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History – The Union Between Scotland and England

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Union between Scotland and England

The Union Between Scotland & England

The relationship between England and Scotland has been a long and tempestuous one.  Even if we simply examine the last 300 years the relationship between the two has been uneasy.  The first joining of nations came in 1603, with the union of the two crowns when James VI of Scotland succeeded the heirless Elizabeth I to become James I of England.  Despite numerous calls for a union of the two countries’ parliaments over the next century, and the brief union of the two nations imposed by Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth during the 1650s, it would not be until 1707 that the political union would take place following the economic impact of Scotland’s failed Darien Expedition.

Even once united politically the Union remained tenuous as political crisis gripped Britain during the late 17th century.  In 1715 and again in 1745 major rebellions took place in aid of the Jacobite cause, these however were brutally suppressed by Britain.  By the late 18th and early 19th Century the political landscape had settled with Scots becoming some of the period’s key figures including General James Abercrombie, Admiral Thomas Cochrane, Chancellor Henry Brougham and Keir Hardie among innumerable others from almost every field from the arts to law, from architecture to science.

Despite a number of moves during the mid 20th century by the British government to devolve power north it was not until 1999, that the first Scottish Parliament was formed.  2007 saw the Scottish Independence Party come to power for the first time and by 2011 the calls for a referendum on independence had gained momentum.  In 2012 it was agreed by both governments to hold a vote to allow the people of Scotland to decided their future.  The referendum saw the Scottish people vote in favour of remaining within the Union.  However, increased devolution was promised by the British Government and the next nine months will see negotiation over the details of increased home rule.  In turn the referendum has spurred calls for increased local powers and franchise for both England and Wales with calls for each to have their own individual parliaments deciding on regional matters while the Union Parliament decides on matters of national and international importance. With next year’s general election this is likely to become a key issue in deciding the political landscape.

Image:  Treaty of Union which agreed the terms of the Union between England and Scotland, it was made law when the Acts of Union were assented to by the English and Scottish parliaments in 1706 and 1707 respectively. (source)

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