Marquess of Montrose

(James Graham)


The Marquis of Montrose was one of the most noble and romantic characters associated with the English Civil Wars. Although he was a covenanter himself, he faithfully supported the Royalist cause in Scotland for the duration of the Civil Wars because he did not believe that the Covenanters, who controlled both the church and the parliament in Scotland should have unlimited power over both religious and civil matters. The situation was considerably different in England, where the official state church was in the hands of the king. The civil war between 'royalists' and 'parliament' in Scotland, therefore, sprung from a different set of principles than the simultaneous war in England. This is one of the reasons the complicated and ever-changing alliances involved in the English Civil War are so difficult to understand.

In 1638 Charles I imposed an Anglican style prayer book on the Scots, which led to a rebellion, known as the Bishop's War. In this war, Montrose fought for the covenanters against the king, but later sought to reconcile with the King in order to prevent the radical element of the covenanters from gaining too much power. It was during this crisis that Charles I called the long Parliament, and three years later the English Civil War broke out.

By this time in Scotland, the Marquis of Argyll had become the leader of the covenant cause, and allied himself with the English parliament. Meanwhile Montrose rose an army among the highlanders and fought for the Royalist cause. The civil war in Scotland however, was motivated largely by local concerns, rather than adherence to the same principles espoused by the royalist and parliament causes in England. The alliances with England however, ultimately sabotaged both sides in the Scottish dispute. Although Montrose was victorious in most of his battles, his cause fell apart when the King was defeated at Naseby and surrendered to parliament. He was exiled to Norway shortly thereafter, and the Scottish government fell into the hands of Argyll. Argyll's influence did not survive long either. When the victorious English parliament with which he was allied split between radicals and moderates, he lost control of the Scottish government.

Montrose remained in Norway until the execution of Charles I. This caused so much outrage in Scotland that the country declared for Charles II and opposed Cromwell. Charles II landed in Scotland and first allied himself with Montrose, but then changed sides and went over to the Covenanters' party, deserting his most faithful adherent. Montrose was captured and executed, but met his death with the utmost courage.

Key events during the life of James Graham, the Marquis of Montrose:

Birth of James Graham
Charles I imposes the Anglican prayer book on unwilling Scots.
Fought for the Covenanter in the Bishops War.
Raised a royalist force in the highlands and opposed the Covenanters.
Royalist cause is largely lost the Battle of Naseby.
Exiled to Norway.
Execution of Charles I.
Declares for Charles II, and returns to Scotland to support his cause.
Betrayed and sentenced to death.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
The Story of Marquis Montrose  in  Cambridge Historical Reader—Primary  by  Cambridge Press
The Marquis of Montrose  in  Red Book of Heroes  by  Mrs. Andrew Lang
James VII.A Forlorn Hope  in  Scotland's Story  by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall

Image Links

The marquis of Montrose
 in Cambridge Historical Reader—Primary

The Marquis looked so handsome, grand, and grave that everyone was full of sad astonishment
 in Scotland's Story

Short Biography
Charles I Second Stuart king. His quarrels with Parliament led to civil war and his execution.
Charles II Restored to the throne after death of Cromwell. Presided over the great fire and plague of London.
Marquis of Argyll Leader of Scotland's covenanter army during the first English Civil War.