Biography of Scottish Prodigy James The Admirable Crichton Part 1
About the Scottish intellectual prodigy James Crichton, history and biography of the young man who excelled in alll things.
FOOTNOTE PEOPLE IN WORLD HISTORY
JAMES "THE ADMIRABLE" CRICHTON (1560-1582), Intellectual prodigy
James Crichton (pronounced kri't'n) was a 16th-century boy wonder. He entered Scotland's St. Andrews University when he was 10 and won his bachelor's degree at 14 and his master's one year later. He is said to have been proficient in the arts and sciences. He was also an expert swordsman, a poet, an accomplished athlete, a fine horseman, and a skilled marksman.
Born Aug. 19, 1560, in Eliock, Dumfriesshire, he was the son of Robert Crichton, lord advocate of Scotland, and Elizabeth Stuart, of the house of Beath.
After leaving St. Andrews University in 1575, he continued his education at the College de Navarre in Paris. There he soon invited renowned scholars to meet with him, telling them he'd "be ready to answer to what should be propounded to him concerning any science, liberal art, discipline, or faculty, practical or theoritick . . . in any of these 12 languages, Hebrew, Syriack, Arabick, Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, Italian, English, Dutch, Flemish, and Slavonian, in either verse or prose, at the discretion of the disputant. . . ."
Crichton served two years in the French army and in 1579 went to Italy. He won acclaim in Genoa in July, after he delivered and published a Latin address at the election of the senate in the doge's palace.
Moving to Venice in 1580, he became friendly with printer Aldus Manutius, whose famous grandfather answered to the same name and designed italic type.
Manutius introduced Crichton to the Venetian cultural community, where the youth made an indelible impression upon scholars, especially upon the group known as humanists.
As in Paris, Crichton publicly disputed a variety of subjects with Italian scholars, emerging as the victor against all except Giacomo Mazzoni, a well-known Italian philosopher and authority on ancient languages. According to one source, Mazzoni enhanced his own reputation by besting Crichton on three separate occasions.
For recreation, Crichton engaged in "hawking, hunting, tilting, vaulting, riding well-managed horses, tossing the pike, handling the musket, flourishing of colors, dancing, fencing, swimming, jumping, throwing of the barr, playing at the tennis, baloon or longcatch, and sometimes at the house games of dice, cards, playing at the chess, billiards, trou-madam and other such-like chamber sports, singing, playing on the lute and other musical instruments, masking, balling, reveling. . . ."
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