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Scotland and England have a rivalry that dates from historic times, and still impacts on the inhabitants of these countries today. This rivalry has implications for the continuation of the United Kingdom, and for mutual co-existence between inhabitants of the two nations.

From the days of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace until the Union of the Crowns in 1603, Scottish and English armies and monarchs fought and competed for power and territory (see Braveheart, William Wallace). In the late 1760s to the late 1880s, during the Highland clearances, English landowners evicted Scottish crofters from their land to make way for sheep farming.

This historical background has led to a mutual distrust which is particularly apparent on the Scottish side of the border. The ‘home international’ football matches between the two countries were eventually ended in the late 1980s after fights between Scottish and English fans. Scots in the highlands and islands are still distrustful of English landowners. Both English and Scottish sports fans complain that when their compatriots are victorious, they are described as ‘British’, while when they lose, they seem to be described by their Scottish or English birth. English people living and working in Scotland complain of being treated in a manner verging on racism, especially when English teams are competing in sports events such as the World Cup.

The rivalry described above is one of the factors that has led to the rise of the Scottish independence movement and Scottish nationalism, and resulted in a Scottish parliament. Perhaps it will one day lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom, or perhaps the two ‘Auld Enemies’ will eventually learn to live together in a more harmonious manner.

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