A brief history of Scotland

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Scotland seems to have been populated since the pre historical age. In the first millennium BC a population called Scots first reached this territory, from where Scotland took its name, followed by the Picts and Celts (500 BC), grouped under the name of Bretons. Yet in 843 the first social-political nucleon saw the birth, resulting from the union of the Scots and Picts kingdoms, but the history of Scotland will be marked by numerous battles and fights among the various ethnic and political groups.

Particularly, the history of this country is an alternation of alliances and disputes with the neighboring EnglishKingdom. The first Independence battle saw the legendary William Wallace as protagonist, who defeated the English troops in 1297, but succumbed the year after. This central episode is recalled in the 1995 film “Braveheart” with Mel Gibson, and in 1320 it brought to the first Declaration of Independence against England, ratified by the British Parliament in 1328 with the Northampton Treaty.

The agreement, however, did not mark the end of the inner and outer conflicts, and Scotland soon precipitated into a succession crisis from which the Stuart dynasty emerged. But despite their victory, the Stuarts proved to be not suitable for the government of the Scottish territory, and the situation worsened with the series of marriage agreements established with France, fostered by a common Catholic belief and the contrast against Anglican England.

One of the most famous pages of the alliance between Scotland and France regards Mary Stuart: initially destined to be the queen of France, after her husband’s death she was forced to return to Scotland, in order to oppose a Catholic queen to the ascent of Elisabeth I. Incapable to rule the Highlands and most of all to understand the needs of her people, Mary Stuart caused a string of diplomatic disasters: she first proposed herself as legitimate queen in the place of Elisabeth, then in 1568, to flee away from the Scottish lords, she asked for asylum right to Elisabeth. She was finally guillotined in 1587 upon the Queen’s order, an order which has always been surrounded by mystery.

Paradoxically it was Mary Stuart’s son, James VI, who united the kingdoms of Scotland and England under the same crown after Elisabeth’s death in 1603. The reunion of the two kingdoms didn’t correspond, however, to a real political union: in fact the two reigns passed under different Stuart kings with separate sovereignty. In 1707 the Act of Union was signed, followed by other episodes of rebellion, which marked the end of Scotland’s independence and cancelled its parliament. According to the Act, some Scottish delegates were admitted to the parliament to represent their country.

Once annexed to the United Kingdom, Scotland followed its vicissitudes for the entire course of modern age until the turn of 1997, when a popular referendum affirmed the reconstitution of the Scottish parliament, independent from that of London, with decision-making power at local level.

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