‘The Duke of Monmouth: Life and Rebellion’ by Laura Brennan

The Restoration is one of my favourite periods of history and the Duke of Monmouth is a significant character of this time. 

In 1660, Charles II, son of the murdered Charles I, was restored to the English throne following the death of Cromwell. The Duke of Monmouth was the illegitimate son of Charles II (the first of many). Indeed, the similarities between the two are remarkable, both in physical appearance and personality.

Charles II always took good care of his mistresses and his illegitimate children, thus his first born, James Scott was made Duke of Monmouth. He should have looked forward to a long and happy life yet he ended his days executed as a traitor at the orders of his own uncle James III, the successor of Charles II.

Laura Brennan’s fine and most readable book explains how this startling destiny came to pass.

James Scott lived through ‘interesting times’ : the Restoration of his father to the throne, the execution of the regicides, plague, war and fire, the political scandals of the Popish and Rye Hose Plots and the Exclusion Crisis which helped to create the modern British political system. James III, Charles II’s successor, had converted to Catholicism. When he had a male heir, this caused a major problem in the anti-Catholic world of Restoration England.

Brennan has done a fine job of humanising James Scott and the events that shaped his perspective on life. The public loved him as a war hero and he took after his father in his endless amorous pursuits. Brennan sees Monmouth as personifying this period and as a man who wanted to preserve Protestant England at all costs.

A wonderful book from a wonderful writer, and one that would make a very good documentary indeed.

Published by Pen and Sword History.


Steve Earles is author and co-author of numerous projects, including To End All Wars: The WWI Graphic Anthology, available summer 2014 (http://toendallwarscomic.wordpress.com/writers/).