James Scott Monmouth

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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 (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.