Servants to St. Mungo: The Church in Sixteenth-Century Glasgow

Thumbnail Image
MacLeod, Daniel
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Guelph

This thesis investigates religious life in Glasgow, Scotland in the sixteenth century. As the first full length study of the town’s Christian community in this period, this thesis makes use of the extant Church documents to examine how Glaswegians experienced Christianity during the century in which religious change was experienced by many communities in Western Europe. This project includes research from both before and after 1560, the year of the Reformation Parliament in Scotland, and therefore eschews traditional divisions used in studies of this kind that tend to view 1560 as a major rupture for Scotland’s religious community. Instead, this study reveals the complex relationships between continuity and change in Glasgow, showing a vibrant Christian community in the early part of the century and a changed but similarly vibrant community at the century’s end. This project attempts to understand Glasgow’s religious community holistically. It investigates the institutional structures of the Church through its priests and bishops as well as the popular devotions of its parishioners. It includes examinations of the sacraments, Church discipline, excommunication and religious ritual, among other Christian phenomena. The dissertation follows many of these elements from their medieval Catholic roots through to their Reformed Protestant derivations in the latter part of the century, showing considerable links between the traditions. This thesis argues that although considerable change occurred through the establishment of a Presbyterian Church polity and the enforcement of new conceptions of Church discipline, many elements of popular devotion remained stable throughout the period. The research in this project challenges many of the traditional narratives of Scottish Reformation historiography. It disputes notions of the decay of the Church in the years previous to the Reformation parliament, and it questions the speed with which the goals of the Reformation were achieved in the town. It also challenges traditional interpretations of the martyrdom of John Ogilvie, a Jesuit executed in the town in 1615. In this way, the dissertation offers an alternative approach to the period that could be applied to research done on other Scottish or European towns.

History, Scottish History, Reformation, Counter-Reformation