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The country was first populated by hunter-gatherers who arrived from England, Ireland and Europe around 6000 years ago. They brought the Neolithic Age with them, introducing agriculture, stockbreeding, trade, an organised society and a thriving culture. The remains of elaborate passage tombs, stone monuments and domestic architecture, such as those found on the Orkneys, reveal that this was indeed a vigorous civilisation. Later arrivals included Europe's Beaker people, who introduced bronze and weapons, while the Celts brought iron. The Romans were unable to subdue the region's fierce inhabitants, their failure symbolised by the construction of Hadrian's Wall. Christianity arrived in the guise of St Ninian, who established a religious centre in 397. Later, St Columba founded a centre on Iona in 563, still a place of pilgrimage and retreat today.
Around the 7th century, the population comprised a constantly warring mix of matrilineal Picts and Gaelic-speaking Scots in the north, Norse invaders in the island territories, and Britons and Anglo-Saxons in the Lowlands. By the 9th century, the Scots had gained ascendancy over the Picts, whose only visible legacy today is the scattering of symbol stones found in many parts of eastern areas. In the south, Anglo-Norman feudalism was slowly introduced, and by the early 13th century an English commentator, Walter of Coventry, could remark that the Scottish court was 'French in race and manner of life, in speech and in culture'. Despite some bloody reactions, the Lowlanders' tribal-based society melded well with feudalism, creating enormously powerful family-based clans.
In 1297 William Wallace's forces thrashed the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, but after a few more skirmishes Wallace was betrayed and finally executed by the English in London in 1305. He's still remembered as the epitome of patriotism and a great hero of the resistance movement.
Robert the Bruce threw a punch for Scottish independence next, when, a year after Wallace came to his very sticky end, he murdered a rival and had himself crowned King. In the same year, he faced off the English, but they defeated his forces at Methven and Dalry. He had to wait until 1314, when at the Battle of Bannockburn he finally defeated the English. This was a turning point in Scotland's fight for independence.
In the 16th century, Scottish royal lineage was blurred by opposing matrilineal and patrilineal lines of descent and the jockeying of English and French interests. Fierce resistance to the English and persistent monarchic squabbles led to a virtual civil war, and very few monarchs managed to die a natural death. The 17th century was also coloured by civil war, spurred by the thorny issue of the religious Reformation. Despite all the anti-English sentiment, the Act of Union of 1707 saw the Scots persuaded - by means both fair and foul - to disband parliament, in exchange for preservation of the Scottish church and legal system.
Famous attempts were made to replace the Hanoverian kings of England with Catholic Stuarts, although the Jacobite cause lacked support outside of the uplands due to the Lowland suspicion of Catholicism. James Edward Stuart, known as the Old Pretender and son of the exiled English king James VII, made several attempts to regain the throne, but fled to France in 1719. In 1745, his son, Bonnie Prince Charlie, landed in Scotland to claim the crown for his father.
Another name given to him was the Young Chevalier. In Scottish Gaelic, his name was Teàrlach Eideard Stiùbhairt, while the Irish form is Séarlas Éadbhard Stiúbhart. After his father's death, Charles was recognised as Charles III by his supporters; his opponents referred to him as The Young Pretender. Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Silvester Severino Maria Stuart was born in Rome, Italy, on December 31, 1720, where his father had been given a residence by Pope Clement XI. He spent almost all his childhood in Rome and Bologna. Prince Charles Edward was the son of the Old Pretender, James Francis Edward Stuart, son of exiled Stuart King, James II and his second wife Mary of Modena. His father was called the 'Pretender' because many believed he was not the King's true son — to those who feared a Catholic dynasty in England, his birth had seemed too convenient and was viewed with great suspicion.