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A HISTORY OF THE REIGN OF JAMES VI OF SCOTLAND
- 1572 -
INCE, at the time of his mother’s departure James VI was in his infancy when he received the crown, being incapable of ruling because of his young age, he governed by means of other during his minority. He retained the royal title and right, but authority resided in Regents, who were nearly all-powerful. He spent his early boyhood in extreme danger and conflicting fortune, since he had lost his father, and his mother had been driven into exile by domestic conflicts and tempests of civil strife, and domestic tranquility was buffeted by storms of seditions and rivalries among the nobles as they vied to govern the realm. After the Regents Moray and Lennox had been killed and Mar had died a sudden death, having set a great example of equity in prudence during his time in office, the nobility elected Morton to administer Scotland, and then the remainder of James’ minority was buffeted by various gales, storms, and tempests. These were the auspices of his realm, caused by the bitter death of his father, his mother’s flight and exile, and the most unjust murder of his grandfather. But afterwards, thanks to God’s kindness, there followed a time of prosperity, which set many examples of felicity and virtue for posterity’s imitation. After her death, all possible honors were accorded his mother, and he expended every care on her burial; his grandfather was most energetically avenged by the law, and his father by the sword. In the midst of national mourning and upheavals of public affairs, by vote of the nobles, supreme authority was conferred on Morton. Receiving this power, he turned his mind to public concerns and issued letters to the lords convening a Parliament at Edinburgh, in which he passed various ordinances for preserving the Reformed Religion in Scotland, ensuring the tranquilly of the realm, and the safety of the infant King, and was responsible for a parliamentary decree that those who shunned the communion of the Reformed Religion, unless after receiving admonishment they made a public abjuration of their Papist folly, should be disgraced and deemed unworthy of holding public office or enjoying any honors. Those who stubbornly opposed Protestant doctrine should have their names stricken from the public rolls. Those excommunicated by the Kirk should be regarded as rebels. Finally, all subjects should be bound to take up arms in defense of received religion against any princes whatsoever who adhered to the Council of Trent, to the harm of Protestantism. Likewise, in the King’s name an edict was promulgated, whereby all Papist bishops were stripped of their offices, whether these pertained to their parliamentary responsibilities or ecclesiastical jurisdiction, unless they publicly disowned their error according to the solemn formula of abjuration. Existing bishops who renounced Roman superstition lost neither their dignity nor their jurisdiction.
2. Moreover, it was announced that all Papist priests were accordingly deprived of their religious offices, and hence deprived of all ecclesiastical revenues. The result was that men who would otherwise have remained most addicted to Roman religion were driven by fear of losing their possessions to professing the Reformed Religion by their oath and subscription. And indeed it was not surprising that a dogma which had gradually grown up as the result of mere human authority, greed for gain, and the tyranny of the Pope of Rome, should in its turn be destroyed by human threats and fear of losing one’s property. In the infancy of the Reformed Kirk there had been created overseers called superintendents, equipped with free power to ordain, chastise, and defrock ministers. These men, not distinguished from anybody else by their garments or any other dignity, managed national, provincial, and presbyterian synods as they saw fit, and everybody obeyed their pronouncements. This was the reason for this institution. When Roman religion was abolished and Protestant doctrine accepted (and it was upon this that royal majesty and the security of the realm depended), the Regent Morton adjudged that the function of bishops was both necessary and useful, and required that orthodox bishops be appointed in Scotland in accordance with the standard set by the Church of England; that those tainted by Papist errors be debarred from exercise of their function; and that only peaceful men should enjoy the title and revenues of bishop and a free Parliamentary vote, yet enjoy no jurisdiction over ministers, but rather wholly refrain from exercising this part of their responsibility. At this time, the power of synods, presbyteries, and presidents was that great and that free. With religion thus arranged and provisions made for the safety of the young King, Morton turned his attention to civil and private affairs and kept intact his friendship towards Elizabeth. Since the Earl of Mar was not yet of adult age, he selected Alexander Erskine to supervise the King’s upbringing, and entrusted the boy’s education to George Buchanan, a man most distinguished for his learning, who was painstakingly diligent in instructing him in piety towards God, and justice towards men.
3. Meanwhile, the Regent’s government was begrudged by James Hamilton Duke of Chatelherault, the Earls of Argyll and Huntly, Home, Seton, Herries, ancient Barons of the realm, and a number of leading knights, who took it amiss to behold the royal title possessed by a child, and government over all things to be in the hands of a Regent during the boy’s minority. By inclining to a French alliance, they attempted to prevent the Regent from consolidating his authority. But it was no easy matter to overthrow a government established by authority of Parliament, and the Regent, troubled by this contention and the lords’ strivings, daily grew more cautious and safer from their snares thanks to his prudent moderation, the love of his fellow-citizens, and the high rank of his friends. Nor did he shrink from counsels of concord, if the opportunity arose. But John Knox, most notorious for his church-burning and vandalism, who used the pretext of religion to destroy monuments of ancient piety and who in his sacrilegious rapacity appropriated the bells and leaden roofs of churches, used a red-hot torch to set these internal dissents ablaze. Amidst these things, Morton ruined the glory he had already acquired, and that which he hoped to gain in the future, by the infamy of a single act of ingratitude. The Earls of Northumberland and Westmorland, despairing of their situation at home, had secretly fled to Scotland, hoping to rid themselves of the fear of punishment by flight and concealment there. Charles Neville, Earl of Westmorland, lay in hiding at the home of Kerr of Farnihurst or Buccleuch. But, fearing the power of the English army, at the intervention of the Earl of Essex he departed for Belgium, where for a long time he endured a life of poverty. Fortune, which manages all things according to her whim, made Northumberland, a man distinguished for his noble breeding, an inhabitant of the ignoble and desolate forest of Harcley, living among the Grahams, who had preferred wrongdoing to good faith and criminally betrayed him to the Regent Moray. And yet Moray abominated the idea of handing him over to his enemy for execution, lest he fail in his duty or good faith. Set in the place of highest dignity, either because of a failure of judgment or greed for money, Morton voluntarily sold Northumberland, a man of very considerable dignity whom he ought to have held in reverence for favors done him as a private citizen, to Hunsdon, the governor of Berwick, and Northumberland was soon beheaded at York. As if by divine vengeance, at the end of his life he received the due reward for his ungrateful crime.
4. The realm was now divided into two camps, those of the King and the captive Queen. Under a guise of concern for the public good, much of the nobility was competing for prestige and power, and frequent embassies arrived from England and France, attempting to achieve a concord between these parties and introducing conditions under which they would set down their arms. The Frenchman Viriac was sent to Scotland to observe affairs and, if possible, to disturb the peace. Under the pretext of his diplomatic mission, he not only played the spy, but even fomented war against the Regent. Perceiving this, Queen Elizabeth immediately sent Killegrew as her ambassador to Scotland, to strive against Viriac’s plan might and main by inclining towards a Protestant alliance. But the mind of the Regent himself was more inclined to a policy of peace, and in a lengthy oration he attempted to urge the lords to concord. In the name of their faith and duty he urged them to set aside any sense of personal injury, wholly to eradicate the seeds of civil war, forget their arguments and quarrels, and refuse to resort to extremities. By his prudent moderation he brought it about that those who were not troublemakers thanked him and wished him will. The English ambassador Killegrew strove with sincerity to bring about concord. Viriac, the French ambassador (or rather the representative of the Guises) struggled against this, and solicited the leading Scots lords to restore Roman religion, confirm the kidnapped Queen or Scots on her throne, and he promised them the speedy help of his French faction if they were unchanging in their faith. Following this, numerous representatives of both parties were sent to Perth for meetings and discussions concerning a resolution. For innate love of peace and quiet is averse to civil strife. The conference was put off to February 10, the day set for the meeting, and meanwhile a truce was arranged pending the conclusion of the conference.
5. But William Kirkade of Grange, the governor of Edinburgh Castle, a fierce-minded fellow, threw all counsels of civic concord into confusion. Lords of both factions had asked him not to fail the common safety at such an opportune juncture, nor tear the commonwealth apart by a show of partisanship. He was unswayed by better counsels, either trusting in the impregnable location of his fortress, which he imagined could not be stormed by any force or arts, and he was well-supplied with provisions and military equipment against a lengthy siege (for the castle is set on a steep crag, precipitous on all sides, and surrounded by a lake on one side and by a moat), or hoping to receive payment from the French King to relieve him of his present need, inasmuch as a few days previously he had sent his brother James Kirkade to France to inform their King about the situation in Scotland and ask him for soldiers and money. No matter how cunning and well-concealed his scheme was, it was reported to the Regent. Knowing that Blackness Castle on the Firth of Forth would be Kirkade’s strongest receptacle upon his return, by bribery and promises he secretly dealt with Alexander Stewart, the governor of the castle, a needy member of the opposing faction and a man of bad morals, to bring him over to the royal side, so that he would arrest the returning Kirkade together with his money. Nor was this plan lacking in success. When James came back from France with several thousand pieces of gold to encourage Mary’s supporters, he put in at Blackness, unaware that the governor was a turncoat (a little earlier he had sworn his oath never to abandon the Queen’s cause), and rashly fell into the man’s snares and was taken, and the money was seized. Stewart went to Edinburgh to inform the Regent. Now James, a clever man, perceived he had been deceived and was in the power of his enemies, so with his remaining money he bribed the guardians of the castle and the garrison soldiers. By this sudden change of fortune, thanks to the perfidy of the troops of the castle guard and garrison, he was transformed from a prisoner into the governor of the castle. He received the keys to the gates of the place, and avenged deceit with deceit. When Stewart and his unarmed companions entered the castle on the following day, suspecting nothing, he was immediately imprisoned by the soldiers who had compacted with Kirkade and bound in chains with guards set over him. Tired of protracted imprisonment, he sought some means of avenging himself for the insult and an opportunity for alienating his guardians from James, employing the selfsame arts to capture his adversary by which he himself had been caught a little while before. Amidst his squalor and sadness, he delivered to some of the soldiers a speech concerning the indignity of his misfortune, and begged them, in the name of their old oath of military service and all his erstwhile connections to them, that they consider himself and his lot, and decide whether they would atone for their perfidy, or that of their fellow soldiers, by setting a new example of good faith, and erase their recent disgrace by a timely show of loyalty to their former master. The ugly sight of their governor, overcome by stealthy deceit, and the memory of his erstwhile good fortune aroused favor and pity among the common soldiery. And nearly at that selfsame moment Fortune offered the men a fine opportunity to alter the situation. For it chanced that, as a husband’s act of politesse, James escorted his departing wife outside the castle, with his household in attendance, and the conspirators promptly locked him out of the castle, ripped the bars off the cell, and made a great show of unchaining. Stewart. By this wonderful change of fortune, he had been transformed from a garrison commander to a captive, then from a captive into a commander, and so within the span of a few days the castle belonged now to this faction, and now to that.
6. While Scottish affairs were in this condition, and there were frequent betrayals, defections of lords, and murders of garrisons, on the appointed day in February the leaders of both factions, thoroughly tired of this great and protracted strife, made their appearance at Perth, bent on restoring their erstwhile concord. The one side was represented by the Regent and some lords belonging to the King’s party, and the other by Huntly, the Queen’s governor in the north of Scotland, together with the leading Hamiltons and the other supporters of the Queen. After many contentions concerning a joint rule by the King and Queen, at length, thanks to the interposition of Elizabeth’s authority, the agreed that both sides would lay down their arms; there would be a perpetual amnesty for previous misdeeds, save for the murders of the King and the Regents Moray and Lennox; for the sake of concord, private injuries and actions would be disregarded; injuries both private and public would be forgiven, and mercenary soldiers dismissed, save for four bands which the Regent would retain as long as the Parliament thought necessary for the commonwealth. All men would support the received religion in Scotland, acknowledge the King as their prince and ruler in his jurisdiction and government, and whatever had been done in the Queen’s name subsequent to her abdication would be regarded as null and void. By their oaths, exchange of hostage, and other pledges of good faith they should ensure that their agreements remain in force. Now that these internal quarrels were resolved and domestic security established thanks to the vigilance and carefulness of the Regent, Grange alone breathed a spirit more ardent than useful. Disdaining the authority of King and Regent, he yearned, not for a concord wholesome for himself and his nation, but rather for an opportunity to make trouble, being encouraged by the vain hope of receiving help from France and Belgium. When the truce expired, with a menacing roar he fired his cannons from the Castle at the city lying beneath and harassed the townsmen with his constant barrages. By casting fire and heated pitch he set some buildings afire, and made the very crowded flatland of the city so dangerous that no man dared walk about without endangering his life. The citizenry was no less fierce in taking up arms to defend their city and attack the Castle. By building a small rampart around it and stationing forces at suitable positions day and night, they prevented sallies and freed the city from the danger of fire. They could pass about safely through holes made in building walls, and checked Grange’s ferocious assault. They diverted streams to vex the besieged by a lack of water. When these were diverted and wells filled with mud, skirmishes consequently arose.
7. At the foot of the crag was a fountain of sweet water. The besieged issued forth from the Castle’s postern, made their way through the defensive works, and stationed guards lest they be kept from the water. They were in the habit of passing back and forth to the fountain, and were bent on preventing their besiegers from watering freely. Scarcely a day past without its battle. At this time there were a number of murders of men not of noble rank. Atchison, a captain stationed near St. Cuthbert’s Church, was shot through with a cannon-ball while carelessly making his rounds at night, and fell lifeless. Five ordinary soldiers were killed by the same shot. While the besieged rained down torches, gunfire, and grenades, the cottages of the poor, roofed with straw and thatch, caught fire with a great blaze. Afterwards, by the west gate many structures and warehouses burned, along with their costly merchandise. The townsmen were anxious and timorous, imagining their city was destined to perish by fire, and yet were reduced to helpless amazement by the danger and the fear. Thanks in large part to the effort of their servants, the fire was put out, and their terror was not long-lasting. Daily the Regent took a greater concern in the siege. Although the Castle was surrounded, there was a lack of the equipment and artillery necessary to take it by storm. Therefore, so as not to waste time, the Regent sent to the Castle governor chosen men, to attempt to detach him from the Queen’s party and sway him to concord. They were to offer him honorable terms, while everything was yet safe and sound. They went, together with Grange’s nephew Petrarow, a spokesman for peace and concord, and met him in conference in the middle ground between Edinburgh and Leith, so as to inform him of the Regent’s wonderful wish and desire for peace, and demanded his voluntary surrender, and that he observe his faith to the Regent, and acknowledge the royal authority. When the young man, trusting in his courage and strength, very stubbornly refused these conditions, the peace-negotiations could not be continued, and both sides departed in a bad frame of mind. Scotsmen are accustomed to the camp and military efforts and, lest they would lie idle at home, some had gone off to foreign wars in Sweden, France and Belgium and done many fine deeds, keenly devoting themselves to martial pursuits. In this troubled condition of the city of Edinburgh, John Knox, as if divinely inspired, delivered a distinguished sermon in which he predicted this siege of the Castle would prove no less happy than pious and useful, and that, when the Castle was taken, the hot-headed Grange would come down through the ruins and steep places to his punishment, and it came to pass as he had said.
8. Sent to observe developments in Scotland, the French ambassador De Croc wrote frequent dispatches to the King of France, informing him that Scotland was aligning herself with the English people and Queen Elizabeth, that his mandates about a joint government of the kingship and toleration of the Papal religion were ineffectual and something not to be granted without the consent of the Parliamentary estates; and that Parliament had voted to remove the Queen from all management and administration of affairs and entirely abolished the Catholic faith; at the Regent’s urging, Papal authority had been abolished forever and the captive Queen had been deposed. Learning of this, Mary, a woman possessed of a man’s mind, prepared defenses against the intentions of her enemies, appealed to all sovereigns and to the Pope, and entered into secret leagues with the Guises for her safety and liberty.
- 1573 -
HEN the siege dragged on as a result of the governor’s audacity, and its slow progress did more to weary the besiegers than the besieged, Morton lost faith in his power to take the stout and well-defended Castle. So he begged the English for their assistance and for artillery, which he received on the following conditions: that he not deal with the besieged save with the authorization of the Queen; that he not harbor English fugitives, nor assist them with provisions or any other aid; that he remove nothing save for the royal furniture and jewels of state and everything else should fall to the men conducting the siege. In his desire to take the Castle the Regent refused no condition. At about this time English ships carrying artillery and all manner of equipment (powder, shot, and all the gear necessary for storming cities) entered the Firth of Forth and put in at Leith, and by a land route five hundred foot soldiers made their appearance, under the command of Drury, the commander of Berwick. By edict the English Queen professed her love and goodly disposition towards the kingdom of Scotland, and in a lengthy discourse she reminded them that the it had mainly been thanks to her expense and efforts that the Scottish had been established in their liberty, so that she did not think she ought to neglect to guarantee their peace and tranquility by her aid. Having joined their forces, the English and Scots made a vain test of the will of the besieged to see if they might surrender before their artillery was wheeled up, and then launched a great assault against the Castle. They commenced to build four towers, and tunnels and earthworks were made underground and aboveground on the steep hill, although the nature of the terrain prevented them from completely surrounding it with their works. Drury took charge of the other arrangements for storming the Castle and fended off sallies. Soon, when the towers had been constructed and thirty brass cannon stationed in them, they bombarded its walls continually for four days. David’s Tower was knocked down by their gunfire, collapsing with a great crash.
2. The wall was denuded of its defenders. Although nobody had any power to offer resistance, for the first few days, while their strength was intact, the besieged fended off the attack well enough: their enemies climbed up to their ramparts with more of a disturbance than any real show of force, some of whom they killed and others they wounded, and no strength or skill was lacking for their various enterprises. Their courage held out against all the evils that human art could contrive. But in the end, when every one of their bravest men had either been killed or wounded by cannonballs, sharp fragments of the cliff, or collapsing buildings, including Captain Trotter, slain by gunfire (and it was mostly by his effort that the ramparts had been defended), they began to despair of their powers. Observing their fearfulness, the English brought up ladders and with an assault and a shout they ascended the lower ramparts, half in ruins: there were few defenders and those who offered resistance were routed. Unequal to the English onslaught, those who had been defending the lower Castle fell back on its higher part and there too, along with the rest of the garrison they lost confidence in their position and fortifications, being pressed by many hardships and suffering an extreme shortage of water. Now every man’s strength was failing him, and they could sustain their effort no longer because of their constant wakefulness. Inclined to surrender, they requested a time and place for a parlay. On the following day, when a truce was granted and the Englishman Henry Lee and the Scotsman George Fleck (a son of Morton’s sister) had been exchanged as hostages, Grange, Robert Melvin and Petrarow climbed over the ramparts, the gates being choked with rubble (thus proving the accuracy of Knox’ prophecy), and entered into a conference with Drury, asking for their lives and safe conduct. But when nothing was conceded to them but that they should surrender themselves and all their belongings into the power of the victors, dispirited and bereft of all hope, they succumbed to their extreme necessity and submitted to the will of the victors and the good faith of the English Queen.
3. After the surrender had been made, they turned over their weapons and were freed, unharmed. Many nobles were taken prisoner. Of those, the most notable were Alexander Home, the head of his family, at the height of his powers, Grange, manly and martial, and Secretary Maitland, well-known to foreigners and revered by his fellow-countrymen for his achievements, together with his brother John, a young man of outstanding virtue and distinguished both for his other arts and particularly for his learning, acquired in imitation of his brother. Subsequently he achieved the lofty office of Lord Chancellor. Then there was Petarow, who enjoyed supreme popularity and authority among his comrades, Robert Melvin, who was equal to the greatest tasks thanks to his keenness of intellect, and two wealthy citizens of Edinburgh, Cockman and Mosney. A noble woman also endured the siege, the wife of the Earl of Argyll, a daughter of James V by his mistress. Thus, thanks to English ability and skill in siegecraft, on the thirty-third day of the siege they gained the Castle, which had had a garrison of about two hundred men. Because of his lofty mind’s sorrow and chagrin, Maitland, who had long been suffering from the gout and convulsions of his entire body, and whose physical strength was now all but exhausted, either died in imprisonment at Leith or chose a voluntary death to rescue himself from the harshness of his enemies. He was by nature a highly intelligent and prudent men, save that Fortune, more powerful than human counsels, blinded his mind during a time of public calamity. But mortality can never be cautious enough in the face of Fortune’s savagery. Rumor has it that he committed suicide by taking poison. When the Castle had been surrendered, the Regent’s brother George Douglas was sent with a garrison to supervise its money and artillery and take custody of the royal furniture; the property of the former garrison and the wealth of many townsmen, sent there as if it were the strongest place for safekeeping, was given to the soldiers as booty, in accordance with the treaty. After a few days, when Elizabeth’s wishes had been determined, Grange and his brother were hanged in the Edinburgh marketplace, as many onlookers told each other what manner of man he was, and of all the risks he had taken against the French on behalf of liberty, and against the English on behalf of the safety and dignity of the realm of Scotland. Nothing unworthy his previous life’s reputation was spoken, as he was enduring this most dreadful punishment. Meanwhile the common folk of the city recalled his dire arson, most ruinous to themselves, and cursed Grange’s crimes, but got revenge for their losses by witnessing his very disgraceful execution. The bankers Cockman and Mosney suffered the same punishment. Home, Petarow, Melvin and the rest were promptly imprisoned in the Castle, but (thus achieving a great reputation for mercy and gentleness) Elizabeth not only persuaded the Regent to spare their lives, but even to allow them to keep their fortunes intact. And so, when the business for which they had come was finished, having been invited by authority of the Regent and compelled by Grange’s rashness, the English quit a pacified Scotland and returned to Berwick with their spoils, having suffered only a few casualties.
4. Now that the storm of civil strife had been settled throughout Scotland, and the license of murder, robbery, and arson had been suppressed, so that he might accustom fierce men, prone to fighting, to peace, quiet, and civilization, for the sake of the public safety and tranquility of the realm Morton arranged for the sons of lords the be educated in the Liberal Arts. He set aside his quarrel against the Hamiltons, who at the time were the strongest and allied with many powerful families. He resolved grudges between families and rivalries between the greatest men of the nation, and convened a Parliament, held at Edinburgh. In this he put an end to divorces, and, to promote an abiding advantage, he introduced laws to curb theft, murder, arson, robbery, and the luxury of women, and wholesomely established many ordinances against the corrupt practises of merchants. He selected worthy and suitable men, well known for their experience in many matters, with whom he might consult concerning matters of public concern. He terrified wicked, evil men, and inflicted heavy punishments on those who had participated in the murder of the King or were party to it. He entrusted the armaments and fortresses along the border to that most brave man Sir John Carmichael, and granted him an annual stipend and military garrison lest local robbers, transgressors of mankind’s laws, should ravage the neighboring parts of England with their robbery or conduct raids. Thus he gave high hopes for his future regime.
5. Hence, distinguished and popular for the present, he conducted himself in a very moderate way, abstained from bloodshed, and pronounced the law with equity. But quickly, changed by power, he turned aside into lust and avarice, and appropriated other men’s money by applying the law with a show of severity, but in fact so that he might fill his offers with wealth. As a result of this transformed character, he sensed that rumors against himself were circulating, and so entrusted his money-making schemes to ministers of the court, who raised taxes and collected them, not without harshness. They haled men said not to refrain from eating meat during Lent before select judges, and bade them stand their trials. When they could not clear themselves by swearing an oath, the judges proclaimed that they had acted contrary to the edict, and employed the laws to extract a fine, rarely remitted by the Regent. After the resources of the common folk had been drained dry, he thought it a safer way of making money: embezzling royal money rather than grasping at the wealth of private citizens. And so, made master of a very large sum, he converted money both public and private to the enhancement of his own splendor and magnificence, and at great expense at Dalkeith he erected a palace of royal style, which he decorated with tapestries and paintings. He minted silver and gold coinage of great value, which even today are stored up in the treasuries of wealthy men. On the obverse of his gold coins was represented the image of James King of Scots with the inscription READY FOR EITHER, and on the reverse was visible a red lion (the emblem of the realm) with the inscription TO SPARE THE VANQUISHED AND DEFEAT THE PROUD. The silver showed two swords together with the saying of Trajan Caesar, who was wont to say when he bestowed the sword on the city prefect, FOR ME, IF I DESERVE IT; AGAINST ME, IF NOT. He was also the first to mint brass money, to the considerable detriment of the commonwealth, since the Scots had previously employed pure gold or a golden alloy. Hence merchantmen greedy for an unfair profit adulterated this brass money, both at home and in Belgium, and exported good money to foreign nations. Furthermore, he maintained in his household Patrick Bovy, a witty jester, who mocked his master very acutely, as is evident from his joke. When some needy beggars asked the Regent for alms, the fool requested that they should be burned alive. The Regent accused him of impiety because he had no pity for the pitiful. The fool immediately added that, were they all to be consumed by fire, every day he could manufacture new needy beggars out of wealthy men, as if his rapacity, conjoined with greed, was a menace to the fortunes of his fellow-citizens. Finally, when the royal patrimony had been reduced to all but nothing, he turned his attention to the management of the Kirk as a means of serving his own purposes. By edict he bestowed vacant minor benefices on individual Protestant ministers, but conferred greater ones on courtiers, on the condition that they pay annual pensions on his companions and dependents. Thus he even bestowed fair and fruitful estates and farms belonging to the Kirk upon his bastards for their use and enjoyment. During this time the profits of Kirk estates were squandered on these expenses.
6. Now it is worthwhile to explain in a few words the disorder of the Kirk, by going back a little earlier in time. When Protestants requested and demanded of Queen Mary stipends for their ministers, at a time when all ecclesiastical benefices were in the hands of the Papists, she summoned to court her bishops and leading Papist priests, and begged and implored them to aid the cause of the clergy, admonishing them more than making demands. Since there were no other resources for her to draw upon, in that great meeting she imagined there would be no man who would refuse or make excuses for the clergy’s poverty, for it was impossible to sequester a part of their revenues against their will without doing harm. In the end it was resolved and agreed upon that a third part of Church revenues should be reserved, from which orthodox ministers might be supported by a royal grant, but this was an arrangement satisfactory to neither party. For the Papists loudly complained that their incomes were being reduced, nor were the ministers given relief by this show of bounty. The question of ministers’ income was referred to the Regent, and Morton, pleading a shortage of stipends, the greed of tax-collectors, and the complexities of lawsuits, kindly promised he would not be failing to the Kirk, and vowed he would pay the stipends annually due to individual pastors of the Kirk who were outstanding for their probity and learning, as long as they would concede a third of their income to the King’s use. Moved by this promise, and adding a firm stipulation that his non-compliance would be a matter for penitence, should he delay or not abide by his promise, they agreed. Having had his way, the Regent pondered the matter and, since it appeared that he could not keep his word, he thought that for the present the best remedy would be to entrust the care of three or four parishes to a single minister, so that he could make a huge profit from the incomes of the other three. In vain the Kirk clamored that he was not abiding by their agreement and its stipulations, and was diverting the rest of the money as prey for his personal profit. Meanwhile the ministers pressed the Regent, urging upon him that it was a just and necessary thing that ministers be assigned to churches, and stipends be given those ministers in accordance with their arrangement. With great difficulty it was obtained from him that the matter should be referred to the Privy Council. When the council was convened and presented with a petition of the clergy, the Regent’s kinsmen and the powerful men of the land, who enjoyed the greatest influence in the commonwealth and its courtrooms, went along with his delays and foot-dragging and thus set forth the will of the Privy Council. Chagrin at this rebuff alienated the orthodox clergy from its friendship with the Regent, and they assiduously and openly chastised him for his actions, railed at his lust and greed, and hounded him with their rebukes. He was undeterred by what they said and by their syod, yet did not deprive them of their right of free speech in sermonizing.
7. During those days, Alexander Melville returned to his homeland after spending many years abroad. At least in my opinion, he greatly surpassed others in his knowledge of three languages and polite literature, exercised himself in both manners of discourse, and far outshone the other theologians of St. Andrews, a city in which the learning of its theologians and Melville’s authority shone forth. He was steeped in the discipline of the church of Geneva, and, with the approval of the young men entrusted to him for their education, adopted the plan of reforming the condition of the Kirk according to the pattern of the Geneva one, and it pained him if anybody gave his approval to some other discipline than the one to which he adhered, since he failed to appreciate that there should be different disciplines for different cities and kingdoms. He imagined that, were this discipline to be enforced, control of the Kirk would reside in the hands of himself and his friends, and he was ardently opposed to the order of bishops, openly attacking them in his sermons, thus rendering them highly unpopular. He was a champion of the equality of ministers, and wanted to strip the bishops of their dignity. At first, he found two kinds of men who shared his opinion, the first laymen who imagined this to be the highway to acquiring property and outright mastery of the property of the Kirk, and the second clergymen lapsed because of ambition and greed for glory, who erupted in an unbridled, uncontrolled license of mischiefmaking. With their disputations and tribune-like sermons they incited a people which was ready to hear such stuff. Soon nearly all Scotland was ablaze with a desire for the Geneva discipline and burned with hatred of the bishops’ power and government. Hence there arose a savage tempest and the ship of the Kirk was caught in a gale. The Archbishops of St. Andrews and Glasgow strove might and main to combat these disturbances, and readied all possible defenses against the counsels of Melville and the other ministers, managing and administering all things in accordance with the dictates of the times. Then in particular the intellect of Adamson, Archbishop of St. Andrews, shone forth against the Geneva discipline, which he learnedly flayed in his sermons and tormented Melville and his close friends, who were not his equals in preaching. After being continued for a long while, these dissentions among the clergy was drawn to the Regent’s attention. Being beyond all doubt a clever and cunning man, he was not sorry to see the clergy arguing amongst themselves about questions of this kind, wrongly hoping that henceforth he would be freed of the need to supply ministers’ stipends and be rid of their constant complaining. Thus by his hesitation and slow action he nourished dissent within the Kirk, and jeopardized himself, since men in authority ought to confine such questions within the ambit of reason or chastise them, rather than suffering bishops to be hounded by base slander in sermons or their authority, honor and dignity to be undermined with impunity in synods. Those bishops, long hounded by troubles, greatly complained of the insults and injuries by which they were being vexed, and begged for the Regent’s help against these troublemakers within the Kirk. Tired of looking the other way, he sought to reduce the matter to a state of concord by mentioning a conference at Leith, where, they agreed, they would maintain the peace among themselves, remain unruffled by any issue pertaining to discipline, and make no innovations in the received condition of religion during the King’s minority. For the Regent understood the minds of those who sought innovation in discipline, and the tribune-like spirits of the clergy, and so had decided to tolerate all things as long as any hope remained of resolving and settling dissensions. But his patience and willingness to turn a blind eye so strengthened the ministers’ hot zeal that he could not use his power, or authority, or counsel to resist them. Would that he had not given them so such strength, rather than afterwards resisting them when they had grown so powerful!
- 1574 -
ITH the internal quarrels in Scotland more dormant than extinct, the Papists and noblemen corrupted by French bribes rashly, and is if in a state of madness, entered into discussions about sending the young King to France and stripping Morton of his power as Regent. Nor was the Regent devoid of the insight and prudence necessary for averting these rash counsels and imminent perils. For ever since the beginning of his term in office he had favored the English faction and suppressed the French one: this was the mainstay of his government, and he pinned all his hope for his safety and the security of his position on Elizabeth. Beginning with the royal household, he investigated the reputation and standing of every one of its members, and introduced very innocent servants who would fill the lad’s ears with honest conversation, lest they be open to ambition or to false accusations arising from grudges. He paid particular attention to the tranquility of the Kirk, the safety of his citizens, the security of the realm, and the honor of the King, and appointed representatives to hear the complaints of humble men who could not apply to the courts. He had especial respect for George Buchanan, who surpassed all men of his age in the distinction of his studies, and hence was best fit to steep the young James in the Liberal Arts and the precepts of wisdom, and for every excellent instructor. But now Morton, who had previously devoted himself to public concerns, blazed forth in lust and avarice, either because of the frailty of our human condition or the power of his destiny, practising debaucheries and adulteries in a secret part of his palace, and undermining the strength of his constitution by excessive indulgence in vices, and thus he diminished his authority. He haunted untimely banquets, porticoes, baths, and pleasant places of retirement. Complaining of the burdens of state, he devised shrewd and canny devices for his plundering.
2. Since no pretext for waging a war was available, he pretended he was going to destroy Barclay’s Wood, a refuge for robbers, cut down its trees, and raze it to the ground. He announced that he was going to march at harvest-time, and commanded all men capable of bearing arms to follow him to cut down the forest, and to be present under arms at the sound of a trumpet. Then, deceiving the assembled men by various artifices, he postponed the expedition. In the end, he set a price for their discharge and dismissed those able to pay it, although for a long time he retained certain men who owned armor. He quashed the testament of Read, Bishop of the Orkneys, who had bequeath all his property to pious uses and the support of philosophers, as being null and void, as if he himself had some right over the property, and he intimidated the executors with his threats, should they insist on carrying out the deceased’s final wishes and instructions. He appropriated houses, farms, and money with a rapacity that made him hateful to the common people. He got money from very wealthy merchants by leveling various charges against them, such as non-payment of taxes to himself. He troubled high-born lords over ancient entries he found in record-books and tax-rolls, and from them he extracted a great amount of money which he diverted to increase his fortune. Since he thought that concord and mutual friendship between lords had a great ability to weaken his own power and authority, he fostered quarrels, suspicions, grudges, and injuries between them, so they would have the occasion to act amiss and give him grounds for fining them. And yet, although beset by many insults and the targets of many injuries, during these difficult times they nevertheless prudently and moderately held their hands, putting off vengeance until the opportunity arose. Finally he drained Scotland dry of as much as he could stuff in his coffers, indulging his immense greed and monstrous avarice, pretending as if by these crimes he was acting in aid of the public good and the treasury, but in truth enhancing his personal household by such plunderings — at the cost of unpopularity. He also besought the Queen of England for an annual pension for himself and his intimate friends. The Queen, annoyed by this inappropriate demand, refused: the inclination of her privy counsel made her all the more averse. Morton took his rebuff as an insult, and stored it away deep in his mind.
- 1575 -
REE of domestic discords, Morton took counsel for the common good. He manned our castles with strong garrisons, and made many wholesome innovations in accordance with the will of the Privy Council. He beautified the realm both privately and publicly with market-places, porticoes, and halls, and with royal magnificence he completed the castle he had begun at Dalkeith. As a means of gratifying the English Queen, he subdued that portion of Scotland which faces Ireland, brought the Hebrideans under control, and prevented them from making raids into Ulster by warning the islanders that they must refrain from committing any violence on her subjects, and keep a blind eye to the spectacle of English rule in Ireland. He appointed judicial assemblies throughout Scotland, under the specious claim of curbing the borderers’ robberies, but the sequel showed that under this pretext he was seeking nothing else than the appropriation of property, something that increased his unpopularity and diminished his authority. And, with the Regent’s good standing daily lessening, a chance event occurred which provoked English complaints and came to close to disturbing the profound tranquility of peace and quiet. Redsquire is a hill of Redesdale, bordering on Scotland, where Carmichael, the governor of Liddesdale, famed for his bravery, met with John Forster, Warden of the Middlemarch and commander of the Berwick garrison. Francis Russell, first son of the Earl of Bedford, George Heron, Cuthbert Collingwood, Henry Fenwick, and other leading men of Northumbria were present at the conference. First the commander Forster spoke: English property had been stolen, booty taken off, and these property had been asked for but not returned, so he demanded that the guilty parties be handled over. Carmichael complained that his borderlands were being vexed by English robbery and Scotsmen’s good were being stolen. When the return of the property was being demanded in the usual way, harsh words provoked these high-spirited men to anger, and amidst their quarreling a tumult broke out and the anxious borderers came running up to support their commanders. During the struggle, Carmichael was seized, and, by an opportune act of theft, the English victors took possession of the Scottish property which had been brought there for the sake of the negotiations. In their rashness and greed, the English let their victory slip out of their hands. For the cry was quickly raised throughout the fields and villages, and Scotsmen came a-running to Jedburgh, where they assembled and began a march on Redsquire. As they made their way through their enemies, who were dashing about gathering plunder, they killed many Englishmen, including Sir George Heron. During this commotion, Carmichael slipped away to his own people and pressed the stricken English, so that they would not enjoy an easy or safe escape. John Forster, the border warden, his son-in-law Francis Russell, Cuthbert Collingwood, Henry Fenwick, and a number of others were taken prisoner when they could not escape to their own people. Brought to the Regent at Dalkeith, they were treated as public guests. Having sworn their oaths to return on a stated day, they were let go, with a military escort.
2. This slaughter was first announced at court by rumor, then by dispatches from the governor himself. The Queen blazed up with fury, not so angry at Carmichael’s action as at the Regent’s ambition or negligence. She took it hard that the Scots, who were most indebted to her, after God, for having been restored in their liberty and erstwhile dignity, had cruelly killed Englishmen at the conference, contrary to law and right, and had captured Forster, her Warden of the Middlemarch, and Francis Russell, a nobleman in the flower of his youth, and led them, as it were, in triumph, without letting them go until by their signatures and other pledges of good faith they had guaranteed their return, an insult to the English nation. Meanwhile all the people along the border were up in arms, and had come close to waging war against each other. But Morton, a man of proven prudence and moderation, blamed the commotion on the rashness of the English governor, and asked the Queen to investigate its cause before condemning the Scots. She ought to remember their old merits, and reminded her of what harms could arise from quarrels, if they were to resort to arms because of the misdeeds of a few men. For the sake of their common safety, he begged her to maintain the peace she had instituted, and not to allow the Scottish nation to abandon its friendship with the English people and seek aid from the King of France, nor to allow her good will towards Scotland to be lessened because of an unexpected commotion. He explained that nothing had been done as a matter of public policy, but that this was only an inconvenience created by the madness of the silly common folk and the hotheadedness of their commanders. He promised that he would make quick amends for the sake of the public good and out of his zeal for the English nation. He announced that he would hold an inquisition on Scottish soil concerning the killing and stolen property, in the presence of the governors according to custom, since, during the reign of Henry VII, in connection with the expiation of the killing of the noble Sir Robert Kerr, Warden of the Middlemarch, it had been decided, by agreement of the governors, that a meeting for reparations should be held in Scotland, where judgement should be handed down about the felonious thefts and robberies, without hatred or resentment.
3. But this precedent, imitated after a lengthy passage time, did more to increase Elizabeth’s ill humor than diminish it, for she took it as an insult to her honor and a sign of the Regent’s arrogance, since he had dictated a place for the conference. At length the Queen referred the matter of the killing of her people to her Privy Council, where some of its members vied with each other in lodging more ferocious complaints. Many were indignant that such atrocious and unworthy injuries had been inflicted on their loyal subjects by Scotsmen. Others loudly railed at the arrogance of the Regent for decreeing that the investigation of the matter should take place on Scottish soil. But the majority of the council was of the opinion that this chance uproar, a trifle scarcely deserving mention, would be an unworthy cause for war. Overcome by the authority of those who urged peace, and foreseeing that greater trouble for Britain would arise from quarrels, the Queen remitted her anger at this breach of the public tranquility and, but required that Carmichael be handed over to herself, as specified by treaty. The Scots took this stipulation amiss, but of necessary were obliged to accept it, since the could see no other other way of putting an end to the matter. At the border, the Regent conferred with Buntingdon, spoke at length to clear the public of blame for the commotion, and handed Carmichael over to the English. This was done by decision of the Privy Council, lest he give the appearance of having detracted from the right of the realm of Scotland by a personal decision. Carmichael was brought to York under English guard, where he was treated more as a guest than as a prisoner, and was let go with gifts. Upon his return, the Regent conferred on him supreme power for governing the borderlands. He quickly arrested thieves and disturbers of the peace and hanged them, and by their punishment deterred the rest from committing murders and robberies, thus severely repressing the borderland reivers. This created affection and good will towards the Regent in the neighboring nation. And the Puritans, forgetful of their ministerial modesty, raged because they were not receiving their stipends: there was nothing they did not dare say or do. By reminding them of the conference at Lieth (where they had agreed not to make any innovations in religion during the King’s minority) the Regent restrained them.
4. During this year in Scotland died James Hamilton, Earl of Arran and Duke of Chatelherault in Picardy, the head of a very large family, and the great-grandson of James II King of Scots. When James V died in the prime of manhood, leaving his daughter Mary as his heir, he was appointed Regent and was the second in line to the throne. This was a man of mild and easy character, more inclined to rest than risk-taking, had not his troublemaking kinsmen and dependents corrupted his good nature. They were serving their own interests more than they were concerned about his honor, and urged him to quit his private life and become involved in managing the kingdom. When Mary crossed over to France to marry the Dauphin, he was charged with the command of a hundred armored knights and received the Dukedom of Chatelherault. Afterwards, demitting office, he reverted to his true self, far removed from the ambition of the court and obviously happy. He began to admire the delights of the river Clyde, and intended peacefully to spend the remainder of his life on his estates in the company of his friends and dependents. But turbulent times beset the commonwealth, which did not allow him to enjoy his quiet leisure. When the lords rebelled, he very punctually defended Mary’s person and reputation. Disliking the glory of this man of royal stock and noblest breeding, George Buchanan, that most copious writer about Scottish affairs, moved either by his own hatred or that of others, took his mild nature in bad part and invidiously criticized him for sluggish idleness. Dying, he left four sons as his survivors, James Earl of Arran, John, Claud, and David. Three of these were touched by madness, which they inherited from their mother. John, mild and generous, left behind him a young son endowed with high hopes and a good intellect. Claud, the hope and mainstay of his family, sired sons of greatest promise before going insane.
- 1576 -
ORTON was hated, but undeterred by the threats of the people and the outraged nobility, and stubbornly pursued his money-making ways. He was harsh in having his tax-collectors extract port-fees and did not cease focusing his attention on the fisc and taxes, scornful of the good will of the citizenry and heedless of his reputation. The result that, that because of his immoderate excises and constant troublemaking, there was an interruption of trade. After security was restored, he removed the Grahams beyond the river Esk, and likewise reduced other restless clans to good order. Concerning the borderland reivers, who in their poverty supported themselves by despoiling the public, and, being disturbers of the peace, were seduced away from tilling the land by hope of gaining plunder and enjoying idleness and sloth, these he chastised in all parts of the realm, and the greatness of their punishment cowed the others from evildoing. He stationed soldiers so as to prevent the incursions of borderers, suppressing ravaging and robberies by their expeditions, and set garrisons in places adjoining England so that no trouble would arise. He appointed Archibald Douglas Earl of Angus, the head of the Douglass family, a young man of fine character, as his deputy in all the borderland. He, so as not to be greatly failing in his office, marched as far as Dumfries and prevented the men of Anandale from making incursions. He obliged the chiefs of certain clans to give hostages and swear they would continue in their faith and obedience, received their surrender, and reduced affairs in the borderland to a state of profound tranquility. Leaving behind agents to finish the work, he himself went back to the Regent. The security of this extended peace partly convinced unquiet troublemakers to like the sweetness of tranquility, and partly to perform their civic duties. Meanwhile the most loyal of his friends, together with the Earl of Angus, possessed of a modest, affable nature, forecast the obvious downfall of the Regent, God’s anger, and a growing number of evils, unless, during this time of peace, he would abolish the heavy, intolerable taxes imposed out of necessity during the civil war, which would come as a relief to the common folk and to all men. But he, driven insane by Fortune’s overindulgence, scorned their entreaties. The commoners were alienated, the nobility loathed him, and Fortune, variable, unsteady, and never standing still, changed her aspect, since he did not dread her wheel. No matter what happiness men have, they always experience her dislike as something yet greater.
2. Grown great in his power, wealth, and honor, Morton was exposed to unpopularity, either by Fortune’s inconstancy, which is wont to wheel men down from high to low, or by his own fault for having changed his moderate government into one of pride and avarice. Popular rumor blamed him for indulging in illicit pleasures, debaucheries, adulteries, and all misdeeds of that kind, to have grown avaricious amidst his luxuries, and to have grasped at the property of wealthy citizens in his hopeful greed. He was said to have avariciously managed judicial assemblies throughout the realm, and in his thoughts not to have considered right and equity, but rather the size of fortunes, since at his command more men were punished by fining than by shedding blood. I do not wish to recount the money he extracted, sequestered, and appropriated by his manipulation of the laws. The more prudent sort of men always disapprove of such profits, which breed hatreds among mankind. Whatever the truth of these rumors may have been, it is known for certain that he catered to his avarice more than his anger, preying upon every wealthy man, and measuring the crimes of the delinquent not according to their own nature, but in terms of wealth, and often imposed great fines for trifling offences. He scrupulously cultivated peace with the English Queen, minted money of excellent valuable, pronounced justice fairly between parties, and cleaved to piety and justice. These things were done for the sake of the public safety, but he did certain things out of private grudges, and so besmirched the glory of his magnificent accomplishments. He burned with hatred and anger against all the Hamiltons, innocent and guilty alike. Besides the hereditary hatred of the Douglasses, he always abominated them as fatal to himself, having been warned by a prophetic rhyme that he must beware the Earl of Arran, a dignity that had long resided in the flourishing Hamilton family. Hence he thought that in this riddling way he was being warned that he was endangered by the Hamiltons, although the greater part of them, sentenced to exile, had withdrawn into England. And yet, by his human counsels he did not escape this manner of peril, announced by heaven. For it was after being accused by James Stewart Earl of Arran that he lost his head on a charge of treason, as I shall relate below. He was equally hostile towards Colin Campbell Earl of Argyll, a shrewd nobleman, for private reasons and appointed a day for him to stand his trial. When Campbell did not appear, by a herald he pronounced him a rebel in absentia. Argyll maintained that this was an unjust command, because he was summoned to appear that day in an unsafe place, and the Regent had no authority to try his case. Thus, indulging his anger, he fancied he had hit on an opportunity to suppress Morton’s pernicious, intolerable power, and secretly entered into a league with the Earls of Athol and Montrose, equally outraged, and with a strong band of dependents went to the King at Stirling, where he was at the time with only a few men, and complained loudly about the Regent’s insults, not without raillery and insults against his government.
3. Argyll had no lack of friends and spokesmen at the royal court. Only a few supporters of Morton were present, and they were unable to excuse the charges of crimes and vices leveled against him. All present dissimulated Morton’s virtues but listed his prosecutions, iniquities, and various clever artifices for plundering, and said that the nation was exhausted by these payments. The more prudent sort warned the lords that they should not disturb the public peace or resort to arms, since their controversies could be settled by a conference. Throughout those days Argyll frequently attacked Morton with great envy and malice for waxing proud while relying on the office he held. With a child’s modesty the King replied that neither he nor the members of his Privy Council would pass judgment on these insults and complaints without giving Morton a fair hearing, and then he wrote the the Regent, who was torn between fear and anger, that he should quickly come and clear himself of his alleged wrongdoing and defend his actions in office. He, thinking that he would be in danger if he appeared as a private individual, long hesitated and protracted his journey by means of various delays, consulting much with his friends. These dependants, in accordance with their natures, were of various opinions. Some timidly advised him to have a care for his safety and resign his office, which he could not long retain. Others liked safer counsels: this quarrel with Argyll a civil one, and, if possible, should be resolved on honorable conditions.
4. This opinion appealed to the majority of them, and common friends were sent back and forth the restore their amity. They earnestly dealt with Argyll, urging him to desist from his accusations and enter into a reconciliation. But he could not be appeased, unless Morton would voluntarily resign his office. When the Regent realized that Argyll’s hatred was implacable and that he could not settle the affair by means of their friends, he steeled himself to withstand his enemies’ assault, reflecting how great a downfall it would be to retire from a position of supreme power to private life. In the midst of this trouble, the Puritans, who aimed at innovation, perceived that the Regent’s authority was daily fading, and launched a public attack on his sayings, actions, and counsels, for forbidding the Archbishops of Glasgow and St. Andrews from obeying the decrees of their synods, a policy the ministers opposed with all their might. In their sermons they castigated his lust and wantonness, which hugely pleased their congregations. Consequently both the commoners and the nobles were alienated from him, and he had offended many of them during his administration. Only the Earl of Angus, a kinsman, the leading members of the Douglas family, and Carmichael with his armed followers adhered to him: they urged the Regent stoutly to keep control of the commonwealth, manage the Kirk, maintain his dignity, and hold on to his power. Carmichael was eager to see the matter come to a fight, and verbosely railed at Argyll’s pride and arrogance, for it was largely by his doing that peace could not be established in the realm, unless Morton were to resign his invidious title of Regent. Morton entirely refused to adopt Carmichael’s plan, so that there would be no cause for armed strife. He claimed that he was immune from recriminations because of his innocence, not the dignity of his office, and it greatly pained him that his dignity and authority was being undermined by the slanders of the preachers who at the time were so dominant with their sermons and synods, although he had shown himself as the keenest champion of religion and the Kirk. With all his hope, he strove so that in making religious arrangements he would follow in the footsteps of that primitive Church, and that bishops outstanding for their piety and learning might be appointed, God’s Word be taught by suitable ministers, and concord be established in the Kirk. For these reasons everything in Scotland was in turmoil.
- 1577 -
EARIED by Argyll’s daily complaints and entreaties, nevertheless, anxious not to give the appearance of doing anything without consulting his nobility in accordance with national custom, King James proclaimed a Parliament of the entire nation was to be held at Stirling on March 10, and charged it with the judgment of the complaints and injuries alleged by Argyll. Unable to resist his enemies’ faction, the Regent elected to keep away from Stirling and its Parliament, so that the commonwealth would remain calm and no commotion would arise from that assembly. He sent as his representatives Archibald Douglas Earl of Angus, John Glamis the Chancellor, William Ruthven the Treasurer, and John Herries, a Baron, with a mandate to blunt his enemies’ accusations. The more prudent strove to bring the factions to concord and preserve the Regent's dignity, but Argyll, because of his fiercely sanguine nature, would not agree. Therefore no plan of concord could be adopted by two such powerful factions. In a crowded assembly of both orders of lords, Argyll spoke of the Regent’s extraordinary decree aimed at himself, and concerning this matter he appealed to the King and the nobility, demanding that they vote Morton, the author of their disturbances and all their evils, out of office. After he had sat down, Angus, burning with indignation, fell at the King’s knees and humbly begged that it be permitted him to speak on behalf of the absent Regent. Having discussed the matter with his lords for a little while, the King bade him speak his mind. He boldly complained that Morton, a man who had deserved well of the commonwealth, was being assaulted by the slanders of his enemies, filled with vanity and hatred, and explained how much danger would threaten the King and all of Scotland if Argyll’s arrogant slander was to go unpunished: for Argyll had often flouted the authority of both King and Regent, and was responsible for, or had participated in, much civil strife in the western part of Scotland facing Ireland. He asked the lords not to believe anything rashly concerning that most upright gentleman in his absence, nor allow the false and invented recriminations of malevolent men to harm him more than he was helped by his great meritorious deeds for his nation, of which they themselves could bear witness. But in the King’s eyes these pleaders and the throng of his noble supporters failed to outweigh the charges leveled against him. The question of his removal from office was called, Chancellor Glamis requested the votes of all the estates, and it was finally announced that, by a majority of votes, Morton was removed from his office and power. Thus the fortune of a single hour undid the happiness of so many years.
2. Next, by decree of the lords there present, lest outbreaks of violence occur were Morton’s protectorship to continue any longer, the king wrote to Morton that there was no other way of guaranteeing his security and the public tranquility, or of satisfying the wishes of the nobility, than for the Regent to surrender his office and all his jurisdiction to himself. By intermediaries (Chancellor Glamis, Ruthven and Herries) he dealt with the Regent himself about a voluntarily resignation from office, as a means of placating the minds of his rivals, and promised that he would grant him immunity from giving an account of his actions in office. The letters sent back and forth between His Royal Majesty and the Regent are still extant. Morton weighed his strength and the growing power of his misfortune, and, dreading the prospect of disgrace as well as loss of his property, he was eager to exchange the hateful title of Regent and his laborious duties for the peace and quiet of private life. Having received thanks for his good management of the commonwealth and having been given a public guarantee by the King, which he expected to be ratified when James reached his maturity, by means of his representatives Glamis, Ruthven and Herries he resigned his government and handed over his insignia of office to the Earl of Angus with instructions they be returned to the King. Which Angus did in a full assembly of the nobles, which unanimously proclaimed its good faith. When Morton had been stripped of his office by the votes and consensus of the nobility, the King, although not yet of adult age, assumed the government during these times of disturbance and misery, hateful to his subjects, and announced by an edict published at Edinburgh that the entire administration of the realm had been entrusted to him. This was received with incredible eagerness and happiness by the common folk. By this agreement Morton gave great joy to the citizenry of Edinburgh, showing by the look of his face and by his words that it was not out of any weakness of mind that he had quit his office, once it had been entrusted to him by public authority, or had resigned because of his enemies’ power, but rather that he had freely chosen to demit his position and abandon his power, loyally and dutifully, for the sake of public peace. After he had resigned his power, he was escorted home by five hundred noblemen and a throng of citizens, and was congratulated that concord had been restored to the kingdom by his doing.
3. When Morton’s authority had been overthrown thanks to the power of his enemies, the lords announced this to the King, and they instituted trimestral councils, with whom the King would discuss pending matters before referring them to the Privy Council. By vote of the estates, they chose supervisors for the young King who would take turns in joining the royal household and exercising their advice and authority, to defend and protect him. The King was to conduct no public or private business save with the approval of the lords in attendance, as if they were his guardians. Those selected for these responsibilities went to Stirling and performed their routine services as if they were dependents. They passed judgment on the young man’s morals and habits, so that they might instruct him in acting like a prince and father of his country. At the end of the three-month period, other lords preeminent for their prudence and virtue were substituted as supervisors of equal authority. Meanwhile Morton, having abandoned his dignity, retired to his pleasures, now loitering at his palace at Dalkeith, now wandering about the bank of the the Firth of Forth and the delights of Fife, in the company of young noblemen for whom he had appointed guardians until they came of age. While, out of his desire for a more tranquil life and solitude, he was in retirement at Dalkeith, the abovementioned representatives were once more sent to him, bearing the unexpected royal command that he should hand over Edinburgh Castle together with all the furniture he had taken there, and also the dies used for minting money. When the delegates perceived that Morton was foot-dragging, they warned him that there was no room for toying with the King. At the same time they begged him to be on his guard against anger and impulsiveness, and place his hope in equity rather than arms. When he made no reasonable reply, the delegation departed and issued a general command to the citizenry of Edinburgh that they should take care lest their city suffer any harm, and to take care of themselves and their children. Hence the townsmen diligently mounted night-watches, and the men of the garrison were prevented from gathering provisions from sources both public and private. This was the beginning of a quarrel between them and the townsmen which stirred up yet more trouble. A handful of men on either side were killed in the conflict. The multitude lacked a leader, since command of the city had been entrusted to George Douglas, the governor of the Castle. So they took common counsel and elected to place four urban magistrates in control. Recollection of their murdered fellow-townsmen fired their minds yet more, and they surrounded the Castle with a siege,. When the affair seemed headed for trouble, three lords where sent, Andrew Earl of Rothes, Ruthven the Chancellor, and Herries, who on behalf of the King and the Privy Council warned Morton that he must make an end to his recalcitrance. So as not to undertake a doubtful, unnecessary war for the sake of a single castle and be blamed for the disturbances, upon his friends’ advice, he thought about handing over the Castle, and the delegates went to Stirling to announce these things to the King.
4. During these days David Lindsay Earl of Crawford and John Lyon, Earl of Glamis and Lord Chancellor, men of the highest pedigrees, who were at odds over a controversy about boundaries and the mutual dislike and deplorable rivalry of their dependents, deferred their vengeance until an opportune occasion presented itself. The former gained praised for his prudence and modesty by practising the arts of peace and his calm application of the civil law. The latter, in addition to the nobility of his family and the great merits of his ancestors, had many family connections, gained a good name for his elegance of manners, generosity, and wealth. But Crawford’s life was tainted by luxuriousness, whereas Glamis’ was ornamented by his many fine endowments, so that he set an example of gravity and dignity for others. In the end, when a fight between their dependents broke out at Stirling, the Chancellor was shot through by a bullet and feloniously killed. After his death, the dignity of the Chancellorship soon devolved on Athol, who, men opined, had held the second place when it came to prudence and virtue. The atrocity of the murder stirred all good men. Thomas Lyon, very much a hothead, was appointed guardian of his brother’s young son, and took vengeance for the insult offered to himself and his family by resorting to fire and flame, working much havoc in the Lindsays’ fields and hamlets. What they undertook was no gentler. Having heard of this devastation and by authority of his Privy Council, the King sent suitable men to announce they should not attempt to settle their feud by resort to arms, as long was there was any hope of resolving it in the courtroom. Then he had Crawford arrested and imprisoned for the death of the Chancellor, although he was quickly set free thanks to the effort and exertions of the lords. All the inhabitance of his district congratulated the Earl as he made his way back to Angus, but the Master of Glamis’ wrath blazed up all the more, and with an armed throng he resisted Crawford for the rest of his life.
5. With Morton out of the way, the Puritans began to entertain hopes of establishing the Geneva discipline, so that pastors and deacons might be freed of their subservience to bishops, and overseers govern the Kirk, initiatives which, during the King’s minority, had been baffled by the Regent’s delaying tactics. In their voting in synods, they quickly began to deal more with factions prejudicial to the royal majesty than with fostering of God’s true worship. Now the ministers decreed that power over sacred matters resided in themselves and their overseers, and announced to the bishops that they should concern themselves with the care of their individual congregations, foreswear their jurisdiction over the Kirk, resign their bishoprics, and cease dispensing the Sacraments. The King interposed the authority of the Privy Council to quash this decree, and assumed personal control over the matter. The Archbishop of St. Andrews spoke on behalf of the bishops’ jurisdiction and assumed the task of defending their cause and dignity. In the end, he begged that the dignity of the Kirk, established by heaven and inviolate for so many centuries, should not be overthrown by the madness of the Puritans. Andrew Melville, that most distinguished professor of theology, a man possessed of more spirit and anger than counsel, took up cudgels for the Puritans’ cause, came forth as champion of the equality of ministers and the liberty of the Kirk, and gave the advice that the bishops were wanting in meekness and humility, placing high value on wealth, riches, and power, and lording it with pride, hauteur, and arrogance, and would defile God’s pure worship, unless those men adopted less lofty spirits, shunned insolence, pride and arrogance, and learned to despise wealth and power, and that they were born mere mortals. The King was opposed to Melville because he was impugning the dignity of bishops, seeking to increase his popularity at the expense of theirs, and arrogantly seeking to destroy ancient Kirk authority. Thus were sacred matters so ill affected. Even though the Puritans were superior in numbers, there was no lack of nobles who wished to protect the bishops’ honor. Having discussed the matter with his counselors and taken a vote, the King replied that henceforth the care of the storm-tossed ship of the Kirk would be his concern, and admonished them to instruct the people in piety and meekness and, refraining from innovation, to accustom themselves to peace and concord and grant due reverence to the bishops, so as not to be responsible for commotions in such troublous times. Thanks to this response, nobody could doubt that even at his tender young age he wished to see the rights of bishops enhanced rather than decreased, and yet he quit the field, moderating the business and deciding that for the present everything must be endured.
6. When no hope of reducing the clergy to concord remained, it seemed best to the King and the most distinguished lords to express their opinions concerning these contended issues, and the clergy were admonished that they should not become vehement. The bishops agreed to comply, but no reasonable response was obtained from the Puritans, who, rejoicing in their ferocity, raged against the bishops in their constant pulpit-sermons, as if more concerned with their personal advantage than the salvation of their flocks, not without clerical arrogance (for what is so arrogant as for the clergy to give the order of bishops instructions concerning religion?) Melville entered into many great contentions with the Archbishop of St. Andrews. When Melville would hurl his verbal thunderbolts at the Archbishop in the Schools with that stubborn arrogance of his, the Archbishop would respond, with a voice louder than usual and with especial gravity in his words, using his ability to extemporize, and energetically defend the honor and dignity of bishops, and in these debates he easily carried off the palm. Melville was neither willing nor able to compete against the Archbishop in his sermonizing. Hence, bested in terms of eloquence, he defamed the course of the prelate’s entire life in very biting epigrams, whipping up popular dislike, omitting nothing by which he could weaken the authority of the bishops. The asperity of sermons stirred up such a storm that it almost overturned the Kirk during the King’s minority.
- 1578 -
URING this year, the King’s young age provided grounds for disturbances throughout the kingdom. George Douglas, Morton’s bastard brother, deprived of all support in holding the Castle, and ill-disposed towards the townsmen of Edinburgh because of personal hatreds, feared lest the common folk might riot at the sight of the members of the garrison who had killed some of their fellow-citizens a little earlier, so he sent them slinking out the postern gate. Then he handed over Edinburgh Castle, complete with its artillery, equipment, jewelry, and women’s robes, to Alexander Erskine of Gorgaran, whom the King placed in charge of the Castle because of his proven modesty and bravery. He made an inventory as an accurate record of what had been left behind, in the presence of Ruthven the Lord Treasurer, Lindesay, and Alexander Hay, a notary. Then the King, being of an age incapable of governing, convened a Parliament of the nobles concerning the management of important state matters. Until he came of age, he entrusted the handling of affairs to the distinguished Earls of Argyll, Athol, Montrose, Caithness, Lindsay, Herries, all the princes of the Kirk and Lord Treasurer Ruthven, the Abbot of Dumfermline, his Secretary, George Buchanan, his Keeper of the Privy Seal, Murray of Tillebarn, his Chamberlain, and James MacGill, his Master of the Rolls. For some time the affairs of the kingdom were peacefully administered by these men: the complaints of the poor were heard, those oppressed by men more powerful than themselves were given relief by their protection, and much else was ordained to strengthen the condition of the realm. It was decreed that royal charters, donations and immunities should be deemed null and void unless endorsed by six members of the Privy Council and the Chancellor. At this time Athol, the Lord Chancellor, surpassed the rest in his industry and care for civil affairs. He applied the laws, exerted himself on behalf of the King’s security, was wide-awake, and gave many proofs of being an excellent counselor. For Morton, freed from his management of the realm and with a carefree mind, yielded to his unpopularity and his fortune, and retired to his home at Dalkeith, where he refreshed his body from its efforts and his spirit from anxiety, far distant from the ambition of court, proclaiming that management of the realm and the being in the grip of earthly advantages was a great inconvenience.
2. These are the things he said openly. Nevertheless, mindful of the insult he had suffered, he was bent on sowing and nurturing suspicions between the lords, being secretly intent on gaining advantage from these. He slyly approached John Earl of Mar, a noble and lofty young man, and told him that his uncle Alexander was enjoying many increases to his fortune, being enhanced by his tutorship of the young sovereign, while all his own hope of gaining honors was being cut off. So he urged him to play the part of head of the family, lest the privileges conferred thanks to his ancestors’ good merits accrue to his uncle, who was opposed to his interest. Because of his singular prudence, Morton was regarded as an oracle, not only by the common folk but by the nobles and clergy, and by his persuasive authority he easily overmastered the naive young man. Hence the Earl of Mar, a fine lad of excellent character, came to hate his uncle Alexander Erskine because, entirely disregarding himself, he conducted himself as if he were the head of the family and ruler of the young King. He took a great band of friends and dependents and went to Stirling, dissimulating his intention. Seizing control of the castle and taking Alexander unawares and betrayed by some of his followers, he ejected him from command of the castle garrison and custody of the King. Also, acting more out of impulse than counsel, he expelled Argyll, who was performing his three months’ terms of service, and manned the castle with the most faithful of his servants. During this commotion, Erskine’s son Alexander, a fine young nobleman, died of a fever or, as some will have it, out of chagrin for his father’s calamity. When this sudden and violent event became common knowledge, the lords and counselors gathered at Stirling, wearing armor, where they spent four days deliberating about the safety of the commonwealth and the security of the King, who was in the control of another man because of his young age. Argyll spoke of the injury done him by Mar at Morton’s instigation. Mar was summoned to clear himself of the crime of which he was accused, and his explanation was accepted. By royal authority, the Privy Council devoted all its thoughts to the public tranquility, and decided to forestall any possibilities of internal discord and civil strife. Hence it attempted to effect a reconciliation between Morton, Athol, Argyll, Mar, and his uncle Alexander.
3. Twelve umpires were appointed from either faction to resolve the quarrel, men of consummate authority who would resolve the contentions by the equity of law. They met at Edinburgh, and in their opinion the disputes between Mar and Alexander Erskine could be settled on these terms: that Mar, being an adult, in accordance with the example set by his ancestors when they had been appointed royal protectors, should be the exclusive head of his family and governor of Stirling Castle; should he die without issue, his heritage should pass to his uncle; meanwhile he should yield possession of Edinburgh Castle to Alexander. Although Morton had been ejected from office by the hotheaded anger of Argyll and Athol and had particularly suffered at their hands, he nevertheless did not refuse these reasonable terms for concord. Thomas Randolph, being familiar with our affairs because he had performed many embassies, came into Scotland with a public pledge of safe conduct in order to congratulate the King on his very rare and various endowments of fine character, especially at such a young age, and inform him of his Queen’s amity and good will. But, above all else, he admonished Athol, Argyll, and Morton that nothing is more to be hoped for than concord and public tranquility, and nothing is more hateful than dissensions and quarrels between lords, which overthrow bloodlines, families, towns and kingdoms with their desolations, devastations and solitude. He earnestly prayed that they put an end to their grudges arising from hatred and envy. Then he requested Argyll not to assist the Hebridean rebels in Ireland with provisions, arms, or any equipment of war. This request did not seem just, because two Hebridean chiefs, the brothers Angus and James, and Surley Boy (i. e., “The Blond,” so-called for his distinctive physical feature) had crossed over into Ireland with considerable number of their fellow MacConnells, where they occupied a part of County Clandeboye adjacent to Rathlin Island. Thus, thinking they had done well by their ancestors and Clan MacDonald, they likewise achieved brave deeds throughout Ireland. Cruel, bloody battles were fought against them when they invaded. Agnus and James were killed by Shane O’Neill. As a result, anger over the wrongdoing and thirst for vengeance blazed up in the MacConnell family, which could not be satisfied save by the killing of O’Neill. This was sought by Donnell and Agnus of the same family, who took up arms, and choose Clandeboy as a home for themselves and their followers. They often had fights with the English, with great slaughter but no certain results, and there was no end of this until they swore fealty to the Queen for their Irish possessions. Hence Argyll privately favored the Irish rebels in their fight against English power, and secretly supplied them with aid.
4. Meanwhile, having had a conference with the King, the delegates optimistically strove with all their might to cement concord between the lords. They appointed a time on the following day, and also a place, the midway-point between Edinburgh and Dalkeith. When both sides had made their appearance (Morton with an escort of his friends, Athol and Argyll with three hundred men of proven boldness), they came forth, spending a little of their time on salutations, and the rest on negotations. They went over the terms of the compact, and agreed they should all go to dinner at Dalkeith, upon Morton’s invitation, and meet at Stirling on the following day. Men issued forth from the town and greeted them with great happiness, congratulating them on their concord, and with no less happiness they were received and thanked at the royal palace, the onlookers expressing their great gratitude and approval. The King lauded and approved Morton’s prudence and modesty, bestowing power upon him, and the commoners praised him as well. He, scarcely unaware what a storm of dislike still threatened him because of the lords’ lingering hatred, used his favor, wealth, and power, and bestowed positions at court and public offices to win men over to his faction. With the trimester system of government abolished, he no longer concealed his haughtiness, now wished to overmaster his enemies, and applied himself headlong to indulging his anger. Thus, once again, he provoked the hatred which had lain dormant, rather than extinguished, in the hearts of Athol, Argyll, and Montrose. He had claimed for himself the first place next to the King at Stirling, and concentrated all power and strength in himself alone. Hence the lords of the opposing faction were enflamed and issued a very harsh edict accusing Morton of behaving with lust, pride, and avarice in his administration of the government. His greed had been checked, and he had been compelled to resign his position, but now he was resorting to sly artifices in his quest to continue in office. Although he had been voted out of power, he was trying to usurp royal command and meanwhile was managing the realm. He had suspended the trimester system so that he alone could serve the sovereign with his authority and counsel, and had undermined the will of Parliament. They proclaimed that the Privy Council and leading lords, who had loathed his pride and violence even when he had occupied office legitimately, would now refuse to tolerate his unjust sway, and that there would be no dearth of men to extract vengeance, should he disregard the young age of the King and the authority of the Privy Council. Then, by means of a herald in the market-place, they summoned the common people to arms against those men who would subvert the power of the Parliament, that unique bulwark of their liberty, and who had removed the trimester system of consultation and administration, private men who lorded it over the King.
5. Anxious about how contentions might erupt, the King proclaimed his intention of convening a Parliament of all the estates in July, and sent letters summoning the lords of the realm and bishops who had the right of voting in public assemblies. He designated Edinburgh as the place for the meeting. And so many of the nobility gathered with their dependents and servants, and did not refrain from secret consultations. Learning of this, Morton decided to block the announced Edinburgh Parliament, pleading the King’s feeble age and ill health: he claimed Edinburgh was not a pleasant or wholesome place, and stated that Stirling was more suitable. Argyll, Athol, and Montrose, the leading men in the uprising, disagreed: the estates of the realm would not be legally assembled at Stirling; Edinburgh, the place appointed for voting, was suitable enough; the Stirling market-place, where such a meeting would occur, was occupied by the armed dependents of Morton and Mar, so they could not pass to and from a city full of their enemies without endangering their lives; nor could any free decisions be made, when soldiers were present to terrify the voters; this was an insult to most of the lords. Patrick Lindesay was sent by the nobility to inform the King about these matters. To their demands, he replied that the security of the lords would be his business, should they come to Stirling; the citizens of the town were equipped with missiles and muskets to protect themselves against any sudden chance assault, but should not be called armed soldiers, and there was no reasonable cause for alarm. Meanwhile the day of the Parliament approached and the estates were summoned to vote, but this was done in the great hall of the Castle, not in the Tollboth, as was customary. All present voted unanimously in favor of those things which touched on religion and God’s true worship, and with one mind and voice they cast their votes concerning the security of the commonwealth. The lords remained at Edinburgh, and by means of Lindesay they attested that the Stirling Parliament, convened in the great hall of the Castle in contravention of ancestral tradition, could not be called or deemed legitimate, and whatever things were transacted there were unlawful, out of order, and of no weight, since the majority of the lords had not attended out of fear for the lives. When their representatives came to Sterling, the estates quickly assembled to hear their message. Sitting in his purple, with his scepter and other regalia, the King interrupted to say that it did not matter in what part of the city the Parliament was held. Out of concern for his personal security and fearing a catastrophe, he had called it to order in the open great hall, with nobody prevented from attending, rather than at the Tollbooth, and this was not to be regarded as setting a precedent. Nobody was prevented from resorting to a moderate degree of self-protection, let alone a sovereign. The same liberty was reserved for them that had existed for their ancestors, and at this point he desired the same good-will from them. He had not altered their ancestral customs and traditions, nor had he obliged the votes of the estates to conform to his will. Decisions of the Privy Council or commands of Parliament should become law. The over-arrogant prejudice of a few against the decision of the estates, rather than any just cause for alarm (except a bad conscience) had manufactured this idle fear. Finally, he proclaimed that all things had been transacted legally and properly, and by means of a public decree gave his approval to the authority of the Parliament.
6. By royal command, Montrose and Lindesay were placed under house arrest separately, cut off from all communications, lest they have any opportunity to confer with each other. But Montrose escaped, thanks to the complicity of his jailor. Horsemen were sent to pursue and retrieve him, but in vain. At breakneck speed he arrived at Edinburgh, where he meet with the lords, who had been expecting nothing of the kind. He described their imminent danger, unless they stole a march on their adversaries and resisted them with equal force. They ought to march, and not let this insult go unavenged. The rebels immediately took up arms and added the Homes and the Kerrs to their faction. Adopting a common plan, they joined forces, drew up regiments of foot and squadrons of horse, arranged stipends for their soldiers, called out their family members, kinsmen, and dependents, and proclaimed they were acting to free the King, restore dignity to the nobility, and consult for the common safety. Surrounded by this sudden turmoil, the King felt no fear. Acting on Morton’s advice, he proclaimed that the punishment for treason would be inflicted on the leaders of the rising, if they did not lay down their arms by an appointed day. Undaunted, they belligerently persevered in their undertaking. They scorned heralds and edicts sent to them, tore up the missives sent them, and threw everything divine and human into chaos. On the other side, Angus, Mar, and Morton did the same at Stirling, and many noblemen, with a view either to the King’s safety or partisan zeal, voluntarily came flocking in, together with a multitude of commoners. Having mustered ten thousand armed men, and joined by more rude Highlanders while on the march, Athol, Argyll, and Montrose encamped hard by Falkirk on open ground.
7. On the following day, Kenneth, the head of his family, and Burgan joined them with four hundred horse. The lords moved no further, because they pinned their hopes on a siege of Stirling more than an open battle. On his side, Angus, placed in supreme command, rode out with five hundred horses to reconnoiter, and to take enemy rovers or stragglers. Both side met in the space between the armies, and engaged in a light cavalry skirmish. The rest of the forces of Mar and Morton, a great number of chaotic commoners, were stationed in the fields surrounding Sterling and blocked the roads. When the skirmishing was finished William Tait of Tevidale, a fierce man eager for glory, challenged James Johnston, a dependent of the Earl of Glamis and a man of proven bravery, to a fight. Avid for combat, he spurred his horse and aimed his lance at Tait. They ran together with such hostile intent that each ran the other through. Tait fell from his horse, dying, and Johnston’s leg was pinned to his horse, as all eyes were turned on their encounter. Meanwhile the English ambassador Robert Bowes went back and forth between the two factions, advancing all the arguments in favor of concord. He begged the lords to take pity on their own fortunes and the safety of their King. For a while conditions were discussed, and finally, by Bowes’ agency, it was agreed that, lest the uprising slip out of the control of its leaders, and so that a check might be put on men ranging about under arms, both sides should dismiss their armed forces in opposite directions, save for a moderate number of horsemen to protect the common folk from ravagers and robbers. Argyle, Montrose, and Lindesay should be coopted onto the Privy Council; eight men should be selected to settle the lords’ quarrels. Governors of the castles of Edinburg and Dumbriton should be chosen. The nobility should retain its luster, and they should observe their ancestrial manners and customs.
8. So, while their two camps were alongside each other cheek by jowl, peace was made, to the common good of Scotland. But it was maintained only briefly, albeit its terms were proclaimed by edict in the royal city. The lords fell back on Edinburgh, to increase their faction’s strength by the accession of the Gordons, Lindesays, and the barons of Fife. The Highlanders went back to their homes and huts. Meanwhile the King, desirous of public tranquility, devoted all his diligence to pacification, and warned the leaders of both factions that they should not quarrel with hatred, since they were joined in the Privy Council and enjoyed supreme authority in the realm. He appointed judges to establish the peace: the noblemen Lindesay, Herries, Ogilvy, and Inverness for Argyll’s faction, and the Earls of Rothes and Buchan, Ruthven and Boyd of the lower estates for Morton. Without demur or delay, they undertook the task. After they had consumed several days negotiating at Stirling, they urged that grudges between lords were serious matters, but even more serious for the King and his kingdom, whereas concord was wholesome for both themselves and the nation: they should not only cease their quarreling, but also their wars, and become allies rather than mortal enemies. Friendships should be immortal, but hostilities mortal. But, although they spared no effort to achieve civil peace, these delegates failed to bring them to an agreement. For Argyll, particularly irate over Morton’s dodges, with which he was all too familiar, refused all conditions, unless Morton would abstain from the court and dealings with the King,. He, seeing that he was unequal to the great wrath of the lords which was now arising, and wearied of the present turmoils, took his leave of the King and on the following day went off to Dalkeith, thereby restoring his angry enemies to a calmer frame of mind by this exercise of prudence and moderation, and by his virtue and compliance appeased their terrible hatred.
9. Hence the leaders of the factions became friends, and both sides sought meetings for conferences, and provided ten spokesmen: for Athol and Argyll came the Earl of Montrose, the Abbot of Newbottle, Sir James Balfour, Thomas Kenneth, Burgan, and Peter Hay; for Morton, the Earl of Buchan, the Abbot of Dumfermline, the head of the Boyd family, Sir John Gordon of Lochinvar, and James Haliburton, Governor of Dundee. It was agreed they would meet at the chapel at Inveresk, and a time was appointed. After a few days, the delegates came to the agreed-upon place, accompanied by a great throng of friends and dependents. On the follow day they met early in the morning at Liberton, where they consumed the whole day, but could come to no conclusion in the absence of their leaders. So they agreed that Morton, Athol, and Argyll should meet at Leith with unarmed escorts. When those men came within sight of each other, they exchanged polite and kindly greetings, and, having explained the grounds for their protracted hatreds, joined in a public meal, which gave great joy of the common folk and no less delight to the King. With the commonwealth returned to tranquility, he once again convened a Parliament of the nobility at Stirling, and gave his thanks to those who had set aside their domestic quarrels and factionalism. This expression of gratitude inspired the noblemen to decide everything with an eye to their sovereign’s safety, authority, and dignity, and the magnificence and splendor of his family. After this public gathering of the nation, the Privy Council passed a motion designed to relieve the poverty of the treasury, that silver coinage should be given a higher valuation. This caused great pain for the citizenry, who had learned from experience that, once you raise the value of money, the cost of food and merchandise increases, and more severe consequences affect the sovereign’s patrimony, fisc, and taxation. The Privy Council threatened prison for non-compliance. But when even this threat failed to cow the people, by another edict it threatened recalcitrants with a charge of treason. They were compelled to yield by this fear, and it was commonly imagined that Morton was the author of the edict, since during his term of office he had hatched all manner of money-making schemes.
10. During this year the onslaught of the Puritans remained unflagging, and their desire to overthrow the authority of bishops remained steady and constant. For all their authority and popularity, the bishops did not prevail against their numbers. Then, by the motion of the Puritans, this item concerning religion was discussed in the Parliament above all else, and a decree was manufactured that all royal subjects must subscribe to the Reformed Religion, with Roman superstition entirely banned, and that all statutes promulgated by Regents to this end should be ratified. At this time Margaret Douglas, a woman of royal majesty, died in her sixty-third year, She was the grand-daughter of Henry VII by his son, for, as a means of solidifying his dynasty in Britain, he married his eldest daughter Margaret to James IV, with the approval of the lords and people, and she had given birth to James V. After James’ death, his wife Margaret married Archibald Douglas Earl of Angus, the foremost young man of Scotland, and at Harbottle in Northumbria she delivered a daughter, Margaret Douglas. Matthew Earl of Lennox, a man of high breeding, abandoned the side of the King of France and went to England, where he was held in particular esteem by King Henry VIII, who, in addition to estates in Yorkshire, bestowed upon him Margaret Douglas, his niece by his sister. Born of the Earl of Lennox and Margaret Douglas was Henry Stuart Lord Darnley, who married his kinswoman Mary Stuart Queen of Scots, the mother of James VI, King of Great Britain. Many events both prosperous and adverse, memorable to posterity, befell this very pious and noble woman. She had fine endowments of body and mind, was of royal stock, had numerous children, and enjoyed favor in the time of King Edward. But fortune gave her an admixture of the inconveniences which are part of our human frailty, lest she forget her mortality. She survived eight of her children. She was thrice imprisoned because of unlucky loves, but not on any change of treason. The first time was for the sake of her admirer Thomas Howard, son of the Duke of Norfolk, who burned with such love for her that his unbalanced mind could not be soothed; the second was because of the marriage of her son Henry Darnley to Mary Queen of Scots; the third because of the marriage of her youngest son Charles to Elisabeth Cavendish, the mother of Arabella. Thus the chaste and lawful estate of marriage cast this most upright of women in prison, and she experienced the adversities of her house more than its prosperous times. For this reason, Elizabeth is held to have consulted her anger more than her dignity. After her son’s regicide, she was freed from imprisonment, and she always retained the high esteem she had gained for her virtue, rather than any ill reputation earned by her infelicity. She received the highest honor: she was buried at Westminster and her bones buried alongside those of her ancestors, the Kings of England, in an ornate tomb, with a eulogy written in many heroic verses. She was survived by her grandchildren James VI and Arabella.
11. Next, by means of the Abbot of Dumfermline, the King thanked Elizabeth for her incredible love, and for her zeal for peace and concord. Afterwards, having dutifully performed this act of gratitude, he asked the English Queen to endorse and confirm their treaty made at Edinburgh, coerce troublemakers on the borders of her realm, suppress undertakings against religion, return property plundered by pirates, continue the amity between their adjacent realms, and, if possible, make the bonds of their alliance yet tighter. Lastly he petitioned her for the patrimony of the Lennox family in England, as being the next of kin. The Queen’s response to these requests was that she agreed to the remainder of them and to a mutual pact for the tranquility of both their kingdoms and for the security of religion. But in regard to the patrimony of the Earl of Lennox, that was a matter of greater difficulty than could immediately be resolved, so that there was need for deliberation. The ambassador adduced a number of arguments and historical precedents going to show that the King of Scots was the undoubted heir to his ancestral patrimony, and that the King’s personal patrimony was requisite for supporting the burdens of state. Wherefore he earnestly exhorted her not to refuse the right granted James’ ancestors by the Kings of England to succession in the Earldom of Huntingdon to the eldest son of the King of Scots. After a lengthy discussion back and forth, Elizabeth referred the matter to her Privy Council. To distract the ambassador’s attention from this matter, the Queen’s counselors demanded that the estates of Scotland guarantee that during his minority the King not enter into a league with anyone else, or renew such a league, contract marriage, or be sent out of Scotland, without the Queen’s approval. He replied that he had no instructions concerning these things. Thus for the present James’ ancestral dominion was not returned to him, but he was offered hope for gaining it in the future.
- 1579 -
T the beginning of this year, Athol the Lord Chancellor was confined at Montrose’s country home at Kincarne because of an increasing disease, and a little later he died of the malady and a troubled mind or, as some would have it, done in by a slow wasting poison. I could believe the latter version is closer to the truth, since his body bore marks and traces typical of poisoning. His well-attended funeral and funereal banquet took place at St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, with no lack of ceremonial to do him honor. On his tomb was set the effigy of a bird tearing at its breast so as to feed its chicks with its own blood, showing that he was ready to shed his blood for the security of his fellow citizens. This suspicion concerning Athol’s death was charged to the discredit of his rival Morton. Hence after his funeral solemnities were completed, grave imprecations and many complaints were lodged against him and his false reconciliation by the deceased’s wife, wearied by her lengthy mourning, and by his closest friends. Argyll, who replaced him as Chancellor, regarded his friend’s death as suspicious and hateful. Although he was gentle towards the nobility, he was nonetheless ill-disposed towards the Hamiltons, prompted by Morton and moved by his personal animus because of the murders of his grandfather Lennox and the Regent James Earl of Moray and other crimes committed against the public interest in the year 1573. So he determined to pursue this most noble family, already banished from court and an object of his loathing, with fire and sword. Over and above his chagrin over the insult and desire for revenge, Morton, who was all the more aggressive after the death of his rival Athol, openly displayed his dislike and provoked the King into consulting for his own welfare and resorting to arms to suppress his deadly foes of the Lennox family. John and Claud Hamilton, the leaders of the family, being unequal in strength to their enemies, decided to wage war by defending themselves in their castles. But, anxious lesr they be overwhelmed by a sudden incursion, in fear for their lives they took to their heels and hid. Mar, Angus, and Morton held a levy and assembled their friends and dependents, and when all was in readiness they marched to the Hamiltons’ village. Complying with the command of the King and his Privy Council, the other lords sent select reinforcements. When their regiments had been drawn up, their army’s leaders stationed squadrons of horse at suitable places, to wait and see if the Hamiltons, in their desire to gain vengeance, would offer a fight. But they did not even dare snipe at those lingering cavalrymen from concealment.
2. Then the fields of the Clyde Valley were ravaged, its buildings burned, and plunder carried off in all directions. They besieged the Hamiltons’ very famous castle, built on a secure position and garrisoned by soldiers, where the clan chiefs were wont to reside and where they had now stored all their fortunes, wheeling up cannon and blocking all avenues of escape. But the defenders, who could not tolerate a heavy siege, meekly begged pardon, offering up everything they owned save their lives. The Abbot of Driburg was sent to Stirling to announce these things to the King, who did not think that terms were to be accepted from men who had cruelly murdered his grandfather Lennox by their wily deceits, but he did think that suppliants innocent of the murder ought to be given a hearing. The King’s reply was communicated to the besieged, and the innocent and guilty had a falling-out, which delayed their surrender. Meanwhile a very opportune thing occurred. Sir James Hamilton gained control of Dreffon Castle, putting all who resisted to the sword, and the son of the Earl of Glencairn occupied Paisley Tower, ejecting its garrison. Thus the men of the Hamilton family were overwhelmed, cut down, and taken prisoner by the hatred of locals and domestic quarrels. In the end, besieged, having suffering many a setback, and greatly troubled by the defection of their own followers, they yielded, and the innocent among them were responsible for this surrender. The few that were murderers received their punishment, the guilty paid their money and property into the fisc, and, with an equal admixture of severity and mercy, the rest were granted amnesty. Their castles were garrisoned as a precaution against rebels. Meanwhile John and Claud, sons of the Duke of Chatelherault were driven out of the realm by Angus, Mar, and Morton, who had sent out their horse in all directions in the hope of overtaking them. When they looked around them for a place to flee, they considered whether to throw themselves on the mercy of the King of France or the Queen of England. Although Elizabeth bore a personal grudge against the Hamiltons, being ill-disposed towards the leaders of the French faction, nevertheless, moved by the alteration of their condition and the high distinction of their ancestors, she gave them a harbor and refuge in their wretched misfortune, and by means of her ambassador Erington she firmly interposed her authority on their behalf. Nobody was so inhumane as not to be touched by such an alteration of fortune, since their wives followed after the fugitives, together with their little children. It was nevertheless beyond doubt that civil war had been threatened by the Hamiltons, although their patriotism restrained this hostile impulse.
3. At this same time the exiled Queen of Scots begged Elizabeth that at long last she would feel some pity, even if she had no concern for a kinswoman of royal rank ejected by a criminal conspiracy of her subjects, and restore her to her nation and throne, or allow her to rule jointly with her son, as an enduring example of her clemency. By her entreaties and humble petition she was not able to move the Queen’s mind to gentleness and mercy, since, when consulted, the Scots replied that, were she to be sent back, she would plunge their nation in to a grave and ruinous civil war, while she wreaked vengeance on her enemies for the injuries she had suffered, diminished the authority of the young King, and altered the condition of religion. The Queen of Scots, grieving that her hopes had been dashed, greatly begged the Kings of France and Spain not to allow her, a woman of their same blood, religion, and rank, to perish in prison: they should also move to avenge the insults they had recently suffered, the seditions that had been fomented, and the property of their citizens which had been stolen. Her words moved the Kings, who raised her hopes for freedom and recovery of her erstwhile dignity. A Frenchman named Nau, Mary’s Secretary, was sent into Scotland with secret instructions and letters, requesting in the Queen’s name that he be granted a royal audience, and speak about his mothers status and condition. When the Privy Council read the words Queen Mary greets James, it was deeply offended and refused to receive either the arrogant letters nor the man who had brought them, because they addressed King James as Prince and appeared to detract from his authority, particularly since had been made lawful King with the assent of his mother and the messenger stubbornly persisted in his claim that the Queen was all-powerful. Therefore they decided that he should be shunned and given no reply, unless the Queen would correct this flaw and write to the King of Scots: should she refuse, she herself would be the obstacle to her gaining any satisfaction.
4. Annoyed by this response, the Frenchman promptly took his departure. The Queen of Scots realized that she needed to forget this title if she wished to make any headway, and that James must be addressed not just as her son but as King. Meanwhile, various kinds of libelous writing, both in prose and poetry, were circulated at court to defame Morton and other prominent men. The authors of these slanders were sought for, and Turnbull and a certain man named Scott were discovered. A heavy sentence was pronounced on them and they were executed in Stirling market-place. This presented a new and unusual spectacle for Scotsmen, since they suffered an unprecedented punishment for publishing libels against an individual, whereas the traditional one was temporary banishment or confiscation of property. By his excess in exacting this vengeance, Morton increased his unpopularity and odium. Meanwhile Esmé Stewart d’Aubigny (he took his title from Aubigny, a village in Aquitaine), a scion of the Lennox family, the son of John Stewart and brother of the Matthew Earl of Lennox who managed affairs during the King’s infancy, a most noble man, was sent by the Guises to disturb the condition of religion in Scotland, as was commonly believed; or he was summoned by Argyll and Montrose to undermine Morton’s power, or disrupt the league with England. He landed at Leith. There he was welcomed by royal command, and escorted to Edinburgh with great honor and pomp. Introduced to the King at Stirling, he came into the audience chamber, kneeled in obeisance, and expressed his wish that all would go well for the realm. Because of his closeness in blood, high nobility, and many endowments of body and mind, the King embraced him like a father with great good-will, immediately bestowed fine estates on him, made him privy to his inmost counsels and gave him honorable offices at court, appointing him a Gentleman of the Bedchamber and governor of Dumbarton Castle, so that he might be a partner in the King’s business. Hence, as his reputation spread throughout Britain, it engendered unpopularity, most especially because it was thought he would draw the Scots towards a French alliance and attempt to bring back from exile Thomas Kerr of Fernihurst, the exiled Queen’s most loyal supporter. I think it worthwhile for the reader to understand the founder of this family and its advancement in France. During the reign of Charles VII, when the English and French were waging a hot war by land and sea, John Stewart crossed over with auxiliary soldiers and was made French Master of the Horse. He successfully defeated the English in the Battle of Baugé and established a home for his posterity in Aquitaine. In the reign of Charles VIII his descendant Bernard gained great glory for his bravery in the Italian war fought over Naples when Alfonso of Tarragona was defeated, praise such as no history-books can adequately express. When he died childless, his kinsman John succeeded to his patrimony and founded an enduring home in France. Later, John and Esmé, both excellent in a fight, should the times of their commonwealth so require, held their peace during the civil wars. This was a man of placid temperament, inclined to peace rather than troublemaking unless provoked, and was marked by great loyalty to his King and much liked among the nobility. He prospered for three years, and then was overwhelmed by the hatred of his adversaries and domestic quarrels. He was entirely worthy of his ancestors and the Lennox family.
5. At this same time a public Parliament was appointed to be held at Edinburgh on October 15. With the great approval of the noble families and their heads, it was decided that on the day appointed by the edict the King should came from Stirling to Edinburgh. Rain, clouds, storms, gales, and the other features of foul weather did not prevent him from making this necessary journey. For a long time, because of the strong winds, he and his company were inconvenienced on their way, but late at night they came into Limnough, and on the following day they arrived at Edinburgh. On the first day of the Parliament he rode into the city, clad in purple and on a caparisoned horse, to the great rejoicing of the people, and rode to the Tollbooth with triumphal pomp, with the estates of the nobility and the Kirk going before him celebrating the beginning of his reign. With great veneration, the insignia of his rule were carried by the Earls Archibald Douglas of Angus, Colin Campbell of Argyle, and Robert Stewart of Lennox. On the following day the King was shown in his royal regalia, together with his servants and dependants. The common people flocked to see this distinguished spectacle, greeting their King with cheers, reverence, and outcries wishing him prosperity. When he had taken his seat on the dais and the lords on their benches, he began with a few words to the effect that the sight of the multitude of lords assembled filled him with great enthusiasm for reforming their commonwealth. His young age had given rise to disturbances throughout his kingdom, but he had great trust in their prudence for the restoration of tranquility, peace, and concord. Finally he called on God to witness that nothing was as important to him as the welfare of religion, the safety of his subjects, and the security of the realm. The first item of business was religion, and it was decided that only those who truly and freely professed the formula of confession adopted by the Scottish Parliament in the year 1567, and its prescribed formula for administrating the Sacraments, should be deemed to be members of the true Kirk; no doctrines and disciplines should be regarded as orthodox other than those presently embraced in Scotland; no members of the nobility should send their sons abroad without first having obtained leave, and, after such permission had been obtained, the young men should bind themselves by their oath and signature to keep inviolate the doctrine and customs of the Scottish Kirk; and that every man should keep in his home a copy of the Holy Bible, translated into the vernacular.
6. In the same Parliament the authority of ministers was defined: they were empowered to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments, censure morals and punish the delinquent. The rule of bishops and overseers presently in force was considerably diminished, although their offices were not yet abolished by votes of the synods. Next came deliberations about the Hamiltons. Many lords spoke about their punishments, hailing their sovereign with praise and thanks. John and Claude, born to high degree, and fifteen lairds of the same name were tried and unanimously adjudged guilty of treason and the murders of the Regents Morton and Lennox Their property was confiscated, and their pleasant and fruitful estates handed over to d’Aubigny and Mar, the one obtaining Paisley and the other Arbroath. Some were so fired by wrath and ire that they very cruelly wanted the Hamilton name to be entirely abolished. The chief spokesman of this view was Morton. But the King, consulting for his own dignity rather than another man’s anger, disapproved of this novel suggestion and unprecedented form of punishment, and was of the opinion that the remedies specified by law should be applied. Next came up for parliamentary discussion the subject of corrupt judges and their iniquitous decisions designed to curry favor, foster ambition, and gain money. Until now, the law had been of no avail — there is no need for laws when leading judges are moved by their own character to hand down useful decisions — in curbing their bribed wives and servants. So laws were passed, together with penalties and restraints. Immoderate annual pensions conferred during the King’s childhood were stopped as a means of increasing the treasury. The donation of the Earldom of Lennox to the King’s uncle Charles Stuart was revoked, and by a public vote of Parliament the title was bestowed upon his grandfather’s brother Robert Stuart. He in his turn freely and acting in accordance with his own judgment resigned this earldom in favor of d’Aubigny, and was later created Earl of March. D’Aubigny was first created Earl of Lennox, and subsequently promoted to a Dukedom.
7. When these arrangements had been made, and the Hamiltons suppressed and condemned both by the laws and a parliamentary vote, at the onset of his reign the King won his subject’s loyalty by the manner of life he adopted. He began to exercise closer control over his own household, surrounded himself with servants of incorruptible fidelity, and rewarded every one of his excellent tutors. Having gained this popularity with the common folk, he departed for Stirling in a very relaxed frame of mind, to enjoy his leisure and the height of good companionship. There Lennox began to raise his head higher. He took as his intimate friends James Stuart of Ochiltree, who had commanded troops in Belgium, a man of rough and violent character, and William Stewart, an officer of excellent martial reputation I have already mentioned. And he obtained a return from exile for Kerr of Fernihurst over the menacing roars of Morton. That man was loyal to Lennox because of his memory of this recent benefit and ill-disposed towards Morton since he was pained by his old injury, and by his cunning arts he encouraged the beginning of their falling-out. Meanwhile Lennox, now enjoying the very ardent favor of his sovereign, and no less unpopularity because of his high style of living, became very painfully entangled in the stealthy deceit of his enemies and popular rumors. In provocative sermons he was attacked for contriving mischief for true Religion, promoting Papist superstition by his furtive arts, and undermining the King’s sound faith, as though he had been sent by Guises to weaken the observation of piety, fostering the French faction in Scotland, and wrenching the realm from its foundations. Many complaints were lodged with the King that upstarts were flourishing in the household of his court, abusing his naive young age to the public detriment of the kingdom and religion. Disturbed by these remonstrances, the King consulted with his leading pastors, and decided that a select number of them should give instruction to Lennox in the orthodox faith, and begged them in the name of their fidelty and duty that they set aside their grudge and do so with a will. Those delegates thanked the King, and each one promised his loyal help. Lennox likewise promised to give the delegates a hearing. They met for daily conferences at Edinburgh, and disputed in controversies about the authority of Holy Writ. The upshot was that Lennox, a man more desirous of truth than contention, allowed himself to be convinced, and in the presence of the city magistrates and leading ministers, in a crowded assembly he changed his opinion concerning religion and, having renounced the cult established by Papal authority, he confessed his error and affirmed that it was for the Reformed Religion that he would fight, shed blood, and lay down his life. This came as a welcome development to the King and the greater part of the lords, but blind envy, that constant companion of outstanding good fortune, did not cease sniping at his virtues, detracting from his honors, and falsely accusing him of dissimulation. In consequence, the King was much more greatly troubled and demonstrated his own integrity by making a confession of faith, to which he, together with his household and high-born subjects subsequently subscribed, to make the ministers more hopeful. During these events, d’Aubigny went to the King at Sterling, and passed a few days playfully in peace and quiet. By his company, he imbued the King with French manners, outlook, and nature, and taught him martial arts of horsemanship and the handling of arms. The King would stand in the dust, bridling and taming horses to the great delight of his onlookers. During those same days Ruthven married his daughter to John, the son of the Earl of Athol, a lad of high hopes. Many lords assembled at Perth for the wedding ceremonies, and lavishly consumed three-course banquets. The entire city resounded with singing and the racket of flutes and trumpets; paintings bewitched their eyes, and music their ears. The common folk eagerly observed these exhibitions of vices, spectacles, dancing, and elegant feasting, as our nation’s erstwhile thrift gradually lapsed regarding everyday diet and dress, and foreign luxury crept in, wearing the guise of culture.
- 1580 -
ITH Scotland at peace, a rumor of uncertain origin spread abroad that Morton had made up his mind to abduct the King to England. Defamed by this serious rumor, he went to Sterling to clear his name and shift the blame onto the implacable hatred of his enemies. With many a complaint he told the King and his leading lords that he had been overwhelmed by lying slanders and had deferred to fortune and the times, not because he had a guilty conscience, but rather lest renewed strife burst forth to the public harm. Well aware by whose deceits he was being attacked, he called the man responsible for this atrocious wrong a liar. This word deeply offended the nobility. Troubled by these commotions and indignant over the wicked rumors, the King settled the affair lest it serve as the beginning of sedition, placed all the blame on the silly common people, and proclaimed that the rumor was vain and unsubstantiated, and that Morton was not suspected of any such deceit or crime. Thus far the rumor was anonymous. Argyll, ill-disposed towards Morton because of their old rivalries, fastened on it and insinuated to the Privy Council that in his rash audacity he had conspired to send the King to England. Accused of such a tired and threadbare slander, cast at him only by Argyll’s word, Morton refuted it with his own word. Fearful of besmirching his own reputation, the man responsible for this accusation did not dare pursue the matter, but did not leave off his accusation without disgracing himself. For the Privy Council did not approve of his malevolence and malice. Lennox, Mar, and Athol were chosen for the Council. When she heard report of these Scottish developments, the honor given Lennox was not welcome to the Queen of England, who had been quietly indignant that the King of France’s most loyal dependant, born in Aquitaine, had been admitted to the Scots’ inmost counsel. She likewise feared a change in Reformed Religion, which would disrupt the league between their realms. These turbulent storms had now been at work for a long time, and serious rumors were now being bruited by the men she had sent into Scotland to overhear gossip and quickly report them to their Queen.
2. Lennox, peaceful and quiet — I have already discussed his placid nature — appeared to be relying on this nature when he appointed James Stuart legal guardian of the Earl of Arran, now in the fifteenth year of his madness, and Captain of the Royal Guard. Having received the title of Arran’s guardian, he used his consequent right as a pretext for appropriating the Isle of Arran, the Hamiltons’ Castle Kinneil, and the riches of this wealthy family, without right and without precedent. But he did many things that yet more bitter, more base, and more turbulent. He was a depraved, ambitious, sharp man, unfair towards one and all, hideous with his bestial face, monstrous, and haughtily domineering, so much so that he could not stand it for anybody to show an unguarded facial expression, let alone utter a free word. Since this was a rougher and more military man than the Scots’ turbulent natures could tolerate, and since he managed all things and displayed his cruelty, lust, and avarice against his fellow citizens, and raged against the lords with no less ill-will and malice, he earned the greatest hatred of all estates, which he himself increased by the rashness of his nature and violence of his character. Among his friends he often threatened violence against the persons of the nobility, and he kept notebooks containing the names of those marked down for death or destruction. Mistrusting the good faith of the nobility, he maintained a bodyguard of henchmen and stationed garrisons of horse throughout the countryside. By a novel and strange manner of administering the law, he haled every fine gentleman into court for his life, fortune, and reputation, by the use of interrogatives. Now, secure because of the dissentions or rivalries between the lords, he laid the foundations of his power. He devoted all his thoughts and cares to enhancing his wealth and establishing the basis of a personal household, but did not yet attempt his utmost, before his rival Morton had been overthrown.
3. While our affairs were in so much confusion and such a parlous state, and everything was under the control of James Stuart of Ochiltree, the ministers invoked God the Avenger of intolerable arrogance and savagery, and prayed that He direct His wrath and a ravening plague against him. Morton, keen and vehement, could not tolerate the very haughty dominance of this ambitious upstart and his unbounded power in a free kingdom, and decided to oppose him with all his contrivances. But, since he did not yet have the power to defeat him, for the nobility was still agitated by the madness of discord, for the nonce he hid his indignation. But nothing can be kept concealed in times of domestic strife, a spy went a-running to James Stuart, and when this man, born with a proud nature, learned of it, fearing lest he be brought to book, he looked around for all possible means of suppressing Morton. Not long thereafter James Balfour arrived in Scotland, born and bred for factional strife and sedition. He was an artist in making others unpopular, not so forgiving of things done in the past as hot to accusing Morton because of his exile. He brought a letter signed by the regicides, bearing the signature of Morton himself, as he rashly claimed. Faint word of these things came to the ears of the Queen of England. Fearing an alteration of received religion in Sccotland, which would entail a rupture in the English league and the beginning of a dire war, she ardently desired to see the authority, favor, and power enjoyed at court by the faction opposing herself, led by Lennox. reduced. Rumors of Morton being overthrown, the English faction in Scotland being reduced nearly to its last hope, the impregnable castle of Dunbarton in the Clyde estuary conferred on Lennox, thereby giving him control of a harbor suitable for landing French forces, and of a plan to carry the King over to France, all these ncreased her womanly anxiety. Robert Bowes, the Treasurer of the Berwick garrison, was sent to find out about these Scottish rumors and quickly report back to her about how each man was disposed towards the Queen of England, to observe events, and to denounce Lennox for doing his best to betray his King, his nation, and Scottish liberty into the hands of their enemy by employing depraved counsels to seduce the young King into abandoning his alliance with Elizabeth.
4. Admitted to the Privy Council, Bowes showed the King his credentials but refused to disclose the purpose of his embassy as long as d’Aubigny, that most assured dependent of the Guises, was in the room, and demanded that he leave so that public business might not be delayed, and he maintained that no free vote could be taken in his presence. The Privy Council replied that his request was unreasonable and it was not to be allowed that a colleague in their public consultation should be removed upon an allegation, with no wrongdoing proven. Then, asked for his commission, if he had an express one from his Queen, this too he refused to show, and by the Councillors’ unanimous decision he was shown the door, being an ambassador without credentials. Nor could the King be persuaded by a few men’s instigation to act against the authority of his Privy Council. Bowes, loudly complaining that his Queen’s wholesome advice, touching on peace, concord, and the mutual welfare of both their realms, was not given a hearing, and he quit Scotland without even paying his duty to the King. After his sudden, abrupt departure, Alexander Home of Berwick was sent as an ambassador to England to satisfy and (not unjustly) to throw the blame for the embassy gone awry on Bowes’ stubbornness. For when bidden show his credentials, which ought to be displayed at every meeting and consultation, he refused. The Queen, in a high stomach and peevish because her majesty, loftiness, and dignity had been taken lightly, and her ambassador’s authority treated with contempt, repaid tit for tat by sending an indignant Home to Burghley, who at the time was the mainstay of English dignity and glory not only thanks to his counsels, but also to his faithfulness and industry. Home explained how badly Bowes had performed his embassy, and how he had provided matter for a falling-out. With much complaining, Burghley for his part spoke of how the sacrosanct right of embassies, international law, and Her Majesty’s honor had been violated. But, since the young King was acting according to another man’s way of thinking and not his own, he cast the blame on his bad, incompetent councillors, who had neglected law and right, their old obligations and treaties, and had disrupted standing alliances between sovereigns in order to gratify their common enemy, had indulged in new ones, and once more cast themselves under the French yoke. He criticized Lennox and James Stuart by name, stating that they desired to alienate his Queen’s favor. He complained that his borders were daily being harassed by Scottish robberies, and in very lavish, but hardly undeserved, words he heaped the English ambassador with praises. Home vigorously protested that he had always been most zealous to foster peace and concord between their realms, had punctually and carefully observed all points of etiquette, but had been forbidden an interview with the Queen, which was a sharp insult not just to himself, but also to his King. He furthermore advised Burghley to bear in mind that he had been given as a counselor and servant to his excellent Queen, but that there were likewise councillors of her neighboring King who were not without competence, but rather ones who were faithful and well-intentioned. The remainder of his speech was about English pirates and the ambassador’s calumnies.
5. At this same time the marriage of John Earl of Mar and the sister of Baron Drummond was celebrated with great estate amidst a throng of friends. Like no other Scottish Earl of his age, he abounded with authority, favor, children, wealth, and power, and he hoped for nothing less for his posterity. Ruthven the Treasurer, a man born to the highest position and a scion of a consummately powerful house, confronted Oliphant, a young man of equal dignity and royal favor. There existed a grudge between them over a private matter. A quarrel arose over an over-free exchange of words between their dependants, one of Ruthven’s servants was killed, and he himself fled the scene of the killing. The Privy Council was greatly concerned by this calamity, lest both parties assemble their friends and dependants and a greater affray ensue, and so decided to hold an inquest to determine who began the affray. Oliphant and his following, guilty of the deed and terrified of punishment, took to their heels, and sent representatives to the King to clear their name. Many noblemen interposed their authority so that the commonwealth would not be torn apart by base squabbling. But the discord endured, and in this contention Morton favored his kinsman Oliphant more than his close friend Ruthven. This offense was a source of dislike and hatred, ruinous to them both. It seemed to Arran’s guardian James Stuart, at the height of his good fortune and lording it over very honorable men, that this one means of placing his power on a sound footing remained, that he overthrow Morton. Learning of the unspoken alienation between him and Ruthven, by his sly arts he fostered this rift, volunteering his support to Ruthven in all things. Using flattery and dissimulation he caught him in his net, and he proved highly useful. After he had anxiously dealt with these concerns over a number of days and had determined what allegations to make, he came to Holyrood Palace wearing a disturbed countenance, his face arranged so as to display sadness, and, in the presence of the King and the leading lords, he accused Morton before the Council and jeopardized his life by brutally accusing him, among other crimes, of treason and of having been party to the regicide. He likewise accused Archibald Douglas of Whittingham as a party to the deed. It was commanded that the accused Morton be kept under close guard in the palace, and men were sent to arrest the absent Archibald Douglas. Since that man had a guilty conscience and was frightened by this stroke of misfortune and the character of the times, or dreading judgment, that very night he fled his house for England. Morton first came to Edinburgh with a great crowd in attendance, and then was conveyed to imprisonment at Dumbarton by an armed band of solders and some leading men: the Earl of Glencairne, Baron Seton, Robert Stewart, chieftain of the Orkneys, Cassill’s legal guardian, Burgan, Lochinvar, Cowdenknowes, and Mandeston.
6. When the day for him to plead his case came around, the mighty Douglas clan threateningly cried out that this most noble gentleman was being beset by an upstart. The Earl of Angus, Morton’s leading friend, was troubled by his kinsman’s peril, and, accompanied by five hundred horse, left no stone unturned: he set an ambush so as to rescue him on his journey. He menaced Lennox with steel, fire, death, and exile, if anything harsh should happen. This was cause for the time of the journey to be moved forward, so that the ambush of the Douglasses could be forestalled. Therefore Morton, angry at his friends, restrained their untimely undertakings, telling them that he trusted more in his own innocence or the royal clemency than their rash ferocity. Good men were mindful of the very brave merits of his family, which had always done excellent service for Scotland and deplored the present condition of the realm, when licence was raging, yet kept themselves at home. Many men hostile to peace and quiet, who had either suffered injury under his regime or had been affected by proscription or some other calamity, hoped that under this new government they would have a chance either to gain revenge or to restore their condition. Therefore James Balfour, who was the chief instigator of, or at least had a hand in, all the disturbances in Scotland, Thomas Kerr of Fernihurst, irate over his exile, the Lairds of the Home family, and Cowdenknowes and Manderston, angry over private quarrels, offered their assistance to Arran’s guardian, cultivated him, kept in his company, and obeyed him. But no man born to higher station supported him willingly, no townsmen or villagers of the more honorable classes did not shudder at him, dread him, and shun him as if he were some wild, savage beast. Hence he exercised his savagery against the helpless and those who thought amiss of his favor, and he collected money from every quarter to subsidize his domination. At this time, while Scotland was suffering from internal evils, the Jesuits and priests stole into the country to promote Roman ways of worship. By their presence they encouraged and strengthened the Papists, and helped them in their attempt to bring about a revolution. The chief of these, John Durie, supported the English Jesuit Edmund Campion in his debate against John Whitaker, who upheld the cause of the Church of England in their disputation, as I shall report at the proper place.
7. Soon Thomas Randolph the Postmaster General was sent as ambassador to Scotland, so as by his prudence and wisdom he might avert the ruination that threatened the kingdom and the Kirk, help Morton, whose life and reputation were in extreme danger, drive Lennox, the leader of the anti-English faction, out of Scotland, support the lords of the English party, and promote their counsels. He set forth his instructions in the presence of the King and his councillors. Having extensively rehearsed the many and great kindnesses done by his Queen for all Scotland and for the King himself, whereas the King of France devoted all his power to the destruction of the realm, he stated that it was chiefly by her help, second only to God’s, that Scotland, oppressed by an unjust tyranny, and been restored to its liberty., and the King, her closest kinsman, to whom she was closely bound by ties of religion, had been preserved in safety. In exchange for these favors, she asked that d’Aubigny, who was striving for the overthrow of the Reformed Religion and was contriving the downfall of ancient families, being a public and private danger, be banished the kingdom; that Morton, defamed by an accusation of horrible regicide, be tried in the traditional way; that Archibald Douglass be put to the question, with no torture applied; and she demanded that James Balfour, lately returned to his nation, who was guilty of regicide and the man responsible for all commotions for many years, be placed under arrest. Lennox was accused in the same manner. To these things the King replied that his kinsman had been convicted of no crime; if he wished to stand his trial, he was prepared to give him satisfaction, but that it was impossible to convict that most noble gentleman untried and unheard. In this affair, it was his task to form an opinion, not of d’Aubigny’s reputation and deeds, but rather of the liberty of the realm of Scotland; Morton would not have to submit to a trial until his participation in the regicide had been established; Archibald Douglas had shown contempt for the power of the courts by absenting himself, but he could clear himself of this very foul accusation whenever he pleased, and it was not permissible for Elizabeth to dictate the form of his trial. Finally, James Balfour, who had committed so many crimes, was active in Scotland without his knowledge.
8. Turning then to entreaties, Randolph earnestly begged the King to spare Morton’s life. But, rebuffed in this part as well, he passed from prayers to threats: if this was not done, he threatened a harsh and bitter war. The ambassador’s threat did not deter the King, possessed of a generous and civil mind, from warning that the chances of war and its risks were equal for both sides. He thought his part was to defend his borders and dominions. At these words Randolph waxed even hotter, as if personally insulted, and strove to throw everything into confusion rather than apply remedies to the present evils, as was his ambassadorial duty. He entered into furtive alliances with Lennox’ rivals and Morton’s friends. Given the wretched conditions of these times, he deplored the fact that the King had fallen into the clutches of a Frenchman, an enemy to the English, who in his depraved greed was scheming to bring ruin on the most distinguished families of Scotland, and endanger the King, his realm, and religion. He stated that there was only one way of avoiding this peril, if they were to rescue the King, a naive youth, from foreign hands and themselves from an alien yoke and the threat of arms. He promised them the aid and support of his Queen for this project, and, adopting a hot-headed plan, told this to the King. Feeling guilty for having violated the terms of his embassy, Randolph beat a furtive retreat to Berwick and warned his partners in crime, Angus and Mar, that they should look to their safety. Acting on the advice of Lennox and Arran, the King pronounced sentence that the Earl of Angus should be banished beyond the Spey, and hand over the castles of Tantallon and Douglas. If he had obeyed this edict, he could have hoped for pardon. But he rejected its conditions and, being declared a public enemy, since he knew that nothing safe and faithful could be expected from the evil guardian, he made a dash for England. Mar followed, and a great part of his faction protected itself by a prolonged exile.
9. The ambassador’s hasty departure affected men’s minds variously. Some attempted to excuse the shamefulness of this flight, but more were of the opinion that a dire, troublesome war was being blown up by this storm. The English made a frightening declaration of war, and the Scots were no slower in making preparations to ward off their common peril, should any sudden danger arise from the exiles. The Queen sent captains with a large number of mercenaries into Northumbria. So as not to be unprepared against the ambassador’s threats, the King placed John Graham Earl of Montrose in command of the borderlands of the Scottish realm, with an energetic force of five hundred horse and two thousand foot, to protect the lands from ravaging, should war arise. Thus the English, baffled by the viceroy Graham, did nothing worthwhile, save for declaring war without waging it. The Homes, the Kerrs, the Scotsmen in the middle of the borders, and the Johnstones and the Maxwells in the west, together with their dependents, their friends, and a great number of ordinary folk, were placed in stations and by keeping their watches they maintained a profound peace. The King kept about himself ten companies of foot and some squadron of horse for his personal protection, and for their cost and maintenance he convened a Parliament and obtained a military stipend. But when the English forces were disbanded, the King likewise dismissed his bodyguard. Arran’s guardian, savage towards Morton’s followers, sharpened his steel and his wrath against George Fleck, Morton’s nephew by his sister, and Alexander Lawson, who were his intimate friends. He cruelly put them to the question with torture, and tormented Morton’s accountants with the rack and the sight of his grim face. Fleck was long tortured so that he would lie and say that Athol had gradually wasted away by means of a slow-acting poison concocted by Morton, but his suffering could not extract one single word harmful to Morton. Lawson, a timid, base fellow, was compelled by the mere sight of the hangman to confess to anything at all: the arcane plots of his master, his pots of money, the alleged conspiracy, and all the long-repeated accusations. But Fleck stubbornly clung to his fidelity throughout his torture. Although he was dragged back for more of the same suffering, so that both the hangman and his instruments were exhausted, he remained unmoved by the chains, scourges, and the torments of the hangman as he tightened his rack yet more, which he held in disdain. By this is is revealed that personal character can surmount torture. With similar cruelty and violence the man mistreated the leading members of Clan Douglas. Thomas Douglas, Laird of Lochleven found his life endangered by being subject to an accusation, but, defended by the authority of his advocates, he was banished to the north country. James and Archibald Douglas, Morton’s bastards, his illegitimate brother George, Malcolm Laird of Many, amd John Carmichael, his close friend and kinsmen, were proscribed by name, and it was added by edict that no man should receive them into his home, or support them with money, nourishment, or any other manner of help. Finally that villain himself, enhanced by the title of Earl of Arran, aroused the odium and hatred of all good men by his hard-handedness and monstrosity.
- 1581 -
EEPLY distressed by Randolph’s departure, King James immediately sent Sir John Seton as his ambassador to England to clear his name with the Queen, and lodge a complaint that Thomas Randolph was more of a disturber of the peace than a diplomat, and that he had formed perilous, sly, and pernicious schemes against the realm of Scotland together with Angus, Mar, and other lords. Seton, a friend of Lennox, was ordered to remain at Berwick until he learned more about Elizabeth’s wishes, and, staying there a few days but being accorded no honor, he was summoned home. Indignant and grinding his teeth, by means of a letter James expostulated about the deep insult given his ambassadors, first Alexander Home and now John Seton; he wrote accusingly about Randolph’s flight from Scotland, and complained that Archibald Douglas of Whittingham, accused of the King’s murder and the victim of a bad conscience, was openly living at the English court, and demanded that, in accordance with the treaty, he be arrested and handed over. To clear herself of these criticisms, the Queen replied that Randolph had always been regarded as an outstandingly good man, at all earlier times had kept his faith, was always zealous for Scotland’s public tranquility, and had always helped Scottish affairs with his efforts and advice. Now he would have to explain his botched embassy to her Privy Council, if he were publicly censured. Douglas, accused of this new treason, had only been lodged at her court until she had had the opportunity to investigate the accusations levelled against herself and her kingdom. Douglas, suspected of new crimes, had only lodged at her court until she could hold an inquiry about the accusations levelled against herself and her realm. Henceforth he would be held in no honor. He nevertheless remained in England, and was of great use to the Queen and her Privy Council. He conducted himself as if he were an ambassador from the King of Scotland, albeit one lacking any mandates and letter of credit, and applied his thoughts to stirring up troubles among us.
2. During those days James Stuart, the legal guardian of the mad Earl of Arran (I have previously mentioned his mental distraction), not content with the title of guardian and many profitable estates, as if by divine command was created Earl of Arran and granted an Earl’s authority over the ruins of that ancient family, contrary to law and tradition. Morton took this as an omen of his own downfall, remembering the prophecy that he must beware against the Earl of Arran. Nor was he mistaken in this opinion, since the first crime committed by the new Earl was the killing of Morton. In him we may contemplate the variety of events and the game of Fortune, now smiling, now waxing savage, and alternating between honors and disgraces. Morton was hastily bundled off to Edinburgh by the Earls of Arran and Montrose, together with a large force of men at arms to prevent any attack from outside, as well as two bands of mercenaries, to plead his cause. The lords were summoned to pass judgment on him, and, in accordance with custom, a day was set for him to be tried on a charge of treason. Argyll the Chancellor, Montrose, who presided at the trial, and other leaders of the nobility mounted the bench. Produced from his cell, the accused asked that Argyll be disqualified because of their quarrels, irreconcilable hatred, and long-standing feud, and also Seton and Vaughton because they were suspected of quarrelling in the name of the King and nation. His plea for the disqualification of these judges was not granted, and so the accused openly averred that at this trial nothing was being done in proper order, nothing in accordance with custom. He was most invidiously accused of regicide by the Earl of Arran and Robert Crichton, the Procurator, because he had agreed to the King’s murder and had subscribed to the crime to gratify Bothwell. Besides the numerous savage probings of Arran, the royal advocate violently urged the document signed with Morton’s own hand, and his hostile attitude towards the commonwealth after his resignation from office. The accused, having enumerated the many offices he had held, in defending that most unworthy murder frankly excused that mistake by referring to the King’s simple-mindedness. But, when the accusations were weighed and he could not deny that he had been made privy to the scheme by Bothwell, by vote of the lords, with Montrose presiding, he was condemned because, when enjoying his supreme authority (as the prosecutor insistently argued), and his supporter Archibald Douglas of Whittingham had been accused of that fatal act of regicide, he had failed to put him on trial, and, made aware of the foul business by Bothwell, he had kept his silence about it.
3. Afterwards, remanded to prison and surrounded by jailors who kept his facial expression, groaning, and utterances, under observation, the condemned sat fixed in silence, awaiting his final minutes. Having taken a final Communion, he thought on eternity and immortality. The ministers who stood by him bade him be of good cheer, and advised him that a death is not to be deplored which is followed by immortality. Not at all fearful and resigned to death, he abjured the lot of mortal affairs and clung to the hope of eternal salvation. Meanwhile the Earl of Arran coldly informed him of his final necessity and asked that, before going to his execution, Morton would make a signed confession. He, pondering supreme concerns and averse to worldly thoughts, exclaimed that he was being interrupted by unkind and criminal words, and kept his mind free for the ministers’ addresses. Fearlessly he went to the market-place of the royal city, the place of execution, as in the streets the multitude came running from all directions. Undaunted in the face of imminent death, he spoke with great firmness of face and voice, saying that he was untouched by the guilt of regicide, but that he could not dissimulate or deny that he had been solicited by Bothwell to subscribe to that brutal felony, and that this had always troubled his conscience. He did not deny his silence about the crime, but said this was because he had feared Bothwell’s power. Having said these things, he turned to prayers he had previously devised and prayed for the safety of the King, the tranquility of the realm, and the security of its people. Finishing his speech and imploring God’s mercy, he stretched out his neck and requested that the executioner do his handiwork, to the great sadness of one and all. His head was held up before the eyes of his enemy Fernihurst, an avid spectator, and was nailed up at the Tollbooth, and his body buried with no funeral service. This was the end of Morton, the last of the Regents of Scotland, a man of natural prudence, moderation, integrity, and industry, a man of distinguished reputation save that he eagerly hunted after money while in office, and had disgracefully sold Percy Earl of Northumberland back to the English after he had taken refuge in Scotland.
4. The bloodthirsty Earl was not satisfied by the execution of such a great man, and continued to strive with all his might to retain his dominance, raging against every preeminent member of the Douglas family. He proscribed the Earl of Angus in his English exile. Many of their servants were taken off for punishment and torture, but remained loyal to their masters. Morton’s death was followed by great domestic hatreds, rivalries, and catastrophes, and finally by the death of Arran himself, the man responsible. On the following day John Byne, a servant of Archibald Douglas, was hanged for having been party to the regicide. Lennox received the palaces at Dalkeith and Aberdour and Morton’s estates — ill-omened gifts! — and with no better auspices John Maxwell assumed his ancestral title, which did not long remain in his family. And so the troublemaking Earl of Arran, having removed his rival and driven out the opposing faction, passed on from avarice and cruelty to lust, and contracted a disgraceful marriage. As a girl the daughter of the Earl of Athol, Elizabeth Stewart, had been married to the Earl of March, but she committed adultery with the new Earl out of hope of gaining domination, and because she loved him more ardently and faithfully than she did her husband. Now that fortune was smiling on him, she desired to become his wife and the partner of his power, and she sued for divorce in the bishops’ court on grounds of her husband’s impotence. There was no delay in granting her divorce: the suit was adjudged within a few days, her just and legal marriage was dissolved. His pregnant wife was taken away from her most noble husband, born of Lennox stock, and (setting the worst of examples), she was joined to the Earl of Arran with the title of wife. In a single day he became both a husband and the father of a child adulterously engendered while she was married to someone else, but born into his family. Hence the common folk complained much about the woman’s boldness, wantonness, luxury and depraved lust. The wife’s servants, disliking her brazen conduct and loathing her upstart of a husband, remarked that it was a new and unprecedented thing for a wife to be taken away from a husband who of the royal blood and become an acknowledged adulteress. But no repentance followed: having gained her longed-for husband, the woman, proud and insolent by nature, overleapt the bounds set by nature, required by her sex, and approved by custom. She haunted the company of dancers and comported herself as a man. I shall say no more, lest what is being recorded for the public good be taken as criticism of specific individuals, because of the similarity of situations.
5. While Scottish affairs were in this troubled condition, a Parliament about high matters of state was appointed for Edinburgh. D’Aubigny, great in his nobility, fame, and authority, mounted to the pinnacle of royal favor and honor. Lennox was made a Duke by the consent of the estates, and gained such power that he managed everything according to his will. William Ruthven was created Earl of Gowrie, James Stewart Earl of Arran, John Maxwell Earl of Morton, and Robert Stewart Earl of the Orkneys. At this Parliament the Douglasses, adjudged traitors by the lords, were banished the land, and their good were confiscated. Thus the Douglasses, who had done so many and such illustrious services for their nation, were overthrown and ejected by the hatred and wrath of this upstart. Their enemies manufactured many lies to make their highly popular name invidious. In view of the emptiness of his treasury and the public poverty, the King obtained a decree of the estates revoking donatives coming from his patrimony, the exchequer, and tithes, and set a limit on immoderate donatives. He introduced many laws wholesome for the public, and private ordinances concerning the boundaries of Clans Gordon and Forbes, to remove the disputes that existed between them. He appointed tithes and thirds of holy benefices for the support of ministers and other sacred purposes, and confiscated monastic revenues as an aid for his treasury. The Earl of Arran, waxing proud because of Fortune’s overindulgence and degenerating from every manner of civilized conduct, broke off his alliance with the Duke of Lennox and began an assault designed to bring him down, not without giving grave offense to the sovereign. Their first breach occurred because of an insult done to the Lord Seton and his son John, followers of Lennox. Learning of the danger in which his kinsman the Duke was being placed, the King grew annoyed, removed Arran from his post as Captain of the Guard, commanded him to keep away from court and stay out of his sight, and did not take him back into his good graces until he had humbled himself. The Earl retired from court to Kenneil, and there he enjoyed the delights of his estate until their alliance had been restored, thanks to the activities of peace-keeping intermediaries.
6. Thus after a short interval the Duke was overcome by their mutual friends and both engaged to forget their injuries. And so, with their good graces restored, their alliance was henceforth maintained with good faith, and, impelled by an equally virtuous impulse, they assaulted their enemies’ strength, plotting together in all things to put them down. The Earl of Mar, a noble young man, was suspected of favoring the Douglasses, so was removed from court, but, thanks to his mother’s exertion, he was granted permission to return. This was a woman of great age, who enjoyed constant authority with the King because of the gravity of her morals and her careful care for the King’s upbringing during his childhood, which he had passed at her bosom, enjoying every attention an honorable mind could bestow. Knowing that religion was fading, and that his royal name and authority were diminishing, by Parliamentary authority the King endorsed a confession of the faith, written in English by John Craig, setting forth the doctrines of the Christian religion concerning God, the Creation, Original Sin, the Law, Grace, the Incarnation of the Word, the Hypostatic Union, Christ’s Passion, Resurrection and Ascension, the Holy Spirit, the Church, Scripture, the Councils of the Fathers, the Sacraments, and controverted questions of religion. All men were required to subscribe to this, and pledge their adherence to this definition of the Sacrament, doctrine, and discipline of the Scottish Kirk, and oppose anything contrary with all their might. Then the King, beginning with himself, his family, and his entire household took the lead in subscribing. Next he demanded the same of his lords and subjects, entreating and exhorting them to cultivate religion, give alms to the needy, and have a care for orphans and children in ward. He publicly admonished ministers not to involve themselves in the business of the realm or in political administration, but rather to preach the Gospel, dispense the Sacraments, instruct the ignorant in the faith, retrieve those who had gone astray from their error and wrongdoers from their crime, recall the common folk from luxurious living and license of morals to continence and sanctity of discipline, and the lords from their personal feuding, place themselves at the service of peace, dignity, and the welfare of the Kirk, and fire the multitude with a more austere discipline aiming at virtue and obedience. In this Parliament the authority of ministers was unanimously ratified, and it was ordained that no other ecclesiastical jurisdiction in Scotland should be recognized save for theirs. Furthermore that all feast days consecrated to the memory of the Saints by venerable antiquity should be deemed ordinary days, not be celebrated with worship and solemnities.
7. The ministers, invested with such great and free authority, began to undertake greater things and undermine the dignity of bishops. A synod was held at Glasgow, Robert Ponton presiding, for the abrogation of episcopal authority. Patrick Adamson, Archbishop of St. Andrews, James Boyd, Archbishop of Glasgow, David Cunningham, Bishop of Aberdeen, and Niall Caimbeul, Bishop of Argyll, ornaments of their order, and a number of overseers most distinguished for their virtue and learning keenly took up the cause of defending the bishops’ dignity against the powerful faction of the ministers, who were seeking to gain popularity at the expense of the other order and energetically strove to overthrow the bishops. When the ministers prevailed in that crowded meeting, gaining the most favor and the most votes, they elected to abrogate the authority of bishops. David Lindesay, later designated Bishop of Ross, attempted to block this by his intercession. He requested that the matter be tabled pending their next convention, but this he could not obtain. He was assailed by the criticisms of many, who said that they had not listened to Lindesay’s words without suffering great damage to their conscience, and that he seemed unworthy of any Kirk position for championing that very corrupt order of bishops. Many present went along with the motion so as not to appear to be resisting in vain those who were impugning episcopal dignity. The decree and Lindesay’s intercession were immediately referred to the King. The Privy Council was convened and opinions agreeable to the times were pronounced by those who had the greatest power over the commonwealth and its decisions. Aroused by the slander and insults being heaped on his bishop, the King sent a messenger to announce that what they had done was not to his liking, and that he intended to apply a temporary remedy. The ministers flatly refused to change their opinion, maintaining that by this decree the Kirk would henceforth be free under their power. When the synod was concluded, the leading men of the Kirk begged and petitioned the King that a published pamphlet about Kirk discipline and all the acts of their synods be endorsed by authority of Parliament. The King was opposed to all these demands, for he foresaw great commotions if this decree abrogating episcopal authority were to remain in force, and he were to interpose his authority to establish presbyterian discipline. Therefore he rejected their untimely desires and admonished them not to use the power granted them to the detriment of his realm, nor to do all things willfully and rashly abolish the authority of bishops. With the Kirk thus organized, the authority of the ministers with the silly common folk, lords, and magistrates was greatly enhanced, but they enjoyed less favor with the King because of their pride and arrogance, for he claimed not only authority, but also lawful government over his subjects as his royal prerogative. Meanwhile he enhanced his innate natural vigor by virtue and learning, fortified his heart by the observance of true religion, and did not omit exercise in horsemanship and the use of arms.
8. At the end of the year a storm of turmoil buffeted the ship of the Kirk. The archepiscopy of Glasgow lay vacant because of the death of the prelate James Boyd. A struggle about his replacement almost tore apart the commonwealth. Robert Montgomery, a Stirling preacher, a man equally disliked by the clergy and the common people, was designated Archbishop of Glasgow. This promotion was the work of the Duke of Lennox, done at the urging of friends who were consulting more for their own advantage than his dignity, with a stipulation that Montgomery would rest content with his title and an annual pension of one thousand pounds, while he would forego the other fruits of his benefice. Word of this arrangement spread to the silly common folk, even to certain young schoolboys, who with their little orations fanned a great fire of dislike not only among commoners, but also among the lords. This encouraged the Kirk leaders to hurl reproofs at Montgomery in their sermonizing and defame the entire course of his life, pronouncing that he struck them as unworthy of holding any Kirk office. They were called before the Privy Council and reproached for the great severity of their speech. The Council was of the opinion that, once decreed by the sovereign’s authority, the election must be defended as something good and useful, and it dealt with the ministers so that they would refrain from such commotions and elect the bishops the King chose to give them. Thus the matter was put off for the present. But the ministers’ ardor did not flag: I shall recount the outcome in connection with the following year.
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