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For the last two years the Earl of An­
gus, who had formerly shewn himself
so cordial a friend of England, had
resided in France, whence Henry the
Eighth, desirous of employing him in
his designs for embroiling the govern­
ment of Albany, had secretly called
him into his dominions. It was now
esteemed the moment when his pre­
sence in Scotland might once more
reinstate the English faction, which
had been long gaining strength, in un­
disputed power; and the earl, whose
foreign residence had increased his
experience and talent, but not im­
proved his patriotic feelings, at once
lent himself to the projects of Henry,
1 Ellis’s Letters, vol. i. p. 247, First Series.

During his banishment, he had corre­
sponded with that monarch; although
an exile, he had made himself master
of the political divisions and intrigues
by which the kingdom was distracted;
and having agreed upon his plan of
operations, he accelerated his prepara­
tions for his return to his native coun­
try. Before, however, this project
could be put into execution, the de­
parture of the regent had given rise
to a revolution, which, for a season,
totally changed the aspect of public
affairs. In this the chief actors were

2 Lord Dacre to Cardinal Wolsey. 31st
1524. Ellis’s Letters, vol. i. p. 240, First

3 Lesley, p. 128.

1524.] JAMES V. 329

Margaret the queen-dowager and the
Earl of Arran, whilst its sudden and
startling success seems to prove that
the project had been gradually ma­
tured, and only waited for the depar­
ture of Albany to bring it into effect.
The young king had now entered his
thirteenth year, and already gave pro­
mise of that vigour of character which
afterwards distinguished him. His
mother, no longer controlled by the
presence of a superior, determined to
place him upon the throne; a scheme
which, by the assistance of England,
she trusted might be easily accom­
plished; whilst Henry was ready to
lend himself to the design, from the
persuasion that the royal power,
though ostensibly in the king, would
be truly in the hands of a council
overruled by England. Surrey there­
fore remained in the north to overawe
any opposition by the terror of an im­
mediate invasion ; and Margaret, hav­
ing gained to her interest the peers to
whom the person of the sovereign had
been intrusted, suddenly left the palace
of Stirling, and, accompanied by her
son and a small retinue, proceeded to
Edinburgh, which she entered amid
the joyful acclamations of the popu­
lace. The procession, which, besides
the queen ­mother and her train, con­
sisted of the Earls of Arran, Lennox,
Crawford, and others of the nobility,
moved on to the palace of Holyrood,
where a council was held, the king
declared of age, and proclamations in­
stantly issued in his name. He then
formally assumed the government, the
peers tendered their oaths of allegiance,
and many, as well of the spiritual as
temporal estate, entered into a solemn
agreement, by which they abjured the
engagements which had been made to
Albany, declared his regency at an
end, and promised faithfully to main­
tain the supreme authority of their
sovereign against all who might dare
to question it.1

Against this extraordinary act, of
which the real object on the part of

1 Pinkerton, vol. ii. p. 238. Lesley, p. 129.
Caligula, b. vi. 378. Profession of obedience
by the Lords of Scotland. Edinburgh, 31st
July 1524.

Henry could not be concealed, and
over which the capricious character of
the queen, alternately swayed by the
most violent resentments or partiali­
ties, threw much suspicion, the only
dissentient voices were those of the
Bishops of St Andrews and Aberdeen.
They contended that to confer the
supreme power upon a boy of twelve
years old was ridiculous; that to re­
move him from the governors to whom
his education had been intrusted, and
plunge him at once in his tender years
into the flatteries and vices of a court,
must be certain ruin; and they re­
minded the nobles of their promises
so lately pledged to the Duke of
Albany, to whom the regency at this
moment unquestionably belonged.
For this bold and honest conduct they
were by the queen’s party immediately
committed to prison; nor could the
offer from Wolsey of a cardinal's hat
induce Beaton to renounce his pro­
mises to Albany, or become the tool
of England.2 The news of the success
of this revolution, which in its rapid­
ity had anticipated the wishes of
Henry, was received with the utmost
satisfaction in England.3 A guard of
two hundred men-at-arms was imme­
diately sent by that monarch, at the
queen’s request, for the security of the
person of the young king; whilst, as
a token of his complete approval of
her conduct, and an earnest of future
favours, Margaret received a present
of two hundred marks, and Arran a
hundred pounds. In return, she ear­
nestly remonstrated against Henry’s
permitting the return of Angus into
Scotland, not without a threat that,
should her request be overlooked, she
would find another support than that

2 Pinkerton, vol. ii. p. 241. Caligula, b.
vi. 353. Wolsey to the Duke of Norfolk.
Hampton Court, August 19, 1524.

3 State Papers, p. 150. The letter written
to Henry in the name of the young king, in­
forming him of his assumption of the govern­
ment, was sent by Patrick Sinclair, whom
Wolsey denominates a right trusty servant
of James, and at the same time describes as
a spy of Dr Magnus, and a constant friend of
England. Such was the character of this re­
volution. George Shaw, another personal
servant of James, was a spy of Norfolk.—.
Norfolk to Wolsey, 19th September 1524.
Caligula, b. vi. 362, dorso.


of England. She demanded, at the
same time, a pension and the order of
the garter for Arran, and declared that
without greater supplies it would be
impossible for her to defray the charges
of the government.

In the meantime a full account of
these changes was transmitted by
Gresolles, the captain of Dunbar, to
the Duke of Albany, and a truce hav­
ing been concluded for three months
with England, it was determined that
Dr Magnus, a person of great acute-
ness and diplomatic experience, should
proceed as ambassador to Scotland.
He was accompanied by Roger Rat-
cliffe, a gentleman of the privy cham­
ber, whose agreeable and polished
manners would, it was expected, have
a favourable influence on the young

In the midst of these transactions,
the sincerity of the queen became sus­
pected. Her late demands were con­
sidered too peremptory and covetous,
and the countenance shewn to Angus
at the English court in no small degree
alienated her affections from her
brother; nor was her personal con­
duct free from blame. With a vola­
tility in her passions which defied the
voice of reproof or the restraints of
decency, she had now become ena­
moured of Henry Stewart, the second
son of Lord Evandale, and in the
ardour of her new passion, raised him
to the responsible office of treasurer.
The people had hitherto regarded her
with respect, but they no longer re­
strained their murmurs : Lennox and
Glencairn, who had warmly supported
her in the late revolution, left the
capital in disgust; and Arran, who
had never ceased to look to the re­
gency of Scotland as his right, and in
whose character there was a strange
mixture of weakness and ambition,
though he still acted along with her,
held himself in readiness to support
any party which promised to forward
his own views.

Whilst this earl and the queen con­
tinued to receive the money of Eng­
land for the support of the guards and
the maintenance of their private state,
they deemed it prudent to open a ne­

gotiation with Francis the First, then
engaged in preparations for his fatal
expedition into Italy. That monarch
received their envoy with distinction ;
professed his anxiety to maintain the
ancient alliance between the kingdoms;
reminded them of the intended mar­
riage between the Scottish king and
his daughter, and declared that Angus
having secretly escaped from his do­
minions, without asking his permis­
sion or that of Albany, was undoubtedly
animated by hostile intentions, and
ought to be treated as a fugitive and a
rebel.1 He addressed also a letter to
the queen, in which he besought her
to adopt such measures as must secure
the true interests of her son. But
Margaret’s blinded attachment to
Henry Stewart, upon whose youth she
had now bestowed the high office of
chancellor, and Arran’s devotion to his
own interests, effectually estranged
from both the attachment of the
nobles, who found themselves excluded
from all influence in the government.
They indeed, as well as the queen,
were in the pay of England; and to
such a degree of organisation had the
system of bribery and private infor­
mation been carried, that whilst the
Duke of Norfolk maintained his spies
even in the palace of the king, the
original correspondence of the period
presents us with the exact pensions
allowed to the Scottish adherents of
the English court, from the queen and
Arran to the lowest agent of this venal
association.2 Amongst the principal
were Arran, Lennox, and the Master
of Kilmaurs, afterwards Earl of Glen-
cairn, a nobleman who thus early be­
gan to make a profitable trade of his
attachment to England. The faction,
however, contained within itself the
seeds of its disunion; for whilst the
queen and Arran dreaded the power
of Angus, and warmly remonstrated
against his return, the peers of the
party who found themselves neglected
in the administration looked to this
event as the most probable means of

1 Caligula, b.’vi. 411. Instructions à l’am-
bassadeur du Roy d’Escosse.

2 Pinkerton, vol. ii. p. 246. Caligula,, b. i.
Robert Lord to the Lord Cardinal. Ibid.

1524.] JAMES V. 331

recovering the importance which they
had lost. It was in this state of things
that Wolsey, who began to find that
Margaret and Arran would not be
sufficiently subservient to England,
entered into a secret agreement with
1 in which that peer, on condi­
tion of his being permitted to enter
Scotland, stipulated to support the
English interest in that country and
the government of James, equally
against the open hostility of Albany,
and the intrigues of the faction of the
queen, which, from the venality and
insolence of its measures, seemed to be
rapidly hastening its ruin. An attempt
was first made to reconcile Margaret
to her husband, which completely
failed; and symptoms appearing of a
coalition between the party of Albany
and that of Arran and the queen,
Angus was no longer detained by
Henry; but, after an exile of two
years, with increased ambition and
exalted hopes, he returned to his na­
tive country. At the same time, the
English ambassadors, Dr Magnus and
Ratcliffe, arrived at the capital; and a
complicated scene of intrigue and dip­
lomacy commenced, into the minuter
particulars of which it would be tedi­
ous to enter.

The scene which presented itself
was indeed pitiable. It exhibited a
minor sovereign deserted by those
who owed him allegiance and support,
whilst his kingdom was left a prey to
the rapacity of interested councillors,
and exposed to the attacks of a power­
ful neighbour, whose object it was to
destroy its separate existence, and re­
duce it to the condition of a dependent

When we look more narrowly into
its condition, we find that three great
parties or factions at this moment dis­
tracted the minority of James. The
first was that of Albany the late re­
gent, supported by the influence of
France, and conducted during his ab­
sence by the talents and vigour of the
Chancellor Beaton; of the second, the
leaders were the Earl of Arran and the

1 Caligula, b. vi. 395. Articles of Agree­
ment, dated October 4, 1524 ; signed by An­
gus, and his brother George Douglas.

queen-mother, in whom the present
power of the state resided, and who
possessed the custody of the king’s
person; whilst at the head of the third
was Angus, who had sold himself to
the English government. The secret
treaty, however, between this peer and
Henry, was unknown in Scotland; and
so great was the affection of the people
for the house of Douglas, with whose
history they associated so much chiv­
alrous enterprise and national glory,
that on his arrival in his native coun­
try, he was received by all ranks
with joy and enthusiasm. Meanwhile
Wolsey’s jealousy of the Queen of
Scots became confirmed, when he
found that the Bishop of Aberdeen
and the Chancellor Beaton were set at
liberty, and perceived the party of
Albany once more rising into a dan­
gerous importance.

Such was the state of affairs on the
arrival of Angus in Scotland, and his
improvement in judgment was seen
by the moderation of his first mea­
sures. He addressed to the queen a
submissive letter, professing his at­
tachment to his sovereign, and his
anxiety to do him service; he ab­
stained from shewing himself at court ;
and, although able to command an
army of vassals, he travelled with a
modest retinue of forty horse, in obedi­
ence to an order of the government.
These quiet courses, however, produced
no effect on Margaret, whose ancient
love to Angus had long before this
turned into determined hatred, whilst,
with a contempt of all decency, she
made no secret of her passion for
Henry Stewart, intrusting to his weak
and inexperienced hands the chief
guidance of affairs. Magnus, the Eng­
lish ambassador, attempted, but with
equal want of success, to effect a
reconciliation between her and her
husband. The continuance of the
pensions, the support of the Eng­
lish guard of honour, the present
of a considerable sum for the exigen­
cies of the moment, and lastly the
promise of a matrimonial alliance be­
tween her son and the princess Mary,
were artfully held out as inducements
to consent to a pacification and to


abandon her opposition to Angus.
Margaret was immovable, and, avow­
ing her venality, she did not scruple
to assign as her chief motive, that in
the event of a treaty of peace with
England, the kingdom, by which we
may understand herself and Arran,
would lose the annual remittance of
Francis, which amounted to forty
thousand francs.1 Thus thwarted in
his application to the queen, Magnus,
who, in the complicated parties and
interests by which he was surrounded,
required the exertion of his whole
diplomatic talents, began to sound
the peers, and not only found that
there was no insurmountable impedi­
ment to the reconciliation of Angus
and Arran, but that even Beaton the
chancellor, the leader of the party of
Albany, evinced, though we may sus­
pect his sincerity, no unfavourable
disposition to England.2 The late
regent’s continued absence in France,
and the vanity of expecting any active
co-operation from the French monarch,
then occupied with his campaign in
Italy, had greatly weakened the in­
fluence of Albany, and the great body
of the nobility detested the govern­
ment of the queen. It was deter­
mined, therefore, that a sudden blow
should be struck, which might at once
punish her obstinacy, and insure the
pre-eminence of the English interest.

1 Caligula, b. i. 285-290 inclusive. The
Queen of Scots to the Duke of Norfolk. Pin-
kerton, vol. ii. p. 248.

2 Caligula, b. vi. 333. Dr Magnus and
Roger Ratcliffe to Wolsey. Edinburgh, 15th
November. In this letter there is a fine de­
scription of James V. when a boy of thirteen :
—“ The quenes saide grace hath had vs furth
to solace with the kingges grace here, at
Leeth and in the feildes, and to see his saide
grace stirre his horses, and renne with a
spere amongges other his lordes and ser-
uauntes at a gloove, and also by the quenes
procuring we haue seen his saide grace vse
hym selff otherwise pleasauntly booth in
singging and daunsing, and shewing fami-
liaritye amongges his lordes. All whiche his
princely actes and doingges be soe excellent
for his age not yet of xiii. yeres till Eister
next, that in our oppynnyons it is not pos­
sible thay shulde be amended. And myche
moore it is to our comforte to see and con-
ceiue that in personnage, favor, and counte-
naunce, and in all other his procedingges, his
grace resembleth veray myche to the kingges
highnes [Henry VIII.] our maister.”

A parliament having assembled at
Edinburgh, the distracted condition
of the government, and the expediency
of an immediate embassy to England
preparatory to a general peace, came
before the three estates. In one
measure all parties seemed to agree.
Albany’s regency, in consequence of
his continued absence, was declared at
an end, and a committee of regency
appointed. It consisted of the Chan­
cellor Beaton, the Bishop of Aberdeen,
and the Earls of Arran and Argyle,
whilst, apparently to lull the sus­
picions of the queen, she was declared
chief in this council. Such was the
state of matters, and the parliament
had now sat for a week, when, on the
23d of November, before daylight, an
alarm was heard at the walls of the
capital, and a party of armed men,
fixing their scaling-ladders on the
parapet, made good their entrance
into the town, after which, with
shouts and acclamations, they opened
the gates to their companions. It
was now discovered that this force,
which amounted only to four hundred
men, was led by the Earls of Angus
and Lennox ; Scott of Buccleuch, the
Master of Kilmaurs, and other chiefs,
had joined them; and as daylight
broke they advanced fearlessly to the
cross, and proclaimed that they came
as faithful subjects to the king’s grace;
they next proceeded to the council of
regency, which had assembled in great
alarm, and repeating the same assur­
ance, declared that the young king
was in the hands of evil-disposed per­
sons, who were compassing their ruin
and that of the whole nobility; where­
fore they required them to assume the
custody of their monarch, and exercise
the chief rule in the government.3
During these proceedings the castle,
which was in the hands of the queen’s
party, began to open its fire upon the
town with the object of expelling
Angus; and in the midst of the
thunder of its artillery, and the shouts
of the infuriated partisans, a deputa­
tion, consisting of the Bishop of Aber-

3 Magnus and Roger Ratcliffe to the Lord
Cardinal. Edinburgh, 26th Nov. Cal. b. i.
121. Lesley, p. 131.

1524-5.] JAMES V. 333

deen, the Abbot of Cambuskenneth,
and Magnus, the English ambassador,
hurried to the palace, where they
found the queen, and some lords of
her party, denouncing vengeance
against Angus, and mustering a force
of five hundred men, with which they
proposed to assault him. On their
arrival Margaret consented to receive
the bishop and his associate, but she
peremptorily ordered Magnus to be­
gone to his lodging, and abstain from
interfering in Scottish affairs,—a man­
date which that cautious civilian did
not think it prudent to disobey. Mean­
while the fire of the fortress continued,
and the peaceful citizens fell victims
to the unprincipled efforts of two
hostile factions. The conduct of
Angus, however, was pacific; his fol­
lowers abstained from plunder; no
blood was shed, although they met
with various peers with whom they
were at deadly feud; and upon a pro­
clamation, commanding him, in the
kings name, to leave the city, he re­
tired to Dalkeith towards dusk. After
dark the queen, taking with her the
young king, proceeded by torchlight
to the castle, and dismissing all the
lords except Moray, who was devoted
to the French interest, shut herself up
in the fortress, and meditated some
determined measures against her ene­
mies.1 Although there is no decisive
evidence of the fact, there appears a
strong presumption that this attack
upon the queen was preconcerted by
English influence, and probably not
wholly unexpected by Beaton the
chancellor. Magnus indeed, in writ­
ing to the cardinal, represents it as
unlooked for by all parties, but there

1 The letter above quoted, in which Magnus
and Ratcliffe give an account of this affair, is
interesting and curious. “ The queen’s grace
taking with her the young king, her sonne,
departed in the evening by torchlight from
the abbey to the castell, and ther contynueth,
all the lordes being also departed from hence,
but only the Erle of Murray fully of the
Frenche Faction, and newly comen into favor
with the queen’s said grace ; and as we her,
the said erle, and one that was the Duke of
Albany’s secretary, begyne to compass and
practyse newe thynges as muche to the
daunger of the said younge kinge as was at
the Duk of Albany’s being here.” Caligula,
b. i. 121, dorso

exists a letter from the Earl of Rothes.
which seems to throw a doubt upon
the sincerity of his ignorance.2 It
was probably a contrivance of the
chancellor to try the strength and
judgment of Angus, and its conse­
quences were important, for it led to
a coalition between this potent prelate,
generally esteemed the richest subject
in Scotland, and the Douglases, whose
extensive possessions and vassalage
placed them at the head of the Scot­
tish aristocracy.

Alarmed at so sudden a turn of
affairs, the queen and Arran hastened
to appease Henry by an embassy, of
which the purpose was to treat of an
immediate pacification, upon the basis
of the proposed marriage between the
young king and the princess Mary.3
As a further means of accomplishing
this, Marchmont herald was despatched
to France, with the announcement
that the regency of Albany had been
formally declared at an end, and a
remonstrance was addressed to Francis
against the injurious consequences
which too steady an attention to his
interests had brought upon the com­
merce of Scotland.4 These measures,
if adopted some time before this,
might have been attended with the
recovery of her influence by the queen;
but they came too late; their sincerity
was suspected; and although Margaret
continued to retain possession of the
king’s person, whom she kept in the
castle of Edinburgh, the Earl of Angus
and the chancellor Beaton already
wielded an equal if not a superior
authority, and had succeeded in at­
taching to themselves not only the
great majority of the nobility, but
the affections of the citizens; they
were supported also by the English
influence; and it became at length
evident to the haughty spirit of the
queen, that to save the total wreck
of her power in Scotland, she must
consent to a reconciliation with her
husband, and a division of the power
which she had abused, with those

2 Pinkerton, vol. ii. p. 254. Caligula, b.
i. 81.

3 Caligula, b. vi. 191, dorso.
4 Epistolæ Reg. Scot. i. 351-356.


who were entitled to a share in the

The situation of the country, which
was the theatre of constant rapine and
assassination, called loudly for a settled
administration; the nation were dis­
gusted with the sight of two factions
who fulminated against each other ac­
cusations of treachery and rebellion,
Such was the prodigality of the queen,
who squandered the royal revenues
upon her pleasures, that when the
English monarch withdrew the pen­
sions which had hitherto supported
her administration, and recalled the
guard which waited on the sovereign,
the necessities of the state became
urgent, and the palace and the court
were left in poverty. Under such
circumstances, it was absolutely neces­
sary that some decisive step should be
adopted by Angus and the chancellor ;
and in a meeting of the principal lords
of their party, held at St Andrews, a
declaration was drawn up which called
upon all who were interested in the
good of the common weal to interfere
for the establishment of its indepen­
dence and that of the young king.
They represented the sovereign as im­
prisoned by an iniquitous faction in
an unhealthy fortress, exposed to the
unwholesome exhalations of the lake
by which it was surrounded, and in­
curring additional danger from the
reiterated commotions of the capital.1
They protested that no letters or
orders of the king ought to be obeyed
until promulgated by a council chosen
by the parliament, and they summoned
a convention of the three estates to
meet on the 6th of February, at

These were bold measures; but the
queen determined to make yet one
effort for the confusion of her enemies.

1 Caligula, b. vi. 394. Articles concluded
between my Lord Cardinal’s Grace and the
Earl of Anguish. 25th January 1524,
1524-5. It commences thus :—“We dou you
to witt, that for as mekill as it is under-
standin be the weill avisit lordis of oure
soveran lordis counsaill, they seand daily
slaughteris. murtharis, reiffis, theftis, depre-
dationis, and heavy attemptates that ar daily
and hourly committit within this realme in
falt of justice, our soveran lord beand of less
age,” &c.

She appealed to England, flattered
Henry by a pretended acquiescence in
his designs, urged the accomplishment
of the marriage between her son and
the princess, and earnestly requested
the advance of the Duke of Norfolk
with ten thousand men to the Borders;
she next assembled the few peers who
remained with her in the castle, ex­
patiated on the arrogance of their op­
ponents, and implored them to raise
their followers, and give battle to the
enemy; but Henry suspected her sin­
cerity, the peers dreaded the insolence
of her new favourite, Henry Stewart;
and she discovered, with the deepest
mortification, that from neither could
she expect anything like cordial sup­
port. She submitted, therefore, to
the necessity of the case, and agreed
to a conditional reconciliation with
her husband,2 the terms which she
was permitted to dictate being more
favourable than from her dependent
situation might have been expected.
Her first stipulation evinced the in­
veteracy of her feelings against Angus,
who, upon pain of treason, she insisted
should not assume any matrimonial
rights, either over her person or her
estate; the king, her son, she agreed
to remove from the castle to a more
salubrious and accessible residence in
the palace of Holyrood; the custody
of his person was to be intrusted to a
council of peers nominated by the
parliament, and over which the queen
was to preside ;3 the patronage of all the
highest ecclesiastical benefices was to
belong to a committee of the nobles,
amongst whom Margaret was to be
chief, whilst all benefices below the value
of a thousand pounds were to be placed
at her sole disposal. Upon these condi­
tions the pacification between the two
parties was concluded, and Angus,
supported by the chancellor Beaton,
who was now the most influential man
in Scotland, resumed his authority in
the state.

Magnus, the acute minister of Henry,
had from the first suspected the sin-

2 Magnus to Wolsey. Edinburgh. 22d Feb.
1524-5. Caligula, b. ii. 59-61. Lesley, p. 132.

3 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. p. 289. 22d Feb. 1524-5.

1525.] JAMES V. 335

cerity of the queen, and within a short
period her duplicity was completely
detected.1 The very day on which
the agreement with the peers and her
husband was concluded, she opened a
secret negotiation with Albany, ac­
knowledged his authority as regent,
professed a devotion to the interests
of France, denounced as ignominious
the idea
of a peace with England, de­
clared that she would leave Scotland
sooner than consent to a sincere re­
conciliation with Angus, and eagerly
requested the interest
of Francis and
Albany to accelerate at the Roman
court her process
of divorce. For
conduct, which presented a
lamentable union
of falsehood and
selfishness, no
apology can be offered;
it is satisfactory to find that it
met with its reward in almost imme­
diate exposure and disappointment.
Her letters were intercepted and trans­
mitted to England, and the French
monarch long before they could have
reached him was defeated and made
prisoner in the battle of Pavia.2

A minute account of the continued
plots and intrigues which for some
time occupied the adverse factions
would be equally tedious and unin-
structive. Nothing could be more
unhappy than the condition of Scot­
land, torn by domestic dissension, ex­
posed to the miseries of feudal anarchy,
with a nobility divided amongst them­
selves, and partly in the pay of a
foreign power; a minor monarch,
whose education was neglected, and
his caprices or prepossessions indulged
that he might be subservient to his
interested guardians; a clergy, amongst
whom the chief prelates were devoted
to their worldly interests; and a
people who, whilst they groaned under
such manifold oppressions, were yet
prevented by the complicated fetters
of the feudal system from exerting
their energies to obtain redress. All
was dark and gloomy, the proposal of
a lengthened peace with England, and
a marriage between the king and the

1 Caligula, b. ii. 61.

2 Caligula, b. vi. 416. A packet of letters
sent from the Duke of Albany to his factor at
Rome intercepted within the Duchy of Milan.

princess Mary, appeared to be the
single means which promised to secure
anything like tranquillity; and this
measure, if guarded so as to prevent
a too exclusive exertion of foreign in­
fluence, might have been attended
with the happiest results; yet such
was the infatuation of the queen-
mother, that she gave the match her
determined opposition, and, by her
influence with her son, implanted an
aversion to it in his youthful mind.

It was not to be expected that the
characteristic impetuosity and haughti­
ness of Henry should brook such con­
duct, and he addressed to his sister a
letter so replete with reproaches, that,
on perusing it, she burst into tears,
and bitterly complained that the style
of the king was more fit for some vul­
gar railer, than to be employed by a ’
monarch to a noble lady.3 Yet, terri­
fied by its violence, and convinced that
her partisans were gradually dropping
away, she replied in a submissive tone.
So deep, indeed, were her suspicions
of Angus and the chancellor, with
whom she had lately entered into an
agreement, that she refused to trust
her person in the capital, where her
presence in a parliament was necessary
as president of the Council of State;
and as the recent truce with England
could not be proclaimed without her
ratification, the country was on the
point of being exposed to the ravages
of Border war. It was, therefore,
determined that the deed should be
effectual without this solemnity, and,
irritated by this last indignity, she at­
tempted a secret negotiation with the
queen-mother of France, who, upon
the captivity of her son in the battle
of Pavia, had succeeded to the regency.
Even this resource failed her, for by
this time Wolsey had quarrelled with
the emperor, and according to those
selfish views by which his public policy
was often directed, had prevailed upon
his royal master to conclude a treaty
with France,
a deathblow to the
hopes of the Scottish queen, and the
prospects of the French faction. In
the proceedings of the same parlia-

3 Caligula, b. vii. 3. Letter of Magnus to
Wolsey, Edinburgh, 31st March.


ment there occurs a strong indication
of the increase of the principles of the
Reformation; and we learn the im­
portant fact that the books of Luther
had made their way into Scotland, and
excited the jealousy of the Church. It
was enacted that no merchants or
foreigners should dare to bring into
the realm, which had hitherto firmly
persevered in the holy faith, any such
treatises, on pain of imprisonment
and the forfeiture of their ships and
cargoes; and it was enjoined that all
persons who publicly professed such
doctrines should be liable to the same

An embassy now proceeded to Eng­
land, a truce of three years was con­
cluded ; and whilst the queen-mother
retained merely a nominal authority,
the whole of the real power of the
state gradually centred in Angus and
the chancellor. A feeble attempt was
indeed made by Arran to prevent by
force the ratification of the truce ; and
for a moment the appearance of a body
of five thousand men, which advanced
to Linlithgow, threatened to plunge
the country into war; but the storm
was dissipated by the promptitude of
Douglas. Taking the king along with
him, and supported by the terror of
the royal name, he instantly marched
against the rebels, who, without at­
tempting to oppose him, precipitately
retreated and dispersed.2

At this moment the country, so long
distracted by the miseries of Border
war and internal anarchy, enjoyed
something like a prospect of tran­
quillity. A pacification of three years
had been concluded with England;3
and this was an important step to­
wards the marriage which had been
lately contemplated between the young
king and the princess Mary, The alli­
ance between England and France had
destroyed, for the moment, the French
party in Scotland, and removed that
fertile source of misery which arose to
that country out of the hostilities of
these great rivals; the anxiety of
1 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
II. p. 295.

2 Pinkerton, vol. ii. p. 271. Lesley, p. 133.
3 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. pp. 296, 297.

Henry to accomplish a reconciliation
between Angus and his sister the
queen was sincere; and if Margaret
had consented to a sacrifice of her pri­
vate feelings, it would have probably
been attended with the best effects.
Magnus, whose prolonged residence in
the capital as the envoy of England
was disliked by the people, had, by
his departure, removed this cause of
enmity; and the able Lord Dacre,
whose intrigues for so many years had
sown disunion and treachery amongst
the nobles, and defeated every exertion
of the well-affected to promote peace
and good government, was removed by
death from the stormy element in
which he had presided.4

Everything, therefore, seemed to
promise repose; but this fair prospect
was defeated by the obstinacy of the
queen-mther, and the towering ambi­
tion of Douglas. Blinded by her attach­
ment to Stewart, Margaret would not
for a moment listen to the proposal of
a reunion with her husband; and he,
who desired it not from any affection,
but with the motive of possessing him­
self of her large estates, renounced all
desire of reconciliation the moment
he discovered that the council would
withhold their consent from such a
project. The divorce accordingly was
pronounced with that mischievous
facility which marked the prostitution
of the ecclesiastical law; and scarcely
was the sentence passed when Margaret
precipitately wedded her paramour,
Henry Stewart, who disdained to ask
the consent of the king, or to com­
municate the event to his chief minis­
ters. Incensed at this presumption in

4 This able and busy lord, whose MS. cor­
respondence, first opened by the acute Pinker-
ton, presents the most interesting materials
for the history of this period, is entitled to the
equivocal merit of being the inventor of that
policy which was afterwards carried to per­
fection by the sagacious Burleigh under
Elizabeth: the policy of strengthening the go­
vernment of his sovereign by the organised
system of corruption, bribery, and dissen­
sions, which he encouraged in the sister-
kingdom ; he died 25th October 1525. Pinker-
ton informs us the estates of Dacre after­
wards passed by marriage to the Howards,
earls of Carlisle. It is possible, therefore,
that in the papers of that noble house, there
may be some of Lord Dacre’s manuscripts.

1525-6.] JAMES V. 337

an untitled subject, the lords of the
council, in the name of the king, sent
Lord Erskine with a small military
force to Stirling, where the queen re­
sided ; and the princess was compelled
to deliver up her husband, who sub­
mitted to the ignominy of a temporary

Hitherto the great object of Angus
had been to accomplish a reconciliation
with the queen, and, possessing her in­
fluence and estates, with the custody
of the king’s person, he thus hoped to
engross the supreme power. This
scheme was now at an end, and its dis­
comfiture drove him upon new and
more violent courses. His authority
in the capital, and throughout the
whole of the south of Scotland, was
immense ; since the marriage of the
queen, he had effected a union with
Arran and his adherents,—a party
which, in feudal dignity and vassalage,
was scarcely inferior to his own; he
was warden of the marches, an office
of great authority; and his place as
one of the council of state gave him,
according to the act of a recent parlia­
ment, a command over the person of
the young king, which he had em­
ployed with great success to win his
boyish affections. The party of Albany
had gradually disappeared; the queen
since her marriage had fallen into con­
tempt : Lennox, one of the most
powerful of the peers, had become a
firm ally of Angus; and nothing but
the authority of the secret council,
which resided chiefly in the Chancellor
Beaton, stood between the earl and the
entire command of the state. In these
circumstances, an artful stroke of
Douglas’s enabled him at once to
reach the summit of his ambition.

The king had now completed his
fourteenth year, a period when, by the
law of the country, his majority as
an independent sovereign commenced.
The event took place in April, and be­
tween this period and the month of
June, Angus appears to have matured
his plans. On the 13th of that month,
a parliament assembled at Edinburgh,
and an ordinance was suddenly passed

1 Lesley, p. 133. Caligula, b. vii. 29. Sir
William Dacre to Wolsey, 2d April 1525.

which declared that the minority of
the sovereign was at an end; that the
royal prerogative now rested solely in
the hands of the king, who had as­
sumed the government of the realm,
and that all other authority which had
been delegated to any person whatever
was annulled;2 a measure against which,
as it was founded apparently on the
most substantial legal grounds, neither
the chancellor nor the secret council
could protest, but which in one mo­
ment destroyed their power. But al­
though the statute which gave the
powers of the government to the
secret council was annulled, the act
of the three estates, which intrusted
the keeping of the king’s person to
certain peers in rotation, remained in
force,—of these, Angus was one; and
this crafty statesman had taken care
to convene the p
arliament at the pre­
cise time when, by a former act, it be­
longed to himself and the Archbishop
of Glasgow to assume the guardianship
of the king, so that this new resolution
of the three estates evidently placed
the supreme power in the hands of
him who had the custody of the sove­
reign. It was an able stroke of policy,
but it could not have occurred under
any other than a feudal government.

To mask this usurpation, a new
secret council was appointed, consist­
ing chiefly of the friends of Angus, and
including the Archbishop of Glasgow,
the prelates of Aberdeen and Galloway,
the Earls of Argyle, Morton, Lennox,
and Glencairn, with the Lord Maxwell,
whose advice, it was declared, his grace
the sovereign will use for the welfare
of the realm ; but it was shortly per­
ceived that their authority was cen­
tred in Angus alone, and that it was
to be wielded with no mild or impar­
tial sway. One of their first acts was
to grant a remission to themselves for
all crimes, robberies, or treasons, com­
mitted by them during the last nine­
teen years ;3 and within a few months

2 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. p. 301. Crawford’s Officers of State, pp.
67, 68.

3 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. p. 307. This remission the Douglases
afterwards pleaded in 1528. Acts of Parlia­
ment, vol. ii. p. 323.



there was not an office of trust or
emolument in the kingdom which was
not filled by a Douglas, or by a creature
of that house : Archibald Douglas of
Kilspindy was made high-treasurer;
Erskine of Halton, secretary; Crich-
ton, abbot of Holyrood, a man wholly
devoted to the interests of Angus,
privy-seal; and, to crown the whole,
the earl sent a peremptory message to
Beaton, requiring him to resign the
great seal, which this prelate not dar­
ing to disobey, he without delay in­
stalled himself in the office of chan­

The ancient tyranny of the house of
Douglas now once more shot up into
a strength which rivalled or rather
usurped the royal power; the Borders
became the scene of tumult and con­
fusion, and the insolence of the nume­
rous vassals of this great family was
intolerable. Murders, spoliations, and
crimes of varied enormity were com­
mitted with impunity. The arm of
the law, paralysed by the power of an
unprincipled faction, did not dare to
arrest the guilty ; the sources of jus­
tice were corrupted, ecclesiastical dig­
nities of high and sacred character
became the prey of daring intruders,
or were openly sold to the highest
bidder, and the young monarch, who
was watched with the utmost jealousy
and rigour, began to sigh over a cap­
tivity, of which he could not look for
a speedy termination.

Such excesses at length roused the
indignation of the kingdom; and Len­
nox, one of the most honest of the
peers, secretly seceded from Angus.
It was now the middle of summer,
and as the Armstrongs had broken
out into their usual excesses on the
Borders, Angus, with the young king
in his company, conducted an expedi­
tion against them, which was attended
with slight success. Before this, how­
ever, James had contrived to transmit
a secret message to Lennox and the
laird of Buccleuch, a potent vassal of
that house, which complained bitterly
of the durance in which he was held by
the Douglases; and as the royal caval­
cade was returning by Melrose to Edin­
burgh, Walter Scott of Buccleuch sud­

denly appeared on a neighbouring
height, and, at the head of a thousand
men, threw himself between Angus
and the route to the capital.1 Douglas
instantly sent a messenger, who com­
manded the Border chief, in the royal
name, to dismiss his followers; but
Scott bluntly answered that he knew
the king’s mind better than the
proudest baron amongst them, and
meant to keep his ground, and do
obeisance to his sovereign, who had
honoured the Borders with his pre­
sence.2 The answer was meant and
accepted as a defiance, and Angus in­
stantly commanded his followers to
dismount; his brother George, with
the Earls of Maxwell and Lennox,
forming a guard round the young king,
retired to a little hillock in the neigh­
bourhood, whilst the earl, with Flem­
ing, Home, and Ker of Cessford, pro­
ceeded with levelled spears, and at a
rapid pace, against Buccleuch, who
also awaited them on foot. His chief
followers, however, were outlawed men
of the Borders, whose array offered a
feeble resistance to the determined
charge of the armed knights belonging
to Angus ; the conflict accordingly was
short, eighty of the party of Buccleuch
were slain, the chief was compelled to
retire; and, on the side of the Doug­
lases, the only material loss was the
death of Cessford, a brave baron, who
was lamented by both parties.3

Not long after this, another and
more determined effort to rescue the
king from his ignominious thraldom
was made by Lennox, who, it was pri­
vately suspected, had encouraged the
attempt of Buccleuch. Having leagued
himself with the chancellor and the
queen, this nobleman advanced to Stir­
ling at the head of an army of ten
thousand men, whilst, with the hope
of conciliating his hostility, the Doug­
lases despatched against him his uncle
Arran, who commanded a superior
force. The mission, however, was
vain : Lennox declared that he would
enter the capital, and rescue his sove-

1 Lesley, p. 134.

2 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. p. 330.

3 Ibid. p. 312.

1526-7.] JAMES V. 339

reign, or die in the attempt. Arran
instantly despatched a messenger to
Angus, then at Edinburgh; who, com­
manding the trumpets to sound, dis­
played the royal banner, and, unable
to restrain his impatience, pushed on
towards Linlithgow, leaving the king
to follow, under the charge of his bro­
ther, Sir George Douglas. It was on
this occasion that a slight circumstance
occurred which produced afterwards
important effects, and marked the
ferocious manners of the times. The
young monarch, who was fond of
Lennox, and knew that he had taken
arms from affection to his person, ad­
vanced slowly and unwillingly, and
was bitterly reproached for his delay
by Douglas. On reaching Corstor-
phine the distant sound of the artil­
lery announced the commencement of
the battle, and his conductor urging
speed, broke into passionate and brutal
menaces. “ Think not,” said he, “ that
in any event you shall escape us—for
even were our enemies to gain the
day, rather than surrender your per­
son, we should tear it into pieces;"a
threat which made an indelible im­
pression on the royal mind, and was
never forgiven.1 Meanwhile the action
had commenced; and Arran having,
with considerable military skill, seized
the bridge across the river Avon,
about a mile to the west of Linlith-
gow, Lennox found himself compelled
to attempt a passage at a difficult ford,
opposite the nunnery of Manuel,—an
enterprise by which his soldiers were
thrown into disorder, and exposed to a
severe fire from the enemy. Yet they
made good their passage, and some
squadrons, as they pressed up the op­
posite bank, attacked the army of
Arran with great gallantry; but their
array had been broken, they found it
impossible to form, and were already
giving way, when the terrible shout
of “Douglas,” rose from the advanc­
ing party of Angus, and the rout
became complete.2 Lennox himself
fell amongst the foremost ranks, and
Arran, a man of a gentle and affec­
tionate nature, was found kneeling

1 Buchanan, xiv. 28.
2 Lesley, p. 136.

beside the bleeding body of his uncle,
which he had covered with his cloak,
and passionately exclaiming that the
victory had been dearly purchased by
the death of the wisest and bravest
knight in Scotland.3 The triumph of
Angus was great; his power was con­
solidated by the total failure of the
coalition against it, and the chains of
the young king appeared more firmly
riveted than ever.

It was hardly to be expected that
the Douglases would use their suc­
cess with moderation, or neglect the
opportunity it offered to destroy ef­
fectually the power of their enemies.
They accordingly made a rapid march
to Stirling, with the intention of
seizing the queen and the chancellor;
but both had fled, and Beaton found
the pursuit so hot, that he was com­
pelled for some time to
assume the
disguise of a shepherd, and to conceal
himself in the mountains till the
alarm was over.4 The distress of the
young king was great on hearing
of the death of Lennox, and it rose
to a feeling of the deepest resent­
ment, when he discovered that after
he had surrendered, he was murdered
in cold blood by Hamilton, the bas­
tard of Arran, a ferocious partisan of
Angus. On hearing that the day was
going against him, James had sent
forward Sir Andrew Wood, with ear­
nest entreaties that his life might be
spared, but in the rejoicings for their
victory, his humanity was treated with
derision by the Douglases, whose
triumph soon after seemed complete,
when Henry the Eighth despatched
his letters to offer them his congratu­
lations on their late successes, with his
best advice for the education of his
nephew, and the entire destruction of
their enemies.5

Upon this last point Angus scarcely
needed instruction; and having con­
voked a parliament, he proceeded,
with no gentle hand, to the work of
spoliation and vengeance. It was first
declared, that his and Arran’s proceed­
ings in the late rebellion of Lennox,

3 Lindsay, 215. 4 Ibid. 217.

5 Caligula, b. vii. 67, 69. Sir Thomas More
to Wolsey, 21st Sept.


were undertaken for the good of the
king, and the safety of the common­
wealth ; and this act was followed by
the forfeiture of the estates of the in­
surgent lords. To Arran were pre­
sented the lands of Cassillis and Evan-
dale; to Sir George Douglas the estate
of Stirling of Keir, who had been
slain; whilst Angus took for himself
the ample principality of Lord Lind­
say, and the lands of all the eastern
and northern barons who had support­
ed Lennox. To the queen-mother, for
whom the king had become a suppliant,
he behaved with moderation. She was
invited to the capital, welcomed on her
approach by her son, who met her with
a numerous retinue, permitted to con­
verse with him familiarly, and received
with courtesy by Angus,—a conduct
adopted out of respect to Henry the
Eighth, and which shewed that her
power was at an end; Beaton the
chancellor had, in the meantime, by
large gifts and the sacrifice of the
abbey of Kilwinning, made his peace
with his enemies, and counted himself
happy in being permitted to retire
from court; whilst Arran, the success­
ful colleague of Angus, becoming a
prey to the most gloomy remorse for
the death of Lennox, shut himself up
in one of his castles, and declined all
interference in matters of state. The
government was thus abandoned to an
undivided despotism, and the tyranny
of the house of Douglas became every
day more intolerable to the nation. To
bear the name was esteemed sufficient
to cover the most atrocious crime, even
in the streets of the capital; and, dur­
ing the sitting of parliament, a baron
who had murdered his opponent on
the threshold of the principal church,
was permitted to walk openly abroad,
solely because he was a Douglas; and
no one, by his apprehension, dared to
incur the vengeance of its chief,1

There were men, however, bred in
these iron times, and nursed in that
enthusiastic attachment to their chief,

1 Caligula, b. vi. 420. Sir C. Dacre to Lord
William Dacre, Dec. 2, 1526. The murderer
mentioned in the text was the Laird of Lochin-
var, who had slain the Laird of Bondby at St
Giles’ kirk door. " As for th’ ord’ring of God’s
justice there is noon done in all Scotland.”

created by the feudal principle, who
despised all danger, in the desire of
fulfilling their duty. Of this an event,
which now occurred, strikingly de­
monstrated the truth. A groom of
Lennox, having arrived in the capital,
whether by accident or intention does
not appear, met a fellow-servant in
the street, and eagerly demanded if
he had seen Hamilton the bastard of
Arran? “I have, and but a short
time since,” was the reply. “ What ! “
said he, “ and wert thou so ungrateful
a recreant to thy murdered lord, as to
permit him to live ?—begone ! thou
art unworthy of so noble a master.”
With these words this daring man
sought the palace, where a numerous
body of the retainers of Douglas were
mustering for a projected expedition
to the Borders. Singling out Hamil­
ton from amongst them, he watched
him till he left the assembly, and
springing upon him as he entered a
dark passage, repeatedly buried his
dagger in his bosom, leaving him
stretched, with six wounds, apparently
lifeless upon the ground. As the cry
of blood arose, he darted into the
midst of the crowd, and might have
eluded pursuit but for an order which
commanded the palace gates to be
closed, and all within the court to
draw up against its walls. This scru­
tiny instantly led to the seizure of the
assassin, who was discovered, accord­
ing to the strong expression of the
Scottish law, “Red hand,” with the
marks of recent blood upon his dagger
and his person.1 On hearing that
Hamilton was likely to survive, he
bitterly upbraided himself for the
failure of his purpose, and when, in
the tortures which preceded his exe­
cution, his right hand was amputated,
observed, that it merited such a fate,
not for its crime, but for its failure.
Such were the tempers and the prin­
ciples which grew out of the feudal

To atone for the injustice of his
usurpation, Angus, during his progress
to the Borders, assumed a severity
which constrained the Armstrongs
and their lawless adherents to re-

1 Lesley, p. 139, Buchanan, xiv. c. 31,

1527-8.] JAMES V. 341

nounce, for a season, their ferocious
habits, and to give hostages for their
future obedience to the government.
He next proceeded to appease a deadly
feud which had broken out between
the families of Lesley and Forbes, and
whose ramifications of private ven­
geance, extending through the dis­
tricts of Mar, Garioch, and Aberdeen,
plunged the country in blood.

The Highlands, remote from the
seat of government, and completely
neglected since the defeat at Flod-
den, had gradually relapsed into a
state of almost irretrievable disorder.
Where the law was not totally for­
gotten, it was perverted to the worst
purposes of rapine and injustice; its
processes were employed to screen the
spoiler and. the murderer; crimes
which mingled in their character the
ferocity of a savage with the polished
cunning of a refined age were perpe­
trated with impunity; and the venal
government of Angus neglected the
outrages which they found it lucrative
to countenance and almost impossible
to repress.

Matters at last proceeded to such
an extremity, that the alternative of
immediate interference, or the entire
separation of the remoter northern
counties from the government was
presented. Lachlan Macintosh, chief
of the noted clan Chattan, was mur­
dered by Malcolmson, his near relative,
for no other reason than that he had
endeavoured to restrain the excesses
of his retainers.2 The assassin escap­
ing, buried himself in an island of the
lake of Rothiemurchy in Strathspey;
but his retreat was invaded, and he fell
a victim to the vengeance of the clans­
men. The infant son of the chief was
delivered to the keeping of the Earl of
Moray; and Hector his bastard brother,
succeeded to the temporary command
of the clan, till the majority of his
nephew. Scarcely had he assumed
this dignity, when he sent Moray a
peremptory order to deliver up the
infant, and, on his refusal, mercilessly
ravaged his lands, sacked the town of
Dyke, which belonged to him, and
stormed and razed to the ground his
1 Lesley, p, 136. 2 Ibid. p. 137.

castle of Tarnaway.3 Nor was this
enough : the young heir of Macintosh
had been committed to the care of the
Ogilvies, Moray’s near kinsmen; and,
to revenge this imaginary insult, the
ferocious mountaineer appeared before
the castle of Pettie, belonging to
Ogilvy of Durness, and, carrying it by
assault, murdered twenty-four of their
house. But the triumph was brief;
for when Hector was about to continue
his outrages, Moray, who had procured
a royal commission, rapidly assembled
an army, and suddenly invading the
Macintoshes, defeated them with the
utmost slaughter. Two hundred of
the principal delinquents were made
prisoners, and led to instant execu­
tion; but the chief himself escaped;
and such was the fidelity of his clans­
men, that neither rewards nor tortures
could induce them to disclose the
place of his retreat. His brother,
however, was seized and hanged,
whilst Hector, flying to the capital,
obtained the royal mercy only to fall
a victim to the dagger of a monk at
St Andrews, whose history and mo­
tive are alike unknown.4 Amid these
dark and sanguinary scenes, the govern­
ment of Angus continued firm, being
strengthened by the friendship of
England, to whose interests he cor­
dially attached himself, and by the
apparent accession of the chancellor
Beaton. The great wealth of this
crafty prelate, and the liberality with
which it was distributed to the Doug­
lases, obtained for him a ready ob­
livion of his former opposition; and,
although Sir George Douglas warned
his brother of the dangerous designs
which might be in agitation under the
pretended reconciliation, Angus, who
was inferior to his rival in a talent for
intrigue, derided his suspicion.

The reconciliation of the archbishop
to his powerful rivals, and his re-
admission to a share in the govern­
ment, were signalised by a lamentable
event,—the arraignment and death of
Patrick Hamilton, abbot of Ferne, the
earliest, and, in some respects, the
most eminent of the Scottish re-

3 Now called Darnaway, on the river Find-
4 Lesley, p. 138.


formers. This youthful sufferer was
the son of Sir Patrick Hamilton of
Kincavil, and Catherine Stewart,
daughter of the Duke of Albany.
Educated at St Andrews, in what
was then esteemed the too liberal
philosophy of John Mair, the master
of Knox and Buchanan, he early dis­
tinguished himself by a freedom of
mind, which detected and despised
the tenets of the schoolmen. He after­
wards imbibed, probably from the
treatises of Luther, a predilection for
the new doctrines; and, being sum­
moned before an ecclesiastical council,
he preferred at that time, when his
faith was still unsettled, an escape to
the continent to the dangerous glory
of defending his opinions. At Wittem-
berg, he sought and obtained the
friendship of Luther and Melancthon;
they recommended him to the care of
Lambert, the head of the university
of Marpurg, and by this learned
scholar Hamilton became fully in­
structed in the reformed opinions.
No sooner did
a full conviction of the
errors of the church of Rome take
possession of his mind, than a change
seemed to be wrought in his char­
acter; he that before had been scep­
tical and timid, became courageous,
almost to rashness; and, resisting the
tears and entreaties of his affection­
ate master, declared his resolution of
returning to Scotland, and preach­
ing the faith in his native country
He embarked, arrived in 1527 at
St Andrews, publicly addressed the
people, and, after
a brief and zealous
career, was arrested by the ecclesias­
tical arm, and thrown into prison.
His youth, (he was then only twenty-
eight,) his talents, his amiable and
gentle manners, interested all in his
favour; and many attempts were
made to induce him to retract his
opinions, or, at least, to cease to dis­
turb the tranquillity of the church by
their promulgation to the people.
But all was in vain : he considered
this tranquillity not the stillness of
peace, but the sleep of ignorance; he
defended his doctrines with such ear­
nestness and acquaintance with Scrip-
1 Spottiswood, pp. 62, 63. Knox, pp. 7, 8.

ture, that Aless, a Catnolic priest, who
had visited him in his cell with a
desire to shake his resolution, became
himself a convert to the captive, and
he was at last condemned as an ob­
stinate heretic, and led to the stake.
On the scaffold, he turned affection­
ately to his servant, who had long
attended him, and, taking off his
gown, coat, and cap, bade him receive
all the worldly goods now left him to
bestow, and with them the example
of his death. “ What I am about to
suffer, my dear friend,” said he, “ ap­
pears fearful and bitter to the flesh ;
but, remember, it is the entrance to
everlasting life, which none shall
possess who deny their Lord.” 2 In
the midst of his torments, which, from
the awkwardness of the executioner,
were protracted and excruciating, he
ceased not to exhort those who stood
near, exhibiting a meekness and un­
affected courage, which made a deep
impression. Lifting up his eyes to
heaven, he exclaimed, “ How long, 0
God ! shall darkness cover this king­
dom ? How long wilt thou suffer this
tyranny of men? “ and when death at
last came to his relief, he expired with
these blessed words upon his lips,
“ Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
The leading doctrines of Hamilton
were explained by himself in a small
Latin treatise, which has been trans­
lated by Fox, and incorporated in his
Book of Martyrs. It contains a clear
exposition of the manner in which a
sinner is justified before God, through
faith in Jesus Christ, and a beautiful
commentary on some of the princi­
pal Christian graces. Although occa­
sionally quaint and obscure, it proves
that the mind of this good man was in
advance of his age, at least in Scot­

It was now two years since Angus
had obtained the supreme power. Dur­
ing this time the despotism of the

2 There is “some reason to believe that a
scheme for his rescue had been organized by
Andrew Duncan of Airdrie, in Fife, one of
his most attached followers, but it was dis­
covered and defeated.

3 Biographia Brit. Art. Duncan, Kippis’

4 Knox, p. 8, Glagow edition.

1528.] JAMES V. 343

house of Douglas had been complete ;
and the history of the country pre­
sented the picture of a captive mon­
arch,1 a subservient and degraded no­
bility, and a people groaning under
oppression, yet bound by the ties of
the miserable system under which they
lived to the service of their oppressors.
To use the strong and familiar language
of an ancient historian, “ the Douglases
would frequently take a progress to
punish thieves and traitors, yet none
were found greater than in their own
company;” and an attempt made at
this time, by the arch-plunderer him­
self, to obtain possession of the queen’s
dowry lands, so alarmed Margaret and
her husband that, giving way to terror,
they suddenly threw themselves into
the castle of Edinburgh. But Doug­
las, taking the young monarch in his
company, and summoning the lieges to
muster under the royal standard, laid
siege to the fortress; and Margaret,
although she knew that her son was
an unwilling enemy, and weary of his
fetters, did not dare to disobey his
summons. Falling on her knees be­
fore the king, she presented the keys
of the fortress, and implored pardon
for herself and her husband, whilst
Angus, in the insolence of uncontroll­
able dominion, smiled at her constrain­
ed submission, and ordered Henry
Stewart to a temporary imprisonment.2
The secret history of this enormous
power on the one hand, and implicit
obedience on the other, is to be found
in the fact that the Douglases were
masters of the king’s person : they
compelled the young monarch to affix
his signature to any deeds which they
chose to offer him. Angus was chan­
cellor, and the great seal at his com­

1 In Caligula, b. ii. 118, Aug. 30th, 1527, is
a letter from Magnus to Wolsey, which shews
that James had ineffectually remonstrated
to Henry VIII. against the thraldom in
which he was held by Angus. “ This daye,”
says Magnus, “ passed from hence a chaplaine
of the Bishoppe of St Andrews, wyth a letter
addressed from the younge kyng of Scottes to
the kinge’s hieness, a copy whereof I send ;
mencioning, among other thynges, that the
said yong king, contrary his will and mynd,
is kept in thraldom and captivitie with Archi­
bald erle of Anguisshe.”

2 Lesley, p. 140,

mand; his uncle was treasurer, and
the revenues, as well as the law of the
country, with its terrible processes of
treason and forfeiture, were completely
under his control. So long as James
remained a captive all this powerful
machinery was theirs, and their autho­
rity, which it supported, could not be
shaken; but as soon as the king became
free, the tyrannical system was under­
mined in its foundation, and certain to

The moment destined for the libera­
tion of the monarch and the country
was now at hand; nor can it be doubt­
ed that James, who had completed his
sixteenth year, and began to develop a
character of great vigour and capacity,
was the chief contriver of the plot for
his freedom. Beaton, the ex-chancellor
and his assistant in his schemes, hav­
ing given a magnificent entertainment
to the young king and the Douglases
in his palace of St Andrews, so com­
pletely succeeded in blinding the eyes
of Angus, that the conspiracy for his
destruction was matured when he
deemed himself most secure.3 James
prevailed first on his mother, whom it
was not deemed prudent to entrust
with the secret, to exchange with him
her castle of Stirling for the lands of
Methven, in Strathern, to be given with
the dignity of peer to her husband; and
having placed this fortress in the hands
of a captain on whose fidelity he could
rely, he induced Angus, under some
plausible pretext, to permit him to re­
move to his palace of Falkland, within
a moderate distance from St Andrews.4
It was here easy for him to communi­
cate with Beaton, and nothing remained
but to seize a favourable moment for
the execution of their design : nor was
this long of presenting itself. Lulled
into security by the late defeat of the
queen, and the well-feigned indiffer­
ence of the chancellor, the Douglases

3 Caligula, b. iii. 136. By a letter of Thomas
Loggen, one of Magnus’s spies, to that am­
bassador, it appears that the Douglases had
detected Beaton secretly writing to the pope,
representing his services, and requesting a
cardinal’s hat. It is singular this did not
make Angus more cautious. Lindsay, p. 206.

4 Caligula, b. vii. 73. Credence gevin by
the Queene of Scots to Walter Taite.


had for a while intermitted their rigid
watch over the king. Angus had
passed to Lothian, on his private af­
fairs; Archibald, his uncle, to Dundee ;
and Sir George Douglas, the master of
the royal household, having entered
into some transactions with Beaton
regarding their mutual estates, had
been induced by that prelate to leave
the palace for a brief season, and to
visit him at St Andrews; only Doug­
las of Parkhead, captain of the royal
guard, was left with the young mon­
arch, who instantly took his measures
for escape. Calling Balfour of Ferny,
the keeper of Falkland forest and
chamberlain of Fife, he issued orders
for a hunting party next morning,
commanding him to warn the tenantry,
and assemble the best dogs in the
neighbourhood; he then took supper,
went early to bed, under pretence of
being obliged to rise next morning be­
fore daybreak, and dismissed the cap­
tain of his guard, who, without suspi­
cion, left the royal apartment. When
all was quiet in the palace, James
started from his couch, disguised him­
self as a yeoman of the guard, stole to
the stable, attended by two faithful
servants, and, throwing himself upon
a fleet horse, reached Stirling before
sunrise. On passing the bridge, then
secured by a gate and tower, he com­
manded it to be shut, and kept so at
the peril of the warden’s life; and
then, proceeding to the castle, the go­
vernor, in a tumult of delight to be­
hold his sovereign free, knelt down,
and tendered his homage as he pre­
sented the keys of the fortress, amid
the shouts and rejoicings of the gar­
rison. Worn out with anxiety and
travel, James now snatched a few
hours of sleep; and couriers having
been despatched in the interval, he
awoke to see himself surrounded by
his nobles, and felt, for the first time
in his life, that he was a free monarch.1
His first act was to summon a council,
and issue a proclamation that no lord
or follower of the house of Douglas
should dare to approach within six

1 Lindsay, Hist. pp. 218, 219. Lesley, p.
140. Caligula, b. vii. 73. Credence of the
queen of Scots to Walter Tait.

miles of the court, under pain of trea-
son,—a step strongly indicating that
vigour and judgment which marked

his future administration. The meet-
ing was attended by the Earls of Arran,
Argyle, Eglinton, and Moray, with the
Lords Evandale, Sinclair, Maxwell, and

Meanwhile, all this had passed with
such speed and secrecy, that the Doug­
lases still believed the king safe in the
palace of Falkland; and so secure did

they esteem themselves, that Sir
George Douglas, the master of the
household, arriving late in the even­
ing, and hearing that James had re­
tired for the night, made no further
inquiries, but sought his own cham­
ber. A loud and early knocking
awoke him; and Carmichael, the bailie
of Abernethy, rushing in, demanded if
he had lately seen the king. “His
grace,” said Douglas, “ is yet in bed.”
“ No, no,” cried Carmichael, “ ye are
all deceived and betrayed; the king
has passed the bridge of Stirling.”
Sir George now flew to the royal apart­
ment, found it locked, burst open the
door with his foot, and, to his conster­
nation, found that the report was true.
The royal vestments, which had been
thrown off for the friendly disguise,
lay upon the unoccupied couch; and
Douglas, awakening to the full extent
of the calamity, stood for an instant
rooted to the ground, in an agony of
rage and disappointment. To raise
the cry of treason, and to summon
Angus and his uncle, was the work of
a few minutes; within a few
Angus himself and Archibald Douglas
arrived in breathless haste, and with­
out further delay, the three lords, ac­
companied by a slender retinue, set

2 In an unpublished letter of Angus to Dr
Magnus, (March 15, 1527,) Caligula, b. i. 105,
the vigilance of that peer is strongly marked.
In excusing himself for not keeping his ap­
pointment, he says, “ Thyrdly, as the caiss
stands, I dar not a ventur to depairt fra the
keping of the kingis person, for danger that
way appears ; for all the lords ar departit of
toun, nane uther lords remayning with his
grace as now, bot my lord of Glasgow, Leve-
nax, and I; and as I belief the kingis grace
of Ingland norze suld be easie, yat I depairt
fra the keping of my said soveran’s person, in
this tyme of necessitie, sic perell appearing
and brekis throu thir lait novellis,”

1528.] JAMES V. 345

out for Stirling. Before they had
proceeded any distance, they were met
by the herald intrusted with the royal
proclamation; and this officer, reigning
up his horse, boldly read the act,
which prohibited their approach to
court under the pain of treason. For
a moment they hesitated: the heredi­
tary and haughty fearlessness of their
house impelled them to proceed; but
the terror of the royal name arrested

their steps; and the same weapons
which they had found invincible in
their own grasp were now employed
against themselves. All the penalties
of treason, the loss of their property,
the desertion of their vassals, the for­
feiture of their lives, rose in fearful
array before them; and, with impreca­
tions against their own carelessness and
folly, they turned their horses’ heads,
and slowly rode back to Linlithgow.1

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