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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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Trial and Execution

Trial and Execution

(p.100) 5 Trial and Execution
The Blasphemies of Thomas Aikenhead

Michael F. Graham

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter talks about the trial and execution of Thomas Aikenhead. The trial convened in Edinburgh's tolbooth on 23 December 1696, after several delays for reasons that may have involved locating the necessary witnesses. The indictment went on to claim that Aikenhead had vented ‘wicked blasphemies against God and the Saviour Jesus Christ, and against the holy Scriptures and all revealed religione’ several times for more than a year. On a more philosophical level, the indictment alleged that he had argued against the likelihood of eternal reward or punishment or the existence of spirits, and had claimed that God, the world, and nature, are but one thing and that the world was from eternity. Aikenhead was found guilty of the most serious charges in the indictment, based primarily on the testimony of Mungo Craig. Then he was hanged, twisting in the January breeze as a short Edinburgh afternoon descended into twilight. His body was buried at the foot of the gallows.

Keywords:   Thomas Aikenhead, Edinburgh, tollbooth, God, blasphemies, indictment, holy Scriptures, Mungo Craig, trial

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