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The Life of William Robertson: Minister, Historian, and Principal

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The Life of William Robertson: Minister, Historian, and Principal

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The first modern biography of William Robertson, a key figure of the Scottish EnlightenmentA prominent figure in the Scottish Enlightenment, William Robertson differed from his contemporaries, such as Voltaire, Hume and Gibbon, because he used the critical tools of the Enlightenment to strengthen religion, not to attack it. As an historian, he helped shape 18th-century historiography. As a minister of the Church of Scotland, he sought to make the church fit for a polite age. And, as principal of the University of Edinburgh, he presided over a flourishing of intellectual inquiry in the midst of the Enlightenment. But despite his European fame, he was a controversial figure. Drawing extensively on his unpublished correspondence, Jeffrey Smitten captures both the man and his work in his own words. By foregrounding Robertson’s religious outlook, Smitten gives us a more contextualised and nuanced interpretation of Robertson’s motives, intentions and beliefs than we have had before.Key Features:Includes new biographical information drawn from archival sources and from all Robertson’s largely unpublished correspondenceDiscusses Robertson’s works, published and unpublishedAssesses Robertson’s achievement based on fresh consideration of all facets of his career as minister, historian and principal

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