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Scotland and Arbroath 1320 – 2020

700 Years of Fighting for Freedom, Sovereignty, and Independence


Edited By Klaus Peter Müller

700 years of people in Scotland, England, Europe, and the world fighting for freedom, sovereignty, independence and justice are investigated in the essential periods and cultures since the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath: the Middle Ages, the Reformation and Early Modern Age, the English Revolution, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Cultural, media, political, and social studies, history, the law, art, philosophy, and literature are used for an analysis of the evolution of human rights, democracy, freedom, individual as well as national independence and justice in connection with past and present threats to them. Threats from politics, the economy, digitalisation, artificial intelligence, people's ignorance.


With contributions by Alasdair Allan MSP, Christopher J. Berry, Neil Blain, Alexander Broadie FRSE, Dauvit Broun, Mark P. Bruce, Ewen A. Cameron, Robert Crawford, Ian Duncan, Richard J. Finlay, David Forrest, Edouard Gaudot, Marjory Harper, Sarah Longlands, Ben McConville, David McCrone, Aileen McHarg, John Morrison, Klaus Peter Müller, Hugh O’Donnell, Murray Pittock, Anthony Salamone, David R. Sorensen, Silke Stroh, Christopher A. Whatley and Ben Wray.

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Illegitimate History: Scott’s Fictions of Sovereignty (Ian Duncan (Berkeley))


Ian Duncan (Berkeley)

Illegitimate History: Scott’s Fictions of Sovereignty

Abstract: Scott’s historical novels take as their political theme the long transition from regimes of absolute to popular sovereignty, which they represent as an intermittent progress from conquest to consensus. Refusing both constitutional principles of divine right and original contract, they imagine the impossible persistence of the hereditary monarch as a customary compact between ruler and subject, maintained as a work of fiction.

Keywords: Walter Scott; fiction; sovereignty; absolutism; consent; monarchy; contract theory; custom; freedom; history; politics; David DalrympleAnnals of Scotland; Patrick Fraser TytlerHistory of Scotland; David Hume

1 Liberty Dearer Than Life

Among the projects Sir Walter Scott undertook to repay his debts in the aftermath of the financial crash of 1825–26 were two histories of Scotland. Six months before the crash, in the preface to Tales of the Crusaders, the Author of Waverley represents himself responding to a threat of industrial action on the part of his fictional avatars – the authorial and editorial surrogates he has invented to guard his anonymity – with an announcement that he will stop writing historical novels: “I will lay my foundations better than on quick-sands—I will rear my structure of better materials than painted cards;— in a word, I will write HISTORY” (Scott 2009, 10). Scott alludes to the Life of Napoleon Buonaparte, which would be published in nine volumes in 1827. In the wake of that laborious enterprise, he returned to...

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