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Solemn League and Covenant, Signing of the


1643

A military and a religious alliance, whereby the Scottish Covenanters agreed to help the Parliamentarians against the Royalists in the English Civil War in return for their support for the Presbyterian system of church government, which was to be reaffirmed in Scotland and introduced in England. The Scots had been trying to rid their Church of a hierarchical system of government and practices of worship that they regarded as 'popish', which had been imposed by the King.

The Solemn League and Covenant was agreed by the Scots on 17th August 1643 and by the English Parliament on 25th September. Scottish troops were to support the Parliamentarian side who feared the intervention of Irish Catholics on the Royalist side, and its immediate consequence was to overwhelm the Royalists, who seemed in the stronger position to win the English Civil War.

The alliance was negotiated in Edinburgh between leaders of the Church of Scotland dominated by Archibald Campbell, the Marquis of Argyll (1598 - 1661), and an English delegation led by Sir Henry Vane (1613-62). After the Scottish Covenanter Army entered the fray against the Royalists the following year, the English Parliament dictated that every Englishman should sign the Covenant. This situation remained until King Charles I made his own alliance with the Scots in 1648, who grudgingly signed the Solemn League and Covenant at Garmouth in 1650. Oliver Cromwell invaded Scotland in retaliation and the defeat of the Royalist-Scots alliance at the Battle of Worcester in 1651 ended all attempts to bring Presbyterianism to England. After the Restoration, King Charles II ensured the English Parliament passed the Sedition Act in 1661, nullifying the Solemn League and Covenant. Charles also outlawed the Covenant in Scotland and a period of severe repression followed which was not resolved until the Revolution Settlement of 1690.


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