Scottish History For Dummies
If you're a lifelong learner looking for a fun, factual exploration of the grand scope of Scotland or a traveler wanting to make the most of your trip to this captivating country, Scottish History For Dummies has you covered, William Knox, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer of History at the University of St Andrews, Scotland's first university,
Scottish History For Dummies
Welcome to Scotland
In This Chapter
Getting acquainted with the people who make up the land we call Scotland
Seeing how Scotland was formed
Examining how Scotland gained, lost and regained its independence
When you think about Scottish history, maybe it takes you back to the classroom, where you heard stories from teachers about great heroes and villains. You may have stamped on your brain tales about great men like Robert the Bruce or William Wallace; or women like St Margaret or Mary, Queen of Scots; or maybe the great explorers like David Livingstone or Mungo Park. You would have also heard of villains like Macbeth, or failures such as Bonnie Prince Charlie. These are all wonderful stories in their own right, and they receive their due in this book. But there is more to Scottish history than simply the doings of great men and women, and in these pages you find out more about this nation than a history of the usual suspects can tell you.
The Peoples of Scotland
The history of Scotland is a truly remarkable one. As a nation, Scotland has probably contributed more to world civilisation than any other country of a comparable size. In fact, you could argue that the Scots – through their historians, philosophers, engineers and scientists – invented the modern world. But how did that come to pass? What was it about the people and their history that allowed them to make such a significant contribution to the modern world?
You couldn't put your finger on anything in the Scottish past to answer that question. For many centuries, nothing in particular distinguished the Scots from people from other parts of the globe. Indeed, you could argue that for most of Scotland's history, it has lagged behind other societies, including – wait for it – England!
There aren't any genetic clues either: ancient Scotland was made of at least five different peoples who spoke different languages. At first, they were simply members of tribes searching for food, but later they became farmers and members of small kingdoms. Of course, Scotland didn't exist in their minds: borders and things like national identity were pretty meaningless.
Since ancient times, other people have settled in Scotland. The Romans came, saw and tried to conquer but left empty-handed. Much more successful were the Vikings, who arrived at the start of the ninth century. The Vikings not only raped and pillaged but, in time, also settled on the islands and on the northern coast and became Christians. They were followed by the Anglo-Normans, who arrived in the reign of David I. They were given lands and eventually became successful and powerful members of the Scottish aristocracy. The Bruce and the Stewart families, who were rulers of Scotland at various times, were from this stock.
From the 12th century, we had to wait until the 19th century for the next major influx of people into Scotland. This time it was the Irish, and this influx proved a bit more problematic! The Irish arrived by the thousands in the west of Scotland in the 1840s, fleeing the famine. Their religion made it difficult for them to integrate into Scottish society, which was staunchly Presbyterian. However, they eventually succeeded, only to be replaced by other immigrants from the British Commonwealth in the late 20th century. This last movement of people into Scotland has been on a scale much smaller than experienced in England, but still, one in five children in Glasgow schools is from an Asian background.
So, we are, in a famous Scottish saying, 'aw Jock Tamson's bairns'. There is no such thing as a genetically pure native Scots: we are a hybrid people, and the better for it.
The Formation of Scotland
When it comes to the formation of Scotland, we can start with the Romans. They did little for Scot