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Monmouth, James Scott, 1st duke of

Monmouth, James Scott, 1st duke of (1649–85). Charles II's eldest and most favoured illegitimate son, Monmouth gained experience with the French army in 1672–4. Becoming an English general in 1678, he defeated the Scottish rebels in 1679. In that year his political ambitions began to soar when Shaftesbury, in his campaign to exclude the future James II from the succession, exploited the story that Charles had been secretly married to Monmouth's long-dead mother, Lucy Walter. Charles tried to discourage Monmouth's pretensions by exiling him, but an unauthorized return committed him to the opposition Whigs. They procured popularity for him as the ‘protestant duke’ but John Dryden pilloried him in his satirical poem Absolom and Achitophel. Implicated in the Whig Rye House plot to assassinate Charles and James he fled to Holland, from where he launched his disastrous invasion and rebellion after James succeeded Charles. After defeat he was executed under an Act of attainder.

J. R. Jones

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Monmouth, James Scott, Duke of

Monmouth, James Scott, Duke of (1649–85) English noble, illegitimate son of Charles II. As captain general, Monmouth defeated the Scots at Bothwell Bridge (1679). Allied with the Earl of Shaftesbury, he became leader of the Protestant opposition to the succession of the Duke of York (later James II). The discovery of a plot (1683) forced Monmouth into exile in Holland. Upon James' accession (1685), he launched a rebellion. Despite initial success, Monmouth lacked the support of the nobility and was defeated by the Duke of Marlborough at the Battle of Sedgemoor. He was executed.

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Monmouth, James Scott, duke of

James Scott Monmouth, duke of (mŏn´məth), 1649–85, pretender to the English throne; illegitimate son of Charles II of England by Lucy Walter. After his mother's death, he was cared for by Lord Crofts, by whose name the boy was known. In 1662, James went to live at Charles's court. Charles acknowledged him as his son, created him (1663) duke of Monmouth, and married him to Anne Scott, countess of Buccleuch, whose name James now adopted. He held military commands on the Continent (1672–74), became captain general in 1678, and defeated the Scottish Covenanters at Bothwell Bridge in 1679. Politically he became very important after feeling against the succession of the Roman Catholic duke of York (later James II) was heightened at the time of the Popish Plot agitation in 1678. The 1st earl of Shaftesbury and other supporters of a Protestant succession championed Monmouth as heir to Charles and tried in vain to get Charles to prove his son legitimate. In 1679, Charles sent both Monmouth and the duke of York into exile. When Monmouth returned without the king's permission, he was forbidden to come to court but was received enthusiastically in London and the western counties. Monmouth worked with Shaftesbury and the Whig party for the exclusion of James from the succession, and after the arrest of Shaftesbury for treason in 1681 he was heard to speak openly of rebellion. When the Rye House Plot was discovered (1683) and some of the Whig leaders were arrested, Monmouth fled to Holland. James II succeeded Charles in Feb., 1685. In June, Monmouth landed at Lyme Regis, Dorset, and raised a small force. At Taunton he was proclaimed king, and for a short time his chances for success looked very promising. But the gentry failed to come to his support, and his army was routed at Sedgemoor by James's troops, led by John Churchill (later duke of Marlborough). Monmouth was captured and beheaded in London on July 15.

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