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Digital Subscriptions > History Revealed > February 2017 > The Extraordinary Tale of...

The Extraordinary Tale of...

A political chess game in England resulted in one of Scotland’s darkest moments, leading to the death of 78 MacDonalds

1692 THE MASSACRE OF GLENCOE

A brutal murder spree in the Scottish Highlands, signifying the beginning of the end for the clan system

Eerie screams echoed through the Glencoe valley in the early hours of a chilly February morning. Villagers fled for their lives, into the Highland frost, as soldiers massacred the Macdonald men in droves. These innocent folk paid the heavy price of misplaced loyalties and ancient rivalries, as their clan had been selected to make an example of what would happen to Scots who dared disregard their new overlords.

ROAD TO UNION

Although Scotland was not officially united with Britain in 1692, it was well under the control of the monarchy in London. Four years beforehand, the Glorious Revolution – the overthrow of King James, a Catholic king with Scottish heritage – had firmly cemented the hold of England over Scotland. However, the king who replaced James, Dutch Protestant William of Orange, was unpopular in the Highlands. The clans living there still retained their loyalty to King James, and were firm supporters of the Jacobite cause. As the years went by, their hope of restoring him to the throne dwindled, as James’s exile in France grew longer. Eventually, in August 1691, William of Orange offered the hostile clans an ultimatum. Either they could swear their allegiance to him by New Year’s Day 1692, or face serious retributions.

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February 2017
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