The Political Culture of the Scottish Highlands from Culloden to Waterloo

Andrew MacKillop

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19 Citations (Scopus)


This article highlights the present lacuna in the study of political culture in the Scottish Highlands between the battles of Culloden and Waterloo. It argues that this neglect is symptomatic of the contentious historiography that surrounds the Highland Clearances. Yet politics remained a crucial factor shaping landlord attitudes to improvements and their estates in general. Moreover, in contrast to their well-known failure to manage the region's economic and social development, Highland landlords exhibited a sophisticated understanding of how British politics had been reconfigured by the emergence of the British 'fiscal-military' state. The region's elites constructed a distinctive and effective political strategy that sought to place the Highlands in a mutually supportive relationship with the British state. Scottish Highland political culture thus offers a useful corrective to recent debates on the 'fiscal-military' state that stress either the centre's overwhelming power or the ability of local elites to resist that power. Although the Highlands is remembered primarily for its hostile relationship with the political centre, the region in fact constituted a prime example of the process of mutual accomodation that underpinned the domestic authority of the eighteenth-century British state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-532
Number of pages21
JournalThe Historical Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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