Reform to 1546 : Germany, Switzerland, England and Scotland

Reform to 1564 + Reform to 1572 + Reform to 1622 + Zwingli + George Wishart

The period through to the death of Martin Luther and the martyrdom of George Wishart in 1546, and the end of the reign of Henry VIII (he died in January 1547) covers the rise of the Lutheran movement in South Germany, reformation in Zurich under Zwingli and its beginnings in Geneva where the young John Calvin was invited to support it in 1536. It also saw the failure of these streams to accommodate each other, and the first phase of religious reform in England.

The young Edward VI in his short reign from 1547 to 1553 took England in a more Protestant direction than had been possible under his father. Some Catholic leaders in Scotland were considering reforms that would be possible without a break with the old church.

Relationships between Scotland and England were never straightforward even when both were Catholic. After Henry VIII's break with Rome, the situation in Scotland became increasingly complex. Neither James V of Scotland, nor Henry of England, wanted another Anglo-Scottish war, but each was distrustful of the other, concerned for their international alliances, and troubled by their own and the other's exiles.

Lutheran publications had been banned in Scotland since 1525, but Continental trade to East coast ports provided plenty of opportunities for smuggling forbidden books. Luther's ideas attracted interest, reaction, discussion and persecution.

Among Scots executed for their support of the Reformed heresy were Patrick Hamilton who was burnt alive in 1528 and George Wishart who was strangled and burned on March 1, 1546. Three months later Protestants murdered Cardinal Beaton in response and with John Knox as preacher took refuge in the cardinal's castle at St Andrews. It was the beginning of a real challenge to the old order, but the support the reformers hoped to get from England evaporated and the castle was stormed by the French.  Knox and was a galley slave until his release in 1549. 


John Roxborogh