Civility, Order and the Highlands in Cromwellian Britain

The Centre for Scottish Culture presents a seminar by Dr Allan Kennedy, Lecturer in History at the University of Dundee, on Civility, Order and the Highlands in Cromwellian Britain.

The seminar is being hosted by the Centre for History at the University of the Highlands and Islands, and it will take place in Dornoch.


Above all, the republican regime that governed first England, and then the entirety of the British Isles in the 1650s viewed itself as ‘Godly’. This was a concept with deep roots in English puritanism, and it consistently conditioned the domestic aims and policies of the Cromwellian state. But what did ‘godliness’ mean outside England? We know that the Commonwealth made some effort to export ‘godliness’ to Scotland, but little effort has so far been made to trace the implications of this agenda for the most traditionally ‘ungodly’ part of Scotland – the Highlands.

This paper seeks to address that gap. It traces how the notion of ‘godliness’ influenced Cromwellian attitudes towards Highland Scotland, as well as exploring the ways in which government policy tried to affect religious and behavioural reformation among Highland Scots. In so doing, the paper seeks to shed light upon the nature of the English regime in Scotland, while also offering an under-appreciated insight into the mental realm of the Commonwealth state more broadly.

Dr Allan Kennedy is Lecturer in History at the University of Dundee. He works on various aspect of early modern Scotland, including the relationship between Highlands and Lowlands, Scottish migration (principally to England) and the government of Charles II. His prize-winning first book, Governing Gaeldom: The Scottish Highlands and the Restoration State, 1660-88, was published as part of Brill’s ‘Northern World’ series in 2014.

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