George Buchanan

1506-1582. Scottish humanist. Born at Killearn, he was educated at the universities of Paris and St. Andrews, began to favor Protestantism, and wrote against the Franciscans, which activity led to his arrest in 1539. He escaped to France, taught at Bordeaux and Paris, then was regent at the Portuguese university of Coimbra. There he was imprisoned, charged with heresy before the Inquisition,* and suffered much restriction before final acquittal. All the time he was furthering his classical studies, which were to enhance his reputation as the most distinguished British humanist of his time. He was friend and tutor to Mary Queen of Scots, but later supported the Protestant lords against her. In 1566 he became principal of St. Leonard's College, St. Andrews, and in 1567 moderator of the general assembly of the (now Reformed) Church of Scotland. In 1570 he became tutor to the child James VI. In 1579 he completed his famous treatise De Jure Regni apud Scotos which, though dedicated to James, marked the beginning of that conflict in Scotland that was to end more than a century later with the overthrow of the House of Stuart. Buchanan taught that kings are chosen and continued in office by the people, that they are subject to both human and divine laws, and that Scots had always claimed the right to call wicked rulers to account. Samuel Rutherford* later took up and elaborated these views. In 1683 Buchanan's political works, with those of John Milton,* were publicly burned by the common hangman because they militated against the Stuart belief in the Divine Right of Kings.* Among Buchanan's other writings were Baptistes (1642), a dramatic presentation of the life of John the Baptist, and History of Scotland (ET 1690).