the British National Anthem was sung for the first time at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, London.   This got me thinking about how definitions of nationalism and how national anthems express it.  In this case, national identity and religion are clearly linked (as you’d expect with any nation with a clear church/state link).  However, there is another, unknown element at work here.  This first recitation was to pray for the safety of King George II and his church and laws from the Jacobite rebellion that had just broken out.  Many of these rebels had a totally different take on nationalism, resenting as they did the ‘forced’ union of England and Scotland in 1707:

‘We are bought and sold for Eglish gold

Such a parcel of rogues in a nation…’    as Robert Burns put it.

Yet, when you dig deeper (as historian Christopher Whatley has done), you see that things aren’t that simple.  In fact, suggests Whatley, most Scots parliamentarians went very cheerfully into the Union and required no buying off, either literally or metaphorically.  Most of them had a well-developed notion of Britishness and needed no bribes…

On this day in 1745


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