22nd June 1679

Covenanters defeated in the Battle of Bothwell Bridge

The Covenanters believed that the Church of Scotland should be an independent entity, led not by the king, but by God. In 1938 they signed a National Covenant in which they declared their intention to resist any influence from the king, Charles I.

Nonetheless, Charles tried – and failed to assert his authority – and the disagreement between church and state grew over several years, spanning the English Civil War, execution of Charles I, Cromwell’s Long Parliament, and the return of the king in the form of Charles II.

Dispute over authority

Although Charles I and the Covenanters had been at odds over who was the ultimate source of authority in the church, they believed that the nation should, nonetheless, be under the power of a monarch. So, when he was dethroned, they supported Charles’ return. This didn’t come about, as Charles I lost his head in 1649.

When the monarchy was restored and Charles I’s son, Charles II, came to the throne, it may have looked like things were improving for the Covenanters, but the state once again tried to impose its authority, and outlawed their unofficial meetings.

The Battle of Bothwell Bridge

Archbishop James Sharp of St Andrews was unsympathetic in his dealings with Covenanters and their supporters, condemning many to death, as a result of which he met his own end when assassinated in his coach in 1679. This invoked a revolt, which led to the Battle of Bothwell Bridge, in which Covenanter rebels faced a government army – and lost. Several hundred were taken prisoner and held in Edinburgh before being transported to the colonies.

Nobody knows exactly how many were killed but, even just counting those who were captured and transported, the Covenanter suffered heavy losses. However, this wasn’t sufficient to suppress all Covenanter activity going forward. In 1688, James Renwick was executed in Edinburgh, becoming the last of the Covenanter martyrs.



Other events that occured in June

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