Engagement and the Rule of the Saints (1647-1650)
In 1647 most of the Scots nobilty split ranks with the Kirk and
agreed to fight for Charles I against the English Parliament in
an agreement known as the Engagement. Scottish society was torn
over the issue. The Kirk openly preached against anyone joining
the Engagers' army, whilst the nobles made ready for war. A depleted
Scots army invaded England in 1648 only to be defeated by Oliver
Cromwells New Model Army.
of the Nobles elevated the radical Presbyterians of the Kirk
to power, and, in what became known as the Rule of the Saints,
they set about creating their vision of a godly society. Tight
social discipline was imposed, adultery was to be punishable
by death, nobles were humiliated before Kirk sessions for their
moral lapses, and those who had supported the Engagement were
excluded from office, parliament and the army.
This triumph, however, was completely over-shadowed by a cataclysmic
event - the execution of Charles I by Cromwell in 1649. The
Scottish Parliament was forced to act - Charles, despite all
his faults, had been a Scottish Stewart King. They appointed
his son, Charles II, as King of Scotland, England and Ireland
on condition he accepted the Covenant, which Charles II had
no option but to agree to. At last the Scots Kirk had got what
it wanted - a covenanted king.
From Cromwells point of view his English republic was
in danger. He begged the Scots to reconsider - they wouldn't
and he invaded. The Scots fought well initially, cornering Cromwell
at Dunbar, but, urged on by their ministers (the political commissars
of their day), they descended from their commanding position
and were massacred. Within a year Scotland was conquered, its
parliament was abolished and the Scots were forced into an incorporating
union with England. Scotland became an occupied country with
Cromwellian citadels imposed on Ayr, Leith, Perth, Inverness
and Inverlochy. It was the first time in history that the nation
of Scotland had been conquered.
The situation wasn't to last. The Parliamentary Union of 1652
and the birth of Commonwealth of Scotland, England and Ireland
brought an uneasy peace which people accepted for purely practical
reasons. However, when Cromwell died and the republic fell apart,
few in Scotland opposed the Restoration of Charles II.