Overview of Scottish History
The Romans invaded Britain in the 1st century AD, during which time they added southern Britain to their empire as the province Britannia. They were, however, unable to subdue the fierce tribes in the north. A massive wall was built across the island from sea to sea on demand by the Emperor Hadrian to keep these tribes from invading Britannia. Parts of this Hadrian's Wall still stand on the Scottish border today.
The Normans conquered England in 1066, afterwhich many Anglo-Saxons from
England settled in the Lowlands of Scotland. This is when the Scots gradually
adopted the English ways. Feudalism was established and the chiefs of the
clans became nobles. Scottish towns began to grow, trade was
increased and Scotland thrived.
In the year 1290, the heiress to the throne, Margaret, died. Sir Edward I of
England claimed the right to bestow the Crown and made John de Baliol the king.
When Edward sought help from John against the French, John entered into an
alliance with France. This was the beginning of the 260 years that Scotland
held to this so-called ‘auld alliance’ with England’s enemy.
Edward crossed the Scottish border in the year 1296, took John prisoner and
proclaimed himself the King of Scotland. The Scots weren’t very impressed
with the change and they rose again. They were led by Sir William Wallace. Under his leadership they managed to route the English at the Stirling Bridge in 1297 and pursued
them across the border. Edward returned the following year and inflicted a
disastrous defeat on the Scots at Falkirk. Wallace was imprisoned and was
Robert the Bruce followed in Wallace’s foot steps and fought against the
English in 1314 at Bannockburn near Stirling Castle. Only in 1328 did Edward III
formally recognize Scotland’s independence.
After that, James IV of Scotland married Margaret the daughter of Henry VII of
England in 1503. When he died the throne went to his baby daughter, Mary Stuart.
Mary was driven out by John Knox who was an follower of John Calvin, one of the
leaders of the reformation. Mary returned to Scotland, however, in the year 1561,
but was captured and imprisoned. She escaped and fled to England, where Queen
Elizabeth I captured her and executed her.
Mary’s son, James VI, was brought up as a Presbyterian and took over the throne of
Queen Elizabeth when she died. Scotland and England were united under one single
king, however, Scotland remained a separate state with its own parliament and
The age-old rivalry between Scotland and England ended formally in 1707 when the
parliaments of both nations agreed to the Act of Union. This act merged the
parliaments of the two nations and established the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Eventually a new Scottish parliament was established in Edinburgh to oversee the territory of Scotland.