What was the Union For? Historical perspectives on Union and Independence in present day Britain

The debates surrounding this month’s referendum on Scottish independence have focused in the main upon the place of Scotland in present-day Britain. The historical nature and meaning of the union, and of Britain, has been largely ignored. As Laura Stewart illustrates, historical narratives have been mobilized to support both the yes and no campaigns in the lead-up to the imminent vote; they have also been strategically and emotionally deployed, as Lloyd Bowen details, on both sides of the ongoing discussion about Welsh sovereignty. And yet, as these early modern historians show, examining more carefully the historical contingencies and complexities of the ever-changing United Kingdom compels us to rethink the meaning not only of the union but also about the very concept of the nation and national sovereignty which has played such an important—if under-examined—role in recent debates.

The Act of Union....

The Treaty (or Act) of Union, 1707