02: “James VI and I, and the creation of a ‘British’ maritime policy – The view from the west” by Prof. Alison Cathcart

James VI and I, and the creation of a ‘British’ maritime policy – The view from the west

by Dr. Alison Cathcart

11 November 2021 @ 19:30 GMT

When James VI of Scotland succeeded to the thrones of England and Ireland in 1603 he inherited an English fleet of agile, fairly nimble vessels, capable of carrying a cargo but also armed with cannon. Given James’ emphasis, post-1603, on ‘British’ projects, it is understandable that James sought to extend this ‘Britishness’ to maritime affairs across the archipelago too, especially as he had now the means to do so. The general narrative is that there was a distinct change in policing of Scottish waters post-1603, and an initial decline of piracy, and certainly James did attempt to coordinate both men and vessels across his three kingdoms and their dominions. Taking the view of the so-called ‘periphery’, this talk seeks to examine such a coordinated policy, and its success or otherwise, from the perspective of the western Highlands and Isles and the north of Ireland and bring more nuance to our understanding of James VI and I’s maritime policy in the early seventeenth century.

About the speaker

Dr. Ali Cathcart is a director of SHIHR, and Associate Professor of Early Modern Scottish History at the University of Stirling. Her earlier work (Kinship and Clientage: Highland Clanship 1451 to 1609) focused on the central and eastern Scottish Highlands; her more recent work has been on plantation in the north of Ireland and southwest of Scotland (Plantations by Land and Sea: North Channel Communities of the Atlantic Archipelago, c.1550-1625 – forthcoming). Increasingly she describes herself as a historian of the so-called ‘periphery’ and current focus is on local and insular communities who live at the interface of land and sea, and their interaction with ‘central’ authorities, while drawing on economic, environmental, legal, and maritime dimensions to such relationships.

How to participate

This talk will begin at 7.30 pm (GMT) and last up to one hour, followed by questions. As the audience for each talk will be limited to 100, please book your place in plenty of time by e-mailing highlandhistoricalresearch@gmail.com. You will then be sent a code to allow you to join the talk.

Participation in these lectures is free to members of the Society and to students. Non-members (other than students) are politely requested to make a donation of £5 to society funds. To do this using PayPal just click the button below. If you do not have a PayPal account you can still use PayPal to pay using a credit card. For alternative methods, please contact us.


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Founded in 1972, the Society aims to encourage research into the history of the Highlands & Islands of Scotland and to make this research available to the general public.