Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Gordons and the Reformation in Scotland

The Gordons are a clan of nobility and distinction in the annals of Scottish history. Although also owning lands in the Dumfries area of southern Scotland, the heraldry of the Gordons comes from the lands in Strathbogie in Aberdeenshire granted them by King Robert the Bruce in the highlands. According to R.R. McIan in his book The Clans of the Scottish Highlands " the Gordons of the north were at one time all powerful, and single handed, were at times opposed to government." Being the lieutenants to the north ( the Campbells were the Kings lieutenants to the south) the Gordons were given the nickname "the cock of the north". The Gordons took their charge seriously and had a penchant for battle. This led them to many conflicts with neighboring clans, especially the Macintoshes, Camerons and the Murrays. They loved conflict so much that they fought with smiles on their faces and hence earned the nickname " the gay Gordons". These facts ,however, would lead to their inevitable downfall but also ensure victory for John Knox and the Reformation in Scotland.

George Gordon the 4th Earl of Huntly was the chief of the clan in that day and was a leading Catholic stalwart. George was an unpredictable man, however, and was according to Antonia Fraser in her book Mary Queen of Scots , "totally untrustworthy in the final analysis, in all except that which intimately concerned his own clan." George ,with the power of the Gordons making him a rival to the monarchy, was quite open about his disapproval of some of the policies of Queen Mary Stuart. Although Mary and George were first cousins and George had been raised by her father James the 5th, she would brook no dissension. Mary knew, however, that it would take something serious for an assault on such a powerful and prestigious clan as the Gordons. Her wait was short lived.

John Gordon, one of George's nine sons, severely injured Lord Ogilvie while fighting on a street in Edinburgh. John sought refuge from his father and fled to Huntly. Mary insisted on George turning over of John for prosecution but was refused. This lit the fuse which would finally explode when in September 11, 1562 Alexander Gordon, another son of George, refused Mary entrance into her castle at Inverness which he kept for her while she was away due to his position as Sheriff of Inverness. After hanging Alexander, Mary wasted no time in going about doing away with her rivals to the north. This victory for Mary was a political but pyrrhic one as without the Gordons, the north was opened to the reformers. This civil war of powerful Catholics caused division and thankfully by God's grace allowed the truth to be heard in Scotland. John Knox's prayer of "give me Scotland" was graciously answered in the affirmative.

Although a Gordon, my faith in the doctrines of Grace and scripture alone contrary to Papal lies, make me thankful that the truth was made available so that my forebears and the rest of Scotland were able to hear the truth. For more information on the Gordons go to www.gordonhighlanders.com and www.houseofgordon.com also check on a search engine for Gordon's Calvary as it was a Gordon who may have discovered Golgotha and the garden tomb of Christ in Jerusalem.

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