By George MacDonald Fraser
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Additional resources for The Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers
The point is that the English were by far the major share of the effort; as a national powerhouse, they were in a class by themselves. Scotland has lived with and alongside this for several centuries, and that in itself is an achievement. If anything in their history demonstrates that the Scots are remarkable, it is that in spite of being physically attached to England, they have survived as a people, with their own culture, laws, institutions, and, like the English, their own ideas. But it has not been easy, and the marks show.
Out of the historic tangle, there certainly emerged among English kings a belief that they had, traditionally, some kind of superiority over the Scottish king, and no doubt a feeling that for the sake of political security and unity—one might say almost of tidiness—it would be better if Scotland were under English control, or at best, added to England. This attitude can be charitably seen as politically realistic, or at the other extreme, as megalomaniac; it is all in the point of view. Canmore made his submission, then, for what it was worth, but before long he was harrying in England again.
Nor is patriotism, a common resort of the apologist, of much use in this context; patriotism was, as will be seen, frequently well down the scale of the Borderer’s priorities. So, while admitting that it is difficult not to see the romantic side, it is important to keep it in perspective. At the other extreme from the romantics are the historical specialists, who have dealt with various parts of the Border question—international politics, administration, military history, genealogical research, and a host of much smaller topics which have been examined in minute detail.