Transcript for HoS 77

Last week, then, we heard about the Convention of Estates that met in Scotland to decide between the claims to kingship of James Stuart, VII of that name, and the Pretenders – Mary Stuart and her Husband William of Orange. We heard how the Presbyterian reaction, a dose of pragmatism and some political bargaining overwhelmed any Jacobite objection, and through the Claim of Right, William II and Mary II were the new rules of Scotland – though with full regal rights in the hands of William. This episode, we are going her how that went for everyone.

Back in February 1689, before the Convention met, Viscount Dundee returned disconsolately to Edinburgh, still gutted by James’ flight.

Well, it didn’t take Dundee long to see the lie of the land and how things were going. He didn’t bother to stick around at the Convention, and walked out halfway through, to go back home where his wife Jean was expecting their first child. On the way, he dropped in on the Duke of Gordon, governor of the Castle, a kindred Jacobite spirit of theirs; and talked him into not giving up the keys of the Castle until the Convention had met and made a decision. They had a chat, presumably suitably downbeat. Gordon asked where he was headed now, and Dundee is supposed to have said

‘Wherever the spirit of Montrose shall direct me

I mean he probably said something mundane like going to ‘Mrs Miggins’ shop – buns so fresh you can fry and egg in them’,  but that’s not the stuff of legends. So, Montrose it is. Viscount Dundee, by the way, would acquire the heroic name Bonnie Dundee – but that wouldn’t be until the master story teller Walter Scot got his hands on him. You might imagine a good looking man – Scot called him Bonnie with some justice – portraits of him show a blooming, fresh cheeked young man. He’s about 50 now though, so probably the bloom had come off a bit, if personal experience is anything to go by, but you never know.

Well, Bonnie or not, Dundee had been seen climbing the castle to see that damned Jacobite, Gordon. Sorry, just trying to add to the colour. So soon after he arrived home the news reached him that his exit from the convention and visit to the castle had been noted, and he was declared ‘fugitive and rebel’. Well seeing the writing was on the wall, the Dundees celebrated the birth of their son – loyally christened James – then John and his small band climbed to the top of Dundee Law, and raised the standard of rebellion. He was going to make trouble. And headed off to the highlands.

Melville and William’s government were of course alive to the threat of rebels and loyalists for James, and on the lookout. So pretty soon Dundee found he was being followed. Being followed by one Hugh Mackay, and about 1,000 men, so he led them a bit of a dance. Now it was a bit early for Jacobitism really; the convention was still going on, the religious settlement still unclear, and recruits did not flood to his side. He had help though; Lord Breadalbane for example, whose trimming we heard of last time, he was writing secretly to him, and hoped to raise 1600 men from Argyll and Perthshire for him, and was trying to persuade James to recruit the Duke of Argyll and get him to raise the whole Campbell clan – remember, Breadalbane was a Campbell.

But success then made Dundee a force to be reckoned with. As Mackay lumbered along in his wake, Dundee made a daring raid and captured Perth; suddenly, he was a contender. His efforts to build what he called a ‘confederacy of the clans’ with Breadalbane’s help began to work; on the great Glen by the Bridge of Spean, he managed to collect an army of 2000, led by a number of clan chiefs including from the MacIain of Glencoe and others from the bandit country of Lochaber; later he’d be joined by the MacDonalds of Sleat, the captain of Clanranald, and others.




Throughout the summer, Dundee stayed ahead of Mackay; support from the highland clans was still limited, he still had less than 2,000 men, but he hoped for troops from Ireland – eventually some did come, but just 300, and they were a green behind the ears, and possibly other parts of their anatomy. Then he heard that an ally had taken control of Blair Castle, and so that was where Dundee moved now. But for once Mackay had his number; he came through the pass at Killiecrankie and block waited for Dundee a few miles south of Blair Castle, with maybe double Dundee’s force.

There Dundee found him, looking down on him from the hills above. According to reports, he had established a rapport, an esprit de corps with his small highland army;

‘he had gained so upon the affections of his small army that, though half-starved, they moved forward as cheerfully as if they had not felt the least effects of want’

Dundee though was worried about the fighting quality of the clansmen, and historians like Tom Devine have taken note of that; outside Lochaber as I think we covered a few episodes back, the tradition of clan warfare was fading; in fact the last major clan battle has just been fought in August 1688. Dundee had earned enough time to carry out some training – but the challenge ahead would tell how effective that had been. It was of course a massive risk; but if he could pull off another coup like Perth, who knows who might rally to his colours.

Dundee and his little army therefore set out at Dawn towards the enemy, but it wasn’t until 8 in the evening that the battle started, and the Highland Charge was the tactic of choice; you all know how this works. The Clansmen gather in columns; facing them was the enemy in line, three deep, to maximise fire power. The Highland charge relied on the fact that reloading a musket was a time consuming business; so, the plan for the clansmen was advance to musket range, fire a volley, leg it down the hill at full speed armed with sword and buckler, take the first volley on the chin and hit them hard while they are still fumbling for the reload.

Against a Lee Enfield repeating rifle such a tactic would have been suicide. Against a 17th century musket it was incredibly effective. The losses from the charge were hideous – Dundee probably lost 40% of his army, the Camerons in particular getting shredded by the volley of Mackay’s men. But Mackay’s left wing and centre broke almost immediately, and although he managed to keep two battalions together to withdraw, the battle as a competitive struggle was over, and against the odd’s Dundee’s army had won a great victory.

Dundee himself, however had lost; isolated for a moment on his horse he seems to have raised his arm to call support, and at that moment was shot under his arm. We have a bit of heroic dialogue here to finish off with as he laying dying in the arms of his fellows

‘How goes the day?

‘Well for the King, but I am sorry for your Lordship’

‘It is the less matter for me, seeing that the day goes well for my master’

And so he died. And with him died his cause. A small and increasingly dispirited force did fight on; in August they attacked Dunkeld, but were repulsed with heavy losses. An even Smaller contingent still fought on but in spring of 1690 history finally caught up with them at Cromdale, and it was all over.

Ok, that’s all the fun you’re going to get in this episode, back to the gum-bleeding history, you know it makes sense. Quick post match analysis then; for all the military genius of Dundee and the bravery of his small band, the first Jacobite rising was a miserable failure, and had failed to raise any great enthusiasm. Another plot by Montgomery, surprisingly a Presbyterianism, and a group call the Club, similarly crashed and burned. There was every chance that Jacobitism would wither and die – William had made a good start in winning support of the Convention, and largely agreeing to its demands. But as you all probably know, of course, Jacobitism would not die, and would be a continuing force in Scottish political life until 1745 and Culloden. So the question is – why did itJacobitism, and resistance to William’s government grow and flourish; and yet why, despite that, is the story of Jacobitism punctuated by the extraordinary business of British Union in 1707? We have, over the next couple of episodes, a bit of explaining to do. So, settle back, and let’s get at it.





Let’s have rather a lot of context first, to help us. I feel the need to look up just a little bit and look out a tiny wee bit wider, because the affairs of western Europe more generally will have a direct impact on what happens here, and form part of the explanation. First of all, the wars of religion are over with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Do not for a moment make the mistake of thinking religious toleration has arrived, no such luck; in Catholic countries, protestants were deprived of civil rights, in Protestant countries vice versa. But Europe had decided that states fighting each other for one side to win dominance was just way too painful, and a devastated Germany lay smoking and covered with graves as evidence. The Papacy itself now focussed less on recovering land, and more on spreading the word outside Europe.

So we are back to dynastic wars essentially, although you might argue they’d never left, – with a strong economic and global element thrown in. It’s Valois Vs Hapsburg all over again, though the focus will, after 1715, move from the Spanish version to the Austrian. The theory of mercantilism will dominate economic policies – the idea that trade is a zero sum game, that national industry must be protected by high tariff walls and that territorial growth went hand in hand with trade; Oliver Cromwell initiated the Navigation Acts in England, Jean-Baptiste Colbert made mercantilism the cornerstone of French policy. It made Europe a dangerous place for small nations, locked out of the most lucrative trading markets.

We are also launching out into the world of European Absolutism. Quite a lot could be said about the fact that often an Absolutist monarch was mainly fur coat, and either no or very tiny knickers indeed. There’s a very wide range of options; Prussia for example would retain many institutions that could have limited central power – but were royally kicked about by rulers who controlled the military. France, which is the main one we need to think about, is in many ways the very template of Absolutism – Versailles, the Sun King and all that – but the reality was much more chaotic, lots of local customs and liberties all over the place. But there are three things I’d like to say on Louis XIV’s France.

Firstly, there was no national representative institution, despite all that local stuff; the Estates General were in abeyance until it all fell to pieces. Although French bureaucracy was nothing like the efficiency of modern versions, it was massive – 50,000 of them.

France was way bigger than everyone else – 20 million people as opposed to England’s 5 and Scotland’s 1m, just for example. So it was richer than anyone else and it had the largest army and most money to build bigger ones with the latest technology. It was also, incidentally, the cultural and intellectual centre of Europe, it glittered, gentle listeners, it glittered. But on the other hand all that glitters in not gold, and with everything bent towards war and levels of inequality that were stratospheric, it couldn’t feed its own people. famines and mass riots carried on throughout the late 17th century and 18th century until it all came tumbling down. Scotland will have a tough time too in the 1690s – but it’s last famine where people fie will be 1697. Anyway, bigger, richer, intellectually and artistically diverse and extraordinary.

Next point – Louis XIV was relentless in his determination to expand France’s territory. In fact he saw it as his job, a bit like some Viking Warlord. I’m going to try and speak French. Hang on a moment

S’agrandir est la plus digne et la plus agréable occupation des souverains

Roughly translated as kicking 7 bells out of your neighbours and half inching their land is the most pleasant way a king can spend his free time. And Louis was a man of his word. Also it was a good time for him – the Germans were devastated, the Austrian Hapsburgs were more worried about the Ottomans from the east, and Spain was being turned into a bloodless empire sucked dry of its wealth by constant war & taxes. So here’s a quick list of Louis’ wars; The War of Devolution 1667-8 left him in control of a string of fortresses in the Spanish Netherlands. The Franco Dutch war of 1672-1679 was designed to punish the Dutch and their Stadholder William of Orange for opposing him; the Nine years War of 1689-1697 was a struggle between France and William of Orange’s League of Augsberg; and the War of Spanish Succession, 1701-1713 can claim to be the first world war, fought in the Netherlands, Germany , Italy, Spain, in the colonies and on the oceans, and ended in the Treaty of Utrecht, in 1713, which saw the new United Kingdom enter its name on the roster of great powers. So – it’s a dangerous old world, and very, very fighty.

Third and probably last; on the absolutist theme, Louis wanted no internal competitors. His policy of Gallicism therefore subordinated the Catholic church, in practice, to his will – he controlled all patronage and appointments. And then there was that state within a state – the 1 million Huguenots. They were no longer wanted. Through his reign, Louis went from petty harassment, to violent persecution, with the billeting of soldiers on Huguenots who refused to convert resulted in atrocities on communities from 1681 in Poitou, Bearn and Languedoc. Tens of Thousands fled France; in 1685 Louis went the whole hog and revoked Henry IV’s Edict of Nates and the dribble became a flood, and by the end of his reign the vast majority of those million Huguenots were fled, deserted or dead.

So; for our purposes, the point is that the anti Catholicism, or more specifically anti-Papism of the Scots and English seems wildly hysterical to us now; but at the time, their prejudices and terrors kept receiving justification.

That’s it – way more than I planned. I want you to take a few things away; Absolutism seemed on the rise on the continent; so if you were worried about it back home, you had good reason, and if you thought it was a good idea you had hope. Wars of aggression and expansion were continuous and France’s power, wealth and technology threatened all those around it. Although religious wars are passe, religious conflict is not, and waves of refugees confirmed how scary it was.  And in particular the world was an increasingly dangerous place for small nations; not just militarily, but because they stood to see their trade and wealth strangled by the mercantilism and tariff walls of larger nations – France, the Netherlands, England, Spain.

One point I cannot emphasise enough, is that William was obsessed by war with France. The Netherlands were his home, not kircubright or Kirkaldy, and at home they faced an existential crisis form the French Gorilla. William’s acquisition of the wealth of the North Atlantic Archipelago had transformed the balance of power, and was to be used to defeat the French; Scotland had a role in this, but by and large given its relative size, it was simply not to distract from that focus. Meanwhile, France had a continuing interest to support the claims of the Stuart dynasty in Ireland and Scotland, anything t distract the energies of his sworn enemy, William.  All of this was not to lead to good, peaceful government.





Good government in Scotland was always going to be a challenge; no one wanted an absentee king, which had numerous practical disadvantages, in addition to the irritation that you know policy is being made hundreds of miles away. And it was; decisions weren’t being made by Englishmen, but William demanded that key Scottish minsters, including the Secretary of State, were at his side in London. And that meant William’s understanding was limited and biased, albeit he aimed for a balanced Privy Council in Scotland. One living symbol of this was that despite the articles of Grievance, no new elections were held – the Convention was just turned into a parliament and kept sitting.

None the less this convention parliament was far harder to manage by William’s ministers than they had been. The revolution settlement as a whole had changed the balance of power between parliament and Monarch in favour of parliament. In particular, the Lords of the Articles had been banished – and replaced by various committees; As the English experience had shown, these were hard to control and manage. The result was an increasingly assertive and irritable parliament; after William’s death, that would find full expression.

So William faced a fractious parliament, and his focus was elsewhere – on James and France. His response was to revert to the old ways, the trusted ways, he would rely on the power of the magnates to manage parliament through their network of clients and patronage. The trouble was, he had such poor clay with which to work. Whatever their personal qualities, the magnates on whom he relied – Hamilton, Argyll, Queensberry, Atholl – fell out with each other with depressing regularity, and too often pursued personal ambition; one commentator remarks they could only get on when in opposition together. Once an alliance had grabbed the reigns of power it fell apart. It meant that the process of decision making was unclear, arcane, complicated and confused; one of the many bad reasons for the tragedy that will occur at Glencoe. The  reputation of the men involved haven’t lasted well; though it’s got to be said that the observer here is a Jacobite, so didn’t have a lot of incentive to be nice. Of John Murray, Earl of Atholl he wrote was

selfish to a great degree, and his vanity and ambition extended so far that he could not suffer an equal … He was reputed very brave, but hot and headstrong, and, though no scholar nor orator, yet expressed his mind very handsomely on publick occasions.

Ok – good and bad I suppose. Another was the 10th Earl of Argyll, as already mentioned, who steadily rose to power until his death in 1703. A modern historian wrote rather scathingly that

his intemperate self-seeking attitude, which defined him as one of the most destructive magnate influences in those unsettled times

Argyll’s influence came with multiple negatives; not only was he constantly making and breaking political alliances, contributing to instability, he also wavered between Jacobitism and support for William – he was a member of Montgomery’s Jacobite Club for example. But the fact of his apparent dominance put the wind up highland chiefs who, as ever, hated and feared a Campbell. Hugh Mackay the general, pointed to this as a chief cause of instability, and a reason for Highland chiefs to make common cause:

…several of the Highland clans for their mutual defence, being afraid of the rising fortune and apparent favour of the Earle of Argyle, under the present government, who had considerable pretensions upon their estates, besides, that some of them had part of his estate in possession, by a gift of the late King, under whose reign the Earls father had been forfeited.

Mackay refers to one of the reasons for Argyll’s acquisitiveness; his estate had been ripped apart by forfeiture under Charles; rebuilding it was a matter of pride and necessity, and in remaking the omelette, eggs must be broken, the eggs being highland landowners and chiefs.

To be fair, some of the chronic instability and discontent had nothing to do with government policy, but flowed from the religious settlement of the Convention. We heard how parliament in 1690 confirmed the desire of the Convention to eradicate the bishops, and duly abolished them in June 1690. Emotionally, the words of the convention declared that the episcopy had been

Insupportable grievance and trouble to his nation

Immediately this put episcopalians everywhere at odds to the settlement; they did not agree. The General Assembly of the Kirk that met in 1690 had only 180 ministers and lay elders; and all of those from south of the River Tay. We have come a long way from the days of the early 17th Century, when the kirk had begun to be the most powerful and accepted centre of Scottish nationhood, competing even with the Stuart monarchy; and an even longer way from the National Covenant when an almost nationwide process of oath taking, embedded the kirk as the champion of the people and communities up and down Scotland. The Kirk was now just one more interest group, just one more faction.

It right of the kirk to remove its ministers. It took this opportunity seriously; Commissioners were appointed for north and south of the Tay, and they were thorough, reviewing the practices and beliefs of each of the parishes – no Bishop could have been more thorough. Over the next 25 years almost 2/3rds of ministers would be changed. It’s an unimaginable purge, affected all areas of the country, and must have caused enormous upset and resentment. It was payback time for the Killing Times, basically, and the Kirk would have its pound of flesh. Nothing could have been more calculated to push committed Episcopalians into the arms of Jacobitism. Taking an oath of allegiance to William and Mary stuck in the throats Episcopalians any many refused to take it; a minister from Wester Ross for example condemned the removal of James as a terrible breach of the 5th Commandment. They became known as non Jurors and their support would be crucial for Jacobitism. Support frequently came from around Aberdeen and north Eastern shires; in the highlands, there were 26 clans involved in the 1715 rebellion; of these, 15 were Episcopalian. 6 were Catholic; the influence of Catholicism in Jacobitism has been much exaggerated; I mean they did indeed often support Jacobitism, because James was their only hope of religious freedom, especially in the light of the Presbyterian settlement; but there weren’t that many of them – maybe 2% of the population.

It’s traditional, I think to see the highlands as the heart of potential rebellion, and that will be true but antagonism was not necessarily all William’s fault. As we have seen, there’s a long history of distrust between highland and Lowland, Highland and central government; and a long history of violent enforcement by the centre. If William’s ministers took up the same approach, it would have been nothing new, and nothing had really changed; governmental reach in the highland was poor, and the violence and use of Independent companies was a sign of weakness rather than strength. In 1692, there will be a most notorious atrocity, which demonstrates the chaos of Highland policy and the prejudices that underlay it.





After the defeat of the Jacobites at Cromdale, in 1691 William and his ministers, in particular John Dalrymple of Stair started to implement a policy that combined the ways of coercion and conciliation. On the coercion side there was a return to the Cromwellian policy of garrisons being built at strategic places in the highlands, such as at Fort William. But simple coercion was expensive, and was taking soldiers away that could have been in William’s continental wars. And so it went hand in hand with conciliation, to try and win highland acceptance and collaboration in government, and reduce the need for policing. And so Lord Breadalbane was called into action. He seemed a suitable candidate; a highland chief, albeit of the Campbell clan, with some Jacobite connections, but who had specifically asked for, and been granted, government protection by John Dalrymple, and so presumably now committed to government. He was given a commission to speak to the Highland clans and make an agreement with them. The Highland chiefs would all swear allegiance to William and Mary by 1st January 1692 before a government sheriff.

Breadalbane accepted the job; and called the Highland chiefs to his castle, where this deal was made; in August 1691 the chiefs agreed to make the oaths and in return they would share in a fee of £12,000; if they failed to sign, the penalties would be severe. However, the chiefs did not entirely trust Breadalbane, and anyway many of them felt they owed allegiance to James, and therefore needed first to be given permission to swear the oath by James. So there was politicking; and John Dalrymple caught wind of a secret agreement among the chiefs that if there was a Jacobite invasion they would support it.

And oh lord it’s a tangled web; another detail coming up. Meanwhile the magnate John Murray, Duke of Atholl, was politicking to discredit Argyll, the Campbells and Dalrymple in a bid for influence on the Privy Council. He had extorted estates from one John Campbell of Glenlyon; he then had several chiefs raid Campbell territory to prevent John Campbell of Glenlyon recovering his territories from Atholl. Still with me?  I mean it’s quite a picture. Growth of peaceful behaviour their might have been but here in this part of the highlands, in Lochaber, there was still plenty of violence around. But much of it caused by the unscrupulous meddling of magnates in highland affairs.

Anyway, after this burst of violence a central figure here, John Dalrymple of Stair, secretary of State changed his mind about this policy of conciliation; to his mind an example needed to be made. At the start of this process William had signed an order of Fire and Sword, giving permission for penalties to be exacted for those that failed to take the oath. This was again, by no means exceptional – such orders have been commonplace since the Stuart Restoration. Dalrymple wrote to Breadalbane in December 1691 threatening dire vengeance if the oath were not taken; and identified his favoured target

the clan Donell must be rooted out and Lochiel. Leave the McLeans to Argyll

The clan in the firing line were the MacDonalds of Glencoe; woe betide them if they failed the oath; they were part of the most lawless area of Lochaber and they inhabited a valley, relatively defenceless, unlike the Catholic Glengarry, against whom Dalrymple would have preferred to take action. But the Glengarry had an impressively fortified castle.

The Chief concerned, Alexander MacDonald  was one of those who had to ask permission from James before he felt he could submit. What follows was a catalogue of errors. His letter took ages to get through the torturous process at James’ court at St Germain. It was late when permission finally arrived. Alexander MacDonald, set off late – but he had time. Except he went to the wrong place; the Sheriff wasn’t at Fort William, but at Inverary. Off he set again – and was actually arrested for a day. And when he arrived at Inverary, the sheriff was away. In the end he made the oath – five days late, only five, and he swore allegiance. Phew.




Later that January, a detachment of about 120 men arrived in Glencoe, under the command of a Campbell, Robert Campbell of Glenlyon. The men were billeted on the local inhabitants – and many will have known them personally; Robert Campbell’s niece was married to one of the families for example. They were there for a few weeks – the billeting of troops was well known throughout the highlands.

Early in the morning of 13th February, from 5 am when all was still dark, the silence of Glencoe was torn by the sound of slots, screams, and murder. Th valley was lit with fire and burning buildings that broke the darkness, there was chaos. Robert Campbell had orders  to ‘put all to the sword under 70’, and ‘to have special care that the old fox and his young ones do not escape your hands’. Robert Campbell was an impoverished landowner who stood to be executed if he did not carry out his orders. He carried them out.

The plan was actually even more deadly than it achieved. Two other detachments of soldiers had been sent to the northern and southern ends of the glen to stop anyone escaping; it was intended all 200 would die. As it happens, coordinating three troops of soldiers to be in the right place at the right time in the highlands in the dead of winter was way too much  – and the two detachments did not arrive. So many escaped; but 40 did not.

The fallout from the Massacre at Glencoe was enormous. It didn’t take long for everyone to realise that a hideous and unacceptable atrocity had taken place, and parliament put an enquiry in place. It took ages; eventually it was decreed that the deaths at Glencoe were murder, outside any implementation of legal penalty. Everyone was of course eager to absolve William of blame, and the inquiry explicitly did so. It is unknowable; but the fact that he had signed a Fire and Sword order did not help; and he was anyway found responsible in the court of public opinion, given he was the ultimate boss where bucks were supposed to stop.

Lord Breadalbane was one of the two people found to be responsible by the inquiry. That came as a shock to Breadalbane, and he was almost certainly not the guilty party. He was genuinely shocked by the severity of the punishments and deaths, and he was one of the few who condemned the massacre publicly, and surely was sincere in what he said. None the less he was dismissed by William in 1696 after the enquiry had reported.

The other identified as villain of the piece was John Dalrymple of Stair; particularly damning was a letter he’d written which included the words

my lord Argyll tells me Glencoe hath not taken the oaths at which I rejoice

He was dismissed as Secretary of State which seems the very least punishment; but actually he was rehabilitated by Queen Anne after 1703.

Scottish society was shocked by the brutality of Glencoe. We are in an age of atrocity to be fair, early modern Europe is a catalogue of horrors. But there’s something particularly brutal about Glencoe; maybe because the communities were so intertwined by family relationships; that the soldiers had been quartered for a couple of weeks in the homes of the people they were then going to slaughter. In has all the vicious horror in microcosm of Louis XIV’s treatment of the Huguenot. It was of course a recruiting call for Jacobitism. William was held responsible by many. Here, it seems, was just retribution on the nation for the crime of expelling the rightful Stuart king, a punishment from God of murder and mayhem. The MacDonalds of Glencoe would take part in both the 1715 and 1745 Jacobite rebellions.

The involvement of the Campbells ratchetted up the tensions in the Highlands another notch, and some. Always contentious figures for many clans in the highlands, it did not matter than Breadalbane was probably innocent, and would be a Jacobite until his death, it didn’t matter that Robert Campbell had little choice and was not the man that issued the orders, the Campbells were still in the thick of it, and Argyll as head of the clan was close to the centre of government.

With deep irony, the Glencoe Massacre was the outcome of a policy of reconciliation gone wrong. The chaotic and confused trail of communication identified by the enquiry and by historians is evidence of the chaos and confusion of Scottish government in general – and I promise you this is a very potted version, you could spend many podcasting hours trying to unpick it all. It needs also to be set into the international context we went through a few minutes ago; the context of constant war on the continent, of the threat of French backed invasion by James, such as had almost succeeded in Ireland, meant that what might seem like minor disturbances in the highlands could be imagined as a major threat to the country’s security, and goes some way to explain the exceptionally severe response. But longstanding racial attitudes by lowlanders, longstanding law and order worries in the Highlands, and indeed highland politics also played a part.

Before long, however, other disasters would take attention away from the horrors of Glencoe. And not in a good way.

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