Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Countess of the Covenant Times

Another book has helped me understand the Civil Wars and their effects upon Scotland: a biography of Anna, daughter of Lord Seaforth, wife of Alexander Lindsay (Earl of Belcarres), and then, the wife of Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll, the one who was beheaded in 1685 by James Stewart, King of England and Scotland. Anna's story is one of military success and failure, exile in Holland, poverty and fortitude. Her first husband was a strong Covenanter who fought against the Royalists; and then against Cromwell on the side of the King. It was all very romantic, and hugely expensive.

At the age of 32, and having given birth to 6 children, she accompanied her ailing first husband through the very primitive Highlands during the failed Glencairn Uprising, and then over the Channel to Holland. And every now and then, when she had a chance, she brought Belcarres from bankruptcy and disaster back to financial stability. She was quite a lady.

Her life gave me some idea as to the true disaster that fell on the Highlands in the 1600s. The fact was that Scotland could not afford to carry on the battles that they fought during the English Civil Wars. Its population was relatively small and its economy was primitive; it was necessary to hire and support professional soldiers who had fought in the European Wars; and weaponry was rapidly changing, while gaining in value and expense.

She was, by the way, the mother in law of Sir Duncan of Auchinbreck. She was, therefore, Sir James Auchinbreck's grandmother, he who fought on the losing side in 1745., and ended his life at Gairloch. A lot of 'history' at this time is about family connections.

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