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John Leslie (1527-1596) - Historian

He was the son of a priest and was educated at Aberdeen, Toulouse, Poitiers and Paris. On his return to Scotland he became an official in the diocese of Aberdeen; he was made Doctor of Canon Law at King's College and in 1560 was named by the Lords of the Congregation as one of the two Catholics, the other being Quenrin Kennedy, to debate points of belief with John Knox and John Willock. He became a close confidant of Mary, Queen of Scots, who appointed him a Lord of Session in 1564 and Bishop of Ross in 1566. Although he continued to support Mary's cause after her downfall, under threat of torture he gave evidence in England against the Norfolk conspiracy and left to live in France and Italy. In 1579 he became Suffragen Bishop of Rouen, and after his estates in Scotland were forfeited he was
appointed Bishop of Coustances. He wrote a Historie of Scotland, completed 1571, which covered the period from James I to Mary's accession. While in Rome he made extensive additions to the text and composed a Latin version as De origine moribus et rebus gentis
Scotorum, which was later translated back into Scots by Father James Dalrymple in 1593. Although it is considered to be inaccurate, Leslie's history contains a vivid and intimate picture of the events of the Reformation from the Catholic point of view. His other main publication was the popular A Defence of the Honour of the Right Highe, Mightye and Noble Princesse Marie, Queen of Scotand and Dowager of France (1569). Leslie died near Brussels on 31 May 1596.

Works: A Defence of the Honour of Right Highe, Mightye and Noble Princesse Marie, Queene of Scotland and Dowager of France (1569); Ad Mariam Scotorum reginam (1574); Pro libertate impenetranda oratio (1574); De illustrium foemindrum in repub. administranda (1580); De origine moribus et rebus gentis Scotorum (1580); Congratulatio serenissimo principi (1596).

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