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The Dundas Despotism

by Michael Fry


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ISBN: 9781788854085
Published: 05 Jul 2004
Format: E-Book
Publisher: Birlinn Ltd
Imprint: John Donald
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About the Book

This is the first comprehensive and up-to-date biography of Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville (1742-1811) and his son Robert, 2nd Viscount Melville (1771-1851). 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.

The Author

Michael Fry

Michael Fry was educated at Oxford and Hamburg Universities. He has held academic positions in Scotland at Strathclyde and Edinburgh Universities, in the US at Brown University, and in Germany at Leipzig University and the Max Franck Institute, Frankfurt. He is the author of ten books on modern Scottish history, including The Dundas Despotism (1993), The Scottish Empire (2001), Wild Scots, Four Hundred Years of Highland History (2005) and Edinburgh, a History of the City (2009). He has contributed to most major Scottish and British newspapers, and has been a regular columnist for The Scotsman, the Herald and The Sunday Times.