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more than able to hold their own against the whole array of powerful nobles.

In an often-quoted passage Killigrew, the English resident in Scotland, writing in 1572, thus describes the change that had taken place in the country : “Methinks,” he writes, “I see the noblemen's great credit decay in this country, and the barons, burghs, and such like take more upon them.” By the close of the century the policy of James VI. had effectually pared the claws of the once formidable order; and thenceforward the Scottish nobles sank into what their fellows had long been in England and France—the creatures nominated officials of

an allpowerful Court

A second characteristic of the Middle Ages was the immense place which the Church had filled in the social order. The mediæval Church was not merely a great religious institution; it was a great economic organisation as well. When the mediæval towns first began to make their appearance and for several centuries afterwards, it was the Church that mainly provided for the material as well as the spiritual wants of men.

In proof of this fact it is unnecessary to go beyond the bounds of Scotland. It is to the inmates of such religious houses as those of Kelso, Jedburgh, and the rest that we must assign the main credit of transmuting the primitive wilderness into garden, field, and pasture. In Cardinal Newman's words, the monks were at once the squatters, the hunters,

the farmers, and the civil engineers of the time. But the" hungry generations” are ever pressing on; and a period came when the clergy could not, without renouncing their special functions, be the industrial pioneers of humanity. In what is known as the industrial stage of development, when communities were largely self-sufficing, the great monastery, with its extensive domains scattered up and down the kingdom, was the centre of the economic system. It supplied the immediate wants of the people, and it could even engage successfully in such trade and commerce as undeveloped resources as yet rendered possible. The religious houses of Scotland exchanged the produce of their fields and orchards for the wares of Flanders and their wool for the wines of Italy. But, as commerce grew and the industrial arts became multiplied and specialised, a distinct class of persons was needed for their cultivation, and it was only by the towns that this class could be supplied. And from the first, it is to be noted, the Church had everywhere steadfastly opposed the growth of self-governing industrial communities. The expression of a French ecclesiastical chronicler has often been quoted : “Commune,” he exclaims, “new and

, “ detestable name!” So, also, an English chronicler denounces the commune as “the cause of commotion among the people, of alarm to the kingdom, and of lukewarmness among the clergy.” It was, indeed, with a sure instinct that the Church saw in the growth of these societies the most dangerous menace against its teaching and authority. The engrossing interests of town life

life begot

an intelligent secular opinion which in many

directions could not fail to be adverse to the Church's claims. It is a commonplace that at the Reformation it was in the towns that the new religious doctrines found the readiest acceptance.

Alike in Germany, England, and Scotland it was mainly through the support of the towns that the Protestant leaders achieved their victory. With the ethical and religious side of the great controversy, however, we are not here concerned. The point we have now to emphasise is that through the economical developments in which the towns were the principal factors the Church lost that prime place in the economic system which had been a mainstay of its power in the past. In the emphatic words of a modern writer, the tendency of the clerical order was “to sink into the position of a parasite class, producing nothing itself, but clinging to the means of wealth developed by the labour of a subject people.” While the Church ceased to be what it had once been the principal ministrant to material as well as spiritual wants, it remained in possession of the chief sources of wealth in every country. As the incidence of taxation proves, the Church in Scotland on the eve of the Reformation owned half the wealth of the kingdom. We know with what covetous eyes the needy Scotch nobles regarded

a

the vast revenues of the Church, but the enterprising merchant likewise looked askance at a body of men who, while ceasing to be active producers of wealth, were yet its principal consumers. Moreover, there were special grounds of annoyance which disposed the town communities to join in the attack on the privileged order. In many towns the Church, with its numerous officials and its costly apparatus, had to be maintained at the public expense. The crafts were especially restive under the burdens which religion laid upon them. On each of them lay the obligation of supporting an altar and its priest in the parish church and of providing for lights, obits, and other appurtenances of the Roman ceremonial. In many towns, also, there were longstanding quarrels between the municipalities and the religious orders, as, for example, in the case of Aberdeen and the Dominicans, of Stirling and the Abbots of Cambuskenneth, and of Edinburgh and the Abbots of Holyrood. As to the poor, their attitude to the ancient clergy found expression in the manifesto, known as the “Beggars' Summonds," which in 1560 was affixed to the gates of all the religious houses, and which purported to issue from “all cities, towns, and villages of Scotland." Stripped of its revolutionary language, the summons merely emphasises the fact that from once being a beneficent economic organisation the Church had become an economic anachronism without the power to adjust itself to the new social order.

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Thus, while Knox and his brother reformers assailed the doctrines of the ancient Church and the morals of its clergy, it was assailed from another side by a less obtrusive but not less deadly set of foes. The teaching of the reformers was of but recent growth, and impressed the minds only of that limited section of a people who in all ages are profoundly influenced by religion. But the spirit of material progress, engendering cupidity in the noble and the burgess and discontent in the mass of the people, had been of slow, unconscious and inevitable growth, and was, in truth, but the spirit of a new epoch that had dawned, and which in the end was to substitute purely secular considerations for those theological conceptions which had hitherto been the first and last reference in the conduct of human affairs. If the most conspicuous result of the Reformation in Scotland was the overthrow of a priesthood, it was no less the victory of the secular spirit in the sphere of social and economic effort.

A third characteristic of the Middle Ages was the economic system which had arisen out of the conditions on which the mediæval society was based. In the development of this system the Church had necessarily exercised a powerful influence. The Christian religion contained a body of ethical precepts for the guidance of individuals and communities in their mutual relations, and, as the custodier of that religion, it was the duty of the

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