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Title: Life of George Wishart
Author: Walker, O. H.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1924
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One might readily he excused for thinking that there is little to he gained from the reconsideration of a subject which has received so much attention from previous writers as has the one with which we have herein attempted to deal. Such, undoubtedly, would have been our own view, had we not been impressed by the fact that, although much has been said, little has been actually done in the way of providing a theory, at once consistent, and capable of doing justice to the known facts of the case. The explanation of this lack of success appears to us to lie largely in the fact that the great majority of our predecessors have handicapped themselves, at the outset, by the adoption of certain pre-conceived ideas, for which they have subsequently attempted to wring confirmation from such facts as they have had at their disposal. The argument, which we have put forward in support of our position, may be summarised as follows: - We hold that Wishart returned to England early in 1543 in order to place his services at the disposal of those captive Scots who had pledged themselves, among other things, to the overthrow of the Pope's authority in their native land. The probability is that it was to the Earl of Glencairn that he specially attached himself, for subsequent events * showed that the two were in intimate association with one another. He did not return to Scotland until 1544 and, when he did so, it was in company with Glencairn's Commissioners, of whose presence at Carlisle he was not likely to have known, if he had not been in close touch with their chief. During the first year of his ministry in Scotland, he was under the special protection of Glencairn and his friends, and that fact doubtless saved him from immediate molestation at the hands of Cardinal Beaton. In the second half of the year 1545, however, we find that the latter's attitude of non-interference suddenly turned to one of most active hostility and various attempts were made by him to have Wishart put out of the way. This change of attitude has seemed to us to call for an explanation, though none has apparently been offered hitherto, and we have suggested that the cause of it is to be found in the discovery by Beaton of certain of the political schemes with which Glencairn, and others of the Protestant party in Scotland, had, from time to time, been identified. Such a discovery, we have argued, would give him a certain hold over the conspirators, and it serves to throw light on what has been the hitherto unexplained failure of Glencairn and Cassillis to carry out their promise to support Wishart at the time of his visit to the Lothians. They had been warned, we argue, that Beaton was in a position to take drastic action against them and that it would consequently be impossible for them to appear in Edinburgh as they had intended to do. Such was the news that Wishart received when at Haddington and, according to Knox's account, it would appear to have taken him completely by surprise. It is perfectly clear, however, that, even before he set out for Edinburgh, he was fully alive to the imminent danger of his position and, though he possibly expected that his powerful, and hitherto faithful, protector would stand by him to the end, he was none the less convinced that nothing could save him from his impending doom. It remains to be noted that, so far as is known, Glencairn took no part whatever in the various plots which were hatched against the Cardinal's life, and his abstention may reasonably be attributed to the influence which Wishart exercised over him.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available