1st Edition

A Dialogue on the Law of Kingship among the Scots A Critical Edition and Translation of George Buchanan's De Iure Regni apud Scotos Dialogus

By Roger A. Mason, Martin S. Smith Copyright 2004

    George Buchanan (1506-82) was one of the most distinguished humanists of the Northern European Renaissance. Hailed by his contemporaries as the greatest Latin poet of his age, he is chiefly remembered today as a radical political theorist whose Dialogus, first published in Edinburgh in 1579, justified the deposition of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1567 on the basis of a theory of popular sovereignty, which vested in the people the right to resist, depose and kill tyrannical monarchs. Dedicated to his pupil James VI, whose violent reaction against his tutor's ideas led him to develop his own views on the divine right of kings, Buchanan's work nevertheless proved immensely influential both in Britain and on the Continent, making a notable contribution to the debates over the nature and location of sovereignty which would finally bear fruit in the writings of John Locke. This new edition, featuring facing-page Latin text and English translation, is accompanied by extensive notes and commentary on Buchanan's classical and contemporary sources and a detailed introduction that examines the development of Buchanan's political thought, the context in which the Dialogus was written and published, and an extended analysis of the text itself.

    Contents: Preface; Introduction: George Buchanan, 1506-82; De Iure Regni apud Scotos Dialogus: an analysis; A note on the text and translation; De Iure Regni apud Scotos DIalogus; A dialogue on the Law of Kingship among the Scots; Notes and commentary; Bibliography; Index.


    Roger A. Mason, Martin S. Smith

    'It is good to have a suitable edition of this important work... The translation is faithful and clear, the introduction a balanced and learned essay in its own right, and the notes judicious and scholarly.' TLS '... meticulous and scholarly...' Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 'Buchanan's brief text is here accompanied by enough material to produce a monograph-length study. The heart of it is a parallel-text edition of the De Iure Regni, bolstered by fifty pages of notes and commentary, all executed with the meticulous care which we have come to expect from Ashgate's St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History. Much of the worth of the volume, however, comes from its lengthy introduction, which draws heavily on three earlier articles by Mason on Buchanan's life and work. The result is a synthesis which not only introduces Buchanans' text, but also provides one of the best and most accessible introductions to Buchanan himself now in print.' H-Net Review 'George Buchanan [...] has a lot to answer for, and this edition of his most influential work makes his ideas accessible for the first time in a high-quality modern translation... The introduction provides [...] an engaging discussion of the work itself and the scholarly debates relating to it. The presentation of the parallel texts on facing pages is very welcome, allowing one to compare the translation with the original with ease. The crowning glory of the work is the final section of notes and commentary. It is a treasury of fascinating detail which is testimony to the meticulous work of the editors in tracing the classical, biblical and historical sources for Buchanan's examples and analogies, as well as providing discussions of specific translations and pointing the reader to more detailed works discussing particular aspects of the issues raised. We owe a debt of gratitude to the late Martin Smith for embarking on the project, to Roger Mason for completing the work, and to those in charge of the St Andrews Studies in Reformation History series for publishing it. Journal of Early Modern History 'Anyone interested in monarchy, political science, and history will [...] find this an enlightening text with many debates that are still topical today. Roger Mason and Martin Smith have done scholarship a great service in publishing this crisp, new translation of De Iure Regni apud Scotos Dialogus.' Sixteenth Century Journal