Great Britain: an island growing together

Great Britain: an island growing together

England? Scotland? For many today, the question does not even arise where the difference lies – after all, everything is Great Britain, or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as the official name of the state is. But in reality the two countries were two separate states for many centuries. Even the Romans, who ruled England and Wales from around 43 to 440, were unable to enter the far north of the island. Instead, he built Hadrian’s Wall, a fortification with which he sealed his empire.

On May 1, 1701, Scotland and England formed the United Kingdom with the “Act of Union” – after both countries had been governed by a monarch in personal union from 1603. Politically uniting the two was controversial even then: around 45 percent of Scottish MPs voted for union – but the mood of the people was the opposite. Nevertheless: with the Unification Act, the parliament in Edinburgh was dissolved and the north of the island was now co-governed by London. In return, Scotland sent representatives to the newly combined House of Lords and Commons.

Scotland was broken

Although the now vacant Scottish statesmen were promised all kinds of positions in the common capital, the reason for the merger seemed to be of a more economic nature: by the beginning of the 18th century Scotland was more or less bankrupt. The country’s attempt to establish its own trading colony in Central America with the Company of Scotland failed mercilessly and destroyed nearly a quarter of the Scottish capital. Attacks by rival Spaniards and several epidemics put an end to colonial efforts. In the new common state, Scots were now free to act, with England paying reparations claims and allowing the North to maintain, among other things, its own system of education and the Reformed Church.

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the birth of the union jack

The Union Jack, actually the Union Flag, quickly became a symbol of the Union. The first version of King James I was introduced shortly after the royal personal union in 1606. The flag is an overlay of the English Cross of St George and the Scottish Cross of St Andrew. The Irish Cross of St. Patrick was also added in 1801, and the Union Jack took its present form.

The Scots then found it difficult to accept government business from London. He was granted greater sovereignty in 1998 by British Prime Minister Tony Blair: under his administration, the Edinburgh Parliament was revived, and it has gained many powers since then.


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