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Local antiquities, local identitiesArt, literature and antiquarianism in Europe, c. 1400–1700$
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Kathleen Christian and Bianca de Divitiis

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526117045

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526117045.001.0001

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Inventing England: English identity and the Scottish ‘other’, 1586–1625

Inventing England: English identity and the Scottish ‘other’, 1586–1625

(p.305) 14 Inventing England: English identity and the Scottish ‘other’, 1586–1625
Local antiquities, local identities

Jenna M. Schultz

Manchester University Press

Through dynastic accident, England and Scotland were united under King James VI and I in 1603. To smooth the transition, officials attempted to create a single state: Great Britain. Yet the project had a narrow appeal; the majority of the English populace rejected a closer relationship with Scotland. Such a strong reaction against Scotland resulted in a revived sense of Englishness. This essay analyzes English tactics to distance themselves from the Scots through historical treatises. For centuries, the English had created vivid histories to illuminate their ancient past. It is evident from the historical works written between 1586 and 1625 that authors sought to maintain a position of dominance over Scotland through veiled political commentaries. As such, their accounts propagated an English national identity based on a sense of historical supremacy over the Scottish. This was further supported through the use of language studies and archaeological evidence. After the 1603 Union of the Crowns, these stories did not change. Yet, questions arose regarding the king's genealogy, as he claimed descent from the great kings of both kingdoms. Consequently, historians re-invented the past to merge their historical accounts with the king's ancestral claims while continuing to validate English assertions of suzerainty.

Keywords:   King James VI, King James I, Renaissance England, Renaissance Scotland, Renaissance Britain, Union of the Crowns, Saxonism, British historiography, History of the British Isles, English antiquarianism

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