Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Declaration of Arbroath - Happy Birthday!

The Declaration of Arbroath is 690 years old today. It is perhaps best remembered for the following line:

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.

In today's more sophisticated parlance, that probably would have been written as:

Oh ye bloody think so? Stitch that Jimmy! (WHOMP!)


The Latin document, one of the treasures of the NAS in Edinburgh (see www.nas.gov.uk/about/090401.asp), had a major impact on Scotland's sense of nationhood, and some say the American Declaration of Independence was founded on its principles many centuries later.

I do have a darker tale to tell however - I once had the great misfortune to interview the head of the Ku Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tenessee, in 1999 for a Scottish TV series, and was handed a copy of the declaration by the Grand Pixie, or whatever he was, with the comment that the Klan's founding principles could be traced back to the document. Of course, he was clearly insane and a racist bigot with God on his side, but it goes to show how an idea can be twisted for any use.

Anyway - happy birthday to the Declaration of Arbroath!

PS: No coincidence to add that the SNP launched its election campaign today! (OK, so did Labour, the Torys etc. Talk about bursting my bubble...!)


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