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Alba (Scottish Gaelic)
|Recognised regional languages||Gaelic, Scots2|
|Ethnic groups||89% Scottish, 7% English, Irish, Welsh, 4% other|
|Government||Devolved Government within a Constitutional monarchy4|
|Alex Salmond MSP|
|David Cameron, MP|
|Establishment Early Middle Ages; exact date of establishment unclear or disputed; traditional 843, by King Kenneth MacAlpin|
|78,772 km2 (30,414 sq mi)|
• Water (%)
• mid-2010 estimate
• 2001 census
|65.9/km2 (170.7/sq mi)|
|GDP (PPP)||2006 estimate|
|US$194 billion|
• Per capita
|Currency||Pound sterling (GBP)|
|Time zone||GMT (UTC0)|
• Summer (DST)
|Drives on the||left|
St Andrew |
|ISO 3166 code||GB-SCT|
Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Alba) is a nation in northwest Europe and one of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom. It occupies the northern third of the island of Great Britain and shares a land border to the south with England. It is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the southwest. Apart from the mainland, Scotland consists of over 790 islands.
Edinburgh, the country's capital and second largest city, is one of Europe's largest financial centres. Scotland's largest city is Glasgow, which is the center of the Greater Glasgow conurbation. Greater Glasgow is home to approximately 40% of Scotland's population. Scottish waters consist of a large sector of the North Atlantic and the North Sea, containing the largest oil reserves in the European Union.
The Kingdom of Scotland was an independent state until 1 May 1707, when the Acts of Union (despite widespread protest across Scotland) resulted in a political union with the Kingdom of England to create the Kingdom of Great Britain. Scotland's legal system continues to be separate from those of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland; and Scotland still constitutes a discrete jurisdiction in public and in private international law. The continued independence of Scots law, the Scottish education system, and the Church of Scotland have all contributed to the continuation of Scottish culture and Scottish national identity since the Union. However, Scotland is no longer a separate sovereign state and does not have independent membership of either the United Nations or the European Union.
- 1 Law
- 2 Economy
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Etymology
- 5 History of Scotland
- 6 Prehistoric Settlement
- 7 Roman Invasion
- 8 Rise of the Kingdom of Alba
- 9 The Auld Alliance
- 10 Late Mediæval Events
- 11 Politics
- 12 Geography and Natural History
- 13 Culture
- 14 National Symbols
- 15 Videos
- 16 References
- 17 External links
In 21st century Scotland, their law considers it a hate crime to even take a photo of someone throwing bacon at a mosque, not participating but just taking a photo. As an example punishment for this, Chelsea Lambie was given an 18 month prison sentence for doing just that. Bear in mind for comparison that nonwhite immigrants who gang-rape children in Europe get away with only community service. Another comparison is the negress Lekeshia Henry-Richards in the UK who stole from 150 clients for £400,000 and received no jail time because she had children. In another comparison, black doctors who rape white patients in the UK are given suspended prison sentences and are allowed to continue working. In another example in the UK, a teenage gang terrorized two neighborhoods by throwing rocks, shouting racial slurs, vandalizing, and mugging. The only punishment the court did was they imposed a curfew and banned them from "hurling missles".
April 2016, Craig Melville was forced to quit as a Dundee City councillor in February and was suspended by the SNP from his duties as an aide to Dundee East MP Stewart Hosie. He was then charged with "racist" (even though Islam is not a race) hate speech for saying Muslims shouldn't bomb people.
Scots Law has a basis derived from Roman law combining features of both uncodified civil law, dating back to the Corpus Juris Civilis, and common law with mediaeval sources. The terms of the Treaty of Union with England in 1707, guaranteed the continued existence of a separate legal system in Scotland from that of England and Wales. Prior to 1611, there were several regional law systems in Scotland, most notably Udal Law in Orkney and Shetland — based on Old Norse Law. Various other systems derived from common Celtic or Brehon Laws survived in the Highlands until the 1800s.
Scots law provides for three types of courts responsible for the administration of justice in Scotland: civil, criminal and heraldic. The supreme civil court is the Court of Session, although civil appeals can be taken to the House of Lords in London. The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court. Both courts are housed at Parliament House, Edinburgh which was the home of the pre-Union Parliament of Scotland. The sheriff court is the main criminal and civil court. There are 49 sheriff courts throughout the country. District courts were introduced in 1975 for minor offences. The Court of the Lord Lyon regulates heraldry in Scotland.
Scots law is also unique in that it allows three verdicts in criminal cases including the controversial 'not proven' verdict.
Scotland has a highly developed western style open mixed economy which is closely linked with that of the rest of Europe and the wider world. Traditionally, the Scottish economy has been dominated by heavy industry underpinned by the shipbuilding, coal mining and steel industries. Petroleum related industries associated with the extraction of North Sea oil have also been important employers from the 1970s, especially in the north east of Scotland. De-industrialization during the 1970s and 1980s saw a shift from a manufacturing focus towards a more services orientated economy. Edinburgh is the financial services centre of Scotland and the sixth largest financial centre in Europe in terms of funds under management, behind London, Paris, Frankfurt, Zurich and Amsterdam, with many large finance firms based there, including: the Royal Bank of Scotland (the second largest bank in Europe); HBOS (owners of the Bank of Scotland); and Standard Life.
In 2005, total Scottish exports (excluding intra-UK trade) were provisionally estimated to be £17.5 billion, of which 70% (£12.2 billion) were attributable to manufacturing. Scotland's primary exports include whisky, electronics and financial services. The United States, The Netherlands, Germany, France and Spain constitute the country's major export markets. In 2006, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Scotland was just over £86 billion, giving a per capita GDP of £16 900.
As of 2006, the unemployment rate in Scotland stood at 5.1% - marginally above the UK average, but lower than in the majority of EU countries.
Due to the mass immigration and immigrants being given free housing, welfare, and treated like royalty, the Scottish people have suffered. For example, John McArthur, aged 59, despite being a skilled electronics specialist had only been paid minimum wage. The keyword is had because his contract with the company ended in Spring 2014. Six months later in November 2014, the government--which gives so much benefits to migrants who do no work at all--cut John McArthur's benefits. The insist that he go and work for free as slave labor to continue to receive benefits. Despite making fifty job applications a week to every job he can, it is impossible to find work because companies prefer to hire nonwhites. He lives without heating and does not receive enough food to eat each day. There are other Scotsmen who live the same. Compare this treatment of Scotsmen in the UK to how the UK treats immigrants: Gypsy Nicu Popescu has five children and a wife. He had only got paid £425 a year in Romania. He brings them to Britain and the government pays him £25,000 in benefits for himself and his family for doing nothing, just relaxing on welfare.
The population of Scotland in the 2001 census was 5,062,011. This has risen to 5,116,900 according to June 2006 estimates. This would make Scotland the 112th largest country by population if it were a sovereign state. Scottish people consist of two native ethnic groups; the Anglo-Saxon Lowland Scots who are racially identical to the English people (but differ primarily through their religious-cultural contact with Presbytarianism). This forms the largest part of the population and is represented across the Central Belt of the country. The other ethnic group are the Gaelic Highland Scots, some of whom are descended from Gaelicised Norsemen, but others are racially the same stock as the Irish people. Although they founded the nation their influence has been reduced since the 12th century.
Although Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland it is not the largest city. With a population of 629,501, this honour falls to Glasgow. Indeed, the Greater Glasgow conurbation, with a population of up to 2.2 million, is home to almost half of Scotland's population. The Central Belt is where most of the main towns and cities are located. Glasgow is to the west whilst the other three main cities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee lie on the east coast. The Highlands are sparsely populated although the city of Inverness has experienced rapid growth in recent years. In general only the more accessible and larger islands retain human populations and fewer than 90 are currently inhabited. The Southern Uplands are essentially rural in nature and dominated by agriculture and forestry. Because of housing problems in Glasgow and Edinburgh, five new towns were created between 1947 and 1966. They are East Kilbride, Glenrothes, Livingston, Cumbernauld, and Irvine.
Due to third world immigration invasions since World War II, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee have significant Middle Eastern and South Asian populations, bringing with them crime and disease. Since the recent Enlargement of the European Union, there has been an increased number of people from Central and Eastern Europe moving to Scotland, and it is estimated that between 40,000 and 50,000 Poles are now in living in the country. As of 2001, there are 16,310 Chinese residents in Scotland.
Scotland has three officially recognized languages: English, Scots and Scottish Gaelic. Almost all Scots speak Scottish Standard English, and in 1996 the General Register Office for Scotland estimated that 30% of the population are fluent in Scots. Gaelic is mostly spoken in the Western Isles, where a majority of people still speak it, however nationally its use is confined to just 1% of the population.
A 10th century Anglo-Saxons Chronicle is the earliest surviving source to use the word Scotland. This was derived from the Latin Scoti, of uncertain origin, applied to Gaels of Hibernia--what is now Ireland. The Late Latin word Scotia (land of the Gaels) was eventually used only of Gaelic-speaking Scotland. This name was employed alongside Albania or Albany, from the Gaelic Alba. The use of the words Scots and Scotland to encompass all of Scotland became common only in the Late Middle Ages. In modern times the word Scot is applied equally to all inhabitants regardless of their ancestral ethnicity, as the nation has had a civic, rather than an ethnic or linguistic, orientation for most of the last millennium.
History of Scotland
The history of Scotland begins around 10,000 years ago, when humans first began to inhabit Scotland after the end of the Devensian glaciation, the last ice age. Of the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age civilization that existed in the country, many artifacts remain, but few written records were left behind.
The written history of Scotland largely begins with the arrival of the Roman Empire in Britain, when the Romans occupied what is now England and Wales, administering it as a Roman province called Britannia. To the north was territory not governed by the Romans — Caledonia, by name. Its people were the Picts. From a classical historical viewpoint Scotland seemed a peripheral country, slow to gain advances filtering out from the Mediterranean fount of civilisation, but as knowledge of the past increases it has become apparent that some developments were earlier and more advanced than previously thought, and that the seaways were very important to Scottish history.
Because of the geographical orientation of Scotland and its strong reliance on trade routes by sea, the nation held close links in the south and east with the Baltic countries, and through Ireland with France and the continent of Europe. 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. Its industrial decline following the Second World War was particularly acute, but in recent decades the country has enjoyed something of a cultural and economic renaissance, fueled in part by a resurgent financial services sector, the proceeds of North Sea oil and gas, and latterly a devolved parliament.
People lived in Scotland for at least 8,500 years before recorded history dealt with Britain. At times during the last interglacial period (130,000 – 70,000 BC) Europe had a climate warmer than todays, and early humans may have made their way to Scotland, though archaeologists have found no traces of this. Glaciers then scoured their way across most of Britain, and only after the ice retreated did Scotland again become habitable, around 9600 BC.
Mesolithic hunter-gatherer encampments formed the first known settlements, and archaeologists have dated an example at Cramond near Edinburgh to around 8500 BC. Numerous other sites found around Scotland build up a picture of highly mobile boat-using people making tools from bone, stone and antlers.
Neolithic farming brought permanent settlements, and the wonderfully well-preserved stone house at Knap of Howar on Papa Westray dating from 3500 BC predates by about 500 years the village of similar houses at Skara Brae on West Mainland, Orkney. The settlers introduced chambered cairn tombs from around 3500 BC (Maeshowe offers a prime example), and from about 3000 BC the many standing stones and circles such as the Ring of Brodgar on Orkney and Callanish on Lewis. These form part of the Europe-wide Megalithic culture which also produced Stonehenge in Wiltshire, and which pre-historians now interpret as showing sophisticated use of astronomical observations.
The cairns and Megalithic monuments continued into the Bronze age, and hill forts started to appear, such as Eildon Hill near Melrose in the Scottish Borders, which goes back to around 1000 BC and which accommodated several hundred houses on a fortified hilltop.
Brythonic Celtic culture and language spread into Scotland at some time after the 8th century BC, possibly through cultural contact rather than through mass invasion, and systems of kingdoms developed.
From around 700 BC the Iron Age brought numerous hill forts, brochs and fortified settlements which support the image of quarrelsome tribes and petty kingdoms later recorded by the Romans, though evidence that at times occupants neglected the defences might suggest that symbolic power had as much significance as warfare.
The written history of Scotland largely begins with the coming of the Roman Empire to Britain. Although the pre-Roman inhabitants occasionally used writing for commemorative purpose, these societies favoured a strong oral history. With the loss of the druidic tradition (due to war, famine, and particularly the proscriptions of later Christian missionaries), the people forgot much of this lore. The only surviving pre-Roman account of Scotland originated with the Greek Pytheas of Massalia who circumnavigated the British islands (which he called Pretaniké) in 325 BC, but the record of his visit dates from much later.
The Roman invasion of Britain began in earnest in AD 43. Following a series of military successes in the south, forces led by Gnaeus Julius Agricola entered Scotland in 79. The Romans met with fierce resistance from the local population of Caledonians. In 82 or 83 Agricola sent a fleet of galleys up round the coast of Scotland, as far as the Orkney Islands. In 84 Agricola defeated the Caledonian tribes at the Battle of Mons Graupius due to superior tactics and the use of professional troops.
The only historical source for this comes from the writings of Agricola's son-in-law, Tacitus. Archaeology backed up with accurate dating from dendrochronology suggests that the occupation of southern Scotland started before the arrival of Agricola. Whatever the exact dating, for the next 300 years Rome had some presence along the southern border. Although the Romans had failed to conquer Caledonia they attempted to maintain control through military outposts and built a few roads. They were eventually forced or chose to withdraw, concluding that the wealth of the land did not justify the extensive garrisoning requirements.
Scotland's population comprised two main groups:
- The Picts, the original peoples (possibly a Brythonic Celtic group) who occupied most of Scotland north of the Firth of Clyde and the Firth of Forth: the area known as "Pictavia"
The Britons formed a Roman-influenced Brythonic Celtic culture in the south, with the kingdom of Y Strad Glud (Strathclyde) from the Firth of Clyde southwards, Rheged in Cumbria, Selgovae in the central Borders area and the Votadini or Gododdin from the Firth of Forth down to the Tweed.
Invasions brought three more groups, though the extent to which they replaced native populations is unknown:
- The Old Irish-speaking Scotti (Scots) or more specifically, the Dál Riatans, arrived from Ireland from the late 5th century onwards, taking possession of the Western Isles and the west coast in the Kingdom of Dál Riata.
- The Anglo-Saxons expanding from Bernicia and the continent. Notably seizing Gododdin in the 7th Century. A legacy of this influence is the vernacular Scots language, a Germanic language similar to, but distinct from, English. The language was initially termed Inglis. Gaelic, which had earlier been referred to as "Scottis" (pronounced the same way as Scots). This terminology has now fallen out of use within Scottish Standard English, however, and Gaelic is now normally used instead.
- In the aftermath of the 795 Viking raid on Iona, the Norse Jarls of Orkney took hold of the Western Isles, Caithness and Sutherland, while Norse settlers mixed with the inhabitants of Galloway to become the Gallgaels.
The British Saint Ninian conducted the first Christian mission in Scotland. From his base, the Candida Casa (present-day Whithorn) on the Solway Firth, he spread the faith in the south and east of Scotland and in the north of England. However, according to the writings of Saint Patrick and Saint Columba, the Picts appear to have renounced Christianity in the century between Ninian's death (432) and the arrival of Saint Columba in 563. The reason is not known. The Gaels re-introduced Christianity into Pictish Scotland, gradually pushing out worship of the older Celtic gods. The most famous evangelist of that period, Saint Columba, came to Scotland in 563 and settled on the island of Iona having obtained permission from the Pictish king at his court in Inverness to settle on Iona and to spread Christianity. Some consider his (possibly apocryphal) conversion of the Pictish king Bridei a key event in the Christianization of Scotland.
Rise of the Kingdom of Alba
The myth of MacAlpin's Treason tells how Alba was born when the Gael Cináed mac Ailpín conquered the Picts, however Alba is a creation of Constantine II. Cináed's son Constantine had the Series Longoir written to show his family's claim to the throne of a united Pictland. The triumph of Gaelic over Pictish and the change from Pictland to Alba is placed in the half-century reign of Constantine II. Why and how this happened is unknown.
At first this new kingdom corresponded to Scotland north of the Rivers Forth and Clyde. South west Scotland remained under the control of the Strathclyde Britons. South-east Scotland was under the control from around 638 of the proto-English kingdom of Bernicia, then of the Kingdom of Northumbria. This portion of Scotland was contested from the time of Constantine II and finally fell into Scottish hands in 1018, when Máel Coluim II pushed the border as far south as the River Tweed. This remains the south-eastern border to this day.
Scotland, in the geographical sense it has retained for nearly a millennium, completed its expansion by the gradual incorporation of the Britons' kingdom of Strathclyde into Alba. In 1034, Donnchad I inherited Alba from his maternal grandfather, Máel Coluim II. With the exception of Orkney, the Western Isles, Caithness and Sutherland, which had come under the sway of the Norse, Scotland stood unified.
Macbeth, the Cenél Loairn candidate for the throne whose family had been suppressed by Máel Coluim II, defeated Donnchad in battle in 1040. Macbeth then ruled well for seventeen years before Donnchad's son Máel Coluim III overthrew him. (William Shakespeare, in his play Macbeth, later immortalised these events, in a heavily fictionalised way based on inaccurate contemporary history that flattered the antecedents of James VI of Scotland/I of England at Macbeth's expense).
After the Norman Conquest in 1066, Edgar, one of the claimants of the English throne opposing William the Conqueror, fled to Scotland. Máel Coluim married Edgar's sister Margaret, and thus came into opposition to William who had already disputed Scotland's southern borders. William invaded Scotland in 1072, riding through Lothian and past Stirling on to the Firth of Tay where he met his fleet of ships. Máel Coluim submitted, paid homage to William, and surrendered his son Donnchad as a hostage.
Margaret herself had a great influence on Scotland. She is said to have brought European cultivation to the warlike Scottish court. She had an English father and a Hungarian mother and had grown up in Hungary, recently pagan and largely untouched by the European culture of the period. However at this point the Church explicitly recognised the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) as its head and at her instigation, the Benedictine order founded a monastery at Dunfermline, and St Andrews began to replace Iona as the centre of ecclesiastical leadership. The rites of the Scottish church became gradually re-integrated with mainstream Western Catholicism from that base.
When Malcolm died in 1093, his brother Domnall III succeeded him. However,King William II of England backed Malcolm's son by his first marriage, Duncan, as a pretender to the throne. With the English behind him Donnchad briefly seized power. His murder within a few months saw Domnall restored with Edmund as his heir. The two ruled Scotland until two of Edmund's younger brothers returned from exile in England with English military backing. Victorious, the younger brothers imprisoned Domnall and Edmund for life, and Edgar, the oldest of the three, became king in 1097. Shortly afterwards Edgar and the King of Norway, Magnus Bare Legs concluded a treaty recognizing Norwegian authority over the Western Isles. In practice Norse control of the Isles was of the loosest nature, with local chiefs enjoying a high degree of independence. The following century, Somerled, the greatest of these, became King of the Hebrides in his own right. His descendants, the Lords of the Isles, continued to enjoy a semi-independent status until the end of the fifteenth century.
When Edgar died in 1107, Margaret's third son Alexander became king, and when he in turn died in 1124, the crown passed to her fourth son David I. During David's reign Lowland Scots (known as Inglis then) began to grow in south east Scotland, although Gaelic would continue to be spoken in many parts of what would become the Lowlands for centuries more.
The governmental and cultural innovations introduced by the Norman conquerors of England impressed David greatly, and he arranged for several notables to come north and take up places within the Scottish aristocracy. The Normans came into frequent conflict with the native nobility, especially in the north east and south west of the country.
In a mirror of the invitation of the Normans northwards, David received lands south of the border in fee from the English kings. This meant that the Kings of Scotland also functioned as Earls of Huntingdon, and that the Earls paid ceremonial homage to the English kings for the lands received. This homage proved problematic, however, as Malcolm Canmore as the King of Scotland had paid homage to the new Norman Kings of England twice after defeats during his various campaigns against the Normans in support of his Anglo-Saxon brother-in-law Edgar Atheling's claim to the English throne.
n 1263 Scotland and Norway fought the Battle of Largs for control over the Western Isles. Although the battle was little more than a series of indecisive skirmishes, it did at least prove that the distant kings of Norway could not continue to control the Isles. This was recognized soon after when the Norwegian king Magnus VI of Norway signed the Treaty of Perth in 1266, acknowledging Scottish suzerainty over the islands. Bit by bit, the Island chiefs were politically integrated into the Scottish state. In 1284 all of the descendants of Somerled attended a parliament called by King Alexander III to acknowledge his granddaughter, Margaret, as heir to the throne. The subsequent dynastic crisis caused by the death of Margaret and the onset on the Wars of Independence reversed this process. By the middle of the fourteenth century the MacDonald Lords of the Isles were once again loosening their ties to the crown.
A series of deaths in the line of succession in the 1280s, followed by King Alexander III's death in 1286 left the Scottish crown in disarray. His grand-daughter Margaret, the "Maid of Norway", a four-year old girl, was the heir.
King Edward I of England, as Margaret's great-uncle, suggested that his son (also a child) and Margaret should marry, stabilising the Scottish line of succession. In 1290 Margaret's guardians agreed to this, but Margaret herself died in Orkney on her voyage from Norway to Scotland before either her coronation or her marriage could take place.
The Auld Alliance
John Balliol, the man with the strongest claim to the throne, became king (30 November 1292). Robert Bruce of Annandale, the next strongest claimant, accepted this outcome with reluctance (his grandson and namesake later ascended the throne as Robert I).
Over the next few years Edward I used the concessions he had gained during the Great Cause systematically to undermine both the authority of King John and the liberty of Scotland. In 1295 John, on the urgings of his chief councillors, entered into an alliance with France. This was the beginning of the Auld Alliance.
In 1296 Edward invaded Scotland, deposing King John. The following year William Wallace and Andrew de Moray raised southern and northern parts of the country to resist the occupation. Under their joint leadership an English army was defeated at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. For a short time Wallace ruled Scotland in the name of John Balliol as Guardian of the realm.
Edward came north in person and defeated Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk (1298). Wallace escaped but resigned as Guardian of Scotland. John Comyn and Robert the Bruce were appointed in his place. In 1305 Wallace fell into the hands of the English, who executed him for treason despite the fact that he owed no allegiance to England.
In February 1306 Robert Bruce, the grandson of the Claimant, participated in the murder of John Comyn, a leading rival. Bruce went on to seize the crown, but Edward's forces overran the country after defeating Bruce's small army at the Battle of Methven. Despite the excommunication of Bruce and his followers by Pope Clement V his support slowly strengthened; and by 1314 with the help of leading nobles such as Sir James Douglas and the Earl of Moray only the castles at Bothwell and Stirling remained under English control.King Edward I had died in 1307. His heir King Edward II moved an army north to break the siege of Stirling Castle and reassert control. Robert defeated that army at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, securing de facto independence. In 1320 a remonstrance to the Pope from the nobles of Scotland (the Declaration of Arbroath) went part of the way towards convincing Pope John XXII to overturn the earlier excommunication and nullify the various acts of submission by Scottish kings to English ones so that Scotland's sovereignty could be recognised by the major European dynasties.
In 1326, the first full Parliament of Scotland met. The parliament had evolved from an earlier council of nobility and clergy, the colloquium, constituted around 1235, but in 1326 representatives of the burghs — the burgh commissioners — joined them to form the Three Estates.
In 1328,King Edward III signed the Treaty of Northampton acknowledging Scottish independence under the rule of King Robert the Bruce. Four years after Robert's death in 1329, however, England once more invaded on the pretext of restoring the "Rightful King" — Edward Balliol, son of John Balliol — to the Scottish throne, thus starting the Second War of Independence. In the face of tough Scottish resistance, led by Sir Andrew Murray, the son of Wallace's comrade in arms, successive attempts to secure Balliol on the throne failed. Edward III lost interest in the fate of his protege after the outbreak of the Hundred Years War with France. In 1341 David II, King Robert's son and heir, was able to return from temporary exile in France. Balliol finally resigned his vacant claim to the throne to Edward in 1356, before retiring to Yorkshire, where he died in 1364.
Late Mediæval Events
After David's death,King Robert II, the first of the Stewart (later Stuart) kings, came to the throne in 1371. He was followed in 1390 by his ailing son John, who took the regnal name King Robert III, to avoid awkward questions over the exact status of the first King John. During Robert III's reign (1390–1406), actual power rested largely in the hands of his brother, also named Robert, the Duke of Albany. In 1396 during this king's reign, the last trial by combat in Europe, the Battle of the Clans took place before the King in Perth.
However, problems with England continued. After the suspicious death (possibly on the orders of the Duke of Albany) of his elder son, David, Duke of Rothesay in 1402, Robert, fearful for the safety of his younger son, James (the future James I), sent him to France in 1406. Unfortunately, the English captured him en route and he spent the next 18 years as a prisoner held for ransom. As a result, after the death of King Robert III, regents ruled Scotland: first, the Duke of Albany; and later his son, during whose office the country fell into near anarchy. When Scotland finally paid the ransom in 1424, James returned at the age of 32, with his English bride. He determined to restore justice and the rule of law and to deal with his enemies. He set about this immediately and ruthlessly, using military measures, reforming the parliamentary and court systems, and killing anyone who threatened his authority, including his cousin Albany. This resulted in a much greater amount of power in the hands of the Scottish government than at any time preceding, but the process led to great unpopularity for James and finally to his assassination in 1437. His son King James II (reigned 1437–1460), when he came of age in 1449, continued his father's policy of weakening the great noble families, most notably taking on the great House of Douglas that had come to prominence at the time of the Bruce.
Scotland advanced markedly in educational terms during the fifteenth century with the founding of the University of St Andrews in 1413, the University of Glasgow in 1450 and the University of Aberdeen in 1494, and with the passing of the Education Act 1496.
In 1468 the last great acquisition of Scottish territory occurred when James III married Margaret of Denmark, receiving the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands in payment of her dowry.
After the death of James III in 1488, during or after the Battle of Sauchieburn, his successor King James IV successfully ended the quasi-independent rule of the Lord of the Isles, bringing the Western Isles under effective Royal control for the first time. In 1503, he married Henry VII's daughter, Margaret Tudor, thus laying the foundation for the 17th century Union of the Crowns. James IV's reign is often considered to be a period of cultural flourishing, and it was around this period that the European Renaissance began to infiltrate Scotland. King James IV was the last known Scottish king known to speak Gaelic, although some suggest his son could also.
In 1512, under a treaty extending the Auld Alliance, all nationals of Scotland and France also became nationals of each other's countries, a status not repealed in France until 1903 and which may never have been repealed in Scotland. However a year later, the Auld Alliance had more disastrous effects when James IV was required to launch an invasion of England to support the French when they were attacked by the English under King Henry VIII. The invasion was stopped decisively at the battle of Flodden Field during which the King, many of his nobles, and over 10,000 troops — The Flowers of the Forest — were killed. The extent of the disaster impacted throughout Scotland because of the large numbers killed, and once again Scotland's government lay in the hands of regents. The song The Flooers o' the Forest commemorated this, an echo of the poem Y Gododdin on a similar tragedy in about 600.
When James V finally managed to escape from the custody of the regents with the aid of his redoubtable mother in 1528, he once again set about subduing the rebellious Highlands, Western and Northern isles, as his father had had to do. He married the French noblewoman Marie de Guise. His reign was fairly successful, until another disastrous campaign against England led to defeat at the battle of Solway Moss (1542). James died a short time later. The day before his death, he was brought news of the birth of an heir: a daughter, who became Queen Mary I of Scotland (or 'Mary, Queen of Scots'). James is supposed to have remarked in Scots that "it cam wi a lass, it will gang wi a lass" - referring to the House of Stewart which began with Walter Stewart's marriage to the daughter of Robert the Bruce. Once again, Scotland was in the hands of a regent, James Hamilton, Earl of Arran.
As one of the constituent countries of the United Kingdom, the head of state in Scotland is the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II (since 1952). Constitutionally the United Kingdom is a unitary state with one sovereign parliament and government. Under a system of devolution (or home rule) Scotland was granted limited self-government after a referendum on devolution proposals in 1997. The British Parliament in Westminster retains the ability to amend, change, broaden or abolish the devolved government system at will. As such the Scottish Parliament is not sovereign.
Executive power in the United Kingdom is vested in the Queen-in-Council, while legislative power is vested in the Queen-in-Parliament (the Crown and the Parliament of the United Kingdom at Westminster in London). Under devolution executive and legislative powers in certain areas have been constitutionally delegated to the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood in Edinburgh respectively. The United Kingdom Parliament retains active power over Scotland's taxes, social security system, the military, international relations, broadcasting, and some other areas explicitly specified in the Scotland Act 1998 as reserved matters.
The Scottish Parliament has legislative authority for all other areas relating to Scotland, and has limited power to vary income tax - also known as tartan tax - but has never exercised this power. The Scottish Parliament can refer devolved matters back to Westminster to be considered as part of United Kingdom-wide legislation by passing a Legislative Consent Motion if United Kingdom-wide legislation is considered to be more appropriate for certain issues. The programmes of legislation enacted by the Scottish Parliament have seen a divergence in the provision of public services compared to the rest of the United Kingdom. For instance, the costs of a university education, and care services for the elderly are free at point of use in Scotland, while fees are paid in the rest of the UK. Scotland was the first country in the UK to ban smoking in public places.
The Scottish Parliament is a unicameral legislature comprising 129 Members, 73 of whom represent individual constituencies and are elected on a first past the post system; 56 are elected in eight different electoral regions by the additional member system, first elected on the 6 May 1999 and serving for a four year period. Her Majesty The Queen appoints one Member of the Scottish Parliament, (MSP), on the nomination of the Parliament, to be First Minister. Other Ministers are also appointed by the Queen on the nomination of the Parliament and together with the First Minister they make up the Scottish Executive, the executive arm of government.
In the 2007 election, the Scottish National Party (SNP), which campaigns for Scottish independence, won the greatest number seats of any single party. The leader of the SNP, Alex Salmond, was elected as First Minister of a minority government on 16th May 2007. In addition to the SNP, the Labour Party, led by Jack McConnell, the Conservative Party, led by Annabelle Goldie, the Liberal Democrats, led by Nicol Stephen and the Green Party, co-led by Robin Harper, are also represented in the Parliament. In addition Margo MacDonald is the only independent MSP sitting in Parliament.
Geography and Natural History
Scotland comprises the northern third of the island of Great Britain, which lies off the coast of north west Europe. The total land mass is 78,772 km² (30,414 mi²). Scotland's only land border is with England, and runs for 96 kilometres (60 miles) between the River Tweed on the east coast and the Solway Firth in the west. The Atlantic Ocean borders the west coast and the North Sea is to the east. The island of Ireland lies only 30 kilometres (20 mi) from the south western peninsula of Kintyre, Norway is 400 kilometres (250 mi) to the north east, the Faroes 310 kilometres (193 mi) and Iceland 798 km (496 mi) to the north west. The geographical centre of Scotland lies a few miles from the village of Newtonmore in Badenoch, far to the north of the modern population heartlands.
The territorial extent of Scotland is generally that established by the 1237 Treaty of York between Scotland and England and the 1266 Treaty of Perth between Scotland and Norway. Exceptions include: the Isle of Man, which is now a crown dependency outside the United Kingdom, the 15th century acquisitions of Orkney and Shetland from Norway; and Rockall, a small rocky islet in the North Atlantic which was annexed by the UK in 1955 and later declared part of Scotland by the Island of Rockall Act 1972. However, the legality of the claim is disputed by the Republic of Ireland, Denmark and Iceland and it is probably unenforceable in international law.
Over the course of many centuries, an amalgamation of various traditions has moulded the culture of Scotland. There is a robust arts scene, with both music and literature heavily influenced by Scottish sources and a variety of national media outlets. Several Scottish sporting traditions are unique to the British Isles, and co-exist with more popular games such as Football and Rugby.
The Scottish music scene is a significant aspect of Scottish culture, with both traditional and modern influences. An example of a traditional Scottish instrument is the Great Highland Bagpipe, a wind instrument consisting of one or more musical pipes which are fed continuously by a reservoir of air in a bag. The Clàrsach, fiddle and accordion are also traditional Scottish instruments, the latter two heavily featured in Scottish country dance bands. Scottish emigrants took traditional Scottish music with them and it influenced early local styles such as country music in North America. Today, there are many successful Scottish bands and individual artists in varying styles.
Scottish literature includes text written in English, Scottish Gaelic, Scots, French, and Latin. The poet and songwriter Robert Burns wrote in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and in a "light" Scots dialect which is more accessible to a wider audience. Similarly, the writings of Sir Walter Scott and Arthur Conan Doyle were internationally successful during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. J. M. Barrie introduced the movement known as the "kailyard tradition" at the end of the 19th century, which brought elements of fantasy and folklore back into fashion. This tradition has been viewed as a major stumbling block for Scottish literature, as it focused on an idealised, pastoral picture of Scottish culture. Some modern novelists, such as Irvine Welsh (of Trainspotting fame), write in a distinctly Scottish English that reflects the harsher realities of contemporary life.
The national broadcaster is the politically correct BBC Scotland (BBC Alba in Gaelic), a constituent part of the British Broadcasting Corporation, the publicly-funded broadcaster of the United Kingdom. It runs two national television stations and the national radio stations, BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio nan Gaidheal amongst others. The main Scottish commercial television stations are STV and Border Television. National newspapers such as the Daily Record, The Herald, and The Scotsman are all produced in Scotland. Important regional dailies include The Courier in Dundee in the east, and The Press and Journal serving Aberdeen and the north.
Sport s an important element in Scottish culture, with the country hosting many of its own national sporting competitions, and enjoying independent representation at many international sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup, the Rugby World Cup and the Commonwealth Games (although not the Olympic Games). Scotland has its own national governing bodies, such as the Scottish Football Association (the second oldest national football association in the world) and the Scottish Rugby Union. Variations of football have been played in Scotland for centuries with the earliest reference being in 1424. Association football is now the national sport and the Scottish Cup is the world's oldest national trophy. The Fife town of St. Andrews is known internationally as the Home of Golf and to many golfers the Old Course, an ancient links course dating to before 1574, is considered to be a site of pilgrimage. There are many other famous golf courses in Scotland, including Carnoustie, Gleneagles, Muirfield and Royal Troon. Other distinctive features of the national sporting culture include the Highland Games, curling and shinty. Scotland played host to the Commonwealth Games in 1970 and 1986. Scotland played host to them again in 2014 when John Barrowman went around French-kissing other men on stage, turning the event into a homosexual supremacist rally.
- The Flag of Scotland, the Saltire or St. Andrew's Cross, dates (at least in legend) from the 9th century, and is thus the oldest national flag still in use. The Saltire now also forms part of the design of the Union Flag.
- The Royal Standard of Scotland, a banner showing the Royal Arms of Scotland, is also frequently to be seen, particularly at sporting events involving a Scottish team. Often called the Lion Rampant (after its chief heraldic device), it is technically the property of the monarch and its use by anybody else is illegal, although this is almost universally ignored, and never enforced.
- The unicorn is also used as a heraldic symbol of Scotland. The Royal Coat of Arms of Scotland, used prior to 1603 by the Kings of Scotland, incorporated a lion rampant shield supported by two unicorns. On the Union of the Crowns, the Arms were quartered with those of England and Ireland, and one unicorn was replaced by a lion (the supporters of England).
- The Honours of Scotland, the Scottish Crown Jewels, are displayed in the Crown Room of Edinburgh Castle, from where they are removed only for State Occasions. Stylised versions of the Crown of Scotland appear upon the badges of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, those of the Scottish Police Forces, the Scottish Ambulance Service and upon Royal Mail premises, vehicles and pillar/wall boxes in Scotland.
- The thistle, the floral emblem of Scotland, features in many Scottish symbols and logos, and on UK currency. Heather is also considered to be a symbol of Scotland.
- Flower of Scotland is popularly held to be the National Anthem of Scotland, and is played at international events such as football or rugby matches involving the Scotland national team. However, since devolution, more serious discussion of a national anthem has led to this being disputed. Other candidates include Scots Wha Hae, Scotland the Brave and A Man's A Man for A' That.
- Tartan is a specific woven textile pattern that often signifies a particular Scottish clan, as featured in a kilt.
- St Andrew's Day, the 30th of November, is the national day, although Burns' Night tends to be more widely observed. Tartan Day is a recent innovation from Canada. In 2006, the Scottish Parliament passed the St. Andrew's Day Bank Holiday (Scotland) Act 2007, designating the day to be an official bank holiday.
- "Registrar-General's Mid-2005 Population Estimates for Scotland". Gro-scotland.gov.uk. 2010-02-16. Archived from the original on 2008-02-15. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
- "Population of Scotland at its highest since 1977". STV. 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2011-04-27.
- "St Andrew—Quick Facts". Scotland.org—The Official Online Gateway. Retrieved 2007-12-02.