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Marquis of Montrose is executed

On 21 May 1650, James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, the chief Royalist military commander in Scotland, was executed in Edinburgh.

Montrose had initially been one of the nobles to draw up the National Covenant in 1638, however, he became concerned about the opposite extreme, a Presbyterian oligarchy led by Archibald Campbell, the 8th Earl of Argyll, who imprisoned Graham in 1640.

Montrose, therefore, sided with the King against the Covenanting Army under Argyll, which was allied to the English Parliamentarians. Montrose won six successive battles at Tippermuir, Aberdeen, Inverlochy, Auldearn, Alford and Kilsyth, before being defeated by David Leslie at Philiphaugh. He escaped to continental Europe.

Shocked at the execution of Charles I, he returned to avenge the old King and support the young King Charles II, but his small force was defeated at Carbisdale. He was betrayed by MacLeod of Assynt, captured, hung, quartered and his head impaled on a stake at the Mercat Cross on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. He was reburied in St. Giles Kirk some eleven years after his execution.

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