...a 21st Century Renaissance
One of the benefits of teaching at the college level and being right brain is that I am able to see things from a more global perspective while connecting issues that might not seem related. Case in point: the Renaissance and Scottish independence. In my art history class, I talk about the Renaissance of Western art. The word renaissance comes from the Italian-rinascere, which means to be reborn. Hence, the Renaissance of Western art and culture provided us with a total rinascere of our Weltanschauung. The Western Weltanschauung was due to the rediscovery of the Greco-Roman view of life in all its forms. In history classes, I see the linkage of the Renaissance with Scotland's attempt to leave the UK.
During the Dark Ages, which started by the time of the fall of the Roman Empire in the West in 476 CE to around 1000 CE...roughly half a millennia. During this time period, nearly all the intellectual lights went out all over Europe. The entire cultural basis for the Greco-Roman time period had vanished-Europe had died intellectually. This cultural coma lasted for at least 500 years in Italy and several additional centuries in other areas north of Italy.
Had it not been for one of the worst things ever done by Christianity, the Crusades, which was the Christian version of the jihad, the West would have lost all of its intellectual inheritance. The church went to the Holy Lands to kill and plunder the possessions of the Muslims who they called-infidels. Ironically, the Crusades discovered the Greco-Roman arts, literature, history, philosophy, etc. The entire cultural heritage was found in the Muslim Middle East. They had enjoyed the Greco-Roman heritage as a part of theirs for a millennium.
One can only imagine what the Western world would have been like had it not been for the atrocities and carnage of the crusading church. In spite of the Christian church's jihad, we rediscovered our great cultural and intellectual past.
The rinascere or renaissance was limited to continental Europe. In fact, the renaissance of Scotland and its independence movement goes back to the same time of the spread of the Renaissance in Western Europe. The Battle of Bannockburn occurred on June 24, 1314. It had been one of the first victories of the Scots over the English who had been attempting to conquer Scotland. The battle was waged between the Scottish leader, Robert the Bruce and the Edward II, the English king.
Nevertheless, the Scottish independence movement and their renaissance go back to the times of the Roman Empire and Emperor Claudius. The Romans were able to subdue the British but were never able to conquer the Scots and absorb them into their Roman province called Britannia. Hadrian's Wall began in 122 AD with the express desire to keep the Scots in their place. Twenty years later another wall was built called Antonine Wall named after the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius in 142 who attempted to build a wall north of Hadrian's Wall. However, after several forays into Scotland, the Romans retired to behind Hadrian's Wall with occasional raids into what they called Caledonia. Therefore, the Scottish attempt at independence and renaissance goes back nearly two millennia.
Having spent a year in Scotland doing post-graduate studies at the University of Edinburgh and being genetically from Scottish immigrants several generations ago, I was well-aware that there was a group within Scotland wanting independence from the UK. However, after returning to the States in the late 60s, the North Sea oil fields restarted in earnest the debate about the Scottish independence movement. They more seriously asked the question about living independent of British rule from Westminster.
In the decade after my continuing education in Edinburgh, the British parliament permitted the forming of Scottish Parliament in 1978 by what was called the Scotland Act 1978, which failed the number of votes. However, a new Scotland Act in 1998, with larger range of responsibility resting in the Scottish Parliament, did pass. This was a great watershed for the Scots who had a parliament starting in the early 1200s up to May 25, 1707 when the English took over. Nearly three centuries later, the Scots finally got a parliament again.
Those desiring an exit from the UK seemed very small over four-decades ago when I studied and traveled there. Nevertheless, when the Scottish National Party (SNP) in 2007 became the largest party within the Scottish Parliament election, which was when it appeared to be more than merely a few people in Scotland wishing to realign their relationship with the UK.
In 2011, Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland, led his party to an election that made the SNP the majority party of the Scottish Parliament. May 12, 1999 Scottish parliament met. This was the official date for what could be called the renaissance of Scotland as an independent country... Finally, home rule on a limited basis.
Salmond and those that wanted independence wanted their long awaited renaissance. They did not feel that being roughly the population of Denmark, Slovakia, and Finland would mean that they couldn't function as an independent country. When compared to the land mass of EU countries, it is larger than a dozen other EU countries.
According to the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, the various public opinion polls seem to be pro referendum for Scottish independence even though at this point in time, they do not have a numeric majority of 50+%. The polls will often talk about 3-categories: 1. no change status quo, 2. devo (devolution) max, or 3. total independence.
For many American the term devolution or devo max is a term not understood. Devolution means that a national government would give home rule to local areas the ability to administer the needs at the local level...rather than having it administered from the national legislature.
Salmond wants autonomy from Westminster. While the British and Scots might have common causes like WWII, it doesn't mean that both of them should be linked governmentally. As for Scotland's membership in NATO, Salmond says that it should be determined by Scottish parliament. However, Salmond wants Scotland to have a nonnuclear status whichever way Scotland decides on NATO membership.
Regardless, the Scots have the right to decide their own destinies. In 2014, they will vote on the referendum to become independent. Then the true renaissance of Scotland will occur.
Visit the Scottish Independence page to read more about this topic.