Outraged that Rick Thinks Scotland Was “Quelled” by the Brits

“We Scots will never be quelled!”


We say a lot of things in our guidebooks and TV shows. And while we try to be accurate and fair, we don’t shy away from issues that tourist industry advertisers would rather travel journalists avoid. We appreciate the feedback we get from our caring readers, viewers, and travelers. I find that many comments that seem snarky and mean-spirited are a symptom of how people think they need to be shrill to be heard in the din of electronic communication these days, so I strive to not fixate on the volume and try to understand the concern. I recently received a good comment from a Scottish patriot — who must know far more than I do about Scotland’s struggles with England — angry about something I said on TV.

First, here’s an excerpt from the script that offended him:

Scotland’s long underdog struggle with England found inspiration from romantic and almost legendary Scottish leaders. Mary Queen of Scots — educated and raised in France during the Renaissance — brought refinement to the Scottish throne. She was imprisoned and executed by the English. Her memory stoked the irrepressible Scottish spirit. Two centuries later, another Scottish hero, Bonnie Prince Charlie, led the last hurrah in Scotland’s long battle for independence. … Eventually the Scots were quelled and united with England. Enjoying peace, stability, and English investment as the Industrial Revolution swept Britain, many hardworking Scots prospered.

And here’s his response:

As a Scot, I was outraged to hear Rick Steves say on this program that Scotland had been “quelled” by the English.  That did not happen. We had expelled the English from Scotland long before.  Scotland was joined with England because, when Elizabeth I died, she left no children and James the VI of Scotland, the son of her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, was asked by England to succeed to its throne.  This is known as “the union of the crowns” and the “union of the parliaments” came some time later.  Steves should make a public and abject apology for this insult to Scottish pride!

Dear Outraged: Here’s my public and abject apology. I consider myself a supporter of all underdogs, wherever there are struggles between empires and ethnic groups. In the case of Scotland, I believed that it was a generally one-sided union dominated by London. Far more Scotsmen have died, per capita, than Englishmen in defending the British Empire over the centuries, and Scotland just recently got its parliament back on Scottish soil for the first time since 1707. But I surely am sorry if I insulted Scottish pride. Freeeeeedom!!!


9 Replies to “Outraged that Rick Thinks Scotland Was “Quelled” by the Brits”

  1. “Outraged” should perhaps note that the ‘Union of the crowns’ was rather less than successful. James’s son Charles was the recipient of a rather severe haircut at the hands of Oliver Cromwell, and when Charles II came back at the restoration of the monarchy, there was only his reign plus the part of James II’s reign before James got his marching orders at the hands of William of Orange. The “Glorious Revolution” (the overthrow of James II) preceded the formal union, which took place only after Parliament has passed an act barring Catholics from the line of succession.

  2. I can somewhat understand why some might feel that Scotland was “quelled”, given the fate of William Wallace and later events such as the Battle of Culloden (which I believe was won by the English). I was in Scotland last year, and hope to return soon to gain a better understanding of the history and culture there.

  3. I had the opportunity of touring Scotland several years ago. The history is unforgettable. When I read Scotts pride, the first thing that came to mind is the Socttish warrio’rs uniform for battle–half clad with their body painted running out of the highlands for battle. Enough to scare me back to my own country. A fierce lot…full of the freedom spirit. The English may have won the battle, but in the end freedom reigns. Interesting!

  4. I think you were perfectly accurate Rick, it is London who issues the orders, not Edinburgh or Glasgow, the Scots simply want it both ways, precisely the same way their descendent populations in the American south want it. They want roads, but don’t want to pay Tax. The Scots want Devo-max, but still want the English to pay for everything.

    As with every minority with the lofty goal of balkanizing some great nation (Basques, Quebecois, Kurds) they want to be in charge of themselves only so far as being obstinate, when it comes to actually raising capital to pay bills though, that’s firmly the demesne of the patriarchal oppressor to deal with.

    I have no desire to go to Scotland, and Braveheart was a terrible film. Almost as bad as Gibson’s other two propaganda pieces, the Passion of the Christ and The Patriot..

  5. “Far more Scotsmen have died, per capita, than Englishmen in defending the British Empire over the centuries …”

    The clue is in the name – “British Empire”, not “English Empire”. Scotland is part of Britain, the Empire they died for was theirs too. To suggest this is an example of England controlling Scotland makes as much sense as writing, for instance that one US state controls another because “in WWII for more people from Dogsbottom, ID died per capita than people from Knobhead, WA”.

  6. Reply to Edward – I’m English, Edward, yet I think that lowland Scotland is a great place. I particularly used to like Dumfries and Galloway when I lived in the UK. I’d never take Hollywood’s word for anything about a country, Braveheart should just be seen as a dramatisation rather than a documentary. If anyone is thinking of going to England on holiday, I would always advise them to try to fit at least one day in each of Scotland, Wales and Ulster into their itinerary. With all due respect to Rick’s tours, to do the English tourist trail (London, York, Bath, Stratford-on-Avon) and think you’ve seen the UK is like someone going to NYC and Washington DC, and thinking they’ve seen the USA.

  7. Incidentally, for anyone who wonders why the guy in the photograph has both sides of his face painted, the strip in the middle is known as “the white line down the middle of the woad”.

    OK, OK, I’ll get my coat…

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