Popular or parliamentary sovereignty? National opinion and the Declaration of Arbroath on the eve of union

Bowie, K. (2022) Popular or parliamentary sovereignty? National opinion and the Declaration of Arbroath on the eve of union. Scottish Historical Review, 101(3), pp. 475-490. (doi: 10.3366/shr.2022.0579)

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Hoping to stop the ratification of a treaty of incorporating union with England, late in 1706 the parish minister Robert Wylie quoted the Declaration of Arbroath in a draft manifesto for an armed uprising. Rather than seeing Wylie’s manifesto as part of a perceived tradition of popular sovereignty rooted in the Declaration of Arbroath, this paper asks what his quotation reveals about this early modern moment. It confirms a growing awareness of the Declaration of Arbroath in Scottish political culture and its usefulness as patriotic rhetoric for Whigs and Jacobites alike, aided by the publication of English translations from 1689. It shows how Wylie used the Declaration to suggest that the pro-treaty majority in the Scottish parliament was a traitorous faction out of step with the mind of a nation bound by its covenant oaths and how this attack on the legitimacy of the estates went against more than a century of presbyterian efforts to bolster the authority of the parliament as a counter to Stewart power. Wylie’s document thus confirms the rising relevance of public opinion in this era and its construction in terms of conscience and covenants; and underlines a key struggle in the making of the union between extra-parliamentary opinion, highlighted in petitions and weaponised through calls for recesses and special assemblies, and the stature of the Scottish parliament as the embodiment of the political nation.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bowie, Professor Karin
Authors: Bowie, K.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Journal Name:Scottish Historical Review
Publisher:Edinburgh University Press
ISSN (Online):1750-0222
Copyright Holders:Copyright © The Scottish Historical Review Trust 2022
First Published:First published in Scottish Historical Review 101(3): 475-490
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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