This was also an opportunity to reject the Bishops who had been imposed on the Church in Scotland thirty years earlier by James VI - a nest of hornets had been disturbed.
* The National Covenant: a document which attacked the innovations being introduced to the Protestant Church in Scotland. First signed by its adherents in February 1638, it was circulated throughout Scotland gathering support and signatures as it did.
This was not Charles' only error of judgement and the English turned to a discontented Scotland to help bring Charles I to heel. In the "Solemn League and Covenant", the Scots bound themselves to help the English Parliamentary forces in the overthrow of the Royalists. In return, their creed would become standard throughout the Kingdom.
Oliver Cromwell came to power and Charles I was executed. The Scots regretted their role in this but, as so often in history, they had led with their hearts and not their heads. Their part of the bargain had been kept, but it was not expedient for the English to keep theirs. The Scots then declared Charles II as King and, after he had accepted the Covenant, crowned him at Scone. That was on New Year's Day 1651.
By September of that year, however, Cromwell had overthrown the Scottish forces and Charles II fled to the Continent.
After Cromwell's death, the Monarchy was restored in 1660, but Charles II was not one to allow his word to bind him. His acceptance of the Covenant had been a political convenience and the Presbyterian model was not "a religion for gentlemen". So the struggle of the Covenanters continued.
In the years which followed, the notorious Graham of Claverhouse, later Viscount Dundee, was one of many who played a role in the ruthless persecution of the Covenanters; the lines of the ballad "...his not to reason why, his not to make reply ..." are today echoed in the plea, "I was only following orders."
This episode in our history, which had started in the 1630's, ended in 1689 when William of Orange ousted James VII (James II of England). Then another episode started - this was the time of the Jacobites.
© 1996 Douglas Gregor