Scotland: Alexander III’s Legacy

Alexander III of Scotland

Alexander III of Scotland

On a wild and stormy night in 1286, King Alexander III of Scotland was riding to Kinghorn, and changed horses at Burntisland.  The storm was so fierce, trees were bending with the winds, it was suggested that Alexander should hold up at Burntisland for the night, to let the storm ease.  He wouldn’t hear of it, he wanted to get home.  He lost control of his horse, and it galloped over a steep cliff, and both Alexander and his horse plunged to their deaths.

The events of that night, had far reaching consequences across Scotland, and changed its path of history, for centuries to come.

Plantagenet England, in the shape of King Edward I, saw his chance, to gain control of Scotland.

Margaret Maid of Norway

Margaret – Maid of Norway

The heir of King Alexander III of Scotland was Margaret the Maid of Norway.  Margaret was the daughter of King Eric II of Norway, and granddaughter of King Alexander III of Scotland.  She became Queen, aged just two.

The “Guardians of Scotland,” negotiated a marriage between Margaret, the Maid of Norway and Queen of Scotland with Prince Edward of Caernarvon, son of King Edward I of England.  An agreement was made through the “Treaty of Birgham,” that the children of Margaret and Edward would rule both England and Scotland.

Margaret was taken ill in 1290, during the sea voyage from Norway to Scotland.  Her ships destination had been Leith, but rough seas, blew them towards Orkney.  They took shelter from the storms at St.Margaret’s Hope on South Ronaldsay in the Orkney’s.

Margaret never saw her future husband, as she died in the Orkney’s, in the September of 1290.  Her body was returned to Norway, and laid to rest beside her mother in Christ’s Kirk, Bergen.

With the death of Margaret, the Maid of Norway, the Scots had no true heir to the throne, and Anglo-Scottish relations lay in tatters.

King Edward I a

King Edward I

The Scottish nobles could not agree upon a successor to the throne, and turned to King Edward I of England to arbitrate for them.

No fewer than thirteen claimants to the Scottish throne stepped forward.  Edward wanted a puppet King, one who would answer to him, and so John Balliol was chosen.

Over the next four hundred years, Scotland took on the might of English forces, in their bid for Independence.

1603, saw the change in Scotland’s history… James VI of Scotland becomes King James I of England, bringing about the “Union of Crowns.”

In 1707 the “Act of Union,” brought England and Scotland together, with the creation of a single Parliament of the United Kingdom at the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament).

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Scotland’s Act of Union 1707

Scotland - Act of Union 1707

Signing the Act of Union by Queen Anne

Key dates in the history of the union between England and Scotland:

Queen Elizabeth I of England dies in 1603 and James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England.  The kingdoms remain separate but are ruled by a single monarch.

The Glorious Revolution of 1688/89 sees the Catholic James II deposed in favour of his Protestant daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange.

In the year 1700, William the Duke of Gloucester, William and Mary’s nephew and heir presumptive dies, aged eleven.

In the year 1701, James Edward Stuart, son of the James II (known as the Old Pretender in England), recognised as heir to the English and Scottish thrones by Louis XIV of France.  The Act of Settlement in England leaves Scotland to make its own choice of succeeding monarch.

In the March of 1702 William III dies.

In the November of 1702 Queen Anne, William’s sister-in-law opens negotiations with the Scottish Parliament.

Stormy negotiation of 1703-1704, end in deadlock.

The Aliens Act restricts Scottish trade with England in 1705.

First proposal for a United Kingdom of Great Britain is laid on the table in 1706.  In July the sealed Articles of Union are presented to Queen Anne.

In January 1707, articles are ratified by the Scottish Parliament, then in March ratified by the English Parliament.  In the May the Act of Union becomes law in both countries, now united into a single kingdom.

In 1715 the first Jacobite Rebellion is in favour of the Old Pretender.  Then in 1745 a second Jacobite Rebellion sees Bonnie Prince Charlie defeated.  In 1746 the clan system is dismantled by Act of Parliament.

Scotland’s Four Kingdoms

Map - Scotland

Map of Scotland

With the departure of the Roman’s from Scotland, four kingdoms emerged.

The Picts covered northern Scotland from the River Forth to the Shetlands, and are also remembered for their carved symbol stones.

The Britons wrote poetry in Old Welsh, and held Dumbarton Rock and the South.

The Gaelic speaking people of Dal Riato famed for their metalwork, like the Hunterston Brooch which dates from around AD 700, showing the Gaels, to be a highly artistic culture.

The Angles, Germanic invaders who held the Kingdom of Bernicia, who brought with them the Anglo-Saxon tongue, which became the Scots language.

In the early years of the 7th century, the Angles captured Edinburgh from the Britons, then pushed west to Galloway.  In AD685, they struck north into Pictland, reaching a climax at Dunnichen.  In the Battle of Dunnichen, King Bridei of the Picts, massacred the King of the Angles.

In AD793 the ferocious raids began on monasteries; Iona and Lindisfarne among others, creating fear and confusion across the kingdoms.  Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles fell to these Norsemen.

In AD839 the Vikings wiped out the Pictish royal family.  Competitors emerged for the kingship, and Kenneth MacAlpine, King of the Gaels of Dal Riata, became the undisputed King of the Picts in AD849.  He brought with him the relics of St.Columba from the island of Iona to Dunkeld – the saint and his preaching’s were a powerful symbol of authority to accompany a Gaelic king to his new kingdom.  Pictland hadn’t been fully conquered, but rather the foundations had been set for a new Gaelic Kingdom which included the Picts.

It wasn’t long before the Vikings were back, this time to conquer Britain.  In AD867 they seized the Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria, followed up three years later, by storming Dunbarton Fortress, and went on to conquer much of Britain.  The Picts and Gaels found themselves encircled by Viking forces.

In AD900 Constantine mac Aed became King of the Picts.  In less than four years had defeated the Vikings at Strathcarron, not a battle of the sword but one out of diplomacy.  He married off his daughters to the Vikings, creating an alliance along Gaelic lines and renaming it Alba.  Alba was the creation of the Scottish nation, and the founding father was Constantine II, grandson of Kenneth MacAlpine.

In AD934 Ethelstan, the Anglo-Saxon King of England set about subduing the north of Britain to his will.  He attacked Constantine at Dunnottar, but failed in his quest.  Constantine invaded Britain but was defeated at the Battle of Brunanburh.  Even though Constantine lost the battle he achieved in joining the Picts and Gaels into a single Gaelic speaking nation.

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Scotland: The Declaration of Arbroath

Declaration of Arbroath

Declaration of Arbroath

The Declaration of Arbroath was signed at Arbroath Abbey in 1320 by Scottish nobles including Sir Henry St.Clair, who urged the Pope to accept Scottish Independence from England.

The stage was set for a bold move toward independence with the Scottish victory at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, in which Henry St.Clair served as one of Robert the Bruce’s commanders.

The Papacy was one of the most powerful forces in the world during this time and any effort by the Scots to attain independence required the Vatican’s blessing.  The Declaration indicated that should the Pope refuse to accept the Scottish case, the bloody wars of independence would continue with future deaths, being the responsibility of the Pope.  The Pope accepted the Declaration and granted Independence for Scotland.

Declaration of Arbroath:

Most Holy Father and Lord, we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread renown. They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today. The Britons they first drove out, the Picts they utterly destroyed, and, even though very often assailed by the Norwegians, the Danes and the English, they took possession of that home with many victories and untold efforts; and, as the historians of old time bear witness, they have held it free of all bondage ever since. In their kingdom there have reigned one hundred and thirteen kings of their own royal stock, the line unbroken a single foreigner.

The high qualities and deserts of these people, were they not otherwise manifest, gain glory enough from this: that the King of kings and Lord of lords, our Lord Jesus Christ, after His Passion and Resurrection, called them, even though settled in the uttermost parts of the earth, almost the first to His most holy faith. Nor would. He have them confirmed in that faith by merely anyone but by the first of His Apostles — by calling, though second or third in rank — the most gentle Saint Andrew, the Blessed Peter’s brother, and desired him to keep them under his protection as their patron forever.

The Most Holy Fathers your predecessors gave careful heed to these things and bestowed many favours and numerous privileges on this same kingdom and people, as being the special charge of the Blessed Peter’s brother. Thus our nation under their protection did indeed live in freedom and peace up to the time when that mighty prince the King of the English, Edward, the father of the one who reigns today, when our kingdom had no head and our people harboured no malice or treachery and were then unused to wars or invasions, came in the guise of a friend and ally to harass them as an enemy. The deeds of cruelty, massacre, violence, pillage, arson, imprisoning prelates, burning down monasteries, robbing and killing monks and nuns, and yet other outrages without number which he committed against our people, sparing neither age nor sex, religion nor rank, no one could describe nor fully imagine unless he had seen them with his own eyes.

But from these countless evils we have been set free, by the help of Him Who though He afflicts yet heals and restores, by our most tireless Prince, King and Lord, the Lord Robert. He, that his people and his heritage might be delivered out of the hands of our enemies, met toil and fatigue, hunger and peril, like another Macabaeus or Joshua and bore them cheerfully. Him, too, divine providence, his right of succession according to or laws and customs which we shall maintain to the death, and the due consent and assent of us all have made our Prince and King. To him, as to the man by whom salvation has been wrought unto our people, we are bound both by law and by his merits that our freedom may be still maintained, and by him, come what may, we mean to stand.

Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.

Therefore it is, Reverend Father and Lord, that we beseech your Holiness with our most earnest prayers and suppliant hearts, inasmuch as you will in your sincerity and goodness consider all this, that, since with Him Whose vice-gerent on earth you are there is neither weighing nor distinction of Jew and Greek, Scotsman or Englishman, you will look with the eyes of a father on the troubles and privation brought by the English upon us and upon the Church of God. May it please you to admonish and exhort the King of the English, who ought to be satisfied with what belongs to him since England used once to be enough for seven kings or more, to leave us Scots in peace, who live in this poor little Scotland, beyond which there is no dwelling-place at all, and covet nothing but our own. We are sincerely willing to do anything for him, having regard to our condition, that we can, to win peace for ourselves.

This truly concerns you, Holy Father, since you see the savagery of the heathen raging against the Christians, as the sins of Christians have indeed deserved, and the frontiers of Christendom being pressed inward every day; and how much it will tarnish your Holiness’s memory if (which God forbid) the Church suffers eclipse or scandal in any branch of it during your time, you must perceive. Then rouse the Christian princes who for false reasons pretend that they cannot go to help of the Holy Land because of wars they have on hand with their neighbours. The real reason that prevents them is that in making war on their smaller neighbours they find quicker profit and weaker resistance. But how cheerfully our Lord the King and we too would go there if the King of the English would leave us in peace, He from Whom nothing is hidden well knows; and we profess and declare it to you as the Vicar of Christ and to all Christendom.

But if your Holiness puts too much faith in the tales the English tell and will not give sincere belief to all this, nor refrain from favouring them to our prejudice, then the slaughter of bodies, the perdition of souls, and all the other misfortunes that will follow, inflicted by them on us and by us on them, will, we believe, be surely laid by the Most High to your charge.

To conclude, we are and shall ever be, as far as duty calls us, ready to do your will in all things, as obedient sons to you as His Vicar; and to Him as the Supreme King and Judge we commit the maintenance of our cause, casting our cares upon Him and firmly trusting that He will inspire us with courage and bring our enemies to nought.

May the Most High preserve you to his Holy Church in holiness and health and grant you length of days.

Given at the monastery of Arbroath in Scotland on the sixth day of the month of April in the year of grace thirteen hundred and twenty and the fifteenth year of the reign of our King aforesaid.

(Image) Declaration of Arbroath: Scottish.biz

Scotland’s Birth from Palaeolithic Times

Scotlands Pre-Historic Time

10,000 BC: The earliest known occupation of Scotland by man, started in the Palaeolithic era, also known as the Stone Age.  Man lived off the land and waters, hunting for fish and wild animals, gathering fruit, plants, roots, nuts and shells.

Stone Age Man

Stone Age Man

3,000 BC: Early prehistoric tools discovered in Scotland, date back to the Neolithic age, and the nomadic hunter-gatherers.  It was a time when farmers built permanent dwellings.

120 AD: Much of Scotland’s history, started when the Roman’s arrived in Britain.  As hard as they tried, Roman forces could not defeat the Caledonians and Picts.  Fortifications were built by the Romans, to defend themselves against these warriors, in the shape of Hadrian’s and Antonine Wall.

800 AD: Viking accomplished warriors and seamen migrated from Norway and Denmark, settling in Scotland.  The Viking’s settled in the west as the Picts forged a new kingdom; the Kingdom of Alba.

1040 AD: Macbeth ruled Scotland, and a fictious tale by William Shakespeare written in Tudor Times, kept the tale alive for centuries.  Macbeth, the King of Alba ruled from 1040-1057.

1100 AD: In the 12th century, the Kingdom of Alba grew, becoming a feudal society. Peace was achieved through the “Treaty of Falaise,” signed by William I.  During the reigns of Alexander II & III much land was turned over to agriculture, trade on the continent grew, monasteries and abbeys flourished.

1297 AD: Succession crisis brought unrest across Scotland, following the death of Alexander III.  England’s monarch, Edward I believed he should be recognised as overlord of Scotland, as his troops marched north. Edward planned to cross the River forth at Stirling Bridge, but were pushed back by William Wallace.

1306 AD: Robert the Bruce was crowned King, amidst times of unrest.  In 1314, Robert the Bruce defeated Edward II at the “Battle of Bannockburn.”

1320 AD: The “Declaration of Arbroath” proclaimed Scotland’s status as an independent state, which was sent to the Pope John XXII, who gave his seal of approval.

1450 AD: The cultural intellectual and artistic movement took hold across Europe which brought changes to Scotland.  Education, intellectual life, literature, art, music, architecture, and politics advanced in the late 15th century.

1542 AD: In 1542 Mary is crowned Queen of the Scots at the tender age of nine months.  Her reign was marked by civil unrest during the Rough Wooing and conflict between the Catholics and Protestants during the Reformation.  Worried Mary would try to launch a Catholic plot against her, Elizabeth I imprisoned Mary in England until her execution in 1597.

1603 AD: James VI succeeded to the throne at just 13 months after Mary was forced to abdicate.  When Elizabeth I died with no heir, James VI succeeded to the English throne and became King James VI & James I, a historic move that’s now known as the “Union of the Crowns.”

1707 AD: The Act of Union brought Scotland even closer to Britain by creating a single Parliament of the United Kingdom at the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament).

1746AD: The “Battle of Culloden” in 1746 was the final Jacobite rising and the last battle fought on British soil.  The Jacobites were no match for the Hanoverian army – the battle lasted barely an hour and the army had been crushed.

1746 AD: Shortly after the defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden, a period known as the Highland Clearances began.  A number of laws were introduced in an attempt to assimilate the Highlanders; speaking Gaelic and wearing traditional attire was banned, and clan chiefs had their rights of jurisdiction removed.

1750 AD: The Age of Enlightment shaped the modern world.  The intellectual movement sought to understand the natural world and the human mind and ranged across philosophy, chemistry, geology, engineering, technology, poetry, medicine, economics and history.

1800 AD: Industrial advances and wealth accumulated from the trade of tobacco, sugar and cotton which brought about the dawn of urban Scotland at the turn of the 19th century.  The country shifted from rural to urban, and huge towns, large factories and heavy industry took hold.  Mining, shipbuilding and textiles became an important part of Scotland’s development.

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Scotland: Neolithic – Bronze Age (4000-751BC)

Bronze Age Tools

Bronze Age Tools

The farmers of the early Neolithic age have left little or no evidence of their life.  It appears they lived in small houses, built upon a stone base, with a roof made from timbers and thatch.  Evidence of grinding stones, proves that cereals were cultivated and ground for flour.

Evidence exists of domesticated animals; sheep, cattle and goats, in the form of bones.  Farmers are known to have hunted for wild food, such as deer or fish.  Farming tools used, more than likely consisted of spades and hoes, and possibly a basic plough.

Hand tools such as axes and hammers would have been constructed from wood, flint and stone.  Flint would have been easier to work than stone, producing a razor sharp edge.  On the flip side, stone axes and hammers, would have lasted much longer.  There are suggestions that some axes show no sign of use, and begs the question, whether it had a symbolic use.  Pottery of this period has all the indications of a community.  Clay pots had practical uses, but were heavy to use.

Traces of burials and ceremonial structures have been discovered in Long Barrows.  Excavated tombs contain many bones which have been cleaned.

Across the world, bodies of the dead are often exposed for defleshing before burial takes place.  Some evidence found, suggest this form of burial took place in Scotland.

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Scotland: The Jacobite Rebellion

King James II

King James II

The Jacobites  were supporters of the exiled royal house of the Stuart. The Jacobites took their name from Jacobus.  James II had been deprived of his throne in 1688.

In 1689 supporters of James II led by Viscount Dundee defeated a Protestant Covenanter army at the Battle of Killiekrankie.

In 1690 William of Orange defeats James II and his Jacobite supporters at the Battle of Boyne in Ireland.

In 1691, William of Orange offers a pardon to all Jacobites in the Scottish highlands who swear an allegiance to him by the end of the year.

In the January of 1692, King William II issues an order of displine against the Highland Scots.  In the February, the MacDonald chief was late in taking his oath to King William, and members of the Campbell clan killed 38 MacDonald’s at Glencoe.

In June of 1701, the Act of Settlement was passed by Parliament, which stated if William III and Princess/Queen Anne died without heirs, succession would pass to Sophia of Hanover, granddaughter of James I, and her heirs.

King James III

King James III

James II dies, succeeded by his son James III (The Old Pretender).

In 1708 a French naval squadron unsuccessfully attempted to land the Old Pretender on the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh.

With the accession of King George I of England, a Jacobite rebellion started in Braemar on the 6th September 1715 in Scotland.  The Scottish Jacobites were defeated at the Battle of Sheriffmuir on the 13th November.  On the 14th November English and Scottish Jacobites were defeated near Preston.  On the 22nd December the Old Pretender lands at Peterhead, joining up with fellow Jacobites at Perth, before returning to France on the 4th February 1716.

In 1743 war broke out between England and France. France was a Catholic country, and had always supported the Stuarts’ claim to the English throne.

King Louis XV informed the fifty-seven year old James Edward Stuart in 1745 that if he was to invade England he would supply him with arms and ammunition. James was not keen on becoming involved in another military campaign. However, his son Charles Stuart was keen to stand in for his father, and so it was, that on 5 July he left France with 700 men.

Once in Scotland, Charles Stuart; Bonnie Prince Charlie, began building up his army. He was especially successful at persuading Catholics living in the Scottish Highlands to join him. In September, Charles was ready to take action. His first move was to capture Holyrood, the ancient palace of Scottish kings. The English army arrived soon afterwards but Charles’ army had an easy victory at the battle of Prestonpans. Charles’ 5,000 man army now marched into England and by December had reached Derby.

Charles had hoped that English Catholics would join his army. This did not happen. In fact, in many of the towns that he marched through, the crowds showed great hostility to Charles’ army. Louis XV had promised Charles that 12,000 French soldiers would invade England in the autumn of 1745. However, Louis XV did not keep his promise. Although Charles still wanted to march on London, his military advisers argued that without the support of the French they were certain to be beaten. Reluctantly, Charles agreed to return to Scotland.

On the 18th February 1746, Jacobite forces capture Inverness.

A government army, led by the Prince William, the Duke of Cumberland, followed Charles back into Scotland. Completely outnumbered, Charles’s army was chased into the Scottish Highlands.

NPG 5517; Prince Charles Edward Stuart by Louis Gabriel Blanchet

Bonnie Prince Charlie

In April 1746, Charles Stuart; Bonnie Prince Charlie decided to turn and fight the English army, and met at Culloden Moor on 16 April. Cumberland’s army destroyed the Jacobites and Charles was forced to flee from the battlefield.

A reward of £30,000 was offered for his capture, but Charles still had many loyal supporters who were willing to hide him, until he could be smuggled back to France.

George II gave the Duke of Cumberland instructions that the Scots had to be punished for supporting Charles. Many of those who had joined Charles’ army were executed and their land was given to those who had remained loyal to George II. Scotsmen were also banned from wearing kilts and playing bagpipes.

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