Buchanan, George

Buchanan, George,

1506–82, Scottish humanist. Educated at St. Andrews and Paris, he became (1536) tutor to James V's illegitimate son James Stuart (later earl of Murray). He was imprisoned (1539) for satirizing the Franciscans but escaped to the Continent. He taught at Bordeaux, where Montaigne was among his pupils, and at Coimbra and became highly regarded as a Latin poet. Returning to Scotland in 1560, Buchanan declared himself a Protestant. He became an opponent of Mary Queen of Scots after the murder (1567) of Lord Darnley and in 1571 published the Detectio Mariae Reginae, a bitter attack on the queen. From 1570 to 1578 he was tutor of the young king James VI (later James I of England). Buchanan's Rerum Scoticarum historia (1582) is a useful source for his time, but his most influential work was the De jure regni apud Scotos (1579), which argued that the king rules by popular will and for the general good.


See I. D. McFarlane, Buchanan (1981); P. J. Ford, George Buchanan: Prince of Poets (1982).

Buchanan, George


Born February 1506; died Sept. 28, 1582. Scottish politician, ecclesiastic reformer, adherent of the bourgeois trend of the Reformation, and historian.

Persecuted for his espousal of the idea of Reformation, Buchanan fled from Scotland in 1539 and returned to his homeland around 1561 after the victory of the Reformation. He turned against the Scottish queen Mary Stuart. After her abdication and flight from Scotland he became tutor of her son, King James VI, the future English king James I. He was the author of a book on the history of Scotland and of treatises in which are found expressions of the idea of struggle against tyranny, in particular, of the right of the people to elect and to depose their rulers.


Rerum Scoticarum historia. Edinburgh, 1582.
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