Scottish Calvinists and Swedish diplomacy, 1593-1632: the case of Sir James Spens of Wormiston

Steven Watt Murdoch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter focusses on the subject of confessional diplomacy and espionage, and in particular the role of Scottish Calvinists in the diplomatic corps of Lutheran Sweden. Swedish and Finnish histories often state that it was illegal to be a Calvinist in Sweden after the 1593 Uppsala ‘Statement of Faith’ (Uppsala Möte). The present chapter re-evaluates the myth surrounding this famous document through close textual analysis of surviving copies. Building on this opening section, the chapter uses the case study of Sir James Spens of Wormiston to conclusively demonstrate that not only was it acceptable for a Calvinist to continue in their confession in Lutheran Sweden, but that many such individuals were cultivated and valued in their employment to the Swedish Vasa monarchy. As a successful general, spymaster and ambassador, his service opened the way for other Calvinists from Scotland and the Netherlands to work for the expanding Swedish empire in the early modern period.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConfessional Diplomacy in Early Modern Europe
EditorsRoberta Anderson, Charlotte Backerra
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
ISBN (Print)9780367532260
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Renaissance and Early Modern Worlds of Knowledge


  • Diplomatic History
  • Diplomatic studies
  • Swedish reformation
  • Swedish history
  • Lutheranism
  • Calvinism

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