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The Blasphemies of Thomas AikenheadBoundaries of Belief on the Eve of the Enlightenment$
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Michael F. Graham

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780748634262

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748634262.001.0001

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‘So unnaturall a seasone’: The Dreadful Year 1696

‘So unnaturall a seasone’: The Dreadful Year 1696

(p.53) 3 ‘So unnaturall a seasone’: The Dreadful Year 1696
The Blasphemies of Thomas Aikenhead

Michael F. Graham

Edinburgh University Press

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

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