Government and Politics in Scotland, 1661-1681

Lee, Ronald Arthur (1995) Government and Politics in Scotland, 1661-1681. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The few studies of Restoration Scotland which exist have been dominated by the single issue of church government, or to be more precise, by the conflict between a government committed to the maintenance of an episcopal church structure imposed by Parliament in 1661-2, and presbyterian dissenters. It is the contention of the present work that this has led to a distorted, and occasionally misleading, picture of government and politics in the country during the years after the return of Charles II from exile in 1660. The thesis covers a wide range of topics in an attempt to provide a more substantial overall interpretation of the period. After an initial chapter which discusses the Restoration settlement of 1661-3, providing a thematic and interpretative basis for the rest of the thesis, I adopt a more structural approach to the subject. There are chapters on the executive, government finances, the military and Parliament; the first two cover a twenty-year period, while the latter two discuss the years to about 1674. There follows a final chapter which examines the general political situation from 1674-1681, with emphasis placed on the themes discussed previously. This approach provides an opportunity for identifying some longer-term trends, as well as the means of re-evaluating more short-term political developments. To an extent, the main focus is the administration of John Maitland, Earl, later Duke, of Lauderdale. Appointed Secretary to the King in 1660, he proved to be the most important Scottish politician of the period. After 1667, in the aftermath of war with the Dutch, he assumed more direct control of the administration. The attempt by him and his allies to introduce reforms in the vital areas of finances and the military is the focus of much of my analysis. These reforms, it is argued, were only partially successful, and during the 1670s Lauderdale's government became more exclusive and aggressive, provoking a great deal of opposition. Although the man's own personality, and indeed that of his royal master, Charles II, were important factors, ultimately it is contended that many of the problems facing Scottish government were structural, and can be related to the settlement described in the first chapter. The thesis ends in 1681. By this year, the Secretary's domination of Scottish government had come to an end, making it a fairly natural cut-off point (although the sheer volume of sources available for the period made it also a pragmatic choice). In different chapters, I consider briefly the role played by James, Duke of York, the King's brother, who came to Scotland in late-1679, and whose prominence finally ensured Lauderdale's political demise. However, I argue that York's success has been exaggerated, and that many of the basic problems facing the country remained to be resolved. In my conclusion, I consider more generally the intractable problem of an ostensibly absolute monarchy in a kingdom where the King no longer resided.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: J Kirk
Keywords: European history, Political science
Date of Award: 1995
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1995-74927
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2019 15:08
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2019 15:08

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