1543–59: underground Reformation
in The origins of the Scottish Reformation
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In the early 1550s Scottish Catholics could be forgiven for believing that heresy had been defeated. The only activity that we can associate with the informal groups is some smashing of Catholic images. Reformism with this kind of profile unquestionably survived after 1543. Traditional, Protestant histories of the Scottish Reformation would argue that the apparent peace of the 1550s was deceptive. Protestantism was silently coalescing from simple reading-groups into formally organised 'privy kirks': a network of underground Protestant churches, waiting fully formed in the parishes and preparing for government. The praying and the singing of the Psalms as a means of cementing religious identity was one of the most distinctive features of Reformed Protestantism across Europe. It is important that Protestants felt that they were at risk of persecution during the 1550s, but that has to be seen as a consequence, rather than a cause, of their growing radicalisation.


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