An Outline of the Relations between England and Scotland (500-1707) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 218 pages of information about An Outline of the Relations between England and Scotland (500-1707).
and which could hardly have been fostered in a condition of servitude.  On the other hand, there arises a question as to material prosperity.  It must be remembered that we are not here discussing the effect of a peaceful and amicable union, such as Edward first proposed, but of a successful war of conquest; and in this connection it is only with thankfulness and gratitude to Wallace and to Bruce that the Scotsman can regard the parallel case of Ireland, which, from a century before the time of Edward I, had been annexed by conquest.  The story we have just related goes to create a reasonable probability that the fate of Scotland could not have been different; but, further, leaving all such problems of the “might have been”, we may submit that the misery of Scotland in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries has been much exaggerated.  It is true that the borders were in a condition of perpetual feud, and that minorities and intrigues gravely hampered the progress of the country.  But, more especially in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, there are not wanting indications of prosperity.  The chapter of Scottish history which tells of the growth of burghs has yet to be written.  The construction of magnificent cathedrals and religious houses, and the rise of three universities, must not be left out of account.  Gifts to the infant universities, the records of which we possess, prove that for humble folk the tenure of property was comparatively secure, and that there was a large amount of comfort among the people.  Under James IV, trade and commerce prospered, and the Scottish navy rivalled that of the Tudors.  The century in which Scottish prosperity received its most severe blows immediately succeeded the Union of the Crowns.  If for three hundred years the civilizing influence of England can scarcely be traced in the history of Scottish progress, that of France was predominant, and Scotland cannot entirely regret the fact.  Scotland, from the date of Bannockburn to that of Pinkie, will not suffer from a comparison with the England which underwent the strain of the long French wars, the civil broils of Lancaster and York, and the oppression of the Tudors.  Moreover, there is one further consideration which should not be overlooked.  The postponement of an English union till the seventeenth century enabled Scotland to work out its own reformation of religion in the way best adapted to the national needs, and it is difficult to estimate, from the material stand-point alone, the importance of this factor in the national progress.  The inspiration and the education which the Scottish Church has given to the Scottish people has found one result in the impulse it has afforded to the growth of material prosperity, and it is not easy to regret that Scotland, at the date of the Reformation, was free to work out its own ecclesiastical destiny.


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An Outline of the Relations between England and Scotland (500-1707) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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