This week’s Scottish music inspiration comes from my study of Scottish history, specifically the English Civil War from 1642–1651. Despite its name, this civil war involved more than just England—it’s players include Scotland, Wales and Ireland too. Because of this, the war is sometimes referred to as “Wars of the Three Kingdoms” (1).
Before I get too far here, I want to submit a disclaimer that I am not a history buff at all, let alone I a Scottish history buff. I write these articles because my knowledge about how Scottish culture, monarchy, and significant events stich together are rudimentary at best. I’d like to better understand the bigger picture of Scottish history, and even how Scotland fits in with the history of the world. If you have a deeper knowledge of the subject, and would like to submit a correction, please do so by leaving a comment. Thank you!
What: English Civil War | Alternative Name: Wars of the Three Kingdoms
Who: King Charles I vs. Long Parliament, King Charles II vs. Rump Parliament.
Where: England (with Scotland, Wales, & Ireland)
When: 1642–1651 C.E.
Why: Conflict over the way the kingdoms ought to be governed.
By posting this song, I believe I risk having pro-English sentiments on a Scottish blog. You see, this song in particular was first sung by a group called the Cavaliers. “Cavaliers” are chiefly associated with the Royalist supporters of King Charles I in his struggle with Parliament in the English Civil War (2). Pro-English sentiments? This will simply not do at all.
All is well, however. This song went on to be sung by Jacobites in Ireland in 1688, and again during the later uprisings in Scotland (3).
The song’s lyrics are imbued with confidence and visions of a the future. Indeed, the singer declares in the first stanza “Go ahead and speculate about the our kindom’s future, but I know all will be well when the King is reinstated.” In the second stanza, the singer is confident that no one other than the King ought to reign, since he and his father have had the crown for forty years. In the third stanza, the singer visualizes Whitehall refurbished to it’s former granduer of “gold and silver on the wall, and rich perfume throughout the hall”. Despite his confidence and vision of the future, his most urgent hope is for peace to be restored, “So the king can have his own again”.
I find it a little amusing that a song with pro-English origins became a Jacobite song in support of Charles Edward Stuart in his campaign to regain the British throne for the exiled House of Stuart. Perhaps the Scottish cheekily appropriated the song for themselves because they knew it would annoy the English.
Someone with more background knowledge than I will have to come along back me up or shoot my theory down!