Emblems in the visual arts use motifs which have meanings, and in Emblems in Scotland Michael Bath, leading authority on Renaissance emblem books, shows how such symbolic motifs address major historical issues of Anglo-Scottish relations, the Reformation of the Church and the Union of the Crowns. Emblems are enigmas, and successive chapters ask for instance: Why does a late-medieval rood-screen show a jester at the Crucifixion? Why did Elizabeth I send Mary Queen of Scots tapestries showing the power of women to build a feminist City of God? Why did a presbyterian minister of Stirling decorate his manse with hieroglyphics? And why in the twentieth-century did Ian Hamilton Finlay publish a collection of Heroic Emblems?

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Michael Bath, Emeritus Professor of Renaissance Studies in the University of Strathclyde and Senior Research Fellow, University of Glasgow, is President of the Society for Emblem Studies. He is author of numerous books and articles on art history, emblem studies and Reading Poetry.
“In this book, Professor Bath presents exciting new work together with revised and updated versions of some of his most important earlier publications addressing the contexts of early modern Scotland – a significantly under-studied field.”
- Crawford Gribben, Queen’s University Belfast, Journal of the Northern Renaissance, 2020

"Emblems in Scotland is an outstanding contribution to the study of a genre that scholars from multiple disciplines often find elusive. This superb achievement consolidates its author’s standing in the field, while opening up some important new questions as to the valency of these enigmatic 'speaking pictures.'"
-Crawford Gribben, Queen’s University Belfast, March 2020, Journal of the Northern Renaissance, 2020

“Michael Bath has done much to raise the awareness of a vibrant emblem culture in a region where few emblem books were ever published, and therefore often overlooked in the early years of modern emblem study. Owing to his determined efforts, the emblematic culture of Scotland is now on the radar. The broad contextualization of emblematic practices in Scotland is a service to the discipline and confirms the broad reach of emblematica beyond the book. Emblems in Scotland: Motifs and Meanings is a fine book and will be the defining book for emblems in Scotland for many years to come.”
- Mara R. Wade, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US in Emblematica: Essays in Word and Image, Vol. 2 2018 pp. 420-426.

"I commend this work and, although not an easy subject to grasp, this book brings it to life with much pictorial illustration to help the reader understand the place such emblems played, and to an extent still play."
-Elizabeth Roads, Snawdoun Herald, in Journal of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society
List of Illustrations

1 A Jester at the Crucifixion? The Fool at Fowlis

2 A City of Famous Women: Esther Inglis, Georgette de Montenay, and Christine de Pisan

3 Protestant Emblems: Building the House

4 ‘Rare shewes and singular inventions’: Court Festivals and Royal Baptisms

5 Alexander Seton’s Suburban Villa: Neostoical Emblems and United Nations

6 Presbyterian Preaching: Hieroglyphical Paintings in Stirling

7 Quarles Comes North: Scottish Reception of the Emblemes

8 Mobilising the Gap: Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Inheritance

Photograph Credits
Learned readers and scholars interested in emblems, the Renaissance and Scottish cultural studies.
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