The Beggars Summons
The Beggars Summons was first placed on the doors of friaries from 1st January 1559, warning that all friars are to be evacuated and to be taken over by the poor. This was on the next Whitsunday. The authors of the summons are unknown, however it has used words similar to that of John Knox. The summons as if written by the “Blynd, Cruked Bedrelles, Wedowis, Orphelingis and utter pure so visited by the hand of god”1. Warns that with the past wrongs reformation is coming. The summons then goes on to accuse the Friars of the realm that they have stolen, and allowed the poor to starve. They will no longer be allowed to stay within their hospitals and must vacate them by Whitsunday. The author wishes the reader to believe that this notice was written by the poor. The document itself is in the form of a public notice, or poster, the language used in the summons is that of an accusation, or charges, as there is a hint of legal wording within the document, this is no surprise as John Knox was well versed in legal jargon, and he would know a number of lawyers. As education for the poor was limited at best during this time, it is clear that the summons was written by educated individuals. Certainly Individuals who would feel passionately about the way the Catholic Church had been behaving. They may also have a vested or personal interest in the church reforming, either way, the individuals who wrote the summons want change. Knox had been invited back to Scotland once and by the time he got to Dieppe, he received a letter telling him the time wasn’t right. Knox had left his wife and two sons in Geneva, this would have been a hard situation accept, and he would have been bitterly disappointed. So when he got the second invitation he took his time getting back. The authors of the summons may have been impatient for Knox to return, or even desperate to show their commitment to the cause, so when the summons was posted Knox was still in Geneva. Wording in the summons is very similar in tone to that of Knox. 1558 saw Knox’s Appellation to the Nobility and Estates of Scotland published, it would seem that the authors of the summons would have been influenced by the rhetoric used by Knox and example of this is, “Suffer their souls to starve and perish for lack of the true food which is Christ’s Evangel sincerely preached. It will not excuse you in his presence”2. Throughout the 15th century and the majority of the 16th century there were calls throughout Europe for the reformation of the church. With the “Lollards” who were followers of Wycliffe. Wycliffe authored pamphlets in English instead of the normal Latin, encouraging people to read the bible on their own. He even attacked the gentry, calling them “wicked rulers” and that they had “forfeited their right to rule”3. 1517 saw the German Priest Martin Luther pinning his ninety-five theses to the church doors at Wintenberg. The ninety-five theses was a paper that criticised the way the church and its abuses. What spread throughout Europe next was known as “Lutheranism”. Printed pamphlets were smuggled into Scotland, these documents were critical church similar to what Luther had written in his ninety-five thesis. The act of pinning the document to the church door may be seen as a forerunner to the act of the Beggars Summons. For us to understand the summons, and why it marks an important part to the reformation, we must first look at the lead up to the events of 1559. James V died in 1542, leaving behind a wife, Marie de Guise and a very young daughter, Mary. In his stead James Hamilton: Duke of Chatelherault took over as regent. Throughout thirteen years of his regency Chatelherault’s reign was hampered by plague, war, and famine. Chatelherault was regent up until 1554 when Mary de Guise took over the role. It was planned that the daughter Mary would marry the dauphin of France, thus establishing a French king in Scotland. When Guise took over power from...
Bibliography: G. Donaldson, Scotland James V-James VII, the Edinburgh History of Scotland Volume 3. Edinburgh 1994. P91
G. Donaldson, the Scottish Reformation, (Edinburgh 1960) Page 3, 16-19 & 37
J. Knox, the Appellation of John Knox, printed Geneva. 1558. Knox on Rebellion, Edited by R.A. Mason 2008. P86
R.K. Marshall, John Knox, Edinburgh 2000, P2, 3, 4, 5 & 75
P.E. Ritchie, The History of The Scottish Parliament Volume 1 1235-1560, Edited Keith M. Brown and Roland J. Tanner, Chapter 8, Marie De Guise and the Three Estate p185.
Unknown Author, the Beggars Summons, Edinburgh 1559.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document