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Scotland and its History. James VII.

6 August 2022
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The deposition of James VII

Main article: Glorious Revolution in Scotland

James VII of Scotland (and II of England), who fled the throne in 1688.

James put Catholics in key positions in the government and attendance at conventicles was made punishable by death. He disregarded parliament, purged the council and forced through religious toleration to Roman Catholics, alienating his Protestant subjects. It was believed that the king would be succeeded by his daughter Mary, a Protestant and the wife of William of Orange, Stadtholder of the Netherlands, but when in 1688, James produced a male heir, James Francis Edward Stuart, it was clear that his policies would outlive him. An invitation by seven leading Englishmen led William to land in England with 40,000 men, and James fled, leading to the almost bloodless “Glorious Revolution”. The Estates issued a Claim of Right that suggested that James had forfeited the crown by his actions (in contrast to England, which relied on the legal fiction of an abdication) and offered it to William and Mary, which William accepted, along with limitations on royal power. The final settlement restored Presbyterianism and abolished the bishops who had generally supported James. However, William, who was more tolerant than the Kirk tended to be, passed acts restoring the Episcopalian clergy excluded after the Revolution.

Although William’s supporters dominated the government, there remained a significant following for James, particularly in the Highlands. His cause, which became known as Jacobitism, from the Latin (Jacobus) for James, led to a series of risings. An initial Jacobite military attempt was led by John Graham, Viscount Dundee. His forces, almost all Highlanders, defeated William’s forces at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689, but they took heavy losses and Dundee was slain in the fighting. Without his leadership the Jacobite army was soon defeated at the Battle of Dunkeld. In the aftermath of the Jacobite defeat on 13 February 1692, in an incident since known as the Massacre of Glencoe, 38 members of the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by members of the Earl of Argyll’s Regiment of Foot, on the grounds that they had not been prompt in pledging allegiance to the new monarchs.

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