Contexts (1689–1703, 1782–1798)

Alvin Jackson

in The Two Unions

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199593996
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731419 | DOI:
Contexts (1689–1703, 1782–1798)

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Parliamentary union was an established motif in the politics of both 17th-century Ireland and 17th-century Scotland. Moreover, ‘incorporating’ union was not merely an airy ideal (or, equally, a threat): for both the Irish and the Scots it had been a Cromwellian reality, however bloody and transient, and however different the resonances in the two nations. Later, the Scots and the Irish Acts of Union were launched against a shared background of European war, political and religious threat, and economic dislocation. Though each union was sanctioned by parliamentarians who were subsequently damned as corrupt in their respective national demonologies, the ‘parcel’ of Scottish and Irish ‘rogues’ in 1707 and 1801 had each exercised a much greater measure of legislative independence in the eighteen years preceding union than any earlier generation of representative. For the English, Scots, and Irish, union was tied up with history, religion, war, political stability, and economic opportunity. But the relative strength and truculence of the national parliaments before 1707 and 1801, particularly in the context of bloody and threatening European conflicts, meant that union was more desirable, indeed necessary, than hitherto for the English government: this strength also meant that the Scots and (to a lesser extent) the Irish now had forms of bargaining position where once there had only been the unanswerable eloquence of English economic and military dominion. This chapter compares this array of contexts, with a view to assessing their impact upon the forms of union inaugurated in 1707 and 1801.

Keywords: parliamentary union; Scotland; Ireland; England; legislative independence; national parliaments; English government

Chapter.  12371 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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