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The Scots in England 1640-1651

Graham Seel uncovers their pivotal and sometimes underhand role in the struggle between king and parliament.

The royalist historian Clarendon was at loss to explain the motivations of the Scots between the years 1640 and 1651. He describes their actions as exhibiting 'such a degree of sottishness and a depraved understanding that they can never be looked upon as men who knew what their interest was, or what (was) necessary to advance their own designs'. It is a sentiment with which it is easy to agree. These eleven years witnessed four periods of military intervention in England by the Scots: 1640-41, 1644-47, 1648 and 1651. On the first two of these occasions the Scots fought with the English parliament against the king; in 1648 and 1651 this allegiance was exactly reversed. From the English perspective, all of this appears to be inconsistent, treacherous and 'depraved'. When viewed from the Scottish position, however, it is possible to recognise an underlying consistency of aim.

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