The Archbishop of Glasgow’s “Monition of Cursing”

Note:  This curse was placed on those who lived on the border of Scotland and England and would have been passed down to their descendants.   If you are of Scottish or English descent, ask the Lord to break this curse over you.  A prayer is included below for this purpose.


The Archbishop of Glasgow’s “Monition of Cursing” against the Border Reivers of Scotland was preached in the border churches of Scotland around March of 1524, excommunicating them from the Church.  The monition is taken from George MacDonald Fraser’s book “The Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers,”  a summary history of the medieval and later depredations that took place along the borders of England and Scotland.  Some date back to Roman and Celtic times.  The Archbishop of Glasgow, Gavin Dunbar, excommunicated all Border thieves.  It is a remarkable verbal blast, running to over 1500 words.  For sheer comprehensive power this monition certainly places His Grace of Glasgow immediately among the great cursers of all time as it covers absolutely everything and puts the whole weight of God and everything ecclesiastical behind it.

For modern readers I have translated the whole document and updated the language, grammar and spelling from the old Scots of 1524, however, the rehashing loses some of the original panache and vitality.  For reference, the original text is included at the end.  The modern English version compared to the Scots version has been likened to “removing the hot sauce from a good chilli”.  This diatribe may be biblically viewed as sheer nonsense, but a curse is a curse for those under it and it must be broken.

Monition:-  1) A warning of an intimation of something imminent, especially of impending danger.  2) Cautionary advice or council: and admonition.  3)  A formal order from a bishop or an ecclesiastical court to refrain from a specified offence.  4)  A summons or citation in civil of admiralty law [Middle English monicioun, from Old French monicion, from Latin monittio, monition:- from monitus, past participle of monere, to warn.

The Border Reivers:

For over 350 years up to the end of the 16th century, what are now Northumberland, Cumbria, The Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway, rang to the clash of steel and the thunder of hooves.  Robbery and blackmail were everyday professions, raiding, arson, kidnapping, murder and extortion an acceptable part of the social system.

While the monarchs of Scotland and England ruled the comparatively secure heartlands of their kingdoms, the narrow hilly uplands between were dominated by the lance and the sword.  The tribal leaders from their towers, the broken men and outlaws on the mosses, the ordinary peasants of the valley, in their own phrase “shook loose the Border”.  They continued to shake it as long as it was political reality, practising systematic robbery and destruction on each other.  History christened them the Border Reivers.  They gave the words blackmail and bereaved to the English language.

The stamp of the Reivers is still to be seen on the Border Lands – in its architecture, culture and people.  From the secretive fortified towns and farms to names that once struck fear into the hearts of men: the Armstrongs, the Grahams, the Kerrs, the Nixons, the Robsons – the legacy of the Reivers remains.

In the year 2000, a stone commemorating the Monition of Cursing was erected in Carlisle, Cumbria.  It seemed a fitting addition to a region which is justly proud of its heritage from the Roman Occupation to the present day.  But in 2005, Carlisle was overtaken by floods of an unprecedented level. Houses were swamped to their upper floors as the river Eden burst its banks and engulfed everything in its path and there were many people, both locally and nationally, who blamed the erection of the Cursing Stone for this momentous misfortune.

A Prayer:

Heavenly Father,

I bow before You and recognise You as the one and true Lord and God and Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as my Saviour.  I come before You with a broken spirit and a contrite heart, knowing and acknowledging that I am a sinner.

Father, I recognise that my family heritage may extend to and include, people who lived in Scotland and or in Northern England, who may have been subject to the monitions of cursings which took place against the peoples of the border areas.

Father, in the name of Jesus Christ my Saviour, I repent of all and any involvement of my ancestors and or their extended families, or hirelings, or employees, in the ungodly practices of the Border Reivers and others of that kind, in Scotland, England and elsewhere; including the shedding of innocent blood and the taking of innocent lives.

I renounce and repent of all and any involvement of my ancestors and their extended families, or hirelings, or employees, in the ungodly practices of the Border Reivers and others of that kind, in Scotland, England and elsewhere; including the shedding of innocent blood and the taking of innocent lives.

Father, I humbly ask for Your forgiveness, for all and any involvement of my ancestors and their extended families, or hirelings, or employees, in the ungodly practices of the Border Reivers and others of that kind, in Scotland, England and elsewhere; including the shedding of innocent blood and the taking of innocent lives.

In my own authority, and in my authority as a descendant of my ancestors, and in the name and authority of my Saviour Lord Jesus Christ, I also forgive all those who killed, maimed, raped, kidnapped, pillaged, burnt, persecuted, stole from and in any way caused suffering to any of my ancestors.  I forgive them unreservedly, and I bless them all in the name of Jesus Christ, with the love and the peace of Jesus Christ Himself.

Lord, as You have blessed me so bountifully, I bless them, one and all, with seven times that which you have blessed me!

Heavenly Father, Psalm 107:2 asks the redeemed of the Lord to recognise and to say so, that we are redeemed from the hands of our enemies; so Father, I come before you in the name and in the authority of my Redeemer, Your Son, The Lord Jesus Christ to break all the curses of the Archbishop of Glasgow’s “Monition of Cursing” and the like, which he and others caused to be placed over my ancestors

I renounce the curses, and all others like them, which The Archbishop of Glasgow, Gavin Dunbar and his like, before and after, did utter against the lives, bodies, families, lands and inheritances of my ancestors and their descendents, their extended families, or hirelings, or employees, and for all generations since.  I renounce the curses which have been placed upon them all and the abuse and damage caused to them all.

In my own authority, and in my authority as a descendant of my ancestors, and in the name and authority of my Saviour Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive all those who cursed, and or in any way, caused any form of suffering, to any of my ancestors.  I forgive them unreservedly, and I bless them all in the name of Jesus Christ, with the love and the peace of Jesus Christ Himself.

Lord, as You have blessed me so bountifully, I bless them, one and all, with seven times that which you have blessed me!

I humbly ask Lord, that You will now release me and all my ancestors and their descendents, their extended families, or hirelings, or employees, and all generations, from the consequences of the curses.

I thank You Lord, in the name of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  Amen and Amen.

The Curse:

“Good folks, hear my Archbishop of Glasgow’s letter under his round seal, directed to me or any other chaplain, makes mention and says how, with great regret, how heavy he bears the piteous, lamentable and dolorous complaint which has passed through Scotland and come to the his ears, be of open voice and good repute, how our Sovereign Lord’s true subjects, men, women and children all bought and redeemed by the precious blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and living by his laws pointlessly murdered, slain, burnt, hurt, despoiled and robbed, openly by daylight and under silence of the night, and their belongings and lands laid waste, and their selves driven there from, on church lands as well as others, by common traitors, reavers, and thieves dwelling in the south part of this realm, such as Teviotdale, Eskdale, Liddsdale, Ewisdale, Nithsdale, and Annanderdale; who have been in diverse ways pursued and punished by the temporal sword and our Sovereign Lord’s authority, and dread not the same.

And therefore my said Lord Archbishop of Glasgow has thought it expedient to strike home with the terrible sword of the Holy Church, so that you may not need any longer endure and resist; and has charged me, or any other chaplain, to denounce, declare and proclaim them openly and generally cursed, at this market cross and all other public places.  Therefore, through power and authority of Almighty God, the Father of Heaven, his Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ and of the Holy Ghost; through the power and authority of the Blessed Virgin Saint Mary, Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and all the angels; Saint John the Baptist, and all the holy patriarchs and prophets; Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint Andro and all the holy apostles; Saint Lawrence and all the holy martyrs; Saint Giles, Saint Martin and all holy confessors; Saint Anne, Saint Katharine and all the holy virgins and matrons; and for all the saints and holy company of heaven; be the power and authority of our Holy Father the Pope and his Cardinals, and of my said Lord Archbishop of Glasgow, and the advice and assistance of my Lords, Archbishop, bishops, abbots, priors and other prelates and ministries of the Holy Church.

I denounce, proclaim and declare to all and sundry, that the committing of the said pointless murders and  slaughtering of innocents, burnings, cattle rustling, plundering, thefts and despoiling;  both openly in the daylight and under silence of night, as well as within Church property and on Church land; together with their partakers, assistants, suppliers, knowing receivers of their persons, the goods burnt and stolen by them, or any part thereof, and the counsellors and defenders of their evil deeds are generally cursed, loathed, detested, denounced and collectively curses with the great cursing.

I curse their heads and all the hairs of their heads, I curse their faces, their eyes, their mouths, their noses, their tongues, their teeth, their chins, their shoulders, their breasts, their hearts, their stomachs, their backs, their sexual organs, their arms, their legs, their hands, their feet and every like part of their body, from the top of their heads to the souls of their feet, before and behind (fronts and backs), within and without.

I curse them going and curse them riding; I curse them standing and I curse them seated; I curse them eating, I curse them drinking; I curse them walking, I curse them sleeping; I curse them risen, I curse them lying down; I curse them at home, I curse them out of the home; I curse their wives and I curse their children, and their servants and all who participate with them in what they decide.  I come against their friends, their cattle, their wool, their sheep, their swine, their geese, their hens all their livestock.  I come against their halls, their bedrooms, their kitchens, their standings, their barns, their cowsheds, their barnyards, their cabbage patches, their ploughs, their harrows and the goods and houses which are necessary for their sustenance and their welfare.

All the maliciousness and curses which ever a worldly creature since the beginning of the world to this hour, might land upon them.  The wrath of God which landed upon Lucifer (Satan) and all his fellow demons, that struck them from the high heavens to deep hell, may it land (alight) upon them.  The fire and the sword which stopped Adam from the gates of Paradise (Eden) may they stop them from the glory of Heaven, until they forebear and make amends.  The maliciousness that alighted upon and cursed Cain when he slew his brother Abel with guilt, may alight on those who are guilty of slaughter which they commit daily.  The maliciousness which alighted upon all the world, upon man and beast and upon all that ever took life, when all was drowned in the flood of Noah, except for Noah and his ark must have been upon them and drowned them, both man and beast, making this realm deeply troubled by them and their wicked sins.  The thunder and fire balls which rained down on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and all the lands around them, and burnt them, for their vile lifestyles, must rain down upon them and turn them to consume them with fire for their open sin.  The maliciousness and confusion which alighted upon the giants for their oppression and pride, building the tour or Babylon must confound them and all their works, for their open plunder and oppression.  All the plagues which fell upon Pharaoh and his people of Egypt, their lands, crops and animals must fall upon them, their farmlands, homes, steadings and milk-sheds.  The waters of the River Tweed and other river waters through which they ride through must drown them, as the Red Sea drowned Pharaoh’s people from Egypt while rescuing God’s people of Israel.  The earth must tear and split open and swallow them alive into hell as it swallowed the cursed Dathan and Abiram who rebelled against Moses and the command of God.  The wild fire which burnt Korah and his followers to the number of 250, and another 14,000 and 7,000 at once, usurpers against Moses and Aaron, the servants of God, not suddenly and without warning burn and consume them, but daily, for standing against the commands of God and the Holy Church.  The maliciousness, the malediction which fell suddenly upon fair Absalom, when riding through the wood to confront his father, King David, servant of God, the branches of one tree lifted him from his horse and hanged the heir, just as it lies upon true Scottish men to hang them in the same manner, for all the world to see.  The malediction, the curse which landed upon Nebuchadnezzar’s lieutenant, Holofernes for warring and persecuting true Christian men; the malediction which alighted upon Judas, Pilate, Herod and the Jews who crucified Our Lord, and all the plagues and tribulations which alighted on Jerusalem thereafter, and upon Simon the Sorcerer for his attempting to buy Godly blessings, bloody Nero, the cursed Ditius Makcensisu, Olibruis, Julianus the Apostate and the rest of the cruel tyrants who slew and murdered Christ’s holy servants, must alight upon them for their tyranny, murder and martyring of Christian people.

And all the vengeance that ever has been taken since the beginning of the world for open sins and all the plagues and pestilence that ever befell man or beast might fall on them and on them for their open plundering and theft, senseless slaughter shedding of innocent blood.  I sever, excommunicate and part them from the Church of God and deliver them vigorously to the devil of hell, as the Apostle Saint John delivered the Corinthians.  I prohibit and bar the places to which they go for divine services and ministerings of the Sacraments of the Holy Church, except the sacraments of Baptism allegiance, and forbid all Churchmen to hear confessions or to absolve them of their sins, until they first be absolved of this cursing.

I forbid all Christian men and women to have any company with them; to eat, drink, speak, pray, lie with, walk with, stand with or in any other thing or way do with them, on pain of deadly sin.  I discharge all marriage bands, acts, contracts, oaths and obligations made to them by any persons, other of law, kindness, Christian obligation so long as they sustain this cursing allowing that no man e burdened to them, and that this burdened to all men.  I take from them and call down all the good deeds that you did or shall do, until you rise from this cursing.  I declare them time wasters of all Matins, Masses, Evensongs, dirges or other prayers, on the Bible of the Rosary; for all pilgrimages and alms giving done or to be done in the Holy Church or to be Christening people, enduring this cursing.

And, finally, I condemn them perpetually to the deep pit of hell, to remain with Lucifer and all his kind, and their bodies to the gallows of the town hill, first to be hanged, then rent and torn with dogs and swine and other wild beasts, an abomination to all the world.  And their candles go from your sight, just as their souls go from the vision of God and their good fame from the world, until they forbear their open sins, before mentioned, and arise from this terrible cursing and make satisfaction and penance.”

The Curse – The Origianl 1425 Version:

“Gude folks, heir at my Archibischop of Glasgwis letters under his round sele, direct to me or any uther chapellane, makand mensioun, with greit regrait, how hevy he beris the pietous, lamentabill, and dolorous complaint that pass our all realme and commis to his eris, be oppin voce and fame, how our souverane lordis trew liegis, men, wiffis and barnys, bocht and redeimit be the precious blude of our Salviour Jhesu Crist, and levand in his lawis, are saikleslie (innocently) part murdrist, part slayne, brynt, heryit, spulziet (spoiled) and reft, oppinly on day licht and under silens of the nicht, and thair takis (farms) and landis laid waist, and thair self banyst therfra, als wele kirklandis as utheris, be commoun tratouris, ravaris, theiffis, dulleand in the south part of this realme, sic as Tevidale, Esdale, Liddisdale, Ewisdale, Nedisdale, and Annandereaill; quhilis hes bene diverse ways persewit and punist be the temperale swerd and our Soverane Lordis auctorite, and dredis nocht the samyn.

And thairfoir my said Lord Archbischop of Glasgw hes thocht expedient to strike thame with the terribill swerd of halykirk, quhilk thai may nocht lang endur and resist; and has chargeit me, or any uther chapellane, to denounce, declair and proclame thaim oppinly and generalie cursit, at this market-croce, and all utheris public places.

Hairfor throw the auctorite of Almichty God, the Fader of hevin, his Son, our Saviour, Jhesu Crist, and of the Halygaist; throw the auctorite of the Blissit Virgin Sanct Mary, Sanct Michael, Sanct Gabriell, and all the angellis; Sanct John the Baptist, and all the haly patriarkis and prophets; Sanct Peter, Sanct Paull, Sanct Andro, and all haly appostillis; Sanct Stephin, Sanct Laurence, and all haly mertheris (martyrs); Sanct Gile, Sanct Martyn, and all haly confessouris; Sanct Anne, Sanct Katherin, and all haly virginis and matronis; and of all the sanctis and haly company of hevin; be the auctorite of our Haly Fader the Paip and his cardinalis, aned of my said Lord Archibischop of Glasgw, be the avise and assistance of my lordis, archibischop, bischopis, abbotis, priouris, and utheris prelatis and minesteris of halykirk.

I denounce, proclamis, and declaris all and sindry the committaris of the said saikles murthris, slauchteris, brinying, heirchippes, reiffis, thiftis and spulezeis, oppinly apon day licht and under silence ofnicht, alswele within temporale landis as kirklandis; togither with thair partakeris, assitaris, supplearis, wittandlie resettaris (knowing receivers) of thair personis, the gudes reft and stollen be thaim, art or part thereof, and their counsalouris and defendouris, of thair evil dedis generalie CURSIT, waryit , aggregeite, and reaggregeite, with the GREIT CURSING.

I curse their heid and all the haris of thair heid; I curse thair face, thair ene, thair mouth, thair neise, thair tongue, thair teeth, thair crag, thair shoulderis, thair breist, thair hert, thair stomok, thair bak, thair wame*, thair armes, thais leggis, thair handis, thair feit, and everilk part of thair body, frae the top of their heid to the soill of thair feet, befoir and behind, within and without.

I curse thaim gangand, and I curse them rydland; I curse thaim standand, and I curse thaim sittand; I curse thaim etand, I curse thaim drinkand; I curse thaim walkand, I curse thaim sleepand; I curse thaim risand, I curse thaim lyand; I curse thaim at hame, I curse thaim fra hame; I curse thaim within the house, I curse thaim without the house; I curse thair wiffis, thair barnis, and thair servandis participand with thaim in their deides. I way thair cornys, thair catales, thair woll, thair scheip, thjair horse, thair swyne, thair geise, thair hennes, and all thair quyk gude. I wary their hallis, thair chalmeris, thair kechingis, thair stanillis, thair barnys, thair biris, thair bernyardis, thair cailyardis thair plewis, thair harrowis, and the gudis and housis that is necessair for their sustentatioun and weilfair.

ll the malesouns and waresouns (curses) that ever gat warldlie creatur sen the begynnyng of the world to this hour mot licht on thaim. The maledictioun of God, that lichtit apon Lucifer and all his fallowis, that strak thaim frae the hie hevin to the deip hell, mot licht apon thaimr. The fire and the swerd that stoppit Adam far the yettis (gates) of Paradise, mot stop thaim frae the gloire of Hevin. quhill (until) thai forbere and mak amendis. The malesound that lichtit on cursit Cayein, quhen his slew his bruther just Abell saiklessly, mot licth on thaim for the saikles slauchter that thai commit dailie. The maledictioun that lichtit apon all the warlde, man and beist, and all that ever tuk life, quhen all was drownit be the flude of Noye, except Noye and his ark, mot licht apon thame and drouned thame, man and beist, and mak this realm cummirless (free) of thame for thair wicked synnyes. The thunnour and fireflauchtis (lightning) that set doun as rane apon the cities of Zodoma and Gomora, with all the landis about, and brynt thame for thair vile sunnys, mot rane apon thame, and birne thaim for oppin synnis. Tha malesoun and confusion that lichtit on the Gigantis for thair oppressioun and pride, biggand (building) the tour of Bablloun, mot confound thaim and all thair werkis, for thair opppin reiffs and oppressioun. All the plagis that fell apon Pharao and his pepill of Egipt, thair landis, cornse, and cataill, mot fall apon thaim, thair takkis, rowmys (places) and stedingis, cornys and beistis. The watter of Tweid and utheris watteris quhair thair ride mot droun thaim, as the Reid Say drownit King Pharoao and his pepil of Egipt, sersewing Godis pepill of Israell. The erd mot oppin, riffe and cleiff (cleave), and swelly (swallow) thaim quyk to hell, as it swellyt cursit Dathan and Abiron, that genestude (withstood) Moeses and the command of God. The wyld fyre that byrnt Thore and his fallowis to the nowmer of twa hundredth and fyty, and utheris 14000 and 7000 at anys, usurpand aganis Moyses and Aaron, servandis of God, not suddanely birne and consume thaim dailie genestandand the commandis of God and halykirk. The malediction that lichtit suddanely upon fair Absalon, rydant contrair his fader, King David, servand of God, throw the wod, quhen the branchis of ane tre fred (parted) him of his horse and hangit him be the hair, mot lie apon thaain trew Scottis men, and hang thaim siclike tha all the warld may se. The Maledictioun that lichtit apon Olifernus, lieutenant to Nabogodonooser, makand weair (war) and heirchippis apon trew cristin men, the maledictioun that lichtit apon Judas, Pylot, Herod and the Jowis that chucifyit Our Lord, and all the plagis and trublis that lichtit on the citte of Jherusalme thairfor, and upon Simon Magus for his symony, bludy Nero, cusit Ditius Makcensisu, Olibruis, Julianus Apostita and the laiff (rest) of the cruell tirrannis that slew and murthirit Crits haly servandis, mot licth apon thame for thair cruel tiranny and murthirdome of cristin pepill.

And all the vengeance that evir was takin sen the warlde began for oppin synnys, and all the plagis and pestilence that ever fell on man or beist, mot fall on thaim for thair oppin reiff, saiklesse slauchter and schedding of innocent blude. I disserver and pairtis thaim fra the kirk of God, and deliveris thaim quyk to the devill of hell, as the Apostill Sanct Paull deliverit Corinthion. I interdite the places thay cum in fra divine service, minitracioun of the sacramentis of halykirk, except the sacrament of baptissing allenerlie (only); and forbiddis all kirkmen to schriffe or absolbe thim of theire synnys, quhill they be firs abolyeit of this cursing.

I forbid all cristin man or woman till have ony company with thaime, etand, drynkand, spekand, prayand, lyand, gangand, standand, or in any uther deid doand, under the paine of deidly syn. I discharge all bandis, actis, contractis, athis (oaths) and obligatiounis made to them by ony persounis, outher of lawte (out of loyalty), kyndenes or manrent (personal fealty), salang as thai susteined this cursing, sub that na man be bundin to thaim, and that this be bundin till all men. I tak fra thame and cryis douned all the gude dedis that ever thai did or sall do, quhill thai rise froae this cursing. I declare thaim partles (excluded) of of all matynys, messis, evinsangis, dirigeis or utheris prayeris, on buke or beid; of all pilgrimagis and almouse deids done or to be done in halykirk or be cristin pepill, enduring this cursing.

And, finally, I condemn thaim perpetualie to the deip pit of hell, the remain with Lucifer and all his fallowis, and thair bodeis to the gallows of the Burrow Mure, first to be hangit, syne revin and ruggit (then ripped and torn) with doggis, swyne, and utheris wyld beists, abhominable to all the warld. And their candillis gangis frae your sicht, ast mot their saulis gang fra the visage of God, and thair gude faim fra the warld, quhill thai forbeir thair oppin synnys foirsaidis and ryse frae this terribill cursing, and mak satisfaction and pennance.”

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