Burning of an Effigy of the Pope

Scope and Content

Printed advertisement, signed by 'Robert Brown, Secretary of State to all our Theatrical and Extra-literal Divertisements', announcing the intention by students to burn an effigy of the Pope at noon on Christmas Day 1680.

Administrative / Biographical History

In the late 17th century there was great excitement over the 'Popish plot' and the Catholic heir presumptive to the Crown, (The Duke of York) was also resident in Edinburgh. Some Edinburgh students announced their intention to burn 'an effigy of the Pope of Rome' . This advertisement included a warning to keep forty paces distance, 'since we hate tumults'. The students succeeded in carrying out their intention, in spite of the combined resistance of the College authorities, the Town guard and the regular troops.

The students were charged with treason by the Privy Council who closed the College, with its re-opening conditional on formal parental assurances of good behaviour! Soon afterward, another pamphlet was published 'humbly rescuing the actors from the Imputation of Disloyalty and Rebellion'.

An indication of the religious troubles and student disciplinary problems of the latter seventeenth century may be glimpsed in the wording of this item.