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January 1st 1651

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Charles II unusual coronation

Rosemount, Blairgowrie. Picture by Chas Webb
Rosemount, Blairgowrie. Picture by Chas Webb
It is fitting to start off the year with a coronation, albeit a somewhat unusual one. Cromwell was in control of most of Scotland but Charles II had landed at Speymouth and hoped to rally his Scottish  subjects for a restoration of the monarchy. 

“This day we have done what I earnestly desyred and long expected, crowned our noble King with  all the solemnities at Scoone so peaceablie and magnificentlie as if no enemy had been among us. The  King sware the Covenant, the League and Covenant, the Coronation Oath. When Argyle put on the  crown Mr. Robert Douglas prayed weel; when the Chancellor set him in the throne, he exhorted weel;  when all were ended he, with great earnestness, pressed sinceritie and constancie in the Covenant on the King.”
Robert Baillie

What really gave Robert Baillie, a famous Presbyterian minister, so much satisfaction was the fact that Charles had accepted the League and Covenant. However, it was to be nine more years, following the  death of Cromwell, before Charles began his effective reign as King of Scotland and England. And when  that happy day eventually dawned there was little mention of the Covenant. Men still died for their  religious beliefs and the Covenanters were hunted and persecuted. It was not until 1688 that Presbyterianism  became the accepted and established form of Christian belief in Scotland. 

Even in 1651 the “sinceritie and constancie” of King Charles towards the Covenant must have seemed to impartial observers to be in some doubt. Only three months previously he had fled from  Perth and the attentions of the more extreme members of the Presbyterian party in control of the city. 

On October 4th, he secretly departed with five servants in an attempt to meet up with the more congenial  Episcopalian Royalists believed to be waiting for him in the north. The plan was poorly carried out and  he only reached as far as Glen Clova before he was discovered and induced to return to Perth.

The  Start,” as the incident was quaintly called, at least demonstrated to Charles that whatever his own  religious principles might be (and he was widely described as both a cynic and a sceptic) he would need to co-operate with the Scottish Presbyterians if he expected to be crowned King. 

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