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Adam to James VI. The Scottish Kings

Scottish Highlands. Henry Bates Joel, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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“The True Picture of One Picte.” Theodor de Bry’s engraving of a Pict (a member of an ancient Celtic people from Scotland), published in Thomas Hariot’s 1588 book "A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia". From Wikimedia Commons

The Scots came to Scotland originally from Ireland. You can find this story on the web page Adam to Brian Boru. The Irish Kings. The Scots were descended from Noah through his son Japheth and through Japheth’s son Magog. They settled in what is now Ireland but as their numbers increased many of them moved to the Hebrides and from there to north Britain, what we now called Scotland. At the same time, around 600 BC, the Picts, another family of people descended from Magog, also started settling in Scotland. 


The Scots and the the Picts tried to divide up north Britain between them but ultimately their history was marked by violent conflict. The Picts were known for being naked, violent and covered in tattoos. The Pictish nation finally came to an end during the reign of Kenneth, King of the Scots in the 9th Century AD. The Picts as a nation were entirely wiped out by the Scots with the few survivors having to flee abroad.


The following chart gives a timeline of the development of the Scottish nation from Adam. 

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We now go to the Scottish Renaissance humanist George Buchanan who gave a long list of Scottish Kings in his history of Scotland, published in Latin as Rerum Scoticarum Historia in 1582. Buchanan has been called the greatest Scottish intellectual of the 16th century and he produced a list of kings from Fergusius (Fergus I) to Kenneth MacAlpin. Fergus I is known as the first king of Scotland although many regard him as legendary. Kenneth MacAlpin or Kenneth I is thought of by many commentators as the true founder of Scotland.


Buchanan wrote in Latin and so all the names in the following list are latinised versions of the name of the kings. I have reproduced Buchanan’s list as it gives a connection to the more recent kings. The House of Stuart accepted the list as historical and James VI of Scotland accepted Fergus I as his ancestor. James became James I of England and Ireland after the union of the English and Scottish crowns in 1603. This gives us a neat connection between English, Irish and Scottish kings.

The following charts are the list of Scottish kings from Fergus I to Kenneth MacAlpin according to George Buchanan.

Kenneth MacAlpin of Scotland.  An 18th century depiction of Kenneth. From Wikimedia Commons

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Fergus to Kenneth MacAlpin 2.jpg
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After Kenneth MacAlpin the story comes out of the realm of legend into the realm of modern history and the list of kings can be garnered from any encyclopedia. 


There are some famous historical characters on the list. Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Robert the Bruce and Mary, Queen of Scots. 


For me the most interesting is James VI because in him the whole story of English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish kings comes full circle and as James I of England he becomes king of all four countries. He is also the king who authorised a new translation of the bible which we know as The King James Version. This is the version which I use and for me it is the English language bible.


The next three charts take us as far as James VI.

Robert I the Bruce. Edward Harding, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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You can get these charts in PDF form on the web page Useful Charts 1.


James VI of Scotland was the last Scottish king. He is directly related to our current King Charles III. See the web page called Adam to Queen Elizabeth II for more on this. The same can be said of Alfred the Great of England, Cadwallader the last British/Welsh king and Brian Boru, the last effective King of Ireland.


James saw himself as descended from Fergus I. The Celtic population of Scotland are the Highlanders who are descended from the Gaels. However the lowland Scots are from Anglo-Saxon or Germanic stock. Ironically the Celtic/Highland Scots who had an inheritance of pure Christianity from the earliest times have come to adhere to the Catholic church. The lowland Scots who came to Christianity later through the Catholic church came to reject Catholicism and followed nonconformist Christianity. 

I will examine this more in the  next section on Christianity in Scotland.

James I England/James VI of Scotland. Attributed to John de Critz. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Saint Columba converting King Brude of the Picts to Christianity. Scottish National Gallery via  Wikimedia Commons

Christianity in Scotland

Christianity in Scotland Video


Christianity seems to have come to Scotland from Ireland. Search the website for Early Christianity in Ireland for more on this. Christianity had come to Ireland very early, probably during the time of the Book of Acts and it was marked by holiness, a desire to know God and a desire for learning. This resulted in the development of monasticism. A man called  Finnian of Clonard established Clonard Abbey in modern day County Meath. This monastery was a centre of learning in the sixth century and at its height it is thought there were an average of 3,000 scholars studying there at any one time. Twelve students who studied under St Finian became known as the "Twelve Apostles of Ireland". These early Irish saints helped bring Christianity to the whole of Ireland. Among them was Saint Columba, as he has become known. 

Detail of the seventh stained glass window in a series depicting the life of St. Finian in the Church of St. Finian at Clonard. The windows were created by Hogan in 1957. The inscription reads: Saint Finian imparts his blessing to twelve apostles of Ireland. From Wikimedia Commons


Iona Abbey via Wikimedia Commons

Columba travelled to Scotland with twelve companions in 563 AD and erected a church and monastery on the island of Iona. His intention was to convert the Picts to Christianity. By this time his fellow Gaels who were already in Scotland would have heard the gospel from their Gaelic brothers in Ireland. In fact The history of Christianity in Scotland goes back to Saint Ninian in 400 AD. He is said to have led a mission to Scotland which resulted in many conversions. However we have differing accounts of who Ninian was and little solid information. Like Columba he is known as being a missionary to the Picts. This tells us that the Gaels had already been evangelised by this time.


We have more information about Columba, mainly through the Life of Columba (Latin: Vita Columbae), a biography written by Adomnán, one of Columba's successors at Iona. It is Columba who is now credited with the main role in the conversion of the whole of Scotland to Christianity. The abbey at Iona became the focal point for the spread of Christianity in Scotland. Its abbots became the chief ecclesiastical rulers in Scotland.


A portrait from the Welsh Portrait Collection at the National Library of Wales. Depicted person: John Knox – Scottish clergyman, writer and historian (1514-1572)

Christianity in the monasteries of Ireland and Scotland developed independently from mainline Roman Catholic teaching and this would lead to clashes later on. At the end of the 6th century, Pope Gregory I dispatched a mission under Augustine of Canterbury to convert the Anglo-Saxons, establish new sees and churches throughout their territories, and reassert papal authority over the native church.


This was the beginning of the end for the Celtic church in Britain as Rome demanded that all Christian churches should come under its authority. In the 7th Century The Celtic church in Scotland gradually gave way to the Roman tradition.


In the medieval period the Church held great social and political power in Scotland. However corruption in the church led to unrest and people were starting to question its authority. The church responded by attempting to crush opposition. In the 16th Century, Protestant Christianity started to take a hold and there was some persecution of Protestants. Perhaps the most famous Reformation preacher was John Knox who founded the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. 


John Knox was famous for his clashes with Mary Queen of Scots. He believed that her Roman Catholic religion was idolatrous. Knox had spent time in Geneva and was influenced by John Calvin, the French theologian and reformer who stressed the doctrine of predestination. This doctrine stressed that eternal life is fore-ordained for some, and eternal damnation is fore-ordained for others. Scottish Reformed Christianity became more heavily Calvinistic in tone than the Reformed religion in England.


The result of all this for Scottish Christianity has been that the Highland Gaelic Scots have tended to retain the Catholic Religion whereas the Lowland Scots went more toward the Reformed religion. This has had lasting consequences in Scotland and also in Ireland. Many Presbyterian Scots emigrated to Northern Ireland during the Plantation of Ulster which was an organised colonisation of Ulster, starting in 1609,  by people from Great Britain during the reign of James I. Ulster became predominantly Protestant whereas the rest of Ireland remained Catholic. 

Portrait of John Calvin. Anonymous via  Wikimedia Commons


Celtic Football Club are traditionally supported by Catholics. The Celts are the Gaels, that is the Highland Scots. The reference to King Billy refers to the Protestant William III of England. His victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 is commemorated by Unionists

This split between Catholic and Protestant Christianity has affected the whole course of history in the British Isles. Scotland in particular has suffered from it and it is still a live issue in towns, cities, regions, football clubs and so on. From a bible prophecy point of view division is inevitable and will continue until the return of the Lord


[Luk 12:51-52 KJV] 51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: 52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.


Each individual has to decide what he or she believes whether it is popular or not. The real point of the Reformation for me is that Protestant Christianity brought with it freedom of conscience. Despite the excesses of some Protestant rulers, the Reformation gave ordinary people the freedom to read the bible and decide for themselves what they believed.

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