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John Donald
Publication Date
09 March 2004
Available for Sale
Birlinn Limited
Age Range
18th century, 19th century

The Dundas Despotism

’His massive book, with its detailed documentation, is a valuable contribution not only to the history of Scotland, but also to the overall history of the United Kingdom and of the emergence of a British rather than an English Empire’ - George Shepper

Aided by other members of their family, they ruled Scotland from the 1770s to the 1830s in a period of government later dubbed ’the Dundas Despotism’. Using a mass of new primary and secondary material culled from England, Scotland, Ireland and the United States, Michael Fry here challenges the traditional view that theirs was a corrupt and authoritarian regime. He shows that both father and son sought to achieve good government within the accepted political conventions of the age, and that many of the principles they set out to apply were owed directly to Scottish Enlightenment ideas. The Dundases were also of fundamental importance in drawing Scotland more fully into the United Kingdom and enabling the Union of 1707 to work. This is a sparkling reassessment of a crucial period of Scottish, British and imperial history. The Dundas Despotism was previously published by Edinburgh University Press.

Michael Fry is active in three aspects of modern Scotland: politics, journalism and scholarship. He has written for many newspapers in Britain and abroad and is the author of works on the political, religious and intellectual history of Scotland. He lives in Edinburgh.

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