Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

The Scoto-British Subjects of James I: Literature, Europe and Nation Building in Newly United Great Britain, 1603-1617.

Project description

Scottish writers and British identity under James I

England and Scotland were independent kingdoms until 1603. Following the death of Elizabeth I of England, the English crown passed to the next heir, her cousin James I (or VI, as King of Scotland). James backed the unification of the kingdoms into a single British kingdom. He supported a common culture between the English and Scots and proclaimed himself the “King of Great Britain”. Several Scottish writers supported James’ policies on British identity policies. The EU-funded Scoto-British project will study the role of these Scoto-British writers in creating a common idea of Britishness during this period (1603 and 1617). It will also explore the gender aspects and ephemeral and occasional literature that literary histories largely ignore.


This project focuses on the Scoto-British subjects of James I. After the Union of of the Crowns in 1603, many Scottish writers and intellectuals moved to London, while James promoted the creation of a British national identity. Several Scottish writers referred to themselves as Scoto-British, openly supporting James’ British policies while displaying their consciousness of a distinct national identity. This project considers the period between 1603-1617, focusing on the (mostly still unedited) literature produced by Scoto-British writers, with the aim of clarifying their role in the creation of a shared idea of Britishness. The context for this research is that of early modern Europe, often regarded as the cradle of modern national sentiment.

The negotiation process that resulted from the King's attempts to foster a unified Britain was complicated by the deep cultural and political bond between Scotland and Continental Europe. The project gives particular consideration to gender aspects, given the role of the court of Anna of Denmark in the cultural dynamics of the Jacobean world, and to ephemeral and occasional literature, neglected by literary histories until very
recently. This project has a highly multi-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary focus, involving philology (codicology, palaeography and book studies), history (prosopography, political and identity history, literary history), practical skills, and a significant component of outreach and communication.

By focusing on an under investigated sector of early Stuart society, this research will transform our understanding of the Jacobean period. Given the relevance of issues of British identity and European belonging to the current political discourse, this project will deeply impact both the scholarly and the wider world, stimulating scholarly research on a lesser-investigated topic and encouraging an educated debate on national and supranational identities in the UK and in the EU.


Net EU contribution
€ 212 933,76
Sussex house falmer
BN1 9RH Brighton
United Kingdom

See on map

South East (England) Surrey, East and West Sussex Brighton and Hove
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00