth wold hasard the iustification of the sam[e]. And therfor[e] madam the onlie way to retean and to keap those benefittes of GOD haboundandlie powred now of laitt Dayis vpon yow, and vpon your realme is vnfeanedlie to rendir vnto GOD, to His mercy and vndeserued grace the [w]holl glory of this your exaltatioun, forget your byrth and all tytill which thervpon doth hing[e], and considder deaplie how for feir of your lyfe ye did declyne from GOD, and bow till Idolatrie. Lett it not appear a small offence in your eyis, that ye haue declyned from Christ Iesus in the Day of his battale, neyther yit wold I that ye should esteam that mercy to be vulgar and commone which ye haue receaued. To witt, that GOD hath covered your formar offence, hath presented yow when ye were most unthankfull, and in the end hath exalted and raised yow vp not onlie from the Dust, but also from the portes [gates] of death to reull above his people for the confort of his kirk. It aperteaneth to yow thairfor to ground the iustice of your aucthoritie not vpon that law which from year to year Doth change, but vpon the eternall prouidence of Hym who contrarfy to nature, and without your deserving hath thus exalted your head.
Yf thus in GODDis presence ye humill [humble] your self, as in my hart I glorifie GOD for that rest granted to His afflicted flock within England under yow a weak instrument, so will I with toung and pen iustifie your aucthoritie and regiment as the HOLIE GHOST hath iustified the same In DEBORA, that blessed mother in Israeli, but yf these premisses (as GOD forbid) neglected, ye shall begyn to brag of your birth, and to build your aucthoritie vpon your owne law, flatter yow who so list youre felicite shalbe schort. Interpret my rud[e] wordis in the best part as written by him who is no ennemye to your grace.
By diuerse letters I haue required licence to vesitt your realme not to seik my self neyther yit my owen ease, or commodite. Whiche yf ye now refuse and. deny I must remit my [?] to GOD, adding this for conclusioun, that commonlie it is sein that such as luf not the counsall of the faithfull (appear it never so scharp) are compelled to follow the Deceat of flatteraris to thair owen perdition. The mighty Spreit of the Lord Iesus move your hart to vnderstand what is said, geve vnto yow the discretion of spirittes, and so reull yow in all your actlonis and interprisis that in yow GOD may be glorified, His church edified, and ye your self as a livelie member of the sam[e] may be an exempill and mirroure of vertew and of godlie Lief till others.
So be it. Off Edinburgh the 20. Day of Julij.1559.
By your graces [w]holly to command in godlynes.
Endorsed. John Knox.
To the ryght myghty ryght high and ryght excellent princesse Elzabeth quen of England, etc.
Be these Deliuered State Papers, Scotland, Vol.1 Art.65.