Battle in the Burgh: Glasgow during the British Civil Wars, c.1638-1651

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Despite flourishing research on Scotland during the British Civil Wars (c.1638-1651), there remains much work to be done regarding the Scottish burghs. Most discussions of the burghs in this period focus on the remarkable control that the Covenanting regime was able to enforce over the kingdom’s urban centres, or the divisions which emerged amongst the Covenanting elites of the burghs, which fractured that control (DesBrisay, 2002; Macinnes, 1991; Stewart, 2006). It is widely believed that the pragmatically minded urban elite initially welcomed the reform that the Covenanters promised. In 1987, David Stevenson gave a cautious assessment of the burghs, highlighting the remarkable solidarity they showed following the leadership of Edinburgh in pledging support for the Covenanters, while postulating that this show of support must have been for economic as well as religious reasons. Alan MacDonald (2000 & 2007) has produced similar conclusions from examining the participation of the burghs in the Scottish Parliament but has pointed out that the only times when the burghs were truly of one mind was when their rights and privileges were under threat. Allan Macinnes (1991) and John Young (1996) have stressed the essential role of the burghs as facilitators for the ‘radical oligarchy’ that, they argue, was able to take control of the Committee of Estates from 1641 to 1650. Young (1997: 167-168) has gone as far as to argue that this resulted in the establishment of a ‘Scottish Commons’, by which the burghs and shire commissioners provided the radical backbone of the Covenanting movement
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
JournalJournal of Northern Renaissance
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2020


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