13 Oct 2014

How did Scotland and England become united?

United Kingdom
Today, and after the Scottish referendum a few weeks ago, I'd like to write a little bit about British history. More concretely, I wanted to go back in time and analyze when and how Scotland and England became originally united.

Everything goes back to the 16th century... Queen Elizabeth accessed to the throne of England in 1558, becoming the fifth, and eventually the last, monarch of the Tudor dynasty.

Not having married, she did not have any descendants. She was profoundly conscious of the importance of this issue and, fearing what would become of England after her death, she asked his nephew James to become her heir.

He had been King of Scotland since 1567 and so his acceptance and later accession to the throne of England after Queen Elizabeth’s death in 1603 inevitably brought about the union of the Scottish and the English monarchies under one and the same crown.

This Anglo-Scottish unity marked a decisive point in history: bearing in mind the multitude of attempts and the innumerable bloody battles to incorporate Scotland into England, this union was a veritable achievement without the shadow of a doubt. Still, and however significant this event was, the truth is that it faced serious opposition on the part of the English, for they did not want a Scottish –and, what is more, Catholic– King.

At this point we should highlight that King James was not “only” the King of England and Scotland. From the times of Henry VIII (1509 – 1547), the King of England had also been the King of Ireland. Still, it is worth noting that the complete conquest of the island did not take place till 1603, curiously enough the very same year of King James’s accession to the throne of England.

Proceeding like this, he managed to unify the whole of the British Isles under his crown, a deed he was immensely proud of. Being King of England, Scotland and Ireland, it did not take long for him to be proclaimed “King of Great Britain” (1604).

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