The Union of 1707 in Scottish historiography, ca.1800 - 1914
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In the nineteenth century, Scottish patriotic aspirations, unlike other nationalist movements in Europe, were not defined as a demand for the re-establishment of a nation-state. Rather, Scots considered that the most effective way to protect their nationhood was involvement in the Union and equal partnership with England, as Scotland could play a significant role in the British Empire. In this sense, Scottish patriotism had two objectives; while it encouraged further involvement in the Empire, it equally denied a mere anglicisation. Scottish Nationalism was firmly connected to British Unionism. This dissertation examines the issue of how historical interpretations of the Union were formed during the nineteenth century by analysing the correlation between the interpretations and the contexts which gave rise to them. Until 1914, Scottish historiography provided the concentric idea of national identity with convincing evidence, at the centre of which was the Union of 1707. As he believed in the principle of progress, Sir Walter Scott saw the Union as a separating point from the feudal and savage past, though he attempted to reconcile the British present with the Scottish past. Under Scott's influence on historical research - with its stress on source-oriented historical narrative - historians, such as John Hill Burton, concluded that the Union was a safety-valve to preserve the Scottish nation. On the other hand, Burton and Patrick Tytler disregarded pre-Union Scottish history because of her backwardness caused by feudal tyranny. Since Home Rulers aimed at the more fair and effective representation of Scotland in Britain rather than separation, they promoted the Union's significance in a national history. Indeed, the bicentenary of the Union was considered as a good opportunity to remind both Scots and English of the original spirit of equality and mutual sacrifice of the Treaty. The positive interpretation of the Union was further consolidated by professional and academic historians like James Mackinnon and Peter Hume Brown. In retrospect, these academic historians completed the process of creating a national history of Scotland within the British Empire, with, at its centre, there was a positive account of the Union.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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