‘News from the Republick of Letters’: Scottish Students, Charles Mackie and the United Provinces, 1650-1750


The late seventeenth century Netherlands have traditionally been viewed as the intellectual entrepot of Europe in general, and for Scotland in particular. Scottish students flocked in large numbers to the Dutch universities, bringing back ideas and books which influenced Scottish learning well into the eighteenth century. This book is the first full-length study of Scots in the United Provinces between 1650 and 1750. It analyses their numbers at the Dutch universities, the education they received and the impact this had on Scottish learning, on the eve of the Enlightenment, showing that the Scottish-Dutch relationship provided the infrastructure, which allowed Scotland to take part in a wider Republic of Letters and that its culture was increasingly characterised by it.

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Esther Mijers, Ph.D. (2002) in Scottish History, University of St Andrews, is lecturer in British History at the University of Reading. She is the author of numerous articles and edited collections on Scotland and the Netherlands in the late seventeenth century.
"...she presents important evidence of Scottish participation in the Republic of Letters, the pan-European exchange of intellectual news and information. Though there have been numerous studies of the cultural context of the Scottish Enlightenment, few scholars have looked in detail at Scots’ learned correspondence before the mid eighteenth century. As a guide to the sources, an analysis of the questions and a stimulant of future research, Mijers’s book is much to be welcomed." – Alasdair Raffe, in: H-Albion, H-Net Reviews, 2014
"a compact, richly documented, well-constructed study" – Dirk van Miert, Universiteit van Amsterdam, in: Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis 127.1, pp 145-6
"In all, this study is a welcome and novel addition to the huge body of literature on the early modern university network and the Republic of Letters." – Willem Frijhoff, Erasmus University Rotterdam, in: Low Countries Historical Review, 130-1 (2015)
"Mijers’ book is the first full-length study dedicated to these Scots in the United Provinces between 1650 and 1750. The aim of the book is to provide a picture of these Scots: their numbers, the education they received and the impact this had on Scottish learning and culture [...] Mijers’ strength lies in her ability to recreate a historical context with scholarly expertise. She displays notable knowledge and her style is pleasant and lively, sometimes a bit too lively for her conclusions. That is a minor remark for a rich contribution to Scottish educational history, which combines erudition with readability." – Marie-Claude Tucker, University of Clermont-Ferrand, in: Scottish Historical Review, 2014, pp 301-303 (DOI: 10.3366/shr.2014.0229)
Map: The United Provinces c. 1700
a. Historiography
b. Approach and Outline
c. Sources and Terminology
I. Context and Numbers
a. Scots in the United Provinces
b. Students
II. A Dutch Education
a. The Scottish Infrastructure
b. Institutions and Universities
c. The Curriculum
d. The Grand Tour
III. Going Dutch
a. Scotland and the Scottish Universities
b. The Book Trade
IV. Charles Mackie and the Limits of Dutch Learning
a. Mackie as Agent in the Republic of Letters
b. The Polyhistor
Appendix: Scottish Students in the United Provinces, 1650-1750
All those interested in intellectual and cultural history, Scottish history, the history of the university, the history of the book, the history of the Republic of Letters and the early Enlightenment, the history of the Scottish diaspora, as well as migration specialists and historians of the later Dutch Golden Age.
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