Alexander Leslie

Posted in Scottish Military Figures

Born, probably, the son of George Leslie of Balgonie, Fife, Leslie began his military career in Holland before going to Sweden in 1605. There he served in the Thirty Years' War, rising to the rank of Field Marshall in the service of King Gustavus II Adolphus.

On his return to Scotland, the English were messing about with the Scottish religion, with Charles I attempting to impose Anglican styles of worship on the Presbyterian Church. Leslie pledged to defend the Presbyterians, and during the First and Second Bishops' Wars (1639-41) commanded the Scottish Army. In 1640 he advanced into England, defeating the Royalists at Newburn and holding Newcastle for the Parliamentarians.

Charles I tried to buy him off, creating him Earl of Leven in 1641, but in 1644 he again took command of the Scottish Army, contributing to the defeat of Charles and his eventual surrender in 1646 at Newark, Nottinghamshire. He handed over Charles to Parliament, took his army back to Scotland, and retired.

The execution of Charles I by the Independents (radical Puritans) persuaded him to support Charles II, and he fought against Cromwell at Dunbar. In 1651, at the age of 71, he was captured at Alyth, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London until 1654, when on the intercession of the Queen of Sweden he was freed. He finished his second retirement at Balgonie, living to a ripe old age.