Scottish Reformation

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The Reformation in Scotland was arguably the most important event in Scottish history. It took place when Scotland was still an independent nation state, and therefore had its own peculiar characteristics. And since the Church of Scotland was one of the institutions to preserve its independence on the Act of Union with England in 1707, the Reformation's influence helped to shape a disctinctively Scottish culture even after the Union.

The Scottish Parliament established Protestantism in Scotland with an act of 1560.


[edit] Early movements

An Act of Parliament of 1525 forbad the importation of Lutheran books into Scotland- an early sign of Scottish interest in Continental developments. Patrick Hamilton was burned at the stake for his Lutheranism at St Andrews in 1528; George Wishart followed in 1546. Support for the Reformers came from England under Henry VIII (who had broken with Rome in 1535) and Edward VI. Cardinal Beaton led the opposition, but he was murdered in the siege of St Andrews Castle in 1546 in reaction to Wishart's condemnation. The castle was taken in July 1547 by the French, who captured, among others, the Protestant minister in St Andrews, John Knox. Knox spent eighteen months as a galley slave; he then spent time in exile in England, Frankfurt and- most importantly- in the Geneva of John Calvin, where he was minister of the exiled English congregation. He returned to a changed Scotland in May 1559.

[edit] Lords of the Congregation

Scotland had been ruled since 1554 by Mary of Guise (1515-1560), former Queen consort of James V, acting as Regent for her daughter Mary Queen of Scots, who was being brought up in France. Desire for the reform of the Church combined with concerns about Mary of Guise's pro-French policies. In 1557 some Scottish noblemen drew up a covenant to advance Protestant ideas- these were the Lords of the Congregation; there were increasinlgy severe outbreaks of iconoclasm. The death of the English Queen Mary Tudor and the acession of the Protestant Queen Elizabeth in 1558 gave hope that support for the Protestant cause would once again come from England- 1559 was a year in which various towns declared for the Reformation, to be met with force from the Regent; but the towns defended their preachers. Monastaries were sacked, and churches stripped of Catholic symbolism, but Mary of Guise had French troops on her side. 1560, however, saw England commit militarily in Scotland, tipping the balance of power- and Mary of Guise died in June. England and France agreed to withdraw their forces from Scotland in July; and the Mary Queen of Scots granted a parliament which accepted a Protestant Confession of Faith: the Scots Confession drawn up by Knox- now returned from exile- and others. Papal authority in Scotland was abrogated- it was to an officially Protestant country that the Catholic Queen Mary returned later in 1560.

[edit] Knox as leader of the Reformation

Knox in Edinburgh 2 May 1559, with the nation in danger from civil war, since Mary of Guise was threatening to use force against the growing Protestant threat. Knox was quickly recognised as leader of the reforming party. His preaching led to iconoclastic riots and the dissolution of monasteries.

[edit] To be continued...

[edit] Notes and references


[edit] References

  • Cross, F.L. and Livingstone, E.A. (eds), "Scotland" in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, pp.1471-1473. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1997. ISBN 0-19-211655-X
  • Lynch, Michael, "Reformation" in The Oxford Companion to Scottish History, pp.500-504 . Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2001. ISBN 0-19-211696-7
  • McGovern, Mary (ed), Chambers Biographical Dictionary Seventh Edition. Chambers, Edinburgh, 2002. ISBN 0550-10051-2
  • Kirk, J., "Reformation, Scottish" in Cameron, Nigel M. de S. et al, Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology, pp.693-698. T & T Clark, Edinburgh

[edit] External links

Reformation History


Historic Scottish Churches

Historical roots of contemporary Scottish churches-

Action of Churches Together in Scotland: Scottish ecumenical body:

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