Remembering the Duke of Monmouth

 

I have resisted writing about the subject of my MA Dissertation for several reason the main being that i wanted to expand the subject into a book. However 5 years on I only have several drafted chapters written struggling to find time to give writing a book around job hunting and now temp work. This is why before today apart from the odd mention in posts as a footnote I have refrained from blogging about James Scott, Duke of Monmouth.

Today is the anniversary of his death by beheading on Tower hill as a traitor to his Uncle James II. His father the restored Monarch, Charles II never had legitimate children, his bother and heir James II converted controversially to Catholicism. As the reign of Charles II continued and it become obvious that no legitimate children would materialise from his long suffering Queen Catherine of borganiza a section of Parliament attached themselves to Charles eldest Child and son James Duke of Monmouth.

As I researched Monmouth it became clear that he was pretty and spoilt and held a special place in Charles court (just like French royal bastards did) however he was easily manipulated by power hungry Politians who manipulated James position and feeding him with falase hope of becoming king.

Monmouth was involved with several plots against his father including the rye house plot. Eventually his father banished him from court and sent him to live with William of orange his cousin in Law.

Monmouth was however a formidable military man he held several positions in the army and navy including coming home a hero after the battle of Bothwell bridge in 1679.

As he was a protestant many of the country welcomed the idea that Monmouth despite his illegitimacy should become heir to the throne this was not helped when Monmouth under took a “royal “ style progress and performing the Touching Evil ceremony on the sick of England.

The events that lead to him turning Traitor and started after the death of his father Charles II in feburary 1685. His catholic bother James inherited the throne and unlike his brother he had 2 legitamate daughters married into European royality. His second wife was with child. If that child turned out to be a boy, then England and the united kingdom would have a catholic dynasty on the throne. The political and religious upheaval since the reformation and civil war had left their scares on the populous.

Monmouth who was still in exile in the Dutch republic with William of Orange started plotting with others to over throw his Uncle James. The rebellion was to hit the UK in two waves Scotland then the west country. If the plan had worked then the English army would have been dealing with the rebels in Scotland while Monmouth landed in the west country gathering his followers from his progresses moving to London to over through his uncle.

The Scottish part of the plan lead by Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll failed and the leader executed Monmouth news reached Monmouth too late. Skirmishes and battles between the rebels and the royalist forces moved around the west country. Eventually the rebellion was quashed at the Battle of Sedgemoor. Monmouth fled the battle but was found and arrested Dorset. On 15th July he was beheaded badly on tower hill. Witnesses claim between 6-8 blows to sever his pretty head on Tower Hill.

The Rebellion would start the bloody Assizes lead by Judge Jefferies it is said that the gallows from the west country to London were filled by those who supported Monmouth in his bid for the throne.

The irony for me is that James II lost his throne in 1688 in the Glorious Revolution if Monmouth had waited his rebellion may well have succeed and the royal line and history may have remained in the house of Stuart.

On another note will attempt to finish that book on Monmouth my 17th Century hunk.

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