The ‘Rise’ of the State?

Laura A. M. Stewart

in The Oxford Handbook of Modern Scottish History

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199563692
Published online November 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191750687 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 The ‘Rise’ of the State?

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Instead of regarding the Britannic union as the moment when Scottish political autonomy was fatally compromised, Julian Goodare describes how Crown and Parliament worked together across the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century to forge an ‘absolutist state’. The result was a unified, centralized state that was operating by 1625, the year of Charles I's accession. Scotland's parishes were not units of secular government in the way that historians have argued for early modern England, which is perhaps most apparent in an area of social activity that was becoming a preoccupation for many local communities: poor relief. If it was fear of a hyperactive state that helped to propel Scottish elites into rebellion, the ensuing decade must have come as a shock. At the centre, Parliament arrogated to itself the power to convene and dismiss its representatives, as well as control the procedures by which legislation was prepared and passed. By the end of the seventeenth century, an autonomous Scottish state was faltering.

Keywords: autonomous Scottish state; Scotland; Julian Goodare; Parliament; parishes; poor relief; elites; rebellion; England

Article.  8177 words. 

Subjects: British History

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