Monmouth rising

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Monmouth rising. While in exile in Holland radical Whigs persuaded the duke of Monmouth to invade England while Argyll invaded Scotland. Landing at Lyme in Dorset on 11 June 1685 with 80 followers only, but arms for 2,000, Monmouth depended on the Whigs rallying to him. The gentry were unwilling or (being in preventive detention) unable to do so. Promised diversionary risings in London and Cheshire failed to occur. However Whig rank-and-file supporters, mostly artisans in the depressed textile industry who, as dissenters, were also suffering religious repression, joined and formed an army of about 3,000 untrained infantry. Aware that this force was no match for the royal professionals, Monmouth conducted an irresolute campaign, failing to move quickly on Bristol, a potential source of mass support. He issued a declaration proposing radical political changes, but then proclaimed himself king in place of James II. Having lost the initiative, he gambled on a night attack (5–6 July) on the royal army camped at Sedgemoor, outside Bridgwater in Somerset. His men were routed. Monmouth was captured (8th) and executed in London a week later. He had never expected to lead what proved to be the last popular rebellion in England and did not know how to do so.

J. R. Jones