The Background
A Royal Childhood
A Guid King?
Previous Conflicts
The Way Paved
The Crowns United
The Aftermath

the aftermath

The united kingdoms have remained in place for the four hundred years since James VI succeeded to the throne of England. The immediate aftermath was not a peaceful one, with James' son and grandson involved in civil war, fought over religious and political issues. This was followed by the Jacobite attempts to restore a Stewart king to the monarchy in the early 18th century. Before this, the two nations' parliaments had merged in the 1707 Act of Union.

As the king had ruled Scotland and England from London in the 17th century, the parliaments now did in the 18th. Despite both countries having been united under the Union flag for centuries, there remains very strong feelings of national identity on both sides. The return of the Stone of Destiny in 1996 and the creation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 were, in some measure, a response to this expression of Scottish identity in particular.

Charles I

Charles I was the second son of James VI of Scotland. He was one of the few of James's children to have been born in Scotland - at Dunfermline in 1600. He succeeded to the joint crowns in 1625 because his elder brother, Henry, Prince of Wales, had died young in 1612.

Scotland's main problems between 1603 and 1689 involved religion and both Charles I and his son Charles II were faced with rebellion from the Scots. The Scots turned against Charles I because he wished to make the Scottish Church the same as the English. He introduced the English prayer book and the Scots showed their opposition by signing the National Covenant. This document stated that although the Scots would remain loyal to the King, they did not agree to the King being head of the Church. War broke out in both Scotland and England, and Charles eventually surrendered to the Scots. He was executed in London on 30 January 1649.

The Covenanters

This painting is of the signing of the National Covenant which called for all Scots to oppose Roman Catholicism and the policies of Charles I. The painting dates from the 19th century and was painted by William Hole. First signed in 1638, the National Covenant was copied for distribution to every burgh and parish. Ostensibly about religion, it became the manifesto of a wide range of opposition to Charles I. The term 'National Covenant' drew on Old Testament notions of covenants between God and Man, and between God and Israel. It suggested that the Scots were comparable to the Children of Israel and thus a chosen race.

Decree by Oliver Cromwell uniting Scotland and England into one Commonwealth, 1654

Following the execution of King Charles I in England in 1649, Cromwell had taken occupation of most of Scotland. In 1651, English Commissioners came north to invite the people of Scotland to form 'a happy union' with England. This ordinance, dated 12 April 1654, states the terms and conditions of the union.

Scotland would relinquish all loyalties and homage to every possible heir of the late King Charles. The Scottish Parliament would become null and void. Instead, Scotland, including Orkney and Shetland, would send 30 representatives in a new Commonwealth Parliament in London - 20 from the shires and 10 from the burghs. Common taxes would be charged across the whole of the united Commonwealth, Scotland would have free trade with England and the dominions, would benefit from the removal of customs and excise duties charged by England, and the St Andrew's Cross would be included in the new arms of the Commonwealth. Scottish members sat in Parliament during the 1650s but as a minority, wielded little power or influence. The restoration of Charles II brought an end to these attempts at a united parliament.

Paper fan produced to mark the 1707 Act of Union

The Treaty of Union in 1707 united the parliaments of Scotland and England. Possibly the most significant event in the history of Scotland since the era of Robert the Bruce, the 1707 Treaty was the result of political and economic factors becoming irresistible. The Darien disaster of 1698-1700, when supposedly half of Scotland's available capital was raised by public subscription (and subsequently lost), ruined Scotland's economy, and its sense of economic confidence. Opponents of the Union found it increasingly difficult to counter the financial benefits union with England would bring.

As part of the 'Equivalent' – the £398,000 to offset Scotland's losses – money was made available to compensate those who had lost heavily through Darien, and for salary arrears. In some quarters this was seen as forming inducements, or bribes, leading to figures such as Robert Burns expressing his view “We're bought and sold for English gold, Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!” His reaction reflects much of the passionate feeling about the Union which still exists today.

This paper fan dates from the early 18th century. It is decorated with images associated with the Treaty of Union of 1707. Among the images painted on the folds of the fan are a thistle, a rose, the English and Scottish flags and a pair of hands clasped in a handshake.

James Francis Edward Stuart 'The Old Pretender'

The 17th century saw attempts by the Stuarts to restore themselves to the throne, these ventures being the Jacobite rebellions. In the post 1707 environment, with the Act of Union and the Hanoverian succession in place, Scottish sentiments could be persuaded to support the exiled Stuart 'monarchs.'

The Old Pretender – who had been recognised by the French king as King of Scotland, Ireland and England – was personally involved in two of these uprisings. The 1708 rising saw the Prince set sail from Dunkirk in France. However, illness and a reluctant ship's captain meant that he did not actually set foot in Scotland.

The 1715 Jacobite rising also failed, despite considerable support in Scotland and North England. Disaffection with the monarchy and the government, in particular taxation, led to popular uprisings. The Old Pretender landed at Peterhead but the moment was lost as government forces had prevailed and he spent only three weeks in Scotland.


The final Jacobite rising took place in 1745. Bonnie Prince Charlie took his Jacobite forces as far south as Derby, en route to his intended destination of London, and the throne of Great Britain. He turned back and retreated to Culloden, near Inverness where his army faced the Duke of Cumberland's government forces. The Battle of Culloden – the last pitched battle in mainland Britain – took place in April 1746 and was a clear victory for the government troops. The Young Pretender was forced into hiding and left behind a Highland community open to the severe policies of the government, keen to ensure they never faced another Jacobite rebellion.

Scotland v England, 1967

In the centuries since royal and political union, national sentiments have remained to a certain degree. One of the areas where feelings of patriotic identification come to the fore is in the sporting arena. As football is the national game of both England and Scotland, the fixture between both teams is a natural outlet for large-scale demonstrations of patriotism.

One notable example of this is the 1967 game held at Wembley in London. England were newly crowned World Champions and Scotland became the first team to beat them since that day the previous year. The score was 3-2, a result helped by the skill of Jim Baxter and the injury to England's defender Jack Charlton.

The fixture was discontinued after fears of crowd trouble in the early 1990s. Since this time, there have been occasional games between Scotland and England in European Championship games, which see a renewal of the rivalries.

Stone of Destiny Returns

An announcement was made by the Prime Minister in July 1996 that the Queen had agreed that the Stone of Destiny should be returned to Scotland. Arrangements were put in place by Historic Scotland for the huge operation to return the Stone. It was agreed after wide consultation that it should be brought back to Edinburgh Castle and displayed with the Honours of Scotland.

The Stone of Destiny was used in the inauguration ceremonies of the early Scottish kings. It was kept in the abbey of Scone and it was from there that the Stone was taken by King Edward I of England in 1296. The Stone was formally returned to Scotland in November 1996. This series of records describe the Stone's removal from Westminster Abbey and its reinstatement in Edinburgh Castle.

On the morning of 15th November 1996 the Stone of Destiny crossed Coldstream Bridge in procession behind a military brass and pipe band.

Parliament Opening 1999

The Royal procession making its way up the Royal Mile from Holyrood. The Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles were all in attendance on this historic day, 1st July 1999. The Parliament had been up and running since May but full constitutional power was not given until after this date.

The Scottish Parliament, elected on May 6, 1999, sat for the first time on May 12. It took on its full legislative powers and functions on July 1, 1999. The previous Scottish Parliament was adjourned on March 25, 1707. The Scottish Constitutional Convention ('SCC') produced its final report in November 1995, 'Scotland's Parliament, Scotland's Right', which outlined proposals for the implementation of a devolution scheme. This report formed the basis of the devolution policy presented in the Labour Party manifesto for the May 1997 general election. After election, the Labour government arranged for a referendum on its proposals, which was held on 11 September 1997 and produced clear majorities for the two propositions, the creation of a Scottish Parliament and its having certain tax-varying powers.

The Scottish Parliament has 129 members, 73 elected from the constituencies, elected on the first past the post system and 56 additional members selected on a proportional basis drawn up for each of eight larger regions. The Parliament is kept in order by a Presiding Officer who is an MSP and elected by the Parliament. The Parliament is able to make primary legislation but is not able to legislate about reserved matters. The Parliament is temporarily accommodated in the Church of Scotland Assembly Hall until the new building at Holyrood is completed.

back to top images are drawn from the SCRAN database