Elisabeth & Teije's reis website

A short introduction to the history of Scotland

Home -> Scotland -> History of Scotland

A short introduction to the history of Scotland

A short introduction to Scottish history
The prehistory
The Roman era
Early Middle Ages
'Middle' Middle Ages
Late Middle Ages
Reformation & Renaissance
Industrial revolution & Victorians era
The 20th century until now
Links to other sources about the history of Schotland

A short introduction to the history of Scotland

Scotland has a very turbulent history, but that can be said for most countries. Winners often changed into losers. The 'old' Scottish (Celts) don't exist any more. We have visited Scotland for a few years now, and we totally understand their feelings towards the English and their striving for independancy, when you are as conscious about history as the Scottish are. Scotland has been a united kingdom for centuries and has its own history. A history full of battles and violence. We don´t like violence and hope for a better, united world, with all possible room for individualism, groups, cultures, religions, as long as they respect each other and are willing to work together when that is better for mankind. Oppression by any group is intolerable, but violence will never really free anybody. Violence cultivates hatred. But that doesn´t mean people shouldn´t aim for their freedom. Freedom is important for every human on earth and you have to figth for it, but not with hatred and violence. The development in Scotland slowly goes better, but it is going in the right direction: more independancy and at the same time more cooperation with other people, England, the European Union. Cooperate, but maintaining your own identity. We vote yes (that is, for the Scottish...)
The dates which are used here are estimates; the historians don't always agree. And we gave less attention to the last 400 years, because Scotland then was part of the British Empire and history was determined mainly by the English. And probably we have left out a lot of events which were pretty important in one way or another, but we don't pretend to present an in-depth study on Scottish history. Whole books have been written about it. But, nevertheless, it has become more extensive than we thought and planned it would be...

Prehistoric times (7.500 - 55 BC.)

Middle-Stone Age, till 3.500 BC.
The first inhabitants of Scotland were hunters-gatherers, like almost everywhere in Europe during the Middle Stone Age. By 4.500 BC., the first farmers from the mainland of Europe arrived to establish settlements where they lived througout the year. Large pieces of wood were burned down to make room for the growing of grain and the grazing of cattle. Near the coast also a lot of villages were founded, so they could add fish to their menu. In this period the first colonists from Ireland also arrived in Scotland.

New Stone Age, 3.500-2.000 BC.
About 3.500 BC., the New Stone Age began and most inhabitants had settled down on a fixed place. Several archeological finds show there already existed an extensive trade between the different parts of Scotland and even with Ireland, next to agriculture and cattle breeding.
Religions could develop better into a certain form, thanks to the fixed place of residence. Hunter-gatherers ad to bury their dead quickly, before moving on, but now bigger tombs could be made and the dead stayed in the neighbourhood of the living. In the New Stone Age, the people build large tombs, inside artificial hills: burial mounds or cairns, like Maes Howe in Orkney. This respect for the deceased shows they believed in an afterlife, in whatever form.

Bronze Age, 2.000-600 BC.
The next group of immigrants, in any case, did believe in some sort of afterlife: they placed stone cups, filled with beverages, into the tombs. They also build the mysterious ston circles, of which at least 30 have been discovered. The stones were often fetched from far-off places and to build them must have taken quite a lot of time and energy. We still don't know exactly what the purpose of these circles was, but the alignment suggest it has to do with the changing of the seasons. When they could predict these changes, the people who 'read' the signs could have become very powerful and could have made it part of their religion, with themselves as all-knowing priests.
Bronze (an alloy of copper and tin) was stronger and more flexible than the flints used before for the production of blades of axes and knives. And so the arms race (swords, shields, arrows) got a big stimulus, quite early in history. Better weapons led to a better defense for the settlements, but the raids also increased. The first large hillforts (broch) were build around 1.000 BC. and some were inhabited until long after the Iron Age had finished. Less spectacular, but just as practical, were the crannogs, small settlements on artificial islands, linked to the shore by a stone causeway or timber gangway and made out of trunks, stones and brushwood. Crannogs were probably the centres of prosperous Iron Age farms, where people lived in an easily-defended location to protect themselves and their livestock from passing raiders. The settlement would have consisted of a farm house, with cattle and crops being tended in nearby fields, and sheep on hill pastures. Cherry Island in Loch Ness is one of them.

Iron Age, 600-55 BC.
And again, new groups of immigrants arrived, this time from the south: the Celts. The new people had to fight for land, because all had been divided already under the settlers. After they brought iron weapons with them (by 400 BC.), stronger than the bronze ones, a lot of the Bronze Age settlements were conquered. In this age, hundreds of brochs were build, especially on the islands in the north and west, along the Atlantic coast. They are formed by two concentric, dry-stone walls, producing a hollow-walled tower. Between the walls were galleries and stairways which led to the upper levels. Within the tower there would have been several wooden floors, providing the main living space, with the ground floor possibly used as a secure store for cattle or sheep when the broch was under siege. Often they reached a height of 12 meters. Brochs were meant to impress and were probably houses for tribal chiefs or important farmers. In later times they also gave protection against the Roman slave traders. The broch on Mousa (one of the Shetland-islands) is the best preserved one.
The most impressive Iron Age settlements are hillforts. They are powerful fortresses surrounded by earthen ditches with wooden palisades or stone walls, and are set on hill tops or on coastal promontories.
In the last 2 centuries BC., many Germanic tribes from Belgium forced their way into Scotland. At the end of this period, just before the arrival of Julius Caesar, the Celtic immigration towards the north stopped and Scotland now was divided into many tribes, fighting each other for land they needed to provide them with a living. The Romans named these tribes the Picts, for their tattoo's (Picti means 'the painted ones').

Roman period (55 BC. - 410 AD.

55 BC.- 43 AD.
In 55 BC, Julius Caesar is the first Roman general who invades England, probably to impress the Roman Senate and because he wanted to conquer the country. In 54 BC. he invades Britain again, but despite his victories, he doesn't succeed in to annex it. But the Romans keep trying and in 43 AD. they succeed to occupy a part of Britain (you can also look on the London-information page). In the north, people didn't notice much from the occupiation, except for the raids of Roman slave traders. But the invasion of the Romans in the south caused large groups of Celts emigrating to the north, which led to an invasion of Scotland and to a lot of combats between the several tribes.

43 - 123 AD.
In 60 AD., queen Boadicea (or Boudicca) of the Iceni directs a rebellion against the Romans in the south and, temporarily, drives them away from London. After a short time, though, the Romans returned and again established a Roman provence in Britain. In 80 AD., Julius Agricola invades Scotland (then named Albion or Caledonia) and builds a chain of fortresses. In 84 he defeats a big army of Scottish tribes at Ardoch (near Mons Graupius), who were united by the Celtic chief Calgacus. But the inclement north wasn't interesting enough for the Romans and they left the inhabitants in peace. But this feeling wasn't mutual, because more and more often, the tribes from Scotland went to the south to raid the villages there.

123 - 200 AD.
The emperor Hadrian decided to seal the borders in 123 by building a wall between the provence of Britannia and Scotland, the wall of Hadrian (from the Solway Firth to the Tyne, 117 km. in length), to provide the south with a better protection. This was the first time in history the division of Britain was made visible. 20 years later, the Romans again tried to go further north and this time they build the wall of Antony between the Clyde and the Forth. They occuppied the land for 40 years this time, but gave up after that period, mostly because the inhospitable area made t so difficult to conquer it. Now it became important to keep the tribes in the north and isolate them.
From this time, the first maps and writings about Scotland stem from, like this description of the Roman history writer Dio Cassius in 197 of the Scottish: "They live in huts and wear no clothes or shoes. Most tribes have a democratic rule and they are addicted to raids. They can endure hunger and cold and all sort of hardships, they withdraw into the swamps and stand there for days, with onlu thier heads above the water. In the woods, they live of bark and roots."

200 - 410 AD.
In 209, emperor Septimus Severus starts a campaign against the Scottish, but in 211 he dies, fighting the 'Caledonians'. The Romans retreat to the south, behind the wall of Hadrian and not much is noted about what happened between the tribes in this period.
After the division of the Roman empire in 292, it started to decline rapidly and contacts with Rome diminishes. The demoralisation among the troops is great and they have more and more problems facing the increasing invasions of the Scottish tribes.
The term 'Scots' is used for the first time in the 4th century (Scotes) in a Roman chronicle, but this term pointed to a group of belligerent immigrants, which came from Ireland and belonged to the Celtic tribes.
In 368, Pictish, Saxs and Scottish tribes attck the Romans together and about 410, the Romans are chased out of Britain for ever.
Although many British people in the south had been converted to christianity already, the missionaries started their work in Scotland very late, in the 4th century (St. Ninian, 397). Because the Romans never really conquered Scotland and because the Picts didn't have a written history, almost nothing is known about what happened in Scotland in this period. With the Romans disapperaing from the Brittish isle, the documentation about the history even became more rare.

Early Middle Ages (410 - 1034 AD.)

410 - 843
The few reports from the 5th and 6th century tell us the population consisted of 4 people: the Picts who descended from the original Celts (on the northern islands, the Highlands and Lowlands up to Fife), the Scottish, who had arrived much later (near the north and west coast), the British, Celts who had been living under the Romans (in the Lowlands in the west) and the Angels, German immigrants (on the east coast) who invaded Scotland from the nort of England and made their way more and more to the north.
The Scottish and the Picts waged war repeatedly, but new Scottish immigrants from Ireland kept on coming. Among them was also St. Columba, who landed in 563. He had a powerful character and the Scottish tribes to more unity. And he often succeeded in converting Picts. This ultimately led to the a union of Scottish and Picts in 843. The Scottish were already united (but only in a loose way) in the kingdom Dalriada, which had been founded in the 5th century, and by mutual marriages between both people, Kenneth Macalpine could establish the new kingdm Alba (later Scotia) in 843. Below a few dates of events as we know them from history. The dates are estimates, since not all experts agree on the exact dates. 5th century: Acoording to legends, the legendary British king, Arthur, directs a group of Celtic warriors to stop invading pagan Saxon tribes. 501-503: The Scottish (Scotes, a Gaelic-speaking and christian people) from Ireland establish their kingdom Dalriada in Argyll near the west coast and on the western islands of Scotland. 563: St. Columba sails from Ireland to Argyll to found monasteries, mainly on the island Iona. He died in 597. 600: 300 horseman from Edinburgh are being slaughtered by the English. 685: Battle of Nechtansmere, were the Picts, commanded by Brude, defeat the Angels and thereby lay down the southern border of Scotland. The Angels' king, Ecgfrith, is totally beated, but the Pictish king is converted to the Roman church and rejects the Celtic church. 794: Beginning of the Norman (Vikings) invasion of Scotland. 802: Vikings (Danes in this case) ransack Iona. 843: Kenneth MacAlpin unites the Scottish and Pictish tribes under his rule, the first step on the way to a united Scotland.

843 - 1034
By waging war and inter-tribal marriages, Kenneth and his successors achieve to expand the borders of Scotia gradually, until in 1034 almost all parts, which are now known as Scotland, fell under their rule. Picts, Scottish and British more and more identified themselves with their common Celtic background and meanwhile also by their common christian faith. And they had a common enemy now, the Vikings, which made their unity even stronger. Most times the Vikings were Norwegian, but als Danish Vikings often showed up. The northern islands (Orkney and Shetland) were even ruled by Vikings and Norway for centuries.
Below a list with the names of the kings of Scotia in this period, all members of the family Macalpin. The dates are the dates of their reign.

843 - 858: Kenneth I
858 - 862: Donald I
862 - 877: Constantine I
877 - 878: Aed
878 - 889: Eochaid
889 - 900: Donald II
900 - 942: Constantine II
942 - 954: Malcolm I
954 - 962: Indulph
962 - 966: Dubh
966 - 971: Culen
971 - 995: Kenneth II; he defeats the Danish Vikings in 973
995 - 997: Constantine III
997 - 1005: Kenneth III; the last Norwegian Viking raids take place on Iona in 986
1005 - 1034: Malcolm II
Malcolm II becomes king by murdering Kenneth III. In 1014 he leads the Banffshire Scottish against the Danish Vikings and defeats them. In 1018, Malcolm the Second and Owen of Strathclyde defeat an army from Northumbria at the river Tweed in the battle of Carham. Strathclyde is being annexed by the Scottish. Gradually, Scotland reaches the dimension as it still has. When the king of Strathclyde dies, Duncan, grandson of Malcolm II, becomes sovereign of Strathclyde. Despite all fights and wars, Scotland had developed into a solid kingdom in this period, consisting of several population groups. Clans don't exist yet and unity has never been so firm and probably never will be again.

Middle Ages (1034 - 1320 AD.)

11th century
It becomes fashion to murder the king to succeed him, Macbeth being the most famous murderer, made immortal by Shakespeare. Duncan I, the first ruler of entire Scotland, is assassinated by his uncle Macbeth. But Duncan had made his own rulership possible by killing his grandfather Malcolm II. And MacBeth, on his turn, is also murdered. Below a few events and dates:
Duncan I, 1034 - 1040
Duncan I, king of Strathclyde after the battle of Carham, helps in the murder of his grandfather Malcolm II and becomes king of an almost complete united Scotland.
MacBeth, 1040 - 1057
MacBeth ("son of life", born in 1005) is married to queen Gruoch (weidow of Gillacomgain, with one son, Lulach). She is the closest member of the family to Duncan, to succeed him on the throne. This horrible story has been told extensively by Shakespeare. Although the story is highly dramatized, Macbeth does kill Duncan I. Just before he was murdered, Duncan had been defeated heavily by the English. Maybe that played a part in the desire of a lot of noblemen to have a stronger king on the throne.
1057 - 1058
In the battle of Lumphanan, MacBeth is defeated on August, 15 and killed by Malcolm Canmore, later Malcolm III; his nickname was Ceanmor, that is 'big head'. He invaded Scotland in 1054 with an army, coming from England. Lulalch (called 'the fool'), stepson of MacBeth, succeeds MacBeth, but Malcolm kill him in 1058. Malcolm is the first f the house of Canmore, which will rule until 1290.
1058 - 1093
Malcolm III Canmore rules over Scotland when William the Conquerer invades England in 1066 and slowly exands his power. Malcom marries Margaret in 1069, an AngloSaxon princess who had fled to Scotland. She had great influence on the Scottish Lowlands and was declared a saint after her death.
In 1073, Malcolm III is forced to acknowledge William I (the Conquerer) as sovereign after a defeat. He is killed on 13 November, 1093, in the battle of Alnwick. Margaret also dies.
1093 - 1094
First reign of Donald Ban, also called Bane I, the brother of Malcolm III.
1094 - 1094
Very short reign of Duncan II; he is murdered.
1094 - 1097
Donald Ban becomes king for the second time.
1097 - 1107
Afte defeating Donald Bane, with help of the English (William II), Edgar (2nd son of Malcolm III) becomes king of Scotland. Meanwhile in Norway, Magnus Barefoot becomes king in 1093. Like his fellow Viking countrymen, he loves to undertake raids and invade other countries. In 1097, he claims rulership over the Scottish islands and in 1098 a treaty is signed between him and Edgar by which all western islands and the peninsula Kintyre are declared to be part of Norway henceforward. This treaty stands firm until 1266.

12th century
But Magnus wasn't ready with this part of Europe yet; he tries to conquer Ireland in 1103, but is killed in trying it. But all parties, Vikings and Scottish, live up to the treaty. The Scottish kings of the 12th century, Edgar, Alexander and David, all three sons of Malcolm III, call upon the English to fight rebellious Celts, like the independant kingdom Galloway. Because of this, English lords and nobles get more and more influence and land in Scotland. Alexander I, David I, 1107 - 1124
When Edgar dies, Scotland fals apart. Alexander I becomes king of the Scottish, but David I becomes king in Lothian and Strathclyde. The unity, which had been achieved by Duncan in 1034, only lasted for 73 years.
David I, 1124 - 1153
After the death of Alexander, David takes power and again Scotland is united as one nation! His reign is one of the most important ones in Scottish history. Scotland expands to far beyond the present borders (Northumberland, now in northern England, is annexed), he introduces new laws and founds new schools. He also gives away much land to his Norman friends which accompanied him from England. David had lived many years in the Norman court and even possessed the title of Earl of Northampton and ruler over the estates of Huntingdon. When he returned to in Scotland, he took along a lot of new 'clans' , among them the families Bruce, Balliol, Stewart, Grant, Comyn and Melville - names which would become famous later in Scottish history. The Bruces received 200,000 are land in south west Scotland. But these same Normans help the English to defeat David in the "Battle of the Standard" at Northallerton in 1138 and they kill thousand of Scots.
Malcolm IV, 1153 - 1165
After the death of David I, Malcolm IV becomes king of Scotland. In 1160 he unites Galloway with Scotland. Until then it ad been an independant kingdom.
Meanwhile, the power of Sommerled, a Scottish Viking who rules over the islands, clanfather of the Clan Donald, grows. He dies in 1164. William I, 1165 - 1214
William I, the Lion of Scotland, rules the country. In 1174 he is defeated by the English verslagen near Alnwick and is forced to sign the treaty of Falaise in which the Scottish commit themselves to pay tribute to the English for many years. And Scotland also falls under the dominion of England. In 1179, William adds the province Ross to Scotland.
Inverness gets a Charter from William in 1180(?). But In 1189, king Richard I (Lionhaert) of England needs money to bear the cost of a crusade and offers the Scottish to give them their castles back and to forgo his feudal rulership in exchange for 10.000 mark, an amount the Scottish could not come up with in that time. It took years before they could pay this amount, and collected the money by raising taxes.

13th century
Te 13th century was a relatively quiet and proserous century for Scotland. However, the roots of later conflicts between clans can be found in the beginning of this century. Local rulers or "Mormaers" assumed titles as a result of Anglosaxon influences. Groups of families and their serfs, gathered around them. Very soon, every clan became a small feudal social structure within the greater empire and a clanname was something to be proud of. Obviously this led to many feuds, battles even. This system of clans, and so a form of feudalism, made itself felt far into the 19th century.Alexander II, 1214-1249 During his reign, Alexander II has to suppress a few rebellions, conquers Argyll in 1222, but eventually dies in 1249, when he tries to incorporate the northern islands into Scotland. Alexander III, 1249-1286
During the reign of Alexander III, the Norwegians conquered the Hebrids and the island Man. To defend these possessions, king Haakom of Norway sends a large fleet in 1263, but the Norwegian vassals revolt and choose sides with Scotland. In the battle of Largs the Scottish gained an enormous victory. In 1266, the treaty of Perth was drawn up, by which Norway had to return all regions to Scotland, with the exception of Orkney and Shetland.
In the 70's, 2 Scottish men were born who would become very famous: William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.
Alexander only left one heir to the throne: Margaret, 'the Norwegian'. She was to be married to Edward, the prince of Wales and heir to the English throne. In this way Scotland and England would be united to one country. But she dies in 1290 and the union is called of. But Edward has set his heart on becoming king of England and Scotland.
Only one heir, but after her death there were numerous pretenders for the throne, far descendants of the house Canmore, among them the Dutch Floris V. Edward was appointed arbitrator. The main candidates were John Balliol and Robert the Bruce. Edward choose Balliol, but demanded from him the submission of Scotland and support from the Scottish in the upcoming war with France. Balliol signed a treaty with Edward, but the Scottish nobes refused to grant Edward's demands. Instead, they made a pact with te French which stood firm until 1746.
Edward invades Scotland in the year 1296 and very soon occupies a great part of Scotland. He establishes an English administration and the Coronation Stone of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny is taken to Westminster in London.
Because of the cruelties the English committed, a large national resistence movement arises, in which William Wallace plays an important role. He brought together commoners, farmers and knights to dispel the English. But he was betrayed after 10 years of grim combat, and was executed in London, 1305.
Robert the Bruce (who had supported Edward for some years) defeated his former ally, Edward, in 1306.
Robert the Bruce s crowned the new Scottish king, but he still had to fight many battles against the English before achieving independance for Scotland. The decisive battle is fought in 1314: the battle of Bannockburn. A relatively small group of Scots against the superior power of the. But the English are being crushed and more than 30.000 soldiers die. The armed forces of the Scottish consisted of 12.000 men at most!. Edward is forced to flee the country and in the following years entire Scotland is liberated from the English.
In 1320 the Declaration of Arbroath is written and offered to the pope. He accepts the declaration and thereby confirms the independance of Scotland. Bt Edward and his successors refuse to acknowledge Scotland.

Late Middle Ages (1320 - 1517)Naar boven

The Bruces rule; although Scotland has regained it's independancy and will keep it mostly, the struggle also continues. The 2nd Scottish war of independance begins and the power of the monarchy seems to decline.

Robert the Bruce, 1320-1329
In 1326, the new Scottish parliament assembles for the first time. In 1328 Robert I and Edward III (of England) sign the treaty of Northhampton, in which Edward acknowledges the independance of Scotland and Bruce as it's legitimate king.

David II has only ruled for a few years when in 1332 the 2nd Scottish war of independance breaks out. Edward Balliol (son of John Balliol) invades Scotland (with help from the English) and defeats the Scottish at Dupplin Moor. Also, Edward II invades Scotland in 1333 and defeats the Scottish at Haslidon Hill. David II flees to France and is defeated and taken prisoner when he tries to regain his throne. Edward Balliol gives away rulership over the Scottish Lowlands to Edward II and eventually over all Scotland in 1357.
In 1349-1350 the Black Death, or the plague, breaks out in Scotland.

The house of Stewart comes to power. David is succeeded by one of his stewards, hence the name Stewart. The conflicts between the nobles become more frequently and often a regent rules the country. Robert II, 1371-1390
Under the reign of Robert II, the Scottish gain a few victories in the war against the English, but between themselves they fight more and more. His weak rule also leads to more conflicts between the nobles and the crown.

Robert III, 1390-1406
Fighting between some clans had become so fierce that the king instructed the clans to wage war with each other. The clans Davidson and Macpherson had to select 30 warriors each who had to fight to the death. Robert III himself was spectator a this battle in 1396. The clan of Macpherson won.

Heir to the throne David had been killed in 1402 and the new heir, the younger son of Robert III, James, was sent to France for security reasons. But he was captured by the English and kept a prisoner for 18 years, because the Scottish nobles, who ruled the country in his name, didn't want to pay the high ransom. ventually they paid the money (1424) and James returns to Scotland. He finds the country in chaos. After his coronation he becomes James I and starts to deal with his rivals. Murdoch and his family who had been regents in the years before, were executed. Many clans had to pay for it, especially the Highlanders who were treated in contempt by James (in 1427 he orders to apprehend 50 clanleaders in Inverness).
Harshly he tries to bring back stability and order to his country, but behaved as an absolute ruler, a tyrant. He made many of the nobles whose support he needed into his enemies. And also resistance within his own family grew and was killed eventually by a family conspiracy in 1437.

James II signs a treaty with England in 1438, that only holds for 10 years.

By marrying Margaret, daughter of Christian I of Denmark, James III brings Orkney and Shetland under Scottish rulership. His death left the country in a state of chaos, with many internal frictions between the nobles.

James IV is crowned king, but he is still very young and a regent is appointed. But soon he proves to be a competent and strong leader and Scotland thrives once again. But Fance, at war with England, calls upon Scotland, because of their pact. As a result of that James sends an ultimatum to Henry VIII and invades England. The Scottish army is defeated in the battle of Flodden Field. James dies and with him most Scottish knights and clanleaders.

Reformation and Renaissance (1517-1820)Naar boven

Beginning of the Scottish Reformation and the definitive end of Scottish independance.

James V still is a baby whne his father is killed. Queen Margaret becomes regent. In 1528 he takes up the kingship himself. In 1536 England and Wales form a Union. 1542, James is killed in the battle of Solway Moss. Mary Stuart, queen of Scotland is born in 1542 geboren. In this period (1528) also the first Protestant martyr, Patrick Hamilton, is burned to death.

Mary was only one week old when she officially ascended the throne. Henry VIII of England immediately tries to couple her to his 5-year old son Edward, to take control over Scotland. In 1544 he initiates a series of destroying attacks on Scotland, a period which would be called later the 'rough wooing', by the famous writer Sir Walter Scott. The Scottish called upon the French for support and in 1548 the 6-year old Mary went to France to marry the French dauphin. After his death, she returned to Scotland in 1561.
She herself being a roman catholic, she didn't undertake any actions against the protestants at first.
Scottish parliament had put protestantism first in 1560, by forbidding the mass and no longer acknowledging the authority of the pope. This was just a statement of Scottish nationalism, this time directed against the growing dependency on France. The minister John Knox also had great influence and preached against Mary and catholicism as much as he could.
Her attitude changed after marrying the catholic Lord Darnley. But shortly after, the marriage was dissolved and Darnley murdered. Mary got married for a third time, but had to flee t England when Scottish nobles, who suspected her to be accessory to the death of Darnley and didn't agree with her marriage to Bothwell, committed a coup in 1567. Her son, James VI, was crowned king, but regents who were in favour of England ruled and he was raised in a protestant way.

Mary flees to England where she seeks protection from her niece Elisabeth, queen of England. But Elisabeth distrusts her, because Mary had claimed the English throne for many years, and imprisons her. After 18 years of captivity, Elisabeth has her beheaded in 1587. In the meantime, protestantism ad penetrated England and also in Scotland the movement grew in strength and power. It was organised in an organisation called the Kirk. James VI saw his power undermined by this quasi-democratic structure and the fact there were no bishops, appointed by the king.
Elisabeth dies without child in 1603 and James VI of Scotland inherits the monarchy about England as James I. And that was the end of the independance of Scotland.

Civil war between the monarchy and parliament.

James I of England, formerly James VI of Scotland, restores the Scottish bischops in their power in 1610, and by that also gains in power personally. As king of England, he turns his back on Scotland.

Charles I was raised a catholic in England and didn't understand Scottish reformism. A catholic ruler saw himself as representative of God on earth, which was totally against the protestants doctrine. Charkles tries to force changes onto the reformists and finally a bloody civil war breaks out (1642, you can read more about it in this article about Charles I). Ironically, the biggest problems with his english parliament (1640), originated from asking them financial support in his war against his own people, the Scottish. In 1650 he was executed.

The Covenants (Scottish reformers) and the so-called Roundheads (supporters of the Engelse parliament) together fought against the king, but amongst themselves also. After the death of Charles I, Scotland proclaimed Charles II king, but Olivier Cromwell, leader of the Roundheads didn't agree and invaded Scotland. Charles II was forced to flee. Cromwell tried to make England a republic. It lasted only a short time (1649 - 1660), but as a result of his efforts, the English parliament became a powerful institution. The coronation of Charles II was the last one in Scotland (Edinburgh, 1651). After the death of Cromwell, Charles II, at last, could rule (1660 - 1685), but he showed no interest for Scotland. Many clergymen were thrown out of the (protestants) church, persecuted and repressed.

James II (James VII in Scotland), brother of Charles became king, but he had to flee when the parliament appeared to have no trust in him. 1689-1760
Mostly foreign rule over England and Scotland.

William III (Willem of Orange) and Mary (Stewart or Stuart) II become king and queen of England, and subsequently of Scotland. But they don't interfere in the domestic administration. In 1700, the French acknowledge James III (son of James II) as king of England. At that time, William was at war with France.
Most important events in Scotland are the slaughtering of the MacDonalds of Glencoe and the Darién-plan. In 1691, William had promised pardon for all Highlanders who had been opposed to his kingship, but only if they pledged loyalty to him before January the first, 1692. Alasdair MacDonald of Glencoe arrived late, but was hindered then by followers of the king, so he really came too late. They wanted him and his clan exterminated. In 1692, captain Robert Campbell aid a visit to the MacDonalds and killed them all at night. Among the clans, this was considered to be a major crime, to kill those who showed you their hospitality.
The Dari´┐Żn-plan had the intention to establish a Scottish colony in Panama, but opposition of the king and mercenaries made this plan into a failure.

After the death of William of Orange, Anne, daughter of James II, became queen. But she was only a front. John Churchill and his wife Sarah Jenkins had the real power. The Act of Union made a conclusive end to the kingdoms of Scotland and England in 1707. From then on only Great Britain remained, one nation with one parliament and one monarch. Scotland had no power left to make their own decisions.

After the death of Anne, the German George (from the house of Hannover) becomes king of England. This had been decided already in 1701 by the English parliament. He didn't speak English and left all state affairs to Sir Robert Walpole. In 1715, the first Jacobite rebellion took place, but in 1716 they were driven away. Jacob (James) was the nephew of the old James VII who had been king before William, a Stewart.

George II, only son of George I, also was a German, more than an Englishman, but at least he spoke the language. After Walpole, William Pit took over his job and ruled the country energetically. The next Jacobite rebellion (under the leadership of Charles Edward Stuart, also called Bonnie Prince Charlie) penetrated England in 1745 deeply and caused a lot of panic. But eventually they had to face the superior English forces, which forced them back into Scotland. In April 1746, both armies clashed at Culloden Moor near Inverness, where the Jacobites were slaughtered. After this rebellion many things became forbidden in Scotland, like wearing a tartan, having weapons, or playing the bagpipe. Rulers who had taken part in the rebellion lost their land and the Highlands were placed under military authority.

George III was the cause the British empire did not expand in the northern regions of America. Also because of his attitude, the Americans started the war of independance (1774-1783) against the English, which they won. On the European continent there is a lot of change, but there are many other places where you can read about this turbulent period. Scotland was ppor and many people abandoned their country to go off to America. Land-owners chased away their tenants and forced them t a meager life, working as season worker or as small farmer.

Industrial revolution & Victorian Age (1820-1901)Naar boven

In London, George IV rules. Despite the cal for liberal measures, he didn't carry them out. In Scotland, Glasgow becomes the driving force behind the industrial revolution, mainly because of the presence of the harbour, which coud provide the quickest connection to America. Aside from the emigration, trade also increased.
1830-1837: William IV.
In England, Victoria came to power. On the mainland of Europe it was a time of revolutions, but in Britain everything went more quietly. Liberal measures were taken gradually, to satisfy the labour force. The British Empire expands, but next to all wealth there is a lot of poverty. Industry in Scotland extends and most of the people concentrate on the Lowlands where most jobs can be found. But only at the end of the 19th century, industrialisation finally starts to bring some prosperity for the workmen.

The 20th century until the present (1901-2002)Naar boven

With the death of Victoria in 1901, the Victorian Age also died, an age which was characterised by restraint, decency (which soon developped into hypocrasy) and complacency. Edward VII takes over from her.

With George V as king, the empire shows the first signs of decay, and, as a result of that, the Common Wealth is established in 1926; the colonies get some more self-rule. In the meantime, the situation in Scotland gets worse. Economically, the Scottish had been very dependant of the export, and during and after World War I the export had collapsed. The economical crisis in the 30s didin't make things better: 28% of the abour force was unemployed and child death was the highest in Europe.

Edward VIII came to power, but resigned within a few months, for personal reasons. Scotland didin't notice.

George VI reigned over England during World War II and the Scottish could be found everywhere on the globe, fighting the Germans and their allies. But there was no sign of any self-rule for the Scottish, as the labor unions wanted. The economy in Scotland was still going bad; England first, then the colonies.

With Elizabeth II as queen (the longest ruling living monarch ever), the national parties in Scotland gained more and more votes. In 1979, proposals to come to decentralization of Great Britain were put before the Scottish people in a referendum. 40% of the voters had to vote yes, but only 33% voted yes. Apperently, the Scottish were afraid of self-government, or maybe they were opposed to the limited form of self-rule. Thanks to Labour and Tony Blair, a referendum was setup, in which the Scottish could declare whether they would have their own Scottish parliament and 75% of the population voted yes. The Scottish parliament can decide now on matters concerning education, health matters, public order, social services, local authoroties, environmental questions, agriculture, fishery and sports and culture. All the other important matters, like foreign affairs, defense, macro economical issues are still being ruled by London. In 1996, the Stone of Destiny, the stone used in coronations in Scotland, was brought back to Scotland, 700 years after Edward I had taken the stone to England. At last, again, there is a Scottish parliament, after centuries and however limited her power. But the differences between English and Scottish remain. A last personal remark: individualism is very important, nationalism can be very dangerous. We know the Scottish a (very tiny) bit, now, and we understand their resentment against the English. But battles bring no solution, not for the Irish, not for the Scottish. More decentralization and yet also more cooperation, maybe that's an idea?

Websites about the history of SchotlandNaar boven

Since there are so many sources on the internet we will give you a few links with more information about Scotland history:
electricscotland, complete contents of books about Scottish history
britannia.com, a timeline of Scottish history
wikipedia, site with many links to more extensive articles

© Teije & Elisabeth 2000 - 2024 To the top of the page