5 of Scotland’s Longest Reigning Kings —

Scotland boasts a long, distinguished line of monarchs stretching from the modern day back to the early middle ages. From the Kenneth MacAlpin in the ninth century to the Union of the Crowns in 1603, many have ruled Scotland in its early and frequently fragmented forms. Notably, from the Acts of Union in 1707 to […]

5 of Scotland’s Longest Reigning Kings —

English and Scottish Parliaments

On the 24th March 1603, Queen Elizabeth I of the House of Tudor died, leaving no heir to the English throne.  King James VI of Scotland, son of Mary, Queen of Scots and great-grandson of Mary Tudor, became King James I of England.

Since 1603, when England and Scotland had been ruled by the same King, many attempts had been undertaken to unite the kingdoms into one voice.

On the 1st May 1707, the “Kingdom of Great Britain,” came into force, with the “Treaty of Union,” binding two ancient kingdoms into one; England and Scotland.  This new kingdom, had a new flag, comprising of the crosses of St.George and St.Andrew.

English and Scottish Parliaments were abolished, only to be replaced by the “Parliament of Great Britain.  The English held 513 seats plus 196 in the Lords, whilst the Scots held 45 seats plus 16 in the Lords.  As the Scots held the smaller number of seats, they only paid a fortieth of the British Tax bill, as they were now part of the British Tax System.

Scottish taxes north of the border had been relatively low, compared with those in the south.  Now they had to pay their share of England’s eighteen million pond debt, which sent uproar across the land.

With the Scots up in arms, and the ink on the agreement; union of the two countries barely dry.  Something had to be done to sweeten the deal.  So it was the English Exchequer granted a tax concession on salt and malt, along with a payment just short of £400,000 pounds.  In August of 1707, the promised payment arrived by wagons, and only one quarter was paid in gold and silver ingots.  The balance was paid in paper money, Scotland was not happy by any means.

Towards the end of 1707, the Scottish Privy Council was abolished, and a new Treason Act for Scotland was introduced in 1709, based on English forms of law.  This was in clear breach of the treaty, and Scottish nobles felt betrayed.

One case in breach of the treaty: In 1711, an Anglican Clergyman was convicted for using the English Prayer Book, and had his sentence overturned by the House of Lords.  By 1715 London’s interference into how Scotland was run, led to conflict among its people.

After Scotland’s union with England in 1707, trade with France went on the decline, but the Scots still had a yearning for the finer things in life; French Brandy and Silks.  Higher customs duties led to a rise in smuggling.

In 1713, a bill was put forward, calling for the abolishment of the Union, by an unhappy Scotland, but was defeated in the House of Lords by only four votes.

Yorkist Princes: Betrayed

King Edward IV dies
Edward V is king,
Richard acts as Regent
until boy, becomes a King.

Richard has the young princes
imprisoned in the Bloody Tower,
for Richard has aspirations
of being crowned England’s next King.

Richard questions princes heritage
and Parliament agrees,
princes declared illegitimate heirs

to the throne, no more.

Richard becomes King Richard III
the princes become no more,
murdered and hidden in the tower
by murderer; unknown.

Down-Trodden Scotland

Edward I seizes Scotland
from a land in turmoil,
with no ruling king.

Scots loose their lands
plundered by the English,
its people, slain and murdered.

Scotland’s plight is a desperate one
as we rise up, with sword in hand,
claiming, what is rightfully ours.

King James II of Scotland

The Freelance History Writer

Woodcut of King James II of Scotland showing the birthmark on his face

History repeats itself. This aphorism is especially true for the Scottish monarchy. There was a period during Scottish history where Kings would die, leaving a child as heir to be ruled by a regency council. This happened over and over and it happened to King James II.

James II was born on October 16, 1430, one of twins. The other twin died in infancy leaving James as heir. There may have been other problems with the birth because James had a vermilion birthmark on his face which led contemporaries to call him “Fiery Face”. This would also be looked upon as an outward sign of a fiery temper. His father was King James I of Scotland and his mother was Joan Beaufort, the grand-daughter of John of Gaunt and Kathryn Swynford. Little is known of James’…

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Scotland’s Rebels…

England ruled by Edward I
Scotland seized by the English,
from a land in turmoil
with no ruling King.

English soldiers and barons
plunder across Scottish lands,
Scotland’s way of life, gone forever
as its people are slain.

Scotland’s plight is a desperate one
as its people rise up,
with sword and spear in hand
claiming, what is rightfully theirs.

King James I of Scotland

The Freelance History Writer

A sixteenth century portrait of King James I of Scotland by an unknown artist A sixteenth century portrait of King James I of Scotland by an unknown artist

James Stewart I, King of Scots had an unusual reign in many ways. His rule began while he was a prisoner of King Henry IV of England. And his rule certainly ended in a tumultuous and violent manner.

James was born on July 25, 1394 at Dunfermline Palace. He was the son of King Robert III and Annabella Drummond, the daughter of a Scottish nobleman. James was the third son born to King Robert. While we don’t know much about James’ early years, he probably received the education of a boy of his rank for the time. James’ father had become king late in life and probably for health reasons was unable to rule in his own capacity. Consequently, Robert’s brother, the Duke of Albany, governed the kingdom. Robert and Anabella’s second son died young…

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Scotland: Act of Union 1707

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: The Four Kingdoms

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.

.

Scotland: The 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.

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