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Much of the negative literature of the Middle Ages drew heavily on the writings from Greek and Roman antiquity. The writings of Ptolemy in particular dominated concepts of Scotland till the late Medieval period and drew on stereotypes perpetuating fictitious as well as satirical accounts of the Kingdom of the Scots. The English Church and the propaganda of royal writs from 1337-1453 encouraged a barbarous image of the kingdom as it allied with England's enemy France, during the Hundred Years' War. Medieval authors seldom visited Scotland but called on such accounts as "common knowledge", influencing the works of Boece's "Scotorum Historiae" (Paris 1527) and Camden's "Brittania" (London 1586) plagiarising and perpetuating negative attitudes. In the 16th century Scotland and particularly the Gaelic speaking Highlands were characterised as lawless, savage and filled with wild Scots. As seen in Camden's account to promote an image of the nation as a wild and barbarous people:
They drank the bloud [blood] out of wounds of the slain: they establish themselves, by drinking one anothers bloud [blood] and suppose the great number of slaughters they commit, the more honour they winne [win] and so did the Scythians in old time. To this we adde [add] that these wild Scots, like as the Scythians, had for their principall weapons, bowes and arrows. Camden (1586)
Camden's accounts were modified to compare the Highland Scots to the inhabitants of Ireland. Negative stereotypes flourished and by 1634, Austrian Martin Zeiller linked the origins of the Scots to the Scythians and in particular the Highlander to the Goths based on their wild and Gothic-like appearance. Quoting the 4th century Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus, he describes the Scots as descendants of the tribes of the British Isles who were unruly trouble makers. With a limited amount of information, the Medieval geographer embellished such tales, including, less favourable assertions that the ancestors of Scottish people were cannibals. A spurious accusation proposed by Saint Jerome's tales of Scythian atrocities was adapted to lay claims as evidence of cannibalism in Scotland. Despite the fact that there is no evidence of the ancestors of the Scots in ancient Gaul, moreover St. Jerome's text was a mistranslation of Attacotti, another tribe in Roman Britain, the myth of cannibalism was attributed to the people of Scotland:
What shall I [St. Jerome] say of other nations - how when I was in Gaul as a youth I saw the Scots, a British race, eating human flesh, and how, when these men came upon the forests upon heards of swine and sheep, and cattle, they would cut off the buttocks of the shepards and paps [breasts] of the woman and hold these for their greatest delicasy.
Accepted as fact with no evidence, such ideas were encouraged and printed as seen in De Situ Britanniae a fictitious account of the peoples and places of Roman Britain. It was published in 1757, after having been made available in London in 1749. Accepted as genuine for more than one hundred years, it was virtually the only source of information for northern Britain (i.e., modern Scotland) for the time period, and historians eagerly incorporated its spurious information into their own accounts of history. The Attacotti were mentioned in De Situ Britanniae, and their homeland was specified as just north of the Firth of Clyde, near southern Loch Lomond, in the region of Dunbartonshire. This information was combined with legitimate historical mentions of the Attacotti to produce inaccurate histories and to make baseless conjectures. For example, Edward Gibbon combined De Situ Britanniae with St. Jerome's description of the Attacotti by musing on the possibility that a 'race of cannibals' had once dwelt in the neighbourhood of Glasgow.
These views were echoed in the works of Dutch, French and German authors. Nicolaus Hieronymus Gundling proposed that the exotic appearance and cannibalism of the Scottish people made them akin to the savages of Madagascar. Even as late as the mid-18th century, German authors likened Scotland and its ancient population to the exotic tribes of the South Seas. With the close political ties of the Franco-Scottish alliance in the late Medieval period, before William Shakespeare's Macbeth, English Elizabethan theatre dramatised the Scots and Scottish culture as comical, alien, dangerous and an uncivilised. In comparison to the manner of Frenchmen who spoke a form of English, Scots were used in material for comedies; including Robert Greene's James IV in a fictitious English invasion of Scotland satirizing the long Medieval wars with Scotland. English fears and prejudices were deeply rooted, drawing on stereotypes as seen in Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles and politically edged material such as George Chapman's Eastward Hoe in 1605, offended King James with its anti-Scottish satire, resulting in the imprisonment of the playwright. Despite this, the play was never banned or suppressed. Authors such as Claude Jordan de Colombier in 1697 plagiarised earlier works, Counter-reformation propaganda associated the Scots and particularly Highland Gaelic-speakers as barbarians from the north who wore nothing but animal skins. Confirming old stereotypes relating back to Roman and Greek philosophers in the idea that "dark forces" from northern Europe (soldiers from Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, France and Scotland) acquired a reputation as fierce warriors. With Lowland soldiers along the North Sea and Baltic Sea, as well as Highland mercenaries wearing the distinctive Scottish kilt, became synonymous with that of wild, rough and fierce fighting men.
Anti-Highlander and anti-Jacobite sentiment
Stereotypes of Highland cannibalism lasted till the mid-18th century and were embraced by Lowland Scots Presbyterian and English political and anti-Jacobite propaganda, in reaction to a series of Jacobite uprisings, rebellions, in the British Isles between 1688 and 1746. The Jacobean uprisings themselves in reaction to the Glorious Revolution of 1688, were aimed at returning James VII of Scotland and II of England, and later his descendants of the House of Stuart. Anti-Jacobite predominantly anti-Highland propaganda of the period includes publications include the 1720s the London Newgate Calendar a popular monthly bulletin of executions, produced by the keeper of Newgate Prison in London. One Newgate publication created the legend of Sawney Bean, the head of a forty-eight strong clan of incestual, lawless and cannibalistic family in Galloway. Although based on fiction, the family were reported by the Calendar to have murdered and cannibalised over one thousand victims. Along with the Bible and John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, the Calendar was famously in the top three works most likely to be found in the average home and the Calendar's title was appropriated by other publications, who put out biographical chapbooks. With the intent to create a work of fiction to demonstrate the superiority of the Protestant mercantile establishment in contrast to the savage pro-Jacobite uncivilised Highland Gaels.
From 1701−1720 a sustained Whig campaign of anti-Jacobite pamphleteering across Britain and Ireland sought to halt Jacobitism as a political force and undermine the claim of James II and VII to the British throne. In 1705 Lowland Scots Protestant Whig politicians in the Scottish parliament voted to sustain a status quo and to award financial incentives of £4,800 to each writer having served the interests of the nation. Such measures had the opposite effect and furthered the Scots towards the cause, enabling Jacobitism to flourish as a sustaining political presence in Scotland. Pro-Jacobite writings and pamphleteers e.g. Walter Harries and William Setton were liable to imprisonment of for producing in the eyes of the government seditious or scurrilous tracts and all copies or works were seized or destroyed. Anti-Jacobite Pamphleteering, as an example An Address to All True Englishmen routed a sustained propaganda war with Scotland's pro-Stuart supporters ensued and British Whig campaigners pushed a pro-Saxon and the anti-Highlander nature of Williamite satire resulting in a backlash by pro-Jacobite pamphleteers.
From 1720 Lowland Scots Presbyterian Whiggish literature sought to remove the Highland Jacobite, being beyond the pale, or an enemy of John Bull or a unified Britain and Ireland as seen in Thomas Page's The Use of the Highland Broadsword published in 1746. Propaganda of the time included the minting of anti-Jacobite or anti-Highlander medals, and political cartoons to promote the Highland Scots as a barbaric and backward people, similar in style to the 19th century depiction of the Irish as being backward or barbaric, in Lowland Scot publications such as The Economist. Plays like William Shakespeare's Scottish play Macbeth, was popularised and considered a pro-British, pro-Hanoverian and anti-Jacobite play. Prints such as Sawney in The Boghouse, itself a reference to the tale of Sawney Bean, depicted the Highland Scots as too stupid to use a lavatory and gave a particularly 18th century edge to traditional depictions of cannibalism. Such ideas were modified to smear Africans as cannibals in the following century in the colonial age. The Highland Scots people were promoted as brutish thugs, figures of ridicule and no match for the "civilised" Lowland Scots supporters of the Protestant Hanovarians. They were feminised as a parody of the female disguise used by Bonny Prince Charlie in his escape, and as savage warriors that needed the guiding hand of the industrious Lowland Scots Protestants to render them civilised.
Depictions included the Highland Scots Jacobites as ill-dressed and ill-fed, loutish and verminous usually in league with the French as can be seen in William Hogarth's 1748 painting The Gate of Calais with a Highlander exile sits slumped against the wall, his strength sapped by the poor French fare – a raw onion and a crust of bread. Political cartoons in 1762 depict the Prime Minister, Lord Bute (accused of being a Jacobite sympathiser), as a poor John Bull depicted with a bulls head with crooked horns ridden by Jacobite Scots taking bribes from a French monkey Anti-Jacobite sentiment was captured in a verse appended to various songs, including in its original form as an anti-Jacobite song Ye Jacobites By Name, God save the King with a prayer for the success of Field Marshal George Wade's army which attained some short-term use debatably in the late 18th century. This song was widely adopted and was to become the national anthem of Britain now known as God Save the Queen (but never since sung with that verse).
- Lord, grant that Marshal Wade,
- May by thy mighty aid,
- Victory bring.
- May he sedition hush,
- And like a torrent rush,
- Rebellious Scots to crush,
- God save the King.
The 1837 article and other sources make it clear that this verse was not used soon after 1745, and certainly before the song became accepted as the British national anthem in the 1780s and 1790s. On the opposing side, Jacobite beliefs were demonstrated in an alternative verse used during the same period, attacking Lowland Scots Presbyterianism:
- God bless the prince, I pray,
- God bless the prince, I pray,
- Charlie I mean;
- That Scotland we may see
- Freed from vile Presbyt'ry,
- Both George and his Feckie,
- Ever so, Amen.
There have been a number of attacks on Scots in England in recent years. In 2004 a Scottish former soldier was attacked by a gang of children and teenagers with bricks and bats, allegedly for having a Scottish accent. In Aspatria, Cumbria, a group of Scottish schoolgirls say they received anti-Scottish taunts and foul language from a group of teenage girls during a carnival parade. An English football supporter was banned for life for shouting "Kill all the Jocks" before attacking Scottish football fans. One Scottish woman says she was forced to move from her home in England because of anti-Scottish feeling, while another had a haggis thrown through her front window. In 2008 a Student nurse from London was fined for assault and hurling anti-Scottish abuse at police while drunk during the T in the Park festival in Kinross.
In the media
A stereotypical Scotsman is often depicted as being fiery-tempered, alcoholic, militaristic and/or miserly, plays bagpipes, and often dressed in kilts. Examples include: Groundskeeper Willie, Scrooge McDuck, Private Frazer, Mr Mackay, Scotty, and WWE hall of famer Rowdy Roddy Piper. When such a character wears a kilt there is often ribald speculation or innuendo about what is underneath. The accompanying sporran is often thought to be amusing too.
The term Scottish mafia is a pejorative term used by English nationalists for a group of Scottish Labour Party politicians and broadcasters who have been seen as having undue influence over the government of the United Kingdom and in particular of England. The term is widely used in the UK press and in parliamentary debates. Members of this group include: Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, Charles Falconer, Derry Irvine, Michael Martin and John Reid.
An edition of the BBC satirical show Have I Got News for You aired on 26 April 2013 prompted over 100 complaints to the BBC and Ofcom for its perceived anti-Scottish stance during a section discussing Scottish independence. Panelist Paul Merton had suggested Mars bars would become the currency of a post-independence Scotland, while guest host Ray Winstone added, "To be fair the Scottish ecomomy has its strengths - its chief exports being oil, whisky, tartan and tramps."
Throughout December 2014 in the aftermath of the independence referendum Daily Telegraph published several critical articles in response to a recent surge of support for the Scottish National Party.[neutrality is disputed]
In July 2006, MacKenzie wrote a column for the Sun newspaper referring to Scots as 'Tartan Tosspots' and apparently rejoicing in the fact that Scotland has a lower life expectancy than the rest of the United Kingdom. MacKenzie's column provoked a storm of protest, and was heavily condemned by numerous commentators including Scottish MPs and MSPs.
|“||Scotland believes not in entrepreneurialism like London and the south east... Scots enjoy spending [money] but they don't enjoy creating it, which is the opposite to down south.||”|
The comments came as part of an attack on Prime Minister Gordon Brown whom MacKenzie said could not be trusted to manage the British economy because he was "a Scot" and a "socialist", and insisting that this was relevant to the debate. Fellow panellist Chuka Umunna, from the think tank Compass and a Labour Party member, called his comments "absolutely disgraceful", and booing and jeering were heard from the Cheltenham studio audience. The BBC received 350 complaints and MacKenzie's comments drew widespread criticism.
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- Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2008.
Scotophobia, a morbid dread or dislike of the Scots or things Scottish
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- The myth of the Jacobite clans By Murray Pittock
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