Even in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was conventional for humanist writers and their Enlightenment successors to regard the nobility which dominated early modern Scottish society and politics as violent, unlearned, and backward - at best conservatively bound to feudal codes of behaviour; at worst, brutal, corrupt and anarchic. It is a view that prevails still. Keith Brown takes issue with this.The author draws on extensive research in the rich archives of the Scottish noble houses to demonstrate that the conventional view of the Scottish nobility is wrong. He shows that the nobility were as steeped in contemporary European debates and movements as they were rooted in local society. Far from holding back Scotland's economic and cultural development, they embraced economic change, seized financial opportunities, led the way in the pursuit of Renaissance ideals through their own learning and in the education of their children, and were partners in religious reform. Professor Brown makes extensive comparisons with the noble societies elsewhere in Europe to reveal how the differences and above all the similarities between the lives of Scottish nobles and their peers abroad.Elegantly written and illustrated with a wealth of contemporary incident and anecdote, the book presents an intimate and vivid picture of noble life in Scotland. It challenges and will change perceptions of early modern Scotland. Noble Society in Scotlandis the first of two related books on the subject. The second, on noble power and the relations between the nobility, state and monarchy, will be published by EUP in 2003.
Noble Society in Scotland
Edinburgh University Press
Wealth, Family and Culture from the Reformation to the Revolutions