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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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The Aftermath: Public Opinion in Scotland and England

The Aftermath: Public Opinion in Scotland and England

(p.126) 6 The Aftermath: Public Opinion in Scotland and England
The Blasphemies of Thomas Aikenhead

Michael F. Graham

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter discusses the events following the execution of Thomas Aikenhead. Nobody did more than Mungo Craig to blacken Thomas Aikenhead's reputation and to supply the evidence that sent him to the gallows. But it appears that this smear campaign also sullied the reputation of its primary author to the extent that he had to defend himself in print. Craig's twisting of the words of Aikenhead's last speech suggests a desperate need to clear himself lest he be charged with a similar crime. Only eleven days after Aikenhead's execution, the Earl of Tullibardine wrote to the Scottish Chancellor, Hume of Polwarth, scolding him and his administration over their handling of the case, and the way the English news media were portraying it. The case of Thomas Aikenhead would cast a long shadow over the eighteenth century, particularly as Edinburgh became one of the centres of the European Enlightenment.

Keywords:   Thomas Aikenhead, Mungo Craig, Earl of Tullibardine, Hume of Polwarth, English, Edinburgh, European Enlightenment

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