Eighteenth-century Edinburgh was the cradle of the Scottish Enlightenment. The lives and ideas of its prominent figures have received extensive treatment, but little attention has been paid to the society which produced them. In this comprehensive study of Edinburgh over a century of social change, R. A. Houston offers unrivalled breadth of analysis of the ways in which urban life was transformed. Chapters on social relationships, the use of space, the place of the poor in Scotland's capital, religious values and attitudes to urban living, riot and popular protest, and developments in political economy build up to a powerful argument about social change. As well as providing unique depth of context for Englightenment studies, this book explains how broader changes in social attitudes and values took root in a century which witnessed dramatic political, economic, and intellectual developments. It is a major contribution not only to Scottish but also to British history. This book is intended for scholars and students of early modern and modern British history, especially social historians and historians of Scotland; readers with an interest in the history of Edinburgh.
`this is a study which marshals an impressively large and heterogeneous body of sources in order to illuminate an extremely comprehensive and diverse range of themes ... Houston has produced a fine evocation of the city which makes a significant contribution, not only to Scottish history but to the study of early modern urban society in general.'
Economic History Review
`a rich and subtle analysis of urban society and social change in Edinburgh during the crucial century from 1660 to 1760...informed by modern theory, lucidly written, and founded upon a large body of archival research, this is state-of-the-art urban and social history'
`thickly detailed study of Edinburgh...Readers can find examples of just about anything from the city's past life still in existence during the century covered in the book.'
`important study ... Houston writes well, perceptively and persuasively. As well as shedding valuable light on the urban development of Edinburgh, balancing its intellectual history, there are many incisive comments on church membership, aspects of poor relief, ritual and ceremony. Dr Houston's work represents a major breakthrough in our understanding of this major European city, while shedding light on a host of subjects of general interest to urban and
Times Literary Supplement
`A superb work of social history that is at once very important for urban historians and of great value for those of Scotland. Based on a splendid grasp of the archives, and of the relevant printed and secondary material both for Edinburgh and for other cities, this work deserves high praise.'
Jeremy Black, Archives
`thorough, well-organized, and nicely written book ... Houston provides a rich and wide-ranging picture of Edinburgh life ... His findings are well integrated into the context of British social history ... this book makes a significant contribution to British social history.'
Katherine J. Haldane, The Citadel, History, Spring 1996
`It is firmly based on substantial archival research in burgh, church, and poor law records. Many of these sources have never been examained so thoroughly before, and they provide Houston with a rich trawl of fascinating information that enlivens his discussions. There is much that is stimulating and intriguing in all of this.'
T.M. Devine, University of Strathclyde, American Historical Review, June 1996
`a work of considerable ambition'
John Robertson, St Hugh's College, Oxford, EHR Apr. 97