About

This site has been designed to chronicle the career of The Whole Prophesie of Scotland in manuscript and printed from, between its first manuscript edition (?1538-1542) and its last edition, printed at Glasgow at 1840. First printed in 1603, it achieved 33 editions to 1833, which makes it the widest-circulating collection of political prophecy in early modern Britain.

The Whole Prophesie of Scotland presented the Union of Crowns as divinely sanctioned. It used prophets from England, Wales and Scotland to present the Scottish Stewarts as legitimate heirs to the English Tudors, and restorers of an ancient British monarchy. The text used prophecies ascribed to real and legendary figures from British history to present the union of England and Scotland as divinely-ordained. After 1603, the text was used by both the Stuarts and their rivals, to make claims about their rights to the British crown.

This site was created by Michael B. Riordan, an independent scholar based in Edinburgh. It is designed it to supplement an article, ‘Politics and Prophecy in Early Modern Scotland’, forthcoming in Julian Goodare and Mattha McGill’s collection examining the supernatural in early modern Scotland, which will be published by Manchester University Press.

The article examines the reasons successive Stuart monarchs, Jacobite pretenders, and even Whig polemicists, used the Whole Prophesie to defend their causes.

I am also preparing a critical edition of the manuscript texts of the Whole Prophesie and the text published in 1603.

You can read more about my research over on my website.

The easiest way of reading the prophecies is through David Laing’s reprint of the 1603 edition, which is available on Google Books. If your institution has subscribed to Early English Books Online, you can also see images of the original book taken from a copy in the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, one of only two copies which survive.

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