Scotland - An Independent State Within The United Kingdom?

Pre-University Paper, 2001

15 Pages, Grade: 10 Points


1 Introduction

1.1 Why Scotland?

1.2 Important dates in Scottish history

1.3 The Scottish Clans

2 Scotland vs. England

2.1 From Duncan I. to Robert I., the Bruce

2.2 The Stuart (Stewart) monarchs

2.3 Relationship today

3 Outlook

4 Remarks

5 Used literature

1 Introduction

1.1 Why Scotland?

The reader of this essay may wonder why I took Scotland as subject. The reason is very simple. For me Scotland is one of the most interesting countries in Europe and perhaps also in the world. I got interested in Scotland and its history when I saw that overwhelming movie "Braveheart" with my favourite actor Mel Gibson. It deals with the Scottish War of Independence against England. When watching that movie for the first time I recognised that there have been civil wars within Great Britain in the past. I never got to know about Scottish wars before, because my history lessons had never dealt with this subject. So this movie, that is based on a historical background, caught my interest in Scotland. When I got to know about the impending essay it was my idea to combine it with my interest on Scotland. But then there occurred the problem of selecting the theme. I came to the conclusion that I could write about Scotland as an independent state in the United Kingdom because it has its own parliament like no other nation in the United Kingdom. But is it only one of these nations or a real independent state? So I called my theme "Scotland- An Independent State Within The United Kingdom?".

1.2 Important dates in Scottish history

To give you a deeper insight in the history of this very interesting country, please find the timetable below.

3rd millennium BC:

Evidence of human settlement in the area later known as Scotland

Between the years 82 AC and 208 AC:

Invasions of the Romans who finally failed to establish their power in this area 834 - 860:

Kenneth Mac Alpine beats the Picts and Germanic pirates and unites Scotland to a kingdom. He becomes the first king of Scotland as Kenneth

I. Mac Alpine (843 - 860)

1034 - 1286:

Enlargement of English influence

1034 - 1040:

Duncan I. King of Scotland

1040 - 1057:

Macbeth King of Scotland

1057 - 1093:

Malcolm III., Canmore King of Scotland

1270 - 1305:

Sir William Wallace

1306 - 1329:

Robert I. the Bruce, King of Scotland


Scottish victory of Bannockburn by Stirling


Contract of Northampton recognises the independence of Scotland

1371 - 1689:

The Stuart (Stewart) monarchs


Union of the Crowns


Union of Parliaments


Voting for an own Scottish parliament


Establishment of the parliament in Edinburgh

1.3 The Scottish Clans

I think you have heard about the Scottish Clans before. But do you know everything about them? So I want to give you some information about these Clans. In the 12th century the Iroceltic word "clann", which meant "descendant" or "child", was used as a synonym for family. These Clans established themselves and grew stronger in the 13th century. They got nearly as powerful as the king's power. Every Scottish citizen was an integrated member of one of these Clans. In the Clan he had to fulfil his duties. On the other hand, the Clan offered him protection and safety. Although the Scottish society was composed of a broad variety of different Clans, which sometimes were even hostile, the Scots developed a common idea of one Scottish nation. In particular when they were attacked by external enemies, they stood together as one unit.

There are many Clans called "Mac...". Mac stands for "Son of...", e.g. "Mac Alpine" means "Son of Alpine". In the 17th century there were also non Gaelic Clans like the Stuarts, the Murrays or the Gordons. Even today the Clans can be distinguished by their clothes, because each Clan has its own individually designed tartan1and kilt2.

The most important Clans of Scotland were and still are:

a) at the western coast, from north to south: MacLeod, McDonnell, MacDonald, Macinnon, Macquire and the Ranald Clan;

b) at the eastern coast, from north to south: Mackkay, Keith, Gunn, Oliphant, Sutherland, McCulloch, MacIntosh, Gordon, Lindsay, Ogilvy and Ruthven;

c) in the south, from east to west: Campbell, Hamilton, Maclachlan, Stewart, Moncreiffe and Haldane.

2. Scotland vs. England

2.1 From Duncan I. to Robert I. the Bruce

England and Scotland have been rivals for a long time. Their problems began when England tried to enlarge its influence in Scotland in 1034. At that time Duncan I., whom we know from Shakespeare's "Macbeth", was King of Scotland. He was a weak sovereign and reigned until he was murdered in 1040. But this murder was not committed by Macbeth, like it is written by Shakespeare, but by Banquo. As Banquo was the ancestor of the Stuarts and consequently of Jacob I. who supported Shakespeare, the writer could not set Banquo as the murderer and so he took Macbeth. Macbeth became the following king and reigned not only for a few weeks, as written by Shakespeare, but for seventeen years. But now let me describe the first bigger conflict between the two countries.

It was when David I., grandchild of Duncan I., reigned in Scotland when many Anglo-Saxon noblemen and even some Norman knights went to the north and convinced him to conquer England. And so he took revenge for what William the Conqueror had done to the Scots before. The Scottish troops pushed the English back as far as to Northallerton in the district of Yorkshire (the so called North - Riding - District). But there they were beaten by the armed forces of the bishop of York. Following this defeat they withdrew to the northern bank of the Tyne River. When William I. became King of the Scots he formed an alliance with the sons of Henry II. of France and fought against the English. But at the end he was captured by the English and the Scottish church was put under English control. William was freed after paying a high fine of 10,000 silver- marks.

In 1286 King Alexander III. , the last of the Mac Alpine monarchs, died. Because he had no still living descendants there were nine closer relatives who wanted to follow him on the throne. So they approached the English King Edward I. to let him determine one of them. He chose Jean Bailleul, a descendant of King David I., whom the Scots called John Balliol. Edward I. thought that he now could get more control on Scotland but John Balliol did not fulfil Edwards expectation. Edward was very angry and is quoted with the sentence,"Ah le fol felon telle folie fait! S'il ne veint a nous, nous veindrons a ly." ( Oh what a rouge that he makes such a madness. If he does not come to us, we will have to look him up.). He and his troops had no problems to invade Scotland, because there were only a few strong castles and so they even robbed "the crowning stone of Scone"3. John Balliol was captured and brought into the Tower of London as a prisoner. In 1314 he died in his hometown. His son, who was supported by England, was sent to Scotland again but was never accepted by his countrymen. When he died in 1364 without having any children his dynasty disappeared.

The next very important conflict with England started when the Scots rebelled against their southern neighbour. Sir William Wallace (1270- 1305) was the leader of this revolution. He was a real patriot and many noblemen supported him. On 11th September 1297 Wallace achieved a great victory against the English troops in the area of Stirling. Now everyone in Scotland believed in him and called him "The Rescuer of Scotland". He became a nationalhero. Despite of that the English managed to capture him eight years later in Robroyston near Glasgow. From there he was brought to London and executed. After him Robert Bruce (1274- 1329), oldest son of the Lord of Anandale, took Wallace's seat and became King of Scotland in 1306 as Robert I. the Bruce. In 1309 he called his first parliament in Saint Andrews. Fife years later he fought the famous battle of Bannockburn in which the English were beaten devastatingly. Finally Scotland became an independent kingdom in 13274. But that was not the end of Scottish - English hostility.

2.2 The Stuart (Stewart) monarchs

What comes to everybody's mind if he hears the name "Stuart"? Of course everybody would think of Mary Stuart, one of the most famous sovereigns of this lineage. But let us first talk about the development of this important Scottish dynasty. The first known Stuart was stewart of the archbishop of Dol - de - Bretagne. His name was Alan. When he recognised that he could not expect a great future at Dol he decided to go to England. There he married the daughter of Arnulf de Hesdin and settled down in Clun. Now he was an Englishman. A descendant of Alan, called Walter Fitzalan, went to the Scottish court of King Malcolm IV. He became his stewart and also got the county of Renfrewshire which is located in the south-west of Scotland. This happened in 1163.

About two hundred years later the Stuarts achieved power at court. That was when David II. died on 22nd February 1370 without having any descendant. So Robert Stuart, a grandchild of Robert I. the Bruce, became king. From that moment the Stuart monarchs formed the last royal lineage in Scottish history. But how developed the relation between Scotland and England during this time?

At the beginning of the 15th century King Robert III. sent his son Jacob to France. Unfortunately he was captured by the English and arrested. But then he got the best education one could get during that time. After paying a fine he got free again, went back to Scotland and followed his father as James (Jacob)I. King of Scotland. He was murdered on 21st February 1437.

The next conflict with England developed when the French King Louis XII. fought together with the Scottish King James (Jacob)IV. against the unpopular English neighbour. The Scots won many battles and managed to capture some northern parts of England. But on 9th September 1513 the king died in the battle of Flodden Field. That was one of the darkest days in Scottish history. When Jacob V. became king, Henry VIII. of England wanted to arrange a marriage between Jacob V. and his daughter Mary. But the hatred against the superior neighbour was so intensive and deep that Jacob did not agree and married Magdalene, the daughter of the French king instead of Mary Tudor. Jacob died at Falkland Castle on 14th December 1542. His one week-old daughter Mary became Queen of Scotland. She got into trouble with England when Elisabeth I. became Queen of England. Mary, who had to escape from Scotland because the Scots wanted to punish her for the murder of her husband, wrote a letter to Elisabeth asking the English queen to support her. But Elisabeth arrested her. Eighteen years later Mary was executed.

After her execution James (Jacob)VI. became King of Scotland and when Elisabeth I. of England died in 1603 he also became King of England as James I. (Union of the Crowns)5. Now the Stuarts reigned over England and Scotland.

In 1707, when Anne Stuart was queen, even the Scottish - and English parliament got united (Union of the Parliaments)6. Anne was also the last sovereign of the Stuart dynasty. When she died in 1714, George I. of Hanover became King of England and Scotland. So the government of the Stuarts ended. Because of this fact, Scotland lost its independence as an own kingdom from England until today.

2.3 Relationship today

Although England and Scotland have been rivals for centuries one could expect that after the unification of the crowns, happening 300 years before, the rivalry between the English and the Scots has disappeared. But that is not true. The majority of the Scots still see themselves as an independent nation within the United Kingdom. But today's rivalry is to be seen in other fields but policy (e.g. in soccer). On the political level, Scotland has achieved a very important step towards its independence from England. In 1997 they voted for an own parliament with a 73,3% majority. As a consequence the Scottish parliament was established in 2000. Now the Scots are able to decide on their domestic policy by themselves. Only foreign-, safety- and economical affairs policy are still controlled by Parliament in London. The Scottish parliament has 129 members and is located in the capital Edinburgh. The leader of the Scottish National Party, Alex Salmond, called the formation of the Scottish parliament "the first step to independence". The leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, Paddy Ashdown, invited the Welsh to take Scotland as an example and to form their own parliament as well.

Sean Connery a world-wide well known Scottish nationalist whom we know from movies like "James Bond" or "The Name of the Rose". Despite his nationalistic ideas he was knighted by Queen Elisabeth II. last year. He supports the Scottish National Party and gives donations of more than 50,000 per year to the nationalists. Connery has a tattoo on his right arm indicating "Scotland forever". He often makes use of his world - wide contacts to promote the idea of an independent Scotland on a global basis.

3. Outlook

I hope the next time when you hear about Scotland you remember its great history and the role it played and still plays within Great Britain and Europe. There are many people in Scotland who have been, are and will be interested to increase the independence of Scotland. They all did their best and will continue to do so to let their dream come true that Scotland reaches the level of a completely independent state within the United Kingdom.

I personally think and hope that their dream will never come true. Nevertheless, I support the idea of an autonomous Scottish state within the United Kingdom and Europe which is able to keep its identity and proud of its historical roots. But nowadays within the European Union there is no room for radical nationalistic ideas.

4. Remarks

5 Used literature

Schreiber, Hermann: Schottland: Die Geschichte eines Landes am Rande Europas. Casimir Katz Verlag, Gernsbach, 1990


Hiermit erkläre ich, dass ich die vorliegende Arbeit selbständig und ohne fremde Hilfe verfasst und keine anderen als die im Literaturverzeichnis angegebenen Hilfsmittel verwendet habe.

Insbesondere versichere ich, dass ich alle wörtlichen und sinngemäßen Übernahmen aus anderen Werken als solche kenntlich gemacht habe.

Ort, Datum Unterschrift


1Woollen cloth from Scotland that has patterns of different coloured stripes crossing each other.

2A short pleated traditional skirt that is often worn by Scotsmen but it can also be worn by women and girls.

3Altar of a Celtic missionary, brought to Scone by Kenneth I. in memory of his victory against the Picts. It was robbed in 1950/51.

4Agreement of York that set Scotland free. As a sign, David, the son of Robert I. King of Scotland, married the daughter of Edward II. King of England.

5Scotland and England were now ruled by one sovereign. And so there was only one kingdom left.

6The English and Scottish parliament were united and the "new" parliament was located at London.

Excerpt out of 15 pages


Scotland - An Independent State Within The United Kingdom?
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Scotland, Independent, State, Within, United, Kingdom
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Torsten Jansen (Author), 2001, Scotland - An Independent State Within The United Kingdom?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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