Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Union of Scotland with England

By Aussiegirl

The Scottish Parliament passed the Act of Security on this day in 1704, entitling the various branches of the Scottish ruling elite to decide on who would succeed Queen Anne. The Act precipitated moves in the English parliament for an Act of Union between the two kingdoms, already joined under the monarchy. For more information on the Act of Union, read the article that follows. (Here's the description of the illustration: A copy of the Treaty is handed to Queen Anne by the Duke of Queensberry in 1707.

Scotsman.com Heritage & Culture - Timeline - Union of Scotland with England

Union of Scotland with England

THE ACT of Union marrying Scotland and England, providing for one parliament to administer the two nations, was passed in January 1707 and came into legal effect in May of that year. However, the two nations' courtship was anything but smooth.

For centuries English kings failed to unite the two countries by conquest from Edward I through Henry VIII's 'rough wooing' of Scotland in 1542. James VI of Scotland and the I of England in 1603 also failed to unite the countries under the crown. His son, Charles I, faired no better before his execution, but attempts at a union continued under Cromwell during the Interregnum.

Both countries had very different motivations for union before 1707. The English wanted to secure a Protestant monarch and passed the Act of Settlement in 1700 to that effect. But the Scots jeopardised the English succession by passing an Act of Security making it their business to choose who would be Scottish monarch. The English also wanted to end the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France that curtailed many of their imperial ambitions.

For the Scots, the issues were financial. The economy had been bankrupted by the failed Darien expedition of 1698 when almost the entire country had invested in a scheme to secure a colony on the Panamanian peninsula controlling trade between the Atlantic and Pacific. A trade war between the two countries followed.

Provisions in the 1707 Act established a trade, customs and political union. The Scots secured extremely favourable conditions on tax (the Scots would raise only 1/40th of revenue) at the expense of under-representation in the British parliament (a twelfth of seats in the Commons, and a handful in the Lords, for a country which was a sixth of the total population).

The Scottish people did not want a union and rioted but their nobles were more easily swayed. Many Scots nobles who partook in the negotiations were bribed, one according to some accounts for the shockingly small sum of £11, leading to Burns's famous depiction of them, summing up the popular view, as a “Parcel o' Rogues”.


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