Scotland's History, Legends, Wildlife and Hunting Practices...because the past lives in us and guides our footsteps.



The Earl of Murray now ruled Scotland in the name of
James VI., who was still scarcely more than a baby. He
had a hard task, for the whole country was divided
between King
s men and Queens men, and was full of
unrest and war. Murray had behaved meanly and cruelly
to the Queen, but now he proved to be a wise ruler.
Indeed, he was called the Good Regent.

But if he was good, he was stern, and many people
hated him, and a man called Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh
swore to kill him.

Bothwellhaugh waited long, but at last his opportunity
came. The Regent, on his way from Dumbarton to Edin­
burgh, stayed one night at Linlithgow. Next morning,
he mounted his horse and rode through the town. This
was what Bothwellhaugh had hoped for. In those days,
many of the houses had outside staircases and wooden
balconies, jutting out into the street. Upon one of these
Bothwellhaugh took his stand. The balcony was hung
with cloth, so that no one could see him. Upon the floor
he placed a feather mattress, so that no one below should
hear his footsteps. At the garden gate behind the house,
stood a horse ready saddled and bridled. Having made
all his preparations, Bothwellhaugh, with his gun in his
hand, stood and waited for the Regent.


322                    SCOTLANDS STORY

The streets were so crowded with people come out to
see the Regent pass, that he could go but slowly. That
was all the better for Bothwellhaugh, for his aim would
be the surer. Heavily the minutes dragged along. At
last the Earl came. Opposite the house in which Both-
wellhaugh lay hidden, the procession seemed to pause.
A shot rang out. The Regent reeled in his saddle and
fell. His work done, the unseen murderer fled through
the garden, leaped upon his horse, and sped away.

The Regent was not killed ; though sorely wounded,
he had strength to walk back to the palace, and at first it
was thought that he would recover. But soon it was seen
that there was no hope, and in a few hours he died.

There was much grief at the Regents death. He was
buried with great pomp in the church of St. Giles in Edin­
burgh, when John Knox preached a grand sermon, taking
for his text, ‘ Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.’

Murray had been scarcely three years Regent, and was
killed on 23rd January 1570 a.d. Six months of trouble
and quarrelling followed. Then the Earl of Lennox,
s father, was made Regent. But Lennox was
a weak manfar too weak for these fierce times, and
soon the whole country was in a blaze of civil war.
Fathers, sons, and brothers fought against each other.
The very children in their games took sides, and fought,
King‘s men against Queen‘s men.

The Governor of Edinburgh castle, who was called
Kirkcaldy of Grange, and who had been a King
s man,
suddenly turned round and became a Queen‘s man.
With him was another, called Maitland of Lethington.
He was very clever, and when you are older, you will
read much about him and all he did during the reign of
Mary. He had been one of Mary
s greatest statesmen,
but he was so changeable, that a writer of the time called


him a chameleon, which is a little animal that takes the
colour of whatever it lies upon. Now Maitland openly
took the Queen’s side, and joined with Kirkcaldy of

The King‘s men tried to hold a Parliament in Edin­
burgh. But cannon thundered from the castle, till they
were obliged to leave, and go to Stirling. There they
held a Parliament, and there for the first time the little
King was brought, and made to sit at the head of the
table, among all the wise men. He was only about five
years old, and could not understand what was going on.
So seeing a hole in the table-cloth, he began to play with
it, sticking his fingers into it.

‘ What house is this ? ‘ he asked one of the lords who
sat beside him.

‘ The House of Parliament, your Majesty,’ was the

‘ Then this Parliament has a hole in it,’ said the little
King, not knowing how true his words were, and what a
very large hole there was in his Parliament, and that it
was indeed torn in two.

The war raged on. The Queen‘s men followed the
King‘s men to Stirling, and attacked them there. They
were driven back, but the Regent was hurt in the fight
and died in a few hours. He had ruled for little more
than a year.

A new Regent was chosen. This Regent was the
Earl of Mar. He was a good man, and he longed for
peace. He struggled and worked so hard for it that he
died, worn out, having been Regent only thirteen months.

The next Regent was the Earl of Morton. Under
him the civil war grew fiercer than ever. Battles were
fought daily, each side hanging their prisoners or cutting
off their heads with dreadful cruelty. ‘ No quarter,’ which

324                    SCOTLAND’S STORY

means no mercy, was the cry on both sides, and no quarter
was either asked or given. These wars were called the
Douglas wars, from the Earl of Morton’s name, which
was James Douglas.

The King’s men were on the whole the stronger, but
all this time the castle of Edinburgh had held out for the
Queen. Regent Morton, however, resolved to take the
castle, cost what it might. He had not cannon enough
of his own, so he sent to Queen Elizabeth of England,
and she, always willing to mix herself up with Scottish
matters, sent him both guns and men.

Then the siege of Edinburgh began. Gallant Kirk-
caldy, the bravest soldier of his times, held out for more
than a month. But strong though the castle walls were,
they could not stand against the fearful cannonade of the
English guns. They crumbled to pieces, as if they had
been sandhills washed away by the incoming tide. The
wells within the castle became choked with the ruins. The
soldiers at last had neither anything to eat nor to drink.
Maddened with thirst, and worn with hunger, they would
fight no longer. There was nothing left but to yield.

So gallant Kirkcaldy and wise Lethington gave them­
selves up. Kirkcaldy was so brave, that even the fiercest
of the King‘s men begged that his life might be spared.
But Morton, the stern Regent, had made up his mind that
he must die. So this brave man, who was ‘ humble, gentle,
and meeklike a lamb in the house, but like a lion in the
field, and beloved of all honest men,’ died, as so many
another good man and true had died, in the cause of his
beautiful and unhappy Queen.

Lethington was found dead one day. He had
poisoned himself, as the old Romans used to do, rather
than be hanged by his enemies.

With the taking of Edinburgh castle, with the deaths


of Kirkcaldy and Lethington, the last hope of the Queen‘s
men vanished. Morton had triumphed.

For five years Morton continued to rule. He was
firm and brave, and gradually peace came to the land.

But the Regent was greedy. He loved gold, and he
wrung money out of the people in all kinds of ways, till
they began to hate him. The nobles hated him too for
his pride, and when the King was about twelve years of
age, they persuaded him that he was old enough to rule.
The Regent was taken by surprise. He saw that it was
then no use to fight against the lords, so he gave up his
office of Regent, and went away to live quietly in his
country housethe Lion’s Den, the people called it.

But Morton had no thought of really giving up his
office ; he was only biding his time. One day he came
posting back to court, and once more got the boy King
into his power. He was no longer called Regent, but he
was ruler all the same. James, however, was growing up,
and he did not want to be ruled by Morton. Besides,
he had two friends whom he liked so much that they
could make him do as they pleased.

These were Esme Stewart, a Scottish gentleman who
had lived nearly all his life in France, and a soldier called
James Stewart. The King made one of these friends
Earl of Lennox, the other Earl of Arran, and heaped
many more honours upon them.

These two men hated Morton, and soon James, listen­
ing to their counsels, had the Regent arrested and
condemned to death, because he had helped Bothwell to
murder Darnley. There was no doubt that he had
known something of the murder, but so had Regent
Murray, so had many of the other lords. It had all
happened many years before, and some of the conspirators
who were far more guilty than Morton had never been

326                    SCOTLAND’S STORY

punished. But all that did not save the Regent, and he
was executed.

The lords, who hated Morton, were quite pleased at his
death, but they soon found out that instead of one ruler
they had now two. For after the death of Morton,
Lennox and Arran became greater and greater. And the
more powerful they became, the more were they hated
and dreaded by the nobles. At last, some of the lords
resolved to rid themselves of Lennox and Arran, and to
get possession of the King.

James was fond of hunting, and one of the nobles,
called the Earl of Gowrie, asked him to come to his castle
of Ruthven to hunt. James went, and was received with
great honour. But the invitation was a trap. Secretly
the castle was surrounded by soldiers. Then the nobles
went to the King, and begged him to send away his
favourites, swearing that they would no longer be ruled
and oppressed by them.

Too late, James saw why he had been invited to that
lonely castle far from his favourites. Instead of replying
to the lords, he tried to leave the room. But one of the
nobles placed his back against the door, roughly telling
the King that he must stay where he was. At that,
James began to cry with shame and anger.

But that did no good. ‘ Better that bairns should
greet than bearded men,’ said the noble sternly. So
James had to submit. He was a prisoner.

When Arran heard of what had happened, he hurried
to Ruthven, vowing vengeance on the lords. But as soon
as he entered the castle, he was seized and thrown into
prison. Lennox was banished and returned to France,
where he died.

James was now obliged to do as the lords told him.
No doubt, they were better friends and advisers than


Arran and Lennox had been, but every day he grew more
and more weary of being a prisoner. For although he
was allowed to ride about, and to hunt, and seemed to be
free, he was really nothing but a prisoner.

At last he managed to escape from the lords, and fled
to the castle of St. Andrews. As soon as he was within
the gates, they were closed, and guarded by his own
soldiers. The King was master again.

While a prisoner, James had tried to make the best of
things, and he had pretended so well that the lords did
not believe that he was very angry with them. They did
not now think that he would punish them. But they
were mistaken. James had been made to cry, and had
been called ‘a bairn,’ and he had neither forgotten nor
forgiven. The Earl of Gowrie was beheaded, and the
rest of the lords who had helped him fled away to
England. So ended the Raid of Ruthven, as it was

Arran, the King’s favourite, now returned to court
more proud and haughty than before. For two years he
ruled as he liked, and his insolence and vanity became
greater and greater.

At last the lords could no longer bear his insolence.
Many of those who had fled to England returned, and
gathering an army of ten thousand men, they marched to
Stirling. Backed by rows of sharp swords and bristling
spears, they forced James to listen to them, and to take
them into his council. Arran was driven from court, and
after living for some years a miserable, hunted wanderer
among the hills and valleys of Scotland, he was killed by
one of his many enemies.

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