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Mairi Cowan

This book examines lay religious culture in Scottish towns between the Black Death and the Protestant Reformation. Part I looks at what the living did to influence the dead and at how the dead were believed to influence the living in turn. It shows that the living and the dead shared a reciprocal relationship of obligation and assistance, and that the bonds between the two groups were especially strong when they involved blood or guild kinship. Part II considers the overlapping communities in Scottish towns where people could personalize religious expression in a meaningful social context. Part III focuses on the period between 1350 and 1560 as one of disruption and development. It assesses weaknesses in the Scottish ecclesiastical structure and instances of religious dissent, and then it considers the Scottish Church’s response to these challenges. Two main arguments run through the book. The first is that most laypeople in Scottish towns continued to participate in orthodox Catholic practices right through to the mid-sixteenth century. The second major argument is that Catholic religious practices in Scottish towns underwent a significant shift between 1350 and 1560. This shift, which is most easily perceived when Scotland is considered within the broader European transition from the medieval to the early modern period, brought with it a kind of pre-Reformation reformation in religious practice.

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Carmen M. Mangion

2 Choosing religious life As you go on you will learn to understand religious life, how it means doing God’s will and not your own. We don’t become nuns because we like it – because the life attracts us – but solely because ‘The Master has come and called us’.1 The persistent myth of the Victorian woman, idle and innocent, performing domestic duties in the private sphere, protected from and unaware of the political world around her, has been rejected by many historians.2 Victorian women’s activities in the public and the private spheres are the centre of a

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J. F. Merritt

The social world of early modern Westminster Chapter 9 Religious life and religious politics c.1558–1640 E ARLIER chapters have charted the many long-term changes to the social and cultural life of Westminster. Many of these changes, however, were played out against a background of substantial religious change, especially during the successive Tudor ‘reformations’. The Elizabethan settlement marked the end of this series of revolutions in religious legislation, but the working out of its implications for the religious life of the area was to be a drawn

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Mairi Cowan

ritual in the parish church, but it was not the only one. The first religious ritual for most people would have been baptism, for while adult baptism had probably been common among the earliest Christians, infant baptism was the norm by the late medieval period in Europe. 50 As articulated in the charters from the church of St Nicholas, Aberdeen, baptism was seen as transformative and spiritually life-giving to people born into a

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Mairi Cowan

century, speaks of how it is right and just that the living should remember the identities and accomplishments of the deceased patrons of the church ‘whose names are in the book of life in heaven, but almost forgotten on earth’, so that ‘from their good work and their devotion those who are to come may take example’. 5 In this way, the dead were teachers to the living, guides for socially

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Mairi Cowan

apostolic life in imitation of the original followers of Jesus, and a stress on the inner life of the pious individual. Although, as this book will discuss, the religious culture of Scotland was broadly in line with the rest of Europe, there were nevertheless a few structural elements of the Scottish Church that set it somewhat apart. At the beginning of the twelfth century, the ecclesiastical province of

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Mairi Cowan

accountability by asking for help directly from God – ‘Thy power defend ws, thy wisdome direct ws, thy fathirly piete correk ws; and send ws ane gracius life and ane blissit ending’ – but also for God’s help in the self-direction of a good life – ‘Iesu, gif ws grace to ordour our life and the werkis of our saule and body with actual entent.’ 2 People in the towns of Scotland ordered their individual religious

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Mairi Cowan

authorities knew, certain persons in the south of Scotland were destroying churches, religious places, and the ornaments of the same, and they requested that the burgh authorities take charge of the church’s vestments and altar-plate until the ‘uproir and tumilt war put to tranquilite be the antient and wyse counsell of the realme’. 2 The personnel of St Nicholas were not alone in their concern over the

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Mairi Cowan

standards of clerical behaviour, but he accepted the intercessory role of the Virgin Mary and rejected the Lutheran doctrine of justification by faith alone. 2 In short, Lyndsay had complex views befitting a complex time. As a Catholic critic of the Catholic Church, he was not alone in early sixteenth-century Scotland. Contrary to what many books on Scottish history would suggest, religious life in pre

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Mairi Cowan

inspired urban Scots to seek a good death and long remembrance. A good life and a good death People’s desire for salvation (and their associated fear of damnation) is critical to explaining much of lay religious practice in late medieval and early modern Europe. 20 They believed that while God did not determine any soul to be damned, once a person was dead nothing that could