The Oxford Companion to British History

By John Cannon | Go to book overview

M

Maastricht, treaty of. Popular name for the treaty on European Union, signed on 7 February 1992 at Maastricht in the Netherlands by the twelve EEC members. The treaty amended the treaty of * Rome and Single European Act, making institutional changes, increasing the competence of the European Union ( EEC), and giving the European Council (meetings of heads of government) greater powers in the fields of defence and immigration. John Major, the British prime minister, obtained opt-outs for the social chapter and single currency and claimed the negotiations as a victory. This satisfied neither those who wanted full participation, nor Euro-sceptics who feared a loss of sovereignty.

CNL

Mabinogi (Mabinogion). A cycle of early Welsh tales preserved in two 14th-cent. manuscripts: the White Book of Rhydderch ( Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch) and the Red Book of Hergest ( Llyfr Coch Hergest). The Mabinogi comprises the four branches of Pwyll, Branwen, Manawydan, and Math. These four branches are found with seven other tales and together they are known as the Mabinogion (a misnomer first applied to the tales by Lady Charlotte Guest), one of which, the tale of Culhwch and Olwen, is the earliest Welsh *Arthurian tale. The content is mythological and imaginative, an example of the Celtic genius at its best.

SMD

McAdam, John Loudoun ( 1756-1836). Road surveyor. Returning as a loyalist from New York in 1783, McAdam settled in Ayrshire, and managed the British Tar Company; selling his modest estate in 1795 to discharge debt, he re-emerged at Falmouth from 1798 as a naval prize-monger. His travels turned interest into profession, as he covered nearly 19,000 miles in 1,900 days on the road, 1798-1814, making the observations that formed his 'principles': employing small stones direct onto the subsoil as the method of making effective roads largely impermeable to water. These were presented to the House of Commons in 1811, and further observations ( 1819-20) came in dispute with * Telford, whose roads proved more durable but expensive. McAdam secured appointment as surveyor-general of the Bristol roads from 1816, and unpopularly consolidated his dynasty across Britain: McAdam, three sons, four grandsons, and a brother-in-law held 136 surveyorships in England and 8 in Scotland, 1816-61, with a total of around 3,700 miles of turnpike road. His fame led to the use of the term 'macadamize' as early as 1824, and was revived in Hooley's patent Tar Macadam ( 1901).

JCh

Macartney, George, 1st Earl Macartney ( 1737-1806). Born in Ireland and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, Macartney had a varied career. He was envoy to St Petersburg ( 1764-7); a chief secretary for Ireland ( 1769-72); and captain-general of the Caribbee Islands ( 1775-9). In 1780 he was appointed governor of * Madras. He arrived at Fort St George during a time of great troubles. The Madras Council was riddled with corruption and Hyder Ali, the sultan of Mysore, stood at the gates of the fort threatening, with French naval help, to drive the English into the sea. Macartney re-established some semblance of internal order and engaged Mysore in a truce. After returning to England in 1786, his most important office was as first British ambassador to the court of Peking ( 1792-4), where his relations with the imperial court soon became strained. His final office was that of governor of the Cape of Good Hope ( 1796-9).

DAW

Macaulay, Thomas Babington, 1st Baron ( 1800-59). Poet, historian, and politician. Of Scottish Presbyterian ancestry, he was the son of Zachary Macaulay, the evangelical anti-slaver and co-founder of the *Clapham sect. A child prodigy, educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, he acquired an early reputation as a Whig orator and a later reputation as a formidable contributor to the * Edinburgh Review, where he first published most of his greatest essays. A Whig MP for Calne, Leeds, and Edinburgh, he became secretary at war, paymaster-general, and was involved in drafting a new penal code for India. His Lays of Ancient Rome appeared in 1842, four years after he had projected the future History of England. The History was published between 1848 and 1862. Originally intended as a history of England since 1688, Macaulay had only reached 1702 by the time of his death. The History can be regarded as a triumphant reply to David *Hume History of England and its attack on the Whig historiographical tradition, setting the terms of a new Whig historiography which survived until the middle of the 20th cent.

NTP

Macbeth (d. 1057), king of Moray ( 1032-57) and king of ' Scotland' ( 1040-57). Macbeth's reputation as a tyrannous usurper is, of course, anachronistic. His career is none the less the stuff of drama. He lived during unprecedented uncertainty for both the kingship of *Moray and the Scottish royal succession. Nevertheless, he became the only person from northern Scotland to rule the Scottish kingdom for

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