Until recently, many scholars of British history in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries dismissed Jacobitism as a marginal phenomenon and decried its popular image. Jacobitism was seen as reactionary, regressive, and mired in an attachment to an overly romanticised imagined past for which much of the blame was attributed to the influence of Sir Walter Scott. But new approaches pioneered by Allan Macinnes and Daniel Szechi (both honorary professors at RIISS), among others, have led to a reappraisal of the complex nature of Jacobitism, in which it is no longer seen as an essentially Scottish or even Highland phenomenon, but one which has significant implications for the understanding more generally of Scottish, Irish, British and Imperial history in an age in which Britain and the British Empire were taking shape.
This strand of research mines the extensive holdings of Jacobite material in the University’s Special Collections, to explore the intricate and wide-ranging nature of the Jacobite World wherever it might be found. Current work by Professors Michael Brown and Robert Frost encompasses an exploration of how Jacobitism informed the nature of eighteenth-century British State formation and resistance to it in Ireland and Scotland; how it intersected with the politics of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth; and how it created a long artistic legacy across the European continent. It does so while remaining cognisant of how Jacobitism inaugurated political and social tensions in its heartlands, notably Aberdeenshire and the Northeast of Scotland.
In this work, RIISS has formally partnered with the Jacobite Studies Trust, whose stated aim is to promote the study and understanding of Jacobite history, ideologies, arts and music from 1688 to 1807. The Trust hosts a fortnightly online seminar series, and supports a visiting fellowship scheme which RIISS helps to administer, along with its website and presence on social media.