Although the Union of 1707 was a unique historical event, the idea of uniting Scotland and England had been proposed on various occasions since the early sixteenth century.
In pursuing her claim to the English throne in the 1560s, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, promised a peaceful union between England and Scotland.
This possibility became a reality in 1603 when on the death of Elizabeth I, King James VI of Scotland, her closest protestant relative, succeeded to the thrones of England and Ireland, thus creating a personal union between the three kingdoms. James proclaimed that his reign heralded a new and divinely ordained 'Kingdom of Great Britain'.
However James's efforts to unite the English and Scottish parliaments failed as a result of English objections.
The execution of James's son, King Charles I, during the civil wars of the 1640s was followed by the creation of an English republic, which conquered and occupied Scotland during the 1650s. After 1660, the restored Stuarts placed less emphasis on the idea of a unified Great Britain, and stressed instead the personal bonds of monarchy. During the reign of King James VII and II (1685-1688) this ideology combined with a powerful sense of Catholic hierarchy and legitimacy to reinforce the vision of the Stuarts as the guarantors of religious order and political unity.