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The Rivals
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Publication Date
24 October 2015
Paperback (also available as an eBook)
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The Rivals

Montrose and Argyll and the Struggle for Scotland
by Murdo Fraser - Find out more about the author


eBook also available from the iBookstore


'A very complicated – and very bloody-passage of history is covered in a brisk, no-nonsense manner. As narrative history, this is absolutely outstanding… The very complex comings and goings of Argyll and Montrose in the mid 1640s, and the many marches, skirmishes and battles, the constant criss-crossing of Scotland, all this has been woven into the narrative. It is all handled with exemplary clarity’ – Harry Reid

'[A] very good book about one of the most dramatic and important periods of Scottish history... but it’s more than that, being also an acute and fair examination of the politics of the time and the issues that divided them' – Scotsman

The struggles of the Scottish Civil War of 1644–45 could easily be personified as a contest between James Graham, 1st Marquis of Montrose and Archibald Campbell, 8th Marquis of Argyll. Yet at first glance there seems to be more that unites them than separates them. Both came from ancient and powerful families; both were originally Covenanters; both considered themselves loyal subjects of Charles I, then Charles II, who in turn betrayed each of them, and both died at the hands of the executioner.

In this book Murdo Fraser examines these two remarkable men, underlining their different personalities: Montrose, the brilliant military tactician – bold and brave but rash, and Campbell – altogether a more opaque figure, cautious, considered and difficult to read.

The result is a vivid insight into two remarkable men who played a huge part in writing Scotland’s history, and a fascinating portrait of a time of intense political upheaval.

Murdo Fraser was Deputy Leader of the Scottish Conservatives from 2005 until 2011 and is MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife. Born in Inverness, he studied law at Aberdeen and worked as a solicitor in Aberdeen and Edinburgh before becoming an MSP in 2001.