All Together Now

On May 1, 1328, the English Parliament ratified the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, ending the First War of Scottish Independence, which had dragged on since 1296. Under the provisions of the treaty, Scotland paid England £20,000 and England recognized Scotland as an independent nation, with Robert the Bruce as king and his heirs as rightful inheritors of the crown.

The peace lasted only five years: in 1333, Edward III of England started to rule in his own right and he overturned the treaty, which was unpopular with the English nobles. The Second War of Scottish Independence began and lasted until a more permanent peace was established in 1357. Scotland remained an independent realm until James VI inherited the crown of England after the death of Elizabeth I in 1603.

Ironically, almost 380 years after Scotland managed to re-establish itself as an independent nation, The Acts of Union took effect, officially joining the Kingdoms of England and Scotland into a united kingdom known as Great Britain. There had been earlier attempts (in 1606, 1667, and 1689) to unite the two kingdoms, but they all failed to take hold. It wasn’t until 1706 that representatives from the two kingdoms met to seriously hash out the details of a union, which included such concessions as giving the Scots access to English colonial markets, in an effort to bolster the Scottish economy. Negotiations concluded in July and the acts were sent to both Parliaments for ratification. The English Parliament accepted the acts; the Scots had to be persuaded, and they didn’t finally agree to ratify the act until January 1707. On March 25, the Scottish Parliament
adjourned; it didn’t reconvene until 1999, when it was given the power to make laws in Scotland and oversee local issues.

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