The Reformation in Scotland


  • Neil Morrison


Reformation in Scotland


There are two conflic

ting stero types of the Scotsman: the fierce
clansman, kilted and loyal to his chief perpetuated by the story of Bonnie
Prince Charlie and the Scottish Regiments; and the other stereotype, the dour
hard working Scot thrifty and religious: proper, prudent, practical and
Presbyterian. The stereotypes are difficult to reconcile. Like all stereotypes
they have limited application in reality yet they are not without justification. I
have known brothers who have fitted the two images and sometimes they
conflict in the one person. The explanation of these two images lies partly in
the great shift in the ideas, attitudes and behaviour of Scots that goes under the
name of the Scottish Reformation and that did so much to mould the character
of modem Scottish history:

'It transformed the lowland Scot from a fierce feudal vassal, ignorant of
all save sword and plough, into the best educated peasant in Europe,
often plunged into solitary meditation and as often roused to furious
argument on points of logic and theology which few Englishmen had the
mental gifts or training to understand. Times and the Church have
changed, but the intellectual and moral vantage-ground won by the Scot
in that hard school has not yet been lost'l.