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Scottish Reformation

Dolly MacKinnon


The origins of the Scottish Reformation comprised a constellation of religious, political, social, and economic factors that resulted in a Calvinist kirk. The precursors to, and consequences of, Scotland's break with Roman Catholicism in 1560 were rooted both in the internal politics of the Scottish nobility and issues of succession regarding the monarchy, and in the nation's role and importance in the political, religious, and dynastic contests of certain European powers. The stability of the Scottish monarchy was also tested by periods where regents governed during the minority of James V (1513–28) and Mary (1542–61). During the sixteenth century, the dynastic ambitions of France and England played a part in the political and military incursions on Scottish soil, as is typified by the Rough Wooing (1544–45), the Treaty of Berwick (1560), and the Treaty of Edinburgh (1560). Religion proved to be just another mechanism through which to lever power. The outbreak of Protestant iconoclasm in 1557 was followed by the return to Scotland in 1558 of John Knox. The return of Mary, as a Catholic Queen of Scotland, in 1562 further fueled religious conflicts and tensions. The Scottish Reformation was a radical and dramatic event, but one that had had a long buildup and would have far-reaching implications for Scotland. While the Reformation aimed to rout the nation of a malignant kirk and ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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