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Massacre of Glencoe: 1692

The revolution of 1688, bringing William and Mary to the throne, is followed by an uprising in the Highlands of Scotland on behalf of James II. This ends when the Jacobite army is defeated at Dunkeld in August 1689. Subsequently the clan chieftains who have taken up arms against William and Mary are required to take an oath of allegiance at any of various appointed places. The deadline is the last day of 1691.

The MacDonald chieftain in the Glencoe region takes the oath a few days late. Early in February a company of soldiers (mainly Campbells) is billetted on the villagers of Glencoe.

The soldiers have been living peacefully enough among their hosts when they receive an order to massacre them. They begin to do so at 5 a.m. on 13 February 1692, killing thirty-eight men, women and children before the slaughter ends.

The number of deaths is small compared to the familiar disasters of war, but the cold-blooded nature of the event - together with its apparent authorization at a much higher level - gives it an undying resonance in the folk memory of the Highlands, as a symbol of the callous indifference of the authorities in lowland Scotland and in England. If intended as a gesture to quell Highland resistance, it proves counterproductive - as is proved by the Jacobite uprising of 1745.

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