I went home this past weekend and went into my family’s spare bedroom to print something out. While waiting, I browsed the bookshelves and came across this gem: How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It, by Arthur Herman. I flipped through it, and while I have yet to finish one book for personal pleasure this semester (how sad), I brought it back with my in hopes that this just might be the first. I came across some interesting facts in the meantime that I thought I would share on the blog:
- Page 4: The Scottish legal system used to have three options when the jury considered the culpability of a person charged for a crime in court: “guilty,” “not guilty,” and “not proven.” The last choice meant that the prosecution did not execute a persuasive argument even if the person being charged did indeed commit a crime.
- Page 98: After Scotland came under English rule, many Scots felt conflicted about their language and culture and how they could—or could not—be reconciled with those of England. Some of the Scottish began to refer to themselves as “North Britons” in an attempt to unite themselves with their southern neighbors—even though no one in England referred to themselves as “South Britons.”
- Page 104: Here Herman delves into the origins of the clan, or “clann” in Gaelic, which means children. The clan had a familial structure, with a chieftain at the head, as Professor McInerney discussed in class. Four or five generations composed a clan, of which there were over fifty in 1745. Those within a clan were not blood-related, however; they “were no more a family than is a Mafia ‘family,’” Herman humorously writes. (Maybe HBO should make a TV show about this…)
- Page 200: Rednecks did not originate as the Confederate-flag toting, muddin’-loving, truck-driving people we know today: it was a Scots border term for “Presbyterian” that became used when the Scottish settled in the southern parts of the United States.
- Page 294: The notion of a British empire originated from the mind of a Scot. Charles Pasley from Eskdalemuirin Dumfriesshire published An Essay on the Military Policy and Institutions of the British Empire in 1810. This work influenced Britain’s decision to spread its power around the world because, Herman wrote, “true national security rested on policy and power—especially military power,” including colonies.
- *Fun fact within a fun fact: Charles Pasley translated the New Testament from Greek when he was eight years old.