‘So unnaturall a seasone’: The Dreadful Year 1696

Michael F. Graham

in The Blasphemies of Thomas Aikenhead

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780748634262
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653454 | DOI:
‘So unnaturall a seasone’: The Dreadful Year 1696

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This chapter talks about the dreadful year of 1696 in Scotland. It was a year of famine, the fifth of what came to be called ‘the seven ill years’. The harvest of 1695 was particularly thin, and that of 1696 would be even worse, with high food prices, unemployment, and starvation. The war against France, which had been going on since 1689, strangled what little trade there was between Scotland and continental Europe. Despite the grave problems facing Scotland in 1696, the General Assembly wanted the laws against irreligion strictly enforced. On 10 November 1696, Thomas Aikenhead was brought before the council, charged with blasphemy. The council concluded that the charges were serious and ordered that Aikenhead be tried for his life before the High Court of Justiciary, instructing Stewart of Goodtrees to continue preparing the case against him. Aikenhead was sent to Edinburgh's tolbooth to await trial.

Keywords: famine; Scotland; unemployment; France; starvation; Thomas Aikenhead; blasphemy; High Court of Justiciary; Stewart of Goodtrees; Edinburgh

Chapter.  11983 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies

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