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Act of Union: 1707

Given the centuries of hostility between Scotland and England, with warfare even in the 17th century under a shared Stuart king, the union of the two kingdoms seems to come with surprising suddeness. It has been under discussion for a considerable time, for James VI and I tries to achieve it after inheriting the English throne in 1603. But the idea meets with little favour (although imposed during the Commonwealth) until the early 18th century.

The motivation in 1707 is largely economic for the Scots and political for the English.

Scotland has recently suffered a disastrous failure in setting up a colony in 1698 in Darien, on the isthmus of Panama. By the time the experiment is abandoned, in 1700, it is estimated to have cost 200,000 and some 2000 lives. Tariff-free access to all English markets, both in Britain and in the developing colonies, seems commercially a rather more attractive option.

For England, engaged in lengthy wars with the French (who are sympathetic to the exiled Stuart dynasty), it is attractive to remove the danger of any threat from the country's only land border. The union of the kingdoms creates an island realm.

The Act of Union abolishes the Scottish parliament, giving the Scots instead a proportion of the seats at Westminster (forty-five in the commons, sixteen in the lords). Scotland's legal system, radically different from English common law, is specifically safeguarded.

There is unrest and warfare in Scotland during much of the 18th century because a strong faction, particularly in the Highlands, supports the Jacobite cause (the claim to the throne of the exiled Stuarts). This discontent erupts twice, in the rebellions of 1715 and 1745. But the majority of Scots are content with a new role in a kingdom united under the title Great Britain. A renewal of Scottish nationalism must await the 20th century.

Stuarts in exile: 1689-1745

The Stuart dynasty does not come to an end, on the thrones of Scotland and England, until the death of Queen Anne in 1714. The revolution of 1688 has merely brought in a junior branch of the royal house, in place of the Catholic James VII and II (of Scotland and England). James lives in exile in France from 1689 until his death in 1701.

With the exiled king is his son, also James, born in 1688 and in terms of descent undeniably the rightful heir to the two kingdoms. In 1701 Louis XIV, eager to offend Britain, recognises the young prince as James VIII of Scotland and James III of England in succession to his father. These are the titles by which he is known to his supporters, the Jacobites. But to the English he is merely the Old Pretender.

James is the older of two pretenders because the Jacobite cause remains a passionate theme in British history long enough to support another. James's son, Charles Edward Stuart, is born in 1720. Known as the Young Pretender, or more romantically as Bonnie Prince Charlie, he takes on the leadership of the Stuart cause and presses it with considerably greater vigour than his father. Between them they make three attempts to recover their throne.

James first embarks from France to lead an uprising in Scotland in 1708, but he is prevented from landing in the Firth of Forth by the arrival of a British fleet. Seven years later he tries again, in response to efforts made by his followers at home.

A Jacobite uprising in Scotland, launched by the earl of Mar in September 1715, tempts James to cross from France later that year. He lands in December and goes to Scone, where preparations are under way for his coronation. But, finding his supporters disorganized and incompetent, the Old Pretender decides that discretion should indeed be the better part of valour. By February he is back in France.

The fiasco of this uprising of 1715, often known simply as the Fifteen, ensures that the Hanoverians are secure on the English throne. But the Jacobite cause remains a romantic one, passionately held. It surfaces again thirty years later in a final and more serious attempt, the Forty-Five, led by the Young Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie.

The Forty-Five: 1745

Charles Edward Stuart seems to be offered an unrepeatable opportunity when France declares war on Britain in 1744, during the War of the Austrian Succession. He participates in early French plans for invasion of Britain. These are soon abandoned, but events in 1745 - with Britain losing to France in the campaign on the continent - convince the young prince that he stands a chance of success in Scotland even without foreign support.

Charles lands in the Hebrides early in August 1745. The Jacobite Highland clans rally to his cause and the prince marches south, gathering forces as he goes. On September 16 he enters Edinburgh. On the next day he proclaims his father James VIII of Scotland.

Within a week Charles has to defend this claim on the battlefield. At Prestonpans, on September 21, he meets and defeats an army led by Sir John Cope. After this victory (news of which promptes the recall of Cumberland and his army from the Netherlands) Charles marches south to invade England. He takes Carlisle in November and by early December has progressed as far south as Derby.

At this point his followers lose heart. They are too far from safety in Scotland, and the promised French support has not materialized. On December 6 Charles heads back north, pursued now by the duke of Cumberland.

The two sides finally meet in pitched battle on 16 April 1746 at Culloden. Charles has marched his force of about 5000 Scots through the previous night in an attempt to surprise the larger army (some 9000 men) of the duke of Cumberland. The battle, on an exposed moor, lasts only an hour. The Scots are competely routed.

It is the end of the Jacobite cause. A price of 30,000 is put on the Pretender's head, but he manages to escape back to France after five months in hiding (thanks to the romantic intervention of Flora Macdonald). Cumberland acquires the nickname 'butcher' because of his brutal persecution of Jacobite sympathisers. And the government introduces severe measures to pacify the Highlands.

Pacifying the Highlands: 1715-1782

The abortive Jacobite uprising of 1715 makes the Whig government and the Hanoverian monarch well aware that the Highlands of Scotland require careful control. The most important response to the challenge is a programme of road building. Intended purely to facilitate the rapid movement of troops, the new roads are incidentally of great economic benefit to Scotland.

The task of building them is entrusted to George Wade, who is commander-in-chief of North Britain from 1724 to 1740. He supervises the construction of 240 miles of roads across the Highlands, to a very high standard for the period, together with some forty bridges.

After the much more serious rebellion of 1745, the British government takes more punitive measures. Estates are forfeited, Highlanders are not allowed to carry arms, and - in the most symbolic and widely remembered gesture - the wearing of Highland dress and Tartan is forbidden in the 1747 Act of Proscription (the restriction is lifted in 1782).

The crisis of 1745, even though in the nature of a civil war, is used by the Hanoverian majority to stir up a fervour of national sentiment. The first recorded occasion of a British crowd singing the national anthem is at Drury Lane in September 1745, a month after the Young Pretender has landed in Scotland.

On this occasion George Wade's efforts in Scotland earn him a place in the lyrics. The crowd fervently sing out their hope that the famous general will 'like a torrent rush, rebellious Scots to crush' and thus will 'confound their politics, frustrate their knavish tricks'.

The crisis was never as great as such dramatic treatment makes it seem. The majority of Scots, living an increasingly prosperous existence in the more comfortable Lowlands, have little sympathy with wild and dangerous Highland schemes. They are busy turning Edinburgh into one of the most civilized of 18th-century cities, in both architectural and intellectual terms - as the home of the Scottish Enlightenment.

The Scottish Enlightenment: 1748-1785

During the second half of the 18th century Scotland is in the forefront of intellectual and scientific developments. The movement known now as the Scottish Enlightenment has much in common with the broader Enlightenment, in its emphasis on rational processes and the potential of scientific research. This Scottish version is mainly of interest for the concentration of achievement within a small region. The people involved are in the university departments and laboratories of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The founding figure can be said to be the philosopher David Hume. He publishes his most significant work, A Treatise on Human Nature, early in his life, in 1739-40, but it receives little attention at the time.

Hume travels during much of the 1740s, becoming better known only after he settles in Edinburgh in 1751. His treatise is now published again in three more accessible parts (An Essay concerning Human Understanding 1748, An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals 1751, A Dissertation on the Passions 1757). His Political Discourses of 1752 give him a wider reputation, being translated into French.

At this time he becomes a close friend of Adam Smith, who as yet is a primarily a moral philosopher - making his name in 1759 with The Theory of Moral Sentiments. His great work of political economy, The Wealth of Nations, is still nearly two decades in the future.

Hume and Smith are the intellectual leaders of this Scottish movement, but they have distinguished colleagues in scientific research. In 1756 Joseph Black, a lecturer in chemistry in Glasgow, publishes a paper which demonstrates the existence of carbon dioxide. Five years later Black discovers the principle of latent heat. By that time he has befriended a Glasgow laboratory technician, James Watt, who also has an enquiring mind and an interest in heat.

Meanwhile in Edinburgh a 'Society of Gentleman in Scotland' has been formed to emulate the great publishing achievement of the continental Enlightenment, Diderot's Encyclopédie which has been appearing in parts since 1751.

The gentlemen in Scotland produce between 1768 and 1771 the first edition of a dictionary of the arts and sciences under the title Encyclopaedia Britannica. Unlike its French predecessor, it has been revised and reissued ever since.

While the Encyclopaedia Britannica is coming off the presses, a retired doctor in Edinburgh has been studying the local rock strata. In 1785 James Hutton reads a paper on this unusual topic to the newly founded Royal Society of Edinburgh. His approach breaks new ground. Hutton is the pioneer of scientific geology, one of the main contributions of the Scottish Enlightenment to the field of human enquiry.

Edinburgh New Town: from1766

The confidence of Scotland during the Scottish Enlightenment is well suggested in the magnificent New Town built to the north of medieval Edinburgh. A valley and a lake separate the crowded ancient city, on the slope of the hill up to the castle, from open fields on the adjacent ridge.

In 1766 it is decided to drain the lake to facilitate access across the valley. Designs are invited for a new residential area on the other side. The competition is won by a 22-year-old local architect, James Craig, who submits a simple rectilinear plan of three streets (Princes Street, George Street, Queen Street) running parallel to the valley and terminating in two squares.

Work begins in 1767 and continues for half a century, with different architects all conforming to a style of restrained classicism and together creating a masterpiece of town planning. The peak of elegance is Charlotte Square, situated at the west end of George Street and named after George III's queen. The square is designed in 1791 by Robert Adam and the buildings on the north side (started just before his death in 1792) fulfil his intentions in every detail.

This new Edinburgh is a perfect metropolis for modern Scottish gentlemen. But many such gentlemen, at home on their estates, are now engendering future trouble by an equivalently modern approach to agriculture.

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