Book Chapter

The Dominicans in Scotland, 1230-1560



Oram R (2021) The Dominicans in Scotland, 1230-1560. In: Giraud EJ & Linde JC (eds.) A Companion to the English Dominican Province: From Its Beginnings to the Reformation. Companions to The Christian Tradition, 97. Leiden: Brill, pp. 112-137.

Three main areas are covered within this chapter: the introduction and early influence of the Dominican order in Scotland down to the end of the thirteenth century; the late fourteenth- and early fifteenth-century association with the Stewart kings; and the prominence of the order in the late medieval wave of reform and spiritual revival down to the 1550s. It is not the intention in this study to present a seamless narrative history of the Dominicans in Scotland from the 1230s to the Reformation in 1560 (and beyond). The swift spread of the Dominicans in Scotland following their introduction in the early 1230s stemmed from royal and episcopal patronage. Political influence came through the apparently close relationship between King Alexander II (1214-49) and Bishop Clement of Dunblane (1233-58) – the first Dominican to become a bishop anywhere in the British Isles – who acted both as a spiritual reformer and financial manager in his impoverished diocese and as a crown agent in the king’s expansion of his authority west into Argyll. No subsequent Dominican enjoyed such prominence in Scottish political and religious life but it had been embedded into the social and spiritual fabric of the kingdom within two decades of its arrival. The second part of the paper looks at the re-emergence of the Dominicans as close associates of the crown in the later fourteenth century. It considers the significance of the establishment of a royal residence within the Perth Blackfriars monastery under the early Stewart kings and the spiritual role which the Perth’s Dominicans played in the royal household. How this relationship was affected by the assassination within the royal apartments at Perth of King James I (1406-37) will be considered at the end of this section. In the final portion of the paper, the part played by the Dominicans in servicing and supporting the upsurge in popular devotions in the decades preceding Scotland’s Reformation will be examined in outline. Foundations of new Dominican houses, reform of the older ones, reinvigoration of the Order’s role in the academic curriculum within Scotland’s three medieval universities, and their growing role as guardians of orthodoxy against heresy, will provide the main strands within the discussion

Dominican order, Friars Preachers, Scotland,

The volume is due to be published in December 2020 to mark the 800th anniversary of the establishment of the Dominican order.

Title of seriesCompanions to The Christian Tradition
Number in series97
Publication date31/12/2021
Publication date online28/02/2021
Place of publicationLeiden
ISSN of series1871-6377

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Professor Richard Oram
Professor Richard Oram

Professor, History