The Triple-crowned Islands

  • Ronald Hutton
Part of the Problems in Focus Series book series (PFS)


During the past few years there has been much excitement, and some self-congratulation, among English historians over the rediscovery of what has been termed ‘the British dimension’ to England’s story. By this is usually meant the manner in which the realms of Ireland, Scotland and England reacted with each other during the early modern period and helped to shape the development of each other. More rarely, it involves an acknowledgement by an English scholar that the histories of the other two nations might be worth studying in their own right. These developments are undoubtedly both important and praiseworthy, restoring elements to the story of Tudor and Stuart England, in particular, without which it was at times gravely distorted. None the less, there is a danger that too much self-satisfaction over what has occurred may lead to other distortions and insensitivities. For one thing, there is a problem of language. The archipelago concerned consists of two main islands, the larger being Britain and the smaller Ireland. The term ‘British’, therefore, can only correctly apply to the larger island, and to stretch it to cover the latter involves a geographical error coupled with a potential political statement.


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  1. There is no narrative history of the British Isles during the Restoration period to compare with that of Gardiner for the preceding age and that of Macaulay for the succeeding one. For general surveys the reader has to make do with the most recent textbooks upon the respective nations which cover these years, most notably T. W. Moody, F. X. Martin and F.J. Byrne (eds), A New History of Ireland (Oxford, 1976), volume 3,Google Scholar
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  5. There is no exact equivalent for the reign of James VII & II, although useful material is found in John Kenyon, Robert Spencer, Earl of Sunderland (London, 1958)Google Scholar
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  14. In Scotland the making of ecclesiastical policy during two-thirds of the period is covered by Julia Buckroyd in her general survey Church and State in Scotland 1660–1681 (Edinburgh, 1981), and her biography of its principal churchman, The Life of James Sharp (Edinburgh, 1987). The victims are portrayed in Ian B. Cowan, The Scottish Covenanters (London, 1976),Google Scholar
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  20. Finally, a contribution to the economic history of the time is made by Eric J. Graham, ‘In Defence of the Scottish Maritime Interest, 1681–1713’, Scottish Historical Review, lxxi (1992) 88–109.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© R. Hutton 1997

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  • Ronald Hutton

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