Darien, oh Darien.

Ok, top of my head history of Darien.

Scots wanted a mercantile empire like the English, they went and raised money from all classes based on a proposal that wasn’t the best researched or best thought out.

The dream was huge, a settlement where a thin bit of land straddled the Atlantic and Pacific, an answer to the question of how long and how dangerous it could be to go east.

Spices, commodities and wealth through a Scottish Port.

Well, we know what happened, or we should know. Some of our Scottish schools may not have taught us that..

The location chosen sucked. It was rife with malaria and the colony struggled. Any help was rebuffed and the Spanish eventually came along to contest it.

Scotland wasted a vast amount of wealth on the project and was so poor that it needed full political union in 1707.

Okay. Top of my head stuff above.

Below here, a bit more rational.

Much of the century (17th Century) after James VI took over the English crown were riven with problems.

The union of crowns saw James and his court go south.

His vision of him being a ‘King of Great Britain’ wasn’t shared by either Kingdom and he was stymied in his pet projects, although the first colonial efforts in North America started.

James died in 1625, he visited Scotland once after taking the English crown.

Charles I really wasn’t brilliant and argued with the English parliament.

What followed was The ‘civil war’ or ‘war of the three kingdoms’ , a head spinning conflict involving different factions and a war of politics and religion.

They lasted from 1639 to 1651.

At one points the Scots were dominant in the field with experienced troops and leaders and a cause par excellence.

Then the Commonwealth or protectorate under Cromwell. A British republic of sorts, that did inflict it’s toll on Scotland too.

That period didn’t help trade or commerce or wealth. Armies raised and livelihoods neglected. Schooling forgotten or simply death and destruction in so many ways, even disease spread by travelling armies.

Restoration of the Stuarts brought peace for a time, until James II started again at religion and 1688 the birth of the son James Francis Edward Stuart, yup ‘the old pretender’!!

James’ daughter Mary had long been the successor and she was married to the Prince of Orange and Dutch Stadholder Willem, who of course became William III who saw through a war with James II and the ‘glorious revolution’

William, James, Ireland, Jacobites, the old pretender lead off my track.

On Darien, basically a tired weary nation, dared to dream of prosperity after a century of upheaval after James VI took up his birthright.

William instructed no help be given to the Darien settlement. The English mercantile elite had their colonies to think of as well as the East India Company.

On balance, Darien was a crazy venture, it may have fared better as a union enterprise, but in the swamps of Panama, bad planning, bad climate and disease saw a nation ‘a wealth squandered.

It was a factor amongst others leading to the act of union being seriously considered and desired by the Scots elites.

Does Darien represent any sort of lesson for us in 2014?


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