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Buchanan, George

Buchanan, George (150G-1582), Scottish scholar and historian, was educated partly in Scotland and partly in Paris. He took the degree of M.A. at Paris in 1528, and for three years was professor in the College of St. Barbe, and then becoming, in 1532, the friend and tutor of Gilbert Kennedy, Earl of Cassilis, he returned with his pupil to Scotland in 1537. Here, with the approval of the king, who made him tutor of one of his sons, he wrote the Somnium and the Franciscanus, both of them attacks upon monastic life in general and upon the Franciscans in particular. This gained him the enmity of Cardinal Beaton, and after some persecution he fled to Paris, and from there to Bordeaux, where he was made professor of Latin at the College of Guienne. It was at this time that he made translations from Medea and Alcestis, and wrote two dramas, Jephthah and the Baptist. From 1544 to 1547 he was again in Paris, and from there he went to the Portuguese university of Coimbra. Here he suffered imprisonment in a monastery at the hands of the Inquisition, and began a version of the Psalms. After another period of tuition in Paris he came back to Scotland, and in 1562 was appointed tutor of Queen Mary, and in 1566 - having now joined the Reformed Church - he was appointed principal of St. Leonard's College, St. Andrew's, by the Earl of Murray, and in the next year was, though a layman, made moderator of the General Assembly. In 1570 he was appointed tutor of James VI., and was for a time director of Chancery and Lord Privy Seal. In the question between the queen and her brother Murray, Buchanan was a partisan of the latter, and his Detectio Mariae Reginae was bitter against her. Of his works the most famous are a treatise De Jure Regni, which lays down the position that kings are created by the people and exist for the good of the people, a work condemned in 1584 and in 1664, and burnt by the scholars at Oxford in 1683; and a History of Scotland, which is of value for the period in which the writer makes use of his own personal experience. Buchanan was also possessed of much poetic power, and his translations are of considerable merit, while as a Latin versifier he had a European renown, and has seldom, if ever, been excelled.