Scottish Nationalism before 1789: An Ideology, a Sentiment, or a Creation?

By Walton, Kristen Post | International Social Science Review, Fall-Winter 2006 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Scottish Nationalism before 1789: An Ideology, a Sentiment, or a Creation?


Walton, Kristen Post, International Social Science Review


SCOTS, WHA HAE

   Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
   Scots, wham Bruce has often led,
   Welcome to your gory bed
   Or to Victorie!

   Now's the day, and now's the hour:
   See the front o' battle lout,
   See approach proud Edward's power--
   Charles and slaverie!

   Wha will be a traitor knave?
   Wha will fill a coward's grave?
   Wha sae base as be a slave?
   Let him turn and flee!

   Wha for Scotland's King and Law
   Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
   Freeman stand, and freeman fa',
   Let him follow me!

   By oppression's woes and pains,
   By your son's in servile shains,
   We will drain our dearest veins,
   But we shall be free!

   Lay the proud usurpers low!
   Tyrants fall with every foe!
   Liberty's in every blow--
   Let us do, or die!

--Robert Burns (1759-96) (1)

**********

At the University of St. Andrews in the early 1990s, students (including myself) used to ring the telephone of the Scottish National party in order to demonstrate our support and to hear the voice of Sean Connery on the answer phone. Several years later, in 1995, Mel Gibson's Braveheart appeared in movie theaters across the globe, offering an inaccurate view of history while providing an excellent demonstration of the strength of Scottish nationalism in the late twentieth century. In 2001, that nationalist sentiment swept across the country, finding a political outlet when almost seventy-five percent of Scots voted in favor of re-establishing a Scottish Parliament for the first time since the union of the crowns (1707). Scottish nationalist sentiment remains strong in the first years of the twenty-first century. Books such as Arthur Herman's How the Scots Invented the Modern World (2001) have worked to establish a global significance for the relatively small land in the northern part of the Isle of Great Britain. (2)

Current Scottish nationalist ideology has its roots in the post-Culloden cultural nationalism that largely developed during the nineteenth century. Over the past two hundred years, the Scots have glorified many aspects of their history as they strove to maintain a separate identity from their English neighbors. Being a part of the United Kingdom encouraged the Scots to define themselves and their unique culture and history in a definitive manner. The nationalist sentiment embraced by the Scots in the nineteenth century, though, was not new. Nor did a Scottish identity develop overnight. Rather, Scottish nationalism matured over a long period of time and had become a force in Scotland well before the failure of Bonnie Prince Charlie and Culloden in 1746. This study offers a general introduction to the growth of Scottish nationalism from the late 1200s through the Union of 1707. Contrary to claims offered by many scholars in the field, Scottish nationalism had fully developed and became significant both politically and culturally by the end of the early modern period.

Proving the existence of Scottish nationalism before the French Revolution is a difficult task. Most scholars of nationalism, with exceptions such as Liah Greenfeld, believe that revolutionary France signified the emergence of nationalist thought. Many Scottish historians disagree. Several claim that Scotland was the first nation, and that the Scots wrote the first European nationalist document more than four centuries before the overthrow of the ancien regime. Are these claims justified? A traditionally poor nation, Scotland exists on the periphery of Europe and, as a result, has not figured prominently on the world stage. Indeed, not many universities outside of Scotland (with the exception of many in Canada) offer classes on Scottish history. Few world civilization, or even western civilization, textbooks introduce any significant discussion of Scotland before it joined the United Kingdom. As a result, Scots have written much of their own history and often paint a picture tinted by rose-colored glasses.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Scottish Nationalism before 1789: An Ideology, a Sentiment, or a Creation?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?