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  • Author or Editor: Ernest R. Holloway III x
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The intellectual legacy of Andrew Melville (1545-1622) as a leader of the Renaissance and a promoter of humanism in Scotland has been obscured by "the Melville legend." In an effort to dispense with 'the Melville of popular imagination' and recover 'the Melville of history,' this work situates his life and thought within the broader context of the northern European Renaissance and French humanism and critically re-evaluates the primary historical documents of the period, namely James Melville's Autobiography and Diary and the Melvini epistolae. By considering Melville as a humanist, university reformer, ecclesiastical statesman, and man, an effort has been made to determine his contribution to the flowering of the Renaissance and the growth of humanism in Scotland during the early modern period.


This chapter examines the role that Andrew Melville played in the growth and development of European humanism in Scotland during the maturing Jacobean era. While the Reformation in Scotland was propelled by many religious influences and cultural currents, Melville exercised considerable intellectual influence among the Renaissance humanists of early modern Scotland. Although his ecclesiastical significance has been exaggerated by historians leading to what has been called “the Melville legend,” his role purveying the new learning and serving as a conduit of Renaissance scholarship and its impact upon university reform in arts and divinity has only recently begun to be deeply explored. By investigating the several ways in which European humanism shaped and conditioned Melville’s efforts at university reform in Glasgow and St Andrews, this chapter identifies his unique and distinctive contributions as a humanist, educational reformer, and scholar of the Northern European Renaissance.

In: A Companion to the Reformation in Scotland, c.1525–1638