Signs of the Times

[Review of "The Constitutional History of Scotland from Early Times to the Reformation," by Professor James MacKinnon, in the Cape Argus, Cape Town, South Africa, July 17, 1924]

Professor MacKinnon has done his best with the material at his disposal, but there are few periods in history for which the records are so meager and definite conclusions so precarious as that of mediæval Scotland. ... But there are many interesting facts brought to light in this scholarly book. We learn, for instance, that even in those early days the average Scot took much more interest in religion than in politics. Up to the sixteenth century the duty of taking a share in parliamentary legislation was one that the ordinary freeholder shunned as a troublesome and unwelcome privilege. Parliamentary government, the author thinks, was in rather a bad way when even the more considerable freeholders had to be threatened into attending, and the attendance of the lesser was past hoping for. It was only as the result of the great religious struggle, which led to the Reformation, that the disused obligation came to be regarded as a right and privilege. Of the Reformation itself the causes were partly political, but mainly religious. The Scots nearly broke with the papacy after Flodden, their bitterness against the reigning pope, as the ally of Henry VIII was so intense. They thus narrowly missed anticipating by twenty years Henry's own breach with Rome. But Professor MacKinnon shows clearly, as all unprejudiced historians have done, that in Scotland the Reformation was especially religious in origin. It was chiefly the degeneration of the clergy that, sapping the authority of the church, brought its jurisdiction to an end. And there can be no doubt it was the particular form which the Reformation took in that country that made the Scots the fervent, and, on the whole, intelligent politicians they have been from that day to this.

[Rev. C. W. Brown, in the Journal, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Aug. 5, 1924]

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December 27, 1924

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