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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

As in France and the Netherlands


But

another tendency was also very powerful in the world. In South Europe, France, the Netherlands, and a part of the German territory, the state attached itself to the principles of the old Church. At this very time in Italy and Spain this led to the complete destruction of what was there analogous to the Reformation; it has had more influence on the later circumstances of these countries than it had then. But where the religious change had already obtained a more durable footing, as in France and the Netherlands, politico-religious variances of the most thoroughgoing nature arose almost of necessity: the Protestantism of Western Europe was pervaded by anti-monarchical ideas. We noticed how much everything was preparing for this under Queen Mary in England also: that it did not so happen was owing to the arrangements made by Elizabeth. But this tendency appeared in full force in Scotland, and in fact more strongly there than anywhere else.

In Scotland the efforts made by all the monarchic powers of this period in common were not so successful as in the rest of Europe. The kings of the house of Stuart, who had themselves proceeded from the ranks of the nobility, never succeeded in reducing the powerful lords to real obedience. The clannish national feeling, closely bordering on the old Keltic principle, procured the nobles at all times numerous and devoted followers: they fought out their feuds among themselves, and then combined anew in free confederacies.

They held fast to the view that their sovereigns were not lords of the land (for they regarded their possessions as independent properties), not kings of Scotland but kings of the Scots, above all, kings of the great vassals, who had to pay them an obedience defined by laws. It gave the kings not a little superiority that they had obtained a decisive influence over the appointment to the high dignities in the Church, but this proved advantageous neither to the Church nor at last to themselves. Sometimes two vassals actually fought with each other for a rich benefice. The French abuses came into vogue here also: ecclesiastical benefices fell to the dependents of the court, to the younger sons of leading houses, often to their bastards: they were given or sold _in commendam_, and then served only for pleasure and gain: the Scotch Church fell into an exceedingly scandalous and corrupt state.

It was not so much disputed questions of doctrine as in Germany, nor again the attempt to keep out Papal influence as in England, but mainly aversion to the moral corruption of the spiritualty which gave the first impulse to the efforts at reformation in Scotland. We find Lollard societies among the Scots much later than in England: their tendencies spread through wide circles owing to the anticlerical spirit of the century, and received fresh support from the doctrinal writings that came over from Germany. But the Scotch clergy was resolved to defend itself with all its might. Sometimes it had to sit in judgment on invectives against its disorderly and luxurious life, sometimes on refusals to pay established dues: or Lutheran doctrines had been preached: it persecuted all with equal severity as tending to injure the stability of holy Church, and awarded the most extreme penalties. To put suspected heretics to death by fire was the order of the day; happy the man who escaped the unrelenting persecution by flight, which was only possible amid great peril.


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