Brief history of Scotland summarized
A brief and pleasant review of the history of Scotland summarized.
During the ice age, Scotland was uninhabited. However, when the ice melted the forests that spread across Scotland and stone age hunters moved there. In 6,000 BC, small groups of people lived in Scotland hunting animals such as red deer and seals and gathering plants for food.
Then around 4,500 BC farming was introduced to Scotland. Early farmers continued to use stone tools and weapons and this period is called the Neolithic (new stone age).
Neolithic people used stone or fire axes to cut down forests for agriculture and grew wheat, barley and rye. They also raised cattle and sheep. They lived in simple stone huts with grass or thatch roofs.
The best example of a Neolithic village was found on the Orkney Islands after a storm in 1850. The inhabitants lived in stone huts with stone shelves and stone seats inside. They also had stone beds, which were probably covered with straw or heather. The people of Skara Brae used ceramic pots.
By 1800 BC, the people of Scotland had learned to make bronze. Bronze Age people continued to live in simple huts, but they are famous for their stone monuments. They placed huge stones in circles. The fact that they were able to do so indicates that they lived in an organized society.
The Picts and Scots
The Picts lived in round wooden or stone huts with thatched roofs. Some Picts lived in crannogs, which were huts erected on artificial platforms in lakes or estuaries. The Pictche chiefs built forts on the hills of stone, wood or earth.
Pictan farmers raised cattle, pigs, and sheep. They also fished, hunted deer, seals and birds. They grew wheat, barley and rye. They also gathered wild fruits such as crawfish, apples, sloes, raspberries, blackberries, and damsons.
Although the vast majority of Picts were farmers, some worked as craftsmen, such as blacksmiths, bronzesmiths, goldsmiths, and potters. The Picts were very skilled at making jewelry. They also carved pictures on the stones. Upper-class Picts spent their days hunting on horseback or with falcons. In the evenings they drank and feasted.
Scotland’s written history begins with the Romans. The Romans invaded Scotland in AD 80 led by Agricola. They advanced into southern Scotland and then marched northeast.
In 84 the Romans severely defeated the Picts at a place called Mons. Graupius (its exact location is unknown). However, in the years following the battle, the Romans slowly withdrew, and in 123 Emperor Hadrian began building a wall to keep the Picts out.
Later, in the second century, the Romans advanced again and in 140 built the Antonine Wall from the Clyde to the Forth. However, the Romans finally abandoned the Antonine Wall in 196 AD
Later, Hadrians Wall became the border. The Romans advanced into Scotland again in AD 209, but only temporarily. In 367-68 the Picts participated in a major raid on Roman Britain.
In the sixth century a people from Ireland called the Scots invaded what is now Scotland. They settled in what is now Argyll and founded the kingdom of Dalriada.
Meanwhile, Christian missionaries had begun the work of converting the Picts. Some Picts in south-east Scotland accepted Christianity in the 5th century. Columba, who went there in 563, converted south-west Scotland to Christianity.
He founded a monastery on Iona, which became very important in the history of Christianity in Britain. During the 6th and 7th centuries Christianity spread throughout Scotland and by the end of the 7th century all of Scotland was Christian.
Further south, in the 6th century, the Angles invaded northeastern England and created the kingdom of Northumbria. In the early 7th century the Northmen expanded into south-eastern Scotland and as far as Dunbar and Edinburgh.
Then, in 843, Kenneth MacAlpin, who was king of the Scottish kingdom of Dalriada, also became king of the Picts of northern and central Scotland. So the Scots and the Picts merged to form one kingdom.
However, the new kingdom of Scotland only included lands north of the Clyde and the Forth. The English ruled southeastern Scotland until 1018 when the Scots conquered it. Additionally, southwestern Scotland and Cumbria formed a separate kingdom called Strathclyde. However, in 1018 Strathclyde was peacefully absorbed into Scotland.
Meanwhile, Scotland faced another threat: the Vikings! They raided the Iona monastery in 795. In the early 9th century, the Vikings settled Shetland and Orkney. Later, in the 9th century, they settled in the Hebrides and in Caithness and Sutherland, as well as on the west coast of Scotland.
In 1034 Duncan became King of Scotland. He proved incompetent and in 1040 Macbeth, who replaced him as king, killed him. Unlike the character created by Shakespeare Macbeth, he was a good king and in 1050 he made a pilgrimage to Rome. However, in 1057 Macbeth was killed at the Battle of Lumphanan and Duncan’s son became Malcolm III.
Scotland in the Middle Ages
In 1066 the Normans conquered England. Norman influence soon made itself felt in Scotland. In 1069 Malcolm married an English woman named Margaret who promoted Norman ways at the Scottish court. Malcolm was killed in battle against the English at Alnwick in 1093.
However, during the reigns of his three sons Edgar (1097-1107), Alexander I (1107-1124) and David I (1124-1153) Norman influence in Scotland gradually increased. During the reign of David I many Normans came to live in Scotland.
Dioceses were organized for the bishops and new monasteries were founded. The government was reformed. Also in the 12th century many towns or burghs were founded in Scotland and trade flourished. David I was the first Scottish king to found mints and issue his own coins.
However, the Scottish kings had little power. In the west and north, chieftains frequently rebelled against the king during the 12th and 13th centuries. However, in 1265 the Scottish king conquered the Western Isles, which until then had been ruled by Norway. By the Treaty of Perth in 1266 the Norwegian king formally relinquished all his territory in Scotland, except Orkney and Shetland.
One night in 1286, Alexander III’s horse fell into the darkness and he was killed. His heiress was a girl named Margaret who lived in Norway. However, she died in 1290 on her way to Scotland. Now there were many claimants on the throne.
In fact, there were 13. The Bishop of St. Andrews asked Edward I to arbitrate. Edward was happy to oblige and chose John Balliol, who was crowned in 1292. Edward claimed to be Lord of Scotland and soon made it clear that he wanted Balliol to be a puppet.
Finally, in 1295, Edward tried to force the Scots to join him in a war against France. Balliol rebelled and formed an alliance with France. However, in 1296 Edward invaded Scotland. Balliol was captured and forced to hand over the throne.
Edward tried to rule Scotland directly, without a puppet king. He forced many Scottish nobles and landowners to submit to him at Berwick. He then installed English officials to rule Scotland and retired.
However, the Scots were not so easily subdued. Many small landowners rose in rebellion led by William Wallace. In 1297 Wallace severely defeated the English at Stirling Bridge. However, the English won at Falkirk in July 1298. However, the Scots continued to hold out, and the English only really controlled the south-east. However, Wallace was captured in 1305 and executed.
From 1306 Robert the Bruce, who was crowned King of Scotland that year, led the resistance. Scottish resistance gradually increased and Edward I died in 1307. Then in 1314 the English were totally defeated at the Battle of Bannockburn. After the battle Scottish independence was secured.
However, it was another 14 years before the English finally recognized Scotland’s independence by the Treaty of Northampton in 1328. However, the treaty did not bring peace. Robert the Bruce died in 1329 and his 5 year old son became David II.
However, in England there were some Scottish nobles who had been deprived of their lands in Scotland for supporting the English. Now they tried to make John Balliol’s son, Edward, king of Scotland.
They invaded Scotland by sea and defeated an army sent to meet them. They marched to Scone where Edward Balliol was crowned king. He tried to get the support of the English king by promising Berwick. However, Balliol was soon expelled from Scotland.
However, the English took Berwick and invaded southern Scotland. King David was sent to France for safety. However, after 1338 the English were at war with France and were gradually forced to withdraw from Scotland.
Then, in 1346, the French king asked the Scots for help. David invaded England but was defeated and captured at Neville’s Cross. David was freed in 1357 when the Scots paid a ransom. He died in 1371.
In the late Middle Ages, the Scottish kings still had little power, and the barons sometimes acted virtually as independent rulers. Consequently, Scotland suffered from anarchy. On the other hand, the burgesses prospered and Scotland’s first university, St Andrews, was founded in 1413.
Meanwhile, during the 14th and 15th centuries, intermittent warfare between the Scots and the English continued.
Jaime IV (1488-1513) restored order. Furthermore, his reign was a great age for literature in Scotland. Also the first printing press was set up in Edinburgh in 1507. Meanwhile, the University of Aberdeen was founded in 1495 and in 1496 a law was passed requiring all well-to-do landowners to send their older children to school.
In 1503 James married Margaret, daughter of Henry VII of England. In 1511 James built a huge warship called the Great Michael. However, in 1513 he invaded England. The Scots were defeated at the Battle of Flodden and James himself was killed.
His heir, James V, was just a boy and did not begin ruling Scotland until 1528. The Scots invaded England in 1542 but were defeated at the Battle of Solway Moss in November. The king died in December 1542 when he was still young.
The throne passed to Mary Queen of Scots, who was just a baby. Henry VIII of England wanted his son to marry Mary. The Regent of Scotland, the Earl of Arran, signed the Treaty of Greenwich in 1543, accepting the marriage. However, in December 1543 the Scottish parliament repudiated the treaty.
So in 1544 and 1545 the English invaded southern Scotland and devastated it. The English invaded Scotland again in 1547 and defeated the Scots at Pinkie. The English invaded again in 1548, for which Mary was sent to France. She later married a French prince.
In the 16th century, Scotland, like the rest of Europe, was shaken by the Reformation. At the turn of the century, Protestant ideas spread throughout Scotland and gradually took root. Finally, in 1557, a group of Scottish noblemen met and signed a pact to uphold Protestant teachings.
However, the leading figure in the Scottish Reformation was John Knox (1505-1572). In 1559 he returned from Geneva where he had learned the teachings of John Calvin.
Knox’s preaching won many converts and finally in 1560 the Scottish parliament met and broke all ties with the pope. Parliament also banned the Catholic mass or any doctrine or practice contrary to a confession of faith drafted by Knox. The Scottish Reformation was successful and Scotland is now a Protestant country.
In 1561 Queen Mary returned from France after the death of her husband. Mary was Catholic. She was forced to accept the Scottish Reformation, but she kept her old religion. In 1565 Mary married her Catholic cousin Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley.
However, Darnley became jealous of Mary’s Italian secretary, David Riccio. In March 1566 Darnley and his friends murdered Riccio. Mary never forgave Darnley and fell under the spell of the Earl of Bothwell.
In 1567 a house where Darnley was staying was blown up. When Darnley’s body was found, it was discovered that he had been strangled. Shortly after, Mary married Bothwell. Enraged, the Protestant nobles rose up and captured Maria.
They forced her to abdicate in favor of her young son, who became Jaime VI. Mary escaped and raised an army, but she was defeated at the Battle of Langside and fled to England. Scotland was ruled by regents until James was old enough to rule himself (in 1587 his mother Mary de him was beheaded in England).
In 1589 James married Anne of Denmark. Then, in 1603, on the death of Elizabeth I, he became King James I of England, as well as King James VI of Scotland.
However, the Scottish Church was different in some of its doctrines and practices from the English Church. James’s son Charles I (1625–1649) foolishly attempted to align Scottish religion with English. In 1637 he tried to impose a prayer book on the Scots. However, the Scots completely rejected him.
On February 28, 1638 and the following two days, the nobles and gentlemen of Edinburgh signed a document in which they promised to defend the “true religion”. The document became known as the National Covenant and copies were taken throughout Scotland by couriers for people to sign.
Charles tried to force the Scots to submit, and in 1639 he raised an army in England. However, he was desperately short of money and made a peace treaty to buy time. In 1640 Charles raised another army but the Scots invaded England and occupied Newcastle and Durham. They withdrew in 1641.
Meanwhile, Charles managed to alienate his English subjects, and in 1642 civil war began in England. At first the Scots remained neutral. However, in 1643 the English parliament persuaded the Scots to join its side by promising to make England a presbytery. In 1644 the Scots sent an army to England.
However, not all Scots agreed with this decision. Some supported the king and in 1644 the Marquess of Montrose raised an army in the Highlands to fight for him. At first Montrose had some success, but in 1645 he was defeated at Philiphaugh. Meanwhile, the king was defeated in England and in 1646 he surrendered to the Scottish army at Newark. Montrose fled to Norway.
However, the English were now slow to introduce Presbyterianism. When it became clear that they were not going to go to the Scots, they made a deal with the king. He promised to introduce Presbyterianism to England for a trial period of 3 years. So a Scottish army invaded England in 1648, but was defeated at Preston.
In January 1649 the English beheaded Charles I. The Scots immediately proclaimed his son Charles II king. Carlos II, like his father Carlos I and his grandfather Santiago VI, was an Episcopalian. He believed that bishops should govern the Church. However, to gain the support of the Scots, he agreed to accept Presbyterianism in Scotland. In June 1650 he went to Scotland and was crowned king at Scone in January 1651.
Meanwhile, in July 1650 another English army invaded Scotland and occupied Edinburgh. In the summer of 1651 they defeated a Scottish army at Inverkeithing. A Scottish army invaded England. They hoped that the English royalists would join them, but they did not. The Scots were defeated at Worcester in September 1651. Charles II fled abroad.
The English army then occupied all of Scotland. However, the English occupation ended in 1660 when Charles II became King of England and Scotland. Charles II restored the bishops of the Church of Scotland.
However, about a third of the ministers resigned. Many Scots, especially in the South West, held secret religious meetings called conventicles. Little by little, the government treated them more harshly.
Finally, in 1679, the Archbishop of St Andrews was assassinated and riots spread to the west. However, the government sent troops to put it down and the Covenanters were defeated at the Battle of Bothwell Brig, but the Covenanters continued to hold out and the government continued to pursue them. The 1680s became known as the time of the slaughter.
Carlos II died in 1685 and his brother Jaime became King Jaime II. However, James II was a Roman Catholic and both the English and the Scots feared that he would restore Roman Catholicism. James II was deposed in 1688 and William and Mary became King and Queen of Scotland. The Scottish Parliament restored Presbyterianism.
However, not all Scots welcomed the new monarchs. The Highlanders rose under Viscount Dundee. They won a victory at Killiecrankie in 1689, but their leader was killed and the Highlanders scattered.
The government was determined to bring the Highlands to the brink and ordered the chiefs of all the clans to take an oath of allegiance to King William before the last day of 1691.
However, the head of the MacDonald’s of Glencoe was late, taking the oath only on 6 January 1692. Although he was only a few days late, the government decided to make an example of him. So the troops led by Captain Robert Campbell of Glenlyon were sent to Glencoe and lodged in cabins there.
The MacDonalds treated them hospitably. However, in the early hours of February 13, Campbell and his men fell on the sleeping guests. They went from house to house killing the inhabitants and then burning the houses. In total, 38 people were killed, including the head of the clan. This gruesome massacre became known as the Glencoe massacre.
King William realized that the deposed king, James II, might go to Scotland and claim the Scottish throne. To try to prevent this, he urged a union of England and Scotland. The next monarch, Queen Anne, did the same. Scottish merchants saw the economic advantages of a union and in 1706 agreed to open negotiations.
The Scots wanted a federal union, but the English refused. However, in 1706 a treaty was drawn up. The two nations would share a flag and a parliament. Scotland would maintain its own church and legal system. The Scottish Parliament accepted the Treaty of Union in 1707. The United Kingdom was born on May 1, 1707.
However, the Act of Union was unpopular with many Scots and soon became something more. Meanwhile, James II, the king who was deposed in 1688, died in 1701, but his son James Edward was eager to regain the throne.
His followers were called Jacobites from the Latin for James, James. Santiago had many supporters in the highlands and in 1715 the Count of Mar proclaimed him king. Lord Mar also denounced the Act of Union.
Highlanders flocked to join Lord Mar and in September 1715 his forces captured Perth. However, the peoples south of the Tay remained loyal to the government. On November 13, the Jacobites fought the government troops at Sheriffmuir, near Dunblane. The battle ended indecisively. However, the government army was later reinforced.
On December 22, 1715, James Edward landed at Peterhead, but the government army advanced and the Jacobites withdrew from Perth. James Edward grew discouraged and on February 4, 1716 he and Lord Mar left Scotland. Then the rebellion petered out.
However, the Highlanders were not defeated and remained a threat to the government. However, the government took some steps to control the highlands. Fort Augustus was built in 1716 and in 1725-36 General Wade built a network of roads in the Highlands to facilitate the movement of government troops from one place to another.
In August 1745, Charles Stuart, grandson of the king deposed in 1688, landed in Scotland hoping to claim the throne. Bonnie Prince Charlie’ persuaded some of the Highlanders to support him and in September 1745 they captured Edinburgh. They then defeated a government army at Prestonpans. The Jacobites marched south and in December they reached Derby.
However, the English did not rise up to support Charles and some of his highland troops deserted. So on December 6, 1745, the Jacobites began a retreat. They withdrew to Inverness but the government was busy raising reinforcements.
On April 16, 1746, the Jacobites were totally defeated by a government army at Culloden. Charles Stuart managed to escape to France.
The commander of the government army was William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, known as ‘Butcher Cumberland’ for his cruelty. After Culloden Cumberland ordered that the Jacobites be given no quarter. Many wounded Jacobites died. Additionally, 120 prisoners were executed and more than 1,000 were transported to the colonies.
After the defeat of the Jacobite rebellion, the government passed laws to destroy the Highlander way of life forever. In 1746 a law prohibited the kilt and the bagpipe. Jacobite lands were confiscated and ‘hereditary jurisdictions’ (the right of clan chiefs to have courts and try certain cases) were abolished.
Despite the Jacobite Rebellions, Scotland’s economy grew rapidly during the 18th century. Landowners were keen to improve their farms and new farming methods were introduced. Turnips and potatoes were introduced to Scotland. Unfortunately, the Highland Clearances caused a lot of suffering.
Beginning in the 1760s, landowners evicted tenants and turned their land over to sheep farming. Many of the dispossessed emigrated to North America. Others moved to the rapidly growing industrial cities.
At the end of the 18th century, the industrial revolution began to transform Scotland. The linen industry and the cotton industry boomed. The iron industry also grew rapidly.
Meanwhile, transportation improved. Toll roads were built (those roads were privately owned and maintained and you had to pay to use them). Canals were built in Scotland at the end of the 18th century.
In the 19th century the history of Scotland merged with the history of Great Britain.
At the beginning of the 19th century the clearing of the Highlands continued. Many Highlanders were forced to emigrate. Meanwhile, the industries of southern Scotland grew. The coal and iron industries flourished. Also shipbuilding. Scottish towns continued to grow rapidly.
However, housing conditions in the new industrial cities were often appalling. Disease and overcrowding were common. Even at the end of the 19th century, conditions improved and the standard of living increased. Also, in the late 19th century, Scottish workers began to form powerful unions.
Scotland suffered from very high unemployment during the 1920s and 1930s. Traditional industries such as shipbuilding, mining, iron and steel were severely affected by the depression. World War II brought a return to full employment, and the 1950s and 1960s were boom years. However, the recession returned in the early 1980s and early 1990s.
However, new high-tech and service industries grew up in Scotland in the late 20th century to replace the old manufacturing industries and in 1990 Glasgow became the Cultural Capital of Europe.
During the 20th century there was a growing nationalist movement in Scotland. The Scottish National Party was formed in 1928. In 1934 it changed its name to the Scottish National Party. The first SNP deputy was elected in 1945. In 1974, 11 SNP deputies were elected. Finally, in 1999, Scotland got its own parliament.
Then, in 2011, the Scottish Nationalist Party won a majority in the Scottish Parliament. However, in a referendum held in 2014, the majority of Scots voted against independence. Today, the population of Scotland is 5.3 million.
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