Glasgow Aquinas Lecture
The early friars and the University
In March 1217 what every religious community dreads occurred in the newly-founded house of Augustinian canons at the church of Saint Romain in Toulouse: the superior Dominic of Spain, not long returned from the court of Pope Honorius III, had an idea. He told his shocked brethren that they were no longer to be canons bound to stable service of a particular church, but friars whose stability would be in the universal church, they would move wherever the need was. Instead of preaching the faith and combating the Cathar heresy in the diocese of Toulouse they were to take up the doctrinal preaching of the faith in every diocese in the known world. They would preach in poverty and would not own anything. Instead of travelling by horse or mule they would go on foot. They would retain the basic structures of monastic life and the remnants of their canons' habits, white woollen tunics and the black cappa or cloak, and shoes, but instead of the canon's rochet they would wear the scapular. Dominican told his brothers that he was dividing the community and sending some brothers away from Toulouse to the major European university towns of Paris and Bologna.
This new Order of Preachers, as the Pope allowed it to be called, was to be an Order of Doctors too. Study was essential for the intelligent preaching of the faith. As Humbert of Romans, one of the first and greatest of the Masters of the Order wrote, 'first the bow is bent in study, then the arrow is released in preaching.' Unfortunately, he did not go on to give further advice about improving your aim. Dominic's friars were to go to the universities of Europe, use their resources and make foundations to attract recruits. In Paris, the leading theology faculty of the time, they met with great success. Large numbers of students and even Masters joined them, bringing their schools with them and thus integrating the Dominicans, as they were to be called into the academic structures of Europe.
They reached Oxford in 1221, Edinburgh in 1230/31 and Glasgow about 1246. The majority of their houses were founded by King Alexander II in the principal towns of Scotland. The main foundations were thus made in the twenty or so years after 1230. Scottish Dominican friars are to be found throughout the medieval centuries as masters of Ordnance, like Brother Andrew Lissouris, who was also an architect and the King's favourite joiner, bishops, including a whole string of Argyll, and a whisky distiller, Friar John Cor, who made whisky for the King. Glasgow was an episcopal foundation by William de Bondington and his cathedral chapter, possibly with the intention of promoting clerical and pastoral renewal in his diocese. It also provided useful space for official civic or ecclesiastical functions in 1301 Edward I of England had stayed three days in the Blackfriars, we do not how welcome a guest he was, but his bill was paid by an English Dominican who had come with him, he is described as being 'skilful in the Scots language'. The three days in the Blackfriars cost the King six shillings.
The association between Dominicans and universities was forged from the very outset of the Order's life. A partnership was forged between a reforming Order and a reforming papacy, giving the papacy agents for reform on ineffective and reluctant bishops in their dioceses, as well as encouraging priestly and pastoral renewal. The link with universities was not an end in itself; study was a fine thing, but for the preachers it was to serve preaching. In a fairly short time the Order found itself developing an educational structure of its own to form preachers; the vision of study was primarily utilitarian.
Pressure of numbers in Paris forced the establishment of other studia generalia to serve different areas of the Order at Montpellier, Bologna, Cologne and Oxford. Each province was entitled to send two of its brightest students to these houses to study theology at the highest level. These students were chosen from the provincial schools, and these schools were in turn fed by the best students from the priory schools. An intellectual elite was thus formed, educated and then returned to serve as teachers in schools at an appropriate level. The Order provided a comprehensive theological education which came to include arts subjects after 1250. In each house there was not only to be a prior, a superior, but also a lector, or teacher. Lectures were given daily on the Bible and the Sentences of Peter Lombard, attendance was compulsory for every friar from the prior downwards. What had been learned was tested in regular review session called 'repetitions', and then contentious points argued in disputations according to logical form.
Honorius III thought that Dominicans should not only have the cure of souls, but they also offered 'a salutary antidote' for diseased minds'. A number of bishops recommended the Dominican schools to their flocks. In 1221 the bishop of Metz welcomed the preachers saying that they would not only 'serve the laity through their preaching, but they would be a great help to the clergy through their sacred lectures.' The friars lectures were to be open to outsiders, in fulfilment of the decree of the fourth Lateran council that there should be a school in every diocese and a Master in Theology who would be able to instruct the clergy in Scripture and methods of pastoral care.
Some medieval Dominican schools became the nuclei of universities, as at Barcelona, and others formed the staff of theology faculties as at Bologna in 1360, Toulouse in 1230 and Cambridge by about 1250. In Louvain and Cologne the priory was often used for university congregations, ceremonies, or even lectures. The friars capitalised on their relation to the university in Louvain in 1532, they asked for faculty help in replacing the refectory windows. They were offered one window. Bishop Turnbull, a Louvain student, would have known of the connections between the university and priory in Louvain. Sentiment and tradition, as well as expediency, may have dictated the choice of the chapter room of the Blackfriars, which was also the friars' classroom, for the inauguration of Glasgow university in 1451.
Dominicans do not definitely appear in the university until 1457 when three were incorporated. None of them are found in connection with studies again. John Mure, the vicar general of the Scottish Dominicans, was the next incorporated in 1470. What accounts for this apparent lack of personal involvement in a university which continued to operate either within the walls of the priory or else as a near neighbour and possibly tenant of it ?
Maybe the friars had no suitable students. The university was poor and the teaching of theology appears erratic. The Glasgow Arts faculty was the most secure of the faculties and consumed most of the slender endowment. The Glasgow Arts Faculty would not have been attractive to the Dominicans since they did not attend secular arts schools but patronised their own. The General Chapter of 1259 established provincial arts schools where logic would be taught. These provincial Arts schools provided the brightest Dominican students with the necessary foundation to be able to proceed to the higher schools. The friars did not want their students taught Arts by seculars. In its early years, therefore, Glasgow did not offer what the friars wanted or needed. They were obviously keen to nurture the new university, but in the short term it was not for them.
In 1478 Thomas Robinson, a member of the Chester community and a native of Glasgow was assigned to the Glasgow Blackfriars to teach the artes liberales. Robinson was something of a catch. He had studied in the studium generale of Bologna two years before Savonarola joined it in 1474. They were taught by the same teachers. Robinson remained in England for only a short time before coming to Glasgow. It is possible that he was being deputed to teach the postulants and novices, and maybe even lay students in the friars own grammar school. We know that the Ayr Dominicans maintained such a school because in 1436, Hugh Kennedy, a former pupil in their Grammar School complained that he had been coerced into the Order by his parents and the friars, forced to become a priest and even made to live with the English Dominicans for a time before he decided he could stand it no more and ran away to become a soldier with the King of France's armies for fifteen years. There were obviously enough Scottish friars to teach grammar.
Robinson quite possibly came to teach in what was intended to be the Scottish Dominicans' provincial arts school, a necessary institution for any friar being prepared for higher studies. Robinson also links Glasgow and the Scottish Dominicans with the movement towards strict observance of the primitive constitutions of the Order which was gaining ground in Europe at the time. Begun in Germany under Raymund of Capua, Master of the Order from 1380-1399. it spread to the Low Countries and in Italy, led by disciples of Catharine of Siena. The issue between Observants and Conventuals, as they came to be called, was over poverty. The conventuals accepted a certain amount of individual ownership of property in terms of books and clothing, and a measure of private life. Professors of theology, lectors or students even, might be dispensed, according to Dominican law, from conventual observances so that their contribution to study might not suffer. Favours soon became privileges which were jealously guarded. Masters of Sacred Theology had permanent places at Chapters and could be absent from conventual life. An elite developed which functioned independently and still exercised constitutional rights.
Raymund of Capua believed that eventually the Order would be reformed through the leaven of the Observant friars working within the territorial provinces. In the mid-fifteenth century a major upheaval shook the Order and affected Friar Thomas Robinson in Bologna and Glasgow.
In 1459 Pius II, who canonised Catharine of Siena, united the reformed houses of Lombardy into a reformed Congregation which was in effect a non-territorial province with practical exemption from the Master of the Order. The Master, Martial Auribelli was determined that the Order should not split into different branches as the Franciscans had done. The pope won. At the General Chapter of 1462 Auribelli was removed and the Pope's candidate Conrad of Asti elected Master who promoted the formation of the Congregations, the most significant of them being the Congregation of Holland, one of the largest and most powerful in the Order and founded in 1464 and stretched from Brittany to Rostock on the Baltic. It was to this Congregation that the Scottish Dominican province turned to promote and strengthen its own reform.
The civil war between the Observants and the Conventuals was brought to a temporary halt with the re-election of Martial Auribelli in 1465. Auribelli began to unravel the concessions made to the Lombard Congregation. The Observant tactics were to use the secular powers to deal with their enemies amongst the conventuals. The reform of priories in towns or regions or even states was often undertaken at the request of secular rulers. They used their influence in Rome to full effect, soliciting privileges, favours, protection and dispensation. In effect doing exactly what they accused the Conventuals of doing, except, of course, their view was that they were upholding the integrity of the Order rather than damaging it as the Conventuals did. The General Chapter of 1468 removed the Vicar General of Lombardy from office and refused to promote the Masters and bachelors of Theology accepted by the Lombards for their degrees. The Pope decided that Auribelli and the Chapter had acted beyond their powers, re-instated the Vicar General of Lombardy and the doctoral candidates at the recommendation of the Bologna studium. The Lombards could effectively run their own studium without reference to the rest of the Order. It was a massive victory for the Observants, a defeat for the Master and a triumph for the Observants. Thomas Robinson was a student at Bologna during this crisis. It the degrees and teaching posts of his teachers and the ethos of Lombardy that were being contested.
The 1468 Chapter was a strange one the location was changed from France to Rome, many of the delegates did not get to Rome in time. The gaps were filled by hand-picked delegates who would vote the right way. Master Andrew Cruden, a Preacher General and Master of Arts, was commissioned by the 1468 Chapter to reform the convents of Scotland at the request of King James III of Scots. Andrew was a St Andrews graduate and had studied Arts at Cologne before receiving his license at Paris in 1446. He was one of a group of friars at St Andrews in the 1430s, along with John Mussilburgh, Vicar General of Scotland in 1468, and John Mure, prior of Glasgow in 1468, who succeeded John Mussilburgh as Vicar General in 1469 and was incorporated in Glasgow university in 1470. The Observant - Conventual debate had reached Scotland, complicated by the emerging pressure to secure complete juridical independence from the English Dominicans who were in no way interested in reform and who had used their royal connections to ensure that it was the only province in the Order never to have a reformed house.
The pressure for Observant reform was felt in the Irish vicariate of the English Dominican province with the encouragement of the central authorities of the Order. Dominican reform in Ireland sprang mostly from the Gaelic speaking areas. The General Chapter of the Order in 1484 approved the foundation of an Irish province. The first provincial was an outstanding theologian and preacher, Maurice ó Mocháin, who was promoted Master of Sacred Theology at Oxford in 1474. His reform work was frustrated by the English Dominicans who had the province suppressed in 1491. It remained a vicariate until 1536 when the collapse of the English Dominican province before the onslaught of Henry VIII removed any obstacle to their independence.
There were concerted reform moves in two vicariates of the English province, although Scotland was effectively self-governing. In both, theologians with a typically Observant concern for the restoration of the intellectual and theological apostolate led the way. In 1475 the Papacy had already given to the heads of the four mendicant Orders in Ireland permission to establish a studium generale in Dublin citing as the reason the dangerous necessity for Irish students to cross the seas and to face the enormous expense of a foreign education. Such an institution had to wait some time before it was founded and Trinity College, Dublin was not exactly what the popes had in mind. It was perhaps with this market in mind that Glasgow showed an interest in attracting Irish students. If it had flourished it would have drawn Irish Dominican students to Glasgow away from the unreformed air of Oxford and Cambridge. Dominican reform had a definite intellectual programme.
The Observant reform wished to stress the importance of study in the service of preaching whilst uniting it to the highest standards of Dominican asceticism and fidelity to the primitive Dominican inspiration. In order to be able to carry out this project it needed its own academic institutions, or at least contact and influence with those with which it believed an association would be most fruitful. In Scotland the university of St Andrews was a possibility, but the Dominican house there was poorly endowed and not large enough to support a community of more than one or two friars. Glasgow seemed to offer a better possibility, although it was still struggling to establish itself. Desire for Dominican reform went hand in hand with a movement towards intellectual renewal. In this the universities were to play their part.
In 1481 the General Chapter of the Order acceding to the request of King James IV emancipated the Scottish friars from the last vestiges of English Dominican control and erected Scotland into a separate province in its own right with John Mure confirmed as its first Provincial. Mure used his influence at court to secure the independence of his province. Delegates from Scotland were to attend General Chapters only once every five years and the Provincial was to be confirmed in office not by the Master, but by the priors of the Province, rather in the manner of the Congregation of Lombardy.
The General Chapter of 1481 had also called for an improvement in the intellectual standard of Dominican studies, it reminded the brethren that the purpose of the Order was preaching, teaching and the hearing of confessions, everything was to be directed towards the proper fulfilment of this mission. The new Scottish province took this seriously and was aided in this by the Master and his curial administration which began to see the Scottish province and certain elements of the Irish vicariate as means for promoting reform in the British Isles. Scotland and Ireland would give them some purchase on the more recalcitrant unreformed English Dominicans who were proving very tough nuts to crack.
It is in this context that we should see another attempt to revive the fortunes of theology in Glasgow. In 1487 the provincial chapter of the Scottish Dominicans accepted an endowment of a chaplaincy from William Stewart, canon of Glasgow, who also endowed the completion of a range of buildings on the west of the cloister with two halls, kitchens, eight chambers on three stories. The endowment was to allow one of the friars to lecture in the university. David Craig, prior of Glasgow, a Paris-trained theologian, together with his bachelor 'Friar Denis', was incorporated in the university. The main centre of Dominican theological commitment was to be Glasgow in the new provincial regime.
Developments amongst the Scottish and Irish Dominicans formed part of a wider European Dominican strategy. In 1481, just after his election and the approval of the Scottish province, the Master permitted Master John of Scotland, of the Dominican community in Cologne to return home. John was in Cologne in 1451 where he entered the Order after his licentiate. No reason given for his return to Scotland. He would certainly have known the various Scots who had studied at Cologne in the middle years of the century and who had now returned to teach at home. Cologne was very much under the influence of the reformed Dominican congregation of Holland and it is interesting to speculate as to whether Master John's visit home had anything to do with the emergence of the new province and the attempt to revive its intellectual life in association with Scottish academic institutions. He may also have been on touting for students, since in January 1483 a Friar Andrew of Scotland was assigned by the Master of the Order to Cologne for studies and given leave to be promoted to Holy Orders there. Was Andrew one of the first fruits of the Scottish province's new won right to send students to the studia generalia, of which Cologne was in the forefront. Despite repeated attempts to shore up and develop the Glasgow theology faculty, it never succeeded as well as the Arts faculty. At the same time, after the death of John Mure in 1491, there seems to have been an intensification of the debate as to the direction the new province should take which called into question the province's relation to Glasgow.
Mure's successor John Smith (1491-96) was prior of Glasgow in 1478 when Thomas Robinson arrived as the new lector Arts lector. Broadly favourable to the Mure tradition, it was during his provincialate that a decisive shift was made away from the Glasgow connection towards identification with a new venture in Scottish Academic life, the university of Aberdeen. During Smith's provincialate a major Dominican investment was made in William Elphinstone's new university of Aberdeen, which was to be the cradle and model of renewal of the Scottish province in the sixteenth century.
Elphinstone had been brought up and studied in Glasgow in the shadow of the Glasgow Blackfriars. Three Dominicans had been his contemporaries and he must have had frequent dealings with the friars as Official of the Glasgow diocese. Amongst the first members of his university were Dominicans who were prominent as both teachers and students in the new theology faculty. The attractions of Aberdeen to the Dominicans were obvious. They found themselves welcomed and at the heart of a dynamic academic institution with a glittering staff assembled from Scotland and all over Europe. Elphinstone reforming ideals coincided with their own. Aberdeen served the education not only of clergy but for laymen too. Above all Elphinstone was ensuring that it would be well-endowed, in contrast to Glasgow, which, as John Major described it, despite attempts at reform in 1492, as but 'poorly endowed and not rich in scholars'. The Dominicans decided to abandon their Glasgow experiment for the time being and to concentrate their resources in Aberdeen.
The most prominent and well-respected member of the community was John Adamson, who is described as the first professor of Theology in the new university. With him there was a nucleus of friars who were to be the leading intellectuals and reformers of the new province: John Grierson, who later became dean of the faculty of Theology at St Andrews, provincial and a leading Catholic reformer; Robert Lyle, who took his bachelor's degree in Aberdeen and then went on to Glasgow; John Spens, a close collaborator of Adamson who became prior of Glasgow in 1517 where he is described as bachelor of theology in 1517; and Alexander Lawson, originally a lawyer in Aberdeen who subsequently joined the Order and whose bachelor degree was approved by the General Chapter in 1522. Lyle was prior of Glasgow from 1519-24 and was incorporated into Glasgow University as bachelor of Theology in 1521 when he began lecturing on the IV Book of the Sentences in the presence of the Rector, the Dean of Faculty and under the presidency of John Adamson, the Provincial. Aberdeen became the nursery of the Order's next generation of theologians and from there they were to be fed back into the Theology faculties of Glasgow and St Andrews giving the Order a base in all of them. They are found in the next twenty years moving often from house to house as lectors or priors, promoting planting the Dominican reform and advocating the ideals of contemplative study of divine truth. The great advantage of Aberdeen was that it offered a short course. In Paris doctorates in Theology could take up to fourteen years. In Aberdeen it was to be possible to incept as a doctor in six years. The bonus for the Dominicans was that it was cheap and you could have your men back on the road comparatively quickly. The problem was what trouble would they create once they had finished their studies and were ready full of ideals to begin their apostolic work.
John Smith was succeeded as Provincial by Ninian Shanks, who appears to have been something of a nonentity and who had spent virtually all of his thirty years of conventual life in the priory in Wigtown. He may represent an effort by the conventual party to re-assert itself after the advances made by the Observants with their emphasis on theology and study. He was succeeded as Provincial by David Anderson, who may have been a compromise choice. He had been prior of Aberdeen when Elphinstone began his great undertaking, he remained as Provincial until removed by visitators from the Congregation of Holland in 1511. It was during his provincialate that major ideological conflicts developed between various parties within the province, the younger group of friars, highly-educated and committed to the ideal of reform and determined to renew the Church in whatever way they could, on the one hand, and those who were more conservative in their approach and who did not have pretensions to academic expertise or profound theological interests. A key figure in the conflict was once again John Adamson.
In 1502 he became prior of Aberdeen and was force in attracting other religious to study in the theology faculty. Meanwhile, a new Master of the Order, Vincenzo Bandelli, had been elected in 1501. A member of the reformed congregation of Lombardy he was renowned for his academic brilliance and his commitment to the reform and renewal of the Order. He determined to render the studies even more rigorous and respectable, and devised a strategy to promote reformed provinces and not congregations, thus avoiding the threat of division and schism within the Order. His first encyclical letter to the entire Order exalted the place of study within it:
We desire that the brothers, should excel in sacred science and in holiness of life, and the young friars, whose minds are developing, should be widely taught in all doctrine. Those who are already profoundly immersed in sacred science should be placed on a lamp stand and not hidden under a bushel, so that they may light up the Church of Christ.
This could have been taken as the manifesto of the reformed friars in Scotland. Master Bandelli then took to the road visitating the European provinces to promote is vision. It was during his visitation of the Congregation of Holland that he drew up a strategy for Scotland, Ireland which involved the Congregation of Holland. It was to be the means by which provinces were reformed and not new congregations formed. In 1503 he commissioned Jean de Bauffremez, Vicar General of the Congregation of Holland, to reform Ireland. It is not quite clear if he had any success, or even if he was allowed by the English to get there. In 1505 the General Chapter accepted Spain as a province of Observance. Similar moves must have been made in Scotland since it is from 1505 that we have regular reports of Scottish friars defecting from their convents and fleeing to the more relaxed atmosphere of England. According to the Order's legislation it was forbidden to transfer from an Observant environment to a Conventual, although it was possible to pass the other way. In 1505 the Master of the Order wrote to the Provincials of the Order ordering them not to accept fugitive friars from the Scottish Province without he permission of the Scottish Provincial. James IV in letters in 1506 and 1508 repeats the charge to the Master General that fugitives are undermining the work and reputation of the Scottish Province and demands that something be done about it. That there were such is shown by permission granted by the Master of the Order in 1520 to Friar John Duncanson, a Dominican of the Stirling priory, who had fled Scotland in 1505 and taken refuge in the Boston priory in Lincolnshire. In 1510 Nicholas Gonor, Vicar General of the Congregation of Holland, together with the priors of Ghent and Valenciennes, was appointed visitator of the Dominican houses in Scotland with full powers of the Master. The king receive them well and supported their work of reform. In 1511 David Anderson was removed from office, a decision which caused a riot in Edinburgh led by the families and friends of the unreformed friars. He was replaced by John Adamson, who remained Provincial until his death in 1523 when he was replaced by his disciple John Grierson who saw the story through to its sad end in 1560.
James IV supported Adamson and his work because, so he says in his letters, they were reforming 'the discipline of a decayed religious order'. The rhetoric of these letters is immediately recognisable as that of the Observants within the Order. They always presented their conventual opponents as sunk in decadence and decay. The reform party within the Scottish Dominican province adopted the Observant strategy of engaging the support of powerful secular authority and using that in conjunction with central Roman authority, either of the pope or of the Master to undermine their local enemies. A struggle followed which lasted throughout 1511 and into 1512. Adamson was not accepted as Provincial without opposition and, as in the reform of the priory of Saint Jacques in Paris in1501, his authority was enforced with the aid of the secular arm, as in so many other European towns and cities where the reform had been supported by civil authority. James IV was no exception. Like Charles VIII and Louis XII in France, he was happy to tolerate, promote and benefit from the most outrageous abuse of his rights of patronage in the Scottish Church, milking the revenues of the Church for the benefit of the crown and state, at the same time promoting reform amongst the regulars, which salved his conscience, cost him nothing and increased the dependence of international religious Orders on the Crown. Paradoxically, the reforming religious were helping to dig their own graves by inviting and relying on the help of the secular powers.
The story of the growth of the reform of the Scottish Dominican province and its involvement in the intellectual and theological life of the nation must be told another time. It began in the chapter house of the Glasgow Blackfriars, but took in many different places on the way. The Dominicans made another effort to promote Glasgow theology in the work of Robert Lyle who took up where John Mair left off after his brief sojourn in Glasgow before being taken off to Glasgow by Archbishop Beaton who made a short-lived attempt to revive the flagging fortunes of the university. It was St Andrews and not Aberdeen which was to be the great hope of the renewed Dominican province, purged of its unreformed elements and firmly fixed on reform of morals and practice within the church through the exercise of the mind in love and the joys of contemplation of the divine mystery.
In 1477, a papal bull authorised the transformation of the St Andrews Dominican house, which was described as a hospital, perhaps a refuge for pilgrims, into a conventual house. Although the university had used the church on various occasions since 1476 for university events, by the beginning of the sixteenth century the buildings had become dilapidated. In 1514 a legacy from Bishop Elphinstone allowed the construction of a priory 'within the university of St Andrews'. In 1516 the Provincial chapter endorsed the project and by 1517 John Grierson was in residence as prior of the new convent. It was eventually to serve as the burial place of Cardinal Beaton.
St Andrews represented a new and final chapter in the history of the Scottish province. The friars now had a site within the town itself, unlike Aberdeen where their priory was almost two miles from the university in Old Aberdeen. It offered them more than Glasgow could at that time, although, without their involvement in Glasgow they would never have been able to make the foundation in St Andrews. During the course of the next twenty years a large number of highly qualified and intelligent young men became Dominicans. An exceptional number of them had their degrees recognised by the General Chapter of 1525 a tribute to the investment John Adamson and his colleagues had made in Dominican education. Adamson himself received the ultimate accolade at the 1518 General Chapter, having walked all of the way to Rome with his loyal lieutenant John Spens, keeping the traditional fast of the Order all of the way, he was commended by this, the largest Chapter to have gathered in two hundred years, for reforming the Scottish province and for founding the house in St Andrews. Returning home he brought with him the approval of the entire Order for what he had created. A flash of his concern for asceticism can be seen in letters written by the Regent Albany complaining to the Pope of the activities of James Crichton, a Scottish Dominican Master of Theology who had been a great success at the papal court and secured a pension for himself from the revenues of the diocese of Dunkeld. This was a common custom amongst English Dominican Masters and was hated by the Observants. Albany's secretary is obviously writing with Adamson's letter of complaint before him, or else at the dictation of Adamson, since Crichton's biography and failings are described with that withering accuracy which only one brother can direct to another. The diocese itself is described as too poor to sustain such a pension, situated as it is amongst the wild, savage highland Scots. The correspondence reveals something of the inspiration of Adamson, even as an old man. Adamson died before the tidal wave of the Scottish Reformation swept over all that he had spent his life labouring to build. He saw the beginnings of the Lutheran reform, but did not live to see its effects. Luther himself belonged to the reformed Order of Augustinian eremites. Those in the first generation of Protestant reformers who emerged from religious life had mostly belonged to the reformed or Observant branches of their Order. It was the same with the Scottish Dominicans; a number of those who had been so carefully educated in the discipline of Catholic theology and Church reform in the schools of St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Cologne and Paris, found that the dynamic of their vocation led them to lay aside their habit and to embrace the Protestant reform as with John McAlpine the former prior of Perth who studied at Cologne, and later fled to Wittenberg ending his days as a Lutheran and Professor of Theology in Copenhagen, or John McDowell, another Cologne student, former sub-prior of Glasgow who also fled the country and took up Protestantism. There were others but these focus the unpredictable course of a massive regenerative movement within Christianity which was to lead to schism within the Christian Church. But that is another story.
What of Glasgow Blackfriars? The last surviving member of the community, Father John Hunter, died in exile in the Dominican priory in Bordeaux a little before 1590. He had studied at Cologne and been Prior of the Glasgow Blackfriars in 1552. He kept up his Glasgow contacts, was in regular touch with the exiled Archbishop Beaton. Beaton wrote in 1584 that there was a significant number of exiled Scottish priests hoping to return home, the only thing that deterred them was want of means. Amongst them he lists Father John Hunter. It would appear that Hunter was part of an espionage network involving Archbishop Beaton, the Duke of Guise, the Duke of Parma and dissident Catholic elements plotting the conversion of James VI and the restoration of Catholicism. A concern of Hunter's last years was securing the freedom of his imprisoned Queen, Mary Queen of Scots. A hope which was to be disappointed. It was perhaps, not a bad way, for a great tradition to end. Throughout it all, I like to think, that he was moved by the conviction that he certainly belonged to Glasgow!
© Glasgow Aquinas Lecture/2001