In the history of England, the period between 1714 to 1830 s called the Georgian Era. It has been named after the four King Georges- I, II, III and IV, who ruled the throne of England during this time.
The Georgian Era is a time of change because it marks the birth of industrialization. Along with this, many important discoveries in science, medicine, technology, machine, architecture and agriculture were made during these years that started the transformation of English society from traditional to a modern one.
Scotland was also a country in the United Kingdom during the Georgian Era and the government of England directly affected the lives of people in Scotland as well. The changes that were being brought in England in the 18th century was also implemented in Scotland. Due to the extent to which scientific and intellectual achievements have improved the social life in Scotland, this age is often referred to as the period of Scottish Enlightenment.
Social conditions in Scotland before the Scottish Enlightenment
Scotland was an independent country for a very long time in history. The country was already in a bad position because of its poor geographical location due to which there were very limited natural resources available. In 1707, Scotland was united with Britain to form the United Kingdom as per the Act of Union.
Due to this radical step, the parliament of Scotland shifted to London. Along with the parliament, all important political leaders also left the country. This resulted in the beginning of a very difficult time for the people in the country.
Employment opportunities were decreasing and people were living a difficult life. Many experts believe that in order to contribute to the process of improving the social conditions of the country, the intellects in the country started to work in their areas of expertise. Their efforts combined together to become the movement of Scottish Enlightenment.
Major Developments during the Scottish Enlightenment
The Scottish Enlightenment is a time period that is marked by a series of intellectual accomplishments by people from the country. These achievements range over a very large spectrum of study areas. There were a number of works that were published during this time from subjects ranging from politics to medicine.
Adam Smith, also known as the father of economics, is often referred to as one of the first thinkers who started this wave. Adam Smith published An inquiry into the Nature of The Wealth of the Nations in 1776 that became one of the most famous and the first modern works in economics. He proposed the theory of capitalism and discussed the various patterns of economic development in the various nations of the world that helped Economics to be recognized as a subject.
The name of David Hume also runs parallel to that of Smith when it comes to the Scottish Enlightenment. His most famous work Treatise on Human Nature was published in 1738 and made Empiricism and Scepticism a subject of study in Philosophy. His ideas also influenced the works of Adam Smith.
In the field of literature, poets like James Boswell, Hugh Blair, Robert Fergusson and Robert Burns emerged during this time. Their works became one of the forerunners of the romantic movement in England. Most of them wrote about nature, travels and the social life of people and presented a realistic image of the living conditions of the people.
Apart from this, many classical texts were also translated into English during this time, making a lot of more new literature available to the world. They not only experimented with the themes but also with the styles and the poems composed during this time are classified as classics.
Apart from literature and humanities, there were a number of discoveries that were being made in the area of science, mathematics and medicine as well. Mathematician Colin Maclaurin, chemist and physician James Anderson, first modern geologist James Hutton and physicist Sir John Leslie are the major contributors who contributed a lot to the development of their fields during this time.
Effect of Scottish Enlightenment
Scottish Enlightenment became a period of intellectual achievements that not only provided a space place to Scotland on the map of the world but also inspired the society for many years to come. The improvements in the lives of the people of Scotland as well as England that took place during this time became a source of inspirations for artists and writers for many years.
Scottish Enlightenment also improved the relationships between England and Scotland. By the time it was over, Scotland had four universities. There were a number of prominent people that received their education from these institutes during this time. The knowledge that they obtained there changed the future of England and paved a way of growth and progress that Britain experienced during the next 50 years.