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For almost a century the islands of Orkney and Shetland were under the rule of the Stewart earls, father and son, a rule remarkable for its infamous reputation in island history. Robert Stewart was an illegitimate son of James V, king of Scots, who seized power in Orkney in the 1560s and was created earl of Shetland in 1581. Robert’s son was the extraordinary and ill-starred Earl Patrick, `Black Patie’, whose execution for treason in 1615 brought the era to a close.
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