Thursday, October 2, 2014

Scotland Before the Union

What was it like? From History Extra:
Scotland on the brink of union was a fiercely patriotic nation cherishing a vivid concept of the realm as an ancient and honourable kingdom. If you’d asked many Scots of the time to relate their national story, they’d have told you a tale that began with an intrepid Trojan prince and a pharaoh’s daughter named Scota whose descendants established an unbroken line of kings in Scotland from 330 BC.

Most Scots accepted that their nation was not a powerful or rich one, but they cherished its martial history, and the fact that it had maintained its independence for (it was thought) 2,000 years. Many more regarded the prospect of union as a dishonourable conquest by England. A 1706 Poem Upon the Union labelled the English “inveterate enemies who trample on our laws, and us despise”, and asked: “and shall we our scars forget? And to our ruine be now more unite?”

So how did unionists of 1707 counter this perception? Perhaps surprisingly, they did not articulate a compelling vision of a British kingdom. Instead, they saw Scotland as a once-proud but much-reduced kingdom for whom a bright future could come only from closer ties with England. (Read more.)

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