Braveheart Question or UK politics...

Ok I love the movie Braveheart like any other man with a profusion of testosterone… but I am a little confused here.
Wasn’t the whole movie about how Scotland won their independence from England. I understand how it was not totally historically accurate, but the idea was the same, right?
Well if the won their independance, why is Scotland and England still part of the same country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland? And how come the word “Scotland” is not in the name of the country? Or is it? Am I totally off base on this?

Yes, under Robert the Bruce, Scotland won its independence. But over the centuries, the royal houses of England and Scotland intermarried on a regular basis. Thus, when Queen Elizabeth I (the last of the Tudors) realized she would die without having any children to inherit her throne, she chose her Scottish cousin James Stuart as her successor. As a result, both England and Scotland were ruled for quite a while by Scottish Stuarts.

Thus, England and Scotland were reunited under a common government by purely peaceful means.

A light, entertaining, but still informative, book on Scottish History is “Scotland, Bloody Scotland” by the Baron of Ravenstone. He’s a great admirer of Wallace, but not such a fan of the Scottish Nobility.

One of the main premises of his book is that one cannot be considered a True Scots King unless one has died at the hands of one’s successor.


I don’t know how much Elizabeth’s choice entered into the equation. I think that James was simply the next in line to the throne, by virtue of being the son of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary was in turn the granddaughter of the sister of Henry VIII.

In reference to the original question, Braveheart (and the events on which it was based) was set in the 13th and 14th centuries. That’s a long time ago. Although Scotland was victorious over the English at Bannockburn the victory wasn’t decisive. Skip forward 450 years, through numerous battles, intermarrying, treachery and we have the Act of Union, perhaps the worst betrayal of all. Scottish “Nobles” are awarded substantial lands, estates and money if they agree to pass the Act Of Union. The rebellion of 1745 saw Prince Charles Edward Stuart lead an army as far South as Derby before retreating, exhausted to Scotland. At this time London was in turmoil and there for the taking. And so it came to pass that on Culloden Moor on the 16th April 1746 Scotland’s army, tired and outnumbered charged against the English, pitting swords and blades against musket fire. They were slaughtered. After that the English saw to it that the Highlands would never again raise an army against them. The Highlands were set ablaze, fit and able men were drafted into the English army and sent to their deaths as cannon fodder, fighting England’s battles in the New World. If they refused, they were slaughtered. Women and children were left homeless and destitute as Government troops burned homes and villages. The people of the Highlands suffered more than their Lowland counterparts (some Lowlanders actually fought on the side of the English). The Clan system effectively exterminated, the Highlands were used to graze sheep and provide amusement to wealthy Lairds. Very sad.

Elizabeth died without naming an heir, so I think that Bibliophage is right - it was simply that James was next in line.

The previous answers are basically correct, but have got a number of details wrong.

To answer the OP, ‘Scotland’ is the name of a country which also happens to form part of a larger country, the United Kingdom.

Despite what TheMadHun claims, Bannockburn was decisive. It confirmed Scotland as an independent country. Scotland’s subsequent incorporation into Great Britain was peaceful, based on a recognition of its existing status as an independent, sovereign kingdom.

That incorporation took place in two stages.

(1) The Union of the Crowns (1603). James VI inherited the English crown as James I. He did so on the basis of primogeniture, being the heir male to Henry VII, although there were a number of alternative (Catholic) claimants. Elizabeth I was deemed to have acknowledged him as her successor as she lay dying, although she did so with little more than a vague nod. For most purposes, Scotland and England remained separate countries which just happened to have the same monarch.

(2) The Treaty/Act of Union (1707). The Scottish and English Parliaments agree to unite to become the Parliament of Great Britain. To say that this was done undemocratically is to miss the point. No country in early-eighteenth century Europe had what we would recognise as full democracy. By the standards of the time the decision was taken democratically. Devolution has only partly reversed the arrangements made in 1707.

The defeat of the 1745-6 Jacobite Rebellion should not be seen as an English conquest of Scotland. It isn’t just that ‘some Lowlanders actually fought on the side of the English’ - most of the Scotsmen present on the battlefield at Culloden were in the ‘English’ army and comprised a majority of the men in that army. Nor was it even Highlanders v. Lowlanders. Allegiance within Scotland in 1745 seems to have been determined mainly by religion, with the Episcopalians supporting the Stuarts and the Presbyterians (the majority of the population) supporting the Hanoverians.

I have also heard Mr. Hun’s version of the “English” brutality against the Highlanders after the Jacobite Rebellion, most recently on a History Channel program. Why isn’t there a long term Highlander resentment against the English, akin to what the Irish feel? I don’t think of the Scots as a forgive-and-forget people. It would seem that once you got their … uh … um … “Irish” up, they would stay angry. Is this the root of the independence movement?

The “independence movement” isn’t very large. The Scottish National Party seems to veer between practical campaigning (i.e. extending devolution) and extremist individuals (but more often the former). I get the impression that many Scots either don’t care, or believe that full independence might cause more problems than it solves. Not that I’m saying the English are blameless Samaritans, obviously.

Read any Robert Louis Stevenson? Or even Sir Walter Scott?
That feeling certainly existed in the nineteenth century.

As to why is it not a more pervasive? Well, as noted in a couple of the other posts, there was something akin to a civil war in Scotland in the early eighteenth century (or the perpetual civil war in Scotland was more apparent to outsiders, then) and not every Scot had the same feelings toward the English, in general. There was probably a certain feeling that the blasted rebels got what they deserved among those who were aligned against the Jacobites.

The religion in Scotland (even for those who were on the losing side) was not as ruthlessly suppressed as Catholicism was suppressed in Ireland. (Catholicism was suppressed in Scotland and England, but those regions has already fractured on religious issues, so suppressing the religion was not equivalent to suppressing the people.)

And a certain amount of “putting the past behind us” occurred when the Industrial Revolution brought a fair amount of wealth to the lowlands (where the majority of the people were and are). (A certain amount of the resurgence of historic bitterness has accompanied the fallout of the move away from heavy industry. I do not lay this as a cause, I only point out that the perceived prosperity was effective in distracting attention from old wounds for a period of time.)

Under current EU regulations for some reason the UK countries that have their own devolved assemblies ie Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland are regarded as countries in their own right while England, for so long the dominant force in the UK is merely relegated to an unnamed EU region so Scottish independence isn’t so far away after all.

Another thing to observe is that England itself was very turbulent during the Stuart era. Both the English Civil War and the “Glorious Revolution” happened during it. Scotland was in many ways a participating faction in the overall upheaval rather than a uniformly subjugated nation. The Jacobites, for instance, stemmed from the pro-James side in the “Glorious Revolution”, and were not a “Scottish Nationalist” movement per se. They were very strong in Scotland because it was their hereditary monarch that was getting deposed by parliament, but the essential core of the argument was the rule of Great Britain in general, not Scottish independence.

Probably the real reason for the lack of general resentment is that it was the lowland Scots who exerminated the Highlanders not the English - as partly explained by APB.

From a historical point of view Braveheart is a total crock of shit and should be totally disregarded as anything other than simple entertainment. Read anything about the Glencoe Massacre (John Prebble’s GLENCOE for instance) for a better picture of the true feelings within Scotland.

It has been noted in the UK that Hollywood seems to have got a lot of it’s recent entertainment from either Brit-bashing (vis the high percentage of Baddies being played by Brits) or from hijacking our history and rebranding it as American. Only the successes of course - incl. the capture of the Enigma machine and the soon to be released escape from Colditz flic. The later being particularly offensive as no American officer even attempted to escape from Colditz - in part as they were ordered not too.

Turning back to the so called subjucation of Scotland I think most educated Scots would agree they have had the best of it - given most of our current Cabinet are Scots and England as an independent country would never have elected a Socialist government - it taking the overrepresented Scottish parliamentary seats to swing it. Add that to the massive public sending bias in their favour etc. etc.

The SNP hit its high point back in 1968, with 36% of the vote in local elections. But then the economy started to recover, and the SNP vote was cut in half, to 18%. And it’s dropped since then, though I don’t have more recent figures on hand.

APB is correct on the historical data - Scotland isn’t independent 'cause things have happened since Wallace breathed (or shouted) his last.

In (relatively) recent news, the Scottish Parliament gained the power to pass domestic laws on July 1st of 1999. This is the first time they’ve been able to do so since 1707, and represents the first step towards potential sovereignity. However, this isn’t necessarily the best idea economically, and the poor showing of the SNP represents this.

Figures taken from…
Harvie, Christopher (1998). Scotland and Nationalism Scottish Society and Politics 1707 to the Present. Padstow, Cornwall: T.J. International Ltd.

Congrats to you Scots and English for having a successful federation. Anyway you can bottle the secret and send it to the Balkans, Israel, Kurdistan, etc?

Mipsman’s question about ‘long term Highlander resentment against the English, akin to what the Irish feel’ is a good one, because many Scots, whether in the Highlands or the Lowlands, do resent the English. This however has much more to do with events in the late twentieth century. Eighteen years of Tory (in effect, English) government created a legacy of resentment which remains the major factor in Scottish politics. The creation of a new Scottish Parliament was a direct result of that resentment. That some Scots do look back to earlier centuries to validate this resurgent identity (Braveheart nationalism) does not alter the point - this is simply historical mythmaking of the sort common to most forms of nationalism.

It is in fact over the issue of land rights that anti-English feelings in politics have been most obvious. The Highland Clearances did occur and have left a history of bitterness, althought it ought to be pointed out that they were not the result of the suppression of the 1745-6 Rebellion. (One could go further and argue that, if anything, it was a case of Highlanders expelling Highlanders.) Land remains an emotive issue in the Highlands in a way that it does not anywhere else in the U.K. It was one of the first issues to be raised in the new Scottish Parliament.

The idea that the Scottish National Party (SNP) are a marginal force in Scottish politics is not true. The SNP are the second largest party in the new Scottish Parliament and form the official opposition. Labour only has a majority because it is in coalition with one of the smaller parties, the Liberal Democrats. Every so often polls are published suggesting that they have overtaken Labour and it has even been known for polls to indicate that a majority of Scots would want independence. None of this means that Britain is breaking up or that Scottish independence is imminent. Most Scots feel that the new constitutional arrangements ought to be given a chance to prove themselves. The main issue in the leadership election currently being held by the SNP is precisely whether they should recognise this or continue campaigning for full independence.

<_couple of asides>
Some cynical English people have suggested that the only really significant upsurge in Scottish Nationalism in the late 60’s might not have been entirely disconnected from the realisation at that time of quite how much oil there actually was in the North Sea.
As for THATCHER - the Scots got completely shafted, as did a LOT of social, cultral and economicly weak groups. Bitch. Can’t blame them for wanting a get out clause should that kind of thing ever look like happening again.

I read something not long ago that struck me as interesting.

Some families left Scotland and sought as new start as a result of the Jacobite’s defeat, one (according to this story) was a family by the name of Boner or Bonner – unfortunate given current American slang, but there we are.

The Boner/Bonner family apparently left by boat and their journey ended on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. They settled there and the extended familt became known as the ‘Bonner Party’ to the locals.

Because of the French pronunciation (and moving only a little forward in time), by the time a son was born into the family (and given the name of Napoleon) the ‘Bonner Party’ had become ‘Bonaparte’.

If true, one could argue not all the Scots accepted English rule. Some made quite an effort (in rather fancy uniforms and sporting curious accents) to seek revenge.

Funny old world.

<_/couple of asides>

Being of Scottish and Irish heritage I know that many of my family have little affection for the English. I come from a line of Scottish / Irish Nationalists I guess.

I was in the lunchroom one day and this English lady was recounting her travels to England to her friends. She commented that she had gone into Scotland and somewhat jokingly said how bad Scotland was and went on a little about the people and places she had seen…

I looked up and at her and in my best brogue said “one should be careful what they say about Scots lest they offend one of them…”

She reddened and apologized profusely… she recanted by saying how truly beautiful Scotland was… blah blah blah …

One reason for the Scots being crushed was their habit of periodically going on raiding parties.
These were not quite large enough to be called invasion but did cause devastation as far as York and in one case somewhat further than that, Derby I think.

Their leaders had a propensity to raise armies in support of catholic supported causes backed ultimately by the pope.

This interferance in English politics as well as the disruption to Enlish economic life was the reason they were so brutally suppressed with their claims on the throne.

The reason the Irish were kept down is that the manpower available threatened to be used as an army against the English.

From an English monarchy point of view the idea of having standing armies available and possibly loyal to foreign powers on yopur borders was unacceptable.

Think Spanish armada and the army that was to have been collected from the low countries, many of them were mercenaries from Scotland and Ireland.

It is convenient to blame the English for all these woes and they were not blameless by any means but when you are beleagered on all sides from a bunch of religious fundamentalists then you take whatever action is required to neutralise that threat.

The Scots hardly did themselves any favours with their internicene warfare, continually squabbling amongst themselves, swapping sides when convenient and selling their own countrymen and kin for the wealth generated by sheep.

The Scots have been their own worst enemies.

Imagine if Mexicans had behaved on US borders as Scots did on English what do you think the result would have been ?

Don’t let reality get in the way of a beautiful story.
This is from someone who thinks that the Scots and Irish got a brutally bad deal.

One of my favorite sites has a section that pretty much tells the real story behind many movies (Erin Brokovich, Perfect Storm, Braveheart, etc.). Alwasy interesting reading at…