Politics, the people, and extra-institutional participation in Scotland, c. 1603–1712

Karen Bowie, Alasdair Raffe

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Abstract / Description of output

This article examines popular political participation in early modern Scotland. In Scotland, some of the preconditions of public politics identified by recent scholars were less obviously present than in England or France. There was no culturally dominant metropolis or royal court; the volume of printed publications, though rising across the period, remained comparatively small. Because of these characteristics, historians of popular involvement in Scottish politics should pay particular attention to the traditional means of participation inherited from the medieval and Reformation periods. The article explores three forms of extra-institutional participation, each of which evolved out of formal, institutional political practices, but were deployed by ordinary Scots seeking to express their views. Protestations, formal statements of dissent from a statute or decision, developed in the courts, but were used in extra-mural contexts in the seventeenth century. In towns, crowd demonstrations took the place of traditional means of formal consultation, as urban government became increasingly oligarchical. The article also examines congregational involvement in the appointment of parish ministers in the Reformed Church of Scotland. After this was legally instituted in 1690, significant numbers of small landowners and the landless poor claimed to have a say in the choice of their minister.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)797-815
JournalJournal of British Studies
Issue number4
Early online date27 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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