By Michael F. Graham
Thomas Aikenhead, a scholar on the collage of Edinburgh, was once hanged for blasphemy in 1697. His tale brings jointly the various severe subject matters in Scottish and British background in an period of transition from the innovative upheavals of the hugely confessionalized 17th century to the extra open civil society which got here to represent the Enlightenment. Aikenhead's perspectives, which wondered the origins of Scripture, the old features of Moses and Jesus, and the assumed superiority of Christianity over different doctrines, could later seem within the mainstream of Enlightenment discourse. yet in 1696-7 they have been poisonous. Michael Graham's microhistory, the 1st of its type, locations his tale firmly within the social and political context of Edinburgh and Scotland within the 1690s whereas while deciding on the impacts on his considering, the felony concerns raised by means of his trial and the methods it was once considered by means of contemporaries in Scotland and England. The Aikenhead case illuminates a few subject matters in late-seventeenth-century historical past:
* The impression of books and analyzing
* the expansion of upper schooling
* the character of "public opinion" in Britain extra regularly, because the case was once coated in newspapers released in London
* The methods laws used to be drafted and used
* The fissures within the spiritual politics of england after the "Glorious Revolution."
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Additional resources for Blasphemies of Thomas Aikenhead: Boundaries of Belief on the Eve of the Enlightenment
E. W. M. ), An Account of the Proceedings of the Estates of Scotland, 1689–90, 2 vols (Edinburgh: Scottish History Society, 1954 –5), i, pp. 88–9. 52. Riley, King William and the Scottish Politicians, p. , pp. 176–7; APS, ix, p. 196. 53. Houston, Social Change, pp. 69–70. 54. ), Select Biographies, i, p. 503. 55. Memoirs of the Public Life of Mr James Hogg (Edinburgh, 1798), p. 27. 32 the blasphemies of thomas aikenhead 56. NAS MS GD158/1036, Thomas Stewart to Sir Patrick Hume of Polwarth, 25 December 1688, cited in Derek J.
31 Like ‘blasphemy’, it could cover a multitude of sins or unacceptable beliefs or declarations. 32 Whether or not Johnston’s concerns led to the omission of any of these terms from the ministers’ address, they were now creeping back onto the agenda. But in the meantime the interests of the political nation had been distracted elsewhere. Soon after the 1695 parliament had got down to business, and even before it had voted the supply the king had listed at the top of Tweeddale’s instructions, it became fixated on a scandal that had not figured in any of William’s instructions to this parliament, secret or otherwise.
There, and in London, dissident Scots rubbed shoulders with Englishmen opposed to the policies of Charles II or to the succession of his brother. It was as a result of associations like these that several prominent Scots faced legal prosecution in the wake of the discovery of the Rye House Plot, a supposed plan to assassinate Charles and James, in 1683. The best-known executions were those of the English Whigs William Lord Russell and Algernon Sidney, but the elderly Scot Robert Baillie of Jerviswood, so ill that he had to be carried to the gallows, received the same treatment in Edinburgh.
Blasphemies of Thomas Aikenhead: Boundaries of Belief on the Eve of the Enlightenment by Michael F. Graham