Gaelic history and culture in mediaeval and sixteenth-century Lowland Scottish historiography
The subject of this study is attitudes towards Gaelic Scotland to be found in Lowland Scottish historiography of the late fourteenth to the late sixteenth century; the authors examined were John of Fordun, Andrew Wyntoun, Walter Bower, John Mair, Hector Boece, John Leslie and George Buchanan. In the first part of the thesis the historical works were examined with respect to the attitude of each individual author towards the Highlanders of his own time. It was found that the earlier authors - i.e. Fordun, Wyntoun, Bower and Mair - mirror anti-Highland feeling and prejudice that were widespread in their own Lowland surroundings. They further the image of the Highlander as a savage. The later authors, by contrast, look upon their Gaelic contemporaries from a humanistic, or rather, 'primitivistic', point of view: to them the Gaelic Scots with their simple way of life represent the virtuous and noble customs and traditions of the Scottish forefathers. The second part of the thesis was concerned with the historians' presentation of Gaelic kings and kingship. Special attention was paid to their understanding of the Gaelic succession law; here, a lack of comprehension could be noted among the authors, which led to a distorted presentation of the reigns and characters of a number of Gaelic kings of tenth- and eleventh-century Scotland. In this historical part, no substantial difference in presentation could be found between the earlier and the sixteenth-century authors, mainly because the latter did not carry out any historical research of their own. In the case of Fordun, Wyntoun, Bower and Mair, perceptions of Gaelic Scotland are rooted in the traditional negative attitudes of their own times and surroundings; this corresponds to a lack of understanding of aspects of the Gaelic element in Scottish history. The humanist historians, on the other hand, propose a view of Gaelic Scotland which is in opposition to the views of their own Lowland contemporaries, and which they do not back up in their presentations of Scottish history.