In Part II I look at the history in the previous centuries before he was born and the couple of decades after his birth. I have concluded, in so doing, that our lives are shaped by ancestral experience. This first political economist, Adam Smith, was a product of a turbulent European history. He thought very deeply about the need to generate income with a sure footing. He cared about his own country of Scotland and it’s long suffering people’s. Very often, over time, other thinkers take up the baton and think they can apply the ideas of those who have gone before. This can result in misapplication with often disastrous consequences.
Before Adam Smith was born in Kirkaldy, Fife, Scotland (Central Lowland area) huge turmoil had taken place in this predominantly Catholic country to bow to european influence and rid itself of Catholicism and the Gaelic language associated with it.
So let us set the scene. About 160 years before Adam was born, the Scottish Reformation had took placeand battles for the of Britain had resulted in the last Catholic King being defeated by a Protestant, in Ireland, at the Battle of the Boyne, and his rule had huge consequences for Catholics in Ireland and Scotland.
Many of us can trace our ancestors back 160 years, and may even know their religion and occupation. In Fife, it was known some wealthy landowners plotted to assassinate the Catholic Cardinal at St Andrews. The conspirators were from Fife and may have been connected to Smith’s own wealthy landowning family, and military family members too.
Relations became strained between James V and his uncle, Henry VIII of England, who sought to detach Scotland from its allegiance to the Holy See and bring it into subjection to himself. Henry sent two successive embassies to Scotland to urge James to follow his example in renouncing the authority of the Pope in his dominions. King James declined to be drawn into Henry’s plans and refused to leave his kingdom for a meeting with Henry. Hostilities broke out between the two kingdoms in 1542. The Cardinal was blamed by many for the war with England that led to the defeat at Solway Moss in November 1542……..
St. Andrews Castle
Plots against Cardinal Beaton had begun circulating as early as 1544. The conspirators were led by Norman Leslie, master of Rothes, and William Kirkcaldy of Grange. The Leslies had suffered from the expansion of Beaton’s interest in Fife. Kirkcaldy’s uncle, James Kirkcaldy of Grange, held Protestant sympathies and had been removed in 1543 as treasurer of the realm, through Beaton’s influence. They were joined by John Leslie of Parkhill, one of the Fife lairds angered at the execution of Wishart. Leslie and Kirkcaldy managed to obtain admission to St Andrews Castle at daybreak of 29 May 1546, killing the porter in the process. They then murdered the Cardinal, mutilating the corpse and hanging it from a castle window. At the time it was widely believed that his death was in the interests of Henry VIII of England, who regarded Beaton as the chief obstacle to his policy in Scotland; the Cardinal’s murder was certainly a significant point in the eventual triumph of Protestantism north of the Border.
At the time of his death, David Cardinal Beaton was Lord Chancellor of Scotland, Archbishop of St Andrews, and Cardinal Legate in Scotland.
It was another complication that those who thought they should be monarch often thought the ‘Divine Right’ applied to their ruling of these lands. But even this delusion was erased after the reign of James I of England and V of Scotland.
Divine right of kings, political doctrine in defense of monarchical absolutism, which asserted that kings derived their authority from God and could not therefore be held accountable for their actions by any earthly authority such as a parliament. Originating in Europe, the divine-right theory can be traced to the medieval conception of God’s award of temporal power to the political ruler, paralleling the award of spiritual power to the church. By the 16th and 17th centuries, however, the new national monarchs were asserting their authority in matters of both church and state. King James I of England (reigned 1603–25) was the foremost exponent of the divine right of kings, but the doctrine virtually disappeared from English politics after the Glorious Revolution (1688–89).
That Protestantism became Scotland’s main religion was in part due to committed preachers like George Wishart and John Knox, who actively recruited and enthused the most influential and powerful sections of Scottish society to the Protestant cause. It was also down to a failure of the Catholic Church to see the threat that Protestantism posed in Scotland, and to recognise its own shortcomings and internal problems. It was equally a political rebellion as much as a spiritual one, and the nobility who led the rebellion against Mary of Guise, Queen Mary’s mother and regent of Scotland in the late 1550s, were keen to move Scotland’s diplomatic axis away from Scotland’s age-old relationship with Catholic France. By the 1550s, this relationship was threatening to annex Scotland through the young queen (who was herself descended from the French aristocratic household of Guise-Lorraine and who was married to the Crown Prince of France, Francois) and move it towards Protestant England.That Protestantism became Scotland’s main religion was in part due to committed preachers like George Wishart and John Knox, who actively recruited and enthused the most influential and powerful sections of Scottish society to the Protestant cause. It was also down to a failure of the Catholic Church to see the threat that Protestantism posed in Scotland, and to recognise its own shortcomings and internal problems. It was equally a political rebellion as much as a spiritual one, and the nobility who led the rebellion against Mary of Guise, Queen Mary’s mother and regent of Scotland in the late 1550s, were keen to move Scotland’s diplomatic axis away from Scotland’s age-old relationship with Catholic France. By the 1550s, this relationship was threatening to annex Scotland through the young queen (who was herself descended from the French aristocratic household of Guise-Lorraine and who was married to the Crown Prince of France, Francois) and move it towards Protestant England.
After being firmly established in Scotland for nearly a millennium, Roman Catholicism was outlawed. Scotland retained a significant pre-Reformation Roman Catholic population, including parts of Banffshire, the Hebrides, and more northern parts of the Scottish Highlands.
In 1716, Scalan seminary was established in the Highlands and rebuilt in the 1760s by Bishop John Geddes, a well-known figure in the Edinburgh of the Enlightenment period. The Catholic religion is often found in ‘The Scottish Gaeldom’ referring to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and especially the Scottish Gaelic-speaking culture of the area. See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_in_Scotland.
Gaelic originally came to Scotland circa 500 A.D. as the northern Irish kingdom of Dalriada expanded into the western Highlands and Islands of Scotland, subsequently absorbing the Pictish kingdom in Northern Scotland, the British kingdom of Strathclyde in southwestern Scotland and part of Anglian Northumbria in the southeast, forming a largely Gaelic-speaking Scottish kingdom roughly coterminous with present-day Scotland by the 11th century. From the reign of Malcolm Canmore (1054-96), Gaelic lost its pre-eminence at court, then amongst the aristocracy to Norman French, and subsequently in the Lowlands through the establishment of English-speaking burghs in eastern and central Scotland, to Scots. The Lordship of the Isles was the political focus of Gaeldom throughout most of the ensuing Middle Ages, until its defeat at Harlaw in 1411.
By the 17th century Gaelic had retreated to the Highlands and Hebrides, which still retained much of their political independence, Celtic culture and social structure. These differences came to be seen as inimical to the interests of the Scottish and the subsequent British state, and from the late 15th century into the 18th a number of acts of the Scottish and British Parliaments aimed at promoting English-language education first amongst the aristocracy and subsequently amongst the general population, at outlawing the native learned orders, and finally on disarming and breaking the clans and outlawing highland dress and music, after the defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden.
Religion has been the narrative which has driven rational people to madness since humans first tried to use it to gain power over the minds of others. Adam Smith not only had the Scottish perspective, but the English education at Oxford to weigh against his Scottish roots.
Continued in Part III