The Union of Scotland and England under James I
From 'A History of the British Nation' by AD Innes, 1912
If Romanists and Puritans were both grievously disappointed in King James, he himself had just reason for disappointment in the reception of his own ideas for the union of his two kingdoms. In both England and Scotland there had in the past been statesmen who realised that the incorporation of the two in a single State would be an achievement from which both would benefit. The Union of the Crowns was merely a step to that achievement, making it impossible for the two nations to pursue hostile foreign policies. The foreign policy of the State could only be the foreign policy of its king.
Scotland and England could not fight each other, except on the hypothesis that one or other was in a state of rebellion against the king. This in itself was a great gain, but was very far from uniting the two States into one political community with common interests. That was the consummation desired by the king, but the nations were not yet ready for it. The Scots were afraid of being subordinated to the English, and the English were in no hurry to admit the Scots to full English citizenship. The countries remained separate and under separate governments.
Scotsmen indeed planted themselves in England and prospered greatly, to the disgust of Englishmen; but practically the only step towards a closer union was the dictum of the judges, that persons born after the Union were naturalised subjects on the soil of that country in which they had not been born; that a Scot who transferred himself to England had all the rights of an English citizen, and an Englishman transferring himself to Scotland had the same rights as if he had been born a Scot.
In practice Englishmen did not migrate to Scotland, whereas Scots did migrate to England in considerable numbers, but the Union hardly tended to increase mutual goodwill. The visitors from the North came to exploit England for their own benefit, and their success in so doing was not popular.
In Ireland it may be claimed that matters went better than under the Tudors. Although Tyrone had come to terms with the English government, his character and ambitions made it impossible to depend on his loyalty, With a man of his type there were two alternatives; either he must be treated as Henry VII had treated the old Earl of Kildare, and be practically constituted viceroy of Ireland, or he must be completely suppressed.
The Government was saved from the dilemma by the great Earl's flight from the country, which left no chief powerful enough to threaten rebellion especially as Tyrconnell also fled. Both were held guilty of treason and there were extensive forfeitures of territories in the North. This was the origin of that great plantation of Scots in Ulster which did so much to give the greater part of that province its distinctive character, intensified by the Cromwellian settlement half a century later.
This article is excerpted from the book, 'A History of the British Nation', by AD Innes, published in 1912 by TC & EC Jack, London. I picked up this delightful tome at a second-hand bookstore in Calgary, Canada, some years ago. Since it is now more than 70 years since Mr Innes's death in 1938, we are able to share the complete text of this book with Britain Express readers. Some of the author's views may be controversial by modern standards, particularly his attitudes towards other cultures and races, but it is worth reading as a period piece of British attitudes at the time of writing.