On the periphery of Europe - beyond the area colonised and controlled by the Roman Empire- Scotland is seen by some as a province of England and by others as a country which somehow lost its own identity three hundred years ago.
Inhabited for more than five thousand years, the country was not a unitary state until the reign of Malcolm Canmore. He united Celts, Picts and speakers of Anglic into one Kingdom. Our powerful neignbour to the South was always reluctant to accept that Scotland was a separate state and the early Middle Ages saw many wars between England and Scotland. Edward Longshanks and others believed that the Scottish should be vassals of the English Kirng. Fierce and bloody wars were fought as a result. The 14rgh Century saw success come to the Scots after a long struggle. Robert Bruce established himself as king and from this period there survives The Declaration of Arbroath as a testament to an early struggle for National Liberation.
The Stuart Dynasty reigned in Scotland for many years. James VI of Scotland was the last to reign Scotland as a separate kingdom. When his relative, Elizabeth I of England died, without children, he was the rightful heir to the English throne. James VI of Scotland became James I of England. The two states were not united formally but there was a "personal union" which had two states with one monarch.
The 17th century was a troubled period in the Dual Kingdom. Charles I, son of James VI and I was in continual conflict with Parliament and paid for that with his head. The Republic, named "Commonwealth" at the time did not last long and the monarchy under the Stuarts was re-established. Religious conflict lead to the departure of the Sturat Dynasty.
the dynastic succession was eventually settled on the House of Hanover but as part of the negotiations leading up to that, Scotland lost its separate identity, as did England. The two kingdoms were merged into one State to be known as Great Britain. The Scottish Parliament was dissolved and from 1707, Scottish MPs sat in the new unitary chamber at Westminster.
For nearly 300 years that arrangement persisted. Demands for changes to the political system were seen as crazy ideas from a minority of firebrands. Home Rule was for many years a token part oif the Liberal and Labour manifestos, but not taken seriously by many in Scotland or elsewhere.
After 1945 there was a rush to decolonisation. Burma, India and then the colonies in Africa demanded, and got, Independence. The Imperial Power was weakened economically and militarily. The idea began to catch on that Scotland was in some way also a colonised nation. Exploitation of oil resources in the North Sea in the 1970s strengthened the arguments of those who wanted to go their separate way.
At the end of the 20th century the process of Devolution or Decentralisation brought about a Parliament in Edinburgh with some limited powers. This stoked the demand for more powers and to the growth of the cote for the SNP (Scottish National Party).
Governments in London and Edinburgh agreed that there should be a referendum or plebiscite on the future status of the country. A long campaign led up to the vote in September 2014. as part of the discussion it was often stated that should Scotland vote to leave, then that would mean leaving the European Union. many commentators agree that may have swung the vote. 55% voted to stay in the UK and 45% voted to leave.
When there was a subsequent referendum in the whole of the UK on EU membership, there was a narrow margin of votes to leave the EU (52% against 48%). In Scotland the great majority voted to remain in the EU.
This has raised the possibility of a second Scottish referendum on Independence. Will Scotland again become an independent state ? We will have to wait and see !