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The spread of Celtic Christianity also helped to unite the people. The first Christian mission to Scotland had come to southwest Scotland in about AD 400. Later, in 563, Columba, known as the Dove of the Church, came from Ireland. Through his work both Highland Scots and Picts were brought to Christianity. He even, so it is said, defeated a monster in Loch Ness, the first mention of this famous creature. By the time of the Synod of Whitby in 663, the Picts, Scots and Britons had all been brought closer together by Christianity.

The Angles were very different from the Celts. They had arrived in Britain in family groups, but they soon began to accept the authority from people outside their own family. This was partly due to their way of life. Although they kept some animals, they spent more time growing crops. This meant that land was held by individual people, each man working in his own field. Land was distributed for farming by the local lord. This system encouraged the Angles of Scotland to develop a non-tribal system of control, as the people of England further south were doing. This increased their feeling of difference from the Celtic tribal Highlanders further north.

Finally, as in Ireland and in Wales, foreign invaders increased the speed of political change. Vikings attacked the coastal areas of Scotland, and they settled on many of the islands, Shetland, the Orkneys, the Hebrides, and the Isle of Man southwest of Scotland. In order to resist them, Picts and Scots fought together against the enemy raiders and settles. When they couldnt push them out of the islands and coastal areas, they had to deal with them politically. At first the Vikings, or Norsemen, still served the King of Norway. But communications with Norway were difficult. Slowly the earls of Orkney and other areas found it easier to accept the king of Scots as their overlord, rather than the more distant king of Norway.

However, as the Welsh had also discovered, the English were a greater danger than the Vikings. In 934 the Scots were seriously defeated by a Wessex army pushing northwards. The Scots decided to seek the friendship of the English, because of the likely losses from war. England was obviously stronger than Scotland but, luckily for the Scots, both the north of England and Scotland were difficult to control from London. The Scots hoped that if they were reasonably peaceful the Sassenachs[5] would leave them along.

Scotland remained a difficult country to rule even from its capital, Edinburgh. Anyone looking at a map of Scotland can see that control of the Highlands and islands was a great problem. Travel was often impossible in winter, and slow and difficult in summer. It was easy for a clan chief or noble to throw off the rule of the king.


II. we will never consent to subject ourselves to the dominion of the English.

England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland were once known as the British Isles. Nowadays this term is normally used only in Geography. In fact, the people of these isles have seldom been politically or culturally united. English kings started wars to unite the British Isles from the 12th century. These wars were wars of conquest and only the Welsh war was a success.

At that time England was ruled by several ambitious kings, who wanted to conquer more countries for themselves and to add more titles to their names. They had, as a rule, absolutely no interest in the people of the countries that they wished to conquer. It did not concern them that these wars brought misery to the people in whose land they fought. The result was generally to create a strong, national, patriotic feeling in the invaded country, and a great hatred of the invader.

I dont have much space here to speak about the history of Scotland in details that is why Id like to mention one historical episode which shows the Scottish attitude towards freedom and independence. (For the chronology of the events in the history of Scotland see Appendices,

page 24).

Although Scottish kings had sometimes accepted the English king as their overlord, they were much stronger than the many Welsh kings had been. Scotland owes its clan system partly to an Englishwoman, Margaret, the Saxon Queen of Malcolm III. After their marriage in 1069, she introduced new fashions and new ideas to the Scottish court and among the new ideas was the feudal system of land tenure. Until that time, most of the country had been divided into seven semi-independent tribal provinces. Under the feudal system, all land belonged to the king, who distributed it among his followers in exchange for allegiance and service. But a Highland chieftain could easily ignore a far-off Lowland king and, as time went by, the clan chiefs became minor kings themselves. They made alliances with other clans, had the power of life and death over their followers.

By the 11th century there was only one king of Scots, and he ruled over all the south and east of Scotland. In Ireland and Wales Norman knights were strong enough to fight local chiefs on their own. But only the English king with a large army could hope to defeat the Scots. Most English kings did not even try, but Edward I was different.

The Scottish kings were closely connected with England. Since Saxon times marriages had frequently taken place between the Scottish and English royal families. At the same time the Scottish kings wanted to establish strong government and so they offered land to Norman knights from England in return for their loyalty.

In 1290 a crises took place over the succession to the Scottish throne. On a stormy night in 1286 King Alexander of Scotland was riding home along a path by the sea in the dark. His horse took a false step, and the king was thrown from the top of a cliff.

Disputes arose at once among all those who had any claim at all to the Scottish throne. Finally two of the claimants, John de Balliol and Robert Bruce, were left. Scottish nobles wanted to avoid civil war and invited Edward I to settle the matter. Edward had already shown interest in joining Scotland to his kingdom. He wanted his son to marry Margaret, the heir to the Scottish throne, but she had died in a shipwreck. Now he had another chance. He told both men that they must do homage to him, and so accept his overlordship, before he would help settle the question. He then invaded Scotland and put one of them, John de Balliol, on the Scottish throne.

De Balliols four years as a king were not a success. First Edward made him provide money and troops for the English army and the Scottish nobles rebelled. They felt that Edward was ruining their country.

Then Edward invaded Scotland again, and captured all the main Scottish castles. During this invasion he stole the sacred Stone of Destiny from Scone Abbey. The legend said that all Scottish kings must sit on it. Edward believed that without the Stone, any Scottish coronation would be meaningless, and that his own possession of the Stone would persuade the Scots to accept him as king. However, neither he nor his successors became kings of Scots, and the Scottish kings managed perfectly well without the stone.

All this led to the creation a popular resistance movement. At first it was led by William Wallace, a Norman-Scottish knight. But after one victory against English army, Wallaces peoples army was itself destroyed by Edward in 1297.

It seemed that Edward had won after all. Wallace was captured and executed. His head was put on a pole on London Bridge. Edward tried to make Scotland a part of England as he had already done with Wales. Some Scottish nobles accepted him, but the people refused to be ruled by the English king. Scottish nationalism was born on the day Wallace died.

A new leader took up the struggle. This was Robert Bruce, who had competed with John de Balliol for the throne. He was able to raise an army and defeat the English army in Scotland. Edward the I gathered another great army and marched against Robert Bruce, but he died on the way north in 1327. On Edwards grave were written the words Edward, the Hammer of the Scots. He had intended to hammer them into the ground and destroy them, but in fact he had hammered them into a nation.