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The Stuarts 1603-1714

James VI of Scotland succeeded Queen Elizabeth of England when she died in 1603 and became James I of England.  However he and the monarchs who followed stayed in London and found it difficult to control Scotland from afar.  The 17th century was dominated by rows about religion and politics. Even ordinary Scots signed the National Covenant, attended illegal conventicles, and took up weapons against the King. The end-result of the Reformation’s  “religious debate” was only finally seen in 1690, after a long and bitter Presbyterian v Episcopalian struggle for control.  In 1688 the Scottish Church and Parliament were freed from Royal control.  However the Scottish Parliament soon became the focus of other disagreements leading to the investment in the Darien Scheme whose failure ruined Scotland economically. Eventually the Act of Union in 1707 solved the governance problem. This was not popular in Scotland and Jacobite supporters of the exiled King James began to use its unpopularity to try to bring the Stuarts back to the throne.


400 years of Scottish population growth



North Britons and Jacobites 1714-1837

In 1714, the Elector of Hanover became George I.  The Jacobites hoped that people would prefer to be ruled by King James' son, James VIII.  But poor leadership and organisation led the campaign disintegrating.  James VIII's son, Charles Edward Stuart, "the Young Pretender" led the last effort in 1745.  His army, after several successes, was finally crushed at Culloden.

Agricultural Revolution of the 1720s

This period created today's rural landscape.  Old farming methods were cleared away to make compact farms with enclosed fields and the common grazing and waste land was brought into cultivation.  Improvements in farm machinery, techniques and crops all increased productivity.  Selective stockbreeding improved livestock e.g. Aberdeen Angus.  However, in the Highlands great wildernesses were created after the defeat of the Jacobites, when those with "get up and go" went and the ‘Clearances’ replaced people with sheep. 

The Industrial Revolution (starting in late 18th century)

It brought heavy industries to the central belt of the Scottish Lowlands. A thriving local linen (cottage) industry was quickly overtaken by the manufacture of cotton in water-powered mills like New Lanark.  Heavy industry also grew, based on exploitation of Scotland's iron ore and coal deposits. The Agricultural Revolution and Highland Clearances provided the workforce in towns across Scotland's central belt.  Scotland became a powerhouse of new ideas across Europe - The Scottish Enlightenment - with David Hume and Adam Smith.

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