Clan, King and Covenant explores the turbulent history of the Highlands during the seventeenth century. The signing of the National Covenant in 1638 first challenged the powers of Charles I in Scotland, but it was only when Alisdair MacDonald joined Montrose in raising the Royalist clans that the country erupted into civil war. Central to the conflict was the ancient enmity between the MacDonalds and the Campbells, Earls of Argyll, as clan Donald attempted to reclaim their ancestral lands in Argyll. There followed a whirlwind year of spectacular victories for Montrose in the name of the King as the Highland clans emerged upon the national stage, before his campaign subsided into eventual defeat. However it was only after the Restoration of Charles II that a bitter and protracted struggle broke out between Church and Crown, after Bishops were reappointed to the national Church. Political and religious tensions mounted with the acession of James VII of Scotland (James II of England) as a Catholic king ruling over a predominantly Presbyterian people. It reached a climax in the outbreak of the Highland War, when Viscount Dundee won a devastating victory at Killiecrankie on behalf of James VII over the Presbyterian forces of Lowland Scotland, but at the cost of his own life. Subsequently the Crown imposed an uneasy peace upon the Highlands, after the cold-blooded plotting of 'murder under trust' culminated in the Glencoe Massacre. Condoned by William of Orange, few events in the blood-stained history of the Highland clans have quite the dreadful resonance of this act, carried out cynically as a matter of public policy.
A clear introductory survey of complex developments
Roberts writes with clarity, and his book is accessible ... there is an important place for narrative historical writing
Worthy of attention for those uninitiated in the seventeenth century struggles between the House of Stuart and their opponents in the Highlands.