Evolution of Protestant ideas and the Humanist academic tradition in Scotland : with special reference to Scandinavian/Lutherian influences
Lindseth, Erik Lars
In Scotland, the fact that the Scottish church was not reformed until quite late, at least in comparison to most of the rest of the Protestant churches on the continent, has meant that many historians and theologians have concentrated more on contemporary parallels of the 1550s and 1560, particularly Geneva, and tended to ignore other possible origins for the ideas of the Scottish Reformation. Certainly during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when Humanism finally ended the academic monopoly of the medieval Scholastics, Scots were familiar figures in the universities of France and western Germany. This would have allowed many Scottish students to experience the 'magisterial reformation' of the 1520s. This development of reform ideas by university magisters had its roots in the conciliar movement of the fifteenth century and in the radical nee-realist philosophy of Wyclif and Hus. In Scotland this can be traced as a tradition of progressivism which was passed down from one academic generation to the next. After the nee-realists who had been at Cologne during the 1440s, returned to Scotland in 1450, they helped to establish an academic atmosphere which encouraged continued study at Paris, Cologne and Louvain, and facilitated the introduction of Humanism by Bishop Elphinstone and Hector Boece towards the end of the fifteenth century. The reform ideas of these progressive academics were then adopted by John Adamson who was responsible for reforming the Dominican order in Scotland after 1511. Significantly, many young friars of this order appeared among the Scottish supporters of Luther a generation later. When Cologne and Paris Universities both condemned the Humanist Reformers during the 1520s, Scottish progressives were left with three broad options: acceptance of revived scholasticism at Paris, adoption of the radicalism of Zwingli in Zilrich, or support for the German reform of Luther. Few chose to make the long, unfamiliar trip to Switzerland, and many Scots took the first choice. Some however, chose to follow the trade routes to Denmark and the Baltic in order to reach the previously avoided nominalist centres of eastern Germany, particularly those Scots who had been influenced by the study of Greek which is associated with Erasmus. There they were exposed to the conciliatory personality and slightly more radical Lutheran teachings of Philip Melanchthon. These characteristics of the Greek lecturer at Wittenberg soon began to appear frequently in the lives of Scots who had contact with that university. Thus, the nonconfrontational yet progressive example of Melanchthon becomes a factor in the appearance of unity which emerged among reformers in Scotland in 1560. In this way, the long-established academic tradition of educated Scottish society can combine with the Baltic trade of the early sixteenth century to bring an example of moderate foreign reforms to the north-east of Scotland by the 1540s. Also, since most supporters of the reform movement in Scotland in 1560 had at least as great an association with Lutheran ideas as with the more recent developments of Calvinism, the study of the Scandinavian/Lutheran example helps to explain the origins of the regional diversity of ideas and practice in Reformation Scotland.