The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






History of Scotland

 has stood for centuries atop a volcanic crag defending the lowest ford of the . The fortification underwent numerous .
Stirling Castle has stood for centuries atop a volcanic crag defending the lowest ford of the River Forth. The fortification underwent numerous sieges.

Humans have lived in Scotland since the end of the last glaciation, around 10,000 years ago. Of the stone, bronze, and iron age civilisations which occupied the country, many artefacts, but few examples of writing, remain. Thus the written History of Scotland largely begins with the arrival of the Roman Empire in Britain. 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 seems remarkable how early and advanced some developments have been, and how important the seaways were to Scottish history. The country's lengthy struggle with England, its more powerful neighbour to the south, repeatedly forced it 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 World War II 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.


Prehistoric settlement

In , some lived in stone houses (such as those at ) set into existing .
In 3000 BC, some Neolithic farmers lived in stone houses (such as those at Skara Brae) set into existing middens.

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 became 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.

Roman invasion

120 km marked the border between Scotland to the north and the to the south with small forts and gates every . Roman sway reached even farther north for a short time.
120 km Hadrian's Wall marked the border between Scotland to the north and the Roman Empire to the south with small forts and gates every Roman mile. Roman sway reached even farther north for a short time.

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 43 AD. 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 CE. 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.

With the Roman withdrawal in the 5th century Valentia became part of the Romano-British kingdom of Coel Hen, but after his death the kingdom broke up.

Post-Roman Scotland

In the wake of the Roman withdrawal Scotland's population comprised two main groups:

  1. 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"
  2. 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

  1. the Gaelic-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
  2. 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 .
  3. 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 Christianization of Scotland.

Rise of Scotland

Myth 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 sense it has retained for nearly a millennium, completed its geographical expansion with the gradual subsumation 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 rule of the Norse, Scotland stood unified.

Macbeth, the Pictish candidate for the throne whose family had been suppressed by Malcolm II, defeated Duncan in battle in 1040. (He was not murdered!) Macbeth then ruled for seventeen years before Duncan's son Malcolm III, more commonly known as Malcolm Canmore, overthrew him. William Shakespeare, in his play Macbeth, later immortalized these events, in a heavily fictionalized 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.)

Norman English influence

Malcolm's victory use of English power to restore his throne had a downside. As it invited future English interference in Scotland.

In 1066 the Norman Conquest changed England forever - it had implications for Scotland too. Edgar Atheling, a Saxon claimant of the English throne, sought refuge in Scotland. Malcolm married Edgar's sister Margaret. William the Conqueror invaded Scotland in 1072,riding through Lothian, past Stirling and 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. (Thus English Kings again asserted themselves as paramount in Scotland).

Margaret herself had a great influence on Scotland. She is said to have brought European cultivation (she had conections to the crowns of England and hungary) to the warlike Scottish court. She was also influential in Church politics, pressing the Scottish Church to move away from some of its unique Celtic traditions towards greater conformity to the rites of the Chruch in Western Europe. Significantly, the Church at this point explicity recognised the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) as its head. At her instigation, the Benedictine order founded a monastery at Dunfermline, and St Andrews began to replace Iona as the center of ecclessiastical leadership.

When Malcolm died (invading England) in 1093, his brother Donald III succeeded, but William II of England backed Malcolm's son (by his first marriage) Duncan as heir. With the English assistance, Duncan briefly seized power as Duncan II. But his murder within months saw Donald returned to the throne. The eldest son of Malcolm's marriage to Margaret supported him, but two younger sons fled to England, returning with English support once again. Victorious, the invaders imprisoned Donald III and their elder brother. Edgar became king in 1097. Shortly afterwards King Magnus Bare Leg of Norway forced 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.

, built around 1140, derived much of its importance from its proximity to sometime-capital .
Cambuskenneth Abbey, built around 1140, derived much of its importance from its proximity to sometime-capital Stirling.

When Edgar died in 1107, Margaret's third son Alexander became king, followed in 1124 by her fourth son David I - who had already become master of the Lowlands. Prior to his reign, David had spent much time at the English (Norman) court, and government and culture of the Normans had impressed him greatly. He imported several Norman notables to come north with him and take up places within the Scottish aristocracy (among them, Stewart and De Bruce). With this act, Scotland became finally wedded to the mainstream of European civilization.

David also held lands south of the border in fee from the English kings. He was Earl of Huntingdon, and that meant paying homage to the English Kings for those lands. This, combined with the fact that Malcolm Canmore had twice paid homage to the Kings of England, as King of Scots, again served to strengthen English claims to paramountcy. David actually millitarily interfered in English affairs, taking sides in the civil war between Staphen and Matilda, and occupying England as far south as York.

Although David rejected English claims, when Henry II of England defeated hiss grandson, William the Lion and took him to Normandy, William had to swear fealty in 1174, not as an Earl but as a King. However, the vow was supposidly nullified in 1189 when Richard I accepted a payment from William, needed for Richard's crusade to the Middle East.

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. However, in reality, the power of the Lord of the Isles continued.

The death of King Alexander III in 1286 left the Scottish crown to his grand-daughter Margaret, the "Maid of Norway", a four-year old girl. Edward I of England, as Margaret's great-uncle, suggested that his son (also a child) and Margaret should marry. In 1290 Margaret's guardians agreed to this, but Margaret herself died in Orkney on her voyage from Norway before either coronation or marriage could take place.

War with England

Commander of the resistance movement, led Scotland for a short time.
Commander of the 1296 resistance movement, Sir William Wallace led Scotland for a short time.

Margaret's death in 1290 left no clear successor, and Edward was asked to arbitrate between the various claimants. He insisted that claimants should acknowledge him as overlord. Edward selected John Balliol who became king in 1292.

Edward increasingly humiliated his nominee, and in 1295 Balliol 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, establishing full English control over Scotland. Against this William Wallace (a Scots laird) led parts of Scotland into open rebellion. Wallace's army defeated the English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, and for a short time Wallace ruled parts of Scotland in the name of John Balliol.

Edward retaliated in 1298 and defeated Wallace. Wallace escaped but lost control to John Comyn and Robert the Bruce, the latter the grandson of an unsuccessful claimant to the throne. In 1304, English troops forced all Scottish nobles into giving homage to Edward. Wallace, betrayed, fell into the hands of the English, who executed him as a traitor in 1305.

Bruce and Comyn quarrled in 1306 and Bruce murdered Comyn in a church. Excommunicated for sacriliage, and facing a murder, he opted for open rebellion. He had himself crowned as King of Scots in 1307. Despite opposition from the Comyn faction, his forces moved from small hit and run attacks to overrunning the country. By 1314 the English held only Bothwell and Stirling. Edward I died in 1307, and his heir Edward II moved an army north to relieve beseiged Stirling. Robert defeated that larger army at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, securing de facto independence. In 1320 an appeal to the Pope from the nobles of Scotland (the Declaration of Arbroath) asserted Scotland's legal claim to independence.

In 1326, the first full Scottish Parliament 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 Robert the Bruce. After Robert's death in 1329, however, England once more invaded to '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 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 the Hundred Years War.

See Also: Wars of Scottish Independence

Late Mediaeval events

After David's death, Robert II, the first of the Stewart (only later Stuart) Kings, came to the throne (1371). His ailing Robert III followed. During his reign (1390 – 1406), power rested largely his brother, Robert, Duke of Albany. In 1396, the last trial by combat in Europe took place, the Battle of the Clans was conducted before the King in Perth.

After the suspicious death (possibly on the orders of Albany) of his elder son, David, Duke of Rothsay in 1406, Robert III sent his son James (the future James I) to France for safety. Unfortunately, he was captured en route and he spent the next 18 years as a hostage in England. Thus, on the death of Robert III, Scotland was ruled by regents (a trend that was to continue). The misrule of these regents: the Duke of Albany; and later his son, ensured that country fell into near anarchy. Scotland finally paid James's ransom in 1424 and, age 32, he returned with his English bride. He restored the rule of law, reformed the parliamentary and court systems, and dealt ruthlessly with his enemies, including his cousin Albany. He was assassinated in 1437. When his son James II (reign 1437–1460) came of age in 1449, he continued his father's policy of weakening the greater nobility, and notably took on the House of Douglas.

Scotland advanced in education 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).

In 1468 the last great acquisition of Scottish territory occurred when James III married Margaret of Denmark, receiving the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands as dowry.

After the death of James III in 1488, again by assassination, his successor James IV ended the quasi-independent rule of the Lord of the Isles, bringing the Western Isles under effective royal control. In 1503, James married Henry VII's daughter, Margaret Tudor, laying the foundation for the 17th century Union of the Crowns.

In 1512 under a treaty of the 'Auld Alliance', Scots and French nationals enjoyed reciprocal citizenships. (This was not repealed in France until 1903.) However a year later, the Auld Alliance had disastrous effects when James IV launched an invasion of England to support the French. It resulted in defeat at the battle of Flodden Field, where the King, much of the nobility, and over 10,000 men perished. Scotland had lost her leadership in a day, and once again her government lay in the hands of regents. The song The Flooers o' the Forest commemorated this.

In 1528, James V finally established his personal rule, and subdued dissent. He married the French noblewoman Marie de Guise. His reign was fairly successful, until another disasterous 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 remaked that it 'came with a lass, it will go with a lass'- refering 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 Thomas 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.

Protestant Reformation

In 1559 returned from ministering in to lead the reformation in Scotland
In 1559 John Knox returned from ministering in Geneva to lead the Calvinist reformation in Scotland

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, although supressed by the established Church. The execution of a number of protestant preachers did nothing to stem the growth of these ideas.

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 a disciple of Calvin. Roman Catholicism was not totally eliminated, and remained strong particularly in parts of the highlands.

The Reformation remained somewhat precarious throuh 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 Kingdonm 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 Pontif but had not adoped 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 limmited success.

Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the Puritan Commonwealth

The Parliamentarian armies of briefly integrated Scotland into the Commonwealth
The Parliamentarian armies of Oliver Cromwell briefly integrated Scotland into the Commonwealth

See Also Wars of the Three Kingdoms, Scottish Civil War

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 millitary 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 millitary 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 eventualy resulted in the English Civil War). This series of civil wars that engulfed Britian 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.

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 accomodation with moderate Scots Presbyterians. In this secret 'engagement', the Scots promised millitary 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.

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 themmselves 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 battle of 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 traiding 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 brutaly suppressed the Covenanters, in what became known as the "Killing Times ". 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 for 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 wife of William William of Orange. When in 1688 James produced a male heir everything changed. At the invitation of English parliamentarians, William landed in England with 40,000 men, and James fled. While primarily an English event, this "Glorious Revolution" shaped 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 it 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 the new Royal family, but many (particularly in the Highlands) remained sympathetic to the Roman-Catholic Stuarts. Their 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 he 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 Roman Pontif and the King of France.)

The late 17th century was ecconomicaly 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. English foreign policy disrupted trade with France. As a result many Scots emigrated to Ulster (the Ulster-Scots). The Scottish Parliament 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

"The Young Pretender" began his campaign on Scotland's west coast. His hopes to gain the Scottish and English thrones died at the .
"The Young Pretender" Bonnie Prince Charlie began his campaign on Scotland's west coast. His hopes to gain the Scottish and English thrones died at the Battle of Culloden.

By 1700, the Protestant monarchy seemed in danger of coming to an end with the childless Stuart Queen Anne. Rather than a return to the Roman Catholic descendents of James II and VII, the English Parliament enacted that Sophia of Hanover and her descendents 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 the Old Pretender (the son of James VII and II), 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 Hanovarian 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 Scottish Church and seperate Scottish law and courts was also enshrined. This union was hightly contraversial 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, 'the Old Pretender', attempted an invasion with 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, Devonshire 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. A 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 unenthusiasticaly 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 Hanovarians 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 rediverted as Highlanders were recruited as soldiers for the wider British Empire. Clan Chiefs were encourged to consider themselves owners of the land in the control - 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 again, however, had effects on population, and precipitated a migration of Lowlanders, now recognise as the "Lowland Clearances".

Scots contributed to culture and science with such visionaries as the father of modern , .
Scots contributed to culture and science with such visionaries as the father of modern Economics, Adam Smith.

Internationally, Scotland's fate was tied to that of the United Kingdom as a whole. Shortly after Culloden, the Britian fought in successfully the Seven Years' War (1756 – 1763), demonstratinng 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 most of the draconian laws passed earlier.

Economically, Glasgow and Edinburgh began to grow at a tremendous rate at the end of the 18th century. The Scottish Renascence was one of philosophy, and science. The Scottish Enlightenmentinvolving 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 Seconf City of Empire" after London.

20th Century Scotland

 gained international fame with his design of the building.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh gained international architectural fame with his 1909 design of the Glasgow School of Art building.

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 glabal depression and foreign competition, Glasgow and Clydebank experienced high unemployment.

In Second World War naval bases and infrustructure 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 trans-atlantic 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 accross the North Sea to assist resistance. Perhaps Scotland's most bizzare wartime episode occurred in 1941 when Rudolf Hess flew to Renfrewshire, possibly to broker a peace deal through the Duke of Hamilton.

 built ships for and later pleasure, launching the in .
Clydeside built ships for World War II and later pleasure, launching the QE2 in 1967.

After World War II, Scotland's economic situation became progressively worse, due to oversees competition, inefficient industry and industrial duisputes. This only began to change in the 1980's, partly due to the discovery and development of North Sea oil and gas, and partly as Scotland moved towards a more service based ecconomy. 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 at nearby Faslane on the Gare Loch followed. Since 1992, these submarines have carried Trident missiles, 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. As possitive 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.

See also

Further reading

  • Braudel, Fernand, The Perspecive of the World, vol III of Civilization and Capitalism (1979, in English 1984), pp 370-372
  • Devine, T.M. The Scottish Nation, 1700-2000 (Penguin books, 1999)

  • Mackie, J.D. A History of Scotland (Penguin books, 1991)

Last updated: 05-07-2005 05:53:24
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04