A snippet from “Dark Lord” – from a chapter named “Covenant”

Alex Hay

Alex Hay

February 28, 1638, Edinburgh, Scotland

The morning was cold and dry in the city. There had been little snow or rain that month, causing fresh water shortages. The sun had just risen, casting rays through low clouds. The streets were bustling with activity. Women swept their doorsteps and hung out damp bedding to dry. Children ran with dogs, shouting and spinning hoops. Tradesmen and mariners left their homes to go to their daily jobs. These things were happening and more. For more than fifty thousand men had descended upon Edinburgh to sign the National Covenant. They came from all parts of Scotland; the Highlands, Lowlands, and even the islands.
Back in October, the King had stripped the capitol city of purpose and influence. He’d ordered the petitioners to leave or be arrested and tried for treason. Worse yet, the Privy Council and law courts were advised to desert Edinburgh for a secure location. The King had promised to consider the petitions when the city was peaceful, but that hadn’t happened. Instead, he seemed content to let them stew in their own juice. Dozens of petitioners were arrested and transferred to London to await their fate in the Tower of London. Many of the Lords involved withdrew to safe locations to raise money and support for Leslie’s army. There was no doubt as to how this would go down.
Word of the rebellion traveled to the far reaches of Scotland via letters, posters, and personal accounts. The protest grew into a campaign of petitions and supplications denouncing the Laudian prayer book and criticising the power of bishops.
Led by the lords Loudoun, Rothes, Balmerino, and Lindsay, the supplicants organised four elected “Tables” or committees to represent the nobility, gentry, burgesses and clergy. A fifth Table was to act as an executive body. In the face of the Privy Council’s impotence, they acted as an alternative government.
The well-respected clergyman Alexander Henderson and the lawyer Archibald Johnstone were tasked with drawing up a National Covenant. It was to unite the supplicants and clarify aims, the main one being a rejection of untried “innovations” in religion.
Favors were called in and loyalties tested. By early December, the specter of religious persecution was the basis for fiery sermons, town hall meetings, and supper table conversation. Money was raised; weapons and supplies gathered, and men committed themselves to the cause. They awaited marching orders.
Word came in mid-January, asking them to report to Edinburgh by the end of the third week of February. There they would be given the opportunity to sign a covenant and pledge their support for the rebellion. In vague terms, they were told about Leslie’s army and encouraged to join the ranks.
Lord Traquair, after his brush with death in the Edinburgh riot, obtained permission to come to the King. He told Charles frankly that he must either abandon the new Liturgy requirements or come to Scotland with 40,000 armed men. Instead of an army, Traquair was given a proclamation to deliver. The King made it clear that it was he not the bishops who was responsible for the new service book. Anyone who dared to oppose it directly challenged the King’s authority. The proclamation was read on the twenty-second of February to a hostile crowd who greeted it with hoots and jeers. A rival protestation was read in the presence of his Majesty’s heralds, who could not escape the crowd. They were bound to report to the King.
This created a need for a signed Covenant. Henderson and Johnstone were encouraged to complete it in a manner that would leave little open to debate. Not all ministers were convinced that Episcopacy was against divine law, so no mention was to be made of bishops. They were to ask all signatories to pledge themselves to defend the reformed religion and resist innovations, unless accepted by free assemblies and Parliaments.
It was now the twenty-eighth of February. According to posters and the word on the street, the National Covenant would be presented today. Supporters were to attend a ceremony in Greyfriars Kirk to commit to preserving the purity of the church.
Alex Hay was one such man. He’d spent five months in Leslie’s army, with only sporadic contact with his family. The militia had grown rapidly after the riot, from a private army of mercenaries to a loosely organized force of thousands. They’d made him a lieutenant and put him in charge of a band of plough boys no older than his sons…

Read about it at:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s