Ward's Book of Days.

Pages of interesting anniversaries.

What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1643, The Solemn League and Covenant was agreed.

The Solemn League and Covenant was a deal, hammered out during the English Civil war, between the English Parliamentarians and the Scottish Covenanters, in order to establish the Church of Scotland in England.

In 1642, King Charles I and Parliament had fallen out irrevocably, and both sides prepared for the inevitable war. The initial stages of the war were marked by minor skirmishes in which the Royalists seemed to have the advantage. The Parliamentarians, fearing that the Irish would join in on the side of the Royalists, asked the Scots for assistance. Scotland, although nominally ruled by Charles I, was, at the time, governed by a clique of nobles, known as the Covenanters, who had agreed to a conform to a previous covenant, The National Covenant of 1638, to defend the Scottish Kirk against any assault, whether from within the church, from Catholicism, or even from the king.

When approached by the English Parliamentarians, the Covenanters proposed an arrangement. They offered to fight alongside the Parliamentarians, against their own king, provided that the English made a small concession, to accept the Presbyterian religion, together with the ecclesiastical system of the Church of Scotland. This was a big demand, but the English Puritans were enthusiastic, other members of the Long Parliament said they could swallow it, to save the nation from Popery, while others were not too keen, but went along with it. The agreement, drawn up by Alexander Henderson, was accepted by the Church of Scotland in August 1643, and then passed by the English Parliament on 25th September 1643.

In 1644, the Scots sent an army into England, which fought with the Parliamentarians and eventually captured the king in 1646, and handed him over to the English. While Charles I was being held, he communicated with the Scots and agreed to support the Covenant and all their demands, if they would spring him from jail and restore him to the throne. But it was too late. Cromwell took control of England and had Charles executed.

After the death of Charles I, Cromwell ruled in England but Charles II became king of Scots. Cromwell repudiated the Covenant and ran the English church as he ran the government, like a dictator. The Scottish Covenanters persuaded Charles II to accept the Covenant and supplied him with an army to invade England. Unfortunately for Charles, he and his army were defeated by Cromwell at Dunbar in 1650 and at Worcester in 1651. Cromwell was able to take over Scotland, and Charles fled to France.

In 1660, at the Restoration of Charles II, the English Parliament took revenge on Cromwell and the other killers of Charles I. Those regicides still alive were executed, and those who were dead were dug up and hanged and left to rot. The Solemn League and Covenant too was ordered to be executed. All available copies were gathered together and officially burned by the hangman on the scaffold at Tyburn.

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