The will of the people : popular support for marriage reform, St. Andrews, 1559-1600

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


Historians have long viewed social discipline in the Scottish Reformation as complete. They believe that the Kirk imposed morals control over all segments of society equally and totally. Most base their theories on the intentions of the Kirk and its officials, while disregarding the lack of control experienced in most regions. I have chosen to look at the construction of social discipline, while concentrating on the area of marriage reform, in a community where morals control was successful. I searched for reasons for people to support the institutions providing ecclesiastical discipline, the kirk-session and presbytery, by looking at the records of their proceedings. Also taken into consideration were the statements of groups such as guilds, and the proceedings of civil courts. The Kirk at St. Andrews received much support from the community for social discipline. People cooperated with the administering of discipline, as well as submitted themselves for judgement. The Kirk chose to enforce control in matters which would receive support from the community. It was only because of support from the community that the Kirk was able to effectively administer ecclesiastical discipline. Not all Scottish communities had support for kirk-sessions. Towns with cooperation between civil and ecclesiastical authorities whose kirk-sessions enforced decrees popular with the community were successful in controlling morality. St. Andrews possessed these qualities; therefore, it was successful in controlling immoral behavior.




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