Did England Conquer Scotland?
Someone once criticized Thomas Sowell (at this blog) as follows:
"I am sorry, but after I read in one of Sowell's books that England conquered Scotland (and here he is referring to the period AFTER Robert the Bruce) I just cannot take any of his historical accounts seriously."
Now, at the time I pointed out that getting a fact wrong does not make you a bad historian. But now, after just having finished Murray Pittock's A New History of Scotland, I'd like to go further: Sowell got this particular fact right, and my supercilious commenter does not know whereof he speaks.
Now, it is true that there was an Act of Union in 1707, which was devised by both Englishmen and Scots. But consider the following: The Scots signing the act were under both economic and military pressure from England. The signatories were an elite who wanted desperately to participate in England's overseas trade, which, before Union, they could not. It is estimated that three-quarters of the Scottish people were against the Act.
After the Act passed, England repeatedly violated its terms, with impunity. They put down a number of Scottish revolts, and kept permanent garrisons stationed in Scotland. They finally hit upon the scheme of sending Highlanders overseas to be slaughtered so that they could not rebel at home, with the result that Scottish troops died at several times the rate of American and English troops in the Seven Years War and other such ventures. The English also suppressed Gaelic as much as they could, and didn't much like Scots being spoken either. And many Scots saw themselves as a conquered nation.
So, Sowell was essentially correct: England did conquer Scotland.