The Era When Kilts Were Banned

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The kilts have come a long way, from being used just as a garment to cover the body to becoming a uniform for both Scots and non-Scots around the globe. The ability of the kilt to remain distinct while transforming itself to suit every generation is the reason of its huge success and popularity. However, that wasn’t the situation for kilts in the older times.

In 1688, Britain’s only Catholic king was thrown out of the castle during the Bloodless Revolution, which is also known as the Glorious Revolution of 1688. It was known as the country’s transition to the parliamentary democracy system. However, another thing that didn’t get much attention was the kilt ban that occured a few decades after.

During the same period of time, the King James II became the father of a newly born child, who was a boy. That was a very bad news for the parliament of England because the King was a Roman Catholic, which wasn’t very popular in the region and the newly born boy meant ancestry for the leaders of the parliament. So, they had to stop that from happening and they immediately removed King James from his throne and they gave it to his rebel daughter Mary and her husband William.

For around 60 long years, countless people fought and died to bring their leader back. They were known as Jacobites and their motive was simple, give back their leader “King James II” his throne back! Most people in this group were Scottish. These Jacobites always went to the battle while wearing their tartan kilts.

After that battle, it became widely popular as a perfect battle outfit and soon after that it became the symbol of Scottish heritage. The battle of the Jacobites had been going on continuously for 60 long years! But in the end, they lost and soon England constituted a law that prohibited people from wearing kilts or tartan fabric.

Below is given a little snippet that describes that law in the exact words that were used in the official public statement:

That form and after the first day of August, one thousand, seven hundred and forty-six, no man or boy within that part of Britain called Scotland, other than such as shall be employed as Officers and Soldiers in His Majesty’s Forces, shall, on any pretext whatever, wear or put on the clothes commonly called Highland clothes (that is to say) the Plaid, Philabeg, or little Kilt, Trowse, Shoulder belts, or any part whatever of what peculiarly belongs to the Highland Garb; and that no tartan or party-coloured plaid of stuff shall be used for Great Coats or upper coats.

If anyone refused to take the law seriously then they had to get ready for severe punishments like six months in jail without any bail or transported beyond the seas and remain outside of Britain for a period of seven years. People started to follow the law and it removed every single bit of tartan or kilt in Britain. The government thought that by implementing the law they will stop people from wearing kilts or tartans but soon people started wearing kilts to show their love for their motherland. The protestors also wore kilts when protesting.

In 1782, the kilt ban was finally lifted because the Britain government saw that there wasn’t anything to worry about another Scottish rebel groups. The ban lasted for a long 35 years.

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