History of Scotland
The history of Scotland begins around 10,000 years before the present day, when modern humans first began to inhabit Scotland after the end of the Wisconsin glaciation, the last ice age. Of the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age civilisations that existed in the country, many artefacts remain but few are of writing.
The written history of Scotland largely begins with the arrival of the Roman Empire in Britain, when the Romans occupied what is now England and Wales, administering it as a Roman province called Britannia. To the north was territory not governed by the Romans—Caledonia. Its people were the Picts. From a classical historical viewpoint Scotland seemed a peripheral country, slow to gain advances filtering out from the Mediterranean fount of civilisation, but as knowledge of the past increases it has become apparent that some developments were earlier and more advanced than previously thought, and that the seaways were very important to Scottish history.
The country's lengthy struggle with England, its more powerful neighbour to the south, was the cause of the Wars of Scottish Independence, forcing Scotland to rely on trade, cultural and often strategic ties with a number of European powers. Following the Act of Union and the subsequent Scottish Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution, Scotland became one of the commercial, intellectual and industrial powerhouses of Europe. Its industrial decline following the Second World War was particularly acute, but in recent decades the country has enjoyed something of a cultural and economic renaissance, fuelled in part by a resurgent financial services sector, the proceeds of North Sea oil and gas, and latterly a devolved parliament.
- 1 Prehistoric settlement
- 2 Roman invasion
- 3 Post-Roman Northern Britain
- 4 Rise of the Kingdom of Alba
- 5 Anglo-Norman influence
- 6 War with England
- 7 Late Mediaeval events
- 8 Mary, Queen of Scots
- 9 Protestant Reformation
- 10 Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the Puritan Commonwealth
- 11 The Glorious Revolution
- 12 Scottish overseas colonies
- 13 Union, the Hanoverians and the Jacobites
- 14 Industrial Revolution, Clearance, and Enlightenment
- 15 20th Century Scotland
- 16 21st Century Scotland
- 17 See also
- 18 External links
- 19 Further reading
For more detail on this period see Prehistoric Scotland.
People lived in Scotland for at least 8500 years before recorded history dealt with Britain. At times during the last interglacial period (130,000 – 70,000 BC) Europe had a climate warmer than today's, and early humans may have made their way to Scotland, though archaeologists have found no traces of this. Glaciers then scoured their way across most of Britain, and only after the ice retreated did Scotland again become habitable, around 9600 BC.
Mesolithic hunter-gatherer encampments formed the first known settlements, and archaeologists have dated an example at Cramond near Edinburgh to around 8500 BC. Numerous other sites found around Scotland build up a picture of highly mobile boat-using people making tools from bone, stone and antlers.
Neolithic farming brought permanent settlements, and the wonderfully well-preserved stone house at Knap of Howar on Papa Westray dating from 3500 BC predates by about 500 years the village of similar houses at Skara Brae on the Mainland of the Orkney Islands. The settlers introduced chambered cairn tombs from around 3500 BC (Maes Howe offers a prime example), and from about 3000 BC the many standing stones and circles such as the Ring of Brodgar on Orkney and Callanish on Lewis. These form part of the Europe-wide Megalithic culture which also produced Stonehenge in Wiltshire, and which pre-historians now interpret as showing sophisticated use of astronomical observations.
The cairns and Megalithic monuments continued into the Bronze age, and hill forts started to appear, such as Eildon hill near Melrose in the Scottish Borders, which goes back to around 1000 BC and which accommodated several hundred houses on a fortified hilltop.
Brythonic Celtic culture and language spread into Scotland at some time after the 8th century BC, possibly through cultural contact rather than through mass invasion, and systems of kingdoms developed.
From around 700 BC the Iron age brought numerous hill forts, brochs and fortified settlements which support the image of quarrelsome tribes and petty kingdoms later recorded by the Romans, though evidence that at times occupants neglected the defences might suggest that symbolic power had as much significance as warfare.
The written history of Scotland largely begins with the coming of the Roman empire to Britain. Although the pre-Roman inhabitants occasionally used writing for commemorative purpose, these societies favoured a strong oral history. With the loss of the druidic tradition (due to war, famine, and particularly the proscriptions of later Christian missionaries), the people forgot much of this lore. The only surviving pre-Roman account of Scotland originated with the Greek Pytheas of Massalia who circumnavigated the British islands (which he called Pretaniké) in 325 BC, but the record of his visit dates from much later.
The Roman invasion of Britain began in earnest in AD 43. Following a series of military successes in the south, forces led by Gnaeus Julius Agricola entered Scotland in 79. The Romans met with fierce resistance from the local population of Caledonians. In 82 or 83 Agricola sent a fleet of galleys up round the coast of Scotland, as far as the Orkney Islands. In 84 Agricola defeated the Caledonian tribes at the Battle of Mons Graupius. His supporters in Rome proclaimed that he had defeated all the tribes of Britain.
The only historical source for this comes from the writings of Agricola's son-in-law, Tacitus. Archaeology backed up with accurate dating from dendrochronology suggests that the occupation of southern Scotland started before the arrival of Agricola. Whatever the exact dating, for the next 300 years Rome had a significant presence along its northern border, militarily, economically and socially.
The Romans marked their borders with a series of defensive fortifications, including large continuous wall barriers. The earliest of these, the Gask Ridge in Perthshire, dates from the 70s or 80s AD. In the 120s the Roman emperor Hadrian ordered the building of a fortified wall on a line running from the River Tyne to the Solway Firth. Twenty years later the Roman governor Lollius Urbicus built the Antonine Wall (so-named after Antoninus Pius, the Roman emperor who ruled from 138 to 161) further north, across the Forth-Clyde isthmus. At half the length of Hadrian's Wall, this considerably shorter border appeared easier to defend, but nevertheless it represented the northern reach of the Roman Empire for only the next two decades. By approximately 160 an open but manned border once again ran along Hadrian's Wall.
Although the Romans had not found direct rule of Caledonia viable, perhaps because the wild nature of the country and the sparse population made the collection of taxes infeasible, they maintained control through military outposts as far north as Kincardineshire and with the assistance of tribes like the Votadini who appear to have acted as buffer states. At the last reorganisation of administration of the Roman Empire in Britain, a fifth province was created, called Valentia, which comprised the areas between Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall. Thus it can be seen that Rome had a significant influence over Scotland, even though it did not formally annex it for most of the period of Roman rule in Britain.
Post-Roman Northern Britain
In the wake of the Roman withdrawal Scotland's population comprised two main groups:
- the Picts, a people of uncertain origin (but possibly a Brythonic Celtic group) who occupied most of Scotland north of the Firth of Clyde and the Firth of Forth: the area known as "Pictavia"
- the Britons formed a Roman-influenced Brythonic Celtic culture in the south, with the kingdom of Y Strad Glud (Strathclyde) from the Firth of Clyde southwards, Rheged in Cumbria, Selgovae in the central Borders area and the Votadini or Gododdin from the Firth of Forth down to the Tweed
Invasions brought three more groups, though the extent to which they replaced native populations is unknown
- the Old Irish-speaking Scotti (Irish) or more specifically, the Dal Riatans, arrived from Ireland from the late 5th century onwards, taking possession of the Western Isles and the west coast in the Kingdom of Dalriada.
- the Anglo-Saxons expanding from Bernicia and the continent. Notably seizing Gododdin in the 7th Century. A legacy of this influence is the vernacular Scots language, a Germanic language similar to, but distinct from, English. The language was initially termed Inglis but this terminology became unpalatable after Anglo-Norman had been eclipsed by the English language within England from the late 14th century onwards. Gaelic, which had earlier been referred to as "Scottis" (pronounced the same way as Scots), was increasingly referred to instead as Erse, the word used for Irish. This terminology has now fallen out of use within Scottish Standard English, however, and Gaelic is now normally used instead.
- in the aftermath of the 795 Viking raid on Iona, the Norse Jarls of Orkney took hold of the Western Isles, Caithness and Sutherland, while Norse settlers mixed with the inhabitants of Galloway to become the Gallgaels.
The British Saint Ninian conducted the first Christian mission in Scotland. From his base, the Candida Casa (present-day Whithorn) on the Solway Firth, he spread the faith in the south and east of Scotland and in the north of England. However, according to the writings of Saint Patrick and Saint Columba, the Picts appear to have renounced Christianity in the century between Ninian's death (432) and the arrival of Saint Columba in 563. The reason is not known. The Gaels re-introduced Christianity into Pictish Scotland, gradually pushing out worship of the older Celtic gods. The most famous evangelist of that period, Saint Columba, came to Scotland in 563 and settled on the island of Iona. Some consider his (possibly apocryphal) conversion of the Pictish King Brude the turning point in the Christianisation of Scotland.
Rise of the Kingdom of Alba
The myth of MacAlpin's Treason tells how Alba was born when the Dalriadan Kenneth mac Alpin conquered the Picts. Modern studies are less sure of Kenneth's Dalriadan roots and consider Kenneth and his successors to be Pictish Kings. Kenneth's son Constantine had the Series Longoir written to show his family's claim to the throne of a united Pictland. The triumph of Gaelic over Pictish and the change from Pictland to Alba is placed in the half-century reign of Constantine mac Aeda. Why and how this happened is unknown.
At first this new kingdom corresponded to Scotland north of the Rivers Forth and Clyde. Southwest Scotland remained under the control of the Strathclyde Britons. Southeast Scotland was under the control from around 638 of the proto-English kingdom of Bernicia, then of the Kingdom of Northumbria. This portion of Scotland was contested from the time of Constantine II and finally fell into Scottish hands in 1018, when Malcolm II pushed the border as far south as the River Tweed. This remains the south-eastern border to this day (except around Berwick-upon-Tweed).
Scotland, in the geographical sense it has retained for nearly a millennium, completed its expansion by the gradual incorporation of the Britons' kingdom of Strathclyde into Alba. In 1034, Duncan I, descended from Irish Ui Neill monastery protectors and appointed to the crown of Strathclyde some years earlier, inherited Alba from his maternal grandfather, Malcolm II. With the exception of Orkney, the Western Isles, Caithness and Sutherland, which had come under the sway of the Norse, Scotland stood unified.
Macbeth, the "Cenél Loairn" candidate for the throne whose family had been suppressed by Malcolm II, defeated Duncan in battle in 1040. Macbeth then ruled for seventeen years before Duncan's son Malcolm III, more commonly known as Malcolm Canmore (Scottish Gaelic: Ceann mòr meaning "Big Head"), overthrew him. (William Shakespeare, in his play Macbeth, later immortalised these events, in a heavily fictionalised way based on inaccurate contemporary history that flattered the antecedents of James VI of Scotland/I of England at Macbeth's expense. For a more accurate fictional account, it is better to read Dorothy Dunnett's novel, King Hereafter.)
Malcolm's victory foreshadowed what became a major thread of Scottish history for the next thousand years. He had relied on Northumbrian assistance to return to the throne, and from then on Scotland at no time remained very far from the thoughts of England's rulers. The reciprocal condition equally applied.
In 1066 the Norman Conquest shook England to its foundations and one of the claimants of the English throne opposing William the Conqueror, Edgar, eventually fled to Scotland. Malcolm married Edgar's sister Margaret, and thus came into opposition to William who had already disputed Scotland's southern borders. William invaded Scotland in 1072, riding through Lothian and past Stirling on to the Firth of Tay where he met up with his fleet of ships. Malcolm submitted, paid homage to William, and surrendered his son Duncan as a hostage.
Margaret herself had a great influence on Scotland. She is said to have brought European cultivation to the warlike Scottish court. She had an English father and a Hungarian mother and had grown up in Hungary with her background steeped in the Roman Catholic church. Her influence in Church politics, pressed the Scottish Church to move away from some of its unique Celtic traditions towards greater conformity with the rites of the Church in the rest of Western Europe. Invasions by the Vikings during the centuries previous had cut Scotland and Ireland off from the bulk of European Christianity, and their local Churches had evolved along their own paths. However at this point the Church explicitly recognised the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) as its head and at her instigation, the Benedictine order founded a monastery at Dunfermline, and St Andrews began to replace Iona as the centre of ecclesiastical leadership. The rites of the Scottish church became gradually re-integrated with mainstream Western Catholicism from that base.
When Malcolm died in 1093, his brother Donald III and Malcolm's eldest son by Margaret Edmund I succeeded him to rule Scotland jointly. However, William II of England backed Malcolm's son by his first marriage, Duncan, as a pretender to the throne. With the English behind him Duncan briefly seized power as Duncan II. His murder within a few months saw Donald and Edmund restored to joint rule. The two ruled Scotland until two of Edmund's younger brothers returned from exile in England with English military backing. Victorious, the two younger brothers imprisoned Donald III and Edmund I for life, and the older of the two became King Edgar in 1097. Shortly afterwards King Magnus Bare Leg of Norway forced King Edgar into ceding the Hebrides and Kintyre to Norway, creating the conditions for the independence of the Lords of the Isles from the Scottish Crown.
When Edgar died in 1107, Margaret's third son Alexander became king, and when he in turn passed away in 1124, the crown passed to her fourth son David I. During David's reign Lowland Scots (known as Inglis then) began to grow in south east Scotland, although Gaelic would continue to be spoken in many parts of what would become the Lowlands for centuries more.
The governmental and cultural innovations introduced by the Norman conquerors of England impressed David greatly, and he arranged for several notables to come north and take up places within the Scottish aristocracy. The Normans effectively militarised large sections of Scotland, building strong stone castles, and imposing the feudal system upon the peasantry; they came into frequent conflict with the native nobility, especially in the north east and south west of the country. Like his successors, he planted a number of towns or "burghs", which were colonised by Normans, Flemish merchants and Englishmen.
In a mirror of the invitation of the Normans northwards, David received lands south of the border in fee from the English kings. This meant that the Kings of Scotland also functioned as Earls of Huntingdon, and that the Earls paid ceremonial homage to the English kings for the lands received. This homage proved problematic, however, as Malcolm Canmore as the King of Scotland had paid homage to the new Norman Kings of England twice after defeats during his various campaigns against the Normans in support of his Anglo-Saxon brother-in-law Edgar Atheling's claim to the English throne. The English maintained that this meant Scotland had become subordinate to England.
David himself during his reign fended off this claim, but Henry II defeated David's grandson, William the Lion and hauled him off to the English holdings in Normandy. There William had to swear fealty in 1174, not as Earl but as King. For the first time, Scotland became nominally unified with England. The vow was nullified in 1189 when Richard I accepted a payment from William, needed for Richard's crusade to the Middle East, but the submission hung over the Scottish kings for some time afterwards.
In 1263 Scotland and Norway fought the Battle of Largs for control over the Western Isles. The battle proved a success for the Scots, and in 1266 the Norwegian king Magnus VI of Norway signed the Treaty of Perth, which acknowledged Scottish suzerainty over the islands. Despite the treaty the practical independence of the Lord of the Isles continued.
A series of deaths in the line of succession in the 1280s, followed by King Alexander III's death in 1286 left the Scottish crown in disarray. His grand-daughter Margaret, the "Maid of Norway", a four-year old girl, became Queen of Scots.
Edward I of England, as Margaret's great-uncle, suggested that his son (also a child) and Margaret should marry, stabilising the Scottish line of succession. In 1290 Margaret's guardians agreed to this, but Margaret herself died in Orkney on her voyage from Norway to Scotland before either her coronation or her marriage could take place.
War with England
Margaret's death (1290) now left the Scottish throne with no clear successor, and Edward became the arbitrator between the various claimants to the crown. He immediately stated that any claimant to the throne would have to acknowledge him as overlord. With a large number of claimants, it was not difficult to find a plausible one who would accept this condition: Edward selected him, and John Balliol became king (17 November 1292).
Balliol soon tried to back out of the arrangement, largely because Edward put considerable ingenuity into ways of emphasising his alleged position as the Scottish king's formal overlord. In 1295 John renounced his allegiance and entered into an alliance with France. This renewed the Auld Alliance first arranged by William the Lion.
Edward invaded Scotland in 1296 and swiftly brought Balliol to heel, moving to establish full English control over Scotland. In this environment William Wallace and Andrew de Moray raised southern and northern Scotland into rebellion and were elected as Guardians of Scotland by the nobility in Balliol's absence. Under their joint leadership the English army was defeated at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. De Moray died of his wounds two months later. For a short time Wallace ruled Scotland in the name of John Balliol.
Edward retaliated and defeated Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk (1298). Wallace escaped but resigned as Guardian of Scotland. John Comyn and Robert the Bruce were appointed in his place, the latter the grandson of a failed claimant to the throne during Edward's arbitration in 1292. In 1304, English troops forced all Scottish notables into giving homage to Edward but secret pacts were made by Bruce and others to continue the struggle once conditions were ripe. Wallace was betrayed and fell into the hands of the English, who executed him in 1305 for treason despite the fact that he owed no allegiance to England.
From this low point, the Scots regained and reinforced their independence from England during the first two decades of the 14th century. Robert the Bruce believed that John Comyn had betrayed a secret pact between them and participated in his murder during a private meeting in a church in Dumfries in 1306. Bruce subsequently was crowned as King in 1307, but Edward's forces again soon overran the country after defeating Bruce's small army at the Battle of Methven. Despite the excommunication of Bruce and his followers by Pope Clement V, support for Bruce slowly strengthened and by 1314 with the help of leading nobles such as Sir James Douglas and the Earl of Moray only the castles at Bothwell and Stirling remained under English control. Edward I had died in 1307, and his heir Edward II moved an army north to break the siege of Stirling Castle and reassert control. Robert defeated that army at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, securing de facto independence. In 1320 a remonstrance to the Pope from the nobles of Scotland (the Declaration of Arbroath) finally convinced Pope John XXII to overturn the earlier excommunication and nullify the various acts of submission by Scottish kings to English ones so that Scotland's sovereignty could be recognised by the major European dynasties.
In 1326, the first full Parliament of Scotland met. The parliament had evolved from an earlier council of nobility and clergy, the colloquium, constituted around 1235, but in 1326 representatives of the burghs — the burgh commissioners — joined them to form the Three Estates.
In 1328, Edward III signed the Treaty of Northampton acknowledging Scottish independence under the rule of Robert the Bruce. After Robert's death in 1329, however, England once more invaded on the pretext of restoring the "Rightful King" — Edward Balliol, son of John Balliol — to the Scottish throne, thus starting the Second War of Independence. In the absence of a leader with the military competence of Wallace or of The Bruce, Scotland remained under English control, directly or indirectly, for over thirty years, and only fully regained its independence under David II after Balliol's death, mainly because Edward III's attention had by then turned to France and to the Hundred Years War.
See Also: Wars of Scottish Independence
Late Mediaeval events
After David's death, Robert II, the first of the Stewart (later Stuart) kings, came to the throne in 1371. There followed in 1390 his ailing son John, who, due to the hatred inspired by the previous King John (Balliol), took the regnal name Robert III. During Robert III's reign (1390 – 1406), actual power rested largely in the hands of his brother, also named Robert, the Duke of Albany. In 1396 during this king's reign, the last trial by combat in Europe, the Battle of the Clans took place before the King in Perth.
However problems with England continued. After the suspicious death (possibly on the orders of the Duke of Albany) of his elder son, David, Duke of Rothesay in 1406, Robert III sent his son James (the future James I) to France for safety. Unfortunately the English captured him en route and he spent the next 18 years as a prisoner held for ransom. As a result, after the death of Robert III, regents ruled Scotland: firstly, the Duke of Albany; and later his son, during whose office the country fell into near anarchy. When Scotland finally paid the ransom in 1424, James returned at the age of 32, with his English bride. He determined to restore justice and the rule of law and to deal with his enemies. He set about this immediately and ruthlessly, using military measures, reforming the parliamentary and court systems, and killing anyone who threatened his authority, including his cousin Albany. This resulted in a much greater amount of power in the hands of the Scottish government than at any time preceding, but the process led to great unpopularity for James and finally to his assassination in 1437. His son James II (reigned 1437–1460), when he came of age in 1449, continued his father's policy of weakening the great noble families, most notably taking on the great House of Douglas that had come to prominence at the time of the Bruce.
Scotland advanced markedly in educational terms during the fifteenth century with the founding of the University of St Andrews in 1413, the University of Glasgow in 1450 and the University of Aberdeen in 1494, and with the passing of the Education Act 1496.
After the death of James III (1488), again by assassination, his successor James IV successfully ended the quasi-independent rule of the Lord of the Isles, bringing the Western Isles under effective Royal control for the first time. In 1503, he married Henry VII's daughter, Margaret Tudor, thus laying the foundation for the 17th century Union of the Crowns. James IV's reign is often considered to be a period of cultural flourishing, and it was around this period that the European Renaissance began to infiltrate Scotland. James IV was the last known Scottish king known to be able to speak Gaelic, although some suggest his son could also.
In 1512 under a treaty extending the Auld Alliance, all nationals of Scotland and France also became nationals of each other's countries, a status not repealed in France until 1903 and which may never have been repealed in Scotland. However a year later, the Auld Alliance had more disastrous effects when James IV was required to launch an invasion of England to support the French when they were attacked by the English under Henry VIII. The invasion was stopped decisively at the battle of Flodden Field during which the King, many of his nobles, and over 10,000 troops — The Flowers of the Forest — were killed. The extent of the disaster impacted throughout Scotland because of the large numbers killed, and once again Scotland's government lay in the hands of regents. The song The Flooers o' the Forest commemorated this, an echo of the poem Y Gododdin on a similar tragedy in about 600.
When James V finally managed to escape from the custody of the regents with the aid of his redoubtable mother in 1528, he once again set about subduing the rebellious Highlands, Western and Northern isles, as his father had had to do. He married the French noblewoman Marie de Guise. His reign was fairly successful, until another disastrous campaign against England led to defeat at the battle of Solway Moss(1542). James returned, broken, to die a short time later. The day before his death, he was brought news of the birth of an heir: a daughter, who became Mary I of Scotland (or 'Mary, Queen of Scots'). James is supposed to have remarked that it "came with a lass, it will go with a lass"- referring to the House of Stewart which began with Walter Stewart's marriage to the daughter of Robert the Bruce. Once again, Scotland was in the hands of a regent, James Hamilton, Earl of Arran.
Mary, Queen of Scots
Within two years, the Rough Wooing, Henry VIII's military attempt to force a marriage between Mary and his son, Edward, had begun. This took the form of border skirmishing and it was at this time that the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed was finally taken by the English. To avoid the "wooing", Mary was sent to France at the age of five, as the intended bride of the heir to the French throne. Her mother stayed in Scotland to look after the interests of Mary — and of France — although the Earl of Arran acted officially as regent.
In 1547, after the death of Henry VIII, forces under the English regent Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset were victorious at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, the climax of the Rough Wooing and followed up by occupying Edinburgh. However it was to no avail since Queen Mary was in France and Marie de Guise called on French reinforcements who helped stiffen resistance to the English occupation. By 1550, after a change of regent in England, the English withdrew from Scotland completely.
From 1554, Mary's mother, Marie, took over the regency and continued to advance French interests in Scotland. French cultural influence resulted in a large influx of French vocabulary into Scots, for example. But anti-French sentiment also grew, particularly among Protestants, who saw the English as their natural allies. In 1560 Marie died, and with her death the Auld Alliance also died at the Treaty of Edinburgh. Mary, now nineteen and recently widowed, returned to take up the government of Scotland in a hostile environment. She did not do well and after only seven turbulent years, at the end of which Protestants had gained complete control of Scotland, she had perforce to abdicate and flee to England, leaving her young son, James VI, in the hands of regents.
During the 16th century, Scotland underwent a Protestant Reformation. In the earlier part of the century, the teachings of first Martin Luther and then John Calvin began to influence Scotland. The execution of a number of Protestant preachers, most notably the Lutheran influenced Patrick Hamilton in 1527 and later the Calvinist George Wishart in 1546 who were burnt at the stake in St. Andrews by Cardinal Beaton for heresy, did nothing to stem the growth of these ideas. Beaton was assassinated shortly after the execution of George Wishart.
The eventual Reformation of the Scottish Church, was carried out by Parliament from 1560 (during the minority of Mary Queen of Scots). The most influential figure was that of John Knox, who had been a disciple of both John Calvin and George Wishart. Roman Catholicism was not totally eliminated, and remained strong particularly in parts of the highlands.
The Reformation remained somewhat precarious through the reign of Queen Mary, who remained Roman Catholic, her son James VI, however, was raised as a Protestant. In 1603, following the death of the childless Queen Elizabeth I, the crown of England passed to James. He took the title James I of England, thus unifying these two countries under his personal rule. For a time, this remained the sole connection between two independent nations, but it foreshadowed the eventual 1707 union of Scotland and England under the banner of the United Kingdom of Great Britain.
One of the primary differences between the two countries was religious. While both had national churches that were Protestant, they were quite distinct. The Church of England had broken with the Roman Pontiff but had not adopted Calvinism as the Scots. England retained her Episcopal form of Church government, whilst Scots, for the greater part, favoured Presbyterian. Subsequent Stuart monarchs tried to enforce bishops upon the Scottish Church, but with limited success.
Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the Puritan Commonwealth
Shortly after his reign began, an attempt by Charles I to impose English-style prayer books on the Scottish church resulted in anger and widespread rioting. (The story goes that it was initiated by a certain Jenny Geddes who threw a stool in St Giles Cathedral.) Representatives of various sections of Scottish society drew up the National Covenant, asserting Presbyterian practice. Charles gathered a military force, but lost his nerve on the eve of his invasion, settling for negotiations. When the Scots notables held their ground, he again sought a military solution, but his troops were turned back after inconclusive fighting. As a result of these "Bishops' Wars" Charles tried to raise an army of Irish Catholics, but was forced to back down after a storm of protest in Scotland and England. The backlash from this venture provoked a rebellion in Ireland and Charles was forced to summon the English Parliament to appeal for funds. The summoning of this parliament led to demands for reform in England, and eventually resulted in the English Civil War). This series of civil wars that engulfed Britain in the 1640s and 50s is known to modern historians as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. The Covenanters meanwhile, were left governing Scotland, where they raised a large army of their own and tried to impose their religious settlement on Episcopalians and Roman Catholics in the north of the country.
Civil War in England and Scotland
As the civil wars developed, the English Parliamentarians appealed to the Scots Covenanters for military aid against the King. The Scots agreed in return for substantial religious and political concessions. Scottish troops played a major part in the defeat of Charles I, notably at the battle of Marston Moor. An army under the Earl of Leven occupied the North of England for some time. However, not all Scots supported the Covenanter's taking arms against their King. In 1645, James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose attempted to raise the Highlands for the King. In truth, few Scots would follow him, but, aided by 1,000 Irish, Highland and Islesmen troops sent by the Irish Confederates under Alasdair MacColla, and an instinctive genius for mobile warfare, he was stunningly successful. A Scottish Civil War began in September 1644 with his victory at battle of Tippermuir. After a series of victories over poorly trained Covenanter militias, the lowlands were at his mercy. However, at this high point, his army melted away as MacColla and the Irish and Highland men fell out with Montrose, who shortly after was defeated at the battle of Philiphaugh. In July 1646, his army was disbanded on the King's orders as Charles tried to find an accommodation with moderate Scots Presbyterians. In this secret 'engagement', the Scots promised military aid in return for Charles promising Presbyterianism. When the English parliamentarians refuse to release the King, the Duke of Hamilton then led a invasion of England, but it came too late to save the King, and was defeated by Oliver Cromwell in August 1647.
Cromwellian Occupation and Restoration
The Covenanters objected to the English Parliament's arrest and execution of Charles I in 1649. The Stuarts after all were of Scottish descent and more importantly, had promised to take the Covenant themselves in return for an alliance against the English Parliament. After Charles' execution in 1649, his eldest son was proclaimed King Charles II in Edinburgh. Oliver Cromwell then invaded Scotland in 1650, and defeated the Scottish army in a series of battles at Dunbar and Worcester. Scotland was then occupied by an English force under George Monck throughout the Interregnum and indeed annexed by the Puritan-governed Commonwealth.
From 1652 to 1659, Scotland was part of Cromwell's Commonwealth, under English control but gaining equal trading rights. Upon its collapse, and with the restoration of Charles II, nominal Scottish independence returned. Scotland regained its parliament, but the English Navigation Acts prevented the Scots engaging in what would have been lucrative trading with England's growing colonies. The formal frontier between the two countries was re-established, with customs duties which, while they protected Scottish cloth industries from cheap English imports, also denied access to English markets for Scottish cattle or Scottish linens. (Braudel 1984 p 370).
Charles largely ignored Scotland for the next two decades, concentrating on extending his power in England, though his brother James as Duke of York instituted the Commission for Pacifying the Highlands which worked in co-operation with the clan chiefs and built up goodwill. Charles did, however, continue his father's policy of re-introducing Episcopalian government into the Scottish Church. Whilst this was not without some support in Scotland, in 1679 it provoked another Presbyterian rebellion in the south. Charles contained the rebellion and brutally suppressed the Covenanters, in what became known as "the Killing Time". When he died in 1685 and his brother, a Roman Catholic, succeeded him as James VII of Scotland (and II of England), matters came to a head.
The Glorious Revolution
James's attempt to introduce religious toleration to England's Roman Catholics alienated his Protestant subjects. Neither this, nor his moves towards absolutism, provoked outright rebellion, as it was believed that he would be succeeded by his daughter Mary, a Protestant and future wife of William of Orange. When, in 1688, James produced a male heir, everything changed. At the invitation of seven Englishmen, William landed in England with 40,000 men, and James fled. Whilst this was primarily an English event, the "Glorious Revolution" had a great impact on Scottish history. Whilst William accepted limits on royal power, under the Bill of Rights (a contract between himself and the English parliament, Scotland had an equivalent document in the Claim of Rights. This is an important document in the evolution of the rule of law and the rights of subjects.
Most Scots supported William of Orange, but many (particularly in the Highlands) remained sympathetic James VII. His cause, which became known as Jacobitism, spawned a series of uprisings. An initial Jacobite rising under John Graham, 1st Viscount Dundee (Bonnie Dundee) defeated William's forces at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689, but Dundee was slain in the fighting, and the leaderless army was soon defeated at the Battle of Dunkeld. The complete defeat of James in Ireland by William at the Battle of the Boyne (1690), ended matters for a time. (Ironically, the protestant William had also enjoyed the support of the Pope and the Catholic Habsburg monarchy against the aggressive foreign policy of Louis XIV of France.)
The late 17th century was economically difficult for Scotland. The bad harvests of the seven ill years in the 1690s led to severe famine and depopulation. English protectionism kept Scots traders out of the new colonies, and English foreign policy disrupted trade with France. As a result many Scots emigrated to Ulster (the Ulster-Scots). The Parliament of Scotland of 1695 enacted a number of remedies for the desperate economic situation, including setting up the Bank of Scotland. The Act for the Settling of Schools established a parish-based system of public education throughout Scotland. The Company of Scotland received a charter to raise capital through public subscription to trade with Africa and the Indies.
Scottish overseas colonies
In attempts to expand the Scots had earlier sent settlers to the English colony of New Jersey and had established an abortive colony at Stuart's Town in what is now South Carolina. The Company of Scotland soon became involved with the Darién Scheme, an ambitious plan devised by William Paterson to establish a colony on the Isthmus of Panama in the hope of establishing trade with the Far East — the principle that led to the construction of the Panama Canal much later. The Company of Scotland easily raised subscriptions in London for the scheme. But the English government opposed the idea: involved in the War of the Grand Alliance from 1689 to 1697 against France, it did not want to offend Spain, which claimed the territory as part of New Granada. The English investors had perforce to withdraw. Returning to Edinburgh, the Company raised 400,000 pounds in a few weeks. Three small fleets with a total of 3000 men eventually set out for Panama in 1698. The exercise proved a disaster. Poorly equipped; beset by incessant rain; under attack by the Spanish from nearby Cartagena; and refused aid by the English in the West Indies, the colonists abandoned their project in 1700. Only 1000 survived and only one ship managed to return to Scotland. A desperate ship from the colony which called at Port Royal received no assistance—on the orders of the English government. Realising the dangers of the conflicting claims and aims of two independent kingdoms at odds with one another, William of Orange called for a union of the two countries. It did not happen. Union, when it did come in 1707, restored free trade between the countries and gave the Scots access to the burgeoning English Empire.
Union, the Hanoverians and the Jacobites
By 1700, the Protestant monarchy seemed in danger of coming to an end with the childless Stuart Queen Anne. Rather than return to her Roman Catholic brother James Francis Edward Stuart, the English Parliament enacted that Sophia of Hanover and her descendants should succeed (Act of Settlement 1701). However, the Scottish counterpart, the Act of Security, merely prohibited a Roman Catholic successor, leaving open the possibility that the crowns would diverge.
Rather than risk the possible return of James Francis Edward Stuart, then living in France, the English parliament pressed for full union of the two countries. In 1707, despite much opposition in Scotland, the Treaty of Union was concluded.
The treaty, which became the Act of Union 1707, confirmed the Hanoverian succession. It abolished both the Parliaments of England and Scotland, and established the Parliament of Great Britain. Scotland was to have 45 seats in the House of Commons, and a representation in the House of Lords. The act also created a common citizenship, giving Scots free access to English markets. The position of the Church of Scotland and separate Scottish law and courts was also enshrined. This union was highly controversial among Scots, and increasingly so as the hoped-for economic revival was not immediately forthcoming. When it did come, in the second half of the century, it was Lowland Scotland that received the benefits.
Jacobitism, however, was not yet a spent force. Indeed it was revived by the unpopularity of the union. In 1708 James Francis Edward Stuart attempted an invasion with a French fleet, but the Royal Navy prevented any from landing. A more serious attempt occurred in 1715. This rising (known as The 'Fifteen) envisaged simultaneous uprisings in Wales, Devon and Scotland. However, government arrests forestalled the southern ventures. In Scotland, John Erskine, Earl of Mar, nicknamed Bobbin' John, raised the Jacobite clans and led them bravely but indecisively. Mar captured Perth, but let a smaller government force under the Duke of Argyll hold the Stirling plain. Part of Mar's army joined up with risings in northern England and southern Scotland, and the Jacobites fought their way into England before being defeated at the Battle of Preston, surrendering on 14 November 1715. The day before, Mar failed to defeat Argyll at the Battle of Sheriffmuir. At this point, James belatedly landed in Scotland, but was advised that the cause was hopeless. He fled back to France. An attempted Jacobite invasion with Spanish assistance in 1719 met with little support from the clans and ended at the Battle of Glen Shiel.
In 1745 the Jacobite rising known as The 'Forty-Five began. Charles Edward Stuart), known to history as Bonnie Prince Charlie or the Young Pretender, son of the Old Pretender, landed on the island of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides. Several clans unenthusiastically joined him. At the outset he was successful, taking Edinburgh and then defeating the only government army in Scotland at the Battle of Prestonpans. They marched into England and got as far as Derby. Then it became evident that, as unpopular as the Hanoverians were, England would not support a Roman Catholic Stuart monarch. The Jacobite leadership had a crisis of confidence and retreated to Scotland.
The Duke of Cumberland crushed the "Forty-Five" and the hopes of the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden on April 16th 1746. Charles hid in Scotland with the aid of Highlanders until September 1746, when he escaped back to France with the help of Flora Macdonald. France expelled him in accordance with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748). He died a broken man, and his cause died with him.
Industrial Revolution, Clearance, and Enlightenment
After 1745, British authorities acted to suppress the clan loyalties in the Highlands. The wearing of tartan and the playing of bagpipes were both forbidden for a time. The warrior culture of the Highlands was re-diverted as Highlanders were recruited as soldiers to serve in the wider British Empire. Clan Chiefs were encouraged to consider themselves as owners of the land in their control, in the English manner - it was previously considered common to the clan.
As these new landowners converted land to more profitable sheep pasture, many were dispossessed, some even faced forcible removal. In what became known as the "Highland Clearances", the population fell significantly. Large numbers of Highlanders relocated to the lowland cities, becoming the labour force for the emerging industrial revolution, many emigrated to other parts of the British Empire, particularly Nova Scotia, the Eastern Townships of Quebec, and Upper Canada (later known as Ontario).
At the same time, the Scottish Agricultural Revolution changed the face of the Scottish Lowlands and transformed the traditional system of subsistence farming into a stable and productive agricultural system. This also had effects on population and precipitated a migration of Lowlanders, now recognised as the "Lowland Clearances".
Internationally, Scotland's fate was tied to that of the United Kingdom as a whole. Shortly after Culloden, Britain successfully fought the Seven Years' War (1756 – 1763), demonstrating its rising significance as a great power. As a partner in the new Britain, Scotland began to flourish in ways that she never had as an independent nation. As the memory of the Jacobite rebellion faded away, the 1770s and 80s saw the repeal of much of the draconian laws passed earlier. Most were repealed by 1792 as the Episcopalian and Catholic clergy no longer refused to pray for the reigning monarch, although Unitarians were still affected.
Economically, Glasgow and Edinburgh began to grow at a tremendous rate at the end of the 18th century. The Scottish Renaissance was one of philosophy and science. The Scottish Enlightenment involved names such as Adam Smith, David Hume and James Boswell. Scientific progress was led by James Hutton and William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin and James Watt (instrument maker to Glasgow University).
Pre-eminent in contemporary literature was Sir Walter Scott, a prolific writer of ballads, poems and the historical novels. His romantic portrayals of Scottish life in centuries past still continue to have a disproportionate effect on the public perception of "authentic Scottish culture," and the pageantry he organised for the Visit of King George IV to Scotland made tartan and kilts into national symbols. George MacDonald also influenced views of Scotland in the latter parts of the 19th century.
As the 19th century wore on, Lowland Scotland turned more and more towards heavy industry. Glasgow and River Clyde became a major ship-building centre. Glasgow became one of the largest cities in the world, and known as "the Second City of Empire" after London.
20th Century Scotland
Tied as it was to the health of the British Empire, Scotland suffered after the First World War as it had gained beforehand. In the Highlands, which had provided a disproportionate number of recruits for the army, a whole generation of young men were lost, and many villages and communities suffered greatly. In the Lowlands, particularly Glasgow, poor working and living conditions led to industrial and political unrest. John MacLean became a key political figure in what became known as Red Clydeside, and in January 1919, the British Government, fearful of a revolutionary uprising, deployed tanks and soldiers in central Glasgow. During the 1920s and 1930s, due to global depression and foreign competition, Glasgow and Clydebank experienced high unemployment.
In Second World War naval bases and infrastructure in Scotland were primary German targets. Attacks on Scapa Flow and Rosyth gave RAF fighters their first successes downing bombers in Firth of Forth and East Lothian. The shipyards and heavy engineering factories in Glasgow and Clydeside played a key part in the war effort, and suffered attacks from the Luftwaffe. Clydebank endured great destruction and loss of life. The Highlands again provided a large number of troops for the war effort. Commandos and resistance fighters received training in the harsh conditions of the Lochaber mountains.
As transatlantic voyages involved negotiating the north-west, Scotland played a key part in the battle of the North Atlantic. As in World War I, Scapa Flow in Orkney served as an important Royal Navy base. Shetland's relative proximity to occupied Norway, resulted in the Shetland Bus — fishing boats helping Norwegians flee the Nazis, and expeditions across the North Sea to assist resistance. Perhaps Scotland's most bizarre wartime episode occurred in 1941 when Rudolf Hess flew to Renfrewshire, possibly to broker a peace deal through the Duke of Hamilton.
After World War II, Scotland's economic situation became progressively worse due to overseas competition, inefficient industry, and industrial disputes. This only began to change in the 1970's, partly due to the discovery and development of North Sea oil and gas and partly as Scotland moved towards a more service-based economy. This period saw the emergence of the Scottish National Party and movements for both Scottish independence and more popularly devolution. However, a referendum on devolution in 1979 was unsuccessful.
As the Cold War intensified, the United States deployed Polaris ballistic missiles, and submarines, in the Firth of Clyde's Holy Loch (1961). This was despite opposition from CND campaigners. A Royal Navy nuclear submarine base followed for Resolution class Polaris submarines at the expanded Faslane Naval Base on the Gare Loch. The first patrol of a Trident-armed submarine occurred in 1994, although the US base was closed at the end of the Cold War.
In 1997, the Blair Labour government again held a referendum on the issue of devolution. A positive outcome led to the establishment of a devolved Scottish Parliament which now stands next to Holyrood House in Edinburgh.
21st Century Scotland
The feudal system lingered on in Scots law on land ownership, so that a landowner still had obligations to a feudal superior including payment of feu duty. In 1974 legislation began a process of redeeming feuduties so that most of these payments were ended, but it was only with the attention of the Scottish Parliament that a series of acts were passed, the first in 2000, for The Abolition of Feudal Tenure on November 28 2004.
- Historic Sites in Scotland
- Kings of Scotland
- Kings of Scotland family tree
- UK topics
- History of the United Kingdom
- Timeline of Scottish history
- Braudel, Fernand, The Perspective of the World, vol III of Civilization and Capitalism (1979, in English 1984), pp 370-372
- Mackie, J.D. A History of Scotland (Penguin books, 1991)
- Devine, T.M. The Scottish Nation, 1700-2000 (Penguin books, 1999)
- Devine, T. M., Scotland's Empire 1600-1815, Allen Lane, Harmondsworth, 2003
- Buchan, James, Capital of the Mind: How Edinburgh changed the world, John Murray, 2003
- Finlay, Richard, Modern Scotland 1914-2000, Profile 2004
- Cowan, Edward J., "For Freedom Alone": the Declaration of Arbroath, 1320, Tuckwell, East Linton, 2004
- Duncan A. A. M., The Kingship of the Scots 842-1292: Succession and independence, Edinburgh UP, Edinburgh, 2004
- Scottish Sundials - by Location, Type and Date