This book is the first detailed discussion of the political history of the Scottish Church in the reign of James VI (1567-1625). It offers a refreshing new perspective on the Reformed Kirk during the crucial period in its development. It is an examination of relations between Kirk and State based firmly on contemporary sources. Analysing the formation and evolution of clerical views, it argues for fluid patterns of opinion governed by events rather than fixed ideologies. As a result, it rejects the established notion of ’Melvillian’ and ’Episcopalian’ parties in the Kirk. Pivoting on the regal union of 1603, it explores the Scottish experience of the implementation of ecclesiastical policies under a multi-state monarchy in the light of recent British scholarship. It also assesses the significance of the regal union for the government of Scotland, for the status of the Kirk within Scotland and in relation to the Church of England. The result is a significant and challenging contribution to early modern Scottish and British historiography.
'A shrewd, robust and healthy revision not only of the Jacobean Kirk, but of James himself and his first realm….This is a splendid study in a myriad different ways, and, above all, it puts the sterile 'two kingdoms' debate behind and moves to scrutiny of an energetic, constantly changing church.' TLS '…a distinguished addition to the St Andrews Studies in Reformation History. It is a complex story of conflict and compromise, controversy and consensus, and this book makes it clear that iron-clad opinions…were far outnumbered by more flexible positions…MacDonald’s careful research will rewrite this aspect of British ecclesiastical history.' Bibliotheque d’Humanisme et Renaissance, Vol. 61, No. 2 'His careful study of the fluid patterns of opinion among the church members, the royal policy toward the Kirk, and the relationship of the Kirk to the Church of England breaks new ground.' Theology Digest, Vol. 46, No. 4
Contents: Introduction; The formative years, 1567-85; Compromise and conflict, 1586-92; The untidy tumble towards crisis, 1592-96; The road to consensus, 1597-1602; The regal union and the collapse of consensus, 1603-06; The new autocracy, 1606-10; New polity, new liturgy, 1610-25; Conclusion; Appendix: maps; Bibliography; Index.