Crichton, James


Crichton, James
born August 1560, Eliock House, Dumfries, Scot.
died July 1582, Mantua, Mantua

Scottish scholar and adventurer.

After graduating from the University of St. Andrews, he publicly distinguished himself in Europe in learned activities. He entered the service of the duke of Mantua but was slain in a street fight at age 21. Reputedly a fine orator, linguist, debater, and man of letters, he was considered the model of the cultured gentleman, though admirers probably exaggerated his accomplishments. Years later he became known as "the Admirable Crichton."

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▪ British orator
born August 1560, Eliock House, Dumfries, Scot.
died July 1582, Mantua, Mantua

      orator, linguist, debater, man of letters, and scholar commonly called the “Admirable” Crichton. Although many considered him to be a model of the cultured Scottish gentleman, others doubted the very existence of an individual of such achievements.

      From his parents, Robert Crichton, a public official, and Elizabeth Stewart of the house of Beith, Crichton claimed royal descent. After receiving an M.A. from the University of St. Andrews in one year (1575) instead of the usual two, he went to Paris, where he seems to have distinguished himself at the Collège de Navarre. A handbill printed in Venice in 1580 attributed to him excellence in every form of athletics, skill in arms and horsemanship, mastery of 10 languages, encyclopaedic familiarity with Scholastic and Christian philosophy, and a remarkable ability to debate on any subject proposed. His first known activity in Europe was his oration of July 1579 in the ducal palace at Genoa. The next year he presented himself to the Venetian printer Aldus Manutius, probably the author of the handbill. Manutius introduced him to leading local Humanists, who were greatly impressed by his accomplishments.

      At Padua in 1581 Crichton enhanced his reputation in two debates, and Manutius paid tribute to his successes in his dedication for his own edition of Paradoxa (1581) by the Roman author Cicero. The next year Crichton entered the service of the Duke of Mantua but was slain there at the instigation, and probably at the hand, of the young prince Vincenzo Gonzaga, whose jealousy he had aroused.

      Despite the achievements of his short life, the picture of Crichton painted by Sir Thomas Urquhart in The Discovery of a Most Exquisite Jewel (1652) is probably exaggerated. Published letters suggest that constant indebtedness was among several of Crichton's weaknesses. He did, however, merit the term “admirable,” first applied to him in 1603 in John Johnston's Heroes Scotici, for his knowledge of philosophy, his memory, his linguistic skill, and his ability to debate.

Additional Reading
Biographies include Patrick Fraser Tytler, Life of the Admirable Crichton, 2nd ed., corrected and enlarged (1823); and Douglas Crichton, The Admirable Crichton (1909, reissued 1988).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • CRICHTON, JAMES —    surnamed The Admirable, a Scotchman of gentle, even noble birth, educated at St. Andrews, had George Buchanan for tutor; early developed the most extraordinary gifts of both body and mind; travelled to Paris, Rome, Venice, Milan, and Mantua;… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

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  • Crichton —    CRICHTON, a parish, in the county of Edinburgh; including the village of Pathhead, and part of Faladam, and containing 1384 inhabitants, of whom 122 are in the village of Crichton, 2 miles (S.) from Ford. This place is of considerable… …   A Topographical dictionary of Scotland

  • James Crichton — l Admirable Crichton (1560 1582), gentilhomme écossais, né dans le comté de Perth, d une famille alliée à celle des Stuarts. Il excellait dans tous les exercices de l esprit et du corps, ce qui le fit surnommer l Admirable. Il vint à Paris à 20… …   Wikipédia en Français


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