Re-thinking the Renaissance and Reformation in Scotland: A Conference in Honour of Roger A. Mason, Professor of Scottish History

ramblog.jpgOn October 13, a conference was held to celebrate the contributions of Professor Roger Mason to the field of Scottish history. Roger, having only recently retired from St Andrews, wrote on many topics including Buchanan, Knox, and many other matters related to the Renaissance in Scotland. The conference was opened by Sally Mapstone, Principal and renowned scholar of Scottish literature in her own right. She shared wonderful anecdotes about Roger’s history, and highlighted his contribution to the understanding of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Scotland.

The day continued with a lecture by Professor Dauvit Broun. In ‘Rethinking medieval Scottish regnal historiography’, he encouraged everyone to re-evaluate their study of the Fordun-Bower-Pluscarden corpus. The modern editions distort the medieval and early modern origins of these texts, and understanding their original reading would be more helpful in researching these texts. After a brief coffee break, Professor Nicola Royan presented ‘Talking for Scotland: another use of early Scottish humanism’. Moving towards the late fifteenth century, she discussed the speeches given by Scottish diplomats and how they deployed rhetoric in order to flatter and persuade foreign monarchs.

ramblog1Professor Jane Dawson looked at two formidable figures of the Scottish early modern period in her talk ‘James and John: the stormy relationship between Regent Moray and Knox’. Both men were heralded as stalwarts of the Scottish reformation, but while they often acted together, their similarities stemmed from their shared enemies, rather than any common goals. During the lunch, Special Collections arranged for a special viewing of manuscripts related to Roger’s work, career, and this conference. From a Blaeu map based on Buchanan’s work, to John Knox’s writing and a tiny manuscript by Esther Inglis, the audience was spoiled for choice.

After lunch, Dr Bess Rhodes spoke about ‘“The Tyme of Reformatione”: Early Modern Protestants’ memories of religious change’. She explored the ways in which the Scottish perception of the reformation changed within fifty years. Esther Meijers followed, and she focused on the international dimensions of Scotland. In ‘The Dutch in Scotland: The diplomatic visit of the States General upon the baptism of Prince Henry (1594)’, she examined the intricate matters of diplomacy between the newly constituted United Provinces and Scotland.

ramblog3The conference was concluded with a Lightning Round by several scholars. Ali Cathcart, Katie Stevenson, Jamie-Reid-Baxter and Steven Reid shared both personal stories about Roger’s influence on their work as well as professional opinions about where the field would be going. They will also all contribute to a festschrift, to be published in the near future. The day was truly a celebration of Roger’s contribution to Scottish history, and his impact on scholars: all the participants enjoyed thoroughly enjoyed the conference.

About standrewshistory
With over forty fulltime members of staff researching and teaching on European, American and Asian history from the dawn of the Middle Ages to the present day, the School of History at the University of St Andrews has one of the finest faculty and diverse teaching programmes of any School of History in the English speaking world. The School boasts expertise in Mediaeval and Modern History, from Scotland to Byzantium and the Americas to South Asia. Thematic interests include religious history, urban history, transnationalism, historiography and nationalism. The School of History prides itself on small group teaching, allowing for in-depth study and supervision tailored to secure the best from each student. Cutting edge research combined with teaching excellence offer a dynamic and intellectually stimulating environment for the study of History.

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