The Thistle and the Rose: Six Centuries of Love and Hate between Scots and English by Allan Massie - review by Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson

Hadrian’s Wall Breached Again

The Thistle and the Rose: Six Centuries of Love and Hate between Scots and English

By

John Murray 336pp £18.99 order from our bookshop
 

Despite its subtitle, the tone of this excellent book is good-tempered and reasonable throughout. The first part is historical, the opening chapter dealing with the relations between Scotland and England up to the Reformation. Then there are chapters on Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots; the ‘single monarch, two kingdoms’ system introduced when James VI of Scotland also became James I of England; the events which led up to the Union; and the ‘Marriage of Convenience’, as Massie calls it, which worked so well in the eighteenth century, though punctuated by the two Jacobite rebellions, which get a separate chapter.

The second part of the book is dominated by the personalities, usually literary, who have influenced Anglo-Scottish relations since Union, and illuminated them, and by the national ideologies within which such men of letters operated. He discusses ‘Celticism’, which raised its confused and confusing head as soon as the Union

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