Backstory to Last Execution at Grassmarket
Those fortunate enough to visit the beautiful, historic city of Edinburgh, Scotland, can easily find Grassmarket, a charming district near Edinburgh Castle, filled with pubs and shops.
This area, however, was the site of horrendous suffering during three decades of the seventeenth century. Between 1661 and 1688 over one hundred Covenanters—Scottish Presbyterians who would not accept an Anglican king as the head of their church—were executed here for their disloyalty. The usual execution included ceremonial dismemberment, with many having their heads stuck on pikes and displayed at Netherbow, one of the city’s gates.
Near The Last Drop pub in Grassmarket, there is a memorial plaque listing the dozens of Covenanters executed there. One of the leaders of this dangerous movement was James Renwick, a brilliant young man whose letters reveal passion and powerful convictions. In the midst of his political turmoil, though, Renwick also faces personal struggle. Torn between his dedication to the Covenanter cause and his love for the beautiful Jean Hamilton, Renwick struggles for the day when he can have both political freedom for Scotland and the love of this bewitching young Scottish woman.
By mid-1688, the king had fled the country, and all persecution of the Covenanters had ceased. Did this new era of freedom come soon enough for James Renwick to realize some of his hopes and dreams? Readers will have to discover the answer for themselves.