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Scotland - Scottish History

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History of Scotland

Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Alba) is now a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the southwest. In addition to the mainland, Scotland is made up of more than 790 islands including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides. It wasn't always like that.

This category has selected c. 850 as its starting point. As wikitree is becoming more complex this division is thought appropriate to separate the nation of Scotland from its ancestors. The time prior to this, until the 1st Century will be managed under Ancient Scotland.

History of Scotland

In 850 AD the land we know as Scotland today was a lot smaller than today. Our journey starts with Kenneth MacAlpin (Cináed mac Ailpín), generally regarded as the first king of a united Scotland and known today in most modern regnal lists as Kenneth I.. It is from him that the genealogical lineage becomes clearly defined and reliable source material is available. He was king of the Picts and, according to our national myth, the first king of Scots. Prior to him lineage is full of conjecture but after him history and genealogy becomes more certain.

Historical Focal points


800 - 1000 AD is the Vikings period; Kenneth rose to power in the Kingdom of Fortriu (roughly where Moray is today) after the initial Viking wars when " king Uen son of Óengus of Fortriu, his brother Bran, Áed mac Boanta "and others almost innumerable" " where killed in battle in 839. The resulting power vacuum, created by so many of the Royal line being killed if the Pictish Chronicle king-lists have any validity, seems to have resulted in at least four would-be kings warring for supreme power. Out of this rose Kenneth I.. Kenneth MacAlpin is regarded, by most historians, as the first king of a united Scotland. His descendants, known to modern historians as the House of Alpin, fought amongst each other during frequent disputed successions. The last Alpin king, Malcolm II, died without issue in the early 11th century and the kingdom passed through his daughter's son, Duncan I, who started a new line of kings known to modern historians as the House of Dunkeld or Canmore.


1000 - 1150 are the wars of Establishment; Scotland, as a fledgling nation, fights for its survival against the vast Viking empire, that had reached its peak with Cnut c. 1000 AD, finding success at the Battle of Cluantarbh (Battle of Clontarf), near modern day Dublin, where Scotland, lead by the Earl of Mar, and the other Celtic nations, under Brian Boru, found victory and relief from the Vikings. This period saw the end of the individual kingdoms and the rise of the Mormaers. The period ends with the introduction of feudalism by David I and the Davidian Revolution.

It is during this period that the lands belonging to the Kingdom of Strathclyde, Lords of Galloway and Alba are absorbed, either by contest or fealty into the Kingdom of Scotland. David, himself, held, as his hereditary lands, the lands of the Lothians, then part of Northumbria.


1150 - c. 1400 is the feudal period; this period, defines the boundaries of modern Scotland and moves from a monarchic style to the rule of law enforced by a Parliament. It saw the introduction of new people, Normans, Flemish and other European nobility, into Scotland and the introduction of a new language. It saw the introduction of hereditary title, formalised the Nobility of Scotland and saw the establishment of the Peerage. It saw the rise and organisation of the sherrifdoms, later shires, of the church, the parishes, the borough and towns.

The last Dunkeld king, Alexander III, died in 1286 leaving only a single infant granddaughter as heir; four years later, Margaret, Maid of Norway herself died in a tragic shipwreck en route to Scotland. England, under Edward I, would take advantage of the questioned succession in Scotland to launch a series of conquests into Scotland. The resulting Wars of Scottish Independence were fought in the late 13th and early 14th centuries as Scotland passed back and forth between the House of Balliol and the House of Bruce.


c. 1400 - 1708; is the period when Scotland stood as an individual nation, ruled by its own King and Parliament. Scotland's ultimate victory in the Wars of Independence under David II (Bruce) confirmed Scotland as a fully independent and sovereign kingdom. When David II died without issue, his nephew Robert II established the House of Stewart (Stuart), which would rule Scotland uncontested for the next three centuries. James VI, king of Scotland, would also inherit the throne of England, as James I, in 1567, and the Stuart kings and queens would rule both independent kingdoms. During this period Scotland had its own standing Army and standing Navy.
c. 1600 - The Ulster Migration; This period is generally regarded as the start of the Scots, generally protestant, migration to Ulster. Many of these families will eventually find their way to the Americas.

This changed at the Acts of the Union in 1707, the two kingdoms were joined into a new state, the Kingdom of Great Britain and Scotland's Army and Navy became part of the British Army and Royal Navy respectively.

Queen Anne was the last Stuart monarch, ruling until 1714.

1708 to Present

1708 until today; a time genealogists are most likely to be familiar with. Since 1714, the succession of the British monarchs of the houses of Hanover and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Windsor) has been due to their descent from James VI and I of the House of Stuart. [1].

Prehistoric (timeline)
During the Roman Empire
Middle Ages
Early Modern
Modern, from the end of the Jacobite risings and beginnings of industrialisation in the 18th century
History (timeline)
Dynasties and Regimes
House of Alpin (843–878; 889–1040)
House of Moray (1040–1058)
House of Dunkeld (1058–1286)
House of Balliol (1292–1296)
House of Bruce (1306–1371)
House of Stewart (1371–1707)
Acts of Union 1707

See Also

Scottish Clans
Scotland, Emigrants
Migrants from Scotland to Canada
Scottish Military History

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