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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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Declaring Arbroath: Atque Supra Crepidam1 (David McCrone (Edinburgh))


David McCrone (Edinburgh)

Declaring Arbroath: Atque Supra Crepidam1

Abstract: The term ‘The Declaration of Arbroath’ is dominant in written discourse in recent years. There are three key factors: the changing political-constitutional context since the 1980s; the musicality and modernity of the original document; and (spurious) claims that it was a major influence on the US Declaration of Independence. Furthermore, the Declaration adds to debates about the modernity vis-à-vis pre-modernity of the concept of ‘the nation’. As Scotland’s ‘foundation myth’, the Declaration resonates with claims that being Scottish is a matter of ‘demos’ rather than of ‘ethnos’.

Keywords: History; Arbroath; sociology; constitution; modernity; nation; nationality; myths; democracy; ethnicity; politics; culture

What, you might ask, does a sociologist have to say about The Declaration of Arbroath which is not better said by a historian? That is a fair question, carrying as it does, a presumption that historians trade in facts, and sociologists do less of that sort of thing. Borrowing Lord Cooper’s 1951 book title is designed to convey, as his was, that cobblers should stick to their lasts. And yet, Scottish ‘history’ is replete with arguments about ‘the past’, not so much that it is ‘over’ but that it is not: that there is much to argue about. Indeed, there is a reasonable case for saying that a lot of Scottish history consists of what the writer Willie McIlvanney once called “wilful fragments”: “We see our past as a series of gestures...

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