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The World of the Gáidhealtachd and the origins of the Early Modern British State, 1513-1594.


By 1603 the political power of the Gaelic world, or Gáidhealtachd, had been broken in the face of the recently created British state. Though certain Gaelic dynasties (i.e. the Campbells and O’Briens) actively worked with the state, little research has been undertaken on how dynasties such as the O’Donnells and O’Neills possessed the capacity not only to resist but also to threaten this process of state formation throughout the 16th century. Using a series of case studies and drawing upon a broad base of primary material, this project explores the political and military development of the Gáidhealtachd during two key phases of Anglo-Scottish relations. The first section investigates how certain Gaelic lords manipulated the course of Anglo-Scottish hostilities from 1513-59 in order to enhance their position within ‘British’ politics. The second section explores how the Gaelic lords reacted to the development of Anglo-Scottish peace and amity from 1560-94. The main objective of this project is therefore to uncover the basis for the strong level of Gaelic political and military resilience within ‘British’ politics throughout the 16th century and how significant a factor this was in contributing to the outbreak of the Nine Years War (1594-1603). This is an interdisciplinary project, involving Gaelic, English, Scottish, and Latin historical material as well as elements of literature and archaeology. The project will be strengthened by the experienced interdisciplinary research team at the University of Glasgow and will involve both the transfer of knowledge to the host institution and the training of the researcher in new competences. Ultimately, this project will make a major intervention in the history of Early Modern Ireland and Britain and will result in a series of high-impact publications. The proposal also entails a secondment to BBC Scotland and a detailed public engagement strategy aimed at changing public perceptions of 16th century Ireland and Britain.

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University Avenue
G12 8QQ Glasgow
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 183 454,80