The “King’s Bloody Advocate” or “Noble wit of Scotland”? Restoration Scotland and the case of Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, 1636/38-1691 : neostoicism, politics and the origins of the Scottish enlightenment
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The aim of this thesis is to assess Sir George Mackenzie’s (1636/38-1691) life allinclusively, deed and word, by taking his professed stoicism as the unifying force in his struggles to combat a “bigot age”. Remembered on the one hand as “Bloody Mackenzie” due to his vigorous prosecutions of Covenanters as Lord Advocate, and known to his contemporaries as the “Noble wit of Scotland,” and “the brightest man in the nation” on the other, Mackenzie suffers a contested legacy. The analogy to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde made by his biographer thus persists to this day, because Mackenzie’s public career and literary output have not been scrutinized comprehensively. This thesis presents Mackenzie’s life to be thoroughly consistent, but also as focally uniform in its battle against a benighted age, most emblematically found in the Covenanting mindset. This contestation against what he saw as a fanatical and zealot religiosity makes Mackenzie a candidate of the seeds from which Scottish Enlightenment germinated. Accordingly, in the following investigation, Mackenzie’s life is first accounted (Chapter II), and subsequently amended by an exposition of the literature on his literary and public career (Chapter III). A brief discussion of the Covenanters then establishes the antithetical counterpart to Mackenzie’s ideological position (Chapter IV). Five stoically moulded and continuous aspects of Mackenzie’s public career and literary output is identified in the ensuing section (Chapter V), to then be further-used to illustrate the potential of Mackenzie for the students of the Scottish Enlightenment (Chapter VI).