Making the Union: Covenanter Movement for British Religious and Royal Unification

A Force For Good reminds the Scottish nationalist marchers of the benefits of the Union, on Union Street in Glasgow, at the corner with Argyle Street, which is named after the 3rd Duke of Argyll, who was the great-grandson of Archibald Campbell, the 1st Marquess of Argyll and Covenanter who is mentioned below. (Pic: AFFG 11-1-20).

The Scottish Covenanters of the 1600s stand out as a movement for British Unionism many years before the Union of the Parliaments on 1 May 1707. Today, the dominance of Scottish nationalist imagery and stories in the popular culture has ignored this element of Scottish and British history.

This is part 2 of our series on the British Civil War – written by John Provan who has an MA (Hons) in History. Our series emphasises the British Isles-wide nature of the conflict. We look at the extent to which shared concerns and violent events found Scots and English together on the same sides; and we examine the extent to which this was to create a shared sense of British national purpose and identity.

A Force For Good is recalling to memory this rich unionist heritage, emphasising that unionist thought has deep roots within Scotland that predate the emergence of unionist thought in England, and reminding us that political Union was a Scottish idea before it was an English one.

This article was originally published on our Legacy Site in 2015.

SOME BACKGROUND INFORMATION: This article covers events between the establishment of the National Covenant in 1638 and Oliver Cromwell's "Ordinance for uniting Scotland into one Commonwealth with England" in 1654.

During this time, Charles I was executed on 30 January 1649 and England became a republic. On 5 February 1649, the Covenanter Parliament of Scotland proclaimed Charles II "King of Great Britain, France and Ireland", but refused to allow him to enter Scotland unless he accepted their Presbyterian terms.

Charles II formally accepted the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643, and was crowned King of Scotland on 1 January 1651. On 3 September 1651, at the Battle of Worcester, Charles's Royalist and predominantly Scottish forces were to suffer defeat at the hands of Oliver Cromwell and his Parliamentarians. This resulted in Charles's exile and the period under Oliver Cromwell and his son Richard – known as 'the Commonwealth'.