Monday, 2 April 2012

Wha's like us!

We live, as they say, in interesting times. As we enter the two and a half year marathon debate on whether or not Scotland should be independent again, my thoughts turned to the good old days when Scotland was run by Scots - albeit French-speaking Scots whose relatives robbed and murdered their way to power

To put it bluntly, many of Scotland's rulers have been a dead loss, with the emphasis on dead.

Take the Stewarts.

James I - came to the throne after 18 years in English captivity. Murdered by rivals, including members of his own family. Didn't do his memory any favours by hiding in a sewer.

James the Second was blown up by his cannon
James II - crowned at the age of seven, spent most of his rule obsessed by destroying the rival Douglases. Blown up by his own cannon trying to get Roxburgh Castle back from the English.

James III - aged eight when he was crowned at Kelso Abbey. Annoyed just about everybody. Killed in a battle against his own son.

James IV - tried not to rile the English and ruled with a steady hand until he fell out with Henry VIII and nipped over the Tweed to Flodden to show him two fingers. Hacked to death with billhooks along with one bishop, two abbots, nine earls, fourteen lords and several thousand other people who didn't really matter much except to their relatives.

James V - seventeen months old when crowned. Kept himself busy fleecing the nation to build palaces and fathering nine illegitimate children. Died of fever after taking a bath in the Solway while his army was losing (there's a theme here) to the English.

Mary, Queen of Scots - dad passed away when she was six days old, husbands had a habit of dying on her. Bit of a schemer. Lost her head after annoying her rich English cousin, Liz.

So when people talk about the good old days, we shouldn't forget that in the couple of hundred years before the Union of the Crowns, everything in the garden was far from rosy. Scotland was riven by internal rivalries and run by vested interests who were happy to sell out to their bigger neighbours whenever it suited them. There's a lesson there somewhere, I'm just not sure what it is.

3 comments:

Giles Kristian said...

Doug, that portrait says it all.Unless you're going to tell me your painters weren't up to much either, that's not a face I'd follow into the fray! Thanks for starting my day with a chuckle.

Doug said...

That was his better side, Giles. He had a large red birthmark on his face that led to him being nicknamed James the Fiery.

Elaine S Moxon said...

You never disappoint Doug. Brilliant! I think the same could be said for just about anywhere. Shows how very far we haven't come!