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Research at St Andrews

Writing Scottish Parliamentary history, c.1500 – 1707

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Author(s)

Amy Louise Blakeway, Laura Stewart

School/Research organisations

Abstract

In the 19th and 20th centuries, scholarship on the Scottish parliament was heavily informed by a narrative of ‘failure’, directed at explaining why its members voted it out of existence in 1707. Part of the problem was the tendency to see any deviation from the practices of the Westminster parliament as weakness. By reappraising parliament in terms of its utility to those who comprised its membership, notably the titled peerage and the monarch, historians have revealed its adaptability and inventiveness, especially in times of crisis. This essay considers how fresh approaches both to what constituted the parliamentary record and what can – and cannot – be found within it have exerted a transformative influence on our understanding of parliament's evolving role in Scottish political life. Although the Reformation crisis of 1560 and the accession of the ruling house of Stewart to the English throne in 1603 effected profound changes on parliamentary culture, this essay emphasises how parliament sustained its legitimacy and relevance, in part, by drawing on past practices and ideas. Historians have become more attentive in recent years to the means by which social groupings ordinarily excluded from formal parliamentary activity were nonetheless able to engage with, and influence, its proceedings. Gaps remain in our knowledge, however. Some periods have been more intensively studied than others, while certain aspects of parliamentary culture are understudied. The writing of Scottish parliamentary history will continue to offer rich possibilities in future.
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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-112
JournalParliamentary History
Volume40
Issue number1
Early online date3 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

    Research areas

  • Covenanters, Cromwellian occupation, Kingship, Parties, Print, Reformation, Restoration, Revolution, Scotland, Speeches

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