Adam Blackwood

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Adam Blackwood
Adam Blackwood
Born 1539
Dunfermline, Scotland
Died 1613
Poitiers, France
Notable works Apology for Kings

Adam Blackwood (1539–1613) was a Scottish author and apologist for Mary, Queen of Scots.

He was born in Dunfermline, Scotland and died in Poitiers, France.


Adam was orphaned at a young age and his education was sponsored by his great uncle, Robert Reid, Bishop of Orkney.[1] Blackwood went to the University of Paris and then on to Toulouse to study civil law, with the direct patronage of Mary, Queen of Scots[2] then in the French Court.[3] In 1567-8 he was a rector of the University of Paris. Blackwood became a practicing lawyer in the Parlement at Poitiers, an appointment in the gift of Mary, awarded in 1579 after the publication of his first polemic, the De Conjunctione Religionis et Imperii. According to his Histoire (1589), Blackwood visited Mary in England.[4]

Published works

Blackwood's major work was a critique of George Buchanan's dialogue De Iure Regni apud Scotos, (1579), in which Buchanan had intended to justify to the forced abdication of Mary, Queen of Scots.

  • De Conjunctione religionis et imperii libro duo, Paris (1575), (Two books on the union of Religion and temporal power)
  • The Apology for Kings;
    • Adversus Georgii Buchanani dialogum, de iure regni apud Scotos pro regibus apologia, Poitiers (1581) & Paris (1588)
  • Histoire de la martyre de la royne de royne d'Escosse, Paris (1589)

From DNB

After following the study of mathematics, philosophy, and oriental languages, he passed two years at Toulouse, reading civil law. On his return to Paris he begun to employ himself in teaching philosophy. In 1574 he published at Paris a eulogistic memorial poem on Charles IX of France, entitled Caroli IX Pompa Funebris versiculis expressa per A. B. J.C (Juris Consultum), and in 1575, also at Paris, a work on the relation between religion and government, entitled De Vinculo ; seu Conjunctione Religionis et Imperii libri duo, quibus conjurationum traducuntur insidiæ nico religionis adumbratæ. A third book appeared in 1612. The work was dedicated to Queen Mary of Scotland, and, in keeping with his poem commemorating the author of the massacre of St. Bartholomew, was intended to demonstrate the necessity laid upon rulers to extirpate heresy as a phase of rebellion against a divinely constituted authority. The work was so highly esteemed by James Beaton, archbishop of Glasgow, that he recommended Queen Mary to bestow on him the office of counsellor or judge of the parliament of Poitiers, the province of Poitou having by letters patent from Henry III been assigned to her in payment of a dowry. Some misunderstanding regarding the nature of this office seems to have given rise to the statement of Mackenzie and others that Blackwood was professor of civil law at Poitiers.

At Poitiers he collected an extensive library, and, encouraged by the success of his previous work, he set himself to the hard and ambitious task of grappling with George Buchanan, whose views he denounced with great bitterness and severity in Apologia pro Regibus, adversus Georgii Buchanani Dialogum de Jure Regni apud Scotos, Pictavis, (1581) and Parisiis, (1588). During Queen Mary's captivity in England he paid her frequent visits, and was untiring in his efforts in her service.

After her death he published a long exposure of her treatment in imprisonment, interspersed with passionate denunciations of her enemies, especially John Knox and Elizabeth I of England. The title of the work is Martyre de la Royne d'Escosse, Douairiere de France; contenant le vray discours des traïsons à elle faictes à la suscitation d'Elizabet Angloise, par lequel les mensonges, calomnies, et faulses accusations dressées contre ceste tresvertueuse, trescatholique et tresillustre princesse son esclarcies et son innocence averse. The book bears to have been printed "à Edimbourg chez Jean Nafield, 1587", but the name is fictitious, and it was in reality printed at Paris. It was reprinted at Antwerp in 1588, and again in 1589, and is also included in Samuel Jebb's collection, De Vita et Rebus gestis Mariae Scotorum Regime Autores sedecim, vol. ii., London, (1725).

At the end of the Martyre there is a collection of verses in Latin, French, and Italian, on Mary and Elizabeth. A fragment of a translation of the work into English, the manuscript of which belongs to the end of the sixteenth or beginning of the seventeenth century, was published by the Maitland Club in 1834.[5] The work contains no contribution of importance towards the settlement of the vexed question regarding the character of the unhappy queen, but is of special interest as a graphic presentment of the sentiments and feelings which her pitiable fate aroused in her devoted adherents.

In 1606 Blackwood published a poem on the accession of James VI of Scotland to the English throne, entitled Inauguratio Jacobi Magnæ Britauuitæ Regis, Paris, (1606). He was also the author of pious meditations in prose and verse, entitled Sanctarum Precationum Procemia, seu mavis, Ejaciilationes Animae ad Uranduiu se pneparantis, Aug. Pict. 1598 and 1608; of a penitential study, In Psalmum Davidis quinquagesimum, cujus initium est Miserere mei Deus, Adami Blacvodæi Meditatio, Aug. Pict. 1608; and of miscellaneous poems, Varii generis Poemata, Pictavis, 1609. He died in 1613, and was buried in the St. Porcharius church at Poictiers, where a marble monument was erected to his memory. By his marriage to Catherine Courtinier, daughter of the procureur de roi of Poitiers, he left four sons and seven daughters. His collected works in Latin and French appeared at Paris in 1644, with a life and eulogistic notice by Gabriel Naudé. The volume contains an engraved portrait of the author by Picart, in his official robes.[6]


  1. Adam Blackwood, DNB, vol.5
  2. Catholic Encyclopedia article
  3. Adam Blackwood, DNB, vol.5
  4. Burn, J.H., 'Buchanan and the anti-monarchomachs', in Mason, Roger A., ed., Scots and Britons, CUP / Folger (1994), pp.146-152.
  5. A Translation of Adam Blackwood's History of Mary Queen of Scots, Maitland Club (1834)
  6. Life by Naudé in collected ed. of his Works: Mackenzie's Writers of the Scots Nation, iii. 487-613: Irving's Scottish Writers, i. 161-9:'Chambers's Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen, i. 142-3.

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