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The departure of Perkin Warbeck
from Scotland was followed, after a
short interval, by a truce with Eng-

1 Treasurer's Books, July 27,1497. “ Item,
ressavit of Sir Thos Tod for iii pund wecht,
foure unce and three quarters of an unce of
gold in xxxvi linkis of the great chain, coined
by the king’s command, iiiicxxxii unicorns
iiiclxix lbs. xvi shillings.” Ibid. Feb. 20,
1496. Again, in the Treasurer's Books, Aug.
4, 1497, we find eighteen links struck off the
great chain, weighing thirty-five ounces,

land. It was evidently the interest of
Henry the Seventh and of James to
be at peace. The English monarch
was unpopular; every attack by a

coined into two hundred unicorns and a half.
Sir Thomas Tod was rather a dangerous per­
son to be placed in an office of such trust.
See supra, p. 252.

2 Illustrations, letter U.

3  Treasurer's Books, July 5,1497.

4 Treasurer's Books, July 6,1497. Illustra­
tions letter V. Note on Perkin Warbeck.

1497.]                                              JAMES IV.                                                  265

foreign power endangered the stabi­
lity of his government, encouraging
domestic discontent, and strengthen­
ing the hands of his enemies : on the
side of the Scottish king there were
not similar causes of alarm, for he was
strong in the affections of his sub­
jects, and beloved by his nobility;
but grave and weighty cares en­
grossed his attention, and these were
of a nature which could be best pur­
sued in a time of peace. The state of
the revenue, the commerce and do­
mestic manufactures of his kingdom,
and the deficiency of his marine, had
now begun to occupy an important
place in the thoughts of the still
youthful sovereign : the disorganised
condition of the more northern por­
tions of his dominions demanded also
the exertion of his utmost vigilance;
so that he listened not unwillingly to
Henry’s proposals of peace, and to the
overture for a matrimonial alliance,
which was brought forward by the
principal Commissioner of England,
Fox, bishop of Durham. The pacific
disposition of James appears to have
been strengthened by the judicious
counsels of Pedro D’Ayala, the
Spanish envoy at the court of Henry
the Seventh : this able foreigner had
received orders from his sovereigns,
Ferdinand and Isabella, to visit Scot­
land as the ambassador from their
Catholic majesties; and on his arrival
in that country, he soon acquired so
strong an influence over this prince,
that he did not hesitate to nominate
him his chief commissioner for the
conducting his negotiations with Eng­
land. A seven years’ truce was ac­
cordingly concluded at Ayton on
She 31st of September 1497 ; 1 and
in a meeting which took place soon
after, between William de Warham,
Henry’s commissioner, and D’Ayala,
who appeared on the part of James,
it was agreed that this cessation of
hostilities should continue during the
lives of the two monarchs, and for a
year after the death of the survivor.
Having accomplished this object, the
Spanish minister and his suite left the
Scottish court, to the regret of the
Rymer, vol. xii. pp. 673, 678 inclusive.

king, who testified by rich presents
the regard he entertained for them.2

This negotiation with England be­
ing concluded, James had leisure to
turn his attention to his affairs at
home ; and, although in the depth of
winter, with the hardihood which
marked his character, he took a pro­
gress northward as far as Inverness.
It was his object personally to inspect
the state of these remote portions of
his dominions, that he might be able
to legislate for them with greater suc­
cess than had attended the efforts of
his predecessors. The policy which
he adopted was, to separate and
weaken the clans by arraying them in
opposition to each other, to attach to
his service by rewards and preferment
some of their ablest leaders—to main­
tain a correspondence with the re­
motest districts—and gradually to
accustom their fierce inhabitants to
habits of pacific industry, and a res­
pect for the restraints of the laws. It
has been objected to him that his
proceedings towards the Highland
chiefs were occasionally marked by an
unbending rigour, and too slight a
regard for justice ; but his policy may
be vindicated on the ground of ne­
cessity, and even of self-defence.

These severe measures, however,
were seldom resorted to but in cases
of rebellion. To the great body of
his nobility, James was uniformly
indulgent; the lamentable fate of his
father convinced him of the folly of
attempting to rule without them; he
was persuaded that a feudal monarch
at war with his nobles, was deprived
of the greatest sources of his strength
and dignity; and to enable him to
direct their efforts to such objects as
he had at heart, he endeavoured to
gain their affections. Nor was it
difficult to effect this : the course of
conduct which his own disposition
prompted him to pursue, was the best
calculated to render him a favourite
with the aristocracy. Under the
former reign they seldom saw their
prince, but lived in gloomy inde­
pendence at a distance from court,

2 MS. Accounts of the High Treasurer of
Scotland under the 31st of October 1497.

266                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                       [Chap. VI.

resorting thither only on occasions of
state or counsel; and when the par­
liament was ended, or the emergency
had passed away, they returned to
their castles full of complaints against
a system which made them strangers
to their sovereign, and ciphers in the
government. Under James all this
was changed. Affable in his manners,
fond of magnificence, and devoted to
pleasure, the king delighted to see
himself surrounded by a splendid
nobility : he bestowed upon his high­
est barons those offices in his house­
hold which insured a familiar attend­
ance upon his person : his court was
a perpetual scene of revelry and
amusement, in which the nobles vied
with each other in extravagance, and
whilst they impoverished themselves,
became more dependent from this cir­
cumstance upon the sovereign. The
seclusion and inferior splendour of
their own castles became gradually
irksome to them ; as their residence
was less frequent, the ties which
bound their vassals to their service
were loosened, whilst the consequence
was favourable to the royal authority.
But amid the splendour of his
court, and devotion to his pleasures,
James pursued other objects which
were truly laudable. Of these the
most prominent and the most im­
portant was his attention to his navy :
the enterprises of the Portuguese, and
the discoveries of Columbus, had
created a sensation at this period
throughout every part of Europe,
which, in these times, it is perhaps
impossible for us to estimate in its
full force. Every monarch ambitious
of wealth or of glory, became anxious
to share in the triumphs of maritime
adventure and discovery. Henry the
Seventh of England, although in
most cases a cautious and penuri­
ous prince, had not hesitated to en-
courage the celebrated expedition of
John Cabot, a Venetian merchant,
settled at Bristol; and his unwonted
spirit was rewarded by the discovery
of the continent of North America.1

1 Mr Biddel in his Life of Sebastian Cabot,
a work of great acuteness and research, has
endeavoured to shew that the discovery of

A second voyage conducted by his
son Sebastian, one of the ablest navi­
gators of the age, had greatly ex­
tended the range of our geographical
knowledge; and the genius of the
Scottish prince, catching fire at the
successes of the neighbouring king­
dom, became eager to distinguish
itself in a similar career of naval en­

But a fleet was wanting to second
these aspirings; and to supply this
became his principal object. His first
care was wisely directed to those
nurseries of seamen, his domestic
fisheries and his foreign commerce.
Deficient in anything deserving the
name of a royal navy, Scotland was
nevertheless rich in hardy mariners
and enterprising merchants. A for­
mer parliament of this reign had ad­
verted to the great wealth still lost to
the country from the want of a suffi­
cient number of ships, and busses, or
boats, to be employed in the fisheries.2
An enactment was now made that
vessels of twenty tons and upwards
should be built in all the seaports of
the kingdom ; whilst the magistrates
were directed to compel all stout va­
grants who frequented such districts
to learn the trade of mariners, and
labour for their own living.3

Amongst his merchants and private
traders, the king found some men of
ability and experience. Sir Andrew
Wood of Largo, the two Bartons, Sir
Alexander Mathison, William Merri-
month of Leith, whose skill in mari­
time affairs had procured him the
title of “ King of the Sea,” and various
other naval adventurers of inferior
note, were sought out by James, and
treated with peculiar favour and dis-

North America belongs solely to Sebastian
and not to John Cabot. From the examina­
tion of his proofs and authorities, I have
arrived at an opposite conclusion. The
reader who is interested in the subject will
find it discussed in the Appendix to " A His­
torical View of the Progress of Discovery in
North America.”

2  Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. p. 235. “ Anent the greit innumerable
riches yat is tint in fault of schippis and

3  M’Pherson’s Annals of Commerce, vol.
ii. pp. 17, 18.

1497-1502.]                                    JAMES IV.                                                  267

tinction. They were encouraged to
extend their voyages, to arm their
trading vessels, to purchase foreign
ships of war, to import cannon, and
to superintend the building of ships of
force at home. In these cares the
monarch not only took an interest, but
studied the subject with his usual en­
thusiasm, and personally superintended
every detail. He conversed with his
mariners—rewarded the most skilful
and assiduous by presents—visited
familiarly at the houses of his princi­
pal merchants and sea officers—prac­
tised with his artillerymen—often
discharging and pointing the guns,
and delighted in embarking on short
voyages of experiment, in which,
under the tuition of Wood or the Bar­
tons, he became acquainted with the
practical parts of navigation. The
consequences of such conduct were
highly favourable to him : he became
as popular with his sailors as he was
beloved by his nobility; his fame was
carried by them to foreign countries;
shipwrights, cannon-founders, and for­
eign artisans of every description
flocked to his court from France, Italy,
and the Low Countries; and if amongst
these were some impostors, whose pre­
tensions imposed upon the royal cre­
dulity, there were others by whose
skill and genius Scotland rose in the
scale of knowledge and importance.

But the attention of James to his
navy and his foreign commerce, al­
though conspicuous, was not exclu­
sive ; his energy and activity in the
administration of justice, in the sup­
pression of crime, and in the regulation
of the police of his dominions, were
equally remarkable. Under the feudal
government as it then existed in Scot­
land, the obedience paid to the laws,
and the consequent increase of in­
dustry and security of property, were
dependent in a great degree upon the
personal character of the sovereign.
Indolence and inactivity in the monarch
commonly led to disorder and oppres­
sion. The stronger nobles oppressed
their weaker neighbours; murder and
spoliation of every kind were practised
by their vassals; whilst the judges,
deprived of the countenance and pro­

tection of their prince, either did not
dare or did not choose to punish the
delinquents. Personal vigour in the
king was invariably accompanied by a
diminution of crime and a respect for
the laws ; and never was a sovereign
more indefatigable than James in
visiting with this object every district
of his dominions; travelling frequently
alone, at night, and in the most in­
clement seasons, to great distances;
surprising the judge when he least
expected, by his sudden appearance
on the tribunal, and striking terror
into the heart of the guilty by the
rapidity and certainty of the royal
vengeance. Possessed of an athletic
frame, which was strengthened by a
familiarity with all the warlike exer­
cises of the age, the king thought
little of throwing himself on his horse
and riding a hundred miles before he
drew bridle; and on one occasion it
is recorded of him, that he rode un­
attended from his palace of Stirling in
a single day to Elgin, where he per­
mitted himself but a few hours’ repose,
and then pushed on to the shrine of St
Duthoc in Ross.1

Whilst the monarch was occupied
in these active but pacific cares, an
event occurred which, in its conse­
quences, threatened once more to
plunge the two countries into war. A
party of Scottish youths, some of them
highly born, crossed the Tweed at
Norham, and trusting to the protection
of the truce, visited the castle; but
the national antipathy led to a mis­
understanding : they were accused of
being spies, attacked by orders of the
governor, and driven with ignominy
and wounds across the river. James’s
chivalrous sense of honour fired at
this outrage, and he despatched a
herald to England, demanding in­
quiry, and denouncing war if it were
refused. It was fortunate, however,
that the excited passions of this prince
were met by quietude and prudence
upon the part of Henry; he repre­
sented the event in its true colours,
as an unpremeditated and accidental
attack, for which he felt regret and was
ready to afford redress. Fox, the bishop

1 Lesley’s History, Bannatyne edit. p. 76.

268                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                        [Chap. VI.

of Durham, to whom the castle be­
longed, made ample submissions ; and
the king, conciliated by his flattery,
and convinced by his arguments of
the ruinous impolicy of a war, allowed
himself to be appeased. Throughout
the whole negotiation, the wisdom
and moderation of Henry presented a
striking contrast to the foolish and
overbearing impetuosity of the Scot­
tish monarch : it was hoped, however,
that this headstrong temper would be
subdued by his arrival at a maturer
age; and in the meantime the English
king despatched to the Scottish court
his Vice-Admiral Rydon, to obtain
from James the final ratification of
the truce, which was given at Stirling
on the 20th of July 1499.1

In the midst of these threatenings
of war which were thus happily
averted, it is pleasing to mark the
efforts of an enlightened policy for
the dissemination of learning. By an
act of a former parliament, (1496.)2 it
had been made imperative on all
barons and freeholders, under a fine
of twenty pounds, to send their sons
at the age of nine years to the schools,
where they were to be competently
founded in Latin, and to remain after­
wards three years at the schools of
“ Art and Jury,” so as to insure their
possessing a knowledge of the laws.
The object of this statute was to
secure the appointment of learned
persons to fill the office of sheriffs,
that the poorer classes of the people
might not be compelled from the
ignorance of such judges to appeal to
a higher tribunal. These efforts were
seconded by the exertions of an emin­
ent and learned prelate, Elphinston,
bishop of Aberdeen, who now com­
pleted the building of King’s College
in that city, for the foundation of
which he had procured the Papal bull
in 1494. In the devout spirit of the
age, its original institutions embraced
the maintenance of eight priests and
seven singing boys; but it supported
also professors of divinity, of the civil
and canon law, of medicine and hu-

1 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. xii. p. 728.
Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. p. 238.

manity; fourteen students of phil­
osophy and ten bachelors were edu­
cated within its walls : nor is it un­
worthy of record that (its first prin­
cipal was the noted Hector Boece,
the correspondent of Erasmus, and a
scholar whose classical attainments
and brilliant fancy had already pro­
cured for him the distinction of pro­
fessor of philosophy in Montague
College at Paris. Scotland now pos­
sessed three universities : that of St
Andrews, founded in the commence­
ment of the fifteenth century; Glas­
gow, in the year 1453 ; and Aberdeen
in 1500. Fostered amid the security
of peace, the Muses began to raise
their heads from the slumber into
which they had fallen ; and the genius
of Dunbar and Douglas emulated in
their native language the poetical tri­
umphs of Chaucer and of Gower.3

It was about this time that James
concluded a defensive alliance with
France and Denmark; and Henry the
Seventh, who began to be alarmed lest
the monarch should be flattered by
Lewis the Twelfth into a still more
intimate intercourse, renewed his pro­
posals for a marriage with his daugh­
ter. The wise policy of a union be
tween the Scottish king and the
Princess Margaret had suggested itsell
to the councillors of both countries
some years before; but the extreme
youth of the intended bride, and ar
indisposition upon the part of James
to interrupt by more solemn ties the
love which he bore to his mistress,
Margaret Drummond, the daughter of
Lord Drummond, had for a while put
an end to all negotiations on the sub-
ject. His continued attachment, how-
ever, the birth of a daughter, and,
perhaps, the dread of female influence
over the impetuous character of the
king, began to alarm his nobility, amd
James felt disposed to listen to their
remonstrances. He accordingly de-
spatched his commissioners, the Bishop
of Glasgow, the Earl of Bothwell, his
high admiral, and Andrew Forman.
apostolical prothonotary, to meet with

3 Memoirs of William Dunbar, p. 45, pre-
fixed to Mr Laing’s beautiful edition of u

1502.]                                             JAMES IV.                                                  269

those of Henry; and, after some inter­
val of debate and negotiation, the
marriage treaty was concluded and
signed in the palace of Richmond, on
the 24th of January 1502.1 It was
stipulated that, as the princess had
not yet completed her twelfth year,
her father should not be obliged to
send her to Scotland before the 1st of
September 1503; whilst James en­
gaged to espouse her within fifteen
days after her arrival.2 The queen
was immediately to be put in posses­
sion of all the lands, castles, and
manors, whose revenues constituted
the jointure of the queens-dowager of
Scotland; and it was stipulated that
their annual amount should not be
under the sum of two thousand pounds
sterling. She was to receive during
the lifetime of the king her husband,
a pension of five hundred marks, equi­
valent to one thousand pounds of Scot­
tish money; and in the event of
James’s death, was to be permitted to
reside at her pleasure, either within
or without the limits of Scotland. On
the part of Henry, her dowry, consider­
ing his great wealth, was not munifi­
cent. It was fixed at thirty thousand
nobles, or ten thousand pounds ster­
ling, to be paid by instalments within
three years after the marriage.3 Be­
sides her Scottish servants, the princess
Rymer, Fœdera, vol. xii. pp. 776, 777, 787.

2  Rymer, Fœdera, vol. xii. p, 765, gives the
dispensation for the marriage. It is dated
5th August 1500.

3  At a period as remote as 1281, when silver
was far more valuable than in 1502, Alexan­
der the Third gave with his daughter to the
King of Norway the value of 9333 pounds of
standard silver, one-half in money, for the
other half an annuity in lands, valued at ten
years’ purchase, whilst the stipulated jointure
was to be ten per cent, of her portion.
Henry the Seventh, on the other hand, when
it might be thought more necessary for him
to conciliate the affection of his son-in-law,
gives only 5714 pounds, silver of the same
standard, and stipulates for his daughter a
jointure of twenty percent., besides an allow­
ance for her privy purse.—M’Pherson’s
Annals of Commerce, vol. iv., in Appendix,
Chronological Table oi Prices. The well-
known economy, however, of the English
monarch, and his shrewdness in all money
transactions, preclude us from drawing any
general conclusions from this remarkabl
fact, as to the comparative wealth of Scotland
in the thirteenth and England in the six­
teenth century.

was to be at liberty to keep twenty-
four English domestics, men and
women ; and her household was to be
maintained by her husband in a state
conformable to her high rank as the
daughter and consort of a king. It
was lastly agreed that, should the
queen die without issue before the
three years had expired within which
her dowry was to be paid, the balance
should not be demanded; but in the
event of her death, leaving issue, the
whole sum was to be exacted.4 Such
was this celebrated treaty, in which
the advantages were almost exclusively
on the side of England; for Henry
retained Berwick, and James was con­
tented with a portion smaller than
that which had been promised to the
Prince of Scotland by Edward the
Fourth, when in 1474 this monarch
invited him to marry his daughter
Cæcilia.5 But there seems no ground
for the insinuation of a modern histo­
rian,6 that the deliberations of the
Scottish commissioners had been
swayed by the gold of England; it is
more probable they avoided a too
rigid scrutiny of the treaty, from an
anxiety that an alliance, which pro­
mised to be in every way beneficial to
the country and to the sovereign,
should be carried into effect with as
much speed as possible.

The tender age of the young prin­
cess, however, still prevented her im­
mediate union with the king, and in
the interval a domestic tragedy occur­
red at court, of which the causes are
as dark as the event was deplorable.
It has been already noticed that James,
whose better qualities were tarnished
by an indiscriminate devotion to his
pleasures, had, amid other temporary
amours, selected as his mistress Lady
Margaret Drummond, the daughter of
a noble house, which had already given
a queen to Scotland. At first little
anxiety was felt at such a connexion;
the nobles, in the plurality of the
royal favourites, imagined there ex-

4 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. xii. pp. 787, 792, in­

5  The portion of Cæcilia was 20,000 marks,
equal to £13,333 English money of that age.
—Rymer, Fœdera, vol. xi. pp. 825, 836.

6  Pinkerton. vol. ii. p. 41.

270                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                      [Chap. VI.

isted a safeguard tor the royal honour,
and looked with confidence to James’s
fulfilling his engagements with Eng­
land; but his infatuation seemed to
increase in proportion as the period
for the completion of the marriage
approached. His coffers were ex­
hausted to keep up the splendid estab­
lishment of his mistress : large sums
of money, rich dresses, grants of land
to her relations and needy domestics,
all contributed to drain the revenue,
whilst her influence must have been
alarming. The treaty was yet uncon­
firmed by the oath of the king, and
his wisest councillors began to dread
the consequences. It was in this state
of things that, when residing at Drum-
mond castle, Lady Margaret, along
with her sisters, Euphemia and Sybilla,
were suddenly seized with an illness
which attacked them immediately after
a repast, and soon after died in great
torture, their last struggles exhibiting,
it was said, the symptoms of poison.
The bodies of the fair sufferers were
instantly carried to Dunblane, and
there buried with a precipitancy which
increased the suspicion; yet no steps
were taken to arrive at the truth by
disinterment or examination. It is
possible that a slight misunderstand­
ing between James and Henry con­
cerning the withdrawing the title of
King of France, which the Scottish
monarch had inadvertently permitted
to be given to his intended father-in-
law,1 may have had the effect of ex­
citing the hopes of the Drummonds,
and reviving the alarm of the nobles,
who adopted this horrid means of
removing the subject of their fears;
or we may, perhaps, look for a solution
of the mystery in the jealousy of a
rival house, which shared in the mu­
nificence and lisputed for the affec­
tions of the king.2

From the sad reflections which must
have clouded his mind on this occa­
sion, the monarch suddenly turned,
with his characteristic versatility and
energy, to the cares of government.

1  Rymer, Fœdera, vol. xiii. pp. 43, 44.

2  The Lady Janet Kennedy, daughter or
John, lord Kennedy, had born a son to the
king, whom James created Earl of Moray.

Sometime previous to this (but the
precise date is uncertain) he provided
the King of Denmark with vessels and
troops for the reduction of the Nor­
wegians, who had risen against his
authority. The Scottish auxiliaries,
in conjunction with the Danish force
and a squadron furnished by the elec­
tor of Brandenburg, were commanded
by Christiern, prince royal of Den­
mark, and the insurgent Norwegians
for the time completely reduced, whilst
their chief, Hermold, was taken pri­
soner and executed. James’s fleet
now returned to Scotland; the artil­
lery and ammunition which formed
their freight were carried to the castle
of Edinburgh, and a mission of Snow-
don, herald to the Danish king, to whom
James sent a present of a coat of gold,
evinced the friendly alliance which
existed between the two countries.3

All was now ready for the approach­
ing nuptials of the king. The Pope
had given his dispensation, and con­
firmed the treaties; James had renewed
his oath for their observation, and the
youthful bride, under the care of the
Earl of Surrey, and surrounded by a
splendid retinue, set out on her jour­
ney to Scotland. Besides Surrey and
his train, the Earl of Northumberland,
Lord Dacre, the Archbishop of York,
the Bishop of Durham, and other civil
and ecclesiastical grandees, accom­
panied the princess, who was now in
her fourteenth year; and at Lamber-
ton kirk, in Lammermuir, she was met
by the Archbishop of Glasgow, the
Earl of Morton, and a train of Scottish
barons. The royal tents, which had
been sent forward, were now pitched
for her reception; and according to
the terms of the treaty, the Earl of
Northumberland delivered her with
great solemnity to the commissioners
of the king. The cavalcade then pro­
ceeded towards Dalkeith. When she
reached Newbattle, she was met by

3 This expedition of the Scottish ships to
Denmark, in 1502-3, is not to be found in
Pinkerton. Its occurrence is established be­
yond doubt by the MS. accounts of the Lord
High Treasurer, and by the Historians of
Denmark. — Lacombe, Histoire de Danne-
marc, vol. i. p. 257.

1502-3.]                                          JAMES IV.                                                  271

the prince himself, with all the ardour
of a youthful lover, eager to do honour
to the lady of his heart. The inter­
view is described by an eye-witness,
and presents a curious picture of the
manners of the times. Darting, says
he, like a hawk on its quarry, James
eagerly entered her chamber, and
found her playing at cards : he then,
after an embrace, entertained her by
his performance upon the clarichord
and the lute: on taking leave, he
sprung upon a beautiful courser with­
out putting his foot in the stirrup,
and pushing the animal to the top of
his speed, left his train far behind.1
At the next meeting the princess ex­
hibited her musical skill, whilst the
king listened on bended knee, and
highly commended the performance.
When she left Dalkeith to proceed to
the capital, James met her, mounted
on a bay horse, trapped with gold; he
and the nobles in his train riding at
full gallop, and suddenly checking,
and throwing their steeds on their
haunches, to exhibit the firmness of
their seat. A singular chivalrous ex­
hibition now took place: a knight
appeared on horseback, attended by a
beautiful lady, holding his bridle and
carrying his hunting horn. He was
assaulted by Sir Patrick Hamilton,
who seized the damsel, and a mimic
conflict took place, which concluded
by the king throwing down his gage
and calling “peace.” On arriving at
the suburbs, the princess descended
from her litter, and, mounted upon a
pillion behind the royal bridegroom,
rode through the streets of the city
to the palace, amid the acclamations
of the people.2 On the 8th of August
the ceremony of the marriage was per­
formed by the Archbishop of St An­
drews in the abbey church of Holy-
rood; and the festivities which followed
were still more splendid than those
which had preceded it. Feasting,
masques, morris dances, and dramatic
entertainments, occupied successive
nights of revelry. Amid the tourna­
ments which were exhibited, the king
appeared in the character of the Savage

1  Leland, Collectanea, vol. iv. p. 284,

2  Ibid. vol. iv. pp. 2SG. 237.

Knight, surrounded by wild men dis­
guised in goats’ skins; and by his un­
common skill in these martial exercises,
carried off the prize from all who com­
peted with him. Besides the English
nobles, many foreigners of distinction
attended the wedding, amongst whom,
one of the most illustrious was An­
thony D’Arsie de la Bastie, who fought
in the barriers with Lord Hamilton,
after they had tilted with grinding
spears. Hamilton was nearly related
to the king; and so pleased was James
with his magnificent retinue and noble
appearance in honour of his marriage,
that he created him Earl of Arran on
the third day after the ceremony.3
De la Bastie also was loaded with
gifts; the Countess of Surrey, the
Archbishop of York;4 the officers of
the queen’s household, down to her
meanest domestic, experienced the
liberality of the monarch; and the
revels broke up, amidst enthusiastic
aspirations for his happiness, and com­
mendations of his unexampled gene­
rosity and gallantry.

Scarce had these scenes of public
rejoicing concluded, when a rebellion
broke out in the north which de­
manded the immediate attention of
the king. The measures pursued by
James in the Highlands and the Isles
had been hitherto followed with com­
plete success. He had visited these
remote districts in person ; their fierce
chiefs had submitted to his power, and
in 1495 he had returned to his capital,
leading captive the only two delin­
quents who offered any serious re­
sistance—Mackenzie of Kintail, and
Macintosh, heir to the Captain of clan
Chattan. From this period till the
year 1499, in the autumn of which the
monarch held his court in South Can-
tire, all appears to have remained in
tranquillity; but after his return
(from what causes cannot be dis­
covered) a complete change took place
in the policy of the king, and the
wise and moderate measures already
adopted were succeeded by proceed­
ings so severe as to border on injus-

3 Mag. Sig. xiii. 639. Aug. 11, 1503.
4 Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer, sub
anno 1503. August 9, 11, 12, 13.

272                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                       [Chap. VI.

tice. The charters which had been
granted during the last six years to
the vassals of the Isles, were sum­
marily revoked. Archibald, earl of
Argyle, was installed in the office of
lieutenant, with the ample and invi­
dious power of leasing out the entire
lordship of the Isles.1 The ancient
proprietors and their vassals were vio­
lently expelled from their hereditary
property; whilst Argyle and other
royal favourites appear to have been
enriched by new grants of their estates
and lordships. We are not to won­
der that such harsh proceedings were
loudly reprobated: the inhabitants
saw, with indignation, their rightful
masters exposed to insult and indi­
gence, and at last broke into open
rebellion. Donald Dhu, grandson of
John, lord of the Isles, had been shut
up for forty years, a solitary captive
in the castle of Inchconnal. His
mother was a daughter of the first
Earl of Argyle ; and although there is
no doubt that both he and his father
were illegitimate,2 the affection of the
Islemen overlooked the blot in his
scutcheon, and fondly turned to him
as the true heir of Ross and Innisgail.
To reinstate him in his right, and
place him upon the throne of the Isles,
was the object of the present rebel­
lion.3 A party, led by the Maclans
of Glencoe, broke into his dungeon,
liberated him from his captivity, and
carried him in safety to the castle of
Torquil Macleod in the Lewis; whilst
measures were concerted throughout
the wide extent of the Isles for the
establishment of their independence,
and the destruction of the regal
power. Although James received
early intelligence of the meditated
insurrection, and laboured by every
method to dissolve the union amongst
its confederated chiefs, it now burst
forth with destructive fury. Bade-
noch was wasted with all the ferocity
of Highland warfare,—Inverness given
to the flames; and so widely and

1 The island of Isla, and the lands of North
and South Cantire, were alone excepted.

2  Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. p. 247.

3  Ibid.

rapidly did the contagion of independ­
ence spread throughout the Isles, that
it demanded the most prompt and de­
cisive measures to arrest it. But
James’s power, though shook, was too
deeply rooted to be thus destroyed.
The whole array of the kingdom was
called forth. The Earls of Argyle,
Huntly, Crawford, and Marshall, with
Lord Lovat and other barons, were ap­
pointed to lead an army against the
Islanders; the castles and strongholds
in the hands of the king were fortified
and garrisoned; letters were addressed
to the various chiefs, encouraging the
loyal by the rewards which awaited
them, whilst over the heads of the
wavering or disaffected were sus­
pended the terrors of forfeiture and
execution. But this was not all: a
parliament assembled at Edinburgh
on the 11th of March 1503,4 and in
addition to the above vigorous resolu­
tions, the civilisation of the Highlands,
an object which had engrossed the at­
tention of many a successive council,
was again taken into consideration.
To accomplish this end, those dis­
tricts, whose inhabitants had hitherto,
from their inaccessible position, defied
the restraints of the law, were divided
into new sheriffdoms, and placed under
the jurisdiction of permanent judges.
The preamble of the act complained
in strong terms of the gross abuse of
justice in the northern and western
divisions of the realm,—more espe­
cially the Isles; it described the
people as having become altogether
savage, and provided that the new
sheriffs for the north Isles should
hold their courts in Inverness and
Dingwall, and those for the south, in
the Tarbet of Lochkilkerran. The in­
habitants of Dowart, Glendowart, and
the lordship of Lorn, who for a long
period had violently resisted the juris­
diction of the justice-ayres or ambu­
latory legal courts, were commanded
to come to the justice-ayre at Perth,
and the districts of Mawmor and
Lochaber, which had insisted on the
same exemption, were brought under
the jurisdiction of the justice-ayre

4 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. pp. 239, 249.

1503-4.]                                         JAMES IV.                                                  273

of Inverness. The divisions of Bute,
Arran, Knapdale, Cantire, and the
larger Cumbrae, were to hold their
courts at Ayr, whilst the deplorable
condition of Argyle was marked by
the words of the act, “ that the court
is to be held wherever it is found that
each Highlander and Lowlander may
come without danger, and ask justice,”
—a problem of no easy discovery.
The districts of Ross and Caithness,
now separated from the sheriffdom of
Inverness, were placed under their
own judges; and it was directed that
the inhabitants of these three great
divisions of the kingdom should as
usual attend the justice-ayre of In­

It appears that, for the purpose of
quieting the Lowland districts, the
king had adopted a system, not un­
common in those times, of engaging
the most powerful of the resident
nobles and gentry in a covenant or
“band,” which, under severe penal­
ties, obliged them to maintain order
throughout the country. By such
means the blessings of security and
good government had been enjoyed
by Dumfriesshire, a district hitherto
much disturbed; and the Earl of
Bothwell now earnestly recommended
a similar method to be pursued in the
reduction of Teviotdale.

In the same parliament a court
of daily council was appointed, the
judges of which were to be selected
by the king, and to hold their sittings
in Edinburgh. The object of this
new institution was to relieve the
lords of the “ Session “ of the confu­
sion and pressure of business which
had arisen from the great accumula­
tion of cases, and to afford immediate
redress to those poorer litigants whose
matters had been delayed from year
to year. The ferocity of feudal man­
ners and the gradual introduction of
legal subtleties were strikingly blended
in another law passed at this time, by
which it was directed that no remis­
sions or pardons were hereafter to con­
tain a general clause for all offences,
as it was found that by this form
much abuse of justice had been intro­
duced. A ferocious ruffian, for ex-


ample, who to the crime of murder
had, as was generally the case, added
many inferior offences, in purchasing
his remission, was in the practice of
stating only the minor delinquency,
and afterwards pleading that the mur­
der was included under the pardon.
It was now made imperative that, be­
fore any remission was granted, the
highest offence should be ascertained,
and minutely described in the special
clause; it being permitted to the of­
fender to plead his remission for all
crimes of a minor description. The
usual interdiction was repeated against
all export of money forth of the realm ;
forty shillings being fixed as the maxi­
mum which any person might carry
out of the country. The collection of
the royal customs was more strictly
insured: it was enjoined that the
magistrates of all burghs should be
annually changed; that no Scottish
merchants should carry on a litigation
beyond seas, in any court but that
of the Conservator, who was to be as­
sisted by a council of six of the most
able merchants, and was commanded
to visit Scotland once every year.
The burghs of the realm were amply
secured in the possession of their
ancient privileges, and warning was
given to their commissaries or head-
men, that when any tax was to be
proposed, or contribution granted by
the parliament, they should be care­
ful to attend and give their advice in
that matter as one of the three estates
of the realm,—a provision demonstrat­
ing the obsoleteness of some of the
former laws upon this subject, and
proving that an attendance upon the
great council of the kingdom was still
considered a grievance by the more
laborious classes of the community.
With regard to the higher landed pro­
prietors, they were strongly enjoined
to take seisin, and enter upon the su­
periority of their lands, so that the
vassals who held under them might
not be injured by their neglect of
this important legal solemnity; whilst
every judge, who upon a precept from
the Chancery had given seisin to any
baron, was directed to keep an attested
register of such proceeding in a court­

274                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                       [Chap. VI.

book, to be lodged in the Exche­

It appears by a provision of the
same parliament that “ the green
wood of Scotland” was then utterly
destroyed, a remarkable change from
the picture formerly given in this work
of the extensive forests which once
covered the face of the country. To
remedy this, the fine for the felling or
burning of growing timber was raised
to five pounds, whilst it was ordered
that every lord or laird in those dis­
tricts where there were no great woods
or forests, should plant at the least
one acre, and attempt to introduce a
further improvement, by enclosing a
park for deer, whilst he attended also
to his warrens, orchards, hedges, and
dovecots. All park-breakers and tres­
passers within the enclosures of a land­
holder were to be fined in the sum of
ten pounds, and if the delinquency
should be committed by a child, he
was to be delivered by his parents to
the judge, who was enjoined to ad­
minister corporal correction in propor­
tion to its enormity. In the quaint
language of the act, “ the bairn is to
be lashed, scourged, and dung accord­
ing to the fault.” All vassals, although
it was a time of peace, were command­
ed to have their arms and harness in
good order, to be inspected at the
annual military musters or weapon-
schawings. By an act passed in the
year 1457 it had been recommended
to the king, lords, and prelates to let
their lands in “few farm;” but this
injunction, which when followed was
highly beneficial to the country, had
fallen so much into disuse that its
legality was disputed; it loosened the
strict ties of the feudal system by per­
mitting the farmers and labourers to
exchange their military services for the
payment of a land rent; and although
it promoted agricultural improvement,
it was probably opposed by a large body
of the barons, who were jealous of any
infringement upon their privileges.
The benefits of the system, however,
were now once more recognised. It
was declared lawful for the sovereign,
his prelates, nobles, and landholders,
to “ set their lands in few,” under any

condition which they might judge ex­
pedient, taking care, however, that by
such leases the annual income of their
estates should not be diminished to the
prejudice of their successors. No cre­
ditor was to be permitted to seize for
debt, or to order the sale of any in­
struments of agriculture; an equalisa­
tion of weights and measures was com­
manded to be observed throughout
the realm; it was ordained that the
most remote districts of the country,
including the Isles, should be amen­
able to the same laws as the rest of
the kingdom; severe regulations were
passed for an examination into the
proper qualifications of notaries; and
an attempt was made to reduce the
heavy expenses of litigation, and for
the suppression of strong and idle
paupers. The parliament concluded
by introducing a law which materially
affected its own constitution. All
barons or freeholders, whose annual
revenue was below the sum of one
hundred marks of the new extent
established in 1424, were permitted
to absent themselves from the meeting
of the three estates, provided they
sent their procurators to answer for
them, whilst all whose income was
above that sum were, under the usual
fine, to be compelled to attend.1

Such were the most remarkable
provisions of this important meeting
of the three estates, but in these times
the difficulty did not so much consist
in the making good laws as in carrying
them into execution. This was par­
ticularly experienced in the case of the
Isles, where the rebellion still raged
with so much violence that it was
found necessary to despatch a small
naval squadron under Sir Andrew
Wood and Robert Barton, two of the
most skilful officers in the country,
to co-operate with the land army,
which was commanded by the Earl of
Arran, lieutenant-general of the king.2
James, who at present meditated an
expedition in person against the broken
clans of Eskdale and Teviotdale, could
not accompany his fleet further than

1 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. pp. 240-254.

2 Treasurer's Accounts, 1504. March 14.

1504-5.]                                JAMES IV.                                       275

Dumbarton.1 The facility with which
Wood and Barton reduced the strong
insular castle of Carneburgh, which
had attempted to stand a siege, and
compelled the insurgent chiefs to
abandon their attempts at resistance,
convinced him that in his attention to
his navy he had not too highly esti­
mated its importance. Aware also of
the uncommon energy with which the
monarch directed his military and
naval resources, and witnessing the
rapidity with which delinquents were
overtaken by the royal vengeance,
Macleod, Maclan, and others of the
most powerful of the Island lords,
adopted the wiser policy of supporting
the crown, being rewarded for their
fidelity by sharing in the forfeited
estates of the rebels.2

A temporary tranquillity having
been thus established in the north, the
king proceeded, at the head of a force
which overawed all opposition, into
Eskdale. Information was sent to
the English monarch, requesting him
to co-operate in this attempt to reduce
the warlike Borderers, whose habits
of plunder were prejudicial to the se­
curity of either country; and Lord
Dacre, the warden, received his mas-
ter’s instructions to meet the Scottish
king and afford him every assistance.
He repaired accordingly to James’s
head­quarters at Lochmaben, and pro­
ceedings against the freebooters of
these districts were commenced with
the utmost vigour and severity. None,
however, knew better than James
how to combine amusement with the
weightier cares of government. He
was attended in his progress by his
huntsmen, falconers, morris dancers,
and all the motley and various minions
of his pleasures, as well as by his
judges and ministers of the law; and
whilst troops of the unfortunate ma­
rauders were seized and brought in
irons to the encampment, executions
and entertainments appear to have
succeeded each other with extraordi­
nary rapidity.3 The severity of the

1 Treasurer’s Accounts, sub anno 1504.
April 18, 30; May 6, 9, 10, and 11.

2 Ibid. 1504. May 7,11

3 Ibid. August 9, 1504; also under August

monarch to all who had disturbed the
peace of the country was as remark­
able as his kindness and affability to
the lowest of his subjects who respect­
ed the laws; and many of the fero­
cious Borderers, to whom the love of
plunder had become a second nature,
but who promised themselves im­
munity because they robbed within
the English pale, lamented on the
scaffold the folly of such anticipation.
The Armstrongs, however, appear at
this time to have made their peace
with the crown,4 whilst the Jardines,
and probably other powerful septs,
purchased a freedom from minute in­
quiry by an active co-operation with
the measures of the sovereign.

On his return from the “Raid of
Eskdale " to Stirling, James scarcely
permitted himself a month’s repose,
which was occupied in attention to the
state of his fleet, and in negotiation by
mutual messengers with the Lord
Aubigny in France, when he judged
it necessary to make a progress across
the Mounth as far as Forres, visiting
Scone, Forfar, Aberdeen, and Elgin,
inquiring into the state of this part of
his dominions, scrutinising the conduct
of his sheriffs and magistrates, and
declaring his readiness to redress every
grievance, were it sustained by the
poorest tenant or labourer in his

Soon after his return he received the
unpleasant intelligence that disturb­
ances had again broken out in the
Isles, which would require immediate
interference. In 1504 great efforts
had been made, but with little per­
manent success, and the progress of
the insurrection became alarming.
Macvicar, an envoy from Macleod, who
was then in strict alliance with the
king, remained three weeks at court:
Maclan also had sent his emissaries
to explain the perilous condition of the
country; and, with his characteristic
energy, the king, as soon as the state
of the year permitted, despatched the

17,19, 20, 21, 23, 31. For the particulars see
the entries on this expedition.

4 Treasurer’s Accounts, 1504, September 2.

5 Ibid. 1504, sub mense October. See also
September 26.

276                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                       [Chap. VI.

Earl of Huntly to invade the Isles by
the north, whilst himself in person led
an army against them from the south;
and John Barton proceeded with a fleet
to reduce and overawe these savage
districts.1 The terror of the royal
name; the generosity with which
James rewarded his adherents; and
the vigorous measures which he adopt­
ed against the disaffected, produced a
speedy and extensive effect in dissolv­
ing the confederacy. Maclean of Dow-
art, Macquarrie of Ulva, with Macneill
of Barra, and Mackinnon, offered their
submission, and were received into fa­
vour; and the succeeding year (1506)
witnessed the utter destruction of
Torquil Macleod, the great head of the
rebellion, whose castle of Stornoway
in Lewis was stormed by Huntly;
whilst Donald Dhu, the captive upon
whose aged head his vassals had made
this desperate attempt to place the
crown of the Isles, escaping the gripe
of the conqueror, fled to Ireland, where
he soon after died.2

It was now proper for the monarch
to look to his foreign relations, to seize
the interval of peace at home, that he
might strengthen his ties with the
continent. France, the ally of Scot­
land, had been too constantly occu­
pied with hostilities in Italy, to take
an interest in preventing the negoti­
ations for the marriage of the king to
the Princess of England. The con­
quest of the Milanese by the arms of
Lewis the Twelfth, in which Robert
Stuart, lord of Aubigny, had distin­
guished himself, and the events which
succeeded in the partition of the king­
dom of Naples between the Kings of
France and Castile, concentrated the
attention of both monarchs upon Italy,
and rendered their intercourse with
Britain less frequent. But when the

1 Treasurer's Accounts, 1505, September 6.

2 Nor whilst the Bartons, by their naval
skill secured the integrity of the kingdom at
home, did the monarch neglect their inte­
rests abroad. Some of their ships, which had
been cruising against the English in 1497,
had been seized and plundered on the coast
of Brittany, and a remonstrance was addressed
to Lewis the Twelfth by Panter, the royal
secretary, which complained of the injustice,
and insisted on redress. Epistolæ Regum
Scotorum, vol. i. pp. 17, 18.

quarrel regarding the division of the
kingdom of Naples broke out between
Ferdinand and Lewis, in 1503, and the
defeats of Seminara and Cerignola had
established the superiority of the
Spanish arms in Italy, negotiations be­
tween Lewis and the Scottish court
appear to have been renewed. The
causes of this were obvious. Henry
the Seventh of England esteemed none
of his foreign alliances so highly as
that with Spain : his eldest son, Ar­
thur, had espoused Catharine the In­
fanta; and on the death of her hus­
band, a dispensation had been procured
from the Pope for her marriage with
his brother Henry, now Prince of
Wales. It was evident to Lewis
that his rupture with Spain was
not unlikely to bring on a quar­
rel with England, and it became
therefore of consequence to renew his
negotiations with James the Fourth.

These, however, were not the only
foreign cares which attracted the at­
tention of the king. In the autumn
of the year 1505, Charles d’Egmont,
duke of Gueldres, a prince of spirit
and ability, who with difficulty main­
tained his dominions against the un­
just attacks of the Emperor Maxi­
milian, despatched his secretary on an
embassy to the Scottish monarch, re­
questing his interference and support.3
Nor was this denied him. The duke
had listened to the advice of the Scot­
tish prince when he requested him to
withdraw his intended aid from the un­
fortunate Edmund de la Pole, earl of
Suffolk, the representative of thehouse
of York, who had sought a refuge at his
court; and James now anxiously ex­
erted himself in his behalf. He treated
his envoy with distinction; despatched
an embassy to the duke, which, in
passing through France, secured the
assistance of Lewis the Twelfth, and
so effectually remonstrated with Henry
the Seventh and the Emperor Maxi­
milian, that all active designs against
the duchy of Gueldres were for the
present abandoned.4

3 Accounts of the High Treasurer, 1505,
September 6.

4 Ibid. 1506, July 6 and 8. Epistolæ Regum
Scotorum, vol. i. pp. 21, 30, 34.

1506-9.]                                           JAMES IV.                                                 277

In the midst of these transactions,
and whilst the presence of Huntly,
Barton, and the Scottish fleet was still
necessary in the Isles, the more pacific
parts of the country were filled with
joy by the birth of a prince, which
took place at Holyrood on the 10th of
February 1506. None could testify
greater satisfaction at this event than
the monarch himself.1 He instantly
despatched messengers to carry the
news to the Kings of England, France,
Spain, and Portugal; and on the 23d
of February the baptism was held
with magnificence in the chapel of
Holyrood. The boy was named James,
after his father; but the sanguine
hopes of the kingdom were, within a
year, clouded by his premature death.

At this conjuncture an embassy from
Pope Julius the Second arrived at the
court of Scotland. Alarmed at the
increasing power of the French in
Italy, this pontiff had united his
strength with that of the Emperor
Maximilian and the Venetians, to
check the arms of Lewis, whilst he
now attempted to induce the Scottish
monarch to desert his ancient ally.
The endeavour, however, proved fruit­
less. James, indeed, reverently re­
ceived the Papal ambassador, grate­
fully accepted the consecrated hat and
sword which he presented, and loaded
him and his suite with presents; he
communicated also the intelligence
which he had lately received from the
King of Denmark, that his ally, the
Czar of Muscovy, had intimated a de­
sire to be received into the bosom of
the Latin Church; but he detected
the political finesse of the warlike
Julius, and remained steady to his
alliance with France. Nay, scarcely
had the ambassador left his court,
when he proposed to send Lewis a
body of four thousand auxiliaries to
serve in his Italian wars,—an offer
which the rapid successes of that
monarch enabled him to decline.

Turning his attention from the con­
tinent to his affairs at home, the king

1 To the lady of the queen’s chamber, who
brought him the first intelligence, he pre­
sented a hundred gold pieces and a cup of

recognised with satisfaction the effects
of his exertions in enforcing, by severity
and indefatigable personal superintend­
ence, a universal respect for the laws.
The husbandman laboured his lands
in security, the merchant traversed
the country with his goods, the foreign
trader visited the marketsof thevarious
burghs and seaports fearless of plunder
or interruption; and so convinced wa3
the monarch of the success of his efforts,
that, with a whimsical enthusiasm, he
determined to put it to a singular
test. Setting out on horseback, unac­
companied even by a groom, with no­
thing but his riding cloak cast about
him, his hunting knife at his belt, and
six-and-twenty pounds for his travel­
ling expenses in his purse, he rode, in
a single day, from Stirling to Perth,
across the Mounth, and through Aber­
deen to Elgin; whence, after a few
hours’ repose, he pushed on to the
shrine of St Duthoc in Ross, where he
heard mass. In this feat of bold and
solitary activity the unknown mon­
arch met not a moment’s interruption;
and after having boasted, with an ex­
cusable pride, of the tranquillity to
which he had reduced his dominions,
he returned in a splendid progress to
his palace at Stirling, accompanied by
the principal nobles and gentry of the
districts through which he passed.

Soon after, he despatched the Arch­
bishop of St Andrews and the Earl
of Arran to the court of France, for
the purpose of procuring certain privi­
leges regarding the mercantile inter­
course between the two countries, and
to fix upon the line of policy which
appeared best for their mutual interest
regarding the complicated affairs of
Italy. In that country an important
change had taken place. The brilliant
successes of the Venetians against the
arms of Maximilian had alarmed the
jealousy of Lewis, and led to an inac­
tivity on his part, which terminated
in a total rupture ; whilst the peace
concluded between the Emperor and
James’s ally and relative, the Duke of
Gueldres, formed, as is well known,
the basis of the league of Cambrai,
which united, against the single re­
public of Venice, the apparently irre-

278                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                       [Chap. VI.

sistible forces of the Pope, the Empe­
ror, and the Kings of France and Spain.
For the purpose, no doubt, of induc­
ing the king to become a party to this
powerful coalition, Lewis now sent the
veteran Aubigny to the Scottish court,
with the President of Toulouse;1 and
the monarch, who loved the ambassa­
dor for his extraction, and venerated
his celebrity in arms, received him
with distinction. Tournaments were
held in honour of his arrival; he was
placed by the king in the highest seat
at his own table, appealed to as su­
preme judge in the lists, and addressed
by the title of Father of War. This
eminent person had visited Scotland
twenty-five years before, as ambassa­
dor from Charles the Eighth to James
the Third; and it was under his aus­
pices that the league between the two
countries was then solemnly renewed.
He now returned to the land which
contained the ashes of his ancestors,
full of years and of honour; but it
was only to mingle his dust with
theirs, for he sickened almost immedi­
ately after his arrival, and died at

Another object of Lewis in this em­
bassy was to consult with James re­
garding the marriage of his eldest
daughter, to whom Charles, king of
Castile, then only eight years old, had
been proposed as a husband. Her
hand was also sought by Francis of
Valois, dauphin of Vienne; and the
French monarch declared that he could
not decide on so important a question
without the advice of his allies, of
whom he considered Scotland both
the oldest and the most friendly.
To this James replied, that since his
brother of France had honoured him
by asking his advice, he would give it
frankly as his opinion, that the prin­
cess ought to marry within her
own realm of France, and connect
herself rather with him who was

1  “ Vicesima prima Martii antedicti, Galliæ
oratores, Dnus videlicet D’Aubeny et alter,
supplicationum regiæ domus Magister, octo-
ginta equis egregie comitati, urbuem ingressi
snt, Scotiam petituri.”—Narratio Hist, de
gestis Henrici VII. per Bernardum Andream
Tholosatem. Cotton. MSS. Julius A. iii.

2 Lesley’s History, Bannatyne edit. p. 77.

to succeed to the crown than with
any foreign potentate; this latter
being a union out of which some
colourable or pretended claim might
afterwards be raised against the in­
tegrity and independence of his king­
dom. The advice was satisfactory,
for it coincided with the course which
Lewis had already determined to

Happy in the affections of his sub­
jects, and gratified by observing an
evident increase in the wealth and
industry of the kingdom, the king
found leisure to relax from the severer
cares of government, and to gratify
the inhabitants of the capital by one
of those exhibitions of which he was
fond even to weakness. A magnifi­
cent tournament was held at Edin­
burgh, in which the monarch enacted
the part of the Wild Knight, attended
by a troop of ferocious companions dis­
guised as savages; Sir Anthony d’Arsie
and many of the French nobles who
had formed the suite of Aubigny, were
still at court, and bore their part in
the pageant of Arthur and his Peers
of the Round Table, whilst the prince
attracted admiration by the uncom­
mon skill which he exhibited, and the
rich gifts he bestowed ; but the pro­
fuse repetition of such expensive en­
tertainments soon reduced him to great

The constant negotiation and inti­
macy between France and the Scottish
court appear at this time to have
roused the jealousy of Henry the
Seventh. It required, indeed, no great
acuteness in this cautious prince to
anticipate the probable dissolution of
the league of Cambrai, in which event
he perhaps anticipated a revival of the
ancient enmity of France, and the pos­
sible hostility of James. His suspicion
was indicated by the seizure of the
Earl of Arran and his brother, Sir
Patrick Hamilton, who had passed
through England to the court of Lewis,
without the knowledge of Henry, and
were now on their return. In Kent
they were met by Vaughan, an emis­
sary of England; and, on their refusal
to take an oath which bound them to
the observation of peace with that

1509.]                                               JAMES IV.                                                 279

country, they were detained and com­
mitted to custody. To explain and
justify his conduct, Henry despatched
Dr West on a mission to the king, who
resented the imprisonment of his sub­
jects, and declared that they had only
fulfilled their duty in refusing the
oath. He declined a proposal made
for a personal interview with his
royal father-in-law, insisted on the
liberation of Arran, and on these con­
ditions agreed to delay, for the pre­
sent, any renewal of the league with
France. The imprisoned nobles, how­
ever, were not immediately dismissed;
and, probably in consequence of the
delay, James considered himself re­
lieved from his promise.

The death of the English king oc­
curred not long after, an event which
was unquestionably unfortunate for
Scotland. His caution, command of
temper, and earnest desire of peace,
were excellent checks to the inconsi­
derate impetuosity of his son-in-law;
nor, if we except, perhaps, the last-
mentioned circumstance of the deten­
tion of Arran, can he be accused of a
single act of injustice towards that
kingdom, so long the enemy of Eng­
land. The accession of Henry the
Eighth, on the other hand, although
not productive of any immediate ill
effects, drew after it, within no very
distant period, a train of events inju­
rious in their progress, and most cala­
mitous in their issue. At first, indeed,
all looked propitious and peaceful.
The Scottish king sent his ambassador
to congratulate his brother-in-law of
England on his accession to the throne;1
and the youthful monarch, in the pleni­
tude of his joy on this occasion, pro­
fessed the most anxious wishes for the
continuance of that amity between the
kingdomswhich had been so sedulously
cultivated by his father. The existing
treaties were confirmed, and the two
sovereigns interchanged their oaths for
their observance ;2 nor, although so
nearly allied to Spain by his marriage,
did Henry seem at first to share in the
jealousy of France which was enter­
tained by that power; on the contrary,

1 Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. ii. p. 572.

2 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. xiii. pp. 261, 262.

even after the battle of Agnadillo had
extinguished the hopes of the Vene­
tians, he did not hesitate to conclude
a treaty of alliance with Lewis the
Twelfth. All these fair prospects of
peace, however, were soon destined to
be overclouded by the pride and impe­
tuosity of a temper which hurried him
into unjust and unprofitable wars.

In the meantime Scotland, under the
energetic government of James, con­
tinued to increase in wealth and con­
sequence : her navy, that great arm of
national strength, had become not only
respectable, but powerful: no method
of encouragement had been neglected by
the king; and the success of his efforts
was shewn by the fact, that one of the
largest ships of war then known in the
world was constructed and launched
within his dominions. This vessel,
which was named the Great Michael,
appears to have been many years in
building, and the king personally super­
intended the work with much perse­
verance and enthusiasm.3 The family
of the Bartons, which for two genera­
tions had been prolific of naval com­
manders, were intrusted by this mon­
arch with the principal authority in all
maritime and commercial matters:
they purchased vessels for him on the
continent, they invited into his king­
dom the most skilful foreign ship­
wrights ; they sold some of their own
ships to the king, and vindicated the
honour of their flag whenever it was
insulted, with a readiness and severity
of retaliation which inspired respect
and terror. The Hollanders had at-

3 Her length was two hundred and forty
feet, her breadth fifty-six to the water’s edge,
but only thirty-six within ; her sides, which
were ten feet in thickness, were proof against
shot. In these days ships carried guns only
on the upper deck, and the Great Michael,
notwithstanding these gigantic dimensions,
could boast of no more than thirty-five—six­
teen on each side, two in the stern, and one
in the bow. She was provided, however, with
three hundred small artillery, under the
names of myaud, culverins, and double-dogs;
whilst her complement was three hundred
seamen, besides officers, a hundred and
twenty gunners, and a thousand soldiers.
M’Pherson’s Annals of Commerce, vol. ii. p.
42. The minuteness of these details, which
are extracted from authentic documents,
may be pardoned upon a subject so important
as the navy.

280                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                        [Chap. VI.

tacked a small fleet of Scottish mer­
chantmen,—plundering the cargoes,
murdering the crews, and throwing
the bodies into the sea. The affair
was probably piratical, for it was fol­
lowed by no diplomatic remonstrance ;
but an exemplary vengeance followed
the offence. Andrew Barton was in­
stantly despatched with a squadron,
which captured many of the pirates ;
and, in the cruel spirit of the times,
the admiral commanded the hogsheads
which were stowed in the hold of his
vessels to be filled with the heads of
the prisoners, and sent as a present to
his royal master.1

So far back as 1476, in consequence
of the Bartons having been plundered
by a Portuguese squadron, letters of
reprisal were granted them, under the
protection of which, there seems rea­
son to believe, that they more than
indemnified themselves for their losses.
The Portuguese, whose navy and com­
merce were at this time the richest
and most powerful in the world, re­
taliated; and, in 1507, the Lion, com­
manded by John Barton, was seized at
Campvere, in Zealand, and its com­
mander thrown into prison. The sons
of this officer, however, having pro­
cured from James a renewal of their
letters of reprisal, fitted out a squad­
ron, which intercepted and captured
at various times many richly-laden
carracks returning from the Portu­
guese settlements in India and Africa;
and the unwonted apparition of blacka­
moors at the Scottish court, and sable
empresses presiding over the royal
tournaments, is to be traced to the
spirit and success of the Scottish pri­

The consequence of this earnest at­
tention to his fleet, was the securing
an unusual degree of tranquillity at
home. The Islanders were kept down
by a few ships of war more effectually
than by an army; and James acquired
at the same time an increasing autho­
rity amongst his continental allies.
By his navy he had been able to give
assistance on more than one occasion
to his relative the King of Denmark ;
and while the navy of England was

1 Lesley’s History, Bannatyne edit. p. 74,

still in its infancy, that of the sister
country had risen, under the judicious
care of the monarch, to a respectable
rank, although far inferior to the
armaments of the leading navigators
of Europe, the Spaniards, the Portu­
guese, and the Venetians.

It was at this period that the me­
morable invention of printing—that
art which, perhaps, more than any
other human discovery, has changed
the condition and the destinies of the
world—found its way into Scotland,
under the auspices of Walter Chep-
man, a servant of the king’s household.2
Two years before, the skill and ingenu­
ity of Chepman appear to have at­
tracted the notice of his royal master;
and as James was a friend to letters,
and an enthusiast in every new inven­
tion, we may believe that he could
not view this astonishing art with in­
difference. We know that he pur­
chased books from the typographer;
and that a royal patent to exercise his
mystery was granted to the artist;
the original of which still exists
amongst our national records. The
art, as is well known, had been im­
ported into England by Caxton as
early as the year 1474. Yet more
than thirty years elapsed before it
penetrated into Scotland,—a tardiness
to be partly accounted for by the
strong principle of concealment and

Amidst all these useful cares, the
character of the monarch, which could
no longer plead for its excuse the
levity or thoughtlessness of youth,
exhibited many inconsistencies. He
loved his youthful queen with much
apparent tenderness, yet he was unable
to renounce that indiscriminate ad­
miration of beauty, and devotion to
pleasure, which, in defiance of public
decency and moral restraint, sought
its gratification equally amongst the
highest and lowest ranks of society.
He loved his people, and would, in the
ardent generosity of his disposition,
have suffered any personal privation to
have saved the meanest of his subjects

2 He printed in the year 1508 a small
volume of pamphlets, and soon after, the
“ Breviary of Aberdeen,”

1509-12.]                                       JAMES IV.                                                   281

from distress; but his thoughtless
prodigality to every species of em­
piric, to jesters, dancers, and the
lowest retainers about his court, with
his devotion to gambling, impover­
ished his exchequer, and drove him in
his distresses to expedients which
his better reason lamented and aban­
doned. Large sums of money also
were expended in the idle pursuits of
alchemy, and the equally vain and
expensive endeavours for the discovery
of gold mines in Scotland : often, too,
in the midst of his labours, his plea­
sures, and his fantastic projects, the
monarch was suddenly seized with a
fit of ascetic penitence, at which times
he would shut himself up for many
days with his confessor, resolve on an
expedition to Jerusalem, or take a
solitary pilgrimage on foot to some
favourite shrine, where he wept over
his sins, and made resolutions of
amendment, which, on his return to
the world, were instantly forgotten.
Yet all this contradiction and thought­
lessness of mind was accompanied by
so much kindliness, accessibility, and
warm and generous feeling, that the
people forgot or pardoned it in a prince,
who, on every occasion, shewed him­
self their friend.

It was now two years since the
accession of Henry the Eighth to the
crown; and the aspect of affairs in
England began to be alarming. The
youthful ambition of the English
king had become dazzled with the
idle vision of the conquest of France ;
he already pondered on the danger­
ous project of imitating the career of
Edward the Third and Henry the
Fifth; whilst such was the affection
of James for his ally, that any enter­
prise for the subjugation of that
kingdom was almost certain to draw
after it a declaration of war against
the aggressor. Nor were there want­
ing artful and insidious friends, who,
to accomplish their own ends, en­
deavoured to direct the arms of Henry
against Lewis. Pope Julius the Second
and Ferdinand of Spain having gained
the object they had in view by the
league of Cambrai, had seceded from
that coalition, and were now anxious

to check the successes of the French
in Italy. The pontiff, with the violence
which belonged to his character, left
no measure unattempted to raise a
powerful opposition against a monarch
whose arms, under Gaston de Foix and
the Chevalier Bayard, were everywhere
triumphant; and well aware that au
invasion of France by Henry must
operate as an immediate diversion, he
exhausted all his policy to effect it:
he at the same time succeeded in de­
taching the emperor and the Swiss
from the league; and the result of
these efforts was a coalition as formid­
able in every respect as that which
had been arrayed so lately against the
Venetians. Julius, who scrupled not
to command his army in person, Fer­
dinand of Spain, Henry the Eighth,
and the Swiss republics, determined
to employ their whole strength in the
expulsion of the French from the
Italian states; and Lewis, aware of
the ruin which might follow any at­
tempt to divide the forces of his king­
dom, found himself under the neces­
sity of recalling his troops, and aban­
doning the possessions which had cost
him so many battles.

These transactions were not seen by
James without emotion. Since the
commencement of his reign, his alli­
ance with France had been cordial
and sincere. A lucrative commercial
intercourse, and the most friendly ties
between the sovereigns and the nobil­
ity of the two countries, had produced
a mutual warmth of national attach­
ment; the armies of France had re­
peatedly been commanded by Scots­
men ; and, throughout the long course
of her history, whenever Scotland had
been menaced or attacked by England,
she had calculated without disappoint­
ment upon the assistance of her ally.
As to the wisdom of this policy upon
the part of her sovereigns, it would
now be idle to inquire ; it being too
apparent that, except where her in­
dependence as a nation was threatened,
that kingdom had everything to lose
and nothing to gain by a war with the
sister country. But these were not
the days in which the folly of a war of
territorial conquest was recognised by

282                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                     [Chap. VI.

European monarchs; and the gallantry
of the Scottish prince disposed him to
enter with readiness into the quarrel
of Lewis. We find him accordingly
engaged in the most friendly corres­
pondence with this sovereign, request­
ing permission, owing to the failure
of the harvest, to import grain from
France, and renewing his determin­
ation to maintain in the strictest man­
ner the ties of amity and support.

At this crisis an event happened
which contributed in no small degree
to fan the gathering flame of animosity
against England. Protected by their
letters of reprisal, and preserving, as
it would appear, a hereditary ani­
mosity against the Portuguese, the
Bartons had fitted out some privateers,
which scoured the Western Ocean,
took many prizes, and detained and
searched the English merchantmen
under the pretence that they had
Portuguese goods on board. It is
well known that at this period, and
even so late as the days of Drake and
Cavendish, the line between piracy
and legitimate warfare was not pre­
cisely defined, and there is reason to
suspect that the Scottish merchants
having found the vindication of their
own wrongs and the nation’s honour
a profitable speculation, were dis­
posed to push their retaliation to an
extent so far beyond the individual
losses they had suffered, that their
hostilities became almost piratical.
So, at least, it appeared to the Eng­
lish : and it is said that the Earl of
Surrey, on hearing of some late ex­
cesses of the privateers, declared that
“the narrow seas should not be so
infested whilst he had an estate that
could furnish a ship, or a son who was
able to command it.” He accordingly
fitted out two men-of-war, which he
intrusted to his sons, Lord Thomas
Howard and Sir Edward Howard,
afterwards Lord High-admiral; and
this officer having put to sea, had the
fortune to fall in with Andrew Bar­
ton, in the Downs, as he was return­
ing from a cruise on the coast of
Portugal. The engagement which
followed was obstinately contested:
Barton commanded his own ship, the

Lion; his other vessel was only an
armed pinnace: but both fought with
determined valour till the Scottish
admiral was desperately wounded; it
is said that even then this bold and
experienced seaman continued to en­
courage his men with his whistle,1 till
receiving a cannon shot in. the body,
it dropped from his hand, and he fell
dead upon the deck. His ships were
then boarded, and carried into the
Thames; the crews, after a short im­
prisonment, being dismissed, but the
vessels detained as lawful prizes. It
was not to be expected that James
should tamely brook this loss sustained
by his navy, and the insult offered to
his flag in a season of peace. Barton
was a personal favourite, and one of
his ablest officers; whilst the Lion,
the vessel which had been taken, was
only inferior in size to the Great
at that time the largest ship
of war which belonged to England.
Rothesay herald was accordingly des­
patched on the instant, with a re­
monstrance and a demand for redress;
but the king had now no longer to ne­
gotiate with the cautious and pacific
Henry the Seventh, and his impetuous
successor returned no gentler answer
than that the fate of pirates ought
never to be a matter of dispute among

It happened unfortunately that at
this moment another cause of irrita­
tion existed : Sir Robert Ker, an officer
of James’s household, master of his
artillery, and warden of the middle
marches, having excited the animosity
of the Borderers by what they deemed
an excessive rigour, was attacked and
slain by three Englishmen named Lil-
burn, Starhead, and Heron.2 This
happened in the time of Henry the
Seventh, by whom Lilburn was deliv­
ered to the Scots, whilst Starhead and
Heron made their escape ; but such

1 Lesley, Bannatyne edition, pp. 82, 83.
Pinkerton, ii. 69, 70. A gold whistle was, in
England, the emblem of the office of High-
admiral. Kent’s Illustrious Seamen, vol. i.
p. 519.

2 The name as given by Buchanan (book
xiii. c. 26) is Starhead. Starhedus. Pinker-
ton (vol. ii. p. 71) has Sarked ; but he gives
no authority for the change,

1512.]                                              JAMES IV.                                                  283

was the anxiety of the English king
to banish every subject of complaint,
that he arrested Heron, the brother
of the murderer, and sent him in fet­
ters to Scotland. After some years
Lilburn died in prison, whilst Star-
head and his accomplice stole forth
from their concealment; and trusting
that all would be forgotten under the
accession of a new monarch, began to
walk more openly abroad. But An­
drew Ker, the son of Sir Robert, was
not thus to be cheated of his revenge:
two of his vassals sought out Star-
head’s residence during the night,
although it was ninety miles from the
Border, and, breaking into the house,
murdered him in cold blood; after
which they sent his head to their
master, who exposed it, with all the
ferocity of feudal exultation, in the
most conspicuous part of the capital,—
a proceeding which appears to have
been unchecked by James, whilst its
summary and violent nature could
hardly fail to excite the indignation
of Henry. There were other sources
of animosity in the assistance which
the English monarch had afforded to
the Duchess of Savoy against the
Duke of Gueldres, the relative and
ally of his brother-in-law, in the au­
dacity with which his cruisers had
attacked and plundered a French ves­
sel which ran in for protection to an
anchorage off the coast of Ayr, and
the manifest injustice with which he
refused to deliver to his sister, the
Queen of Scotland, a valuable legacy
of jewels which had been left her by
her father’s will.

Such being the state of affairs be­
tween the two countries, an envoy
appeared at the Scottish court with
letters from the Pope, whilst nearly
about the same time arrived the am­
bassadors of England, France, and
Spain. Henry, flattered by the adula­
tion of Julius, who greeted him with
the title of Head of the Italian League,
had now openly declared war against
France; and anxious to be safe on the
side of Scotland, he condescended to
express his regret, and to offer satis­
faction for any violations of the peace.
But James detected the object of this

tardy proposal, and refused to accede
to it. To the message of the King of
France he listened with affectionate
deference, deprecated the injustice of
the league which had been formed
against him, and spoke with indigna­
tion of the conduct of England, regret­
ting only the schism between Lewis
and the See of Rome, which he de­
clared himself anxious by every means
to remove. Nor were these mere
words of good­will: he despatched his
uncle, the Duke of Albany, as ambas­
sador to the emperor, to entreat him
to act as a mediator between the Pope
and the King of France, whilst the
Bishop of Moray proceeded on the
same errand to that country,1 and
afterwards endeavoured to instil pacific
feelings into the College of Cardinals,
and the Marquis of Mantua.

To the proposals of the ambassador
of Ferdinand, who laboured to engage
him in the Papal league against Lewis,
it was answered by the king, that his
only desire was to maintain the peace
of Christendom; and so earnest were
his endeavours upon this subject, that
he advised the summoning of a general
council for the purpose of deliberating
upon the likeliest methods of carrying
his wishes into effect. To secure the co-
operation of Denmark, Sir Andrew
Brownhill was deputed to that court,
and letters which strongly recommend­
ed the healing of all divisions, and the
duty of forgiveness, were addressed to
the warlike Julius. It was too late,
however : hostilities between France
and the Papal confederates had begun;
and James, aware that his own king­
dom would soon be involved in war,
made every effort to meet the emer­
gency with vigour. His levies were
conducted on a great scale; and we
learn from the contemporary letter of
the English envoy then in Scotland,
that the country rung with the din of
preparation : armed musters were held
in every part of the kingdom, not ex­
cepting the Isles, now an integral por­
tion of the state : ships were launched
—forests felled to complete those on
the stocks—Borthwick, the master
gunner, was employed in casting can-

1 Epistolœ Reg, Scot. vol. i. pp. 126-128.

284                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                      [Chap. VI.

non; Urnebrig, a German, in the
manufacture of gunpowder : the Great
was victualled and cleared out
for sea : the castles in the interior
dismantled of their guns, that they
might be used in the fleet or the
army : and the ablest sea officers and
mariners collected in the various sea­
ports.1 In the midst of these pre­
parations the king visited every quar­
ter in person—mingled with his sailors
and artisans, and took so constant an
interest in everything connected with
his fleet, that it began to be rumoured
he meant to command it in person.
Yet whilst such was the hostile ac­
tivity exhibited throughout the coun­
try, negotiations with England were
continued, and both monarchs made
mutual professions of their desire to
maintain peace; Henry in ail proba­
bility with insincerity, and James cer­
tainly only to gain time. It was at
this time that the Scottish queen gave
birth to a prince in the palace of Lin-
lithgow, on the 1Oth of April 1512; who
afterwards succeeded to the throne by
the title of James the Fifth.2

Early in the year 1512, Lord Dacre
and Dr West arrived as ambassadors
from England, and were received with
a studied courtesy, which seemed only
intended to blind them to the real de­
signs of Scotland. Their object was
to prevail on the king to renew his
oath regarding the peace with Eng­
land; to prevent the sailing of the
fleet to the assistance of the French;
and to offer, upon the part of their
master, his oath for the observation
of an inviolable amity with his bro­
ther.3 But the efforts of the English
diplomatists were successfully counter­
acted by the abilities of the French
ambassador, De la Motte : they de­
parted, with splendid presents indeed,
for the king delighted in shewing his
generosity even to his enemies, but
without any satisfactory answer; and
James, instead of listening to Henry,
renewed the league with France, con­
senting to the insertion of a clause
which, in a spirit of foolish and ro-

1  Treasurer's Accounts, 1511,1512.

2  Lesley, p. 84.
Ibid. p. 85,

mantic devotion, bound himself and his
subjects to that kingdom by stricter
ties than before.4 About the same
time an abortive attempt by the Scots
to make themselves masters of Ber­
wick, and an attack of a fleet of Eng­
lish merchantmen by De la Motte,
who sunk three, and carried seven in
triumph into Leith, must be considered
equivalent to a declaration of war.
Barton, too, Falconer, Mathison, and
other veteran sea officers, received or­
ders to be on the look­out for English
ships; and, aware of the importance
of a diversion on the side of Ireland,
a league was entered into with 0’Don-
nel, prince of Connal, who visited the
Scottish court, and took the oath of
homage to James : Duncan Campbell,
one of the Highland chiefs, engaged
at the same time to procure some
Irish vessels to join the royal fleet—
which it was now reckoned would
amount to sixteen ships of war, be­
sides smaller craft; a formidable ar­
mament for that period, and likely,
when united to the squadron of the
King of France, to prove, if skilfully
commanded, an overmatch for the navy
of England. Yet James’s preparations,
with his other sources of profusion,
had so completely impoverished his
exchequer, that it became a question
whether he would be able to maintain
the force which he had fitted out. In
a private message sent to Lord Dacre,
the Treasurer of Scotland appears to
have stated that a present from Henry
of five thousand angels, and the pay­
ment of the disputed legacy, which
with much injustice was still with­
held, might produce a revolution in
his policy;5 and it is certain that, on
the arrival of letters from Lewis, in­
stigating Scotland to declare war, the
reply of the monarch pleaded the im­
possibility of obeying the injunction
unless a large annuity was remitted
by France. The Borderers, however,
of both countries had already com-

4 MS. Leagues, Harleian, 1244, pp. 115,116.

5 Letter, Lord Dacre to the Bishop of Dur­
ham, 17th of August. Caligula, b. iii. 3,
quoted by Pinkerton, vol. ii. p. 78. Also
Letter, John Ainslow to the Bishop of Dur­
ham, 11th of September, Caligula, b. vi. 22.

1512-13.]                                        JAMES IV.                                                  285

menced hostilities; and Robert Barton,
acting under his letters of reprisal, and
scouring the narrow seas, came into
Leith, after a successful cruise, with
thirteen English prizes.1

In their mutual professions of a
desire for peace, both governments
appear to have been insincere : Henry
had determined to signalise his arms
by the reconquest of Guienne, and
only wished to gain time for the em­
barkation of his army; James, shut­
ting his eyes to the real interests of
his kingdom, allowed a devotion to
Lewis, and a too violent resentment
for the insult offered to his fleet, to
direct his policy. To concentrate his
strength, however, required delay. Re­
peated messages passed between the
two courts; the Scottish prince, by his
ambassador, Lord Drummond, even
proceeded so far as to offer to Henry
a gratuitous remission of all the late
injuries sustained by his subjects, pro­
vided that monarch would abandon
the confederacy against France;2 and
although the proposal was rejected,
Dr West again proceeded on an em­
bassy to Scotland, of which his original
letters have left us some interesting
particulars. He found the king en­
grossed in warlike preparations, yet
visited for the moment by one of his
temporary fits of penance, in which he
projected an expedition to Jerusalem,
animated equally by a romantic desire
of signalising his prowess against the
infidels, and a hope of expiating the
guilt which he had incurred in appear­
ing in arms against his father. He
had been shut up for a week in the
church of the Friars Observants at
Stirling; but the effect of this reli­
gious retirement seems to have been
the reverse of pacific. He expressed
himself with the utmost bitterness
against the late warlike pontiff, Julius
the Second, then recently deceased;
declaring that, had he lived, he would
have supported a council even of three
bishops against him. He had resolved
to send Forman, the Bishop of Moray,
and the chief author of the war against
England, as ambassador to Leo the

1 Lesley, Bannatyne edit. p. 85.
Rymer, Fœdera, vol. xiii. pp, 347. 348.

Tenth, the new Pope; and it was re­
ported that Lewis had secured the
services of this able and crafty prelate
by the promise of a cardinal’s hat. To
Henry’s offers of redress for the infrac­
tions of the truce, provided the Scot­
tish monarch would remain inactive
during the campaign against France,
he replied that he would not proceed
to open hostilities against England
without previously sending a declara­
tion by a herald; so that if the king
fulfilled his intention of passing into
France with his army, ample time
should be allowed him to return for
the defence of his kingdom. It was
unequivocally intimated that peace
with France was the only condition
upon which an amicable correspon­
dence could be maintained between
the two kingdoms; and amongst minor
subjects of complaint, Henry’s conti­
nued refusal to send his sister’s jewels
was exposed in a spirited letter from
that princess, which was delivered by
Dr West on his return.3

La Motte soon after again arrived
from France with a small squadron
laden with provisions for the Scottish
fleet, besides warlike stores and rich
presents to the king and his principal
nobles. About the same time the
King of Denmark sent several ships
into Scotland freighted with arms,
harness, and ammunition; and 0’Don-
nel, the Irish potentate, visited the
court in person to renew his offers of
assistance against England. But an
artful proceeding of Anne of Brittany,
the consort of Lewis, had, it was be­
lieved, a greater effect in accelerating
the war than either the intrigues of
the Bishop of Moray or the negotia­
tions of La Motte. This princess, who
understood the romantic weakness of
the Scottish king, addressed to him an
epistle conceived in a strain of high-
flown and amorous complaint. She
described herself as an unhappy dam­
sel, surrounded by danger, claimed his
protection from the attacks of a trea-

3 West to Henry, 1st April, MS, Letter,
Brit. Mus. Calig. b. vi. 56. This letter is
now printed in “ Illustrations of Scottish His­
tory,” (pp. 76-89,) presented by Moses Steven,
Esq., to the Maitland Club.

286                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                       [Chap. VI.

cherous monarch, and sent him, not
only a present of fourteen thousand
crowns, but the still more tender gift
of â ring from her own finger—a token
to her faithful knight upon whose
ready aid she implicitly relied. She
concluded her letter by imploring him
to advance, were it but three steps,
into English ground for the sake of
his mistress, as she had already suf­
fered much misconstruction in defence
of his honour, and in excusing the de­
lay of his expedition.1 To another
monarch than James an appeal like
this would have been only excusable
at a court pageant or a tournament;
but such was his high-wrought sense
of honour, that there can be little
doubt it accelerated his warlike move­
ments; and when, soon after its de­
livery, intelligence arrived of the pas­
sage of the English army to France,
and the opening of the war by Henry
the Eighth in person, he at once con­
sidered all negotiation as at an end,
issued his writs for a general muster
of the whole force of his dominions,
and ordered every ship in his service
to put to sea.

The fleet which assembled evinces
that the efforts of the king to create
a navy had been eminently successful.
It consisted of thirteen great ships, all
of them, in the naval phraseology of
the times, with three tops, besides ten
smaller vessels, and a ship of Lynne
lately captured. In addition to these
there was the Great Michael, a thirty-
oared galley which belonged to her,
and two ships, the Margaret and the
James, which, although damaged in a
late gale, were now repaired and ready
to put to sea. Aboard this fleet was
embarked a force of three thousand
men, under the command of the Earl
of Arran, a nobleman of limited ex­
perience in the art of war; one of the
principal captains of the fleet was
Gordon of Letterfury,2 a son of the
Earl of Huntly; but unfortunately
Arran’s higher feudal rank and his
title of Generalissimo included an au­
thority over the fleet as well as the
army, and this circumstance drew

1 Lindsay, p. 171. Pinkerton, vol. ii. p. 87.
Lesley, p. 87.

after it disastrous consequences. Why
James should not have appointed some
of his veteran sea officers—Barton,
Wood, or Falconer—to conduct a navy
of which he was so proud to its des­
tination in France, is not easily dis­
coverable, but it probably arose out of
some hereditary feudal right which
entailed upon rank a command due
only to skill, and for which it soon
appeared that the possessor was utterly

Instead of obeying the orders which
he had received from the king, who,
with the object of encouraging his sea­
men, embarked in the Great Michael,
and remained on board for some
time, Arran conducted the fleet to
Carrickfergus, in Ireland, landed his
troops, and stormed the town with
much barbarity, sparing neither age
nor sex.3 The reckless brutality with
which the city was given up to the
unlicensed fury of the soldiery would
at all times have been blamable, but
at this moment it was committed dur­
ing a time of peace, and against the
express promise of the king; yet such
was the folly or simplicity of the per­
petrator, that, with the spirit of a suc­
cessful freebooter, he did not hesitate
to put his ships about and return to
Ayr with his plunder. Incensed to
the utmost by such conduct, and dread­
ing that his delay might totally frus­
trate the object of the expedition,
James despatched Sir Andrew Wood
to supersede Arran in the command ;
but misfortune still pursued his mea­
sures, and before this experienced sea­
man could reach the coast the fleet
had again sailed. Over the future his­
tory of an armament which was the
boast of the sovereign, and whose
equipment had cost the country an
immense sum for those times, there
rests a deep obscurity. That it reached
France is certain, and it is equally
clear that only a few ships ever re­
turned to Scotland. Of its exploits
nothing has been recorded—a strong
presumptive proof that Arran’s future
conduct in no way redeemed the folly
of his commencement. The war, in­
deed, between Henry and Lewis was
Pinkerton’s Scottish Poems, vol. i. p. 150.

1513.]                                              JAMES IV. ’                                             287

so soon concluded, that little time was
given for naval enterprise, and the
solitary engagement by which it was
distinguished (the battle of Spurs)
appears to have been fought before
the Scottish forces could join the
French army. With regard to the
final fate of the squadron, the proba­
bility seems to be that, after the defeat
at Flodden, part, including the Great
were purchased by the French
government; part arrived in a shat­
tered and disabled state in Scotland,
whilst others which had been fitted
out by merchant adventurers, and were
only commissioned by the government,
pursued their private courses, and are
lost sight of in the public transactions
of the times. But we must turn from
these unsatisfying conjectures to the
important and still more disastrous
events which were passing in Scot­

Although the war was condemned
by the wisest heads amongst his coun­
cil, and the people, with the exception
of the Borderers, whose trade was
plunder, deprecated the interruption of
their pacific labours, so great was the
popularity of the king, that from one
end of the country to the other his
summons for the muster of his army
was devotedly obeyed. The Lowland
counties collected in great strength,
and from the Highlands and the re­
motest Isles the hardy inhabitants
hastened under their several chiefs to
join the royal banner. The Earl of
Argyle, Maclan of Ardnamurchan,
Maclean of Dowart, and Sir Duncan
Campbell of Glenurcha, with many
other barons, led their clansmen and
vassals to support the quarrel of their
sovereign, and within a short period
James saw himself at the head of an
army, which at the lowest computation
was a hundred thousand strong.

On the same day in which his fleet
had sailed, a herald was despatched to
France, who found the English monarch
in his camp before Terouen, and de­
livered a letter, of which the tone was
calculated to incense a milder monarch
than Henry. It dwelt with some ex­
aggeration upon the repeated injuries
and insults which James had received

from his brother-in-law. It accused
him of refusing a safe-conduct to his
ambassador, (a proceeding worthy only
of an infidel power;) it upbraided him
with a want of common justice and
affection in withholding from his sister,
the Queen of Scotland, the jewels and
the legacy which had been left her by
her father ;1 it asserted that the con­
duct of England, in a late meeting of
the commissioners of the two countries
on the Borders, had been deficient in
honour and good faith; that Heron,
the murderer of a Scottish baron, who
was dear to the king, was protected in
that country; that Scottish subjects
in time of peace had been carried off
in fetters across the Border; that Au-
drew Barton had been slaughtered, and
his ships unjustly captured by Henry’s
admiral; whilst that prince not only
refused all redress, but shewed the
contempt with which he treated the
demand by declaring war against
James’s relative, the Duke of Gueldres,
and now invading the dominions of
his friend and ally, the King of France.
Wherefore, it concluded, “We require
you to desist from further hostilities
against this most Christian prince, cer­
tifying your highness that in case of
refusal we shall hold ourselves bound
to assist him by force of arms, and to
compel you to abandon the pursuit of
so unjust a war.”2

On perusing this letter, Henry broke
out into an expression of ungovern­
able rage, and demanded of the Scot­
tish envoy whether he would carry a
verbal answer to his master. “Sir,”
said the Lion herald, “I am his na­
tural subject, and what he commands
me to say that must I boldly utter;
but it is contrary to my allegiance to
report the commands of others. May
it please your highness, therefore, to
send an answer in writing—albeit the
matter requires deeds rather than
words—since it is the king my mas-
ter’s desire that you should straightway

1 Ellis’s Letters, first series, vol. i. p. 64.—
Queen Margaret to Henry the Eighth.

2 These are not the exact words, but a pa­
raphrase of the conclusion of the letter which
exists in the British Museum. Caligula, b.
vi. 49, 50. It has been printed by Holin-
shed. p. 135.

288                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                       [Chap. VI.

return home.” “That shall I do,”
replied Henry, “at mine own pleasure,
and not at your sovereign’s bidding,”
adding many injurious reflections
upon the broken faith and treachery
of the Scottish king; to which the
herald replied, as he had been in­
structed, by a denunciation of war.
It was thought proper, however, that
a graver answer should be sent to
James’s remonstrance, and a letter
was forthwith drawn up which in
violence exceeded it; but as the herald
was detained on his return in Flan­
ders, and did not reach Scotland till
after the fatal result of Flodden, it was
never delivered to the king.1

The English monarch boasted, on
being informed of James’s resolution,
that he had left the task of defending
his dominions to a noble person who
knew well how to execute it with
fidelity, and he now addressed his
orders to the Earl of Surrey, enjoin­
ing him with all expedition to sum­
mon the array of the northern coun­
ties, and to hold himself in readiness
to resist the invasion. It was, indeed,
high time to accelerate his levies, for
Home, the Lord-chamberlain, at the
head of a force of eight thousand men,
had already burst across the English
Border, and after laying waste the
country, was returning home with his
booty. A long interval of peace, how­
ever, had been followed, as usual, by
a decay of military skill amongst the
Scots. The chamberlain neglecting
his discipline, forgot to push on his
pickets, but marching in a confused
mass, embarrassed by the cattle which
he drove before him, and thoughtless
of an enemy, was surprised and de­
feated with great slaughter at a pass
called the Broomhouse, by Sir William
Bulmer. The action was, as usual,

1 “We cannot greatly marvel,” says Henry
to James, “ considering the auncient accus-
tumable manners of your progenitors whiche
never kept longer faithe and promise than
pleased them. . . . And if the example of
the King of Navarre being exclused from his
realme for the assistance given to the French
King cannot restrain you from this unna­
tural dealing, we suppose ye shall have the
assistance of the said French King as the
King of Navarre hath nowe, who is a king
without a realme.”—Holinshed, p. 139.

decided by the English archers, who,
concealing themselves in the tall
furze with which the place abounded,
struck down the Scottish companies
by an unexpected discharge of their
arrows.2 This being often repeated,
the confusion of their ranks became
irrecoverable, and the English horse
breaking in upon them gained an
easy victory. Five hundred were
slain upon the spot, and their leader
compelled to fly for his life, leaving
his banner on the field, and his
brother, Sir George Home, with four
hundred men prisoners in the hands
of the English. The remainder, con­
sisting of Borderers more solicitous for
the preservation of their booty than
their honour, dispersed upon the first
alarm, and the whole affair was far
from creditable to the Scots. So
much was the king incensed and
mortified by the result of this action,
that his mind, already resolved on
war, became impatient to wipe out
the stain inflicted on the national
honour, and he determined instantly
to lead his army in person against

This was a fatal resolve, and ap­
peared full of rashness and danger to
his wisest councillors, who did not
scruple to advise him to protract hos­
tilities. The queen earnestly besought
him to spare her the unnatural spec­
tacle of seeing her husband arrayed in
mortal contest against her brother; and
when open remonstrance produced no
effect, other methods were employed
to work upon the superstition which
formed so marked a feature in the
royal mind. At Linlithgow, a few days
before he set out for his army, whilst
attending vespers in the church of St
Michael, adjacent to his palace, a
venerable stranger of a stately appear­
ance entered the aisle where the king
knelt; his head was uncovered, his
hair, parted over his forehead, flowed
down his shoulders, his robe was blue,
tied round his loins with a linen
girdle, and there was an air of majesty
about him, which inspired the be­
holders with awe. Nor was this feel-

2 Holinshed, edit. 1803, p. 471. Hall, p.

1513.]                                               JAMES IV.                                                 289

ing decreased when the unknown
visitant walked up to the king, and
leaning over the reading-desk where
he knelt, thus addressed him : “ Sir, I
am sent to warn thee not to proceed
in thy present undertaking—for if
thou dost, it shall not fare well either
with thyself or those who go with
thee. Further, it hath been enjoined
me to bid thee shun the familiar
society and counsels of women, lest
they occasion thy disgrace and de­
struction.” The boldness of these
words, which were pronounced aud­
ibly, seemed to excite the indigna­
tion neither of the king nor those
around him. All were struck with
superstitious dread, whilst the figure,
using neither salutation nor reverence,
retreated and vanished amongst the
crowd. Whither he went, or how he
disappeared, no one, when the first
feelings of astonishment had subsided,
could tell; and although the strictest
inquiry was made, all remained a
mystery. Sir David Lindsay and Sir
James Inglis, who belonged to the
household of the young prince, stood
close beside the king when the
stranger appeared, and it was from
Lindsay that Buchanan received the
story.1 The most probable conjecture
seems to be, that it was a stratagem
of the queen, of which it is likely the
monarch had some suspicion, for it
produced no change in his purpose,
and the denunciation of the danger of
female influence was disregarded.

On arriving at headquarters, James
was flattered with the evidence he had
before him of the affectionate loyalty
of his subjects. The war was un­
popular with the nobles, yet such was
the strength with which the Lowland
counties had mustered, and the readi­
ness with which the remotest districts
had sent their vassals, that he saw him­
self at the head of a noble army, ad­
mirably equipped, and furnished with
a train of artillery superior to that
which had been brought into the field
by any former monarch of Scotland.
Leaving his capital, and apparently
without having formed any definite

1 Buchanan, xiii. 31. Pinkerton, vol. ii. p.


plan of operations, the monarch en­
tered England on the 22d of August;
encamping that night on the banks of
the river Till, a tributary stream to
the Tweed.2 Here he seems to have
remained inactive for two days; and
on the 24th, with the view of encour­
aging his army, he passed an act, that
the heirs of all who fell in the present
campaign should not be subject to the
common feudal fines, but should be
free from the burdens of “ ward, relief
or marriage,” without regard to age.3
The proclamation is dated at Twisel-
haugh, and from this place he moved
down the side of the Tweed, and in­
vested the castle of Norham, which
surrendered after a siege of a week.
He then proceeded up the Tweed to
Wark, of which he made himself
master with equal ease; and advanc­
ing for a few miles, delayed some pre­
cious days before the towers of Etal
and Ford—enterprises unworthy of
his arms, and more befitting the raid
of a Border freebooter, than the efforts
of a royal army. At Ford, which was
stormed and razed,3 Lady Heron, a
beautiful and artful woman, the wife
of Sir William Heron, who was still a
prisoner in Scotland, became James’s
captive; and the king, ever the slave
of beauty, is said to have resigned him­
self to her influence, which she em­
ployed to retard his military operations.
Time was thus given for the Eng­
lish army to assemble. Had Douglas
or Randolph commanded the host,
they would have scoured and laid waste
the whole of the north of England
within the period that the monarch
had already wasted; but James’s mili­
tary experience did not go beyond the
accomplishments of a tournament; and
although aware that his army was en­
camped in a barren country, where
they must soon become distressed, he
idled away his days till the oppor­
tunity was past.

Whilst such was the course pursued
by the king, the Earl of Surrey, con­
Lord Herbert’s Life of Henry the Eighth,
Kennet, vol. ii. p. 18. Hall says the army
amounted to a hundred thousand men.

3 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. p. 278.
Weber’s Flodden Field, pp. 186,187.

290                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                      [Chap. VI.

centrating the strength of the northern
counties, soon raised an army of twenty-
six thousand men; and marching
through Durham, received there the
sacred banner of St Cuthbert. He
was soon after joined by Lord Dacre,
Sir William Buhner, Sir Marmaduke
Constable, and other northern barons;
and on proceeding to Alnwick, was
met by his son, Lord Thomas Howard,
who on the death of his brother, Sir
Edward, had succeeded him in the
office of Lord High-admiral of Eng­
land, with a reinforcement of live thou­
sand men.1 On advancing with this
united force, Surrey despatched Rouge
Croix herald to carry his challenge to
the King of Scots, which was couched
in the usual stately terms of feudal
defiance. It reproached him with hav­
ing broken his faith and league, which
had been solemnly pledged to the King
of England, in thus invading his do­
minions,—and offered him battle on
the succeeding Friday, if he would be
content to remain so long in England
and accept it. Lord Thomas Howard
added a message informing the king
that, as high-admiral, and one who had
borne a personal share in the action
against Andrew Barton, he was now
ready to justify the death of that
pirate, for which purpose he would
lead the vanguard, where his enemies,
from whom he expected as little mercy
as he meant to grant them, would be
sure to find him. To this challenge
James instantly replied that “he de­
sired nothing more earnestly than the
encounter, and would abide the battle
on the day appointed.” As to the ac­
cusation of broken honour, which had
been brought against him, he desired
his herald to carry a broad denial of
the statement. “ Our bond and pro­
mise,” he observed, “ was to remain
true to our royal brother, so long as
he maintained his faith with us. This
he was the first to break; we have de­
sired redress, and have been denied it;
we have warned him of our intended
hostility,—a courtesy which he has
refused to us; and this is our just
quarrel, which, with the grace of God,

1 Stow says five thousand. Lord Herbert,
one thousand, Kennet, vol. ii. p. 18.

we shall defend.” These mutual mes­
sages passed on the 4th of September;
and on the day appointed, Surrey ad­
vanced against the enemy. By this
time, however, the distress for provi­
sions, the incessant rains, and the ob­
stinacy of the king in wasting upon
his pleasures, and his observation of
the punctilios of chivalry, the hours
which might have been spent in active
warfare, had created dissatisfaction in
the soldiers, many of whom deserted
with the booty they had already col­
lected, so that in a short time the
army was much diminished in num­
bers. To accept the challenge of his
adversary, and permit him to appoint
a day for the encounter, was contrary
to the advice of his best councillors ;
and he might have recollected that,
in circumstances almost similar, two
great masters in war, Douglas and
Randolph, had treated a parallel pro­
posal of Edward the Third with a sar­
castic refusal. He had the sagacity,
however, to change his first encamp­
ment for a stronger position on the
hill of Flodden, one of the last and
lowest eminences which detach them­
selves from the range of the Cheviots;
a ground skilfully chosen, inaccessible
on both flanks, and defended in front
by the river Till, a deep sluggish
stream, which wound between the

On advancing and reconnoitring the
spot, Surrey, who despaired of being
able to attack the Scots without ex­
posing himself to the probability of
defeat, again sent a herald, to re­
quest the king to descend from the
eminence into the plain. He com­
plained somewhat unreasonably that
James had “putte himself into a
ground more like a fortress or a camp,
than any indifferent field for battle to
be taxed; " 2 and hoping to work on
the chivalrous spirit of the monarch,
hinted that “ such conduct did not
sound to his honour; “ but James
would not even admit the messenger
into his presence. So far all had suc-

2 Letter of Surrey ; published by Ellis, vol.
i. pp. 86, 87 ; dated at “ Woolerhaugh, the 7th
day of Sept., at five of the clock in the

1513.]                                              JAMES IV.                                                  291

ceeded, and nothing was required on
the part of the king but patience. He
had chosen an impregnable position,
had fulfilled his agreement by abiding
the attack of the enemy; and such
was the distress of Surrey’s army in a
wasted country, that to keep it longer
together was impossible. He at­
tempted, therefore, a decisive mea­
sure, which would have appeared des­
perate unless he had reckoned upon
the carelessness and inexperience of
his opponent. Passing the Till on the
8th of September, he proceeded along
some rugged grounds on its east side
to Barmoor Wood, about two miles
distant from the Scottish position,
where he encamped for the night.
His march was concealed from the
enemy by an eminence on the east of
Ford; but that the manoeuvre was exe­
cuted without observation or interrup­
tion, evinced a shameful negligence in
the Scottish commanders. Early on
the morning of the 9th he marched
from Barmoor Wood in a north-
westerly direction; and then turning
suddenly to the eastward, crossed the
Till with his vanguard and artillery,
which was commanded by Lord
Howard, at Twisel bridge, not far from
the confluence of the Till and the
Tweed, — whilst the rear division,
under Surrey in person, passed the
river at a ford, about a mile higher up.
Whilst these movements were taking
place, with a slowness which afforded
ample opportunity for a successful
attack, the Scottish king remained un­
accountably passive. His veteran offi­
cers remonstrated. They shewed him
that if he advanced against Surrey,
when the enemy were defiling over
the bridge with their vanguard sepa­
rated from the rear, there was every
chance of destroying them in detail,
and gaining an easy victory. The Earl
of Angus, whose age and experience
gave great weight to his advice, im­
plored him either to assault the Eng­
lish, or to change his position by a re­
treat, ere it was too late; but his pru­
dent counsel was only received by a
cruel taunt,—“ Angus,” said the king,
" if you are afraid, you may go home ; “
a reproach which the spirit of the old

baron could not brook. Bursting into
tears, he turned mournfully away, ob­
serving that his former life might
have spared him such a rebuke from
the lips of his sovereign. “ My age,”
said he, “ renders my body of no ser­
vice, and my counsel is despised; but
I leave my two sons, and the vassals
of Douglas in the field : may the result
be glorious, and Angus’s foreboding
unfounded ! " The army of Surrey
was still marching across the bridge,
when Borthwick, the master of the
artillery, fell on his knees before the
king, and earnestly solicited permission
to bring his guns to bear upon the
columns, which might be then done
with the most destructive effect; but
James commanded him to desist on
peril of his head, declaring that he
would meet his antagonist on equal
terms in a plain field, and scorned to
avail himself of such an advantage.
The counsel of Huntly was equally in­
effectual; the remonstrance of Lord
Lindsay of the Byres, a rough warrior,
was received by James with such vehe­
ment indignation, that he threatened
on his return to hang him up at his
own gate. Time ran on amidst these
useless altercations, and the oppor­
tunity was soon irrecoverable. The
last divisions of Surrey’s force had dis­
entangled themselves from the narrow
bridge; the rear had passed the ford;
and the earl, marshalling his army
with the leisure which his enemy al­
lowed him, placed his entire line be­
tween James and his own country.
He was thus enabled, by an easy and
gradual ascent, which led to Flodden,
to march upon the rear of the enemy;
and, without losing his advantage for
a moment, he advanced against them
in full array, his army being divided
into two battles, and each battle hav­
ing two wings.1 On becoming aware
of this, the king immediately set fire
to the temporary huts and booths of
his encampment, and descended the
hill, with the object of occupying the
eminence on which the village of

1 Original Document in State-paper Office,
entitled “ Articles of the Bataill, betwixt the
Kyng of Scottis and the Erle of Surrey, in
Brankston Field, the 9th day of September."

292                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                      [Chap. VI.

Brankston is built. His army was
divided into five battles, some of which
had assumed the form of squares, some
of wedges; and all were drawn up in
line, about a bow­shot distance from
each other.1 Their march was con­
ducted in complete silence; and the
clouds of smoke which arose from the
burning camp, being driven in the face
of the enemy, mutually concealed the
armies; so that when the breeze fresh­
ened, and the misty curtain was with­
drawn, the two hosts discovered that
they were within a quarter of a mile
of each other. The arrangement of
both armies was simple. The van of
the English, which consisted of ten
thousand men, divided into a centre
and two wings, was led by Lord Thomas
Howard; the right wing being in­
trusted to his brother, Sir Edmund,
and the left to Sir Marmaduke Con­
stable. In the main centre of his host,
Surrey himself commanded; the charge
of the rear was given to Sir Edward
Stanley; and a strong body of horse,
under Lord Dacre, formed a reserve.
Upon the part of the Scots, the Earls
of Home and Huntly led the vanguard
or advance; the king the centre, and
the Earls of Lennox and Argyle the
rear : near which was the reserve, con­
sisting of the flower of the Lothians,
commanded by the Earl of Bothwell.
The battle commenced at four in the
afternoon by a furious charge of
Huntly and Home upon the portion
of the English vanguard under Sir
Edmund Howard : which, after some
resistance, was thrown into confusion,
and totally routed. Howard’s banner
was beaten down; and he himself
escaped with difficulty, falling back on
his brother, the admiral’s division.
That commander, dreading the conse­
quences of the defeat, instantly de­
spatched a messenger to his father,
Lord Surrey, entreating him to extend
his line with all speed, and strengthen
the van by drawing up a part of the
centre on its left. The manoeuvre was
judicious, but it would have required
too long a time to execute it; and at
this critical moment, Lord Dacre gal-

1 Gazette of the Battle in the Herald’s
Office. Pinkerton, vol. ii. p. 456.

loped forward with his cavalry, to the
support of the vanguard.2 Nothing
could have been more timely than this
assistance; he not only checked the
career of the Scottish earls, but, being
seconded by the intrepid attack of the
admiral, drove back the division of
Huntly with great slaughter, whilst
Home’s men, who were chiefly Bor­
derers, imagining they had already
gained the victory, began to disperse
and pillage. Dacre and the admiral
then turned their attack against an­
other portion of the Scottish vanguard,
led by the Earls of Crawford and Mon-
trose, who met them with levelled
spears, and resolutely withstood the
charge. Whilst such was the state of
things on the right, a desperate con­
test was carried on between James and
the Earl of Surrey in the centre. In
his ardour, however, the king forgot
that the duties of a commander were
distinct from the indiscriminate valour
of a knight; he placed himself in the
front of his lances and billmen, sur­
rounded by his nobles, who, whilst
they pitied the gallant weakness of
such conduct, disdained to leave their
sovereign unsupported.3 The first con­
sequence of this was so furious a charge
upon the English centre, that its ranks
were broken; and for a while the stan­
dard of the Earl of Surrey was in dan­
ger; but by this time Lord Dacre
and the admiral had been successful
in defeating the division led by Craw­
ford and Montrose; and wheeling to­
wards the left, they turned their whole
strength against the flank of the Scot­
tish centre, which wavered under the
shock, till the Earl of Bothwell came
up with the reserve, and restored the
day in this quarter. On the right the
divisions led by the Earls of Lennox
and Argyle were composed chiefly of
the Highlanders and Islemen; the
Campbells, Macleans, Macleods, and
other hardy clans, who were dreadfully
galled by the discharge of the English
archers. Unable to reach the enemy
with their broadswords and axes, which
formed their only weapons, and at no

2 Letter of Lord Dacre, in Pinkerton, vol.
ii. p. 460.
Hall, p. 562.

1513.]                                              JAMES IV.                                                  293

time very amenable to discipline, their
squadrons began to run fiercely for­
ward, eager for closer fight, and thought­
less of the fatal consequences of break­
ing their array.1 It was to little pur­
pose that La Motte and the French
officers who were with him attempted
by entreaties and blows to restrain
them; they neither understood their
language nor cared for their violence,
but threw themselves sword in hand
upon the English. They found, how­
ever, an enemy in Sir Edward Stanley,
whose coolness was not to be surprised
in this manner. The squares of Eng­
lish pikemen stood to their ground;
and although for a moment the shock
of the mountaineers was terrible, its
force once sustained became spent with
its own violence, and nothing remained
but a disorganisation so complete that
to recover their ranks was impossible.
The consequence was a total rout of
the right wing of the Scots, accom­
panied by a dreadful slaughter, in
which, amid other brave men, the
Earls of Lennox and Argyle were slain.
Yet, notwithstanding this defeat on
the right, the centre, under the king,
still maintained an obstinate and dubi­
ous conflict with the Earl of Surrey.
The determined personal valour of
James, imprudent as it was, had the
effect of rousing to a pitch of desperate
courage the meanest of the private
soldiers, and the ground becoming soft
and slippery from blood, they pulled
off their boots and shoes, and secured
a firmer footing by fighting in their
hose. No quarter was given on either
side; and the combatants were disput­
ing every inch of ground, when Stan­
ley, without losing his time in pursuit
of the Highlanders, drew back his divi­
sion, and impetuously charged the rear
of the Scottish centre. It was now
late in the evening, and this movement
was decisive. Pressed on the flank by
Dacre and the admiral, opposed in
front by Surrey, and now attacked in
the rear by Stanley, the king’s battle
fought with fearful odds against it;
yet James continued by his voice and
his gestures to animate his soldiers,
and the contest was still uncertain
Buchanan, xiii. 38.

when he fell pierced with an arrow,
and mortally wounded in the head by
a bill, within a few paces from the
English earl, his antagonist. The
death of their sovereign seemed only
to animate the fury of the Scottish
nobles, who threw themselves into a
circle round the body, and defended it
till darkness separated the combatants.
At this time Surrey was uncertain of
the result of the battle, the remains
of the enemy’s centre still held the
field; Home with his Borderers hovered
on the left, and the commander wisely
allowed neither pursuit nor plunder,
but drew off his men, and kept a strict
watch during the night. When the
morning broke, the Scottish artillery
were seen standing deserted on the
side of the hill, their defenders had
disappeared, and the earl ordered
thanks to be given for a victory which
was no longer doubtful. He then
created forty knights on the field, and
permitted Lord Dacre to follow the
retreat; yet, even after all this, a body
of the Scots appeared unbroken upon
a hill, and were about to charge the
lord admiral, when they were com­
pelled to leave their position by a dis­
charge of the English ordnance.2 The
soldiers then ransacked the camp, and
seized the artillery which had been
abandoned. It consisted of seventeen
cannon, of various shapes and dimen­
sions, amongst which were six guns
admirable for their fabric and beauty,
named by the late monarch the Six
Sisters, which Surrey boasted were
longer and larger than any in the ar­
senal of the King of England. The
loss of the Scots in this fatal battle
amounted to about ten thousand men.3
Of these a great proportion were of
high rank ; the remainder being com­
posed of the gentry, the farmers, and
landed yeomanry, who disdained to
fly when their sovereign and his nobles
lay stretched in heaps around them.
Amongst the slain were thirteen earls
—Crawford, Montrose, Huntly, Len­
nox, Argyle, Errol, Athole, Morton,

2 Hall, in Weber’s Flodden Field, p. 364.

3 Original Gazette of the battle preserved
in the Herald’s Office, London. Apud Pin-
kerton, vol. ii. p. 456.

294                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                       [Chap. VI

Cassillis, Bothwell, Rothes, Caithness,
and Glencairn, the king’s natural son,
the Archbishop of St Andrews, who
had been educated abroad by Erasmus,
the Bishops of Caithness and the Isles,
the Abbots of Inchaffray and Kilwin-
ning, and the Dean of Glasgow. To
these we must add fifteen lords and
chiefs of clans : amongst whom were
Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenurcha,
Lauchlan Maclean of Dowart, Camp­
bell of Lawers, and five peers’ eldest
sons, besides La Motte, the French
ambassador, and the secretary of the
king. The names of the gentry who
fell are too numerous for recapitula­
tion, since there were few families of
note in Scotland which did not lose
one relative or another, whilst some
houses had to weep the death of all.
It is from this cause that the sensa­
tions of sorrow and national lamenta­
tion occasioned by the defeat were
peculiarly poignant and lasting; so that
to this day few Scotsmen can hear the
name of Flodden without a shudder of
gloomy regret.1 The body of James
was found on the morrow amongst the
thickest of the slain, and recognised by
Lord Dacre, although much disfigured
by wounds. It was carried to Berwick,
and ultimately interred at Richmond.2
In Scotland, however, the affection of
the people for their monarch led them
to disbelieve the account of his death;
it was well known that several of his
nobles had worn in the battle a dress
similar to the king’s; and to this we
may probably trace a report that James
had been seen alive after his defeat.
Many long and fondly believed that, in
completion of a religious vow, he had
travelled to Jerusalem, and would re­
turn to claim the crown.3

1 See Notes and Illustrations, letter X.

2 Weever’s Funeral Monuments, p. 181.

3  Godwin in his Annals, p. 22, mentions,
“ That when James’s body was found, his neck
was opened in the middle with a wide wound,
his left hand, almost cut off in two places, did
scarce hang to his arm, and the archers had
shot him in many places of his body.” The
sword and dagger of the unfortunate monarch
are to be seen at this day preserved in the
College of Arms in London, and have been
engraved by the late Mr Weber as a frontis­
piece to the battle of “Flodden Field,” an
ancient poem published by that author.

The causes which led to this defeat
are of easy detection, and must be
traced chiefly to the king himself. His
obstinacy rendered him deaf to the
advice of his officers, and his ignorance
of war made his individual judgment
the most dangerous guide. The days
which he wasted in the siege of Nor­
ham and Etal, or squandered at Ford,
gave his enemy time to concentrate
his army, and, when the hosts were in
sight of each other, he committed an­
other error in permitting Surrey to
dictate to him the terms on which
they were to engage. A third blunder
was the neglect of attacking the Eng­
lish in crossing the river, and his ob­
stinacy in not employing his artillery,
which might have broken and destroyed
the enemy in detail, and rendered their
defeat when in confusion comparatively
easy. Last of all, James’s thoughtless­
ness in the battle was as conspicuous
as his want of judgment before it.
When Surrey, mindful of his duty,
kept himself as much as possible out
of the deadly brunt of the conflict, and
was able to watch its progress, and to
give each division his prompt assist­
ance, the Scottish monarch acted the
part of Richard or Amadis, more soli­
citous for the display of his individual
bravery and prowess, than anxious for
the defeat of the enemy. It was a
gallant but a fatal weakness, which
cannot be sufficiently condemned;
dearly expiated, indeed, by the death
of the unfortunate prince himself,
whose fate, some may think, ought to
defend him from such severity of cen­
sure ; but when we consider the flood
of noble and of honest blood which was
poured out at Flodden, and the long
train of national misfortunes which
this disaster entailed upon the country,
it is right that the miseries of unne­
cessary warfare, and the folly of a
thirst for individual glory, should be
pointed out for the admonition of
future ages.

The character of this monarch may
be sufficiently understood by the his­
tory which has been given of his reign;
and it is pleasing, in running over its
most prominent features, to exchange
censure for applause. His energy, firm­

1513.]                                               JAMES V.                                                   295

ness, and indefatigable activity in the
administration of justice; his zeal for
the encouragement of the useful arts;
his introduction of the machinery of
law and justice into the northern dis­
tricts and the dominions of the Isles;
his encouragement of the commerce
and the agriculture of the country;
his construction of a naval power; his
provision for increasing the means of
national defence by casting artillery,
building forts, and opening by his fleet
a communication with the remotest
parts of his kingdom, were all worthy
of high praise : whilst his kindness of
heart, and accessibility to the lowest
classes of his subjects, rendered him
deservedly beloved. His weaknesses

were, a too anxious desire for popu­
larity, an extravagant love of amuse­
ment, and a criminal profusion of
expenditure upon pleasures which di­
minished his respectability in the eyes
of his subjects, and injured them by
the contagion of bad example. He
was slain in the forty-second year of
his age, leaving an only son, an infant,
who succeeded him by the title of
James the Fifth. His natural chil­
dren, by various mothers of noble
blood as well as ’of homely lineage,
were numerous; and some of them
who have hitherto escaped the research
of the antiquary may be traced in the
manuscript records of the high-trea­

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