The "Inevitable" Union and Other Essays on Early Modern Scotland

The "Inevitable" Union and Other Essays on Early Modern Scotland

The "Inevitable" Union and Other Essays on Early Modern Scotland

The "Inevitable" Union and Other Essays on Early Modern Scotland


This collection of writings by one of the foremost historians on early modern Scotland contains 11 of Maurice Lee, Jr.'s most important journal articles and book chapters. It also contains five new pieces, including the title article on the Union, a reassessment of Mary Queen of Scots, and a new interpretation of the mysterious Gowrie Conspiracy. Lee's writings cover John Knox, the fall of the Regent Morton, James VI and the revival of Episcopacy in Scotland, King James's popish chancellor, archbishop Spottiswode, Annus Horribilis, and the Buccleuch marriage contract. This volume will be of interest to anyone with a professional, or amateur, interest in the history of Scotland from the Reformation to the Union.


Over the years I have had a good many conversations that went something like this:

Stranger at a party: What do you do, Mr. Lee?
ML.: I’m a professor of history.
S.a.a.p.: What sort of history?
M.L.: Early modern British. Scottish history, mostly.
S.a.a.p.: Scottish history! Why on earth do you want to do that? Small,
unimportant place like that-nothing but golf courses and whisky. Are
you a Scot, or something?

As it happens, my mother was of Scottish descent, and my father had a Scottish grandmother, so I suppose I’m more Scots than anything else. But I’ve never thought of myself as a hyphenated American; the Lees have been over here far too long for that. I came to Scottish history, not through inherited urge, but by accident.

In the winter of 1947–8, as a second-year graduate student at Princeton, I was casting about for a dissertation topic. Qualifying exams were scheduled for May, and I had to have something to tell my committee. I wanted a sixteenth-century subject because I planned to work on the interaction of politics and religion, an interest that came naturally to those who grew up in the 1930s and served (in my case very briefly and tamely) in World War II. Furthermore, my professor, E. Harris Harbison, liked to point out the similarities between the ideological conflicts of our own time and those of the century after 1560: confessional loyalties that transcended state boundaries, plots, counterplots, assassinations, fifth columns, spies in embassies, witch hunts of all kinds. Because I’m not very good at languages, I thought it best to find a topic within what John Pocock calls the Atlantic archipelago. And I wanted something I could handle fairly quickly, and on this side of the Atlantic-the Princeton history department was not enthusiastic about students who dawdled, and money for travel was hard to come by. In the course of my searches I came across the Regent Moray, Mary Queen of Scots’ halfbrother. He met all my requirements. He was the leader of the Protestant party in Scotland in the 1560s, arguably its most important figure, not excluding John Knox; he as much as anyone was responsible for the success of the religious revolution there. Because of his involvement in his sister’s sad and spectacular career the sources were in print: I could do the research in America. His career was (for my purposes) blessedly short: he was assassinated at the age of 39. And, astonishingly, he had never had a biographer.

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