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An Outline of the Relations between England and Scotland (500-1707)
By Robert S. Rait (1901)


The present volume has been published with two main objects. The writer has attempted to exhibit, in outline, the leading features of the international history of the two countries which, in 1707, became the United Kingdom. Relations with England form a large part, and the heroic part, of Scottish history, relations with Scotland a very much smaller part of English history. The result has been that in histories of England references to Anglo-Scottish relations are occasional and spasmodic, while students of Scottish history have occasionally forgotten that, in regard to her southern neighbour, the attitude of Scotland was not always on the heroic scale. Scotland appears on the horizon of English history only during well-defined epochs, leaving no trace of its existence in the intervals between these. It may be that the space given to Scotland in the ordinary histories of England is proportional to the importance of Scottish affairs, on the whole; but the importance assigned to Anglo-Scottish relations in the fourteenth century is quite disproportionate to the treatment of the same subject in the fifteenth century. Readers even of Mr. Green's famous book, may learn with surprise from Mr. Lang or Mr. Hume Brown the part played by the Scots in the loss of the English dominions in France, or may fail to understand the references to Scotland in the diplomatic correspondence of the sixteenth century.[1] There seems to be, therefore, room for a connected narrative of the attitude of the two countries towards each other, for only thus is it possible to provide the _data_ requisite for a fair appreciation of the policy of Edward I and Henry VIII, or of Elizabeth and James I. Such a narrative is here presented, in outline, and the writer has tried, as far as might be, to eliminate from his work the element of national prejudice.

The book has also another aim. The relations between England and Scotland have not been a purely political connexion. The peoples have, from an early date, been, to some extent, intermingled, and this mixture of blood renders necessary some account of the racial relationship. It has been a favourite theme of the English historians of the nineteenth century that the portions of Scotland where the Gaelic tongue has ceased to be spoken are not really Scottish, but English. "The Scots who resisted Edward", wrote Mr. Freeman, "were the English of Lothian. The true Scots, out of hatred to the 'Saxons' nearest to them, leagued with the 'Saxons' farther off."[2] Mr. Green, writing of the time of Edward I, says: "The farmer of Fife or the Lowlands, and the artisan of the towns, remained stout-hearted Northumbrian Englishmen", and he adds that "The coast districts north of the Tay were inhabited by a population of the same blood as that of the Lowlands".[3] The theory has been, at all events verbally, accepted by Mr. Lang, who describes the history of Scotland as "the record of the long resistance of the English of Scotland to England, of the long resistance of the Celts of Scotland to the English of Scotland".[4] Above all, the conception has been firmly planted in the imagination by the poet of the Lady of the Lake.

  "These fertile plains, that soften'd vale,
   Were once the birthright of the Gael;
   The stranger came with iron hand,
   And from our fathers reft the land."

While holding in profound respect these illustrious names, the writer ventures to ask for a modification of this verdict. That the Scottish Lowlanders (among whom we include the inhabitants of the coast districts from the Tay to the Moray Firth) were, in the end of the thirteenth century, "English in speech and manners" (as Mr. Oman[5]guardedly describes them) is beyond doubt. Were they also English in blood? The evidence upon which the accepted theory is founded is twofold. In the course of the sixth century the Angles made a descent between the Humber and the Forth, and that district became part of the English kingdom of Northumbria. Even here we have, in the evidence of the place-names, some reasons for believing that a proportion of the original Brythonic population may have survived. This northern portion of the kingdom of Northumbria was affected by the Danish invasions, but it remained an Anglian kingdom till its conquest, in the beginning of the eleventh century, by the Celtic king, Malcolm II. There is, thus, sufficient justification for Mr. Freeman's phrase, "the English of Lothian", if we interpret the term "Lothian" in the strict sense; but it remains to be explained how the inhabitants of the Scottish Lowlands, outside Lothian, can be included among the English of Lothian who resisted Edward I. That explanation is afforded by the events which followed the Norman Conquest of England. It is argued that the Englishmen who fled from the Normans united with the original English of Lothian to produce the result indicated in the passage quoted from Mr. Green. The farmers of Fife and the Lowlands, the artisans of the towns, the dwellers in the coast districts north of Tay, became, by the end of the thirteenth century, stout Northumbrian Englishmen. Mr. Green admits that the south-west of Scotland was still inhabited, in 1290, by the Picts of Galloway, and neither he nor any other exponent of the theory offers any explanation of their subsequent disappearance. The history of Scotland, from the fourteenth century to the Rising of 1745, contains, according to this view, a struggle between the Celts and "the English of Scotland", the most important incident of which is the battle of Harlaw, in 1411, which resulted in a great victory for "the English of Scotland". Mr. Hill Burton writes thus of Harlaw: "On the face of ordinary history it looks like an affair of civil war. But this expression is properly used towards those who have common interests and sympathies, who should naturally be friends and may be friends again, but for a time are, from incidental causes of dispute and quarrel, made enemies. The contest ... was none of this; it was a contest between foes, of whom their contemporaries would have said that their ever being in harmony with each other, or having a feeling of common interests and common nationality, was not within the range of rational expectations.... It will be difficult to make those not familiar with the tone of feeling in Lowland Scotland at that time believe that the defeat of Donald of the Isles was felt as a more memorable deliverance even than that of Bannockburn."[6]

We venture to plead for a modification of this theory, which may fairly be called the orthodox account of the circumstances. It will at once occur to the reader that some definite proof should be forthcoming that the Celtic inhabitants of Scotland, outside the Lothians, were actually subjected to this process of racial displacement. Such a displacement had certainly not been effected before the Norman Conquest, for it was only in 1018 that the English of Lothian were subjected to the rule of a Celtic king, and the large amount of Scottish literature, in the Gaelic tongue, is sufficient indication that Celtic Scotland was not confined to the Highlands in the eleventh century. Nor have we any hint of aracial displacement after the Norman conquest, even though it is unquestionable that a considerable number of exiles followed Queen Margaret to Scotland, and that William's harrying of the north of England drove others over the border. It is easy to lay too much stress upon the effect of the latter event. The northern counties cannot have been very thickly populated, and if Mr. Freeman is right in his description of "that fearful deed, half of policy, half of vengeance, which has stamped the name of William with infamy", not very many of the victims of his cruelty can have made good their flight, for we are told that the bodies of the inhabitants of Yorkshire "were rotting in the streets, in the highways, or on their own hearthstones". Stone dead left no fellow to colonize Scotland. We find, therefore, only the results and not the process of this racial displacement. These results were the adoption of English manners and the English tongue, and the growth of English names, and we wish to suggest that they may find an historical explanation which does not involve the total disappearance of the Scottish farmer from Fife, or of the Scottish artisan from Aberdeen.

Before proceeding to a statement of the explanation to which we desire to direct the reader's attention, it may be useful to deal briefly with the questions relating to the spoken language of Lowland Scotland and to its place-names. The fact that the language of the Angles and Saxons completely superseded, in England, the tongue of the conquered Britons, is admitted to be a powerful argument for the view that the Anglo-Saxon conquest of England resulted in a racial displacement. But the argument cannot be transferred to the case of the Scottish Lowlands, where, also, the English language has completely superseded a Celtic tongue. For, in the first case, the victory is that of the language of a savage people, known to be in a state of actual warfare, and it is a victory which follows as an immediate result of conquest. In Scotland, the victory of the English tongue (outside the Lothians) dates from a relatively advanced period of civilization, and it is a victory won, not by conquest or bloodshed, but by peaceful means. Even in a case of conquest, change of speech is not conclusive evidence of change of race (_e.g._ the adoption of a Romance tongue by the Gauls); much less is it decisive in such an instance as the adoption of English by the Lowlanders of Scotland. In striking contrast to the case of England, the victory of the Anglo-Saxon speech in Scotland did not include the adoption of English place-names. The reader will find the subject fully discussed in the valuable work by the Reverend J.B. Johnston, entitled "Place-Names of Scotland". "It is impossible", says Mr. Johnston, "to speak with strict accuracy on the point, but Celtic names in Scotland must outnumber all the rest by nearly ten to one." Even in counties where the Gaelic tongue is now quite obsolete (_e.g._ in Fife, in Forfar, in the Mearns, and in parts of Aberdeenshire), the place-names are almost entirely Celtic. The region where English place-names abound is, of course, the Lothians; but scarcely an English place-name is definitely known to have existed, even in the Lothians, before the Norman Conquest, and, even in the Lothians, the English tongue never affected the names of rivers and mountains. In many instances, the existence of a place-name which has now assumed an English form is no proof of English race. As the Gaelic tongue died out, Gaelic place-names were either translated or corrupted into English forms; Englishmen, receiving grants of land from Malcolm Canmore and his successors, called these lands after their own names, with the addition of the suffix-ham or-tun; the influence of English ecclesiastics introduced many new names; and as English commerce opened up new seaports, some of these became known by the names which Englishmen had given them.[7] On the whole, the evidence of the place-names corroborates our view that the changes were changes in civilization, and not in racial distribution.

We now proceed to indicate the method by which these changes were effected, apart from any displacement of race. Our explanation finds a parallel in the process which has changed the face of the Scottish Highlands within the last hundred and fifty years, and which produced very important results within the "sixty years" to which Sir Walter Scott referred in the second title of _Waverley_.[8] There has been no racial displacement; but the English language and English civilization have gradually been superseding the ancient tongue and the ancient customs of the Scottish Highlands. The difference between Skye and Fife is that the influences which have been at work in the former for a century and a half have been in operation in the latter for more than eight hundred years.

What then were the influences which, between 1066 and 1300, produced in the Scottish Lowlands some of the results that, between 1746 and 1800, were achieved in the Scottish Highlands? That they included an infusion of English blood we have no wish to deny. Anglo-Saxons, in considerable numbers, penetrated northwards, and by the end of the thirteenth century the Lowlanders were a much less pure race than, except in the Lothians, they had been in the days of Malcolm Canmore. Our contention is, that we have no evidence for the assertion that this Saxon admixture amounted to a racial change, and that, ethnically, the men of Fife and of Forfar were still Scots, not English. Such an infusion of English blood as our argument allows will not explain the adoption of the English tongue, or of English habits of life; we must look elsewhere for the full explanation. The English victory was, as we shall try to show, a victory not of blood but of civilization, and three main causes helped to bring it about. The marriage of Malcolm Canmore introduced two new influences into Scotland--an English Court and an English Church, and contemporaneously with the changes consequent upon these new institutions came the spread of English commerce, carrying with it the English tongue along the coast, and bringing an infusion of English blood into the towns.[9] In the reign of David I, the son of Malcolm Canmore and St. Margaret, these purely Saxon influences were succeeded by the Anglo-Norman tendencies of the king's favourites. Grants of land[10] to English and Norman courtiers account for the occurrence of English and Norman family and place-names. The men who lived in immediate dependence upon a lord, giving him their services and receiving his protection, owing him their homage and living under his sole jurisdiction, took the name of the lord whose men they were.

A more important question arises with regard to the system of land tenure, and the change from clan ownership to feudal possession. How was the tribal system suppressed? An outline of the process by which Scotland became a feudalized country will be found in the Appendix, where we shall also have an opportunity of referring, for purposes of comparison, to the methods by which clan-feeling was destroyed after the last Jacobite insurrection. Here, it must suffice to give a brief summary of the case there presented. It is important to bear in mind that the tribes of 1066 were not the clans of 1746. The clan system in the Highlands underwent considerable development between the days of Malcolm Canmore and those of the Stuarts. Too much stress must not be laid upon the unwillingness of the people to give up tribal ownership, for it is clear from our early records that the rights of joint-occupancy were confined to the immediate kin of the head of the clan. "The limit of the immediate kindred", says Mr. E.W. Robertson,[11] "extended to the third generation, all who were fourth in descent from a Senior passing from amongst the joint-proprietary, and receiving, apparently, a final allotment; which seems to have been separated permanently from the remainder of the joint-property by certain ceremonies usual on such occasions." To such holders of individual property the charter offered by David I gave additional security of tenure. We know from the documents entitled "Quoniam attachiamenta", printed in the first volume of the "Acts of the Parliament of Scotland", that the tribal system included large numbers of bondmen, to whom the change to feudalism meant little or nothing. But even when all due allowance has been made for this, the difficulty is not completely solved. There must have been some owners of clan property whom the changes affected in an adverse way, and we should expect to hear of them. We do hear of them, for the reigns of the successors of Malcolm Canmore are largely occupied with revolts in Galloway and in Morayshire. The most notable of these was the rebellion of MacHeth, Mormaor of Moray, about 1134. On its suppression, David I confiscated the earldom of Moray, and granted it, by charters, to his own favourites, and especially to the Anglo-Normans, from Yorkshire and Northumberland, whom he had invited to aid him in dealing with the reactionary forces of Moray; but such grants of land in no way dispossessed the lesser tenants, who simply held of new lords and by new titles. Fordun, who wrote two centuries later, ascribes to David's successor, Malcolm IV, an invasion of Moray, and says that the king scattered the inhabitants throughout the rest of Scotland, and replaced them by "his own peaceful people".[12] There is no further evidence in support of this statement, and almost the whole of Malcolm's short reign was occupied with the settlement of Galloway. We know that he followed his grandfather's policy of making grants of land in Moray, and this is probably the germ of truth in Fordun's statement. Moray, however, occupied rather an exceptional position. "As the power of the sovereign extended over the west," says Mr. E.W. Robertson, "it was his policy, not to eradicate the old ruling families, but to retain them in their native provinces, rendering them more or less responsible for all that portion of their respective districts which was not placed under the immediate authority of the royal sheriffs or baillies." As this policy was carried out even in Galloway, Argyll, and Ross, where there were occasional rebellions, and was successful in its results, we have no reason for believing that it was abandoned in dealing with the rest of the Lowlands. As, from time to time, instances occurred in which this plan was unsuccessful, and as other causes for forfeiture arose, the lands were granted to strangers, and by the end of the thirteenth century the Scottish nobility was largely Anglo-Norman. The vestiges of the clan system which remained may be part of the explanation of the place of the great Houses in Scottish History. The unique importance of such families as the Douglasses or the Gordons may thus be a portion of the Celtic heritage of the Lowlands.

If, then, it was not by a displacement of race, but through the subtle influences of religion, feudalism, and commerce that the Scottish Lowlands came to be English in speech and in civilization, if the farmers of Fife and some, at least, of the burghers of Dundee or of Aberdeen were really Scots who had been subjected to English influences, we should expect to find no strong racial feeling in mediaeval Scotland. Such racial antagonism as existed would, in this case, be owing to the large admixture of Scandinavian blood in Caithness and in the Isles, rather than to any difference between the true Scots and "the English of the Lowlands". Do we, then, find any racial antagonism between the Highlands and the Lowlands? If Mr. Freeman is right in laying down the general rule that "the true Scots, out of hatred to the 'Saxons' nearest to them, leagued with the 'Saxons' farther off", if Mr. Hill Burton is correct in describing the red Harlaw as a battle between foes who could have no feeling of common nationality, there is nothing to be said in support of the theory we have ventured to suggest. We may fairly expect some signs of ill-will between those who maintained the Celtic civilization and their brethren who had abandoned the ancient customs and the ancient tongue; we may naturally look for attempts to produce a conservative or Celtic reaction, but anything more than this will be fatal to our case. The facts do not seem to us to bear out Mr. Freeman's generalization. When the independence of Scotland is really at stake, we shall find the "true Scots" on the patriotic side. Highlanders and Islesmen fought under the banner of David I at Northallerton; they took their place along with the men of Carrick in the Bruce's own division at Bannockburn, and they bore their part in the stubborn ring that encircled James IV at Flodden. At other times, indeed, we do find the Lords of the Isles involved in treacherous intrigues with the kings of England, but just in the same way as we see the Earls of Douglas engaged in traitorous schemes against the Scottish kings. In both cases alike we are dealing with the revolt of a powerful vassal against a weak king. Such an incident is sufficiently frequent in the annals of Scotland to render it unnecessary to call in racial considerations to afford an explanation. One of the most notable of these intrigues occurred in the year 1408, when Donald of the Isles, who chanced to be engaged in a personal quarrel about the heritage which he claimed in right of his Lowland relatives, made a treacherous agreement with Henry IV; and the quarrel ended in the battle of Harlaw in 1411. The real importance of Harlaw is that it ended in the defeat of a Scotsman who, like some other Scotsmen in the South, was acting in the English interest; any further significance that it may possess arises from the consideration that it is the last of a series of efforts directed against the predominance, not of the English race, but of Saxon speech and civilization. It was just because Highlanders and Lowlanders did represent a common nationality that the battle was fought, and the blood spilt on the field of Harlaw was not shed in any racial struggle, but in the cause of the real English conquest of Scotland, the conquest of civilization and of speech.

Our argument derives considerable support from the references to the Highlands of Scotland which we find in mediaeval literature. Racial distinctions were not always understood in the Middle Ages; but readers of Giraldus Cambrensis are familiar with the strong racial feeling that existed between the English and the Welsh, and between the English and the Irish. If the Lowlanders of Scotland felt towards the Highlanders as Mr. Hill Burton asserts that they did feel, we should expect to find references to the difference between Celts and Saxons. But, on the contrary, we meet with statement after statement to the effect that the Highlanders are only Scotsmen who have maintained the ancient Scottish language and literature, while the Lowlanders have adopted English customs and a foreign tongue. The words "Scots" and "Scotland" are never used to designate the Highlanders as distinct from other inhabitants of Scotland, yet the phrase "Lingua Scotica" means, up to the end of the fifteenth century, the Gaelic tongue.[13] In the beginning of the sixteenth century John Major speaks of "the wild Scots and Islanders" as using Irish, while the civilized Scots speak English; and Gavin Douglas professed to write in Scots (_i.e._ the Lowland tongue). In the course of the century this became the regular usage. Acts of the Scottish Parliament, directed against Highland marauders, class them with the border thieves. There is no hint in the Register of the Privy Council or in the Exchequer Rolls, of any racial feeling, and the independence of the Celtic chiefs has been considerably exaggerated. James IV and James V both visited the Isles, and the chief town of Skye takes its name from the visit of the latter. In the beginning of the sixteenth century, it was safe for Hector Boece, the Principal of the newly founded university of Aberdeen, to go in company of the Rector to make a voyage to the Hebrides, and, in the account they have left us of their experiences, we can discover no hint that there existed between Highlanders and Lowlanders much the same difference as separated the English from the Welsh. Neither in Barbour's _Bruce_ nor in Blind Harry's _Wallace_ is there any such consciousness of difference, although Barbour lived in Aberdeen in the days before Harlaw. John of Fordun, a fellow-townsman and a contemporary of Barbour, was an ardent admirer of St. Margaret andof David I, and of the Anglo-Norman institutions they introduced, while he possessed an invincible objection to the kilt. We should therefore expect to find in him some consciousness of the racial difference. He writes of the Highlanders with some ill-will, describing them as a "savage and untamed people, rude and independent, given to rapine, ... hostile to the English language and people, and, owing to diversity of speech, even to their own nation[14]." But it is his custom to write thus of the opponents of the Anglo-Norman civil and ecclesiastical institutions, and he brings all Scotland under the same condemnation when he tells us how David "did his utmost to draw on that rough and boorish people towards quiet and chastened manners".[15] The reference to "their own nation" shows, too, that Fordun did not understand that the Highlanders were a different people; and when he called them hostile to the English, he was evidently unaware that their custom was "out of hatred to the Saxons nearest them" to league with the English. John Major, writing in the reign of James IV (1489-1513), mentions the differences between Highlander and Lowlander. The wild Scots speak Irish; the civilized Scots use English. "But", he adds, "most of us spoke Irish a short time ago."[16] His contemporary, Hector Boece, who made the Tour to the Hebrides, says: "Those of us who live on the borders of England have forsaken our own tongue and learned English, being driven thereto by wars and commerce. But the Highlanders remain just as they were in the time of Malcolm Canmore, in whose days we began to adopt English manners."[17] When Bishop Elphinstone applied, in 1493, for Papal permission to found a university in Old Aberdeen, in proximity to the barbarian Highlanders, he made no suggestion of any racial difference between the English-speaking population of Aberdeen and their Gaelic-speaking neighbours.[18] Late in the sixteenth century, John Lesley, the defender of Queen Mary, who had been bishop of Ross, and came of a northern family, wrote in a strain similar to that of Major and Boece. "Foreign nations look on the Gaelic-speaking Scots as wild barbarians because they maintain the customs and the language of their ancestors; but we call them Highlanders."[19]

Even in connexion with the battle of Harlaw, we find that Scottish historians do not use such terms in speaking of the Highland forces as Mr. Hill Burton would lead us to expect. Of the two contemporary authorities, one, the Book of Pluscarden, was probably written by a Highlander, while the continuation of Fordun's "Scoti-chronicon", inwhich we have a more detailed account of the battle, was the work of Bower, a Lowlander who shared Fordun's antipathy to Highland customs. The "Liber Pluscardensis" mentions the battle in a very casual manner. It was fought between Donald of the Isles and the Earl of Mar; there was great slaughter: and it so happened that the town of Cupar chanced to be burned in the same year.[20] Bower assigns a greater importance to the affair;[21] he tells us that Donald wished to spoil Aberdeen and then to add to his own possessions all Scotland up to the Tay. It is as if he were writing of the ambition of the House of Douglas. But there is no hint of racial antipathy; the abuse applied to Donald and his followers would suit equally well for the Borderers who shouted the Douglas battle-cry. John Major tells us that it was a civil war fought for thespoil of the famous city of Aberdeen, and he cannot say who won--only the Islanders lost more men than the civilized Scots. For him, its chief interest lay in the ferocity of the contest; rarely, even in struggles with a foreign foe, had the fighting been so keen.[22] The fierceness with which Harlaw was fought impressed the country so much that, some sixty years later, when Major was a boy, he and his playmates at the Grammar School of Haddington used to amuse themselves by mock fights in which they re-enacted the red Harlaw.

From Major we turn with interest to the Principal of the University and King's College, Hector Boece, who wrote his _History of Scotland_, at Aberdeen, about a century after the battle of Harlaw, and who shows no trace of the strong feeling described by Mr. Hill Burton. He narrates the origin of the quarrel with much sympathy for the Lord of the Isles, and regrets that he was not satisfied with recovering his own heritage of Ross, but was tempted by the pillage of Aberdeen, and he speaks of the Lowland army as "the Scots on the other side".[23] His narrative in the "History" is devoid of any racial feeling whatsoever, and in his _Lives of the Bishops of Aberdeen_ he omits any mention of Harlaw at all. We have laid stress upon the evidence of Boece because in Aberdeen, if anywhere, the memory of the "Celtic peril" at Harlaw should have survived. Similarly, George Buchanan speaks of Harlaw as a raid for purposes of plunder, made by the islanders upon the mainland.[24] These illustrations may serve to show how Scottish historians really did look upon the battle of Harlaw, and how little do they share Mr. Burton's horror of the Celts.

When we turn to descriptions of Scotland we find no further proof of the correctness of the orthodox theory. When Giraldus Cambrensis wrote, in the twelfth century, he remarked that the Scots of his time have an affinity of race with the Irish,[25] and the English historians of the War of Independence speak of the Scots as they do of the Welsh or the Irish, and they know only one type of Scotsman. We have already seen the opinion of John Major, the sixteenth-century Scottish historian and theologian, who had lived much in France, and could write of his native country from an "ab extra" stand-point, that the Highlanders speak Irish and are less respectable than the other Scots; and his opinion was shared by two foreign observers, Pedro de Ayala and Polydore Vergil. The former remarks on the difference of speech, and the latter says that the more civilized Scots have adopted the English tongue. In like manner English writers about the time of the Union of the Crowns write of the Highlanders as Scotsmen who retain their ancient language. Camden, indeed, speaks of the Lowlands as being Anglo-Saxon in origin, but he restricts his remark to the district which had formed part of the kingdom of Northumbria.[26]

We should, of course, expect to find that the gradually widening breach in manners and language between Highlanders and Lowlanders produced some dislike for the Highland robbers and their Irish tongue, and we do occasionally, though rarely, meet some indication of this. There are not many references to the Highlanders in Scottish literature earlier than the sixteenth century. "Blind Harry" (Book VI, ll. 132-140) represents an English soldier as using, in addressing Wallace, first a mixture of French and Lowland Scots, and then a mixture of Lowland Scots and Gaelic:

   "Dewgar, gud day, bone Senzhour, and gud morn!

         *       *       *       *       *

   Sen ye ar Scottis, zeit salust sall ye be;
   Gud deyn, dawch Lard, bach lowch, banzoch a de".

In "The Book of the Howlat", written in the latter half of the fifteenth century, by a certain Richard Holland, who was an adherent of the House of Douglas, there is a similar imitation of Scottish Gaelic, with the same phrase "Banachadee" (the blessing of God). This seemingly innocent phrase seems to have some ironical signification, for we find in the "Auchinleck Chronicle" (anno 1452) that it was used by some Highlanders as a term of abuse towards the Bishop of Argyll. Another example occurs in a coarse "Answer to ane Helandmanis Invective", by Alexander Montgomerie, the court poet of James VI. The Lowland literature of the sixteenth century contains a considerable amount of abuse of the Highland tongue. William Dunbar (1460-1520), in his "Flyting" (an exercise in Invective), reproaches his antagonist, Walter Kennedy, with his Highland origin. Kennedy was a native of Galloway, while Dunbar belonged to the Lothians, where we should expect the strongest appreciation of the differences between Lowlander and Highlander.Dunbar, moreover, had studied (or, at least, resided) at Oxford, and was one of the first Scotsmen to succumb to the attractions of "town". The most suggestive point in the "Flyting" is that a native of the Lothians could still regard a Galwegian as a "beggar Irish bard". For Walter Kennedy spoke and wrote in Lowland Scots; he was, possibly, a graduateof the University of Glasgow, and he could boast of Stuart blood. Ayrshire was as really English as was Aberdeenshire; and, if Dunbar is in earnest, it is a strong confirmation of our theory that he, being "of the Lothians himself", spoke of Kennedy in this way. It would, however, be unwise to lay too much stress on what was really a conventional exercise of a particular style of poetry, now obsolete. Kennedy, in his reply, retorts that he alone is true Scots, and that Dunbar, as a native of Lothian, is but an English thief:

  "In Ingland, owle, suld be thyne habitacione,
   Homage to Edward Langschankis maid thy kyn".

In an Epitaph on Donald Owre, a son of the Lord of the Isles, who raised a rebellion against James IV in 1503, Dunbar had a great opportunity for an outburst against the Highlanders, of which, however, he did not take advantage, but confined himself to a denunciation of treachery in general. In the "Dance of the Seven Deadly Sins", there is a well-known allusion to the bag-pipes:

  "Than cryd Mahoun[27] for a Healand padyane;
   Syne ran a feynd to feche Makfadyane[28]
       Far northwart in a nuke.[29]
   Be he the correnoch had done schout
   Erschemen so gadderit him about
     In Hell grit rowme they tuke.
   Thae tarmegantis with tag and tatter
   Full lowde in Ersche begowth to clatter,
     And rowp lyk revin and ruke.
   The Devill sa devit was with thair yell
   That in the depest pot of Hell
     He smorit thame with smoke."

Similar allusions will be found in the writings of Montgomerie; but such caricatures of Gaelic and the bagpipes afford but a slender basis for a theory of racial antagonism.

After the Union of the Crowns, the Lowlands of Scotland came to be more and more closely bound to England, while the Highlands remained unaffected by these changes. The Scottish nobility began to find its true place at the English Court; the Scottish adventurer was irresistibly drawn to London; the Scottish Presbyterian found the English Puritan his brother in the Lord; and the Scottish Episcopalian joined forces with the English Cavalier. The history of the seventeenth century prepared the way for the acceptance of the Celtic theory in the beginning of the eighteenth, and when philologists asserted that the Scottish Highlanders were a different race from the Scottish Lowlanders, the suggestion was eagerly adopted. The views of the philologists were confirmed by the experiences of the 'Forty-five, and they received a literary form in the "Lady of the Lake" and in "Waverley". In the nineteenth century the theory received further development owing to the fact that it was generally in line with the arguments of the defenders of the Edwardian policy in Scotland; and it cannot be denied that it holds the field to-day, in spite of Mr. Robertson's attack on it in Appendix R of his "Scotland under her Early Kings".

The writer of the present volume ventures to hope that he has, at all events, done something to make out a case for re-consideration of the subject. The political facts on which rests the argument just stated will be found in the text, and an Appendix contains the more important references to the Highlanders in mediaeval Scottish literature, and offers a brief account of the feudalization of Scotland. Our argument amounts only to a modification, and not to a complete reversal of the current theory. No historical problems are more difficult than those which refer to racial distribution, and it is impossible to speak dogmatically on such a subject. That the English blood of the Lothians, and the English exiles after the Norman Conquest, did modify the race over whom Malcolm Canmore ruled, we do not seek to deny. But that it was a modification and not a displacement, a victory of civilization and not of race, we beg to suggest. The English influences were none the less strong for this, and, in the end, they have everywhere prevailed. But the Scotsman may like to think that mediaeval Scotland was not divided by an abrupt racial line, and that the political unity and independence which it obtained at so great a cost did correspond to a natural and a national unity which no people can, of itself, create.


[Footnote 1: Spanish and Venetian Calendars of State Papers. Cf. especially the reference to the succour afforded by Scotland to France in Spanish Calendar, i. 210.]

[Footnote 2: _Historical Essays_, First Series, p. 71.]

[Footnote 3: _History of the English People_, Book III, c. iv.]

[Footnote 4: _History of Scotland_, vol. i, p. 2. But, as Mr. Langexpressly repudiates any theory of displacement north of the Forth, and does not regard Harlaw in the light of a great racial contest, his position is not really incompatible with that of the present work.]

[Footnote 5: _History of England_, p. 158. Mr. Oman is almost alone innot calling them English in blood.]

[Footnote 6: _History of Scotland_, vol. ii, pp. 393-394.]

[Footnote 7: Instances of the first tendency are Edderton, near Tain, _i.e._ _eadar duin_ ("between the hillocks"), and Falkirk, _i.e._ _Eaglais_ ("speckled church"), while examples of the second tendency aretoo numerous to require mention. Examples of ecclesiastical names are Laurencekirk and Kirkcudbright, and the growth of commerce receives the witness of such names as Turnberry, on the coast of Ayr, dating from the thirteenth century, and Burghead on the Moray Firth.]

[Footnote 8: Cf. _Waverley_, c. xliii, and the concluding chapter of _Tales of a Grandfather_.]

[Footnote 9: William of Newburgh states this in a probably exaggeratedform when he says:--"Regni Scottici oppida et burgi ab Anglis habitari noscuntur" (Lib. II, c. 34). The population of the towns in the Lothianswas, of course, English.]

[Footnote 10: For the real significance of such grants of land, cf. Maitland, _Domesday Book and Beyond_, Essay II.]

[Footnote 11: _Scotland under her Early Kings_, vol. i, p. 239.]

[Footnote 12: Annalia, iv.]

[Footnote 13: There is a possible exception in Barbour's _Bruce_ (Bk. XVIII, 1. 443)--"Then gat he all the Erischry that war intill his company, of Argyle and the Ilis alswa". It has been generally understoodthat the "Erischry" here are the Scottish Highlanders; but it is certain that Barbour frequently uses the word to mean Irishmen, and it is perhaps more probable that he does so here also than that he should use the word in this sense only once, and with no parallel instance for more than a century.]

[Footnote 14: Chronicle, Book II, c. ix. Cf. App. A.]

[Footnote 15: Ibid, Book V, c. x. Cf. App. A.]

[Footnote 16: _History of Greater Britain_, Bk. I, cc. vii, viii, ix.Cf. App. A.]

[Footnote 17: _Scotorum Regni Descriptio_, prefixed to his "History".Cf. App. A.]

[Footnote 18: _Fasti Aberdonenses_, p. 3.]

[Footnote 19: _De Gestis Scotorum_, Lib. I. Cf. App. A. It isinteresting to note, as showing how the breach between Highlander and Lowlander widened towards the close of the sixteenth century, thatFather James Dalrymple, who translated Lesley's History, at Ratisbon, about the beginning of the seventeenth century, wrote: "Bot the rest of the Scottis, quhome _we_ halde as outlawis and wylde peple". Dalrymple was probably a native of Ayrshire.]

[Footnote 20: _Liber Pluscardensis_, X, c. xxii. Cf. App. A.]

[Footnote 21: _Scoti-chronicon_, XV, c. xxi. Cf. App. A.]

[Footnote 22: _Greater Britain_, VI, c. x. Cf. App. A. The keenness ofthe fighting is no proof of racial bitterness. Cf. the clan fight on the Inches at Perth, a few years before Harlaw.]

[Footnote 23: _Scotorum Historiae_, Lib. XVI. Cf. App. A.]

[Footnote 24: _Rerum Scotorum Historia_, Lib. X. Cf. App. A.]

[Footnote 25: _Top. Hib._, Dis. III, cap. xi.]

[Footnote 26: _Britannia_, section _Scoti_.]

[Footnote 27: Mahoun = Mahomet, _i.e._ the Devil.]

[Footnote 28: The Editor of the Scottish Text Society's edition of Dunbar points out that "Macfadyane" is a reference to the traitor of the War of Independence:

  "This Makfadzane till Inglismen was suorn;

   Eduard gaiff him bath Argill and Lorn".

  Blind Harry, VII, ll. 627-8.]

[Footnote 29: "Far northward in a nuke" is a reference to the cave in which Macfadyane was killed by Duncan of Lorne (Bk. VIII, ll. 866-8).]


  • Chapter I - Racial Distribution and Feudal Relations 500 - 1066
  • Chapter II - Scotland and the Normans 1066 - 1286
  • Chapter III - The Scottish Policy of Edward I 1286 - 1296
  • Chapter IV - The War of Independence 1297 - 1328
  • Chapter V - Edward III and Scotland 1328 - 1399
  • Chapter VI - Scotland, Lancaster, and York 1400 - 1500
  • Chapter VII - The Beginnings of the English Alliance 1500 - 1542
  • Chapter VIII - The Parting of the Ways 1542 - 1568
  • Chapter IX - The Union of the Crowns 1568 - 1625
  • Chapter X - "The Troubles in Scotland" 1625 - 1688
  • Chapter XI - The Union of the Parliaments 1689 - 1707
  • Appendix A - References to the Highlanders in Mediaeval Literature
  • Appendix B - The Feudalization of Scotland
  • Appendix C - Table of the Competitors of 1290

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