The Solemn League and Covenant Now brings a smile, now brings a tear. But sacred freedom, too, was theirs; If thou‘rt a slave, indulge thy sneer.

Robert Burns on the Covenanters

The National Covenant of 1638 called for all Scots to oppose Roman Catholicism and the policies of Charles I. It was written in Greyfriars Church in Edinburgh on 28 February 1638- 'that glorious marriage day of the Kingdom with God’- and fell into three parts:

1. A total abjuration of popery

2. A list of statues safeguarding the reformed church

3. A promise to defend the King while defending and preserving the true religion.

What the Covenanters wanted - low quality (modem)
What the Covenanters wanted - high quality (ISDN)

The day after the local clergy had signed the agreement, it was distributed to the four corners of Scotland for public signing. Individuals from the South West of Scotland are said to have signed the National Covenant in their own blood!

Alexander Peden Peden mask
One of the most famous covenanters was Alexander Peden. Peden upheld the National Covenant, believing that God, not the king, was the head of the Church. In order to continue his rebellion, Peden wore this mask as a disguise when preaching at illegal outdoor services.

Words of Peden - low quality (modem)
Words of Peden - high quality (ISDN)

If the audio/video doesn't play, you may need to download the free RealPlayer plug-in. RealOne (for Windows 98/2000/XP and Mac OS X users) or RealPlayer 8 Basic (for Windows 95 and Mac OS 9 users). BBC WebWise has a step-by-step guide to help you.