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Union with England

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Fishing was less important as the Dutch fleets controlled much of the North Sea fishing grounds. This was a recurring grievance, which combined with the trade disruption caused by the Civil War led to encourage local merchant captains to indulge in piracy, especially against Dutch vessels. In 1666 this activity was legitimised by the Privy Council issuing Letters of Marque allowing Privateering, provided half the proceeds were handed to the Crown.

The Dutch were sufficiently annoyed to send a fleet into the Forth in 1667 and attacked Burntisland. The Privateers were trapped in the harbour and had to rely on the shore batteries to reply to the naval bombardment. When more Dutch vessels arrived the situation looked bleak, but a strong westerly wind forced them to retreat.

The ports of the Forth, and the East of Scotland in general, never recovered the prestige and vitality they enjoyed in the Middle Ages. The ravages of war, the shift of emphasis toward transatlantic trade in the 18th century and the Union with England in 1707, all contributed to the decline. There was a fishing and whaling bonanza during the last century, now all but gone.

Today activity in the Forth centres around the oil industry. Rigs are now part of the landscape and so are the huge tankers making their way to Grangemouth and Mossmorran. The large naval base at Rosyth has now gone.

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