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Title: The emulation of nations : William Robertson and the International Order
Author: Grundy, Geoffrey A.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2005
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The following thesis is an attempt to explore the historian William Robertson’s contribution to the history of political discourse on the international order. It presents Robertson’s principle works of international history, The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V and The History of America as interventions in the debate over Great Britain’s global policy in the aftermath of British victory in the Seven Years’ Way. Robertson’s oeuvre is further explored as a pioneering synthesis of contemporary Scottish theory on the progress of society and the narrative conventions of civil history. It presents a series of contexts in relation to which Robertson’s ambitious project may be situated, primarily the ‘reason of state’ historiography of the late seventeenth century and its critics, as well as the international dimension of the historiography of David Hume. The text of Charles V specifically employed a narrative of the progress of society in Europe to contextualise the rise of a system of a European states system that structurally precluded the possibility of universal monarchy. The History of America situated a narrative of conquest and settlement alongside philosophical digressions on the savage state and the psychology of the conquerors, providing a study of the novel problems posed by imperial governance as well as a critique of the colonial policy practiced in common by European powers. It is argued that Robertson’s work, taken as a whole, constitutes not only a profound meditation on statecraft but an innovative attempt at a universal history. The thesis argues that enlightened philosophical history as practiced by Robertson, for all its formal innovation and conceptual sophistication, did not break with the humanistic understanding of history as instruction as well as entertainment for the statesmen of the day.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available