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Rethinking the Scottish RevolutionCovenanted Scotland, 1637-1651$
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Laura A. M. Stewart

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198718444

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198718444.001.0001

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The Covenanted Commonwealth

The Covenanted Commonwealth

History, People, and Nation

(p.122) 3 The Covenanted Commonwealth
Rethinking the Scottish Revolution

Laura A. M. Stewart

Oxford University Press

The constitutional crisis of 1639–41 was caused less by the removal of bishops from the church than by the prohibition on all kirkmen exercising civil powers. The result was acceptance of the extraordinary constitutional fiction that the bishops were a corruption added onto the ancient three Estates. This chapter explores the rival historical interpretations of the Scottish Reformation that emerged in the reign of James VI and I, and investigates why it was the Presbyterian version that won out after 1639. Examining contested histories of the Scottish constitution can also help us better understand the profound ambivalence about popular political engagement exhibited in Covenanter polemic. The conviction that sovereignty resided in ‘the people’, expressed most forcefully in Samuel Rutherford’s Lex, Rex, sat uneasily with the realities of popular involvement in the dismantling of Charles I’s regime.

Keywords:   commonwealth, patriots, popular sovereignty, bishops, Samuel Rutherford, George Buchanan, Aberdeen Doctors, royal supremacy, liberty

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