Eighteenth-Century Scotland and the Three Unions

Colin Kidd

in Anglo-Scottish Relations from 1603 to 1900

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780197263303
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734137 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Eighteenth-Century Scotland and the Three Unions

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter is concerned with the way Enlightenment Scotland viewed the British unions. The focus of the Scottish Enlightenment was on the deeper social and economic underpinnings of political systems, not on the epiphenomenal superficialities of national status. There has been a widespread assumption that Scots law and Presbyterianism became mainstays of Scottish identity in the supposed vacuum created by the loss of Scotland's parliament. A different kind of ambivalence surrounded eighteenth-century Scottish attitudes to the law. Eighteenth-century Scottish historians made no attempt to align the Union of 1603 and the Union of 1707 in a benignly unfolding story of ever-closer British integration. Given the horrors of the Union of the Crowns, as related by the sociological historians of the Scottish Enlightenment, it becomes easier to explain why these same historians put a positive gloss on the enforced Cromwellian union of the 1650s. The Anglo-American crisis and problems in the Anglo-Irish relationship brought into sharp focus the solid loyalty of North Britons.

Keywords: Ireland; British unions; Scottish Enlightenment; Scots law; Presbyterianism; Cromwellian union; America

Chapter.  8008 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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