Scotland at the time of Robert Burns

Scotland at the time of Robert Burns

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Burns was born just before George III came to the throne in 1760. America declared her independence when Burns was 17 and the Paris mob sacked the Bastille to start the French Revolution in 1789, when the poet was 30. Revolutionary ideas were in the air during the life of Burns and he was affected by this trend.
Scotland and England had only finally joined through the Union of the Parliaments in1707 and there was still a resentment against the loss of independence which has continued to the present day. The years after the Union had not been quiet ones and rebellions had taken place in 1715 and 1745 ending in the disaster at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 which effectively destroyed the Jacobites and the clan system is in the Highlands, But by the second half of the eighteenth century things had begun slowly to change for the better in Scotland. Agriculture, industry and trade began to expand in the first stages of the Industrial Revolution which was to transform Scotland over the next hundred years.
Around the time of Burns birth the average Scot lived in the country and worked the land. This average person would travel no more than 20 miles from their own birthplace in the course of their lifetime. When Burns wrote about the land described experiences that were real for the vast majority of the Scottish People who still struggled to make a living from it.
At the time, from around 1740 onwards, Edinburgh became famous throughout Europe as a centre for philosophy, medicine, science and publishing during what came to be known as the "Scottish Enlightenment".
Burns may have been born into a humble family but he wasn’t uneducated. He was well read in literature and politics, knew something of foreign languages and the classics and had a keen ear for music.

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