First Advisor

Caroline Litzenberger

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Reformation -- Scotland -- Aberdeen -- 16th century, Aberdeen (Scotland) -- Church history -- 16th century



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 107 p.)


In the burgh of Aberdeen in northeast Scotland, the realm's Reformation of 1559-1560 and the subsequent alteration of the religious landscape were unwelcome developments. Although national authorities required reform, the burgh's powerful governing local oligarchy, mainly comprised of wealthy Catholic burgesses, dictated the speed and shape of conformity to the new religion. Existing scholarship on Aberdeen in the 1560s has concentrated on the ways in which Aberdeen's leaders responded to the Reformation rather than the reasons behind those responses. Thus, the purpose of this thesis is to further the understanding of the implementation and interpretation of the Reformation and Reformed Protestantism in Aberdeen from c. 1560 to 1568. Aberdeen's town council records from 1559 to 1568 and kirk session legislation from 1562-1563 and 1568 are the foundational primary sources for this study. Close textual analysis makes visible the many layers of meaning contained within these sources and unearths the common threads that run throughout. Additional primary sources, such Confession of Faith, Book of Discipline, and relevant entries from the records of St Andrews' kirk session, serve to place Aberdeen in the larger national context and, in many aspects, highlight the burgh's comparative religious conservatism. Chapter One of this thesis provides an overview of the national political and religious history from the early 1540s to the early 1570s. Chapter Two focuses on Aberdeen's response to the Reformation Crisis of 1559-1560 and the subsequent implementation of reform from 1560 to 1568 as administered by the burgh's civic authorities. Finally, Chapter Three explores and explains the interpretation of the Reformation and Reformed Protestantism by the town council and the kirk session. This thesis concludes that the town council of Aberdeen deftly maneuvered through the twists and turns of the Reformation and its immediate aftermath and was successful not only in retaining relative local autonomy, but also in restricting the pace and determining the character of reform. Furthermore, the burgh's kirk session sought common ground between Catholicism and Reformed Protestantism in doctrine and discipline and was able to distract attention from matters of religious belief and practice by concentrating on the regulation of moral behavior.


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Portland State University. Dept. of History

Persistent Identifier