Need a perfect paper? Place your first order and save 5% with this code:   SAVE5NOW

Great Britain Invention

What Does She Mean?

In her book, Britons Forging The Nation, 1707 – 1837, Linda Colley asserts that Great Britain was invented in 1707. Colley means that through the 1707 Acts of Union, Scotland, England and Wales joined hands and formed Great Britain. As a result, Great Britain would have one ruler, one trade system, and one single parliament, Westminster. Moreover, Great Britain would adopt Protestantism. Initially, England and Scotland had a personal union secured by the Union of the Crowns. However, a political union was lacking. Attempts of a political alliance had been aborted on several occasions in the past. However, through the 1707 Acts of Union, Great Britain was invented.

The most crucial consideration during the passage of the 1707 Acts of Union was the standpoint of England, whereby she regarded Scotland as a rogue nation. During the reign of William of Orange, England was building a massive army and navy to fight France. National debt funded this war. Also, England’s war efforts were funded through increased taxation. The most significant proportion of customs levies were imposed on colonial trade. However, this trade was constantly disrupted by Scottish commercial networks (Macinnes, 2011). Typically, these trade networks did not operate as per the stipulations of the Navigation Acts. This act aims to safeguard the English overseas and domestic trade.

England felt that Scotland was a rogue nation. Thus, England desired to control Scotland, especially after Queen Anne ascended to power. The Scottish people were not comfortable with Hanoverian succession. Therefore, England aimed to take advantage of this event and gain control of the Scots. When England embarked on wars, it struggled with financial problems. Hence, England never had enough resources to expand its empire, sustain manufacturing in its industries, and fight wars (Macinnes, 2011). Scotland acted as a ready reservoir to solve the English problems. Therefore, the English had to look for a way to unite Scotland with England and Wales. Through the enactment of the 1707 Acts of Union, the English had access to Scotland.

How Did This Invention Occur

The invention of Great Britain occurred when the parliament of Westminster enacted the Act of Union (Colley, 2003). Generally, this bill officially integrated Scotland to Wales and England. According to this Act, from now on, there will be ‘one United Kingdom, and it will be known as Great Britain.’ What is more, this document also stated that Great Britain would have a single system of free trade, one legislature, and one Protestant ruler (Colley, 2003). Like the previous 1536 Act of Union between the Welsh and the English, this 1707 act was a union of policy. Thus, it was not a union of affection driven by mutual care and understanding between the two nations. The London politicians believed that if they did not establish a formal and political union with the Scottish, a union different from the 1536 Act of Union, Scotland would choose the death of Queen Anne for her half-brother James Stuart (Colley, 2003).

The Welsh and the English knew that the Scottish would not agree on the idea of importing a new Protestant dynasty from Hanover. Because of this, a legislative union acted as the only solution London had (Colley, 2003). During this period, some leaders did pretend that this union was intended to create a united people between the three countries. The Acts of Union achieved the union between Scotland and Wales and England to form Great Britain (Colley, 2003). Hence, the Act of Union passed by the Westminster parliament led to the formation of Great Britain.

Is She Right?

Linda Colley is not right by saying that Britain was invented in 1707. Generally, the Act of Union only partially achieved its goal of the unification of Great Britain. Due to this Act, the Scottish people were represented in the same parliament as the Welsh and the English (Colley, 2003). In addition, the people of Scotland paid the same customs duties and taxes. The Scottish people also competed for the same administrative and government positions just as the English and Welsh. Nonetheless, Scotland retained several things (Colley, 2003). For example, it retained its social structure and its distinctive religious organizations. Moreover, Scotland retained its academic and legal system (Colley, 2003). Above all, due to the vast distance separating London and Scotland, inadequate maps, and poor transport, Scotland remained self-governing in reality (Colley, 2003).

For a significant percentage of the Scottish population, this Act of Union had minimal relevance to their lives. The affluent Scottish people were angered by the fact that the Act of Union led to losing the country’s independence. This Act was served political and cultural imperialism towards inferior Scotland by the more robust English and Welsh (Colley, 2003). By the end of the eighteenth century, the Scottish local peculiarities started reducing due to better transportation systems, increased trade, and a greater supply of English-language books. However, the Scots, the English, and the Welsh were still separated through different cuisines, measures and weights, costumes, sports, building styles, folklores, and agricultural practices (Colley, 2003). Thus, because of these differences between the English, Welsh and Scottish people and their differences in religious organizations, legal systems, and education systems, Colley is wrong by proclaiming that Great Britain was formed in 1707.

Linda Colley is not right by saying that Britain was invented in 1707. Even though the three countries signed the Acts of Union to merge and create Great Britain, there was an element of fear. In 1715 and 1745, England’s Jacobites armies attacked Scotland (Colley, 2003). Thus, the memories of cross-border hostility between these two nations were still alive. The Jacobites aimed to control Scotland, and they had help from the French army. Thus, this act was reuniting former enemies (Colley, 2003). This situation created a distrust atmosphere between these nations. Hence, there was no Great Britain if the element of fear continued to linger around.

Furthermore, the union between Scotland, England, and Wales faced a lot of resistance. The Acts of the Union were practically just a parliamentary union and not the invention of Great Britain. Moreover, countries just wanted to benefit from one another. In 1607 and 1670, the English parliament rejected the idea of political incorporation with the Scottish. In 1695, the House of Lords proposed a union but, it never got off the ground. In addition, in 1700, the House of Commons rejected a similar proposal. Generally, Scotland desired a federative union and not an incorporating alliance. A federative partnership involved the association of the executive powers (Macinnes, 2011). Hence, this type of union did not require the incorporation or subordination of Scotland to England. The two nations disagreed over an incorporating union in 1648, and Scotland had resisted a political union twice, in 1689 and 1702 (Macinnes, 2011).

In 1664, Scotland instigated a commercial union with England. However, the English rebuffed this proposal. In addition, in 1674 and 1685, Scotland proposed additional commercial unions, but the English rejected them too (Macinnes, 2011). Thus, it is evident that Scotland wanted the association to benefit from England’s resources. Therefore, Scotland did not want to see a reason for the Acts of Union if it was not for the resources of their neighbors. Consequently, one can conclude that the Acts of Union did not lead to the invention of Great Britain.


Colley, L. (2003). BRITONS: Forging the Nation. Pimlico.

Macinnes, A. I. (2011, February 17). Acts of union: The creation of the United Kingdom. BBC.


Don't have time to write this essay on your own?
Use our essay writing service and save your time. We guarantee high quality, on-time delivery and 100% confidentiality. All our papers are written from scratch according to your instructions and are plagiarism free.
Place an order

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Need a plagiarism free essay written by an educator?
Order it today

Popular Essay Topics