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THE ROSE AND THISTLE JOINED: On this day in 1707, the Acts of Union, uniting England and Scotland, went into effect. The two kingdoms had been ruled by the same monarch since James VI of Scotland (son of Mary, Queen of Scots) became James I of England and Ireland in 1603. But the Acts of Union made it a true political union and not just two crowns sitting on the same head.

For the English, the union was a good deal because it ensured that when Queen Anne died with no surviving children, Scotland and England would continue to have the same monarch. If instead Scotland had elected to go its own way, it might have chosen to return to its “auld alliance” with France. Such a move, England believed, would jeopardize its security.

On the other hand, the less populous Scots wanted to ensure access to English markets. This was especially so after the disastrous Darien scheme to create a Scottish colony in Panama, which left much of the country in financial ruin.


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