|Part of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms|
|Commanders and leaders|
|c. 15,000+||c. 20,000+|
|Casualties and losses|
|c. 300||c. 200|
The Bishops' Wars of 1639 and 1640 are generally viewed as the starting point of the 1639–1652 Wars of the Three Kingdoms that ultimately involved the whole of the British Isles. The Bishops' Wars originated in disputes, dating back to the 1580s, over control and governance of the Church of Scotland (which is also known by its Scots language name "the kirk"). These came to a head in 1637 when Charles I attempted to impose uniform practices between the kirk and the Church of England.
Charles favoured an episcopal system, or rule by bishops, while the majority of Scots advocated a presbyterian system, without bishops. The 1638 National Covenant pledged to oppose these 'innovations' and the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland voted to expel bishops from the kirk. When Charles resorted to force, the Covenanters defeated Royalist forces in Aberdeenshire in 1639, then an English army in 1640, leaving them in control of Scotland.
James VI claimed his authority as monarch and head of the Church came directly from God, the so-called theory of Divine Right, and not subject to 'interference' by either Parliament or church leaders. He reintroduced episcopacy to the Church of Scotland in 1584 and when he also became King of England in 1603, a unified Church of Scotland and England governed by bishops became the first step in his vision of a centralised, Unionist state.However, while both were nominally Episcopalian, the two were very different in governance and doctrine; Scottish bishops presided over a church largely Presbyterian in structure and were doctrinal Calvinists who viewed many Church of England practices as little better than Catholicism.
Calvinists also believed a 'well-ordered' monarchy was part of God's plan; unlike the English, the vast majority of Scots in the 17th century agreed monarchy was divinely ordered but disagreed on who held ultimate authority in clerical affairs.The Covenanter view was best summarised by Andrew Melville, who reportedly told James in 1598; 'Thair is twa Kings and twa Kingdomes in Scotland... Chryst Jesus the King and this Kingdome the Kirk, whose subject King James the Saxt is.' Royalists tended to be 'traditionalists' in religion and politics but there were many other factors, including nationalist allegiance to the kirk, and individual motives were very complex. Many Covenanters would end up fighting on both sides, such as Montrose.
In 1618, the General Assembly reluctantly approved the Five Articles of Perth; these included forms retained in England but largely abolished in Scotland and were widely resented.When Charles I succeeded his father in 1625, unfamiliarity with Scotland made him even more reliant on the bishops, especially John Spottiswoode, the Archbishop of St Andrews, and prone to sudden decisions. The 1625 Act of Revocation cancelled all grants of land made by the Crown since 1540 without consultation, alienating much of the Scottish nobility and clergy.
While Catholicism itself was now largely confined to parts of the aristocracy and Gaelic-speaking areas in the Highlands and Islands, fear of 'Popery' remained widespread.Many Scots studied at French Huguenot universities, such as Montauban; by the 1620s, the reconciliation between French Catholics and Protestants that had ended the 1562-1598 French Wars of Religion seemed increasingly threatened and led to a series of Huguenot rebellions. Scots also fought in or were affected by the Thirty Years' War, a religious conflict that caused an estimated 8 million deaths and remains one of the most destructive conflicts in human history. Concerns were reinforced by Charles marrying a French Catholic, Henrietta Maria, employing senior Catholic advisors like the Earl of Portland and accepting the first Papal envoy since the Reformation.
Against this background, a new Book of Canons in 1636 replaced John Knox's Book of Discipline and excommunicated anyone who denied the King's supremacy in church matters.When this was followed in 1637 by a new Book of Common Prayer, the result was anger and widespread rioting, said to have been set off with the throwing of a stool by Jenny Geddes during a service in St Giles Cathedral.
The kirk itself seemed under threat and in February 1638, representatives from all sections of Scottish society agreed a National Covenant, pledging resistance to liturgical 'innovations.'Support for the Covenant was widespread except in Aberdeen and Banff, heartland of Royalist and Episcopalian resistance for the next 60 years. The Marquess of Argyll and six members of Charles' Scottish Privy Council backed the Covenant and in December the General Assembly expelled bishops from the kirk, putting it on a full Presbyterian basis.
Charles resorted to military force to assert his authority but refused to obtain funding by recalling Parliament, instead relying on his own resources. The plan consisted of three parts; an English army of 20,000 would advance on Edinburgh from the south, while an amphibious force of 5,000 under the Marquis of Hamilton landed in Aberdeen and linked up with Royalist troops led by the Marquess of Huntly. Lastly, an Irish army under Randal MacDonnell, Earl of Antrim would invade western Scotland and join forces with the MacDonalds and other Royalist clans.
Preparations were hampered by a lack both of funds and of enthusiasm for the war in England, where many were sympathetic to the Covenanter cause. The Irish element never materialised and Huntly's men withdrew when confronted outside Turriff by a Covenanter force under Montrose, who occupied Aberdeen in March, leaving Hamilton nowhere to land. In April, George Ogilvy, Lord Banff assumed command of Royalist forces in Aberdeenshire and temporarily re-occupied Aberdeen after two minor engagements, one at Towie Barclay Castle, where David Prat became the first casualty of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the Trot of Turriff.'
The English army mustered at the border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed totalled some 15,000 men but the vast majority were untrained conscripts from the Northern trained bands or militia, many armed only with bows and arrows. A Scottish army of 16,500 men under the experienced veteran Alexander Leslie, camped a few miles away on the other side of the border near Duns.Many on both sides had fought in the European wars but the Scots ensured that a much higher percentage of their officers were veterans, providing a significant advantage over the English.
Charles joined his troops at Berwick on 30 May and issued a proclamation announcing he would not invade Scotland, providing the Covenanter army remained ten miles north of the border. Leslie advanced to Kelso, within the 10 mile limit, but neither side wanted to fight and English morale was low; on 11 June, negotiations began that ended in the Pacification of Berwick on 19 June.Under this, Charles agreed all disputed questions should be referred to another General Assembly or to the Parliament of Scotland.
The only significant engagement of the war took place on 18 June, at the Battle of the Brig of Dee south of Aberdeen, between Royalist forces under Viscount Aboyne and Montrose, resulting in a Covenanter victory.
The new General Assembly then re-enacted all the measures passed by the Glasgow Assembly, and the Scottish Parliament went further, abolishing Episcopacy and declaring itself free from Royal control.
Charles, believing that the Scots were intriguing with France and that under these circumstances, the English would be more ready to rally to his standard, once more called an English parliament – after having ruled alone in England for eleven years. In April 1640, the so-called Short Parliament convened but first demanded redress of grievances, the abandonment of the royal claim to levy ship money, and a complete change in the ecclesiastical system. Charles considered these terms unacceptable and dissolved parliament.
Thomas Wentworth, now the Earl of Strafford, became a leading adviser to the King. He threw himself into Charles’s plans with great energy and left no stone unturned to furnish the new military expedition with supplies and money.
The Scots under Leslie and Montrose crossed the River Tweed, and Charles’ army retreated before them. In a short time, the invaders overran the whole of Northumberland and County Durham (see Battle of Newburn). Charles had to leave the two counties in Scots hands as a pledge for the payment of Scots expenses when he agreed to peace and signed the Treaty of Ripon in October 1640. The impoverished King had to summon another parliament to grant him the supplies which he needed to make that payment; this Long Parliament attacked his Government, impeaching (and eventually executing) his chief supporters, Strafford and Laud. In August 1641, Charles concluded the Treaty of London between England and Scotland, not at all to his favour. That Parliament sat until purged in 1648.
In the hopes of winning Scottish support, Charles went to Scotland in the autumn of 1641 where he gave titles to Leslie and Argyll, and accepted all the decisions of the General Assembly of 1638 and of the Scottish Parliament of 1641, including confirming the right of the Parliament to challenge the actions of his ministers. He had now withdrawn all the causes of the original dispute, but within a year his disputes with the English Parliament would lead to civil war.
The humiliating circumstances of Charles’ defeat in the Bishops' Wars and the diminishment of Royal authority resulted in the 1641 Irish Rebellion, while his refusal to accept Parliament's demands for reform led to the 1642–1646 First English Civil War. Scotland initially stayed neutral but became involved in supporting first their co-religionists in Ireland, then the English Presbyterian faction in Parliament. The Covenanters themselves split into factions; their attempts to restore first Charles, then his son Charles II on the throne of England resulted in the 1648–1649 Second English Civil War and the 1651–1652 Third English Civil War or Anglo-Scottish War.
The Acts of Union were two Acts of Parliament: the Union with Scotland Act 1706 passed by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland. They put into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union that had been agreed on 22 July 1706, following negotiation between commissioners representing the parliaments of the two countries. By the two Acts, the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland—which at the time were separate states with separate legislatures, but with the same monarch—were, in the words of the Treaty, "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain".
John Pym, was an English politician, who helped establish the foundations of Parliamentary democracy in history. One of the Five Members whose attempted arrest in January 1642 sparked the First English Civil War, his use of procedure to out manoeuvre his opponents was unusual for the period, and as a result, he was respected, rather than admired.
The Solemn League and Covenant was an agreement between the Scottish Covenanters and the leaders of the English Parliamentarians in 1643 during the First English Civil War. On 17 August 1643 the Church of Scotland accepted it and on 25 September 1643 so did the English Parliament and the Westminster Assembly.
The Battle of Newburn, sometimes known as Newburn Ford, was fought on 28 August 1640 during the Second Bishops' War between a Scottish Covenanter army led by General Alexander Leslie and Royal forces commanded by Edward, Lord Conway. Conway, heavily outnumbered, was defeated, and the Scots went on to occupy the town of Newcastle, obtaining a stranglehold on London's coal supply. Charles I of England had no choice but to agree on 26 October to the Treaty of Ripon, under which the Scottish army in northern England would be paid daily expenses, pending a final treaty of peace. To raise the necessary funds Charles had to call the Long Parliament, thus setting in motion a process that would lead to the outbreak of the English Civil War two years later.
Pride's Purge is the name commonly used for an event that took place on 6 December 1648, when soldiers prevented MPs considered hostile to the New Model Army from entering the House of Commons.
Ralph Hopton, 1st Baron Hopton, March 1596 to September 1652, was a politician, soldier and landowner. During the 1642 to 1646 First English Civil War, he served as Royalist commander in the West Country, and was made Baron Hopton of Stratton in 1643.
James Sharp, or Sharpe, was a minister in the Church of Scotland, or kirk, who served as Archbishop of St Andrews from 1661 to 1679. His support for Episcopalianism, or governance by bishops, brought him into conflict with elements of the kirk who advocated Presbyterianism, rule by congregations. Twice the victim of assassination attempts, the second cost him his life.
The Wars of the Three Kingdoms, sometimes known as the British Civil Wars, formed an intertwined series of conflicts that took place in the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland between 1639 and 1651. The English Civil War proper has become the best-known of these conflicts; it included the abolition of the monarchy and the execution of the kingdoms' monarch, Charles I, by the English Parliament in 1649.
The 1648 Second English Civil War is one in a series of connected conflicts in the kingdoms of England, incorporating Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Known collectively as the 1638 to 1651 Wars of the Three Kingdoms, others include the Irish Confederate Wars, the 1638 to 1640 Bishops' Wars, and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.
The 1642 to 1646 First English Civil War is one of a series of connected conflicts in the kingdoms of England, incorporating Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Known collectively as the 1638 to 1651 Wars of the Three Kingdoms, others include the Second English Civil War, the Irish Confederate Wars, the 1638 to 1640 Bishops' Wars, and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.
Alexander Henderson was a Scottish theologian, and an important ecclesiastical statesman of his period. He is considered the second founder of the Reformed Church in Scotland. He was one of the most eminent ministers of the Church of Scotland in the most important period of her history, namely, previous to the middle of the seventeenth century.
Francis Rous or Rouse, circa 1581 to 1659, was an English politician and Puritan religious author, who was Provost of Eton from 1644 to 1659, and briefly Speaker of the House of Commons in 1653.
The Engagers were a faction of the Scottish Covenanters, who made "The Engagement" with King Charles I in December 1647 while he was imprisoned in Carisbrooke Castle by the English Parliamentarians after his defeat in the First Civil War.
The Clergy Act (1640), also known as the Bishops Exclusion Act, or the Clerical Disabilities Act, was an Act of Parliament, effective 13 February 1642.
John Leslie, 6th Earl of Rothes was a Scottish nobleman, one of the main leaders of the Covenanters.
The Incident was a Royalist plot to kidnap a group of Scottish nobles. The Incident took place in October 1641 during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, and the plot's targets were all prominent members of the Presbyterian Covenanter faction who opposed Charles I's attempts to control the Scottish Church.
The Covenanters were a Scottish Presbyterian movement that played an important part in the history of Scotland, and to a lesser extent that of England and of Ireland, during the 17th century. Presbyterian denominations tracing their history to the Covenanters and often incorporating the name continue the ideas and traditions in Scotland and internationally.
Scottish religion in the seventeenth century includes all forms of religious organisation and belief in the Kingdom of Scotland in the seventeenth century. The 16th century Reformation created a Church of Scotland or kirk, which was predominantly Calvinist in doctrine and Presbyterian in structure, to which James VI added a layer of bishops in 1584.
This is a timeline of events leading up to, culminating in, and resulting from the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.
The Battle of the Brig of Dee took place on 18–19 June 1639 at the Bridge of Dee in Scotland. It was the only serious action in the First Bishops' War, and therefore the first serious action in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. It was also the first serious action fought by James Graham, 5th Earl of Montrose, an important commander in these wars. Montrose led the Covenanters, who won, and James Gordon, 2nd Viscount Aboyne led the Royalists.