After the death of King
Alexander of Scotland, Scotland was ruled by a council of nobles and
bishops called the Guardians, who acted as regents for the young queen,
the ‘maid of Norway’. However,
the maid died and the guardians were forced to choose which of two men
should become the next Scottish king.
Concerned, they asked Edward I of England to arbitrate between the
two parties. Taking advantage
of this opportunity, Edward convinced the Scottish lords to swear
allegiance to him, before ruling in favour of one of the candidates.
This led Edward to believe that Scotland would become a satellite
kingdom of England and, when the Scots objected to that idea, invaded,
crushed resistance (which was sparse and uncoordinated) and annexed
Scotland. This led to the
wars of Independence and the long and bloody history between England and
The funny thing about at
least part of Edward’s claim to overlordship was that they were based on
a personal oath sworn by another king, Malcolm, to the then English king
of personal allegiance. It
could be argued, and it was, that if Scotland had no king, Edward had no
claim. This, I feel, explains
why Edward was willing to choose a king for Scotland, as it did not matter
who the king was, in theory, they would be bound by the same oath. Without a king, Scotland might split up or break into
civil war, but Edward would have no pretext for intervention.
Legally, Edward had no choice, but to play kingmaker and hope.
It was ludicrously hopeful, but, by the standards of the time, it
was reasonable and it worked. However,
he could not predict either Wallace or the desertation of Bruce.
Therefore, without a king,
Scotland faced no legal threat from England.
However, failing to come to a decision could lead to civil war
between the two most powerful lords, which would weaken Scotland to the
point where Edward (or the king of Norway) might decide to forget the
rules. Such a war would also
destroy the power of most of the nobles, as a king would emerge by force,
instead of by common consent or by a neutral arbiter.
The final opinion, however, is unprecedented.
The guardians could rule Scotland as a council, which would
maintain the balance of power, and unite Scotland against an English
This requires some reason
to keep the council in being. The
best, and standard use by our time, would be to have the council act as
regents for the young Queen. Therefore,
our POD will be the survival of the Maid of Norway for an extra few years.
Now, this opens up two new cans of worms: Scotland has not had a
female ruler, so the Scots might not accept her, while she has been
betrothed to Edward’s son, the future Edward II, who’s nothing like
his father. Therefore,
she’ll have to suffer an accident at some point.
Meanwhile, the two main
contestants have to be convinced, bribed or threatened into declaring
their support for the council and not pursuing their own claims.
Until the guardians manage to raise an army, they could still
plunge Scotland into civil war. The guardians finally convince the two, through trickery, to
pledge their support to the council, in exchange for later favours.
After that, the guardians
take over the running of the kingdom. Their structure is not democratic in
our terms, but the will of the majority of the council rules in most cases
and, after several years, they have developed a ‘modern’ army loyal to
the council. When Bruce,
finally, gets tired of being sidelined, that army crushes him and he is
exiled to England. The death
of the Maid of Norway, which is apparently from natural causes, is blamed
on him, and Edward gives him a frosty reception, instead of backing a
Bruce attempt to seize Scotland. The
other Scottish lords realise that there is no longer any choice, but to
bow down to the Guardians and follow their leadership.
The death of the maid,
however it happened, ruins Edward’s plans for Scotland.
He decides to see how much steel lies in the council and sends an
ultimation to the Scots. Basically,
Edward reaffirms his claims to overlordship of Scotland and demands that
the Scots hand over several border forts, disband their new army and put
forward a king ‘to rule Scotland under Edward’.
The guardians are divided at first, but then they rally and reply
in uncompromising terms, the famed ‘declaration of Edinburgh’:
“We of Scotland,
rulers in a group of our land, renounce now and forever, under God, the
claims of overlordship professed by foreign rulers.
We have been driven by provenance to rule our land, without a king
or a court. We say, to your
demands, before god, we want nothing, but peace, Yet if Edward should not
give up what he has begun, and attempt to make us or our kingdom subject
to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once
to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours,
and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as
long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions
be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches,
nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom -- for that alone, which
no honest man gives up but with life itself.”
Edward is incensed by such denials of what he
views as his rights, but he knows he has to move carefully.
The Scots have appealed to the Pope to support their case, and
Edward wants the pope to support his claims to France, which means he
should not offend the Pope. Therefore,
he needs to provoke the Scots into attacking him first, or give up.
He therefore moves a large part of the English army, under his son,
to the borders, in hopes that the Scots will attack.
The guardians, however, expected that and gave strict orders not to
attack England first or to cross the border.
The two probes launched by the English into Scotland are beaten
back, while the Scots continue to fortify their nearby towns and villages.
Edward needs to get back to France and other
important matters. Muttering
‘its well to be rid of shit’, Edward agrees to recognise the
guardians, although he does not officially drop his claim to be the
overlord of any Scottish king, and the two sides sign the treaty of
Edward recognises Scottish independence under the
guardians. Scotland agrees to
be neutral in any Franco-English war, or to support the English.
The rights of the nobles who hold land in the other side’s
territories are confirmed.
The three Edwards continue their attempt to
conquer France and Ireland. Edward
wins battles, but his son, who takes over when he’s wounded in battle,
can’t force the French to the negocating table.
There is, however, one last problem for the
Guardians. There is another
Monarch who believes he has the right to rule Scotland – the king of
Norway. (Eric or Haakon. I’m
not sure when Haakon took over, butterflies might have kept Eric around
longer.) The Norwegian king
issues a statement to the guardians demanding their submission, while
sending missionaries to the pope asking for his support and ambassadors to
Edward, offering to split the lands.
Edward, occupied in France, refuses.
The Pope is distrusting of the guardians as a committee is less
suscripable to papal pressure than a king and therefore backs Norway’s
claim. The guardians reply,
denying the king’s claims and rejecting papal interference, while acting
to limit that interference in Scotland.
Several churches are attacked by mobs, although the guardians
attempt to prevent that sort of problem.
King Eric assembles an invasion force and heads to
Scotland, landing near Aberdeen. The
Scots engage the Norwegians and fight a viscous war over northern
Scotland, although they are unable to defeat the Norwegians for several
months. Finally, Eric decides
on a bold stroke and withdraws from Aberdeen, burning the town behind him
and killing whatever remained of the population.
Reassembling his forces, Eric launches a direct strike at the base
of the guardians – Edinburgh Castle.
However, the city is well defended (from the time it looked like
Edward would invade) and Eric troops are defeated.
The King himself is captured, while the Scots also capture Eric’s
ships and most of his supplies.
Prince Haakon assumes the throne in Norway,
stalling on negotiations over his father’s ransom, while assembling new
forces to invade. Realising
this, the guardians launch raids on Norway and capture the Faeroes,
Shetlands and (accidentally) Iceland.
Eric is finally returned to Norway after signing a peace treaty
that abandoned the Norwegian claim and conceded the islands the Scots had
The guardians see a chance to spread their power,
as well as prevent a future Norwegian king from ‘renegotiating’ the
peace treaty. They move a few
thousand settlers to Iceland, mainly fisherman, and then to Greenland. Without knowing it, they accidentally stumble onto Canada, as
Scottish ships poke around in the area.
Soon, there is a going trade in furs with the locals, while some
Scottish settlers arrive in Canada.
Disaster hits in 1353.
The Black Death, a deadly disease, had spread across Europe, then
reached England and Scotland, then spreads to Canada.
About a third of the Scottish settlers in the new lands die, while
nearly 90% of the natives die. Tribes
we only know vaguely about in OTL are shattered, ruining complex timelines
and chains of circumstances we know little of.
This TL will not see an Aztec or Inca empire.
Scotland staggers as about 20% of the population
dies or is ill. Fortunately,
the rest of Europe is in a similar state, with Norway suffering the worst
as civil war reduces the already primitive sanitarily conditions.
Contact between Scotland and its American colonies becomes very
weak for a period, while the colonists end up uniting with the reminder of
the native population, learning their skills in exchange for providing
‘protection’ from the plagues. The
guardians reassert control over Scotland in 1357, and soon put the
colonies back into proper contact with the World, but there are other
Europe is on the brink of a religious civil war.
The Pope’s authority has been severely tested, both by the
Scottish refusal to bow to his demands (not to mention the attacks on
churches in Scotland) and by the arrival of the Black Death.
Preachers have sprung up all over Europe, calling the Pope a
degenerate and demanding that the Vatican renounce its powers.
To add insult to injury, many of the kings and princes of Europe
see a chance to rid themselves of the Pope’s influence and actively
encourage sedition within their nations.
Edward III does offer limited support to the Pope, but only if he
convinces the French King to submit.
The Pope’s demand to the king flops badly, and his prestige is
shattered. Religious war
explodes over Europe.
Scotland tries to stay out of the conflict.
They renounce the Pope’s power as soon as the war begins, but
they don’t want to be involved in the general war.
However, refugees do flee to Scotland and then onwards to America,
trying to find a safer home. England also launches a formal colonising exhibition, which
lands near Florida.
The Guardian model is adopted in Norway after the
civil war ends with a nobles revolt against the two candidates for the
throne. The Norwegian
guardians try to send their own people to Canada, but soon discover that
the more independently minded ‘Americans’ don’t like foreign lords.
The guardians of Scotland never had the power to enforce their law
in America, so they developed independent streaks.
appears that this TL will not see any formal colonisation of America, such
as the European efforts that happened in OTL.
Rather, the settlers will intermarry with the Indians and be
resentful of any interference from outside, the problems involved with
maintaining contact between Europe and America will probably mean that all
sorts of small nations will spring up in America, copying European
technology and perhaps some of the Indian values.
Possibly, a situation will arise similar to the Boer republics,
with ‘native’ states that don’t submit to European dominance in the
wilds of America, possibly including religious refugees and attempts to
found new nations. This world may even see a new Hiajia.
I don’t think that Spain will attain world power
in this TL. Not only is it
still partly under the control of the almohad caliphate,
but also its monopoly on the New World will never come into being.
Nor can Scotland afford the military necessary to keep others out
of the New World. On the
other hand, there’s nothing really worthwhile in Canada (apart from the
fur trade) and therefore the Scots and others will settle, rather than
seeing it as a place to be exploited or raided.
When (if) the Europeans stumble across any equivalent of the Aztec
and Inca empires, I suspect that whichever power discovers them will be
challenged for the riches that such empires have by the other European
powers, probably more than one.
Socially, history could go two ways in Scotland
and the feudal world. Structures
like the Guardians could either be seen as a movement towards democratic
nations, or something equivalent to the agreements made between Al Capone
and the other gangsters in Chicago to divide the city up between them,
while maintaining a united front against federal pressure.
Many other nobles would see the idea of a council to hammer out
disputes, while being very powerful in their own bailiwicks, and lacking a
king to crush dissidents.
I like to think that there would be a greater
tendency towards democratic systems.
Wallace, one of Scotland’s heroes, came from a poorer background
than Bruce or the others. However,
I suspect that the remaining kings of Europe (and the more powerful lords)
would eventually attempt to destroy the guardians. That said, the English
Peasant Revolt (1381) unleashed forces that could have bent the council
into representing all the people of Scotland, assuming that the ideas
spread to Scotland, which would introduce democraticy early.
Regular explorers of this time (in CTT and others) will
notice I’ve left out the Ottomans from this AH. To be honest, I don’t know enough about them to suggest
what might happen to them, if anything.
The Mexican gold did not aid Spain from forcing them out of Al-Anuladus,
but the religious strife spreading across Europe would offer opportunity
for further expansion into Europe.