The English, the Scots, and the Dilemmas of Union, 1638–1654

John Morrill

in Anglo-Scottish Relations from 1603 to 1900

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780197263303
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734137 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

The English, the Scots, and the Dilemmas of Union, 1638–1654

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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At no point in the history of Britain and Ireland has the whole archipelago experienced such sustained and brutal internal war as in the 1640s and early 1650s. Alongside and largely underpinning the persistent Scottish demand for a confederal settlement, and a factor in the English preference for either an integrative union or no union at all was, of course, religion. There were two largely separate rebellions in Ireland in late 1641: by the Old English of the Pale and Munster and by the dispossessed and the exiled Gaelic Irish communities of Ulster. There has been a tension between calling the events of 1638–54 the War of the Three Kingdoms and the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. The Covenant itself and the king's response both in making the Cessation in Ireland and in authorising Montrose's Scottish-Irish war in Scotland or the early months of 1645 are considered. It then describes the way the English and the Scots reacted to the crisis of the winter of 1648–9 and the wholly English act of regicide. The wars of the 1640s fragmented the political communities in England and in Scotland.

Keywords: rebellions; Scots; integrative union; War of the Three Kingdoms; Covenant; regicide; Britain; Ireland

Chapter.  8671 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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