Sunday, 27 January 2019

The Murder of Rosa Luxemburg-by Klaus Gietinger-(Verso £14.99)

“Here is a world in disorder, Who is then ready to put it in order?” Bertolt Brecht -1926

“Lenin and Trotsky and their friends were the first, those who went ahead as an example to the proletariat of the world; they are still the only ones up to now who can cry with Hütten, ‘I have dared!” Rosa Luxemburg

Although the Eagles do swoop down and beneath the Chickens fly, chickens with outspread wings never will soar amid clouds in the sky. Lenin on Rosa Luxemburg

The Marxist Revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg was executed 100 years ago this month. She was born in Poland in 1871; she was a world-renowned Marxist, economist and anti-war activist. In the introduction to his excellent book, Klaus Gietinger makes the following point “The cold-blooded murder of revolutionary icons Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in the pitched political battles of post-WWI Germany marks one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century”. 

The assassination is also one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century. In Berlin on 15 January 1919, Freikorps soldiers of the Garde-Kavallerie-Schützen Division put Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht under arrest. The two were leaders of newly formed German Communist Party (KPD). They were arrested by Freikorp soldiers and taken to the Hotel Eden, where they were tortured and later murdered.

As the Marxist writer, Peter Schwarz describes “The 48-year-old Rosa Luxemburg was among the most outstanding Marxist revolutionaries of her epoch. She gained notoriety for her sharp polemics against Eduard Bernstein’s revisionism and the Social Democrats’ pro-war policies in the First World War, and was the undisputed theoretical leader of the SPD’s revolutionary wing and later of the Spartacus League”.[1]

Gittinger's investigation was written primarily in order to commemorate the 100th anniversary of their untimely deaths. Gietinger who is not a professional historian has done an excellent job reconstructing the events on that fateful night.

His deep mining of the archives in Germany is an essential first step in identifying who exactly was responsible for the murder, and what forces in the SPD covered for the murderers and allowed them to not only escape, but also to ease back into a comfortable life back into Germany society and in some cases back into politics. Many involved in the murder went on to have careers as Nazis.

One of the strengths of Gietinger’s book is his ability to understand the tragedy of Luxemburg’s death along with the farcical nature of the investigation and subsequent trials.

On the negative side, Gietinger has a limited political understanding of the events that brought about the deaths of Luxemburg and Karl Liebknect. He has a confused understanding of the political situation when asked in an interview why he said that the murders were  “one of the greatest political tragedies” of the 20th century.

His answer was “Luxemburg and Liebknecht were mythical leader figures of the authentic left. The SPD top brass had long moved to the right through their pact with the old powers and armed forces, but many SPD supporters venerated the two Spartacus leaders. They would never have permitted the Stalinization of the KPD. Luxemburg was against joining the Comintern; she criticised Lenin and Radek’s terror. Even Liebknecht would have been reluctant to accept a mere vanguard of the working class.

Both tried to help the masses come into their own and did not seek to patronise them. The left in Germany and Europe would have pursued a more independent path. There would have been a chance to expose the right-wing leaders of the SPD. The division in the left would not have been cemented. Whether that would have prevented fascism and Stalinism is another question, but the chances of doing so would have been higher”.[2]

A more precise appreciation was given by Leon Trotsky who summed up situation in this concise manner “As to the German Revolution of 1918, it was no democratic completion of the bourgeois revolution, it was a proletarian revolution decapitated by the Social Democrats; more correctly, it was a bourgeois counter-revolution, which was compelled to preserve pseudo-democratic forms after its victory over the proletariat.”[3]

To his credit, Gietinger understood that the SPD murdered them in order to head off the impending social revolution. Gietinger deserves much credit for bothering to uncover the murder of Rosa Luxemburg. It is still hard to believe that the full truth has not fully come out until now.
As Gietinger graphically portrays in the book the vulnerable Rosa Luxemburg was smashed in the head with the butt of a rifle in the Hotel Eden foyer. A car was then brought to the hotel she was murdered in the car and her body thrown in the nearby Landwehr Canal. Her body was only discovered by accident a month later. To cover the murder up the perpetrators lied by saying that Luxemburg was lynched by an outraged mob.

As Peter Swartz explains “The brutal murder of Luxemburg and Liebknecht marked a new stage of counter-revolutionary violence. Before this, the bourgeois state had ruthlessly cracked down on socialist opponents, and, as in the aftermath of the suppression of the Paris Commune in 1871 in France, took bloody revenge against revolutionary workers with mass executions. However, the murder of the leaders of a revolutionary party by state organs without a trial or court judgment was a new phenomenon and set a precedent followed by others. Even the autocratic Tsarist regime generally banished socialist opponents to Siberia”.

In the latter part of the book, Gietinger explains how the leadership of the SPD systematically protected the killers. The trials of the killers even by bourgeois standards were farces. As the review in the Guardian by Lara Feigel points out “There was a series of trials in which the SPD leaders colluded with the killers, appointing their collaborators as judges. In May 1919, the court decided that Runge had attempted to kill Luxemburg and Vogel had shot her, but only gave them two-year sentences as they could not know who had caused the death. When Vogel escaped to the Netherlands, the authorities failed to extradite him, frightened he would expose the identity of his accomplices. Shockingly, even in 1960s West Germany when Pabst revealed that he had ordered the killing, the government issued a communique labelling the double homicide a “legitimate execution”. At this point, Pabst outed Souchon as the killer, but Souchon took the audacious step of suing for libel. The court assigned to judge the case relied on the wholly inaccurate records from the 1919 trial, so he won. This book, therefore, provides an important coda to these years in proving, with the aid of diagrams and documents, that Souchon was the culprit”.[4]

While Gietinger is clear on the role of the SPD in covering for the SPD, he says little about why the SPD played such a prominent role in the murder of two ex-members. The leaders of the SPD especially Gustav Noske, the minister responsible for the Reichswehr and a leading SPD member, gave the green light to the Garde-Kavallerie-Schützen Division. This was an organisation that was renowned for its ruthless violence against the German working class. When the first court case against the murders took place, their acquittal was personally signed by Noske.


It is not surprising given the political nature of the SPD today that it still denies its responsibility for the murder of Luxemburg and Liebknect.

As Gietinger explains in his book one of the killers, Pabst spoke with Noske by telephone immediately before the killings. In a 1969 letter found after his death, he wrote “It is obvious that there was no way I could have carried out the action without Noske’s support—with Ebert in the background—and that I had to protect my officers. However, very few people have understood why I was never called to testify or charged with an offence. As a cavalier, I acknowledged the SPD’s behaviour at the time by keeping my mouth shut for fifty years about our cooperation”.

Given that they were heavily involved in the unprecedented state-sanctioned murder of Luxemburg you would have thought that the present day leadership would show a little contrition. This is not the case In a chilling statement of intent Wolfgang Thierse, former president of the federal parliament, declared: “We would do it again”.

According to Schwarz  “Had Luxemburg and Liebknecht survived in 1919, not only German history, but also world history would have turned out differently. A victorious socialist revolution in Germany would have freed the Soviet Union from its isolation and thereby removed the most critical factor for the growth of the bureaucracy and the rise of Stalin”. Perhaps Gittinger's next book will examine this prediction.

[1]  One hundred years since the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Christopher Thompson's 2016 Paper

For well over thirty years, the study of the rebellions and revolution that convulsed the British Isles in the middle of the seventeenth century has been dominated by a single line of explanation, that based on the problems faced by the Stuarts in ruling multiple kingdoms differing in their constitutional and legal systems, in their economies, politics and religion. Separately, these differences and problems might have been manageable but, within a single dynastic framework, they were too complex and explosive, especially in religion, to be resolved peacefully. As a result, a large body of sophisticated historical scholarship has come into being on the relationships between the Stuarts’ three kingdoms, particularly on the parts played by the risings in Scotland and Ireland in sparking first rebellion and then revolution in England. The Scots Covenanters of 1637 and the Irish rebels of 1641 have come to be seen as the godparents of the English Parliamentarians of the 1640s.

This analysis rests on a number of short-term claims. First of all, there is the contention that England, the most populous and wealthiest of Charles I’s kingdoms, was basically peaceful, prosperous and stable in the mid-1630s. Had it not been for the maladroit and misguided attempt to draw the Scottish Kirk into a degree of greater ceremonial and doctrinal conformity with an increasingly Arminian Church of England, there would have been no Covenanting movement and thus no loss of royal authority requiring external military intervention in Scotland. Without military defeat, there would have been no compelling necessity to call further English Parliaments. If, moreover, Strafford had been a conciliatory, politically astute Lord Deputy governing Ireland in the king’s name rather than an authoritarian vicegerent, the diverse and religiously antagonistic elements of its population would not have been so resentful of his regime or so fearful of continuing rule by an English Parliament. But for these accidents, the critics of Caroline rule in England would never have had the opportunity to challenge royal authority so fundamentally in and after 1640.

Historians have, of course, had to take into account other longer-term tensions. The Union of the Crowns under King James VI and I in 1603 left Ireland still constitutionally dependent upon England’s sovereign and Privy Council while Scotland’s existence as a separate state maintained her distinctive institutions and legal system. Neither Ireland nor Scotland had Parliaments as forceful as that of England and Wales. In religion, Ireland was a predominantly Catholic country (with a weak Protestant State church) widely thought to pose a strategic threat to her sister kingdoms in a period of religious strife in Europe. Despite their shared Protestantism, there were latent divisions between and within the Churches of Scotland and England over ceremonies and doctrines, the liturgies and organisation of their respective ecclesiastical establishments. There can be no doubt either that there were groups within all three states that preferred the confessional or constitutional arrangements of another kingdom. Similarly, the debilitating effects of long-term fiscal weaknesses and of military failure have been carefully studied. Rival conspiracy theories about the threat from Popery and of Puritan factionalism certainly came to flourish in a climate in which there were important personal and political animosities affecting Charles I’s relationships with significant groups of his subjects. These enduring strains provided the backdrop to the crises of the late-1630s and early-1640s in the British Isles.

Current historiography thus combines short-term contingent elements and long-term factors. The immediate antecedents of the Scottish, Irish and English rebellions matter greatly and are responsible for their explosive interactions. The longer-term factors offer contexts for the weaknesses of Stuart rule. They work together almost in a palaeolithic sense as triggers and preconditions to offer a compelling explanation of these traumatic events within a largely narrative framework. But this perspective would not have been comprehensible to contemporaries in the three kingdoms, to the Covenanters, for example, whose complaints stretched back to the 1580s, to those in England whose grievances went as far back as the start of Charles I’s reign in 1625 or even to the Irish Confederates. It can, moreover, only be sustained by ignoring the defining crises of the war period of the mid-to-late 1620s that shaped both the Caroline regimes and, critically, the attitudes of the king’s opponents in all three realms. How those crises arose, how they differed in severity from kingdom to kingdom and how they influenced the subsequent crises of the late-1630s and early-1640s offer the opportunity to develop a radically different hypothesis.

The dynastic union of England, Ireland and Scotland was intact and secure when James died in 1625. He had ruled like a Scots dominie, keen to assert his authority in law, policy and religion, lecturing his subjects on royal rights and their obligations. But his extravagance and his poor judgment of men had diminished the standing of the English Crown and invited unfavourable comparisons with his predecessor in her prime. Long absence from Scotland had left his subjects there discontented. The legacy of Britain’s Solomon to his younger but only surviving son was a mixed one. That son lacked James’s gregariousness, his mastery of bawdy language and personal dissipation. Charles was chaste and reserved, authoritarian in temperament and liable to interpret criticism as seditious opposition. He was, by any standards, poorly equipped to govern, let alone to make the practical compromises necessary to succeed.

Of his three kingdoms, England was the largest and richest. It was politically unified with royal and conciliar authority pervading the realm. A single system of common law operated and a single, bi-cameral Parliament represented England and Wales. Sovereigns ruled with the co-operation of noble and gentry landowners and of members of the ‘middling sort’ in the countryside and towns. Admittedly, inflation and population growth had adversely affected the poor. But there had been other problems too. Royal revenues had been adequate but no more than that in 1603. James’s spending had spectacularly reduced the Crown’s landed revenues and forced reliance on disputed customs duties as well as on monopolies, patents and the sale of offices and titles. Efforts at reform and retrenchment failed. Inevitably, there were disputes in the Courts and in Parliament. In religion, Elizabethan disputes about ceremonies and church government had faded. Doctrinally, Calvinist teaching on the importance of preaching and predestination was dominant but other views on grace and free will were held. James’s predilection, however, for diplomatic dealings with Catholic powers, indeed his willingness to marry his son to a Catholic Princess when his son-in-law, the Elector Frederick’s lands had been seized by the Habsburgs stimulated Puritan criticisms and fears of Popery’s return.

Legally, Ireland was dependent on the English Crown, ruled by a Lord Deputy and Council in the king’s name but under continuing supervision. It had its own Parliament and institutions of government. English authority before 1603 had been largely confined to the Pale around Dublin. Elsewhere, it rested on the co-operation of ‘Old Irish’ and ‘Old English’ lords. The ‘Old Irish’ were Celts and Catholic, spoke Gaelic and held land collectively in clans. The ‘Old English’ were descended from earlier colonists, were largely Catholic and dominated Irish administration. But, after the defeat and flight of the rebellious Irish Earls, there had been an influx of English and Scottish settlers from the mainland to occupy seized land in Ulster. The arrival of the ‘New English’ added a further, obviously Protestant element. In the event, the State Church of Ireland lacked the resources and will to convert Catholics despite its increasingly Calvinist doctrines after 1615. Persecution of Catholics was rarely possible for long whatever the wishes of officials in Dublin or of planters but the temptation to establish new plantations remained. Over landownership, religion and systems of law, Ireland was divided but loyal in 1625.

Like Ireland, Scotland was poor and lightly populated. It too contained Gaelic-speaking society presided over by clan lords in the Highlands and Islands. But the bulk of its population lived in the lowlands where agriculture was the major occupation. The predominant group was that of the landowners, nobles and ‘lairds’, who exercised jurisdiction over lesser men and women and who provided patronage and protection as well. Only a handful of towns or burghs existed. Personal relationships between the king and his servants were vital. James succeeded in re-shaping his Privy Council to make it more effective and in managing Scotland’s unicameral Parliament by controlling its business through the Lords of the Articles. He even brought the Presbyterian Kirk to heel by persuading it to acquiesce in royal supremacy, to accept Bishops as part of its government and to agree – in principle, if rarely in practice – to accept reforms in the Five Articles of Perth which required kneeling at Communion and observing Holy Days. Doctrinally, it remained overwhelmingly Calvinist in persuasion and thus compatible with the Churches of England and Ireland. The Kirk’s hold over congregations in the lowlands was firm although there were tensions with nobles over landownership. Overall, James won a greater degree of congruity between his kingdoms. Even so, his absence from his native land after 1603, save for a single visit in 1617, left him increasingly out of touch. His successor was even more ill-informed and remote.

The change in sovereign had important consequences even though Buckingham remained as royal favourite. Both were committed to recovering the Palatinate and to championing the Protestant cause. But the expedition funded by the English Parliamentary subsidies of 1624 and led by Count Mansfeld failed to achieve either objective although an alliance with Denmark and help from France apparently offered better prospects. But these hopes proved illusory. The inadequately funded and under-prepared expedition sent to Cadiz in the autumn of 1625 was a humiliating failure, especially to those brought up on tales of Elizabethan success. Worse still, quarrels with France over mercantile shipping and the use of hired English warships against the Huguenot town of La Rochelle led to war in 1627. The amphibious expedition for its relief led by Buckingham in the summer and autumn of that year came home in defeat and disgrace. Charles’s regime in general and Buckingham in particular were blamed.The King had expected his Parliaments to fund these wars with enthusiasm when he sought supply. Bargaining over his subjects’ grievances was a secondary consideration. But his pleas in 1625 gained only a minimal response and were accompanied by attempts to restrict the collection of Tonnage and Poundage, by complaints over Arminianism and against Buckingham. His first Parliament was, therefore, dissolved.

Financial necessity compelled the summoning of a second early in 1626. Barring critics from 1625 did no good. A direct attack on Buckingham for abusing his offices, neglecting his duty as Lord Admiral to defend the kingdom and wasting the Crown’s revenues followed. Efforts by Charles to delay or stop the impeachment process proved unavailing. The House of Lords was alienated by the arrest and detention of the Earl of Arundel and interference over the allegations brought by the Earl of Bristol against the Duke. Threats of dissolution and of the introduction of ‘new counsels’ were made. Only the prospect of four, later five, subsidies kept Parliament in being. Eventually, when Buckingham’s conviction by the House of Lords on the impeachment charges seemed probable, the king dissolved Parliament in June, 1626.

This was one of the turning points of his reign. Charles was already collecting impositions and Tonnage and Poundage without Parliamentary approval. Having failed to persuade his subjects to pay a benevolence, he and his Privy Council demanded a forced loan in the autumn to raise the equivalent of five subsidies and citing his emergency powers as justification. There were precedents for such loans but this one raised profound questions about its legality despite attempts by Arminian clerics to justify it. It was refused by at least fifteen peers and dozens of gentry, some of whom were imprisoned as a result. Five knights sought writs of Habeas Corpus to gain bail and a trial of the legal issues before the Court of King’s Bench. A combination of royal pressure and legal misgivings left these men in custody and the general right of the Crown to imprison without cause shown undetermined. Financially, the loan was relatively successful. But it was accompanied by other contentious matters. Troops were billeted across the country on civilians, usually without pay or compensation, and martial law was widely imposed. When the Rochelle campaign ended, another Parliament had to be called early in 1628. The king’s critics in both Houses were determined to secure his agreement that taxes could not be raised without Parliament’s consent, that arbitrary imprisonment without cause shown was illegal as, indeed, were billeting troops on civilians and their subjection to martial law. Strenuous royal efforts to persuade the House of Lords to amend these proposals failed. No attack on Buckingham or over the collection of Tonnage and Poundage was made before the king’s replies were received. His incentive was the promise of the grant of five subsidies once he gave a satisfactory reply. Eventually he did but he then tried to limit his concessions. This chicanery came to light in the second session of 1629 when he sought statutory approval for the collection of Tonnage and Poundage and the abandonment of efforts to punish the Customs Farmers for gathering such dues.

Charles’s regime had called the liberties and property rights of his subjects into serious question. His claims to tax without consent in emergencies he defined threatened Parliament’s role. Simultaneously, the rise of the Durham House group in the Church of England with an emphasis on the importance of the sacraments rather than preaching, on free will rather than predestination, on prayer and priestly office endangered the Jacobean religious consensus. Men like Laud, Neile and Wren were promoted to high Episcopal offices while Calvinists languished. No stronger defenders of royal authoritarianism in the state could be found than Roger Mainwaring and Richard Montagu. Charles’s preference for ceremonial sacramentalism was made crystal clear at his coronation in February, 1626. The York House conferences showed that Buckingham was inevitably bound to the king’s side on these matters. Efforts in the House of Commons to call Arminian divines like Cosin and Laud, Manwaring, Montagu and Sibthorpe to account were deliberately frustrated by Charles. There was no success either in insisting upon Calvinist formularies like the Lambeth Articles of 1595 or the Irish Articles of 1615 as binding. Royal injunctions to silence on disputed ceremonial or theological requirements applied to Calvinists, not to Arminians who had won power at the highest levels of the Church.

It was this combination of assaults on the liberties of the subject in England and Wales and on Calvinist beliefs in the Church that, by 1629, had created a proto-revolutionary situation. There had been thunderous denunciations of Buckingham, of royal exactions and religious infractions before. In March, 1629, the House of Commons, just before its dissolution, had declared supports of Arminianism and religious innovation capital enemies of the kingdom and those who advocated or supported paying Tonnage and Poundage betrayers of the liberties of England. Violence in St Stephen’s Chapel was narrowly avoided. Merchants refused to pay such levies for months and fears of open revolt occupied Councillors until late summer. Amongst the godly, fears of persecution for opposing the new conformity prompted proposals for migration to New England. While Charles prepared to punish former M.P.s for sedition and treason, their sympathisers began discussing alternative forms of government in Church and State. The King and his Councillors were barely aware of their critics’ activities at first. Nonetheless, it was in this network of opponents in England, not Scotland, that armed resistance was first contemplated in 1634. Clarendon’s ‘great contrivers’ – the Earl of Warwick, Viscount Say and Sele, Lord Brooke and their allies – began devising proposals for a monarchy shorn of executive powers, subject to a bi-cameral legislature and a Church purged of Arminian and Popish infections. Royal and conciliar failure to appreciate how attempts to enforce Laudian conformity in the Church and to levy Ship Money threatened the religious and secular convictions of their critics. The tensions of the late-1620s were reanimated. This time the internal pressure in England was greater. When Charles sought to take military action against the Scots, he had little backing and the apparatus of the English state failed. Scotland’s revolt was the occasion, not the cause, of the collapse of his regime.

Ireland’s trajectory was different. The wars against France and Spain, both Catholic powers, meant that it was vulnerable to threats of internal risings and foreign invasions. Lord Deputy Falkland and his advisers were alert to both dangers in the late-1620s. Ireland’s potential military contribution gave the ‘Old English’ the chance to demonstrate their loyalty by offering to raise men for its defence. In return, they sought the suspension of the recusancy laws, relaxation of the oath of Supremacy and appointments as Justices of the Peace. The prospect, however, of arming Catholics and giving them offices alarmed the ‘New English’. Between 1626 and 1628, a second scheme known as ‘the Graces’ was developed offering, in return for four Parliamentary subsidies, the suspension of recusancy fines, a weaker oath of allegiance and, most importantly, security of tenure for those who had held land for over sixty years. The ‘Old Irish’ and the ‘Old English’ alike would have benefited and the threat of further plantations would have been ameliorated. But, although the subsidies were voted and collected, Charles’s administration did not abide by the deal. The harassment of Catholics and seizure of their lands continued to appeal to ‘New English’ magnates like the Earl of Cork. Religious tensions and sectarian interests affected Ireland’s course but there was no crisis in the late-1620s comparable to that in England.

Falkland’s successor as Lord Deputy in 1632 was Sir Thomas Wentworth. Wentworth had clear aims – to insulate himself against appeals by Irish landowners to the English Court, to enhance royal authority by making its administration financially self-supporting and to play off the ‘Old Irish’, ‘Old English’ and ‘New English’ against one another. He recognized that Catholics had to be allowed de facto toleration but still envisaged extending plantations in Clare, Connacht, Galway and Munster. Once landowners were Protestants, the protection of Catholic priests would end and the tenantry could be converted. To an extent, he succeeded. Revenues from customs and wardship rose sharply. He even secured six subsidies from the carefully-managed Parliament of 1634 without conceding passage of ‘the Graces’ in full. But his plantation policies alarmed the ‘Old Irish’ and ‘Old English’ alike. More ominously still from a ‘New English’ perspective, Wentworth began the process of recovering alienated Church of Ireland lands and tithes. In religion, Wentworth aimed to reform the Church of Ireland along ceremonialist and anti-Calvinist lines. That meant abrogating the Irish Articles of 1615 and introducing the Church of England’s Thirty Nine Articles and the Canons of 1604. Even with the help of John Bramhall, Bishop of Derry, and against the wishes of Archbishop Ussher, this aim was not completely achieved. Admittedly, the Church of Ireland looked less out of line with that of England in ceremonial and theological terms. Communion tables were moved to the east end of churches and the royal supremacy was to be declared four times a year. A new Court of High Commission was created and deprived non-conforming ministers, whether Irish, English or Scottish, for failing to obey these prescriptions. This process of re-modelling the Church of Ireland to serve more authoritarian ends by the late-1630s was still under way when Scotland rose in revolt.

Charles was an absentee monarch in Scotland as in Ireland. He relied, as his father had done, on his Privy Council based in Edinburgh to govern on his behalf. This enlarged body was separated shortly after his accession from the Court of Session, Scotland’s highest Court, to forestall challenges from the Council or the judiciary over an Act of Revocation designed in theory to recover all the grants of property made by the Crown or Kirk since before 1540. A minimum of consultation had occurred. Charles hoped to improve royal revenues and the value of clerical livings as well as curbing magnates’ powers over their tenants. But this threat of large-scale dispossession and re-grant on new terms was bitterly resented by nobles and lairds and, lacking Parliamentary consent, evoked protests from the Privy Council and clergy. It had to be amended under pressure. Compensation was promised but proved unaffordable. The ministers did benefit from a settlement of their teinds (or tithes) but there was a lasting legacy of mistrust.

Scotland, like England, proved reluctant to fund war expenditure after 1625 even though thousands of its men were fighting as mercenaries in the Thirty Years’ War. Its Privy Council was treated as a subordinate instrument of royal policy and few Scots, save those who also held land and titles in England, exercised influence at Whitehall. One exception was the Earl of Menteith who travelled south regularly from 1628 to 1633 but, after his disgrace in 1633 over a claim to the throne, he was not replaced. Traquair and his colleagues were less influential thereafter.

Ignorance about Scottish sensitivities helps to explain the religious divisions that opened in the 1630s. Charles’s belated coronation at Holyrood in 1633 emphasized the importance of the altar while the officiating Bishops wore white rochets and stoles of blue and gold. It was far too reminiscent of a Catholic Mass. In the Parliament that followed, there was open resistance to the confirmation of the Five Articles of Perth and royal claims to regulate clerical dress. The warning signs were missed. That made the decision to introduce a Book of Canons in 1635 and a Scottish Book of Common Prayer late in 1636 without the prior approval of the Kirk’s General Assembly so provocative. The Canons rested on the royal prerogative and prescribed set forms of prayer. In addition, the Articles of Perth were reaffirmed and communion tables were ordered to be placed at the east end of churches. The Scottish Prayer Book laid its emphasis on the sacraments, condemned ex tempore prayer and retained Saints’ days in the Kirk’s calendar. It seemed considerably worse than the English Prayer Book. No fulminations from London, no conciliar injunctions from Edinburgh let alone pleas from Scottish Bishops could win compliance. Nobles and lairds, ministers and merchants banded together in a National Covenant citing the documents of faith from the 1580s and 1590s in defence of the laws, liberties and true religion of their kingdom. This posed a fundamental challenge to royal authority that Charles could only meet from the resources of his other kingdoms.

That trial of arms was one his regime failed. The conflicts of the 1640s exacted a terrible price in human lives and the destruction of property. The struggle in England was the most explosive of all because the pent-up tensions of the 1620s had not been released. Simultaneous conflicts over law and liberty the rights of rulers and their subjects and over religion brought England to the precipice in the latter part of that decade and again by 1640 . When the Long Parliament traced the genealogy of the Civil Wars, the starting point lay with Charles’s accession. In Ireland and Scotland, there were certainly tensions over religion in the 1620s but the major disputes with the king were over lands and the law. Religious quarrels on a major scale came later in the 1630s. Neither country experienced the ‘double crisis’ that England had undergone: each had had predominantly secular tensions in the period after Charles’s accession, tensions that were exacerbated in the case of Ireland in the 1630s while, in Scotland, there was a religious crisis over the king’s ecclesiastical aims. Each of the Stuarts’ kingdoms had different historical trajectories before they were drawn together in the tragic conflicts of the 1640s.  Ireland never achieved loyal independence within the Stuarts’ realms. Scottish ambitions for ecclesiastical suzerainity and a dominant role in its sister kingdoms foundered too. It was in England where resistance first threatened to escalate into rebellion and then revolution that the epicentre was to be found.