A History of Scotland episode 7 – Let’s Pretend

A History of Scotland episode 7 - Let's Pretend

A History of Scotland episode 7 – Let’s Pretend: Bitterly divided by politics and religion for centuries, this is the infamous story of how Scotland and England came together in 1707 to form Great Britain. Over time the Union matured into one of the longest in European history, but it very nearly ended in divorce.




Exploiting the Union’s unpopularity, the exiled Stuarts staged several comebacks, selling themselves as a credible and liberal alternative to the Hanoverian regime. Neil Oliver reveals just how close they came to succeeding.

Documentary charting the birth and growth of the Scottish nation. Scotland’s history has been badly served over the years. Defined by its relationship to England, Scotland’s popular history is full of near-mythical figures and tragic events, her past littered with defeat, failure and thwarted ambition. The martyrdom of William Wallace, the tragedy of Mary Queen of Scots and the forlorn cause of Bonnie Prince Charlie all give the impression of ‘poor’ Scotland; a victim of misfortune, leading to the country’s inevitable submission to the Auld Enemy.

After the Union in 1707, Scotland’s increasing reliance on England culminated in a crisis of confidence and identity that tortures the country to this day. But how accurate is this version of events? Using the very latest in historical research and by placing Scotland’s story in the wider context of British, European and global history, some of the myths that pervade the past will be exploded to reveal a Scotland which forged its own destiny, often with success.


A History of Scotland episode 7 – Let’s Pretend


Kingdom of Great Britain

The Kingdom of Great Britain was a sovereign country in Western Europe from 1 May 1707 to the end of 31 December 1800. The state was created by the 1706 Treaty of Union and ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England (which included Wales) and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The unitary state was governed by a single parliament at the Palace of Westminster, but distinct legal systems – English law and Scots law – remained in use.

The formerly separate kingdoms had been in personal union since the 1603 “Union of the Crowns” when James VI of Scotland became King of England and King of Ireland. Since James’s reign, who had been the first to refer to himself as “king of Great Britain”, a political union between the two mainland British kingdoms had been repeatedly attempted and aborted by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. Queen Anne (r. 1702–1714) did not produce a clear Protestant heir and endangered the line of succession, with the laws of succession differing in the two kingdoms and threatening a return to the throne of Scotland of the Roman Catholic House of Stuart, exiled in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

The resulting kingdom was in legislative and personal union with the Kingdom of Ireland from its inception, but the Parliament of Great Britain resisted early attempts to incorporate Ireland in the political union. The early years of the newly united kingdom were marked by Jacobite risings, particularly the Jacobite rising of 1715. The relative incapacity or ineptitude of the Hanoverian kings resulted in a growth in the powers of Parliament and a new role, that of “prime minister”, emerged in the heyday of Robert Walpole. The “South Sea Bubble” economic crisis was brought on by the failure of the South Sea Company, an early joint-stock company. The campaigns of Jacobitism ended in defeat for the Stuarts’ cause in 1746.

The Hanoverian line of monarchs gave their names to the Georgian era and the term “Georgian” is typically used in the contexts of social and political history for Georgian architecture. The term “Augustan literature” is often used for Augustan drama, Augustan poetry and Augustan prose in the period 1700–1740s. The term “Augustan” refers to the acknowledgement of the influence of classical Latin from the ancient Roman Republic.

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