The Union of England and Scotland

WHY DID ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND BECOME ONE?

In 1603, when James VI of Scotland also became the king of England, the union of England and Scotland as one country happened. Initially there were frequent quarrels between the borderers, after this prolonged consideration the Act of Union was passed on 1st May 1707. The Union was not popular among both the countries. As years passed by there was better understanding and co-operation between the partners which proved beneficial to both the parties. The later part of the 18th Century of Scotland is considered to be the Golden Age that too because of this Union.

PRIOR TO UNION:

  • The contact between people of both nations was low as the Scots had lot contacts with European countries.

  • For higher education the Presbyterian clergy and lawyers went to the Dutch Universities.

  • Business was done with Holland and Scandinavia.

  • And so Scotland had no connection with England in prior.

AFTER UNION- THE TRANSFORMATION OF SCOTLAND:

Agriculture:

  • Scotland was poor in agriculture before the Union.

  • After union they imitated England’s methods of cultivation.

  • Later Scottish agricultural experiments became very successive and now they were in the state of teaching England.

Living:

  • In the earlier years Scotland suffered of low wages, poor living and periodic famine.

  • Things changed better after the Union. Potatoes, vegetables, cheese and occasionally meats were added to porridge and milk as a staple diet of the Poor.

Housing:

  • The hovels that the peasants shared with cattle was replaced by solid stone farms and cottages with one or two rooms, with chimneys, glass windows, beds, furniture and outside privies.

Religion:

  • The national religion of Scotland was Presbyterianism.

  • This means, a church governed by elders and ministers, all of equal rank.

  • The punishments inflicted on sins were stern. This made the young women to conceal pregnancy or sometime to child murder.

  • Later these types of strict punishments were avoided and that is because of England and their practices.

Social Contact:

  • Before this Union there was a rare contact between both the countries.

  • The some, who were went on a tour to Scotland occasionally complaint on their bad accommodation and not good landscapes.

  • Later as the agriculture developed Scotland became beautiful and even inspired Wordsworth to write The Solitary Reaper and To the Highland Girl.

  • As a matter of fact all the great literary men of England visited Scotland at least once.

  • And so the social contact became high.

Literature:

  • Scottish Literary geniuses of the period are, Robert Burns, George Smollett, Sir Walter Scott and Thomas Carlyle.

  • The greatest biography of Dr. Johnson was written by a Scot.

  • David Hume, the Scottish Philosopher became famous not just in England but also in France with the publication of his book, Political Discourses. (first written in English then in French)

Feudalism:

  • For centuries together the shackles of Feudalism kept Scottish people inactive and disconnected.

  • The Union with England gave them an opportunity to become partakers in the overseas trade and also to immigrate to foreign countries.

Education:

  • In the field of education, Scotland was miserably poor.

  • Sending Scottish son to an English University for studies was unthinkable.

  • And the educational institutes in Scotland did not maintain an encouraging academic atmosphere.

  • Glasgow at the time of Union was a market and University town of small population.

  • Later it rose with spectacular improvement in the living conditions. The University became popular for its philosophers, lawyers and academicians.

  • The city continued to be the legal, fashionable and intellectual center of the country.

Scottish Missionaries:

  • The Union opened a new avenue for the activities of the Scottish Missionaries in many parts of the British Empire.

  • In addition to doing missionary works they also established a network of educational institutions.

Sources:

Social History of England by Louise Creighton

An Introduction to the Social History of England by A.G.Xavier

A Short History of Social Life in England by M B Synge

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