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May 13th 1543

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Contempt for the Friars

By the 16th Century, new religious thoughts and beliefs had begun to make their appearance throughout Scotland. In Perth the ferment of new ideas was particularly strong and the trial for heresy of six citizens of the town before Cardinal Beaton in 1544 created even more opposition to the old order. There was by this time a fairly hostile attitude towards all of the four religious houses in Perth. The Friars within them were in the main considered to be lazy, venal, corrupt and mercenary and enjoyed little respect or affection from the people.

It was probably symptomatic of this attitude that an event took place in 1543, when seven young men with their “complices and servants”  advanced on Blackfriars Monastery between eight and nine on the morning of May 13th while the Friars were at prayer. They broke down the gate of the monastery itself “and take away out of it chandillaris and glassis and brak their kochin durre, and tuk off the fire the kettil with their mete and careit it about the towne, and yet withhalds the kettil and pewdir disheis, ane or ma……” 

The kettil was of course the broth pot and though the Friars took a vow of poverty there is no doubt that the kettil contained rather better fare than that enjoyed by most of the townspeople. It is interesting that the young men involved were generally of good family and the event indicated to what depths the Friars of Blackfriars had sunk in the estimation of the townspeople. On May 28th the monks brought a summons of spuilzie (an action for the restoration of movable goods taken away without permission) against the seven young men. It was singularly unsuccessful and ten years later the goods had still not been returned.

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