Charles I and the Making of the Covenanting Movement, 1625-1641

Charles I and the Making of the Covenanting Movement, 1625-1641

Charles I and the Making of the Covenanting Movement, 1625-1641

Charles I and the Making of the Covenanting Movement, 1625-1641


This important book offers a reinterpretation of the origins of the Covenanting movement and the relationship between the Crown and Scotland from 1625 onwards.


James VI and I died on 27 March 1625. His son, Charles I, succeeded to the thrones of Scotland and England. Standing no more than 5 feet [1.52 metres] from his buckled shoes to his manicured wig, the new monarch was intent on changing radically the style, pace and direction of royal authority. Unfortunately, Charles’s dogmatic conviction in his own rightness was not grounded in personal experience of Scottish politics prior to his accession in his twenty-fifth year. Indeed, Charles set out to rule his Scottish inheritance ill equipped politically — other than with an authoritarian conviction in his own rightness. His remorseless promotion of conformity to English practice took no account of Scottish fears of provincial relegation inflamed by the union of the Crowns since 1603. His relentless pursuit of administrative, economic and religious uniformity not only provoked constitutional opposition, but fanned the flames of nationalism that was to terminate his personal rule by 1638. Charles was thus the principal architect in the making of the Covenanting Movement whose rigorous imposition of constitutional checks on absentee monarchy fulfilled the worst fears of the diminutive king that in Scotland by 1641, ‘He had no more Power than the Duke [doge] of Venice’.

The Unprepared Prince

Although born in Dunfermline on 19 November 1600, Charles was thoroughly anglicised. A rather unloved upbringing as the second son and third surviving child of James VI and Anne of Denmark made Charles an intensely private and secretive individual, much given to duplicity and incapable of bestowing lasting trust on his political associates or inspiring unstinting loyalty from his subordinates.

Charles had not been schooled by James to succeed him as monarch. Other than to act as a spur to his elder brother Prince Henry, Charles had not been encouraged to take an interest in affairs of state. Although the death of Henry in 1612 shattered his reclusive life at Court, Charles remained the product of a narrow environment in which the politics of power were dominated by . . .

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