Tag Archives: Braveheart

The end of the United Kingdom?

In 1698 a group of Scottish businessmen established a colony in Central America, on the Isthmus of Panama. The ‘Darien Project’, named after its location on the Gulf of Darien, turned out to be a disaster – fatally so, for most of the men and women who went out there between 1698 and 1700, but a financial disaster back in Scotland as well.

A bit like the South Sea Bubble, which caused such embarrassment for investors in England a few years later, the Darien scheme had involved a lot of lowland merchants and members of the political class, and with the collapse of their investment, they faced ruin. The term ‘sovereign debt’ hadn’t been invented, but effectively, so did the Scottish nation itself.

Since 1603, when James VI of Scotland became James I of England with the death of his cousin Elizabeth Tudor, the same Protestant branch of the Stuart/Stewart dynasty had ruled both Kingdoms, but they did not yet form a United Kingdom. Continue reading

Young Turks and Braveheart

The Scottish Nationalist Party hopes to hold a referendum on Scottish independence on 24 June 2014, the 700th anniversary of the Scottish victory over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn.

Too bad they missed the opportunity to hold it on the 700th anniversary of Stirling Bridge, 11 September 1297, since thanks to Mel Gibson, William Wallace is better known these days than Robert the Bruce.

I first saw Braveheart in very odd circumstances.  In 1995 my husband and I visited Turkey.  Turkey offers everything to the tourist – history, archaeology, architecture, food and scenery – and in the aftermath of the First Gulf War, tourism had collapsed, so we had the place almost to ourselves.  I remember wandering around the ruins of the Hittite city of Hattusa with only a goat for company. Continue reading