The covenanters were early Scottish presbyterians who strove throughout the 17th Century to establish the doctrines of John Knox and secure a non-Episcopalian church for Scotland. They fought in the English civil war, first for the Parliamentarians, but then changed sides making a secret deal with Charles I. After the restoration Charles II reneged on any deal he had in turn agreed on in return for their support, and uprisings raged throughout Scotland, culminating in the bloody defeat of Bothwell Bridge in 1679. In 1685 James II made covenanting illegal, covenanters were forced to hold secret meetings as illustrated in this painting, and punishment for those caught was death. It is thought that up to 18,000 were killed as a result, until William and Mary came to the throne in 1688, and hence the church of Scotland was established on Presbyterian principles.