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The Noble And The Bastard: The Earl Of Argyll And The Law Of Divorce In Reformation Scotland

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the acrimonious divorce of the fifth earl of Argyll. The breakdown of Argyll's marriage to Jane Stewart, half-sister of Mary queen of Scots, led to an act of parliament allowing divorce for desertion; the church protested against the act, but in vain. In addition to itself establishing elements of Scotland's divorce laws, the Argyll case illustrates broader issues within Reformation Scotland, especially the redrawing of the boundaries between the civil and ecclesiastical spheres following the 'uproar for religion' in 1560. Here, three main strands can be followed: court cases and their legal ramifications; the social implications for the respective kingroups and for Scottish noble society in general; and the human relationships between the couple themselves - the noble and the bastard. The convoluted way in which Argyll had achieved his own divorce, with its combination of ecclesiastical and civil processes, was carried over into the 1573 act.

Keywords: 1573 act; earl of Argyll; ecclesiastical jurisdiction; Jane Stewart; Mary queen of Scots; Reformation Scotland; Scotland's divorce law; Scottish noble society



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