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Kinship, Kingship And Latinity: The Surprising Career Of James Halkerston

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Chapter Summary

James Halkerston, Latin poet, was a distant cousin of King James VI, and pursued a varied career as soldier and Catholic intriguer in the late sixteenth century. The Halkerstons were a well-established Edinburgh family: an Adam Halkerston occurs as a witness to a charter concerning St Giles parish church in 1437, while another man of the same name served as treasurer of the burgh in 1492. The first James Halkerston, father of the soldier-poet, was clearly well placed in Edinburgh society, and it should not surprise one that he served as provost of the burgh. By the summer of 1576, apparently, Halkerston had, like many other Scottish captains, joined the Dutch forces in their struggle against the Spanish. Born into a middle-class Edinburgh family with royal connections, Halkerston embodies the complex, intimate social structures typical of sixteenth-century Scotland.

Keywords: Catholic activist; Edinburgh; James Halkerston; King James VI; latinity; sixteenth-century Scotland; soldier-poet



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