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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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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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Series:

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

host.49 The mass may have been theologically the most important 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.50As 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 fallen world. The rite of baptism was believed to wash away the taint of

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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 appropriate and spiritually effective religious belief and practice. The buried dead also served the useful moral purpose of memento mori, the reminder that everyone would die. They

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Mairi Cowan

, ‘Economic Development’, 290; Watt, ‘The Church’, 368; Sanderson, RELIGIOUS DISSENT 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 177 Ayrshire and the Reformation, 17–20; Ryrie, Origins of the Scottish Reformation, 15. Watt, ‘Scotland’, 398–400; Grant, Independence and Nationhood, 98–9. McKay, ‘Parish Life in Scotland, 1500–1560’, 85–7. Sanderson, Ayrshire and the Reformation, 16. Cramond, Records of Elgin, I, 87, cited in McKay, ‘Parish Life in Scotland, 1500–1560’, 89; Cartularium Ecclesiae Sancti Nicholai Aberdonensis, II, 354

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Mairi Cowan

goods and its artistic culture throughout Europe.1 Church bells like this one were rung on many different occasions. They tolled through the night on All Hallows’ Eve to request prayers for the recently deceased and they pealed on bright mornings to celebrate a royal birth; they marked ‘church’ time at the beginning of a religious service and also ‘town’ time at the start of a mason’s day of work; they chimed a welcome to visiting princes and they struck a summons to defend the city against attack. Visible to some and audible to many, this bell of St Giles connected

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Mairi Cowan

-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 lives and works in a variety of ways. They personalized their religious practices to suit individual circumstances, and they sometimes struggled to ensure that their particular plans were carried out as they had directed. Their practices and plans do suggest a fairly widespread interest in forms of religion that emphasized the internal and the individual, but they do not contradict the

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Mairi Cowan

many books on Scottish history would suggest, religious life in pre-Reformation Scotland was not static. Lay devotional practice in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries changed in a number of ways, and for the most part these changes were not early Protestant or crypto-Protestant or even proto-Protestant, but Catholic; Scotland’s religious changes in the early sixteenth century were not part of the Protestant Reformation, but part of Catholic reform. They were brought about through a combination of lay-led initiatives and elite-driven repressions, and are

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Mairi Cowan

one’s progress through its torments were among the most significant considerations that 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 influence whether that person’s soul went to purgatory and on to eternal salvation in heaven, or instead