Scotlands History

James Graham, Marquis of Montrose (1612-1650)

James Graham ‘the Great Montrose’, a Scots nobleman and soldier, experienced life on both sides of the Civil War.

Initially signing the National Covenant, he became disenchanted and switched sides when it became clear that the Covenanters wanted the church to have complete control. Montrose believed that the Church should concern itself only with spiritual matters while the King ruled the country and maintained the rule of law.

Montrose led the Royalist forces in a series of victories over the Presbyterian Covenanters. He led an army that included Highlanders, Episcopalians and Roman Catholics. When King Charles I was defeated, tried and executed in England, Montrose was forced to flee to Norway.

When Montrose returned to Scotland to support the exiled Charles II he tried and failed to raise the clans. Montrose was captured, tried and hanged in Edinburgh - with a flattering biography of him around his neck. On 21 May 1650 his body was hacked to pieces - his limbs sent to Stirling, Perth, Aberdeen and Glasgow. Eleven years later his head, torso, arms and legs were brought to Edinburgh and reverently placed in a lavish coffin. His reassembled body lay in state in the Palace of Holyroodhouse before a funeral at St Giles.

  • Oil painting of James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose, 1612 - 1650

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