Archbishop James Beaton

(James Bethune)

c.1473 - 1539

Patriarch of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland. Possibly born in Raith (Fife), the youngest son of John Beaton of Balfour, Beaton (or Bethune) graduated from the University of St. Andrews in 1493. He was recorded as Precentor of Dornoch Cathedral in 1497, and was Provost of the Collegiate Church of Bothwell by 1503. Although not belonging to a noble family, Beaton seems to have made an impression. He was appointed as Lord Treasurer of Scotland in 1505, but went on to gain the post of Archbishop of Glasgow from 1509 and served as Chancellor of Scotland from 1513-26. As a senior politician and cleric, Beaton became one of the Regents for the young King James V (1512-42). Beaton was responsible for building the alliance with France rather than with England. He was appointed Archbishop of St. Andrews and Primate of Scotland in 1522. Beaton improved St. Andrews Cathedral and strengthened St. Andrews Castle, but found himself facing the rise of Protestantism which he ruthlessly subdued, executing Patrick Hamilton (1503-28) and other so-called heretics.

He died at St. Andrews and was buried within the Cathedral. He was the uncle of Cardinal David Beaton (1494 - 1546), the last Archbishop.

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