Tag Archives: Scotland

Young William Wallace

William Wallace

A young William Wallace would encounter five English soldiers from the Ayr Garrison, on the 23rd April 1292, whilst fishing at Irvine Waters.

These soldiers eyed his catch with envy, and demanded William to hand over his entire catch to them.  William was not looking for trouble, and offered them half, still they took the whole catch.

William implied the fish were for an elderly English knight, and with some reluctance, they tossed the fish at Wallace’s feet.

However, Wallace’s attitude towards them, angered one of them as he dismounted from his horse, wanting humility from William and drew his sword.  Wallace disarmed the soldier with nothing more than a fishing rod, picked up the sword, thrust it into the soldier, killing him.

Wallace faced his four companions, one he killed another he wounded, and the other two fled for their lives.

Sir Richard Wallace of Riccarton, William’s uncle was angered by his attack upon English soldiers, for he knew repercussions would follow.  William was sent to Wallace of Auchincruive and hidden in Leglen Wood, until events of that day, had all but been forgotten.

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The Kingdom of Great Britain

Map of England

On the 24thMarch 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 1stMay 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.

Ghosts of Culloden

Battle of Culloden
Battle of Culloden

Culloden moor – site of the last battle on British soil, has its share of ghostly traditions, perhaps befitting for the scene of so much bloodshed and slaughter.

The Battle of Culloden – April 16th 1746 – marked the fall of the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, which sought to restore the Stuart monarchy to the throne. In barely 40 minutes of fighting, the massed army of Bonnie Prince Charlie had been slaughtered by government troops (which also contained Scottish clans) led by Prince William the Duke of Cumberland.

The odds were already stacked against them, the boggy, rain sodden ground of the moor was not suited to the Highland charge, they were vastly outnumbered, and they were exhausted after a many days marching back from England where they had failed to muster the support they badly needed to ensure victory. They had also launched a surprise attack on their foes during the night which had ended without them even coming into contact with the Duke’s men.

The battle started with an exchange of artillery that quickly became a one sided affair, as the Jacobite gunners were vastly outnumbered and outclassed. Twenty minutes of constant bombardment decimated the Jacobite lines as they awaited the order to charge. Bonnie Prince Charlie took no part in the battle, and with no leader to sound orders their hesitations was to play a large part in their defeat. When they finally did charge – taking it under their own initiative – the slaughter continued, those who did not die in a volley of bullets and grapeshot, were cut down when they reached the lines. The government troops used a new way of meeting the Highland charge, each soldier stabbed at the man to the right of those they faced directly, so their bayonet would pierce under the man’s raised sword arm, and avoid the targe, the highlander’s small shields most often held in the left hand.

There was no mercy for the wounded soldiers, many were slaughtered where they had fallen, and those who had managed to flee were hunted down and executed. Bonnie Prince Charlie managed to evade the Government forces, and after five months on the run throughout the Highlands, escaped to Italy via the Isle of Skye, never to return.

Ghostly Traditions

There is a tradition of haunted battle sites in Britain and Culloden is no exception, ghostly soldiers are supposed to appear on the anniversary of the battle on the 16th of April, and the cries of battle and the clash of steel have also been reported.

The spectre of one of the Highlanders is also said to frequent the area, he is tall in stature with drawn features – he is supposed to say, “defeated” in hushed tones when encountered. One woman visiting the moor from Edinburgh in August 1936 lifted a tartan cloth covering one of the mounds – which mark the Jacobite graves – to discover an apparition of a dead Highlander underneath it. Another tradition attached to these grave mounds is that birds do not sing in their vicinity, perhaps hushed by the ominous atmosphere.

There are numerous wells dotted around the area, on the battle site itself and nearby. St Mary’s Well is said to be haunted by the ghosts of the dead highlanders, and a Clootie Well in Culloden wood is festooned with brightly coloured rags, offerings from people wishing to be cured of ailments.

Wikipedia Image

Mary Queen of Scots

NPG 1766,Mary, Queen of Scots,by Unknown artist

Mary, Queen of Scots was born at Linlithgow Palace on the 8thDecember 1542, to parents King James V and Marie de Guise.

James V had been defeated at the “Battle of Solway Moss” by English forces commanded by Oliver Sinclair. James chose to retire to his hunting lodge at Falkland Palace in Fife out of disgrace, and on the 14thDecember he died.

Henry VIII, called off the war against Scotland, and sought to negotiate a marriage between Mary and Prince Edward VI heir apparent to the English throne, then aged five.

The Regent of Scotland, The Earl of Arran was in favour of the marriage, and so the Treaty of Greenwich was entered into, thus Mary and Edward were betrothed to each other. However, opposing factions saw it as a threat to Scottish nationality and their Catholic religion.  Pressure was brought to bear on the Earl of Arran, to withdraw from the treaty, and seek an alliance with France.

On the 9thDecember 1543, Mary was crowned Mary, Queen of Scots at Stirling castle.

In 1558, Mary married Francis the dauphin of France at Notre Dame in Paris, and on the 10thJuly 1559, Mary ascends to Queen Consort of France, when her husband becomes King Francis II of France.

Many in England feared this marriage could have long term consequences.  For Mary was now queen Consort of France, Queen of Scotland, and declared herself as the true Queen of England, whilst her husband became King Consort of Scotland and King of France, this royal alliance had united French and Scottish crowns.

On the 5thDecember 1560, Mary’s husband King Francis II of France died.

In 1560, Mass performed in Latin became illegal, according to the law laid down by the Scottish Parliament, as the Protestant faith, spread across much of Scotland.

Mary, Queen of Scots found herself a widow at eighteen, and returned to her homeland of Scotland in 1561, to take up her position as Queen of Scotland.  She a Catholic, in a predominately Protestant country, forced into accepting her Scotland was now led by a Protestant Government.

In 1565, Mary marries Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, her cousin, believing upon the death of Elizabeth I; with him on her side, any claim to the English throne would be increased. They married at Mary’s private chapel in Holyrood House on the 29thJuly.  The marriage was a failure, for Darnley wanted to be joint ruler with Mary.

Mary appointed one David Riccio an Italian as her personal secretary, and on the 9thMarch 1566, Darnley burst into her chambers at Holyrood House with fellow conspirators in a jealous rage, and murdered Riccio.

On the 19thJune 1566, Mary gave birth to a son; James at Edinburgh Castle, who would grow up to become King James VI of Scotland, and baptised on the 12thDecember at Stirling Castle.

Early in 1567, Darnley was known to be plotting against Mary’s life.  Then on the 9thFebruary Stuart Darnley, the King of Scotland was strangled to death in the grounds of Kirk O’Fields, following an explosion.  Then in the May, the Earl of Bothwell believed to be behind the murder marries Mary, Queen of Scots.

On the 15thJune 1567, Protestant Lords confronted Mary at Carberry Hill, near Edinburgh, where she surrendered and was imprisoned at Lochleven Castle.  Pressure was brought to bear, forcing her to abdicate in favour of her infant son; James.

Mary escaped in 1568, defeated in the “Battle of Langside” on the 13thMay, and fled south, crossing the border into England, expecting Elizabeth to support her … how wrong she was.

Mary found herself a prisoner, first at Carlisle Castle, then Bolton Castle.

In October of 1586, Mary found herself on trial for treason against the life of Elizabeth, through correspondence with Anthony Babington.  On the 25thOctober she was found guilty of the charges and sentenced to death.

On the 8thFebruary 1587, Mary Queen of Scots, she who sought help from Elizabeth and England, a conspirator against the life of Elizabeth, lost her own life to the executioner… at Fotheringhay Castle, and was buried first at Peterborough Cathedral, then in 1612 moved to Westminster Abbey.

England seized Scotland

Alexander III of Scotland
King Alexander III of Scotland

On a wild and stormy night in 1286, King Alexander III of Scotland was riding to Kinghorn, and changed horses at Burntisland. The storm was so fierce, trees were bending with the winds, it was suggested that Alexander should hold up at Burntisland for the night, to let the storm ease. He wouldn’t hear of it, he wanted to get home. He lost control of his horse, and it galloped over a steep cliff, and both Alexander and his horse plunged to their deaths.

The events of that night, had far reaching consequences across Scotland, and changed its path of history, for centuries to come.

Plantagenet England, in the shape of King Edward I, saw his chance, to gain control of Scotland.

The heir of King Alexander III of Scotland was Margaret the Maid of Norway. Margaret was the daughter of King Eric II of Norway, and granddaughter of King Alexander III of Scotland. She became Queen, aged just two.

The “Guardians of Scotland,” negotiated a marriage between Margaret, the Maid of Norway and Queen of Scotland with Prince Edward of Caernarvon, son of King Edward I of England. An agreement was made through the “Treaty of Birgham,” that the children of Margaret and Edward would rule both England and Scotland.

Margaret was taken ill in 1290, during the sea voyage from Norway to Scotland. Her ships destination had been Leith, but rough seas, blew them towards Orkney. They took shelter from the storms at St.Margaret’s Hope on South Ronaldsay in the Orkney’s.

Margaret never saw her future husband, as she died in the Orkney’s, in the September of 1290. Her body was returned to Norway, and laid to rest beside her mother in Christ’s Kirk, Bergen.

With the death of Margaret, the Maid of Norway, the Scots had no true heir to the throne, and Anglo-Scottish relations lay in tatters.

The Scottish nobles could not agree upon a successor to the throne, and turned to King Edward I of England to arbitrate for them.

No fewer than thirteen claimants to the Scottish throne stepped forward. Edward wanted a puppet King, one who would answer to him, and so John Balliol was chosen.

Over the next four hundred years, Scotland took on the might of English forces, in their bid for Independence.

1603, saw the change in Scotland’s history… James VI of Scotland becomes King James I of England, bringing about the “Union of Crowns.”

In 1707 the “Act of Union,” brought England and Scotland together, with the creation of a single Parliament of the United Kingdom at the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament).

Scotland: Declaration of Arbroath

declarationofarbroath3-e1532125760883

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.

Scotland: Act of Union 1707

Tantallon Castle

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.