The destination for history

The history of Scotland in seven people


Someone once said, “Scotland without people is like a forest without birds: nice and quiet”.

That person is lost to history but others presented here are not lost to history. They are written about in authoritative history books and also A Haverin’ History of Scotland. These people’s achievements echo down the centuries, although some of them weren’t as successful as they thought they’d be.

St Columba

Columba was born in Donegal (which keen-eyed readers will notice is not in Scotland). He studied the Bible until he could name all the dwarves… apostles, without hesitating over the tricky last one. He wanted to tell everyone else about this and would stand on street corners handing out leaflets and shouting about how great God was. Irish people started to tire of him banging on about how great this God fella was. They thought the best thing to do was let other countries enjoy his banter. So they ‘encouraged’ him to leave the country and in Five Hundred Oatcake he came ashore at Iona with 12 followers, or ‘stalkers’ as we now call them.

Columba set off an epic quest with a simple message: drop the ring into Mount Doom. No! It was to get everyone to join the church. To cut a very long story short - he did.

The new believers went for it like ducks to holy water. Remember those beads everyone put on their car seats? Thunderbirds’ Tracy Island? Men waxing their beards? Christianity was like that but with less itching.

Robert the Bruce

The 13th century saw that popular Scottish tradition: wars with England. William Wallace took part and when he was captured was taken apart. (See Braveheart for highly authentic historical portrayal of this).

With Wallace in pieces the way was clear for someone else to continue the fighting between Scotland and England. This man was Robert the Bruce.

Robert had initially faffed around and wasn’t sure what to do. His parents told him: tidy up your room or become monarch. So he decided to be king and stabbed one of his rivals in a church and asked for a pal, who happened to be an Archbishop, to make him King, which he did.

King Robert found himself chased, harried, and hunted and had to hide. He gathered forces though and like a Pied Bagpiper soon had enough men to have a battle. Which he did in 13 Oatcake near to the visitor centre at Bannockburn. Victory was won and that was the end of fighting between the two countries. Aye right.

Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots is one of those figures that divides opinion. Some admire her, some don’t like her and a third group wonder if you should use a comma after her first name or not.

MQS had terrible trouble with the menfolk in her life. John Knox was a Protestant who did not like her being Not A Protestant. Her husband Lord Darnley was a philanderer. (No one liked stamp collectors back then). He was eventually blown up then Mary married one of the men suspected of the murder. Ultimately though it was not a man but a woman who had the biggest impact: Queen Elizabeth of England who had her cousin’s head removed from her body. Before she died.

King James Six and One

Mary, Queen of Scots had a son, Prince James Six, who became King James Six after the reduction in the headcount of her family unit. He dribbled and made no sense when he talked and was immediately elected as a sports commentator on talk radio until it was realised he was 13 months old.

Now poor Wee James did not have an idyllic childhood, being taken at an early age from his mother in case he caught her Catholicism. He was given a very strict upbringing, being told in no uncertain terms what was right (Protestantism) from wrong (Catholicism). Life then was simple, if brutal.

James grew up and got to sit on the throne as a proper king. He was regarded as a good monarch, though not by the women he tortured and burnt as witches. They rated him ‘Below Average’ on KingAdvisor. Witches around this time were the scourge of honest, hard-working subjects. They were the immigrants / dole scroungers / single mothers / asylum seekers / travellers / Mods and Rockers / illegal ravers / young people / refugees / street charity collectors / PPI cold callers of the time. You could blame them for anything! Bad sea voyage? Witches did that. Poor harvest? Witches. Your team lost a last minute penalty? Well that’ll be the witches then. Eventually the witches had enough of this and split to the four points of the compass where some turned to good and others to bad, living in castles and training flying monkeys to do their bidding.

Although not the worst Stuart king (there is quite a list) James was deemed “the wisest fool in Christendom”. He wasn’t sure how to take this and consulted the cleverest moron in Sikhism and the thickest genius in Judaism but they were none the wiser either. He famously said “No bishop, no king” which meant chess games were rendered useless.

But bigger things were about to happen. In 16 Oatcake James got the news he’d been waiting for: Good Queen Bess was now Good Queen Dead. Queen Elizabeth One of England was no more and James was her successor. He expressed great sadness at the thought of leaving Scotland while hurriedly packing his bags and heading south. As he jumped up onto his horse he said he would miss the old place and would “rule Scotland by pen”. Sheep farmers praised this method of establishing authority until they realised it was the writing type of pen. They went back to traipsing around the soggy, heathery hills muttering about the bureaucracy of Europe.

After his coronation in London, James was now King James Six of Scotland and One of England. Before this ‘Union of the Crowns’ James had done something that was unusual: he didn’t start a war between Scotland and England. What kind of king was that?! One who wanted to die in his bed an old man? Pah, that’s not good for dramatic history purposes. He did wage a campaign against smoking which after four centuries started to show real results.

Bonnie Prince Charlie

In 17 Oatcake, Queen Anne, who had overseen the Union between Scotland and England, died from overwork. Those dressing tables don’t varnish themselves you know. European family trees were scoured, branch by branch, until a suitable candidate could be found. Eventually a short list was created, interviews were held and one was selected. The personal credentials required on the job description had said: ‘Protestant’ and that’s what they got. King George One was fat, in his forties and couldn’t speak a word of English. In Scotland the population were bemused, bothered and bewildered. The Catholic Scots were sad, seething and said as soon as the pub was closed they were going to do something about it. When they woke up hungover they knew they’d agreed to do something but couldn’t remember what it was. Three days later one of them was walking along the street when like a bolt out of the blue they remembered. They were to have a rebellion!

So in 17 Oatcake a rebellion was duly had. The Jacobites suffered an away defeat in Preston, followed by a home defeat at Sheriffmuir in Perthshire. Muttering about the shocking refereeing decisions they trudged home, those that weren’t dead that is. But the Jacobites weren’t finished. Oh no.

Charles Edward Louis Philip Casimir John Paul George Ringo Fleegle Bingo Drooper Snork Stuart was born in 17 Oatcake and due to his name spent much of his early life filling in forms. He was called many other things: ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’, ‘The Young Pretender’, and ‘That Absolute *****-**** of a Man’.

BPC wanted to reclaim the British throne for his dad who was known as ‘The Great Pretender’. When asked in coffee houses, he would wearily reply, “Yes. I’m the Great Pretender, oo-oo-oo.” So, in order to cheer up his pa, BPC decided to go to Scotland, win the crown, restore the Catholic and Stuart monarchy and relax having got the job done. Probably get a bike for Christmas as a result.

Without giving too much away, no person in Scottish history is the cause of so much grief as he. We’re talking worse than Berti Vogts as Scotland manager. He came, he saw, he utterly failed. He met his Waterloo at the battle of Culloden where the Jacobites were defeated in less than an hour. He scarpered and back in Italy, Bonnie Prince Charlie soon became Not So Bonnie Fattie Boom Boom Prince Charlie as he toured the bars telling anyone who wasn’t quick enough that “I coulda been a contender”. He never returned to sobriety or Scotland again.

James Watt

His name was Watt, James Watt. He puzzled over what to do until one day in his laboratory he bolted out of his seat and shouted “Eureka!” His assistants stared, open mouthed. “Eureka! That’s what Archimedes shouted when he came up with his invention,” Watt said. “I wonder what I’ll say when I have mine?” He sat back down and pondered some more. His assistants sighed. Eventually his pondering paid off and his invention became a sure-fire hit, producing clouds of steamy power.

This power was used to great effect and although the workers using it endured long hours of unending, grim, mind-corrupting, sweaty toil they were compensated by knowing that the man behind it all would end up on a tea towel and in a silly book. Some workers felt this wasn’t enough and demanded recompense for their sweaty toil so factory and mill owners gave them shiny coins – not all of which contained chocolate.

Janette Krankie

Only kidding. Janette has done great things but none of them visible or known to the outside world, but was struggling to think of anyone modern apart from a sportsperson. Oh, here’s one.

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon is Scotland’s current First Minister. She’s actually the fifth first minister but who’s counting? FM Sturgeon followed a man called Salmond onto the hot seat (no one likes that do they?). The two fish-related names allowed a terrific amount of fun to be had by political wagsters. Some found these jokes indigestible, but luckily in Scotland there was a politician on hand to ease such troubles, the current Scottish Liberal leader. Who’s called Rennie...

By Norman Ferguson

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