Sunday, October 2, 2022

Murray Pittock's "Scotland: The Global History"

Murray Pittock MAE FRSE is Scotland’s leading cultural historian. His books include Culloden, Enlightenment in a Smart City, The Myth of the Jacobite Clans, and Robert Burns in Global Culture.

He applied the Page 99 Test to his latest book, Scotland: The Global History: 1603 to the Present, and reported the following:
Page 99 of The Global History discussed the fragmentation of Scottish Presbyterianism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries into different sects, a process mainly driven by controversies over oaths. These issues were not purely religious, but included embedded and sceptical attitudes towards the British Crown and constitution. These ultimately rested on the gulf between a king who was supreme governor of the Church of England and a religious outlook whose only head was Christ:
By the 1770s, there were nearly 200 dissenting Presbyterian congregations in Scotland, including new dissenters and a few of the older Cameronians who opposed the Crown and the ‘uncovenanted, Erastian, prelatic’ British constitution.
This page is by no means typical of the book except in one dimension. The religious convictions and divisions in the Scottish churches are discussed-the history would not be complete if they were not-but they are marginal to the overall thrust and coverage of a history of ‘Scotland in the world, the world in Scotland’. The book is however divided into three superthemes: Conflict and Sovereignty, Empire and Finding a Role. The Scottish Presbyterians unleashed major conflict in the seventeenth century in pursuit of complete sovereignty for their religious outlook throughout Great Britain; in the eighteenth, they continued to contest the sovereignty of the Crown and its officers in the new United Kingdom, but from a position of much greater weakness, which in turn led to their own fragmentation. In the end, Scottish society accommodated itself extremely well to the opportunities of the British empire, but its national institutions-including the Church-arguably fared less well. Most of Scotland’s institutional life adapted to the new circumstances of the United Kingdoms after the Anglo-Scottish Union of 1707, but despite its protected status under the Union, the Church found it harder to adapt, for its beliefs were by the nature of the organization itself, uncompromising and unaccommodating.
Learn more about Scotland: The Global History at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Culloden.

--Marshal Zeringue