Union or Devolution in Cromwell's Britain?

Ivan Roots applies the 'new British' perspective to the 1650s.

Charles I in the year of his Scottish Coronation, 1633

Opposing during the run-up to the 1997 General Election the devolution of Scotland and of Wales, prime minister John Major spoke of 'a thousand years' of the integrity of British unity, presumably under a British constitution. Poor politics, the election and referenda results suggest. Bad history, certainly. The most convincing investigation of a British identity, Linda Colley's Britons, dates It from the eighteenth century, born of the political union of England (with Wales) and Scotland in 1707, a union which left the Scots still with some of their characteristic institutions. Even so, Britishness has taken a long time to mature, if indeed it has. Current controversies about a multi-cultural society here have exposed the decided lack of a definition which is acceptable to all English people, let alone Scots, Welsh and those Irish within the United Kingdom.

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