JAMES IV.—THE THISTLE AND THE ROSE
When James IV. had reigned a little time, he began to be
very sorry for having rebelled against his father, James iii.
He spent much of his time in the Chapel Royal at Stirling,
praying for forgiveness. As a punishment to himself he
fastened a chain of iron round his waist This he wore
night and day, so that he might ever be kept in remem
brance of his wickedness, and every year he added more
links to the chain to make it heavier.
But although James did this, he was by no means
always sad and mournful. He loved sports and games,
and all the fine show of tournaments. He himself could
fence and ride with the best. Often he held great tourna
ments at court, to which not only his own nobles, but
famous knights from far countries came.
King James loved knightly games and amusements,
but he loved his people too. Often he rode through his
kingdom, quite alone, and plainly dressed, so that none
might know that he was the King. He would go into
poor men’s houses and sit and talk with them as one of
themselves. Then he would ask them, what they thought
of the King, and how he ruled. In this way he found out
what troubles and wants the people had.
The King, too, sailed in his ships all round and among
the islands of Scotland, so that the wild people there, who
had never seen a King before, were astonished at his
THE THISTLE AND THE ROSE 269
grandeur. The Lord of the Isles and other Highland
Chieftains rebelled from time to time against him, and
the Borderers were ever ready to break out into war.
But James subdued them all, and he was so just and
friendly, that even those in the farthest corners of his
kingdom came to know and love him. He was generous,
and spent Hberally the hoards of money which his father
had gathered, so that there was great love between the
people and their King.
James at last made peace with England, and married
Margaret, the daughter of King Henry. All the people
rejoiced greatly at this marriage, and it was hoped that it
would help to make a lasting peace between the two
There was great ceremony and splendour at the
wedding, and a poet called Dunbar wrote a poem about
the marriage of the Thistle and the Rose.
‘ Upon the awful thistle she did look,
And saw him guarded with a bush of spears ;
Considering him so able for the wars,
A radiant crown of rubies she him gave,
And said, “ In field go forth and guard the rest.
‘ “ Nor hold no other flower in such dainty
As the fresh rose, of colour red and white ;
For if thou dost, hurt is thine honesty ;
Considering that no flower is so perfect
So full of virtue, pleasance, and delight,
So full of blissful angelic beauty,
Imperial birth, honour, and dignity.” ’
The Princess came from London, surrounded by a
splendid train of knights and nobles. King James,
beautifully dressed, rode to meet his bride upon a fiery,
prancing steed, with trappings of gold. He and his
nobles came dashing along at full gallop, and when they
270 SCOTLAND’S STORY
met the Princess they reined back so quickly that the
horses were thrown upon their haunches. This was to
show how well they could ride.
Then to amuse Margaret a little play was acted. A
knight appeared, with a lady who carried his hunting horn
and led his horse. A second knight dashed forward,
seized the lady, and carried her off. A fight followed, in
which the knights fought with great skill, until the King
threw down his glove and called ‘ peace.’
When they came to the city, the Princess mounted
upon the King‘s horse and rode behind him through the
streets, the people shouting and cheering all the way.
Afterwards came tournaments, balls, and all kinds of
merriments. In one tournament, the King, calling him
self the Savage Knight, appeared surrounded by fierce
wild men dressed in skins of animals, and he fought so
well that he conquered all who came against him.
At last the rejoicings were over, and the people went
to their homes, delighted with their gay, handsome, clever
King and their lovely young Queen.
But the peace and goodwill between England and
Scotland did not last long. Henry vii. died, and was suc
ceeded by his son Henry VIII. He was hot-tempered, and
so was James, and they soon found causes for quarrelling.
In those days there was a great deal of fighting on
the seas between merchant vessels, even when the countries
were at peace. Indeed many sea-captains were little more
than pirates. A quarrel arose between the English and
the Scots, and the English captains went to their King
to complain that they had been unlawfully stopped and
robbed by Sir Andrew Barton the Scotsman.
‘ The King looked over his left shoulder,
“ Have I never a lord in all my realm,
Will fetch yon traitor unto me ? ”
THE THISTLE AND THE ROSE 271
“ Yea, that dare I,” Lord Howard says ;
“ Yea, that dare I with heart and hand ;
If it please your grace to give me leave,
Myself will be the only man.” ’
So King Henry sent Lord Thomas, and his brother
Sir Edward Howard, with two great ships well fitted with
cannon and archers, against Sir Andrew.
As they sailed along looking for Sir Andrew, they met
another ship. ‘ Have you seen Sir Andrew Barton ? ‘
asked Lord Howard of the captain.
‘ Ay, that have I,’ he replied sadly, ‘ but yesterday 1
was his prisoner, and he has robbed me of all my goods.’
‘ Do you know where he is now ? ‘ asked Lord
Howard. ‘Only let me see him, and I will fight him
and carry him prisoner to our King.’
‘ Heaven help you,’ cried the merchantman, ‘ you little
know what a man he is.’
‘ He is brass within and steel without
With beams on his topcastle strong ;
And eighteen pieces of ordnance
He carries on each side along ;
‘ And he hath a pinnace dearly dight,
St. Andrew’s cross that is his guide ;
His pinnace beareth ninescore men,
And fifteen cannons on each side.
‘ Were you twenty ships and he but one,
I swear by kirk, and bower, and hall,
He would overcome them every one,
If once his beams they down did fall.’
‘ Never fear,’ said Lord Howard, ‘ I will bring him
and his ships to England, or he may carry me to Scotland.’
So the merchantman turned his ship about and led
Lord Howard to where Sir Andrew lay. Lord Howard
pulled down the English standard, and instead, he tied a
272 SCOTLAND’S STORY
white willow wand to his mast head, as was the custom
with merchant vessels. Then when they came in sight
of the Scottish vessels, Lord Howard sailed past without
Now this was very rude. For just as we bow and
take off our hats when we meet a friend in the streets,
so, when ship meets ship upon the seas, the captains make
signs of greeting to each other.
When Sir Andrew saw the English ship sail past with
out saluting, he was angry. ‘ What English churls are
yonder,’ he said, ‘ that show so little courtesy ? ‘
He had two ships, a large one called the Lion, and a
little pinnace called the Jenny Perwin. So now he bade
the Jenny Perwin ‘ Fetch back yon pedlars now to me.
I swear by the mass yon English churls shall all hang at
my main mast.’
The little pinnace sailed off, but Sir Andrew soon saw
that it was no merchantmen with which he had to do, but
the King of England‘s ships of war. Fire flashed, cannon
boomed, and a fight, fierce and long, took place. Both
sides fought desperately and well, but the little pinnace
was soon sunk. Sir Andrew cheered his men, Lord
Howard his, but at last a keen-eyed English archer struck
Sir Andrew, and he fell forward on the deck. He was
sorely wounded, but he would not give in.
‘ “ Fight on, my men,’”Sir Andrew says,
“ A little I’m hurt, but yet not slain,
I’ll but lie down and bleed awhile,
And then I’ll rise to fight again.
‘“ Fight on, my men,” Sir Andrew says,
“ And never flinch before the foe,
And stand fast by St. Andrew’s cross
Until you hear my whistle blow.” ’
They never heard his whistle blow. Gallant Sir
THE THISTLE AND THE ROSE 273
Andrew had fought his last fight, and lay dead upon the
Then Lord Howard, seeing that the Scottish leader
was killed, boarded the Lion and took her. But when he
saw Sir Andrew lying upon the deck he felt sorry, as
brave men must at the death of a gallant foe. Yet he
said, ‘ If thou wert alive as thou art dead, I must have left
England many a day.’ For he knew that if he had not
killed Sir Andrew, he himself would have been carried
prisoner to Scotland. Drawing his sword, he cut off Sir
Andrew’s head, and ordered the body to be thrown into
the sea. Then greatly rejoicing, the English sailed home
with their prize.
‘ Thus from the wars Lord Howard came,
And back he sailéd o’er the main.
With mickle joy and triumphing
Unto Thames mouth he came again
‘ Lord Howard then a letter wrote,
And sealéd it with seal and ring ;
“ Such a noble prize have I brought to your grace
As ever did subject to a king.
‘ “ Sir Andrew’s ship I bring with me,
A braver ship was never none ;
Now hath your grace two ships of war
Before in England was but one.” ’
King Henry was greatly delighted with the news. He
richly rewarded Lord Howard and all who had helped
him. ‘But,’ he said, ‘ where is the rover, Sir Andrew,
‘ “ The rover he is safe, my liege,
Full many a fathom in the sea ;
If he were alive as he is dead,
I must have left England many a day,” ’
said Lord Howard as he uncovered the head which he
The Queen and all her fair ladies had come hoping to
see Sir Andrew, for they had heard much of his splendour
and daring. Now they looked with sorrow and dread
at the ghastly face with hollow staring eyes, and turned
away from it shuddering. The King too was sad, for he
loved a brave man, even though he were an enemy.
‘ “ I would give,” quoth the King, “ a thousand marks,
This man were alive as he is dead ;
‘“ Yet for the manful part he played,
Which fought well with heart and hand,
His men shall hare twelve pence a day,
Till they come to my brother King’s high land.” ’
So the men were sent home to Scotland. But Henry
kept the Lion, and she was made the second ship of the
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