Andrew Melville (1542 - 1622)
Melville's early education was at the Burgh school of Montrose before he
attended St Mary's College at St Andrews University in 1559. Like so many
others he continued his education abroad (1564) studying Classical and Biblical
languages at Paris and Law at Poitiers. He then moved on to Geneva where he
studied under Calvin's successor Theodore Beza, who was himself highly regarded
as a scholar of the Humanities and Bible. His talent was quickly appreciated
and he soon found himself a teacher in Humanity at the Academy. It was during
this time that he met many of the outstanding scholars of the age including
Scaliger, Hotman and the fellow Scot, Henry Scrimgeour.
By 1574 Melville was back in Scotland and had accepted the post of Principal at the less than prosperous Glasgow University. He then completely rebuilt the educational system in the Scottish Universities from the ground up by replacing the old system whereby a teacher taught the entire curriculum with the modern system of specialist lecturers. In 1577 the Regent, Morton had the reforms for the University in his hands in the form of a new foundation, the nova erectio, which also tried to put the finances on a securer footing. The reforms were so successful the nova erectio remained the base for education at Glasgow for the next 300 years. In 1578 his programme for reform of the Church was adopted by the General Assembly as the second Book of Discipline, the reforms could not be put into effect without Parliamentary action and this was not to happen
In 1584 he was force to flee to England as Parliament passed the 'Black Acts', reaffirming episcopal government and the control of the Church by parliament and the crown.
His success at Glasgow made him the perfect candidate to effect the refoundation of St Andrews University, this was enacted in 1579 by the Scottish Parliament. The reforms were based on earlier plans, especially the First Book of Discipline which included the provision for one of the colleges to be exclusively a College of Theology. As he was the head of St Mary's College he was in a position to influence both the University and the Church for the following twenty-five years.
It was while Melville was at St Andrews that he came into contact with his great religious enemy Patrick Adamson Melville strongly believed that the Church was a kingdom and that King James VI was but a member in it. As can be expected this brought him into conflict with the monarchy regularly, with the King himself travelling to St Andrews to see him. Along with this royal commissioners were also sent, followed by exclusion from the Church courts and finally by imprisonment in the Tower of London for five years. On one occasion Melville described James as 'God's silly vassel' which goes some way to showing how confident Melville felt in the King's presence. He was released from prison to spend the last ten years of his life abroad at the Protestant Academy at Sedan.
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