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The Covenanters

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Scottish Presbyterian pledges to advance their beliefs in the face of episcopacy and Roman Catholicism, and their impact across Britain and Ireland.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the bonds that Scottish Presbyterians made between themselves and their monarchs in the 16th and 17th Centuries, to maintain their form of worship. These covenants bound James VI of Scotland to support Presbyterians yet when he became James I he was also expected to support episcopacy. That tension came to a head under Charles I who found himself on the losing side of a war with the Covenanters, who later supported Parliament before backing the future Charles II after he had pledged to support them. Once in power, Charles II failed to deliver the religious settlement the Covenanters wanted, and set about repressing them violently. Those who refused to renounce the covenants were persecuted in what became known as The Killing Times, as reflected in the image above.


Roger Mason
Professor of Scottish History at the University of St Andrews

Laura Stewart
Professor of Early Modern British History at the University of York


Scott Spurlock
Professor of Scottish and Early Modern Christianities at the University of Glasgow

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Available now

54 minutes

Last on

Thu 12 Mar 2020 21:30


Laura Stewart at the University of York

Roger Mason at the University of St Andrews

Scott Spurlock at the University of Glasgow

British Civil Wars, Commonwealth and Protectorate, 1638-1660 project

Jardine’s Book of Martyrs – The Covenanters, Scotland

Covenanters – Wikipedia



Michael J. Braddick (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the English Revolution (Oxford University Press, 2015), especially ‘Scottish politics, 1644-1651’ by Laura A.M. Stewart

Keith M. Brown, Kingdom or Province? Scotland and the Regal Union, 1603-1715 (Palgrave, 1992)

Allan I. Macinnes, Charles I and the Making of the Covenanting Movement, 1625–1641 (John Donald Publishers, 1991)

Allan I. Macinnes, The British Revolutions, 1629-1660 (Red Globe Press, 2004)

Walter Makey, The Church of the Covenant 1637 – 1651: Revolution and Social Change in Scotland (John Donald Publishers, 1979)

John Morrill (ed.), The Scottish National Covenant in its British Context 1638-51 (Edinburgh University Press, 1990)

R. Scott Spurlock, Cromwell and Scotland: Conquest and Religion, 1650 -- 1660 (John Donald Publishers, 2007)

David Stevenson, The Scottish Revolution, 1637-44 (John Donald Publishers, 1973)

David Stevenson, Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Scotland, 1644 -- 1651 (John Donald Publishers, 2003)

Laura A.M. Stewart, Urban Politics and the British Civil Wars: Edinburgh, 1617 -- 53 (Brill, 2006)

Laura A.M. Stewart, Rethinking the Scottish Revolution: Covenanted Scotland, 1637-1651 (Oxford University Press, 2018)

Jenny Wormald (ed), The Seventeenth Century: Short Oxford History of the British Isles (Oxford University Press, 2000)



  • Thu 12 Mar 2020 09:00
  • Thu 12 Mar 2020 21:30

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