War of the Three Kingdoms

Cogadh nan Trì Rìoghachdan

Mary Queen of Scots’ son, James (VI and I), united the kingdoms of England and Ireland with Scotland in 1603.(when he succeeded Queen Elizabeth of England). His son, King Charles I, alienated those kingdoms by attempting to rule without parliament, believing in a ‘Divine Right of Kings’ personally to rule these countries. He antagonised the English Parliament to such an extent that they began to oppose him and then resorted to armed rebellion and civil war.

In Scotland, a manifesto was drawn up in 1638, the National Covenant, to challenge royal power and resist the King’s attempts to replace the Presbyterian ‘government of the kirk’ as established by the Scottish Reformation. Those who signed the National Covenant, which was to be circulated to all the burghs and parishes, demanded ‘free’ general assemblies and parliaments. They raised a Covenanting army to enforce their demands which, by confronting the King’s forces, led to the beginning of the Civil War. Some were satisfied that King Charles would meet their demands, but royal delay led to Scotland’s government and church coming under the control of a more radical and uncompromising Presbyterian group.

In this political situation, some Covenanters reverted to supporting the King, and a number of Highlands and Islands clans also came to support him, as reaction to the strong support for the Covenanting and Presbyterian cause by the Campbells. The ‘Wars of the Three Kingdoms’, also known as ‘The Civil War’, continued as a series of conflict between 1639 and 1651. The ‘English Civil War’ has been the best-known of these conflicts and included the abolition of the monarchy, the creation of a short-lived Lord Protectorate and the execution of the King.