The Execution of Monmouth and Argyll
STUART. James II.
1685-1688. AR Medal (61mm, 93.22 g, 12h). The Execution of the Duke of Monmouth and the Earl of Argyll. By R. Arondeaux. Dated 1685. IACOBVS II D : G · MAG · BRI · FRAN · ET · HIB · REX ·, laureate, draped, and armored bust of James facing, head left; all set upon garnished altar, inscribed 16 85 and upon which rests four scepters, crossed in saltire and surmounted by a rose, lis, thistle, and harp (representing the sovereign powers over England, France, Scotland, and Ireland); before altar, crowned coat-of-arms within Collar of the Order of the Garter, inscribed HONY · SOIT · QV[I] MAL · Y · PENSE · (evil be to him who evil thinks
); on banner below, ARAS ET SCEPTRA TUEMUR (we defend our altars and our scepters
); in background, two ships and Neptune driving triga of sea horses (representing England’s dominion of the seas) / Justice standing facing upon pedestal inscribed AMBITIO/MALESUADA/RUIT (ill-advised ambition falls
) in three lines; her head lowered rightward, she holds a sword in her right hand and a scale in her left, weighing three crowns (representing the kingdoms of England, France, and Scotland) against a sword, torch, and serpent (representing the discord wrought by the uprising); her foot trampling upon another serpent below; to left and right, respectively, altars inscribed IACOBUS/DE/MONT/MOUT and ARCHI/BALD/D’ AR/GYL, and bearing the severed heads of the Duke and Earl; below, their draped headless bodies; in background above, the sun emerging from the clouds, with lightning striking the conquered troops at Sedgemoor; to right, the Tower of London, with pikes surmounted by the heads of the Duke and Earl. MI 615/27; Eimer 281. EF, toned, a few light marks. Highly interesting and allegorical.
The eldest of Charles II’s illegitimate sons, James Scott, the First Duke of Monmouth, sought the throne upon the death of his father rivaling Charles’ younger brother and James’ uncle, James II. Attempting to capitalize on his uncle’s unpopularity and Catholic stance, the Duke, albeit born illegitimately, professed his Protestant views, had himself crowned as King, and led a small attack upon his uncle with the help of Archibald Campbell, the 9th Earl of Argyll. No match for the royal army, the uprising was swiftly quelled, and the Duke and Earl were both sentenced to death by beheading, the former on Tower Hill on 15 July 1685, the latter at Edinburgh fifteen days later.