This is a post that I wrote for another site about a year ago at the time of the referendum on Scottish independence about an newspaper article by Dan Snow. Not sure that this is the correct place to post it.
I do not normally read the Daily Mail but it was a freebee on the plane back from Joburg last September. In it Dan Snow (BBC presenter and supposed historian) wrote an article to in favour of the Act of Union between England and Scotland but, in order to put across how wonderful it was, he completely distorted the history leading up to the Act of Union, not something a historian should do.
He wrote 'these two war-torn, penniless states came together'. Now Scotland in 1707 might be possibly be described as penniless because of its the Darien fiasco, when it made a disastrous attempt to set up a colony on a malarial swamp in Central America that failed completely and left many Scots heavily in debt. England, however, was certainly not penniless and in fact, as part of the Act of Union, cleared the debt. England was also at this time able to finance not just its own army in the war against the French, but also thousands of other soldiers of other nations also fighting against the French in the War of Spanish succession. Additionally England was already supplanting the Dutch as the major maritime trading nation and had a successful colonies in North America and the Caribbean plus trading posts in India, as well as having captured Gibraltar from the Spanish in 1704.
Snow correctly refers to the Dutch sailing up the Medway in 1667 (40 years before the Act of Union) and that the French navy had defeated the Royal Navy in 1690, but then fails to mention that the Royal Navy decisively defeated the French at La Houge in 1692 and that by 1707 the English Royal Navy was the world's most powerful oceanic navy. Scotland's navy, at this time, consisted of just 3 warships. Similarly Snow refers to the English army disintegrating in 1688 when William of Orange landed. However, he fails to mention that in 1704 at Blenheim and in 1706 at Ramillies an English General, the duke of Marlborough, commanded an allied army that won decisive victories over the French and that the English army played a major role in both of those victories.
I have no objection to Snow campaigning for a No vote, but he should be able to do without distorting history.