'To Solemnize His Majesty's Birthday': New Perspectives on Loyalism in George 11's Britain

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    The importance of loyalism or loyal feelings in George II's Scotland has too often been passed over or ignored by historians, leading, in some important recent studies of Scottish Jacobitism, to a distorted view of patterns of political allegiance in Scotland in this period. This article explores a crucial focus and manifestation of loyal sentiment in Scotland during this period: celebration of the monarch's birthday. The special nature of this occasion is underlined through comparison with political calendars in England and Wales, and an extended analysis is offered of the various and changing political meanings which these celebrations possessed in Scotland. In late 1745, with Jacobite forces occupying or close to many Scottish burghs, so widely understood were the rituals and practices of this day that it offered loyal Scots, from a cross-section of urban society, a perfect opportunity to demonstrate their allegiance to their Hanoverian king and their repugnance for the Stuart cause. Another important conclusion is that, contrary to what has been asserted by several historians, royal days remained a very important and vital part of the political calendar in many parts of Britain throughout George II's reign. This provides further evidence of the deep roots of enthusiasm for Protestant patriotic monarchy in eighteenth-century Britain. It was a complex of emotions which was often frustrated and only sporadically glimpsed under George II, but which was, nevertheless, as the popular response to the accession of George III was to show very clearly, widely influential in shaping perceptions of the British nation and polity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)397-419
    Number of pages23
    Issue number271
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


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