On June 16th. commissioners arrived from England and France with powers to effect an arrangement between the contending parties.
Continuing Scotland’s Presbyterian Reformation,
our selection from John Knox: A Biography by P. Hume Brown published in 1895. The selection is presented in eight easy 5 minute installments. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
Previously in Scotland’s Presbyterian Reformation.
Time: 1559 to 1572
The death of the Regent on June 10th. [1560 – jl] must have quickened the desire of the Guises for peace; for where she had failed to effect their purposes no one else was likely to succeed. Alike by her own character and gifts and by the momentous policy of which she was the agent, Mary of Lorraine is one of the remarkable figures in Scottish history. It was her misfortune — a misfortune due to her birth and connections — that she found herself from the first in direct antagonism to the natural development of the country of her adoption, and that the circumstances in which she ruled were such as to bring into prominence the least worthy traits of the proud race from which she sprang. Yet in personal appearance, as in courage and magnificence, she was the true sister of Henry of Guise and the Cardinal of Lorraine, “the Pope and King of France.” Construed to a larger and more charitable sense than that in which they were written, the words of Knox fitly enough sum up her career. She was “unhappy — to Scotland — from the first day she entered into it unto the day she finished her unhappy life.”
On June 16th. commissioners arrived from England and France with powers to effect an arrangement between the contending parties. From England came Cecil and Dr. Wotton, Dean of Canterbury and York; and from France, Monluc, Bishop of Valence, and Charles de Rochefoucauld, Sieur de Randan. From the beginning, the French representatives gave it to be understood that any treaty that might be made was exclusively between England and France; the Congregation were rebel subjects with whom their prince could in no wise treat. After many difficulties that more than once threatened to put an end to further negotiations, a settlement was at length reached (July 6th). The final arrangement signally proved how hopeless the Guises were of their immediate prospects in Scotland. Mary and Francis were to desist from using the arms of England; no Frenchman was henceforth to hold any important office in Scotland; the fortifications of Leith were to be demolished; and the French soldiers, with the exception of one hundred twenty, were at once to be sent home in their own country. Till the return of Mary the government was to be entrusted to twelve persons, of whom she was to appoint seven and the estates five. In the treaty no arrangement was made regarding religion; but, with the powers now placed at their disposal, there could be little doubt how the Protestant leaders would interpret the omission. Thus had Elizabeth and the Congregation gained every point for which they had striven; and their victory may be said to have determined the future, not only of Britain, but of Protestantism. So far as Scotland is concerned, the treaty of Edinburgh marks the central point of her history.
It now remained to be seen to what uses the Protestant party would put their victory. The simultaneous departure of the French and English troops relieved them from all restraint; and four days later the great deliverance was signalized by a solemn thanksgiving in the Church of St. Giles. For the effectual spreading of the Protestant doctrine, preachers were planted in various parts of the country — Knox being appointed to the principal charge in Edinburgh. But it was the approaching assembly of the estates to which all men were looking with hopes or fears, according to their desires and interests. The estates met on August 3d, but it was not till the 8th that the attendance was complete. It was to be the most important national assembly in the history of the Scottish people; and the numbers of the different classes who flocked to it showed that the momentous nature of the crisis was fully realized. Specially noteworthy was the crowd of smaller barons from all parts of the country. So unusual was the appearance of these persons that it had almost been forgotten that their right to sit as representatives dated from as far back as the reign of James I. A question raised, as to the legality of an assembly which met independently of the summons or the presence of the sovereign, was decisively set aside; and the House addressed itself to the great issues involved in the late revolution. The question of religion, as at the root of the whole controversy, took precedence of every other. The first proceeding showed the national instinct for the logical conduct of human affairs. The estates instructed the ministers to draw up a statement of Protestant doctrine, which might serve at once as a chart for their future guidance and a justification for their present and their future action. In four days the task (an easy one for Knox and his brother-ministers) was accomplished; and under twenty-five heads the estates had before them what was henceforth to be the creed of the majority of the Scottish people. Article by article the Confession was read and considered, and, after a feeble protest by the bishops of St. Andrew’s, Dunkeld, and Dunblane, approved and ratified by an overwhelming majority of the estates.
The way being thus cleared, the next step was the logical conclusion of all the past action of the Protestant leaders. In three successive acts, all passed in one day, it was decreed that the national Church should cease to exist. The first act abolished the jurisdiction of the Pope; the second condemned all practices and doctrines contrary to the new creed; and the third forbade the celebration of mass within the bounds of Scotland. The penalties attached to the breach of these enactments were those approved and sanctioned by the example of every country in Christendom. Confiscation for the first offence, exile for the second, and death for the third — such were to be the successive punishments for the saying or hearing of mass.