Terry Pratchett has written a book called Monstrous Regiment, and there used to be a feminist theatre company with the same name. The term Monstrous Regiment comes from the title of a John Knox pamphlet, written in 1558 – the full title is The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstruous Regiment of Women. I discovered this when I was watching episode 3 of the BBC series She-Wolves: England’s Early Queens (click here to watch on iPlayer). John Knox was a Protestant reformer whose pamphlet rails against the rules of the Catholic queens around at the time – Mary of Guise (mother of Mary Queen of Scots) who ruled in her daughter’s name from 1554 to 1560, Mary Queen of Scots, and Queen Mary (Tudor) of England.
The two words monstrous and regiment have changed in meaning since those days. The original spelling of monstrous, used by Knox in the title of the pamphlet, was ‘monstruous’ and the original meaning was ‘unnatural’ (it is from the Latin monstrosus, meaning portentous or unnatural). The original meaning of regiment was ‘rule or government over a person, group or country, especially royal authority’. So, Knox was referring to the rule by female monarchs as unnatural. He got his come-uppance when Elizabeth I succeeded Mary to the throne. She was a Protestant but she banned Knox from setting foot in England.