The British Union: A Critical Edition and Translation of David Hume of Godscroft's De Unione Insulae Britannicae, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

The British Union

A Critical Edition and Translation of David Hume of Godscroft's De Unione Insulae Britannicae, 1st Edition

By Paul J. McGinnis, Arthur H. Williamson


352 pages

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Hardback: 9780754603405
pub: 2002-08-21
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De Unione Insulae Britannicae (The British Union) is a unique seventeenth-century tract that urged the fusion of the Scottish and English kingdoms into a new British commonwealth with a radically new British identity. Its author, David Hume of Godscroft (1558-c.1630) was a major intellectual figure in Jacobean Scotland and the leading Scottish critic of the anglicizing policies of James VI. The tract was written in two parts. Published in London in 1605, the first part provides a general outline of the imperative of union. The second consists of political and constitutional proposals whereby such a union might be achieved. Its publication was suppressed and it exists only in manuscript. This is the first translation of the tract. Hume's work is breathtakingly contemporary in some of the proposals that it makes; regional assemblies combined with a national parliament, and a call for efforts to inspire the Scottish and English people into a sense of common purpose. The language and ideas of the tract display characteristics of the Renaissance combined with elements that visibly anticipate the Enlightenment. The De Unione offers extraordinary insight into the European intellectual world prior to the rise of romantic nationalism in the early nineteenth century.


'In providing the first English translation of Hume's text, Paul McGinnis and Arthur Williamson have provided invaluable possibilities for anyone interested in the political, philosophical, or religious strategies of the Jacobean period. It is, in short, a major contribution to Early Modern studies… McGinnis and Williamson's translation of De Unione may well become a seminal work in the field. It is certainly required reading for anyone wishing a deeper understanding of the Scottish Renaissance or the early Jacobean years in England.' Sixteenth Century Journal 'In providing a critical edition and translation of David Hume of Godscroft's De Unione Insulae Britannicae, Paul McGinnis and Arthur Williamson have done students and scholars of early modern Britain a tremendous service. As the first translation of Hume's tract, this edition makes readily available a much neglected text.' Early Modern Literary Studies

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; The Scottish Commonwealth: from George Buchanan to David Hume; Britain's lost Renaissance: from citizen to subject; David Hume and radical Britain; The De Unione and its fate; Book One; Book Two: Andrew Melville's letter; To the reader; The necessity of a union founded on mutual love; The name: Britannia; Emblems and insignia; Treaties and ordinances; The councils; The Parliament; Offices; Currency; Commerce; Laws and the courts; Immunities and privileges; Association; Exhortation; Marriage; Education; Colonies; Religion; The oath; A British order of knighthood; Triennial visits; Society; Prayers for Britain; Summary of the argument; Apologia; Bibliography; Index.

About the Series

St Andrews Studies in Reformation History

With the publication of its 100th book in 2012, the St Andrews Studies in Reformation Studies series celebrated an impressive publishing achievement. Since its establishment in 1995 the series has consistently offered high-quality, innovative and thought-provoking research in the field of early modern religious history. By encouraging authors to adopt a broad and inclusive interpretation of ’Reformation’, the resultant publications have done much to help shape current interdisciplinary interpretations of early-modern religion, expanding attention far beyond narrow theological concerns. Each title within the series has added to a body of international research showing how the ripples of the Reformation spread to virtually every corner of European society, both Protestant and Catholic, and often beyond. From family life, education, literature, music, art and philosophy, to political theory, international relations, economics, colonial ventures, science and military matters, there were few aspects of life that remained untouched in some way by the spirit of religious reform. As well as widening conceptions of the Reformation, the series has for the last fifteen years provided a publishing outlet for work, much of it by new and up-and-coming scholars who might otherwise have struggled to find an international platform for their work. Alongside these monographs, a complementary selection of edited volumes, critical editions of important primary sources, bibliographical studies and new translations of influential Reformation works previously unavailable to English speaking scholars, adds further depth to the topic. By offering this rich mix of approaches and topics, the St Andrews series continues to offer scholars an unparalleled platform for the publication of international scholarship in a dynamic and often controversial area of historical study.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General