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Statutes of Iona 1609 - the real end of Gaelic Scotland?


FloatingVoterTralee

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Like most, I'd long believed the narrative that Scottish society was largely thriving and historically unaltered until the accession of the Hanoverians marked the point of cultural disintegration, reinforced by Culloden. But the Scottish writer Andrew Greig has a different take on events, placing the blame firmly on James the First/Sixth and his Statutes of Iona for the undermining and disintegration of Scots Gaelic society, with the faultline not between Scotsman and Sassenach, between Highlander and Lowlander. Certainly, the prohibitions on bards, clan traditions, the language and prosleytisation were more rigorously enforced than similar English legislation in Ireland, and combined with James' instigation of the Ulster Plantation, place question marks over his reputation as "the wisest fool in Christendom".
 


Mitsui2

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Like most, I'd long believed the narrative that Scottish society was largely thriving and historically unaltered until the accession of the Hanoverians marked the point of cultural disintegration, reinforced by Culloden. But the Scottish writer Andrew Greig has a different take on events, placing the blame firmly on James the First/Sixth and his Statutes of Iona for the undermining and disintegration of Scots Gaelic society, with the faultline not between Scotsman and Sassenach, between Highlander and Lowlander. Certainly, the prohibitions on bards, clan traditions, the language and prosleytisation were more rigorously enforced than similar English legislation in Ireland, and combined with James' instigation of the Ulster Plantation, place question marks over his reputation as "the wisest fool in Christendom".
I suspect you'll find that the idea of anything that was done anywhere being more severe than what was done in Ireland is not exactly popular in some quarters on P.ie .
 

ibis

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A lot of James' attitude may be found in two quotes:

""The state of monarchy is the supremest thing upon earth; for kings are not only God's lieutenants upon earth, and sit upon God's throne, but even by God himself they are called gods.""

and

"This I must say for Scotland, and may truly vaunt it. Here I sit and govern it with my pen; I write and it is done; and by a clerk of the council I govern Scotland now, which my ancestors could not do by the sword."

Their inflexible belief in the divine right of kings was part of the Stewarts' downfall, while the combination of that attitude with their experience of the rather precarious primus inter pares (first among equals) reality of Scottish kingship meant their sympathy for the Gaelic culture of Scotland was extremely limited.
 

PeacefulViking

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Like most, I'd long believed the narrative that Scottish society was largely thriving and historically unaltered until the accession of the Hanoverians marked the point of cultural disintegration, reinforced by Culloden. [/QUOTE

Historically unaltered? Since when? The native languages in Scotland for example had disappeared a few hundred years before, due to pressure from English and Gaelic.
 

Lain2016

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Provisions

Amongst the provisions of the statutes were:
1. The provision and support of Protestant ministers to Highland Parishes;
2. The establishment of hostelries;
3. The outlawing of beggars;
4. The prohibition of traditional hospitality and strong drink;
5. The education of chiefs’ heirs in Lowland schools where they “may be found able sufficiently to speik, reid and wryte Englische"
6. Limitations on the bearing and use of arms,
7. The outlawing of bards and other bearers of the traditional culture
8. The prohibition on the protection of fugitives

In the view of some writers, this enaction was "the first of a succession of measures taken by the Scottish government specifically aimed at the extirpation of the Gaelic language, the destruction of its traditional culture and the suppression of its bearers"
1. Princes throughout Europe were trying to standardise religion, the better to rule their subjects.
2. Interesting, so presumably hostelries would encourage outsiders into the area and undermine the Gaelic culture.
3. Like outlawing prostitution...wishfull thinking.
 

Riadach

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Riadach

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1. Princes throughout Europe were trying to standardise religion, the better to rule their subjects.
2. Interesting, so presumably hostelries would encourage outsiders into the area and undermine the Gaelic culture.
3. Like outlawing prostitution...wishfull thinking.
It may have been to accomodate for the loss of traditional hospitality under which any visitor could receive customary free lodgings. We have accounts of such a custom surviving in Ireland up until the 19th century.
 

Dame_Enda

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A lot of James' attitude may be found in two quotes:

""The state of monarchy is the supremest thing upon earth; for kings are not only God's lieutenants upon earth, and sit upon God's throne, but even by God himself they are called gods.""

and

"This I must say for Scotland, and may truly vaunt it. Here I sit and govern it with my pen; I write and it is done; and by a clerk of the council I govern Scotland now, which my ancestors could not do by the sword."

Their inflexible belief in the divine right of kings was part of the Stewarts' downfall, while the combination of that attitude with their experience of the rather precarious primus inter pares (first among equals) reality of Scottish kingship meant their sympathy for the Gaelic culture of Scotland was extremely limited.
I disagree on the last point. James' grandfather James V was probably fluent in Gaelic, and James IV definitely was. The Reformation changed things. It was led largely by English speaking Lowlanders, who had some difficulty converting the Highlands because of the language barrier. As an obstacle to the Reformation, it therefore had to be (as James put it) "extirpated". James' upbringing would also have been a factor. He was separated from his mother as a toddler, and raised by fanatical Protestants who despised the Gaelic language for the aforementioned reasons. It's similarity with the language of Catholic Ireland would also have been a factor in the prejudice against the language, which was increasingly referred to as "Erse" (meaning Irish).

It is true though that another factor in the 17th century was that the Highland clans tended to be be very independent-minded and that made their assimilation important to the Stuart-absolutist project.
 
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Nemesiscorporation

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What 'native' languages?
In Scotland there was originally Pictish, before the Scots invaded from Ulster.

Up to the 1800's, on the west coast of Scotland and mountain areas, there was a large amount of people speaking Gaelic. On Unst, Hebredies, Wick, Shetlands, Orkneys and most of East coast, there was a lot of Norse speakers. In the lowlands there was still the occassional anglo-saxon speaker and medieval English speakers with lots of Norse, lots of Gaelic and a sprinkling of French amongst the landowners, priests and well of, with the minority who were educated being versed in Latin.

Regarding Pictish there are numerous arguments about wether it was Celtic, Germanic, Germano-Celtic like old Belgae or something else. I don't think I have ever read an article in a peer reviewed archeological or historical journal where two experts have agreed on Pictish.

Pictish is one of those things that no one seems to agree on as far as I can tell.

In the physical archeological record in Scotland there is clear signs of continous trade from Norway, England and Ireland with Scotland going back 2 millenia before the Romans got there arse kicked in Scotland, with entire legions disappearing and a trace never being found of them. The museums such as Kelvinhall Grove and Glasgow University have numerous items on display that show the trading record and also mention the arguements about what type of language Pictish was.
 

PeacefulViking

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In Scotland there was originally Pictish, before the Scots invaded from Ulster.

Up to the 1800's, on the west coast of Scotland and mountain areas, there was a large amount of people speaking Gaelic. On Unst, Hebredies, Wick, Shetlands, Orkneys and most of East coast, there was a lot of Norse speakers. In the lowlands there was still the occassional anglo-saxon speaker and medieval English speakers with lots of Norse, lots of Gaelic and a sprinkling of French amongst the landowners, priests and well of, with the minority who were educated being versed in Latin.

Regarding Pictish there are numerous arguments about wether it was Celtic, Germanic, Germano-Celtic like old Belgae or something else. I don't think I have ever read an article in a peer reviewed archeological or historical journal where two experts have agreed on Pictish.

Pictish is one of those things that no one seems to agree on as far as I can tell.
Wikipedia claims that there is an academic consensus that it was a Celtic language.
 

GDPR

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Like most, I'd long believed the narrative that Scottish society was largely thriving and historically unaltered until the accession of the Hanoverians marked the point of cultural disintegration, reinforced by Culloden. [/QUOTE

Historically unaltered? Since when? The native languages in Scotland for example had disappeared a few hundred years before, due to pressure from English and Gaelic.
What 'native' languages?
Scots/Pictish? The forerunner of Ulster/Scots?
:)
 

ne0ica

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Like most, I'd long believed the narrative that Scottish society was largely thriving and historically unaltered until the accession of the Hanoverians marked the point of cultural disintegration, reinforced by Culloden. But the Scottish writer Andrew Greig has a different take on events, placing the blame firmly on James the First/Sixth and his Statutes of Iona for the undermining and disintegration of Scots Gaelic society, with the faultline not between Scotsman and Sassenach, between Highlander and Lowlander. Certainly, the prohibitions on bards, clan traditions, the language and prosleytisation were more rigorously enforced than similar English legislation in Ireland, and combined with James' instigation of the Ulster Plantation, place question marks over his reputation as "the wisest fool in Christendom".
I cringe when I hear the Scots whinge about how oppressed they are when we all know for all these years they really liked taking in the arse from England and were quite happy even proud of it. Its not Scotland the Brave, Its should be Scotland, England's bitch.
 

Nemesiscorporation

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Wikipedia claims that there is an academic consensus that it was a Celtic language.
Most likely it was Celtic or possibly Germano-Celtic.

However Wikipedia is on shaky ground, if it claims there is consensus.

Between the academics in Scotland it is a point of arguement, sometimes literally.

That arguement will take a long time to be settled.

It is the lack of facts on the ground that is the issue.
 

Mitsui2

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I cringe when I hear the Scots whinge about how oppressed they are when we all know for all these years they really liked taking in the arse from England and were quite happy even proud of it. Its not Scotland the Brave, Its should be Scotland, England's bitch.
Do you at least feel better, having vomited?
 

Big Brother

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The statute was part of a calculated destruction of Scottish identity and self rule driven from Westminster from Tudor times.

They couldn't beat the Scots in the field.

So they discredited and undermined their catholic religion.

Then they fomented civil war and discord.

And then bribed those at the top of the Scottish power triangle with token power in the south while eviscerating Scotland's real power over itself.

Sound familiar?

By 1707 all they had to do was bribe the remnants of the Scottish nobility.

For 300 years after Scotland was nothing more than a cultural, political and economic annex of England.

Next year they have a chance to stand on their own feet.

Here's hoping they do.
 

ne0ica

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The statute was part of a calculated destruction of Scottish identity and self rule driven from Westminster from Tudor times.

They couldn't beat the Scots in the field.

So they discredited and undermined their catholic religion.

Then they fomented civil war and discord.

And then bribed those at the top of the Scottish power triangle with token power in the south while eviscerating Scotland's real power over itself.

Sound familiar?

By 1707 all they had to do was bribe the remnants of the Scottish nobility.

For 300 years after Scotland was nothing more than a cultural, political and economic annex of England.

Next year they have a chance to stand on their own feet.

Here's hoping they do.
To hell with them. They have spent the last couple of hundreds years looking down their noises at us. I hope no independent Scotland ever emerges. They don't deserve freedom.
 

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