Monday, 14 April 2008

Jenny Gedes

So, most of the women I've looked at so far have been fairly well known, at least in certain circles. However, very few people have heard of Jenny Gedes, who's an amazing women from right here in Edinburgh. She became famous in 1633, which was a period of religious turmoil in Scotland. King Charles was trying to force Church of England traditions such as Bishops and the use of the book of Common Prayer onto a resistant presbetyrian Scotland. While some the reasons for resistance were probably politically motivated, the Scottish Christians also did not want their church to be based on hierarchy, and didn't want to use a prayer group which exalted the King. Which I think is pretty awesome of them! (And if any Church Historians are reading this, I'm really sorry for this terrible summary!)

So, where does Jenny come into all of this? A book of Canons was about to begin to be used in the Church of Scotland which ran counter to the way the CofS worked and still works (based on principles such as the 'first among equals' role of the minister). The Dean of Edinburgh stood up to read from this book in St Giles for the first time and Jenny stood up, threw her stool at him (!) and shouted, "“"Villain! doest thou say mass in my lug?". This action started what can only be termed a riot in the church, and through this action, and the actions of many others, the Church of Scotland remained free from links with the monarchy and state, and maintained its non-hierarchal system of Government.

I've included Jenny because her story is an often forgotten one (although there is a plaque to her in St Giles where she threw her stool), and because it reminds me of how much ordinary women who are rarely remembered by history, do for God, and in this case, to preserve religious freedom.

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