Scottish Public Opinion and the Anglo-Scottish Union, 1699-1707

Scottish Public Opinion and the Anglo-Scottish Union, 1699-1707

Karin Bowie


Royal Historical Society



The Anglo-Scottish union crisis is used to demonstrate the growing influence of popular opinion in this period.
In the early modern period, ordinary subjects began to find a role in national politics through the phenomenon of public opinion: by drawing on entrenched ideological differences, oppositional leaders were able to recruit popular support to pressure the government with claimed representations of a national interest. This is particularly well demonstrated in the case of the Anglo-Scottish union crisis of 1699-1707, in which Country party leaders encouraged remarkable levels of participation by non-elite Scots. Though dominant accounts of this crisis portray Scottish opinion as impotent in the face of Court party corruption, this book demonstrates the significance of public opinion in the political process: from the Darien crisis of 1699-1701 to the incorporation debates of 1706-7, the Country party aggressively employed pamphlets, petitions and crowds to influence political outcomes. The government's changing response to these adversarial activities further indicates their rising influence. By revealing the ways in which public opinion in Scotland shaped the union crisis from beginning to end, this book explores the power and limits of public opinion in the early modern public sphere and revises understanding of the making of the British union.

Dr KARIN BOWIE lectures in History at the University of Glasgow.


202 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Royal Historical Society Studies in History New Series
Hardback, 9780861932894, May 2007
Paperback, 9781843836513, September 2011
Royal Historical Society
Boydell Press
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Table of Contents

Politics and Communications in post-Revolution Scotland
Oppositional opinion politics
The government and public opinion
Public discourse on the Union, 1699-1705
Public discourse on the Union treaty
Addresses against the treaty
Crowds and collective resistance to the treaty
Conclusions: public opinion and the making of the Union of 1707


A promising first book which makes an important and original contribution to the making of the United Kingdom in 1707. (...) In sum, this is a worthwhile and well-written contribution to Scottish as devolved British history. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

(A) first rate dissection of Scottish public opinion during the discussions over Anglo-Scottish union. ANNUAL BULLETIN OF HISTORICAL LITERATURE - EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
Takes an innovative approach on a relatively unexplored topic (...) that has often been sidelined or marginalized.
With the publication of this book, public opinion and its impact must be incorporated into the historiography, and in that sense we now have a greater understanding of the union issue outside the elites. (...) A very good book. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW

A model of its kind. HISTORY SCOTLAND

In the middle of a radical reappraisal of the road to 1707...Karin Bowie's monograph is among the latest and most original contributions to an improved understanding of that process. (...)
(A) dazzling examination of the mass, extra-parliamentary agitations against incorporating union. (...) A highly original and rigorous examination of the new adversarial opinion politics the Scottish opposition invented in 1699-1707. (...) Only very rarely has a work of history spoken so directly to a nation's present dilemmas and discontents as Bowie's does to ours. PERSPECTIVES
Offers a fresh analysis of the relationship between public opinion and the making of the union. (...) It is now the standard text on the text of politics and the Union of 1707. EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY SCOTLAND, Spring 2008
Of the many books on the Union of 1707 that were released in the year of its three hundredth anniversary, Karin Bowie's study of Scottish Public Opinion and the Anglo-Scottish Union stands out as unique. (...) Makes a brave and highly original contribution to two important debates, and it will be of interest to anyone working on either the early modern public sphere or the 1707 Union itself. JOURNAL OF BRITISH STUDIES, July 2008, vol 47, no3

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