Scotland: Scotland to the Union

Scotland to the Union

Scotland enjoyed comparative peace for a few years, as many of the nobility followed the court to England. Presbyterianism and its maintenance now became the great question. The desire to bar episcopacy (governance of the church by bishops), which was favored by the Stuarts, shaped every political move of the Scottish Parliament (Estates). The Covenanters declared their opposition to the liturgical forms imposed by Charles I and stoutly resisted his attempt to bring them to heel in the Bishops' Wars (1639–40). These wars led directly to the English civil war.

Although Scotland, like England, was somewhat divided in opinion, the great majority opposed the king, and Charles's efforts to win the Scots by yielding rights to Presbyterianism in 1641 came too late to sway the 8th earl of Argyll and his Covenanters. Yet James Graham, earl of Montrose, almost succeeded, with his wild Highlander troops, in winning Scotland for the king in 1644–45. Meanwhile, the Covenanters sought to force Presbyterianism on England, and the English Parliament proclaimed that form of religion in 1643. But the English army under Oliver Cromwell ultimately prevailed over Parliament, and the Scottish religion gained only toleration, not supremacy, in England.

Charles I surrendered to the Scots, who handed him over to the English Parliament. Scottish sympathies shifted to Charles, however, and their army fought for him in 1648. The execution of the king in 1649 caused a revulsion of feeling in Scotland, and the junction with England imposed by Cromwell (see Protectorate) was extremely unpopular. Many Scots rallied to Charles II, who was crowned at Scone in 1651, and the Restoration (1660) was cause for great rejoicing. The Stuarts, however, sought once more to restore episcopacy, and the Covenanters were, for many decades, subjected to severe persecution.

The Scots hated the Roman Catholic James II even more bitterly than the English did, and the accession in 1689 of William III and Mary II was met with widespread support, if not enthusiasm. With the Glorious Revolution (1688–89), Presbyterianism once more became the national church. But the Jacobites, supporters of the exiled Stuarts, caused great disruption, particularly in the Highlands, and the massacre of a Highland clan at Glencoe (1692) tended to discredit the new government. Scotland's commercial interests nursed economic grievances against William, primarily for his failure to support the Darién Scheme and for the discriminatory Navigation Acts.

Constitutional union of England and Scotland, which had been considered ever since the junction of the crowns, was rejected at this time by the English, but its desirability became increasingly apparent. The question of succession to the throne was a burning issue in the reign of Queen Anne (1702–14), whose children predeceased her, in face of assiduous Jacobite activity in both kingdoms. Finally, in order to assure the Hanoverian succession (provided in the Act of Settlement, 1701) after Anne's death, the union was voted by both Parliaments in 1707, providing for Scottish representatives in a Parliament of Great Britain. Equality of trading privileges and toleration of episcopacy, along with recognition of a Presbyterian Established Church of Scotland, were among the terms of the union. The Jacobites attempted in 1715 and again in 1745 to destroy the union, but without success, and Scotland had peace at last.

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