Scotland's relations with its larger neighbour have often been difficult, none more so than in the "wars of independence" 700 years ago led by William Wallace and then Robert the Bruce. He defeated Edward II, then attempting to subjugate Scotland, at Bannockburn in 1314. After other cross border disputes, including Scotland's defeat at Flodden by the English in 1513, the Scottish and English crowns were unified in 1603 when King James VI of Scotland became overall monarch of the British isles.

In 1707, that union was cemented by Scotland and England's political union, forced on Scotland in part by a financial crisis following the abject failure of its colony in Panama, the so-called Darien adventure. All political power moved to London, but Scotland retained its own legal system, churches and universities. In 1745, the pretender to the British throne, Bonnie Prince Charlie, led the Jacobite revolt against Hanoverian rule by London. Despite reaching as far south as Derby, that ended in crushing defeat at Culloden in 1746.

In the 1800s, Scotland's economy strengthened, its cities boomed and its citizens took a leading role in the British empire. But proposals to give Scotland some form of "home rule" within the UK have been live since William Gladstone's era as Liberal leader in the 1880s. After several failed attempts at Westminster, notably in 1913 and 1979, a Scottish parliament was finally reestablished in 1999 in Edinburgh with wide-ranging policy making and legal powers but dependent on a direct grant from London.

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A quote saved on Feb. 26, 2013.


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