Following on from the commemorations held to celebrate the anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn we left you with some words from our bard. “Bha Uiar Beo” There Once Lived, A’ toirt torradh don Ghaidheal Glas’ Giving a Funeral to the Grey Gael.
Last year in Edinburgh was held a Clan Gathering with many coming from all over the world. Lined up with all the “cock a hoop” of a gentry was the clamour of the chiefs for photographs with the royal patron a direct descendent of the House of Hanover and the European royalty of times gone by. If you were to ask any one of these so called Clan chiefs what they thought of the current Union that Scotland currently shares with the United Kingdom, 99.9% of them would support it. Yet the loudest cheer from the audience of onlookers on that day was when the huge “END LONDON RULE” banner appeared from above them on Salisbury Crags. Were these descendents of those who took their surnames and attached themselves to a kindred? Where are you now?...Was yours the funeral of the Grey Gael?
What is Clanship and why did those who supported it end up occupying the new world far away from home or press ganged to help build a British empire in foreign wars. The Clan system as a social and cultural entity destroyed and turned into a Diaspora of tartanism, clan badges and shortbread tins. And those that they looked to for leadership became members of the Whig society turning their back on the Gael to become supporters of a Hanoverian Britain.
An eminent Historian was to write on Clanship;
“ Clanship was partly a product of and partly a positive response to political upheaval and social dislocation in the high middle ages. Crown sponsored migration of Anglo-Normans from the twelfth century, the absorption of the Norse-Gaels into the Scottish Kingdom in the thirteenth and, above all, the ongoing Wars of Independence from england throughout the fourteenth centuries afforded opportunities for diverse kindreds to exert and establish a territorial influence. These emergent Clans were Anglian, Anglo-Norman, and Flemish as well as Celtic and Norse-Gaelic in origin. Clanship was by no means confined to the Highlands of Scotland, but its vitality was intimately bound up with Gaelic culture”
“A’Chlann/the Clan, literally the children, as a political, social and cultural entity was the collective product of feudalism, kinship and local association.
Alan I MacInnes; Clanship and Commerce and the House of Stuart, 1603-1788.
In Scotland conditions of landholding were/are specified by the feu contract as conveyed heritably by charter. As a political and cultural entity Clanship operated within the framework of Scots Law and provided a viable cultural concept right up to the 18th century. This despite the attempts to root out unwarranted tribalism by successive Whig governments in an attempt to stamp out Jacobitism.
The main value of clanship was protection the Chief and the Clan elite or “fine” as head of the kindred brought value to the social and cultural ethos of the clan. As well as protection hospitality was another of the traditional values of the chief and the “fine” Exemplified by the use of the bard, the vernacular poet. The political, social and economic structure of the kindred was held together by the Tacksmen the “daoine-uasile” or the lesser clan gentry. Holding tacks of land form the chief or “Baile” townships. The Tacksmen were to become the clearance factors or farm managers when townships were cleared and became single farm entities in the 18th century. Making up the rest of the clan were the individual small holdings or crofts and set aside for tradesmen, coopers, smiths, millers, weavers shoemakers and cottars.
The militarism of the kindreds cannot be overlooked and the use of the “Buannachan” or mercenary corps in many European theatres of war is well documented. From the many Irish wars to wars in Europe you will find the “Buannachan” the sword for hire. Up to the 17th century the Buannachan became the “Highland Problem” eventualy to become redundant due to the social dislocation caused by the Royalist wars of the 1640’s and the Cromwellian occupation of Scotland that followed. This was to give rise to the Cateran bands or bandits, broken men with no landed title who became the thorn in the side of the Edinburgh based establishment to be eventualy made an example of by the "slaughter under trust" at Glencoe.
The 17th century was a time of changing social and commercialism throughout Europe and leading the way in Scotland were the “fine” of the Clan Campbell. With Scotland’s monarchy now england's monarchy the die was cast for assimilation. The problem with kindreds and clanship stood in the way of a Great Britain. Lowland clearances started not long after James the VI rode South to rule. Many of the border family names can still be found in the areas of Ulster plantation. A century would pass before the Gaidhealtachd felt the same hand but by this time the world that was once Scotland had changed for good with the Act of Union. Jacobite risings were to prey heavily on the Clans and in the aftermath that followed the use of the kindreds and the Clan system as a social and cultural entity was smashed. Clan chiefs abandoned the traditional concepts of Clanship and followed the Campbell lead anglifying themselves in order to become part of the Whig political elite. Becoming members of the imperialistic state, as planters, slave traders, colonial officials, military commanders and merchant adventurers.
The aftermath of the Jacobite risings of the 17th and 18th centuries was the systematic slaughter of a culture, barbaric, each Jacobite failure brought varying degrees of reprisal that would finally be genocidal in the aftermath of the final conflict the “45”. The total eradication of Clanship as a political, cultural and social entity. The chiefs were now assimilated into Scottish landed society controlled by London, ordinary clansmen were now serviceable members of the British Empire.
So what of the bees?... The Scottish Gael became a prisoner of his own culture, demoralised and disorientated by the assimilation of its Clan elite into the British establishment. Whilst Irish Gaels were able to direct attacks against the alien english forces of government, landowning classes and the established church. The bards were still criticising the Clan elite late into the 18th century. Clan lands became estates, run by factors for sport or farmed for sheep. Trees were removed for english iron and most estates now have foreign title.
Scotland was left to the radicals, Clanship was dead but the bees are still making the honey!!!....
END LONDON RULE...........