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  Union with England

In 1603, the Scottish King James VI inherited the throne of the Kingdom of England, and became James I of England.

Along with Alfred the Great, James is considered to have been one of the most intellectual and learned individuals ever to sit on the English or Scottish thrones. Under him, much of the cultural flourishing of Elizabethan England continued; science, literature and art, contributed by individuals such as Sir Francis Bacon and William Shakespeare grew by leaps and bounds during his reign. James himself was a talented scholar, writing works such as Daemonologie (1597), The True Law of Free Monarchies (1598), Basilikon Doron (1599) and A Counterblaste to Tobacco (1604).


With the exception of a period under the Commonwealth, Scotland remained a separate state, but there was considerable conflict between the crown and the Covenanters over the form of church government. After the Glorious Revolution and the overthrow of the Roman Catholic James VII by William and Mary, Scotland briefly threatened to select a different Protestant monarch from England. In 1707, however, following English threats to end trade and free movement across the border, the Scottish and English Parliaments enacted the Acts of Union, which created the Kingdom of Great Britain. Two major Jacobite risings launched from the north of Scotland in 1715 and 1745 failed to remove the House of Hanover from the throne. The deposed Jacobite Stuart claimants had remained popular in the Highlands and NE, particularly amongst non-Presbyterians.

Following the Act of Union and the subsequent Scottish Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution, Scotland became one of the commercial, intellectual and industrial powerhouses of Europe.

Some contextual issues:

The Darien Project 1698
The Darien Project was a business venture aimed at setting up a new colony in Panama, or Darien, as it was known. Many Lowland Scots invested in this, buying tracts of land unseen. The actual colony was a disaster, as the rain forest was impossible to clear, and most of the settlers died of disease. The company collapsed with huge debts, leaving many Lowlanders ruined. Many historians suggest that this crisis in the Scottish banks was a precursor to the Act of Union as a way to save the Scots economy.

The Act of Union 1707 England was busy fighting the War of the Spanish Succession, and all her troops were abroad. The last thing she wanted was a rebellion in the north. Parliament proposed the Act of Union, which would join England and Scotland together. At this time they were still separate countries, despite having the same ruler. The Act was bitterly opposed by the Highlands, but welcomed in the Lowlands, where the landowners, businessmen and merchants could see the advantage of being allowed to trade with English (ex-Spanish) colonies directly. The Navigation Acts only allowed trade with English colonies by English merchants, in English ships, and great opportunities would become available to the Scots.
The Act was passed, allowing Lowlanders to make good their losses from the Darien project, and securing their allegiance. The Highlanders were furious, and their reaction was the beginnings of the Jacobite risings.

The 'Fifteen', 'Nineteen', and 'Forty-Five'.
The Jacobite uprisings were all masterminded by the Stuarts who saw the struggle between Scotland / England / Spain over wealth-generating colonies as an opportunity to try to regain power in rich colonies by causing conflict in England (via Scotland). Some historians portray the failed Stuarts as agents of French overseas interests in that context. Whether they were loyal to the Scots, or to France, or to themselves can only be judged from their actions.