History of Scotland
The main stages of the history of Scotland, the establishment in the territory of statehood and the first nations. Activities prominent public and political figures of the country, its current social situation and evaluation of further prospects.
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History of Scotland
statehood social political
There was a time when Scotland was independent country in the north of Europe. Now it is a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh.
The recorded history of the country began with the Roman conquest of Britain. It is time when modern England and Wales were occupied, received the status of the Roman provinces and were referred to as Britain.
In the 70s, the Romans continued to attack, but Scotland never submitted to them. Julius Agricola, who was the governor of Britain in 80-90s, invaded in Scotland, as he wanted to extend boundaries of the empire. However, he was successful only in seizure of county's lowlands. To the north, there were lands free of the Roman conquest - for example, Caledonia.
Over the period of five centuries, Scotland was populated by the Picts. Then, the Gaels appeared on the west coast. It was a group of ancient Celtic tribes that had migrated from Ireland. They brought Christianity to Scotland and the Picts were converted to this religion. The first Christian missionaries were up with many difficulties: pagan traditions, martial spirit of tribes, feuds and wild nature of the country. However, during the Roman's period small Christian settlements occupied the territory from the Hadrian's Wall to the north. That time there were two best-known missionaries - St. Ninian and St. Columba. They founded monasteries that became a basis of the Christianity expansion. By the end of the VIIth century, the four nations of Scotland were converted to Christianity.
After Roman's leaving, these tribes established several kingdoms. One of them was Dalriata, located on the parts of Ireland and Great Britain. The Scottish part was on the territory of modern Argyll.
However, the nationalities were still isolated and there were many sanguinary battles between them. The fact that by the VIIIth century all the nations were Christian helped their unification. Furthermore, a new powerful and dangerous enemy - the Vikings - came, with whom they could fight only by joining forces.
Finally, in 843 the King of Dalriada and the claimant to the throne of the Picts, Kenneth MacAlpin attacked them. Then, he eliminated all other pretenders and became the King of all the territories from the River Forth to the north. After that, the Picts gradually disappear from history. There is a theory that there were exterminated by the Scots. However, it is most likely that they assimilated with the Scots. Until his death in 858, Kenneth MacAlpine unsuccessfully tried to conquer the Angles in southern Scotland.
The next important ruler was Giric. He was not a direct descendant of the royal line, but because of his talents and ambitions could become the king. He instigated a regime change. Giric got rid of the Pictish noblemen and replaced them with his own men. He turned the kingdom of the Picts into a Gaelic kingdom. To assert his power, he rewarded his Gaelic followers with Pictish lands. However, Giric's position was far from secure. Although he had eliminated Aed, the two legitimate heirs, Aed's six-year-old son Constantine II and his teenage cousin Donald, were still alive. Giric knew his kingship was unsafe while the two young boys remained potential rivals. Therefore, he sent them to Ireland.
As each year passed, the moment to avenge the murder of Constantine's father edged ever closer. In the year 889 after 10 years being in exile, they came back in Scotland. Giric fled to Perthshire, where there was his stronghold. Two cousins returned as Gaelic princes. Donald was the King of Alba - the first king ever to be described as such. Constantine, also was a Scottish king, followed him. After that, the culture of the nation was completely destroyed.
In 906, Constantine arrived in Scone near Perth for an important new ceremony. «Scone» is a Gaelic word. What happened here would form the basis of all future coronations. Blessed by a Gaelic bishop, Constantine sat on a block of stone, better known as the Stone of Destiny. For centuries afterwards, it has been used in the inauguration of monarchs. Now, the original is in Edinburgh Castle.
Kenneth MacAlpin founded the Scottish royal like as a Pictish warlord. His grandson Constantine II secured the kingdom and, during his long reign of 43 years, ensured his survival. Then he left his kingship. Religion had always played an important part in his life as king. St. Andrews had become the religious capital of his new kingdom, where he ended his days as a holy man.
And what about the Picts? They did not disappear, but mixed together with the Gaels and called themselves as the Scots. The Kingdom of Alba became their common home. And now the story of the fully formed country called Scotland had only just begun.
In 945, the Scottish kingdom expanded its territories. That year the English King Edmund I invaded in Strathclyde, one of the early medieval kingdoms of the Britons. He appropriated a piece of Strathclyde's land - Cumbria, and allowed Malcolm I to own the remaining territories in exchange for a treaty of alliance.
The period of Constantine's successor Malcolm I and Malcolm II's reign was marked by good relations with the Wessex rulers of England and successful expansionary policy.
After the death of his grandfather, Duncan began to rule the whole Scotland, the southern borders of which were on the modern British territory. However, as a ruler, he was not successful. Duncan did not defend his lands from the Viking raids. Among the clans, there often were rebellions. So, he was replaced by more ambitious leader Macbeth, about whom later Shakespeare wrote. In the year 1060, Duncan was killed in the battle with Macbeth. His reign is marked by peace and prosperity of the country.
In 1057 Duncan's son, Malcolm III, defeated Macbeth. Since that time, the English influence began to increase in Scotland. The English traditions and episcopal principles were introduced in the Scottish church. Established close cultural ties with England, Malcolm III pursued one more goal. He wanted to conquer the northern territories of Britain and extend boundaries of his country. Such intentions provoked William the Conqueror to come to Scotland and to make Malcolm to be his vassal. In 1093 during the campaign in the north of England, in Notumbria, one of Malcolm's Norman friends killed him in an ambush.
For over 30 years the country was ruled by weak kings who made concessions for the British and the Scandinavians. The country was agrarian, with a small number of towns and undeveloped trade. In different regions and social classes, people spoke different languages - Latin, French, English and a variety of Gaelic's dialects.
In 1124, David who was the ninth son of Malcolm III became the king. Many huge estates were given to the Anglo-Normans. Ascended the throne, David I began to strike a Scottish coin, introduced the principle of feudal land holding and arranged the central administration as the Anglo-Normans' one. Normanization touched on the Scottish church. David founded new monasteries and parishes and strengthened ties with the continent.
The Kingdom of Scotland was very powerful state in XII - XIIIth centuries. Normans' customs and feudal system gave rise to the royal power.
Although Scotland and England became closer to each other, war between them did not end. In 1165, David's brother, William the Lion, became the king. The name «Lion» he received because of bringing lion emblem on the flag of Scotland. After concluding the alliance with France in 1165, which had existed for centuries and known as the Auld Alliance (Longtime Union), in 1174 William invaded England. However, the Scottish army was defeated, and William was captured. He was forced to sign a document, after which Scotland became a vassal of England and the English garrison occupied many southern Scottish castles. In 1189, the English King Richard the Lionheart, who needed money for his crusades, recognized the independence of Scotland for 10 thousand marks. Rome freed the Church of Scotland from the English jurisdiction, though left it under Rome's submission.
At that time, the Highlands remained independent from the center of the country. It had its own clans and the patriarchal structure. All clan's members were submitted to a chieftain. After the death of William the Lion in 1214, his only son Alexander II began to rule. His genealogy began on the powerful royal dynasty of Canmore. The kingdom he inherited was smaller than Scotland today. It was found side by side with the mix of different peoples and different languages: the Earldoms of Caithness and Sutherland on the north, the Gaels of the Hebrides and the Isles on the west and the independent Lordship of Galloway on the south. However, England was bigger, stronger and richer than they all were. And for nearly 200 years the English kings said the Kingdom of Scots belonged to them, the English were the overlords. However, Alexander was concerned that he was equal to an English king. He was on a mission to free his kingship from English over-lordship finally.
However, Alexander had a problem. If he hoped to free Scotland from over-lordship, he would first have to resolve a bitter dispute with the king of England, King John. Northumbria, Cumberland and Westmorland were territories to which both the kings of England and the kings of Scots laid claim. To settle the argument, Alexander's father had given both money and two of his daughters to King John of England. But John had reneged on the deal. After that, Alexander was determined to take back what was rightfully his. Besides, there were barons who were annoyed with John because he tapped a treasure. In protest, they drew up a list of over 60 demands. This document was called as «Magna Carta». However, after a while, Alexander II renounced his claims to Nothumbria and concentrated efforts on fighting with clans. The following years, he ruled Scotland, trying to keep the peace in the country.
After his death, a stronger Scotland entered a golden age. His son, Alexander III, inherited the family firm. Times were good, Scotland prospered and culture flowered. In 1251, Alexander was married to Margaret, the daughter of King Henry III of England. After a long period, Alexander had gained control of the Western Isles and the Isle of Man.
The end of the XIIIth century was a serious test for Scotland. After the death in 1286 of King Alexander III, there were no direct male heirs. Because of this, the granddaughter of Alexander III, Margaret, came to the throne. King Edward I of England tried to get control over Scotland and insisted on the marriage between his son, the future King Edward II, and Queen Margaret. However, neither marriage nor the coronation of Queen Margaret took place in the history. Young girl died suddenly on the Orkney Islands.
Several pretenders brought forth their claims to the throne at once. Edward I was invited as the judge, and he forced pretenders to acknowledge his power over Scotland. He proclaimed John Balliol as the king. So, the English hegemony was established on the British Isles. However, the Scots were discontent of further meddling of Edward in their concerns. Over seven years the British army devastated Scotland.
Suddenly Robert the Bruce came to land. He arrived at Scone, coronation place of the Scottish monarchs, and proclaimed himself the king of Scotland. In 1328, England and Scotland signed a peace treaty whereby Scotland was recognized as the sovereign state. England had much more resources and power than Scotland, and was probably capable to conquer its northern neighbor. But the English had to use their basic resources against France.
If the English had been able to establish and support constant military presence in the Lowlands, The Kingdom of Scotland would be weakened and would not be a dangerous enemy. Discords between the Scottish noblemen would have been used to consolidate power of the English king. However, when the English invaded in Scotland, the Scots could avoid the battles by disturbing the English army. Besides, keeping numerous British garrisons in Scotland would have been too expensive.
After the death of Bruce, his infant son David II became the king. Again there began the struggle for power. In 1333, the English invaded and occupied the southern Scotland. Many noblemen and the clergy went over to their side. England was involved in the Hundred Years' War with France. In 1346, France suffered defeats and asked Scotland to divert forces of England. David II with an army invaded England, but was defeated and captured. The situation was difficult: the country was devastated, demoralized. Besides, that time was accompanied by a flood and plague epidemic. David was a weak ruler; he did not care about Scotland. He secretly negotiated with England about the capitulation so that Scotland would be ruled by the English king. But the Scottish Parliament rejected this variant.
In Scotland internal wars continued, and the clan Douglases began to get more power. In the Highlands and the Western Isles, the clan MacDonalds enjoyed the relative independence. In 1411, in St. Andrews the first university of Scotland was opened; after a while, universities in Glasgow and Aberdeen. That was the time of a flourishing of the arts, sculpture, music and poetry.
England again fought in France and started to win. So, the French asked Scotland for the help. As in 1421 the Scottish army turned a luck to the French, the Scots began to occupy important positions in the French army.
After long period, James IV became the king. While the country was ruled by regents, the Douglases fully enjoyed the power. But the king grew, took power into his own hands and broke the conspirators.
Education and art developed, beautiful palaces were built instead of fortified castles. In 1507 in Edinburgh first printing press appeared, external trade also developed. However, in the Highlands the household system still took place. During the time of peace or wars, all clan members submitted to their chief. During the reign of James IV, rebellions of clans continued against the crown and the other clans so that it led to civil discords. At the turn of the XVth and XVIth centuries, confrontation between clans and the crown flared up again. Then James tried to introduce the feudal system in the Highlands. This led to a further increasing of clans' opposition. After rebel leaders were captured and executed, in the Highlands there was established a chain of forts to strengthen the royal authority.
In Scotland as in England, the distinctive feature of the XVth-century discords was the desire to capture a control of the central government, usually by the monarch himself. Much depended on the personality of the king and his ability to control situation. In fact, political instability was not caused by the desire to destroy the state, but by appearance of two rival groups in the royal family.
The economy of Scotland developed slowly in this period and a population of perhaps a little under a million by the middle of the XIVth century began to decline after the arrival of the Black Death, falling to perhaps half a million by the beginning of the XVIth century. Different social systems and cultures developed in the lowland and highland regions of the country as Gaelic remained the most common language north of the Tay and Middle Scots dominated in the south, where it became the language of the ruling elite, government and a new national literature. There were significant changes in religion.
By the end of the period, Scotland had adopted many of the major tenets of the European Renaissance in art, architecture and literature and produced a developed educational system. This period has been seen one in which a clear national identity emerged in Scotland, as well as significant distinctions between different regions of the country which would be particularly significant in the period of the Reformation.
The Reformation came to Scotland in XVIth century. In the earlier part of the century, the teachings of first Martin Luther and then John Calvin began to influence Scotland, particularly through Scottish scholars. The Scottish Church had enormous wealth, more than government coffers had. So, the state had issued a number of decisions, and exterior of the church had to be changed. It had to be more modest and less worldly. Finally, the Bible was translated into English.
John Knox was the most significant figure of the period. Knox was a follower of John Calvin, one of the leaders of the Reformation. In 1560 Scotland's parliament established the Church of Scotland on a Presbyterian basis.
Mary Stuart's son, James VI, was brought up as a Presbyterian. When Queen Elizabeth of England died in 1603, James inherited the throne of England. This is an important point missed by many historians - it was the Scottish king who took over the English throne, not the reverse. In England he was called James I. The two nations were thus united under a single king, but Scotland remained a separate state with its own parliament and government. Presbyterianism was firmly established as Scotland's national church.
The age-old rivalry between Scotland and England ended formally in 1707 when the parliaments of both nations agreed to the Act of Union. This act merged the parliaments of the two nations and established the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Scotland now had free trade with England and the colonies. As Britain's empire expanded the Scots played a great part in its development. They also shared in the inventions that brought about the Industrial Revolution and in the wealth that flowed into Britain from it.
In the XVIIIth century Scotland was in the forefront of intellectual and scientific developments. It is known as the Scottish Enlightenment. It emphasized on the potential of scientific research. Hume and Smith were the intellectual leaders of this Scottish movement.
During the industrial revolution of the XIXth century, Scotland's position was ambivalent. On the one hand, after the acceptance of the Act of Union, the Scottish Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, the country became a powerful commercial, scientific and industrial center in Europe. However, Scotland has experienced all the negative aspects of the English industrial revolution.
It should be noticed that Scotland occupies a unique position in the United Kingdom. This is due to its union with Britain and participation in the national parliament. And as the administrative and political systems of two countries were different, there created a reliable basis to preserve the national forces in Scotland.
Talking about modern Scotland, we can say that in the past decade of 20th century the country followed the same social and economic processes as the rest of Britain, but another political way. Also in Scotland, there was decline of heavy industry that affected economic significance of coal-mining, heavy engineering, shipbuilding and steelmaking branches. New technology led to discovery of new branches of industry and workplaces: for example, in offshore oil field.
Socially, Scotland goes through the processes typical for England: middle class increases, attitude to the church and family changes.
From that time on, the history of Scotland merges with that of the rest of the United Kingdom.
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