Glenco Massacre

Have time for oath

At the end of 1691, Alasder Makien of the Macdonald clan left Glencoe and went to nearby Fort William to take the oath to the king of England, Wilhelm III of Orange, before January 1. The leader hurried - being late meant betrayal.

A few years before, there was a glorious revolution in England. As a result of the coup d'état, power in London passed from Jacob II Stewart to the state halter of the Netherlands, Wilhelm of Orange. The British enthusiastically met the revolution, the Scots, on the contrary, armed against the new monarch. Back in the Middle Ages, the Stuarts were exclusively a Scottish dynasty. That is why the highlanders unanimously supported the deposed Jacob. In the ensuing war, they, the Jacobites, were defeated. Stewart finally fled to France.

The massacre at Glenko was the result of the Glorious Revolution.

To bring the Scots to submission, William of Orange in the summer of 1691 signed an edict, according to which the leaders of all clans had to swear allegiance to him. It was necessary to announce your loyalty before the end of the year - in that case amnesty was guaranteed. The Scots hesitated. It was decided to appeal to Jacob who had fled to France with a request to allow the oath. The overthrown king long remained silent, but nevertheless gave his consent. His response came to Scotland in mid-December.

The time for taking the oath remained treacherously short. Alasder Makien, reluctantly, hurried to Fort William, where the residence of the military governor John Hill was located. Scotsman arrived to the official on December 31. However, it turned out that Hill had no authority to take the oath. The military governor sent the leader to the town of Inveraray, which was three days from Fort William. Here Makien spent another three days, waiting for reception at the local sheriff. The oath was given on January 6th. Warming up for several days seemed a trifle. All relying papers were sent to Edinburgh. They contained the official letter of the military governor, which explained the circumstances of the delay. Soothing MacDonald returned to Glencoe.

Peter Graham - "After the Massacre at Glencoe"


The oath of the clans deprived the English authorities of the legitimate right to violence. However, as is often the case, not all the military and officials were interested in the onset of peace. The “war party” needed a demonstrative massacre of arbitrary mountaineers. The purpose of the punitive action was chosen immediately - it was the MacDonald clan, who, due to a series of circumstances, took the oath a few days after the deadline set by the royal edict.

The massacre at Glencoe was indicative of Jacobite violence.

The decision about the massacre was made in Edinburgh. John Dalrymple, who served as secretary of state for Scotland, was responsible for all Scottish affairs before the king. He did not understand the McDonald’s conflict, but exercised the right to punish the clans that violated the edict, which William had previously given him. Explanatory notes on the reasons for the late oath were not sent to London.

At the end of January 1692 an armed detachment of 120 men from Argail regiment set off for Glenko. It was led by Robert Campbell (his soldiers belonged to the same clan). The candidacy of the main executor of punishment was not chosen by chance. Campbell feuded with Macdonalds. During the war, the Jacobites looted his possessions.

Copy of Campbell's order

Campbell's soldiers peacefully arrived at Glencoe and waited another two weeks for orders from Edinburgh. They rested and enjoyed themselves right under the McDonald’s shelter - they accepted the military according to the old Scottish custom of hospitality. This tradition was so sacred to the Celtic people that no one could have imagined that Campbell stayed in Glencoe with bad intentions.

February 12, the military received new instructions. On the night of the 13th, they blocked all exits from the valley at the edge of which the Macdonald village was located. At five o'clock in the morning, when all the inhabitants of the peaceful village were still deeply asleep, the soldiers began to burst into the houses and mercilessly cut out whole families. Dwellings were set on fire, defenseless children, women and old men sought on the spot.

Memorial in memory of the victims of the events of 1692

Some residents still managed to escape. However, those who were not deprived of life by weapons were caught up with a blizzard that broke out that night. Escaping from persecution, about 40 people died of cold and hunger. Another 38 were killed directly by Campbell's soldiers. Of the entire detachment, there were only two lieutenants who refused to carry out the perfidious order and broke their blades in protest. They were arrested, but later released by the court. Alasder Makian, who took the ill-fated oath of William III, was also killed among the other villagers.

Time trial

The news of the Glenko massacre outraged not only the Scots, but also the British themselves. It was not just a murder, it was a "murder on trust." It was impossible to hide from indignation even in far London. King William was forced to initiate an investigation into the incident. The investigation ended in 1695. The main culprit for the tragedy, it recognized the secretary of Scotland John Dalrympla. He voluntarily resigned, but still left unscathed. Under William’s successor, Queen Anne, the nobleman was given the title of Count.

Glenko Massacre Organizers Avoid Punishment

Less fortunate to the direct executioner MacDonald Robert Campbell. The authorities did not punish him in any way, but, having appeared with his regiment in Flanders, he was defeated by the French after a few years. In 1696, Campbell died in poverty in Bruges.

A sign in the hotel Glenkoe: "Not for street vendors and Campbells"

The Glenco massacre only aggravated the conflict between the highlanders and the British authorities. In 1715 and 1745 Scotland survived two more unsuccessful Jacobite rebellions. However, later the memory of the Campbell’s heinous crime did not fade. In the Victorian era, Walter Scott wrote the story “The widow of a highlander” about him. The events in Glencoe, along with the Black Dinner of 1440 in Edinburgh, became prototypes of the Red Wedding at George Martin's Sword Shore. In 1883, a memorable Celtic cross was erected in the village, at the foot of which fresh flowers appear every February 13th. Locals today call the valley Glenko Valley of Tears.

Watch the video: The Corries - Massacre Of Glencoe (January 2020).