The kingdom of Scots was the last of the non-Anglo-Saxon states of Britain to survive as a political entity. Alone of the `Celtic' nations, it was not absorbed into England by conquest. James VI of Scotland came to the throne of England in 1603, and when union with England finally came in 1707 during the reign of Queen Anne, it was technically on equal terms. This success owed much to the abilities and tenacity of a succession of rulers.
The story of the rulers of Scotland's constituent states and then of the united kingdom of Scots from Kenneth MacAlpin onwards is complex and often violent. It is full of rapid reversals of fortune, brilliant and incompetent leadership, family strife, and triumph and tragedy closely intertwined. The obscure earlier history is often as fascinating as the better-known stories of the Bruce and Queen Mary, though less familiar. This saga of a thousand years is a tribute to the qualities of Scotland's rulers.
Timothy Venning studied history at Kings College, London to PhD level, winning the London University History Prize in 1979. He has written articles for the Dictionary of National Biography, as well as a book on Oliver Cromwell and reference works on British office-holders and the chronology of the Byzantine Empire. He also contributes to major biographical publications and his research forms the basis for many other publications.