George Buchanan, a Scottish author, born at Killearn, Stirlingshire, in February, 1506, died in Edinburgh, Sept. 28, 1582. He was sent to Paris for his education, returned in about two years to Scotland, and in 1523 was engaged in a border foray and the storming of a castle in England. Two years later he took a degree at St. Andrews, and shortly after went again to Paris, where he remained connected with the university several years. In 1537 he was in Scotland as tutor to one of the sons of James V., when he wrote some satirical poems directed against the monks and friars. Obliged to flee, he repaired successively to London, Paris, Bordeaux, and Portugal. His occupation was probably that of teaching the rudiments of Latin in the universities, but he published four tragedies upon the classical model, and various odes and poems, by which his name became widely known. In 1548 he was imprisoned by the inquisition at Coimbra, and after a year and a half removed to a monastery, where he made a celebrated version of the Psalms in Latin verse. After remaining here a few months he was dismissed and sailed for England. In 1553 he returned to France, and in 1562 was at court in Scotland, and classical tutor to Queen Mary, who showed him many favors.
In 1566 he was made principal of St. Leonard's college, and about this time declared himself a Protestant. His Fratres Fraterrimi, another satire upon the friars, was published in 1564. In 1566, and again in 1567, he collected and published an edition of his poems. Entering .the service of Murray, he became one of the bitterest of the queen's accusers, and was one of the chief agents in the production of the celebrated casket letters. In the investigation at York in 1568 he was a representative of the Scottish lords. His Be Maria Scotoritm Regina totaque ejus contra Eegem Conjuratione, Fozdo cum Bothuellio Adulterio, etc, was first printed in London in 1571, and translated into English the same year ("A Detection of the Doings of Mary Queen of Scots"). It contains copies of the casket letters, and is the principal source of the accusations which have since been brought against Mary's character. In 1570 he was intrusted with the education of James VI., then four years old. The year 1579 was marked by the publication of his De Jure Regni apucl Scotos, a treatise, under the form of a dialogue, concerning the institutions of Scotland, upon the principles of government and society.
For nearly two centuries this book, which inculcates the doctrine that governments exist for the sake of the governed, was held up as containing the sum of all heresy and rebellion. It was burnt, together with the works of Milton, in 1683, at Oxford, and again in 1684 received a formal condemnation and burning from the Scotch parliament. His last production, Rerum Scoticarum Historia, in 20 books, was published in 1582.