This exhibition marks the 300th anniversary of
the Anglo-Scottish Union of 1 May 1707

Drawing exclusively on the University of Aberdeenís historic collections, the exhibition explores the political, religious and economic factors that helped create the new kingdom of Great Britain, a process which was far from inevitable and not particularly popular, north or south of the border. Union between Scotland and England was proposed on numerous occasions, and in various forms, throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Union of the Crowns in 1603, under James VI & I, offered one solution, although ongoing political instability undermined the authority of the Stuart dynasty.

For much of the seventeenth century it was the Scots rather than the English who advocated the idea of union. In the early 1700s, however, political developments at home and changes in the European balance of power persuaded Englandís leaders of the need for union with the Scots. English and Scottish anxieties over the Protestant nature of the monarchy, allied to a Scottish desire for access to Englandís economy, finally secured the Union of Parliaments in 1707.

The exhibition also examines the divisive impact of these developments on the burghs of Aberdeen, including both colleges (Kingís and Marischal), before concluding with the final victory of the Union settlement through the destruction of the Jacobite army at Culloden in 1746.

Frontispiece from Britannia fortior (London, 1709)
This 1709 illustration of Britannia, flanked by the dual figures of Crown and Church, personified the new state of Great Britain and Ireland. It is a typical representation from the period. Behind her, a seascape with a fleet of ships emphasised Britainís naval supremacy. Britannia would become increasingly associated with the navy and remains, to this day, a potent symbol of British nationhood.

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TIMELINE

1603 The Union of the Crowns
1638 The National Covenant
1649 Execution of King Charles I
1649-54 English conquest of Ireland & Scotland
1660 Restoration of the Monarchy
1688 Overthrow of King James VII & II by William of Orange
1702 Accession of Queen Anne
1707 Union of Parliaments
1714 Accession of George I of Hanover
1715 Failed Jacobite revolt
1719 Failed Jacobite revolt
1745 Last Jacobite revolt begins
1746 Battle of Culloden