Click a green square to see the Latin text. Click a blue square to see a commentary note.
- 1582 -
T the beginning of this year Francis Stewart Earl of Bothwell, a bastard scion of the royal family, returned after a long sojourn abroad, and was conveyed to the royal presence at Perth, saluting the King with praise and greetings. If this young man had been possessed of as much moderation of spirit as bravery and character, he would have served as a notable model for posterity. But, driven by a troubled mind, innate vanity, foul lust, and stubbornness, he ruined himself and his house, as I shall relate at the proper place. With Morton dead and the Hamiltons and Douglasses banished, the bestowal of public offices and the ability to dictate terms for peace and war fell to the the Duke of Lennox and the new Earl of Arran. Certain young Scottish lords were driven by their pity for such a great man to burn for revenge and join hands in a pledge to avenge Morton’s death. Northing drove Arran onward so much as his intolerable power, arrogantly and boundlessly wielded, since daily Fortune’s indulgence, his governmental power, and prosperity made him yet more aggressive and more intolerable to his fellow citizens than befitted an upstart. Whatever went awry was blamed on him alone, which fostered men’s hatred and anger. Furthermore, numerous arguments, rivalries, and competitions began to spring up among the lords of the court at the instigation of Gowrie the Treasurer, who was always thinking one thing while feigning another. Amidst such a mass of cares the leading noble lords, the Earls of Mar, Gowrie, and Glencairn, as well as Patrick Lindesay, Alexander Boyd, and Oliphant, heads of noble families of the second rank, Thomas Lyon, the Master of Glamis, the Lairds of Lochleven, Cleish, and Easter Wemes, and the Abbots of Dumfermiline, Cambuskenneth, Dryburgh and Paisley took it amiss to see upstarts involved in the public business and its administration while they themselves were excluded from the government. They were also annoyed at James Stewart for private reasons. They entered into a conspiracy beforehand, and joined forces to bring about his downfall and the permanent banishment of the Duke of Lennox. Now that the kingdom had been pacified from turmoil in all quarters, Lennox and Arran had turned their attention to other concerns, and were traveling through provincial villages and hamlets holding trials and inquests designed to ascertain citizens’ wealth. Some ministers made privy to the conspiracy pointed out with acerbity that the obsolete jurisdiction of the Lord Chamberlain was being renewed without precedent and contrary to custom, and remarked on the great greed of the courtiers. They complained about Morton’s killing and lamented the common catastrophe of Scotland. Hence certain troublesome ministers were imprisoned, as if convicted of treason. The rest elected to regard this as a persecution.
2. Meanwhile, while the miserable state of Scotland was being deplored and Arran was the target of very sharp commentary, the pulpits resounded with nothing other than the fact that a common peril existed for Kirk and commonwealth, with the Kirk harassed and the commonwealth oppressed; all laws divine and human were being violated; the court was violating its oath, and old ceremonies abolished by Parliament were being restored. Not only the nobility, but the commons as well, disliked Arran’s doings. So the conspiracy was hastened along, and August 23 was appointed as the day for doing the deed. At length, when the King was in parts across the Firth, Angus, Fife, and Strathearne, refreshing himself with hunting and hawking, the lords brought to completion their long-discussed scheme for taking him. The Earl of Gowrie, the Lord Treasurer at that time, had a great number of dependents in the environs of Perth. The agreement was that he would employ his blandishments and invite the King, then carefree and intent on the hunt, to come to Ruthven House freely, or else drag him there against his will. When the day came, the plan was executed and the King was intercepted. His bodyguard, incorrupt in its loyalty to Arran, attempted in vain to do its duty by the sovereign, and lords violently burst upon the scene with an armed band to prevent them. When the deed became known, Arran suspected either the force or the wiles of his enemies, and hastened to meet the lords. Riding across the land over wastelands, he turned aside to Ruthven, neglecting the danger near at hand in his haste to ward off ruin from the King and his brother William Stuart, a man given over to wantonness and savagery, after sending his horsemen on before him. His help came too late: during his journey he was arrested by Gowrie’s servants and imprisoned at Dupplin.
3. In the company of a band of young noblemen, Mar overtook William Stewart, dashing along with his allied forces and driven by nothing other than desperation, between Perth and Ruthven. Many woundings and killings were suffered by both sides. Stewart received an injury, and after his wounding he was taken and cast into prison. Many of his companions threw down their weapons in consternation or melted away under a show of taking flight. James Colville Laird of Wemes, notable for both his breeding and his achievements, long pursued the refugees from such an inconclusive battle. The spirits of the lords were raised by this success, and they urged the King to have a care for his realm, suffering under the domination of the upstart Earl. They threw all the blame on him, and prayed forgiveness for their action. He thought it advantageous to grant their petition, and begged them to let Lennox go and allow him to return to his own people. Lennox, who had obtained first place at court in terms of royal favor and dignity, was removed from the offices to which the King had appointed him, and banished from the court. Arran was locked up in Stirling Castle. The ministers, well aware that a conspiracy had openly been made against the King and the safety and security of the commonwealth, at a synod assembled the following September unanimously approved such a fatal conspiracy, and forbade upon pain of anathema that the men responsible should be called anything other than champions of religion and liberty, and it pleased them to announce this to their congregations in sermons. Only a few criticized this rebellion of lords against God and their sovereign. The King himself, acting under compulsion rather than of his own free will, declared in an edict that nothing had been done contrary to his safety or that of the public by Ruthven’s adventure. This was received with cheers by the people, and many friends and dependents of the lords rejoiced that this had been done. The boy, now grown to maturity, was either ignorant of what he was doing or dissimulated, and for a number of days was kept and maintained by Ruthven as something like a prisoner, setting the worst of examples by losing control over himself and falling into another man’s power.
4. With Lennox stripped of his power and Arran a prisoner, these men I have named shouldered all the burden of public affairs, and deliberated about peace and war. In edicts they excused the audacity of their felonious crime of having laid violent hands on their unwilling King, shifting the blame onto the upstart’s arrogance and aggressiveness, so as to lessen their unpopularity with the common people. Some of them wanted Arran to be tried in accordance with the laws and tradition for his misdeeds and malfeasance, but meanwhile the majority of them, particularly those responsible for his arrest, were of a different opinion and refused to let themselves be overcome, either because of the power of fate, or because the prudence of their minds had been blinded, and they could not be budged from their opinion by any arguments to the contrary. The more prudent thought that this fellow, glutted with the spoils of his fellow citizens, stained with the blood of noblemen, enraged by his captivity, should not be released. They knew full well that, were he to get free, he would gain a cruel vengeance for this personal insult. The nobility assembled at Stirling and began to deliberate about making an end to Arran. While they were debating and their discussion became protracted, he was given an interval in which he could test the minds of individual noblemen. He spared no prayers or promises amidst such danger, in order to avoid his destruction. By a clemency fatal to himself, Gourie allowed himself to be reconciled with him, and so suffered a catastrophe and gained an ill reputation with posterity as a fool. Lennox, pulled down from power and anxious, since he saw this tempest was aimed at himself, deliberated what he should do with a council of his most trusted friends. Several of the most powerful of these urged him to be of good cheer, to retire to Dumbarton for a few months, and there to await a change of fortune. Yet more thought he should burst in upon the King and drive away his enemies. Amidst such difficulties, and seeing that he was not as popular as the opposing faction nor as powerful, he made up his own mind that, faced with this present and urgent evil, he should return to France, lest their rivalry lead to civil war. Therefore he sent to Stirling men of great prudence, the nobleman John Maxwell Baron Herries, James Forrester, Sir William Lennox of Kilsyth, and Mark Kerr Abbot of Newbottle, to serve as an embassy to the lords and convey his wishes. Since these delegates were dealing for concord and requesting a brief delay, the authors of the rebellion, having gained the palace, proposed these terms: that by September 30 Lennox should quit Scotland, having handed over the impregnable fortress of Dumbarton to John Earl of Mar and withdrawing his garrison from Blackness. Should he fail to do so, he would be adjudged a public enemy.
5. When his representatives returned to Lennox, related their demands, and told him that, in view of his declining fortune, yet worse and more unworthy evils threatened him, necessity compelled him to depart Scotland against his will. For men were not lacking who said that they would resort to violence, should he delay. He procured and outfitted two ships in Millport, so as to avoid the danger to his life and the conspiracies against his person by a speedy voyage. Meantime his friends bethought themselves of their own departure, while he manufactured shilly-shallying delays and sent secret messengers to attest his singular love of the King. Meanwhile Sir George Douglas, brother of the Laird of Lochleven, accused him of adopting a scheme that the captive Queen, removed from the helm of state by decree of the estates, should jointly reign with her son and enjoy equal authority in all public functions. The memory of his previous service in freeing the Queen was alleged against him, but did not prevail, even if he were suspected of contriving such things. During those same days George Carr of Hunsdon, the governor of Berwick, a nobleman, and Robert Bowes, who had often performed embassies in the past for the purpose of resolving lords’ quarrels, were sent into Scotland. They were given a hearing by the Privy Council at Stirling, and were told that the excessive power had resided in Arran, and great authority and the sovereign authority had rested with Lennox, and that it was for the sake of the public good that both of them had been divested of their power. Amidst their perils and their condition of being made a laughingstock, the lords had taken up arms out of necessity, and did not regret their plan of having burst in to the court uninvited and driving off that foreign-born man out of their concern for peace and love of their commonwealth. They spoke of the innocence and uprightness of Archibald Earl of Angus, driven into exile thanks to private rivalries, and they reported his humble entreaties and requested that this man, unjustly banished because of Arran’s well-known hostility, be restored to his former condition. The lords there present, who at the time controlled the King and the court, eagerly supported the ambassadors’ requests, nor was the King averse to restoring the Douglasses. Therefore, by grace of the Queen of England, permission to return to his homeland was readily granted Angus, and Tantallon Castle was handed over to him, with this stipulation, that he return it to the King if asked. All this was done with many public acclamations of praise and thanks. Next the King departed Stirling for Edinburgh, possessed of no sovereign authority, and escorted by the leaders of the victorious party, concealing their offense by a show of humble flattery.
6. There was an argument among the townsmen of Edinburgh about the selection of city magistrates. The common folk were rioting against the ambition of the merchants, because they annually elected the Lord Provost and city magistrates from their college, and petitioned for their own members of the town council and their own laws. The merchants resisted these demands to the point that they said they would die before seeing their ancient privileges abrogated. At first the commoners complained about this at their dinners and in their social circles, then suddenly ran to arms, marking down the wealthy for plunder and their enemies for destruction. Some were driven by anger, some by rashness, and yet others by avarice. While these events were unfolding with great contention, nothing was able to stay the hand of the the irate multitude other than the fact that since the beginning of the upheaval the frightened merchants had kept to their homes. Aroused by this uncertain peril, the King, who had always been especially indulgent towards the city of Edinburgh, steered a middle course, neither provoking the workmen and artisans nor neglecting the welfare of the merchants, while chiding the commoners for their ignorance and inconstancy. During this controversy over magistrates, leading citizens were summoned by name and with the greatest possible gentleness advised that they must settle the argument by legislation or turn it over to common friends for arbitration, lest by their shabby squabbling they tear their city asunder. They heeded the King, the city regained its tranquility, and the magistrates for this year were adjudged to have been elected. Next, turning their attention to the Parliament proclaimed to be held at Edinburgh, the lords surrounded the King with soldierly against a sudden attack or the frightening prospect of some sudden uprising: two regiments of foot conscripted in the city and two squadrons of horse from the countryside. At the same time a motion was put before Parliament that the men responsible for the Ruthven Raid should not be questioned about any deed done in the past. The lords agreed, angrily citing Arran’s license, and not long thereafter a decree was published in the Acts of Parliament, so that this might be quickly be ratified by the assembly. And yet the young King could not keep his face or voice from displaying his favor and affection for the Earl of Arran, and he demanded his release from prison, on the condition that he undertake nothing against the lords nor assume any part of public office. But the King failed to achieve this, since fear of his seeking revenge and the nobility’s dislike of his stubbornness and aggression prevailed. But Arran’s brother William Stewart was freed from custody in exchange for the forfeit of his estates.
7. Amidst this troubled state of affairs, Archibald Earl of Angus and the Douglas exiles, accompanied by a large multitude, were brought in by Walter Stewart of Blantyre, and made their appearance before the King. The lords of the Douglas faction were accepted back by the nobles present at Holyrood, to great public applause, on these conditions: that they abandon their hostile disposition towards the Duke of Lennox and the Earl of Arran; that Angus not resort to civil legal action and insist on his personal right in seeking the return of the Earldom of Morton or the opulent estate at Dalkeith; and that he not associate with any lord or other man without the King’s permission. The King’s exhortation moved this man of moderate and temperate character, so that with great alacrity he resigned his right. But he began to wax indignant and rail against the perfidy, savagery, and most cruel domination of the Earl of Arran. And, inspired either by regret at having quit the court, or acting on either his own counsel or that of his friends, the Duke of Lennox abandoned his projected voyage and, wearing almost the dress and with virtually the escort of a private citizen, by a great circuitous route he returned to Blackness. Although the head of an illustrious family, Lennox resorted to servility, and girded himself with all the helps his fortune could supply. Learning of his return, the lords responsible for the depraved Ruthven attempt, dreading their avenger, exercised extreme diligence in sending Alexander Hay the Master of the Rolls to tell him in no uncertain terms that he must depart by December 12. Those of his friends who were in attendance advised him that his enemies’ first assaults would be sharp, but with the passage of time they would weaken: delay would be useful; this time of departure would be unseasonable since winter had commenced; they professed they would refuse no danger for the sake of his safety. Inspired by these exhortations, in accordance with his friends’ opinion he asked the grace and favor of a trifling delay until he could determine the will of the Queen, if he would be permitted to pass through England. Hay relayed this request. The lords of the opposing party found this delay and mockery intolerable, requested safe passage from the Queen, the King commanded the Barons of Lothian to do him the honor of escorting him to the bank of the river Tweed, and supplied him with funds to cover the expenses of his journey, and his secretary George Young was sent with the decree of the Privy Council and letters of the King and the Queen of England, to speed him on his way. He put off his departure from day to day. They say that before he left he adopted the plan of killing the unarmed lords of the opposing faction in Holyroodhouse, but when he perceived that they had grown suspicious and divined his scheme, he desisted from such a hotheaded project. Seeing there was no safe place for himself in Scotland, he concluded he should wait no longer, and at the appointed time he did not make straight for Berwick, but rather took a winding course through the eastern part of England, hastening to London with a few servants. Having been given an honorable reception by the Queen of England, he was immediately sent on to his people in France. Affected in his bowels, he fell gravely ill and was violently indisposed for a long time. He had contracted this malady either by the exhaustion of a winter journey or the chagrin of a mind troubled by the great insult he had suffered as a result of the sad catastrophe of his kinsman the King. His health was not improved at London, so he went to Paris, where he died four months later. When reliable news of Lennox’ death was reported, with great enthusiasm the people cheered that his mischiefmaking was finished, and in their sermons the ministers offered up great praise and thanksgiving to God.
8. Meanwhile report of the Scottish upheaval was on everybody’s lips. Word of the King’s captivity spread throughout Britain and reached France. Two distinguished knights were sent by the French King, Mothe-Fénelon and Mainville, together with a large company. Davison was sent the Queen of England. Their charge was to do their best to settle the commotion by urging peace and concord, to obtain the King’s release from custody, and the return the nobility to obedience. When given a hearing, the French delegation said a great deal about the zeal and goed will of their King towards the Scots and requested them to match their ancestors’ punctuality in maintaining their old alliance, and they urged the lords to maintain harmony among themselves and reverence towards their sovereign. The English ambassador Davison made the same request and begged that they set aside their rivalries and consult for the welfare of religion, the public tranquillity, and their sovereign’s security. Furthermore he announced to the King that Elizabeth’s support would not be failing him at this critical juncture, and that the English people had no liking for criminals and rebels. Praising the ambassadors, the King lavishly thanked the ambassadors for these good words. These things were done openly, but they covertly strove to increase party strife, strengthen the factions, and perform every manner of service to make the King’s mind incline towards themselves by offering an assortment of hopes. The English ambassadors Davison and Bowes (who remained in Scotland to keep his Queen abreast of the Scottish situation), won over many converts from the French faction by promising her favor, support, and aid, should the need arise. Nor were the French any more behindhand in using smooth talk and promises to seduce Argyll, Crawford, Montrose, and other lords of the ancient nobility whose grandfathers and great-grandfathers had supported English armies. The ministers fired the common folk to side with the English. The young King himself steered a middle course and found favor in both parties. When Mothe-Fénelon was departing for France, he commanded that the ambassador be entertained with a lavish feast. In their sermons the Edinburgh clergy, full of a very unwise, silly rashness, with unprecedented fury flayed the French and the sacrosanct rights of ambassadors, and when the treasurer of the Scottish merchants and the city magistrates provided that banquet, thanks to an inappropriate decree of the ministers the townsmen celebrated a fast day in such a way that they did not even taste water, so that the Kirk would keep its skirts clean of contamination. Those who attended the banquet and did not observe the fast were accounted impious rascals by the commons, and came close to being excommunicated.
9. The King and Mainville had very frequent discussions about the commonwealth and its liberty, and in their private conversations the ambassador gave him particular congratulations that, out of her singular piety, his mother the Queen had endowed him with royal honor, authority, and power over all things. For, even if he had been born a lawful king, nevertheless, since, thanks to the good judgment of his best of mothers, he had achieved the pinnacle of royalty, and so was held in all the more regard by foreign nations and by the lords of Scotland, whose common will had been that the honor of the royal title and the power of command ought to reside in the Queen. It was mostly in this way that the troublemaking enterprises of the Guises failed in Scotland and the lords of the English faction, puffed up with insolence and arrogance after Lennox had been removed, the Earl of Arran arrested, and the French representatives gotten out of the way, rid the court of its old servants, chose new ones, and managed everything as they saw fit. They led about the captive Arran hither and thither, and thought it more than enough to keep him away from the King. But soon he either broke out of imprisonment or deceived his guardians, made his escape, and, filled with hope, came forward as the leader of the defeated party. At the town of Cowper in Angus. he leagued himself with Athol, Montrose, and Crawford. By a show of false affability they won over many minds of those belonging to Gowrie’s faction. Many men innocent of any enthusiasm for troublemaking joined in, either invited by the hope of reward or out of their own free will. Arran, acting as the avenger of his personal injury, was fired by his anger, hatred, and desire for revenge to wish to pull down Gowrie. Now that their rivals had been removed, his enemies languished in sloth and idleness, and in her chagrin at his injury his wife, a savage woman, further inflamed her husband’s mind, truculent and cruel enough in its own right.
10. While the King was preoccupied with these things and his servants were taking advantage of his youth, a storm brewed up that came close to overthrowing the Kirk. For the ministers, taking it as an insult that the aforesaid Montgomery had assumed the dignity of Archbishop of Glasgow contrary to the vote of their synod, set a day for him to stand his trial at St. Andrews, there to be deposed from his very lofty position and heavily punished for his crime by Kirk censure. The King thought it a fine thing, conducive to his immortal glory, to exercise his rightful power and intervene. John Graham, a man well enough known in his own right, was sent with a mandate to quash the proposed trial, and, if they would not comply, to dismiss their assembly. At the meeting there ensued an altercation between Graham and the ministers. They temporized and slyly dodged. Graham said there was no room for dodging against their King, and command them either to follow his orders or break up their meeting. And so the question was tabled and Graham carried home a wrongly optimistic report, as if the deal had been done. After he had taken his departure, the ministers complained that he had intervened so that the Kirk could not fitly be managed. Without any orderly procedure or adherence to the law, they excommunicated the Archbishop. Irate over this rebuff, the King pronounced his excommunication null and void, and sent Montgomery to his diocese with full power. When he came to Glasgow, there were grumblings and mutterings. The royal prelate was wounded in a riot and excommunicated because he had not complied with the decree of the synod and the cathedral chapter. This squabble over the archbishopric was the cause of greater evils. For the condition of the Kirk had hitherto been tranquil and peaceful under episcopal discipline, but henceforth lost its power and jurisdiction through the haughtiness and stubbornness of the ministers. The Kirk was ruined and rent asunder, and this discord endured until the King’s mature age thanks to the ferocity and ambition of preachers, who at the time had the power to coerce things into going their way.
11. At this same time George Buchanan, a man of celebrated genius, well known at home and abroad for his learning, died after attaining his seventy-seventh year. He wrote a poetic paraphrase of the Psalms in various meters with singular felicity, and with no less elegance composed tragedies and epigrams. In prose he wrote a history of the Scottish nation in twenty Books, that carried down as far as the civil war. He also wrote a book of immoderate licence entitled De Iure Regni apud Scotos. In the opinion of the right learned Scaliger and by public decree of the Parliament of literary men, he attained to the summit of poetry. But he found no similar approval when it came to his history of his own times, which contained more dignity and eloquence than truth and good credit. For he was ill-disposed towards Queen Mary and out of his dislike and anger he made many very foul allegations against her with great acerbity, not remembering the poetry he had written a little earlier to memorialize her virtue. He was a devotee of his patron Moray (whom he praised to the skies) and obliged to him for many favors received. Starting with the point where the split between Mary and Moray occurs, readers may decide for themselves how fair a judge he was: they can accuse him of unfairness on the basis of the dubious truth of his facts, his rash suspicions, and unwitty satire, not unwelcome to his patron, but disgusting to everyone else. Furthermore in his book De Iure Regni apud Scotos,, he claimed a severely restricted authority for praiseworthy sovereigns, and, by his sly, arts he planted in the stubborn minds of lords and commoners alike, the specious words “liberty” and “restricted government. ”contrary to law, right, for the constitution of our realm. This wicked book, which is in circulation and on men’s lips, can by no means be approved by the grave judgment of more prudent readers merely because of he elegant and temperate style of its writing, because of its false accusations against princes, the shameful way it deals with legitimate government, and its detraction of supreme and absolute royal power. This is why it is everywhere held in discredit and contempt. No man born in a free commonwealth has railed against the right of kings with greater slander or malevolence, both in his published annals and in his book on the right of kingship, which he did not bother to publish anonymously. Although our King could have taken his just revenge on this author, he patiently bore up under the maledictions of his tutor, I cannot say by a greater exercise of moderation or prudence. For if James had any virtue at all, this was his notable patience in the face of slander, and in this way he achieved disgrace for his detractor and eternal glory in the eyes of posterity for himself. Before his death, Buchanan’s mind was overcome by sincere repentance for his over-bold tongue and his vice of taking immoderate liberty (either innate or acquired by habit), and thought this book ought to be burned. But because men love its excellent style it has remained in print, albeit a book one hides when one owns it. It has been refuted by Blackwood and the Scottish-born legalist Barclay, by use of historical precedents and arguments.
- 1583 -
N Scotland, while the lords of the conspiracy were carefully concentrating on maintaining their security, and Arran and the leaders of his faction on regaining their power, and while many men pitied the King’s misfortune, the King was thinking of making his escape under the pretext of going out for the hunt. But the guardians appointed him, Angus and Bothwell (a man infamous for his youth, who scorned dangers out of his innate vanity), Mar, and the Master of Glamis, although scarcely energetic or foresightful, stood in the way of this plan. When he had passed several months troubled by these concerns, entertaining various hopes in his mind, in the month of May he thought about making an excursion beyond the Firth of Forth to the pleasures of Dumfermline and Falkland. He kept his mind fixed on this thought and concern so that, should the opportunity be offered, he might pass over to his own people. Foreseeing an altered situation, Bowes, the English ambassador, attempted to prevent, or at least impede, his departure. The King went out on a handsome horse, with great honor, and rode with his train to Linlithgow. In his company were Argyll and Montrose, who were full of good will towards the Earl of Arran and scarcely unaware of his plan. Meanwhile he hastened along his undertaking with confidence and without saying a word, calling to his side the numerous dependents of Gordon, notable for their wealth. Among these was William Stewart, a sturdy warrior who had gained glory as a commander in Belgium and had been made Captain of the Guard by Arran for his incorruptible faith, and had been sent as the King’s ambassador to Elizabeth. There he had declared the King of Scots’ amity and good will towards her, and told her of his zeal for maintaining peace and concord. During these troubled times at home, he requested the Queen to serve as a referee and interpose her authority, bring the lords to concord, restrain English piracy at sea, and have a care for King James’ safety, dignity, and marriage. Ambassadors from each nation should meet and make an enduring, sacrosanct treaty. The Queen replied that the security of the King, the tranquility of the realm, and concern for Scotland’s lords were such a great concern for her that she scarcely required any petition or admonishment. Nor would her zeal be lacking at the proper time for either renewing their pact or arranging a marriage.
2. A few days later, Stewart returned to Scotland, and at Dumfermline he related what had been transacted between himself and the English. Amidst these dubious and fearful times, the ministers demanded that their discipline be approved by the authority and grace of the lords, whose cause they had vigorously defended. But they, caught up in great concern for their own cause, reflected on the unreasonable nature of the ministers’ petition, thinking it better to prefer the King’s grace to their iniquitous demands, and devoted all their thoughts to retaining power. The Duke of Lennox, killed by his recent downfall and sufferings and finding no help in the French King, was freed of all his troubles at Paris, with King James greatly pitying him, and on his deathbed he showed that he had a clear conscience in matters of faith, refuting the ministers’ slanders by his steady profession of the Reformed Religion. He was an excellent man, professed of a natural sweetness of manners, temperance, integrity, moderation, and notable affability in his every action, feeling no ill will towards his rivals. By these virtues he earned the favor of King James, and achieved power, glory, and dignity. In life, decorated by singular and novel honors, he could not avoid envy, that constant companion of great good fortune. But in death he left behind him a great longing, since his unpopularity partially faded, and partially turned into pity.
3. Such was the state of affairs in Scotland, so that the King was in the power of treasonable lords more than he was their master. At length, wearied of government by men who issued commands more than they obeyed them, and mindful of the recent insult of his detention, he convened a Parliament at St. Andrews. There he seized the opportunity of thinking about recovering his liberty. Since he had no confidence in persuasion, he thought it permissible to resort to compulsion. For those who undertaken to liberate the King’s forces (the Earls of Huntly, Crawford, Argyll, Athol, and Montrose) had assembled reinforcements so that, if it came to a fight, they would be superior in numbers and warlike equipment. Meanwhile on their side Angus, Mar, and Gowrie were surrounded by a crowd and unprepared. Out of concern for his safety, the King, together with his most loyal dependents, had retired to the episcopal palace, with the intention of avoiding the danger of lords making trouble in the city. William Stewart, the Captain of the Guard, having placed watches at suitable places and barred the castle gates against violence, let in the lords with a few dependents (particularly the enemies of the lords belonging to the conspiracy). but shut out their immense bands of followers. Meanwhile the King devoted all his time throughout the entire mid-day to very keen and attentive thought and commanded that Huntly, Crawford, Angus, Mar, and Gowrie should keep away from court for the sake of avoiding the commotion, and retire to their homes. Angus and Mar complied. Huntly and Crawford went back into Fife, where they remained with their friends and dependents, attentively awaiting the moment when the others would leave the city. In midsummer, the King went from St. Andrews to his palace at Falkland, a pleasant enough place, and soon thereafter, after many noblemen with fighting experience had been summoned and other had voluntarily joined in, and after the Earl of Arran had been recalled, he was now in command of himself and sufficiently protected against violence. In accordance with the opinion of his followers, he issued an edict that Angus, Mar, Gowrie, Glamis, and their relatives, fellow clansmen, and dependents should refrain from all government offices and service in his household, and likewise that they should go into exile at various locations by a stated day. If they complied with this edict, he offered them hope of royal clemency, as if they had atoned for their crime. It was announced that, should anyone do otherwise, the penalty would be death. They all heeded the edict: Angus retired across the Spey; Mar, Glamis, and the three Abbots of Dryburgh, Paisley, and Cambuskenneth to Ireland and the circumadjacent islands; the Abbot of Dumfermline and Colville of Cliff to Belgium; Boyd, the Abbot of Lochleven, and Colvill of Wemes to France. Gowrie, having obtained a three months’ leave, continued in his previous condition. Thus Arran expelled from the kingdom the men by whom he himself had been expelled a little earlier, and took his revenge for having suffered a fall from power.
4. Next the King went to Perth to hold a Parliament, where it was announced that the dying Lennox had most piously professed the doctrine and rites of the Reformed Religion: he had been defamed by wicked rumors, and if anyone, acting out of anger, silliness, or malice, continued to speak ill of the deceased, it would cost him his head. Another edict was issued in which the King announced that, as long as he was held captive by the Gowrie faction, he was constantly fearful for his life. When this edict was published, it brought about a great change in men’s thinking. For their ministers, relying on the authority and opinion of their synod, had pronounced that the Ruthven Raid had been just, lawful, and advantageous for the public, and now all men were astonished that such an attitude — or rather such shamelessness — had existed within the clergy. On the advice of this Privy Council, and with the support of his lords and the agreement of each and every good man, James proclaimed this betrayal to have been infamous. Meanwhile, having recovered his liberty, he wrote a letter to Elizabeth in which he promised he would punctually and faithfully observe the responsibilities of their alliance and treaty, and would embrace her counsel in administering his commonwealth. But this catastrophe had overtaken him so unawares that he had not been able to seek her advice about what to do. Seeing that, contrary to expectation the authority and power of the Earl of Arran had revived once more, the Queen, not unreasonably afraid lest a spark from the Scottish affairs might leap over into England, supplied her very timely help and, by the advice and support of Francis Walsingham, her Secretary of State, she had a care for the welfare of the kingdom of Scotland and for its English faction. He went to Scotland to view Scottish affairs and determine remedies for its ills, and explained to the King that civil discord provides extreme evils for a commonwealth, listing the horrible events that ensue: murder, arson, ruin, devastation, desolation, deprivation, and seditions. He told him how wholesome and honorable the Queen’s acts of kindness had always been for him, and begged him that in the future he would display the same zeal for the concord of peace and the advancement of religion that he had recently declared in his letter. Then, having finished the speech which he had come to make, he dealt earnestly, but in vain, that James might take back into his former good graces the lords who had been banished because of the slanders of their enemies, make an end to rivalries by an act of amnesty, extinguish this civil war that was threatening at its very outset, and told the King that things would not long remain pacified without the destruction of the French faction.
5. The King gave him a brief and moderate reply: he had never failed his duty to the Queen in any regard, even though he had had a number of just causes for breaking off their alliance and abandoning that duty. Nor had he yet done anything which ought to provide a cause for regret either for himself or for the Queen. If she would continue in her erstwhile good will and affection, nobody would be dearer or more pleasing to himself than Elizabeth. He added that the name of kingship would be held in contempt, and the power of sacrosanct majesty would be debased, if sovereigns were subject to other men’s rule: this most atrocious insult of captivity affected himself, but the example it set touched upon all kings. This speech caused Walsingham to admire his spirit and intellect. In a lengthy and detailed address, the ambassador told him that the Queen had been ignorant of these Scottish disturbances until in his most friendly letter he had announced to her that, for the sake of common concord, he had freely granted amnesty and impunity for the lords’ very grave guilt. The King’s reply that he had written this letter unwillingly, under compulsion, and motivated by fear: men who have erred out of fear deserve to be pardoned, not criticized. His decision should not be chided, and in fact he had set a very distinguished example for avenging sedition, for he had employed certain very noble gentlemen, who had proved stronger in restoring him than the lords of the conspiracy had been in keeping him. In sum, it was thanks to his own prudence and patience that he had recovered his authority and power, together with his safety and security. Afterwards Walsingham met him privately and had many discussions and conversations with the King concerning the state of the realm, the administration of the commonwealth, and about the healing of its parts which had been wrenched asunder by seditions. He urged James to employ counselors of good will and faithfulness, avoid evil and unskilled ones, and either reconcile the banished lords or mitigate their sentences in order to avoid sedition and discord. After having spent a number of days in these exhortatory Platonic conversations, and the King for his part had given evidence of his virtue, character, and intellect, he went back to England, without having obtained the lords’ restoration.
6. Happy at Walsingham’s departure and decorated by new and unique honors, Arran industriously went about the duties of government, in the company of huge masses of well-wishers. He was not behindhand in appropriating lords’ houses, gardens, and fertile estates. He longed to gain by exchange Maxwell Heugh, belonging to the personal patrimony of John Maxwell Earl of Morton, but that fierce and noble gentleman declined to trade his ancestral patrimony, a glory of his family, for other estates no less advantageous but ill-gotten. Hence Arran, puffed up by his new good fortune and dignity, burned with anger and provoked the clan chief of the Johnstones, Maxwell’s erstwhile rival for the office of Warden of the West March. Now he fired him into contention with undisguised hatred, bringing the neighboring Maxwells and Johnstones into conflict. There is usually no other outcome to such feuds between distinguished and powerful men than the destruction of their leaders. So in frequent raids they sent in bands of robbers, set anbushes, and sometimes met in light battles, taking off spoils and booty with impunity, as if from enemy soil. When word of these disturbances was brought to court, Arran was concerned about the endangerment of Johnstone, a man of more courage than common sense, and sent to his aid Captains Lamington and Cranstown with two companies of foot. Morton’s bastard brother Robert Maxwell was sent with a squadron of horse. Lamington and Cranstown, wearied by their march, were resting in the undefended valley of Crawfordmuir, and could scarcely engage in a cavalry battle. Lamington and many soldiers were killed, Cranstown was taken, and the rest took to their heels, with many killed and captured during the flight. Johnstone, taking this slaughter of his auxiliaries very much amiss, collected his friends and dependents and ravaged neighboring Nithisdale with fire and sword, demolishing and firing houses belonging to Morton. To avenge his losses, with equal cruelty Morton invaded Annandale, burned Johnstone’s buildings, ruined his houses, drove off his cattle, killed many of Johnstone’s men, and repaid his enemy with considerably more damage than he had suffered.
7. From that day forward, the men of Annandale and Strathclyde made raids on each other, wasting everything with fire and sword. With their frequent incursions they drove the terrified Johnstone clan chief to shelter in Bonshaw Castle, where Edward Irvine was the governor. When their threats were ignored, they immediately began a siege and sharply assaulted it, swearing an oath they would not leave until the castle had been surrendered. For a number of days it was energetically defended, but since the besiegers had obstructed every approach to it, it was surrendered on terms prescribed by the authority of the English nobleman Scroope. Thus Holinshed. But I would imagine it more probable that they abandoned the siege because of a lack of artillery, their ignorance of siegecraft, and the watchful exertions of the besieged. With Annandale ravaged and all but reduced to a desert by every catastrophe of war, Johnstone wrote to the King that his followers were insufficient to protect him, and that the Maxwells, elated by their successful fortune, were threatening him with destruction unless he would send aid. Then he sent his wife, a woman of manly spirit, to tell the King of the situation in Annandale, with its villages and buildings put to the torch. With her woman’s tears she produced a strong impression on the King and all the lords then present, but amidst such domestic ills the royal powers were weak. Johnston was destitute, but his spirit remained unbroken. Eager for revenge, with uncommon swiftness he mustered the forces of his clan. But while he was conducting a levy and instructing his ignorant mass of followers in the duties of campaigning, at the time anticipating nothing less than this, he was pressed by neighboring robbers under the leadership of William Carruthers Laird of Holmains. Captured and taken to Dumfries, he was greeted by his kinsman Morton with an unfriendly aspect and tongue. Finding it intolerable to humble himself, he was sent back to his people, but this bravest of men did not long survive, being bested by grief, rage, indignation, and sickness of mind. The King, annoyed at seeing his authority held in contempt, the calamity of the Johnstons, the haughty slander of Maxwell Earl of Morton, and Arran’s greedy attempt to gain his patrimony, convened a Parliament of the lords. He described Morton’s deeds and consulted with them about how vengeance might be exacted on him. Many were of the opinion that the penalties of treason should be levied on him, lest, if such a great crime go unpunished, the boldness of wicked fellows might grow. Messengers were sent to Morton that he should stand his trial and received the sentence of the Privy Council, but he did not comply with this summons.
8. During this troubled condition of the realm, the Kirk suffered from its own share of vices and diseases. Now that the Pope’s yoke had been cast off and the corruptions of the Church of Rome abandoned, over-hasty hotheaded preachers observed no middle course, order, dignity, nor seemliness in their handling of sacred matters. Rather, feigning a contempt for all human things and breathing forth Gospel purity, they preached that wealth, honors, power, and authority were incompatible with religion. The rank of bishop was originally established within the Church by divine command for the feeding of the helpless flock. Then it grew wealthy thanks to men’s piety, but now, because of its ambition and greed, it must be returned to its erstwhile poverty and to the austerity of its ancient discipline, which the license of the times had long ago either dissolved or abandoned. They abrogated the title, the dignity, and the right of bishops to grant permissions, confer orders, issue ecclesiastical censures, and vote in Parliament, setting up a kind of false equality in Kirk government for the restoration of lapsed morals. They arrogated to themselves a certain kind of tribunician power, just as had the Church of Rome, to the great detriment of the commonwealth, although to the supreme pleasure of the unlettered masses, who at that time found their greatest delight in saying and daring all things against the fortunes and honors of holy bishops. Preaching these things and much else of the same kind, they dared pronounce with a loud voice, from the dais in the Schools and in their circles, there is no power entrusted to bishops and priests by God, but only an office of caring and protection, so that members of the clergy are protectors but not masters, and the other officers of the Kirk are administrators of divine care but have only equal power in the management of the Kirk. Hence they have gradually removed themselves from royal jurisdiction in religious matters, and claim that all consecrated ministers are free of all jurisdiction of sovereigns, and are not bound by their laws. Finally they have attempted to introduce separate jurisdiction of presbyteries in individual provinces, and to regard even the King as subject to the power of that order. The bold-facedness of some of them has grown to the point that they refuse to admit it is their duty to allow themselves to be haled into to court and stand before the King’s bench, or give an accounting of their actions to anybody but their synods. Antiquity used to call a meeting of bishops a synod, in which inquiry was conducted both concerning the way of living, depraved morals, and about right dogma and the combating of heresies and those who thought amiss concerning faith and religion.
9. Nowadays the ministers call assemblies of learned pastors, elders, and deacons synods (some national, some in a part of the nation or in its individual provinces), gathered not for the improvement of evils, but for the advancement of their ambition and pride, and these are presided over by one of them of outstanding piety and virtue whom they call the moderator. In a synod held at Glasgow they strove to overthrow all the parts of ecclesiastical discipline which bishops claimed for themselves in accordance with the received tradition of the ancient Church, and approved a motion that all ministers should be regarded as interpreters of divine law. They pronounced that they recognized no function to reside in bishops over and above that vested in all ministers, nor any such usage in the Kirk, and they decreed that all men should foreswear episcopal office, and refrain from Kirk management, or service on the Privy Council and the public Parliament held for the government of the state, unless authorized by the general synod. If any private citizen or magistrate did not comply with their decree, they excommunicated him. When Patrick Adamson, Archbishop of St. Andrews, a man who enjoyed glory for his learning more than for his sanctity, strove to retain his supreme authority over the Kirk and right to preside over the clergy in the general synod, relying on unconquerable arguments of Scripture, the Councils, the Fathers, and the testimonials of sacred history, he brought down upon himself the wrath and hatred of the ministers, who flayed him with their maledictions and, in their desire for revenge, cursed him by name for having proven that the order of bishops, condemned in the synod, ought to be upheld, in accordance with the tradition and piety of the ancient Church. He scoffed at an interdiction made by men of lower rank, and prepared himself to perform the public and private duties which belonged to his office. Not just individual ministers, but all of them together attacked the episcopal order. For their part, the bishops called the ministers mischievous men, hostile to peace, innovators in matters well arranged by their ancestors, pernicious both to the public and to private individuals, seditious schismatics and hypocrites, because they went very much out of their way to avoid the poverty which they demanded for bishops, wholeheartedly yearned for the honors and wealth which they so earnestly cursed with their words, and nowadays were practicing no more austere discipline than they ever had, or any more self-restraint when it came to their pleasures.
10. Dire anathemas went flying back and forth, but with unequal results, since in the judgment of the common folk bishops were accounted impious rascals., so that they shunned all intercourse and conversation with them. But ministers were well spoken of because of their virtues or their appearance of virtue, their stubborn resistance against majesty and its strict and severe government of the people. The power of the bishops within the Kirk was broken and, abjuring their holy right as prelates, the ministers intermeddled in the business of public government. Not ceasing their grave and public raillery at the vices of the court, for the most part they chased after anonymous rumors lacking any self-consistency. With their assault and clamor, they attacked noblemen: they cited Holy Writ to substantiate their rash opinions, thereby diminishing the authority of religion by their lack of restraint, as they heedlessly inveighed against the times and their morals with their uncontrolled tongues, fervor and ferocity. They managed to weary the King himself and the lords of his court with their unwonted liberty, and among them there were not wanting men who referred to His Sacred Majesty merely as James, applying no further honorific formula. They proved out of Scripture that this manner of speech was not uncivil, and they very seditiously preached that all kings were the mortal enemies of ecclesiastical liberty by their very nature. When Arran could not restrain the fervor of these ferocious minds and their inappropriate liberty by threatening the gallows, and saw that, if he did not quickly counter the ministers’ strivings, the King would soon be brought low, so that all things divine and human would come under their power, in accordance with a decree of the Privy Council he expressly chose ministers of supreme eloquence and learning (Melville, Lowson, Galloway, and other leading lights) to resolve the controversy regarding the Kirk government, and a number of bishops to undertake the same task. The ministers argued that the order of bishops had been ended by the synod; they, on the other hand, argued that this institution was divinely founded and, being advantageous for Christianity and conducive to its dignity, ought to be retained. During this controversy of churchmen, the King, foreseeing that measures harmful for the entire realm were being urged by the ministers, fought with all his might and counsel on behalf of the bishops, stating that they should occupy their ancient offices and participate in public assemblies. He begged them not to allow the Kirk to be rent asunder by the depraved counsels of the silly common folk and certain young men, a thing he foresaw if the bishops were to be stripped of their authority, and he advised that prelates should outshine their flocks in their learning and the example they set, whereas ministers ought to preach the Gospel with sincerity, administer the sacraments, but not meddle with the business of the commonwealth nor chase after empty rumors or rail at the vices of the lords of his court, which doubtfully existed, as if they were self-evident. Although he checked their onslaught rather than cured it, as long as he lived he never ceased opposing them, until he might heal the wounds of the Kirk.
11. Meanwhile Ludovic Stewart Duke of Lennox, the son of the newly-deceased Esmé, was summoned from France while still a lad, and put in at Leith. Such sincerity, integrity, and moderation of mind marked him in the first flower of his youth that the more prudent sort of men predicted all his fruits would ripen as he advanced in age, nor were they mistaken in this forecast. When they heard of his arrival, there was great rejoicing in the palace. Huntly and Arran met him as he disembarked, so as to escort him. Introduced to the King, he was all the more dear and acceptable because of the memory of his father’s merits. Soon his two sisters were summoned from France to Scotland, and bestowed on those most distinguished gentlemen, the Earls of Huntly and Mar, in their own good time.
- 1584 -
T the beginning of this year Scottish affairs were in a turmoil. The exiled lords, desirous of a change in their situation, strove to persuade others of their own estate to employ all the royal favor, authority, and connections of kinship at their disposal to prevent themselves from coming under Arran’s proud and cruel control. Learning from letters and rumor that Gowrie, who had passed his winter months at Dundee, had failed to depart by his appointed day, had been conspiring with a number of noblemen who had crossed over to him, and had agreed to meet again with Angus, Mar, Glamis at Stirling to foment a rising on a predetermined day, out of a desire to throw everything into confusion, the King adjudged that he should be suppressed. Since he did not imagine he would come to court if summoned, he did not want to make this canny man more cautious by any such attempt. So he sent William Stewart, his Captain of the Guard, a fellow of supreme boldness, to intercept this man who was fomenting plots and planning an uprising, by means of a ruse. Stewart hastened to Dundee and positioned armed men to block all the entrances to Gowrie’s lodgings, taking the man all but unawares. Hearing the commotion, Gowrie, who was stubbornly bent on resistance, took up arms and doggedly defended the house. His servants were not behindhand in coming to his aid. But when he had long sought to defend himself by fighting but found himself unequal to his adversaries’ numbers, he was taken away captive, surrounded by a throng of armed men, while the townsmen of Dundee lamented that he was suspect of having conspired against their King. Lindesay, Cowdenknowes, and the Master of Cassell were likewise surrounded by men-at-arms and cast in prison. But, just because its leader had been removed, the project was not abandoned. For at the appointed time the runaway lords, Mar and the Abbots, retired into Ireland to wait a better occasion for a rising, and collected the men of their faction. They occupied Stirling without a fight, and for three days they attacked its castle, cutting off its food supply and raising a small rampart around it. Angus, Glamis, and many lairds of the Douglas clan voluntarily joined in, rather confusedly offering their aid.
2. Amidst the great trepidation and sudden fear which gripped the commonwealth, the King summoned the lords of his party to a council, and consulted them about what they thought should be done. He spoke first, giving the opinion that they should prepare for a fight. The lords there present approved their sovereign’s plan as being both safe and noble, so by means of a herald he proclaimed that the rebels should quit Stirling, taking away their army; the townsmen should have a care for their own welfare, and keep clear of the conspirators’ contagion. Decrees of the Privy Council were issued, as Arran was demanding many hateful measures. When all things were in good readiness, the King again proclaimed that all men dwelling on this side of the Firth of Forth should appear under arms, and be ready to follow where he led. Quickly more than ten thousand assembled at Edinburgh. Relying on these forces, the King undertook the expedition, sending Captain Stewart ahead with the cavalry. He drove straight at the enemy and, joined by the Levingstons, who enjoyed great repute and authority in those parts, he encamped near Falkirk. The rebels, having considered their strength and that of their enemies, despaired of the result of their hotheaded counsel, and timidly made their escape without attempting a fight. When the exiles had melted away in their panic, Stewart immediately recaptured the city, and within two days he received the surrender of its castle without having agreed to spare any man. Then he pursued the fugitives farther, and near Lauricum Archibald Douglas, once vice-governor of Edinburgh Castle and John Forbes, a dependent of Mar, were taken and hanged. Accompanied by ten thousand armed men, the King left Edinburgh on April 13, to the great rejoicing of its people, and was given a royal welcome at Stirling, where Arran was somewhat mild in punishing the guilty: twenty-five members of the garrison were condemned and brought out for punishment, but only four were hanged, and the rest spared so they might bear witness to his lenity and refute his evil reputation for cruelty. Because of these commotions the King hastened to convene his Privy Council, and, together with his intimate friends, began to devise a remedy for these present ills, and a means of settling the sedition that had been fomented. The question was referred to the Privy Council. The lords responsible for this most recent conspiracy were summoned to court by letters, and when they failed to appear the Council adjudged them guilty of a capital crime. Then, quite terrified, with troubled minds and expressions they went flying out of Scotland into England and condemned the Privy Council for its cruelty — if any Privy Council could exist in Scotland at a time when Arran ruled everything in the kingdom at his whim. Elizabeth, who would have been happy to see a change in the Scottish situation, treated these Scottish lords, who were very devoted to her, with grace and favor. Secretary Walsingham supported them greatly, and the lords of the court kindly offered them hospitality.
3. Nor were Kirk affairs any more calm. Afire with anger and hatred against the bishops, Andrew Melville delivered a sermon at St. Andrews, in which, with unwonted passion, he sharply inveighed against the present state of affairs. He added that the duty of the lords and the other estates of the realm was to interpose their authority to correct and coerce the vices of a court alienated from the Kirk. He offered up historical precedents from the previous century, including the deposition of the King’s great-grandfather James III. For this reason he was summoned to plead his case before the Privy Council. Taking his counsel from his audacity, he responded that he was subject to no authority save God Almighty: all members of the clergy were immune from the jurisdiction of kings and not bound by their laws. For his contempt of the authority of the King and Privy Council, and for his contumacy, he was bidden to enter custody at Blackness, but while traveling there he turned aside and fled to Berwick. A little later the ministers of Edinburgh who were holding sway with their disgraceful sermons, Lowson, Drurie, Balcanquall. Galloway (a pastor of Perth), Davidson, Polwart, Gibson, and Carmichael, who (as it is thought) were scarcely free of complicity in the previous commotion, were summoned by the most ample authority of the Council to plead their cases. Unmanned by fear, they fled to England, and published an apology blaming their flight on the fury of the court and the tyranny of Arran. In England they confounded all things with their complaining. Such a lamentation arose at their departure that the people expressed their grief and sorrow with their words and their tears. Undeterred by their imprecations, Arran wrote to them, not to console their tears but to issue a threat, and proclaimed that they should return to their work. It struck everyone as very strange that the man who caused their grief would not permit them to grieve. But it seemed an unworthy thing to the more prudent sort of men that ministers, who above all others should take public tranquility to heart, were discovered to be the leaders of this rioting. Amidst such great public sadness and such a roiled state of affairs, the King gave a memorable example of steadfastness in religion: at a time when the Kings of Spain and France and the Guises were holding out the highest hopes for him if he would consent to return to the rites and ceremonies of the ancient Church, observed by his ancestors over so many centuries, he did not swerve from his very precise observance of piety, preferring religion to the glory of supreme majesty and rule. For he knew that everything turns out well for those who always worship God with piety. but goes amiss for those who scorn Him.
4. At this juncture, Arran had high hopes for the death of Gowrie. At Stirling Gowrie was sharply arraigned on a charge of treason by the Earl of Arran, because he had openly conspired against the King and had laid hands on him and taken him captive; because a few days previously he had entered into a nefarious plot with Angus, Mar, and Glamis for the occupation of Stirling, and written letters and commands to the Earls; because, he had offered resistance to the soldiers who had entered into his friends’ house and to Stewart, the captain of the royal guard at Dundee, in despite of royal authority; and because he had consulted with the notorious witch Madena for the destruction of the King. Nor were men lacking to accuse him of of having embezzled from the public treasury. To these charges the accused replied that he had taken up arms to free all his fellow citizens from their present evils, and rescue the King out of the hands of men who were cruelly and avariciously lording it over him; if there was any blame, he had already obtained a pardon for having defended himself in Dundee and resorted to arms to fend off Stewart’s attempted violence; he was convinced of this by charters of royal authority and the common law, which could not be derogated by Arran’s secret memoranda. Finally, ignoring his guilt and personal danger and disowning his signature, he angrily asked why, having been granted leave to depart, he had been arrested, contrary to law and right, as he was about to board ship in the river’s harbor. He mocked at magical superstitions, and did not refrain from complaint and chiding, calling Arran contumacious, barbaric, savage, and bloodthirsty, and alleging that Arran was only alive thanks to his own kindness, and was an ignoble ingrate. In the end, because of the severity of the accusation, he was condemned by vote of the lords. Brought to the Stirling market-place in the dusk of the day, he spoke gravely and at length about the unsteadiness of human affairs and about his enemy’s cruelty. When all the great injuries he had suffered could not satisfy the man, he was compelled to take up arms in self-defense against this good man who was usurping the national government contrary to custom, the laws, and the institutions of their ancestors. Arran’s wrath had more power to do him ill than the many merits of his own family towards Scotland could serve to save him. Having said these things and more of the same kind, not without the tears of onlookers, he meekly submitted his neck to the axe. After his execution his body, condemned to all manner of disgrace, was not quartered. The King, kindlier in punishing the guilty, forgave this shameful punishment and permitted him to receive burial.
5. This punishment threw a scare into the others, making things calmer for a while. Now, with these troublesome men who had interfered with his authority gotten out of the way, and the nobility put into consternation by Gowrie’s execution, the Earl of Arran, surrounded by a large band of choice young men, and with the protection of a bodyguard against violence and treachery, was more established in his power. He seduced the King’s youthful mind by the arts which that young age can be captured and enticed, so as to keep him bound to himself as long as possible. They say that Arran’s wife, a lady marked by a woman’s lack of self-control, was so motivated by her zeal for remaining in power that she went so far as to expose the King to luxury, so that by the enticements of spectacles, banquets, and unbounded license she might make the bonds all the tighter. But her blandishments of delights, her lubricious enticements of his youth, her playing on his desires did not prevail. Arran’s brother William Stewart, taking advantage of his brother’s royal favor to indulge in license, and fancying that he could commit all crimes with impunity, plundered, despoiled, whipped, wounded, and murdered innocent men on the grounds that they were party to the earlier uprising. Lawfully or unlawfully, he appropriated the patrimonies of many men, and despoiled weaker men who resisted his lust. Among the other foul crimes the committed, he most cruelly murdered a herald, a servant of the public law., and forced a bailiff to eat a royal charter. He did not just wish to be a wicked man himself, but also to teach others to do the same. So those two monstrosities did damage to the commonwealth, not just by their deeds, but also by the examples they set.
6. But the King, now more mature in years, began to reflect. He decided to enact wholesome laws to restrain the impious opinion that majesty could be disdained, and the contumacy and license of churchmen (who should be setting an example for others), by whose fault in particular the recent conspiracies had been formed, could be checked. Therefore on May 20 he convened a Parliament at Edinburgh, attended by many of the most important men, and many laws beneficial for the commonwealth were enacted. Then the criminal perfidy of the lords was discussed, and a remedy against the ill-deserving was demanded. In this Parliament Angus, Mar, and Glamis had their property confiscated and were banished the land in perpetuity, with a severe edict published punishing any man who proposed or voted for their restoration. Since the King perceived that extreme danger was threatening not just religion, but also his kingdom as a result of Kirk recalcitrance, both to restrain the fiery zeal of the ministers and their insolence, pride, and contumacy within the limits of modesty, and also to diminish their authority in what ways he could, he had passed a motion that, in accordance with the votes of the people, the lords of the realm, and the Kirk, he himself should be the judge and have jurisdiction, not only in every civil and secular matter, but in sacred ones as well. Whoever stubbornly refused to accept his judgment would be held on the charge of treason. And that the erstwhile dignity of bishops, dislodged by tribunician force, should continue to exist: ministers must defer to the authority of bishops and equality in Kirk government, according to which the less well educated fancied they were on a par with the most learned minds, should end. The estates decreed that the King had full and supreme authority over his subjects of whatever order and condition., and if any man attempted to avoid this injunction on the grounds he was a minister or cleric, he would be guilty of treason. The license of the ministers was to no small degree restrained by this bridle, so that they came to realize that there was no appeal against royal authority. These things frightened them, but the thing that most terrified them was that, in accordance with a public decree of the estates, the King obtained the restoration of bishops’ power over the ministers, which could not be revoked by a public meeting or private presbyterian assembly without his personal authorization. Nor could any synod exercise its jurisdiction without the consent of a bishop or royal representative. For the sole salvation of the Kirk rested in this moderation of seditious tribunician power. But this did not long endure, for the ministers impudently refused to submit to the power of bishops.
7. When many things had been hotly discussed in this national Parliament concerning the preservation of the liberty of the Kirk, about the correction of manifest wrongs committed by bishops, about restraining the luxury of the clergy, in the end, by the vote of them all and after the passage of many very fine laws, the authority of bishops, long vehemently opposed by the ministers and almost overthrown, remained intact, and nothing was detracted from the rights of all bishops because of the faults of a few. The ministers, fired by anger and hatred as if the acts of their synod had been quashed, were indignant that anything had been subtracted from their old power. They falsely accused the King of being ill-disposed, and refrained from no insults or lies, as if he were attempting to get rid of those who bore witness to the Gospel, put an end to honest preaching of God’s Law, promote the worship of Papist superstition, and overthrow piety, liberty, and the discipline of the Kirk. When many reproaches of this kind had been uttered against the authority of sacred majesty and rumors had spread abroad, the King thought that, lest his royal title be slandered and lose its luster among neighboring peoples, he needed to confront their strivings and, in a new and unprecedented manner, called into question things already determined in Parliament. The reason he gave, which was motivating the lords of the Privy Council to sift matters so carefully, was the obstinate stubbornness of the ministers in the face of royal authority and the natural equity of every parliamentary decree. In the first place, God had granted sovereigns supreme government over all their subjects both secular and clerical; by his unjust tyranny a single Pope had despoiled the Roman clergy of its rights as magistrates; the seditious assemblies of presbyters were full of danger and disgrace, and their synods harmful to the people. Henceforth, therefore, meetings of that kind, which were inimical to the public advantage, laws, and majesty of his government, were prohibited, unless bishops presided over them in the traditional way. Finally, in accordance with both divine right and the human laws of the ancient Church, bishops presided over sovereigns and the management of Church affairs, a rule that our ancestors had observed for 1,500 years, although it was a rule that appeared arrogant and violent to the silly common folk. At the end, because of the excessive domination of bishops, thirteen leading ministers were added from throughout the provinces, who would join with them in deciding controversies, should the need arise, about life and morals. The bishops should exercise their judgment in choosing and approving the fittest men for this task, and in their selection they should consider their virtue, uprightness, and integrity. Thus the right of bishops was tempered and the strength of tribunician power sapped.
8. At length the king replied to the ministers’ accusations and verbose insults. In a published pamphlet he wrote about how the majesty of his government and the faith of his subjects were weakened, how the bishops had been driven out, and about those dangerous contentions. He had no reluctance to make a confession of his faith: he renounced Papist errors, and prescribed in detail the form to be taken by the future government of the Kirk lest they have any further opportunity for slander. And he warned the ministers that no order should be befouled by any man’s wickedness, and that they should eject from the Kirk men tainted by sin or infamous for any disgraces. By these remedies he restored the authority and power to punish of the presbyters while preserving the honor of his government, and returned to the bishops their free jurisdiction, their responsibility of supervision, and their Parliamentary vote. Henceforth it was greatly due to their effort that he obstructed seditious, depraved ministers. This was a pronouncement assuredly worthy of a ruler’s majesty, to give an accounting of his deeds, publish a confession of his faith, and explain the equity of public decrees. With these laws enacted regarding sacred matters, Parliament was prorogued until August 3, and so was called the Running Parliament, because the king often commanded that its day be put off. In this Parliament, the next item brought before the lords was the question of George Buchanan’s history, filled with libels against the King’s mother, and of his most virulent dialogue De Iure Regni apud Scotos. By the public authority of the estates it was ordered that within forty days all copies of these books should be brought to the Secretary of State, and that it was illegal for any man to keep them in his private possession or read them. Care was taken that the nib of Buchanan’s pen was to be blunted, his rashly-published reproaches consigned to oblivion, and the truth be ascertained and made public. A decree was issued lest anyone read Buchanan’s writings, banned by authority of Parliament, out of ignorance of the law. It was also ordained by Parliamentary authority that on Wednesdays and Fridays, and also on the Sabbath and throughout Lent, men should refrain from the eating of meat. This too was announced by means of a herald, for the good of the entire realm. For the King, realizing that the Kirk was so diseased that its malady could not be stopped by usual remedies, availed himself of the wholesome aid of the laws in order to confine to their duties ministers who had bestirred themselves to destroy the state of the commonwealth, and compel them by the terrors of confiscation, imprisonment, exile, and death to perform their duties. He did so by authority of God and his own conscience, performing what sovereigns are bound to do according to the teaching of the Apostles.
9. During this great perturbation, the Scots adjacent to the English made a raid into Riddesdale, and by ravaging far and wide they created a desolate waste. Affected by this unexpected evil, in order to inflict equal havoc the English entered into Liddesdalle with a sudden assault and pillaging, and used fire and the sword to very cruelly avenge their losses. Arran himself allowed these raids into England to be staged, thinking that by this way in particular he could kindle a war between the neighboring realms and make a private profit on the public calamity. And yet, lest he be seen to be an open enemy of the English, he made a pretense and show of concord and informed Baron Hunsdon, governor of Berwick and the Eastern March, that it was possible to deal about reparations if he were allowed to come to a conference, so they might consult for the public good. Hence they chose a place for their meeting, and settled on a place near Fulton, between Berwick and Scotland. They both made a proud display of their magnificence and exchanged salutations. Hunsdon made a beginning by speaking of the raids into England, the thefts plundering and arson perpetrated during the preceding days. Acting on his public authority, he asked Arran to restore the property or hand over the men responsible. If Arran would not agree even to this, he and his soldiers proposed to pursue these injuries and wrongs. Moreover, he urged Arran to embrace Elizabeth’s friendship, abandon his long-standing hope in the French, and cleave to an alliance with England, which was nearer and stronger. To these things Arran replied that he was readier for peace than war, and wished to clear his name with the Queen; it was in the public interest that they drive from their homes the robbers of Liddesdale and Riddesdale, who were ranging about devastating everything with their killing, arson, and ravaging. Next he heaped the exiled lords with all the recriminations he could, and invidiously railed at their departure from Scotland. And he affirmed that he uniquely sought the friendship of the Queen, .and vowed he would diligently and scrupulously observe the duty of friendship and right. Nothing else was accomplished at this conference.
10. The dependents and friends of the condemned and exiles were hot for innovation. By the advice of Douglas Prefect of Glen Clyde, they were set in motion for Arran’s destruction. He stifled all their attempts at a rising, thanks to a force of his friends, and was in possession of Edinburgh Castle, since until now Fortune had smiled on his undertakings. Yet talk of his pride and cruelty was not lacking amongst his critics. The King quit Edinburgh for Falkland, and then went on to Ruthven for the hawking and hunting. Meanwhile a very savage pestilence ravaged through all of Scotland with great loss of life, and with its contagion it invaded his household at Perth. He himself took a few with him and went to Stirling, issuing an edict that none of his domestics or dependents should come to court until the violence of the disease had abated. They obeyed his command and retired to Ruthven, there to remain until they learned their King’s will. In about those same days Patrick Gray, the head of his family, a young man who enjoyed intimate friendship with the King and was noble for his handsomeness, was sent to England with most choice and well-tried companions. Besides his fine comeliness, he was possessed of a keen wit and was inclined to the Roman religion. In his youth, his fortune being doubtful and parlous, he sedulously cultivated the friendship of the Duc du Guise, and was welcome to him because they were co-religionists. Now, occupying a slippery position because he had gone through his fortune, he seized the opportunity of converting to the Anglican religion. He requested a hearing from their Privy Council. Having kissed hands, he complained of English piracy and the thefts of the border reivers, who were going about their robbery with impunity, and he requested that the exiles, who were plotting a rising inimical to the safety of his innocent King, either be handed back in accordance with their treaty or be banished far from the realm of England. Elizabeth readily agreed to suppress raids by land and sea, but she stated that it was in the interest of the King’s safety and that of the kingdom of Scotland that the rivalries of its lords be ended by an act of amnesty; that those driven out by the slanders of their adversaries be restored to their dignity’ and that Arran be removed from his government of the commonwealth by decree of the estates. The noble exiles in England were aiming at nothing else than the glory of God, the advancement of the Reformed Religion, the King’s security, the safety of the realm, and an abiding alliance with England. Arran, on the other hand, had ensnared the impressionable young King with his corrupting enticements; all kingdoms provide free sanctuary for exiles, let alone for friends who agree with them in their religious observation and forms of worship. After a lengthy deliberation by her Privy Council about the exiles and the ambassador’s requests, the exiles were brought to Norwich. Gray was accorded extraordinary honors by the Queen, and given magnificent gifts on his departure. Before taking his leave, in a private conversation with Elizabeth he warned her that she was doomed unless the Queen of Scots was forestalled: this was the sole remedy for her plotting. The sequel prove that Gray, exercised in all manner of wrongdoing, abused his position as ambassador.
11. At this same time a certain Edward Henrison, a crazed baker who was out of his head, was motivated by anger and silliness to throw a torch into his father’s haystack, planning on creating a hideous fire in the royal city. The fire spread widely and its flames grew red. Women and children shrieked, terrifying the onlookers. But, thanks to God’s kindness and the fine work of servants, all structures were protected save for the private house of the incendiary’s father, as if by an act of divine punishment. On the next day the arsonist was arrested, put to the question, and condemned. He was put on a pyre in the market-place and, surrounded by a huge crowd, burned alive. His was indeed a cruel and inhuman crime, but the manner of his punishment, cruel beyond the limits of our human feelings, was a mark of the madness of Arran’s times, since, when, the rest of his body having been consumed by the fkanes, his guts caught fire with a terrible stench. Meanwhile the exiles entered into various plots for their return, and wrote letters to their friends and dependents asking them to defend them against their adversaries’ calumnies, to assist them in reclaiming their dignity, and to help their honorable endeavors to regain their nation and their patrimonies. And so, while the conspirators, with all witnesses removed, conducted many discussions among themselves or their allies and assistants about a new scheme for intercepting the King and killing Arran, Robert Hamilton, a judge of Inchmachane — it is uncertain whether he was a party to the conspiracy and a traitor, or gleaned suspicions from the conspirators’ signs and manner of speaking — reported to Arran what he had heard or conjectured. James Edmonston of Duntraith and Malcolm Douglass Laird of Mains were arrested without commotion and immediately imprisoned. When interrogated in Edinburgh Castle about the conversations, letters, and companions in this most foul crime, Edmonston, either giving in because of feeble courage or corrupted by the hope of saving his life and receiving immunity, first confessed about the condemned Angus and Mar, so as to please Arran, who was grasping at all means to suppress them. Then he added that John Home who was nicknamed The Black, a needy exile, was the messenger between himself and the lords, and added that he had lately recruited Cunningham of Drumquhassle, and furthermore that many other prominent gentlemen belonged to the conspiracy. Cunningham, required to reveal what he knew, reflected that, now that the conspiracy was revealed, there would be no advantage in maintaining his silence, confessed pretty much the same as had Edmonston in his imprisonment, and voluntarily added that Douglas of Mains was an intimate friend of Angus. He was summoned and interrogated, and to his dying breath denied that he was a party to the plot that that come to light. After that day, Edmonston was put on trial and absolved by all votes, because, when commanded to speak with a guarantee of immunity, he had revealed everything just as it had transpired. Cunningham and Douglas were condemned and suffered a shameful death in the Edinburgh market-place, to the piteous lamentation of the common folk. Arran exercised his power with killings and theft, sated his blood-thirsty mind with revenge, and held everything in suspicion, both foreign and domestic.
- 1585 -
MONG us, the King pursued his ancestral right to the Lennox land, something he kept as quiet as the grave. Sir Lewis Ballenden, a man endowed with consummate force, spirit, and intellect, was sent as his representative to sound out the exiles’ intentions and ask for the return of the Lennox estates in Yorkshire, the King’s personal patrimony, to support the burdens of state. For the treasury was greatly impoverished, since the Regent had diverted the king’s own patrimony and public money to his own use. In a brilliant speech delivered before the Queen, Ballandine rehearsed the many good deeds done her because of the King’s zeal, loyalty, and good will, benefits second only to those of God, which had been maintained even in troubled times by his effort, counsel, and grace. Now his accounts needed to be supported by her generosity and aid, and he prayed Elizabeth that she would have regard for his good disposition and not allow a King who was her nearest kinsman to be bankrupt, a man whom she could not abandon in his misfortune with a clear conscience. When he spoke of these things, he was given a friendly hearing, and dismissed amiably and with kindness. James’ ancestral dominion was not returned, but she promised him several thousand English pounds as her next of kin, and soon kept her word. The feud between the antagonistic Maxwells and the Johnstones grew hotter, as they were given more cause for anger. For Johnstone, the commander of the western border, incessantly demanded the governorship of Dumfries, which had long belonged to the Maxwell family, and he worked on the minds of its townsman so that he would be promoted to that public office. When Maxwell Earl of Morton heard about this from his brother Robert, trouble arose, and he drove the frightened Johnstone out of the city. Now secure in this quarter, he wasted Anandale with his arson and ruination, and Johnstone was compelled by this danger to lodge a grave complaint about his woes and the injuries suffered by his fellow clansmen. Hence the King was more ill-disposed towards Maxwell and more favorable towards the other side. Amidst so many problems of all kinds and the constant raids mounted by such a nearby and stronger adversary, Johnstone, very fierce in his powers of body and mind, died of chagrin. His son James succeeded him, a man of equally courageous mind and steadfastness, but of better fortune, and he proved a most energetic avenger of the harm suffered by his father.
2. At about this same time, when Elizabeth saw that, under the pretense of an alliance openly entered into, a conspiracy existed between Philip of Spain, the Pope, and the Guise brothers aimed against those who professed the Gospel, she sent Edward Wotton, a prudent and humane man, into Scotland to take every precaution to bind James by a perpetual treaty in exchange for an annual pension granted on very reasonable terns, to avert an alteration of received religion and the imminent downfall of the Reformed Church, and promote his marriage with the daughter of the King of Denmark. She also gave him a secret mandate to reconcile the exiled lords with the King, restore the ministers of the Kirk to the position from which they had fallen, curb the power of Arran, and encourage the men of the English faction. Given a royal audience, the ambassador asked that the King not only faithfully abide with their previous alliance, but enter into a new one with yet tighter bonds, if such were possible. He produced a document listing the major points of this new pact and closer friendship. Secretary Maitland said that they must first come to terms, and he carefully weighed the individual points of the treaty. Subjecting them to a careful reading, he gave the ambassador an answer not based on fairness and good-will, but rather on a canny application of the law, and he added that there was nothing in such a serious business that did not require protracted deliberation. In a Parliament of the nobles assembled at St. Andrews, the King declared that a perpetual league with the English would in many ways be useful, and would touch greatly on the safety of both nations and the security of Reformed Religion, whose protection depended on this one thing alone. All the lords of the French faction, looking around for ways of disrupting this concord, finally promised their closest friendship and continued alliance, if the Queen of England would free the Scots of all their burdens and no longer regard them as foreigners, but accept them into an association and give them a common share in all England’s fortunes by using her authority and the agreement of all her lords to declare James heir apparent to the English throne. Consulted about these requests, the English ambassador replied he had no definite instructions about such a difficult matter, and the succession to the throne was not the choice of the Queen but rather was bestowed by vote of Parliament. In the end, by the agreement of all the orders the treaty was openly promised and approved, and the King decided that delegates from both nations should meet to review the treaty and weigh its terms.
3. While these issues concerning the English treaty and the Scottish requests were being discussed back and forth, a disturbance arose along the borders which appeared destined to disrupt this concord, or at least to delay it. During those days Sir John Foster, Warden of the Middle March, and Sir Thomas Kerr of Fernihurst met in the usual way to deal about borderers’ complaints concerning robberies and cattle that had been driven off. An affray chanced to arise, and Francis Russell, heir apparent to the Earldom of Bedford, who had accompanied his father-in-law Foster as a mark of honor, was struck and killed by a ball, to the great sorrow of both nations. The King, who was no less angry over this atrocious crime than was Elizabeth, had Fernihurst imprisoned at Dundee, so as to clear his people of the guilt. The Queen, not content with the imprisonment of her Warden of the Marches, demanded that Andrew Kerr of Greenhide, William Kerr of Ancrum, and John Redford be handed over as guilty parties. Their lives and fortunes were forfeit, if they stood their trial in the traditional way and were convicted of this most unworthy murder. Meanwhile the English ambassador tried by various devices to undermine Arran’s authority, which had been enhanced by the dignity of governorship of Edinburgh Castle, alienated Gray, Maitland, and Ballandine, prominent men in the commonwealth, from his friendship, and secretly laid plans for bringing back the exiles. But, since Arran’s faction was predominant and striving might and main to retain its dominant position, he was unable to obtain a private conference with the King. Quite to the contrary, in defiance of international law he was upbraided by William Stewart of Ochiltree, but stubbornly bore up under this verbal abuse and demanded a royal interview. The King, acting on the advice of his friends, pled that, in accordance with national tradition, he could enter into no great business save by the authority of his Privy Council, and so passed off the audience to them. Introduced to the Council, Wotton accused the Earl of Arran, the Chancellor of the realm, of having provoked the recent affray on the border and of having been party to the murder of Russell. The Council made a show of removing Arran from office. He was commanded to go into custody at St. Andrews, but afterwards he was granted freer confinement at Kinnell, and quickly released. Either because of the difficulty of the new treaty, or out of fear of Arrans’s dependents, or awareness of an impending upheaval, Wotton departed for Berwick as soon as he could, without saying farewell to the King.
4. Thus the commonwealth suffered great blows due to the madness of Arran’s time, and everything was filled with despair. A plague invaded the kingdom far and wide, and the common folk were wretchedly afflicted. The malady particularly infected the royal city. Amidst these storms, there arrived a delegation from the King of Denmark, asking that the Scots pay to redeem the Orkneys and Shetlands, put in pawn many centuries ago. After the Privy Council had heard what they had to say at Dumfermline, the King cleverly and shrewdly replied that all the islands in the northern sea had belonged to Scottish Kings from the beginning of time; Kings of Norway had done great harm by occupying them; King Alexander III had driven out the King of Norway and restored them to Scottish possession; previous Kings of Denmark had yielded their claim,, Neverthteless in the following spring he would send a delegation to Denmark to debate the claim to the Orkneys and Shetlands. Put off with this response, the Danish delegates proposed a marriage between Frederick’s daughter Anne and King James, and announced that they had been sent with instructions to arrange this. Arran, now recalled to court, knew that many men were harboring hatred against himself and had a desire to gain revenge, but relied on his powerful position and had little regard for popular rumors and the indignation of the lords. At this time, as I have already mentioned, living in English exile were Archibald Earl of Angus, John Earl of Mar, Thomas Lyon, guardian of the Lord Glamis, who found Arran’s insults intolerable, and likewise the Hamilton family, who had resolved their quarrel with the other exiles by means of intermediaries shuttling back and forth., and joined in the plot. Having gained subsidies for their expedition from the Queen of England, who secretly furnished money, and making their friends privy to their project by sending them secret messengers, they prepared for their departure to Scotland. By an edict they proclaimed their intention of removing the servitude, injuries, and punishment of innocent men that had existed under their excellent sovereign; wholesomely to come to the aid of their country amidst such great shipwrecks of the nation, and bear aid to the miseries of the common people; to come to the aid of the nation’s security and common fortunes; to oppose Arran’s monstrous crimes and bold enterprises (and he was daring even worse in his boldness and criminality); and at the earliest opportunity to put down the power of upstarts who were abusing the laws and the courtrooms for their personal profit or to slake their pernicious lust for intolerable power, upstarts who were planning the destruction of King and kingdom.
5 Maxwell Earl of Morton, who was outraged at Arran because he realized that the King had been alienated by his frequent accusations, disguised himself as a rustic and, by traveling byways, came to his kinsmen the Douglasses and Hamiltons in England, offering his help and assistance in asserting their dignity. He was the first to pledge his loyalty. If they met with success and managed this business against their common enemy Arran with a single mind and counsel., the rest was bound to follow: they would regain their dignities and security, and many noblemen would quickly come over to their side. Furthermore, they would lack neither popular support against the miscreant nor God’s favor, unless they failed themselves. In the second year after their departure, the leaders of their party returned, Angus, Mar, Glamis, and the leading lights of the Hamilton family. Coming to Kelso, they rested for a few days, and published an edict complaining of Arran’s misdeeds and grave offenses against all the estates, his cruelty, and all men’s loathing of him. Gaining Francis Earl of Bothwell, and the Lairds and members of Clans Hearne, Kerr, and Scot, they had a conference about the time, place, and strategy of bringing their enterprise to fruition. These things occurred in the east. In the west John Maxwell Earl of Morton and John Hamilton, the head of his family, accompanied by their servants and dependents, did not hesitate in joining themselves to the Douglasses when word of the rising reach them, and great movements were abroad in Scotland.
6. Arran was not unaware of their plans and the budding uprising, and yet relied on the authority of the King, no matter how feeble that might be. He was strengthened by the liberal support of the lords Crawford, Glencairn, Erroll, Rothesay, and Montrose, and summoned the men of his faction to Stirling to combat the armed exiles. He proclaimed that the King’s safety was to be deplored, if their adversaries were not confronted in a timely manner. The exiles resorted to extreme haste to forestall him, marching through Falkirk directly for Stirling with the forces they had, intending to besiege the city. Wherever they went, the public poured out, wishing well for the champions of public liberty and the Reformed Religion. They rode around the city walls, scouting to find in what quarter they might attack it, and in the dawn they surmounted the ramparts with a sudden assault. Meeting no opposition, they arrived at the market-place, blocked all avenues of approach, and gained the city by their martial terror. Nobody challenged them except William Stewart, the Captain of the Guard, with five hundred men, and these were put to rout. The Armstrongs, notorious reivers, did not rest content with the thievery of horses and furniture: they carried off cookware and the hinges of windows. When the city had been taken, they took advantage of the recent fright and surrounded the castle with a small rampart. Those within lacked the provisions for the multitude inside, were anxious about the King’s danger, and surrendered the castle and themselves. The rest of the lords, other than Gray, Maitland, and Ballandine (who were supporters of this revolt, if not the men responsible for it) were put in custody, since they had nourished Arran’s wicked hope. The banished exiles went to the King, humbly and unarmed, knelt before him, and entrusted all their fortune to him, pledging their loyalty and obedience. The King, always gentle in his nobility, was overcome by the high birth of the lords, their tears and entreaties, and granted their petition: he pardoned the suppliants, restored them all to their erstwhile dignity and royal favor, and returned to them the estates, towns, land, and castles that had been taken away. He gave Dumbarton to John Hamilton, together with all the manors appropriated by Arran, Tantallon to Angus, and Stirling Castle to Mar, to the discomfiture and groans of their adversaries, and immediately coopted them onto his Privy Council.
7. When he understood his danger, the Earl of Arran took the most important gems with which the earlier Kings of Scotland used to glitter, made his way through his enemies’ commotion to the postern gate of the castle, crossed the Forth by a bridge, and timidly and fearfully fled to Lennox, where he led a life which was not only that of a private citizen, but also a one filled with fear. He quit that province by sea in the company of Captain Jameson, to avoid his imminent ruin. Afterwards he was reduced to the humble state of a servant and wandered solitary wastes, dragging out his unpleasant life, destined to give posterity a great example of the inconstancy of human affairs. For the longer he lived, the unhappier was, and within a brief space he lost all his property, fortune, and honors. But his adversaries, sorry to have lost the ability to take vengeance on him, were not satisfied by his unhappiness and sent out men in all the barren parts of the realm to arrest him. He, hidden for the most part in Galloway or Carrict, barely escaped his peril. The Earl of Huntly gave chase, but by constantly changing his hiding-place he remained untaken by land or sea. At the appropriate time I shall report the remainder of his calamities and strivings.
8. In the next Parliament of the Estates (among the Scots, this is vested with supreme authority by the law of the realm) held at Linlithgow about ordering the public state of the realm, John and Claud Hamilton, Archbishop Earl of Angus, John Earl of Mar, Thomas Leon, the guardian of the Lord Glamis, the Abbots of Driburgh and Cambuskenneth, and also the sons of Gowrie and many noblemen besides were restored to their position. From that day forward, they always displayed consummate loyalty and dutifulness towards their King. Arran was not only stripped of his dignity, but also his governorship, an amnesty for previous disturbances was decreed, and a pardon issued for the crimes of murder and arson done by Maxwell, who had committed many outrages in Annandale. The exiled ministers come back from England, not content with the abolition of their crimes, ardently desired to see their discipline and tribunician power restored, the force of which had been much diminished by the King in his decree of the previous year, when he restored power to the bishops. Unable to obtain this, they returned to their old habits and lapsed into a frenzy. By decree of the estates, the power of the Kirk was sanctioned to curb blasphemy, heresy, adultery, lust, debauchery, scandals, and to preserve the good condition of the Kirk and the soundness of its morals, so that it might be shown as Christ’s chaste bride to Christ her bridegroom. And so, since the ministers, men evil-tongued by nature, were in a malevolent and seditious mood, in a full session of the Parliament that man was declared to be guilty of a capital crime who, in his words or his writings, published anything to lessen the reverence of the people for their sovereign, or damage the sovereign’s love for his people.
9. By this bridle the unrestrained, uncontrolled license of the ministers against their King was kept under control, but it soon erupted more bitterly with terror and threats. For, breaking their bonds of duty and reverence, William Walson and John Hoverson vexed the commonwealth with their troublemaking sermons, flaying the King with all manner of reproaches and imprecations, comparing him to Jereboam. I would like to pass by in silence this worst of comparisons and hotheaded fury, lest in relating it I provide a pernicious license for its imitation. Both of them were threatened and restrained by a brief imprisonment, then let go with impunity, as the hard times of the commonwealth thus required. James Gibson, an uncontrolled hothead, was so disposed to bold impudence that in a sermon delivered at Edinburgh he did not blush to say that it was not Arran, but rather the King, who was the deadliest enemy of the Kirk, and to threaten him fiercely with the fate of Jereboam and the downfall of the royal family. Lest the man’s fury be fed by continued impunity, he was put on trial for his contumacious and threatening speech against the sovereign and interrogated before the Privy Council, where he pertly boasted that the case of the Kirk did fall within the King’s purview and jurisdiction. Hence by vote of the Council he was condemned of treason, not without the added charge of having incited the populace, and imprisoned at Edinburgh Castle. The senate voted this sentence out of fear of a more serious disturbance, and had it published so as to put an end to popular rumors. Some were of the opinion that the sentence ought to be carried out, but it was remitted, since the convicted was too popular to be punished. Thus, thanks to the impunity of offenders, the mildness of the sovereign, and the vice of the times, the boldness of the preachers grew daily, and the authority of the bishops diminished.
10. The King was troubled by these things, and he accommodated his will to that of the the ministers, lest the unmanageable, unrestrained license of their sermonizing continue, thinking it better to hold them to their duty by gentleness and mercy than by fear. Therefore, by means of his agents at a Kirk synod, he greatly complained about Gibson’s rash and daring denunciation, and assailed his brother clergymen with pleas that he be punished for his bold-faced speech. A few ministers devised a way out: when the man was summoned to their court and failed to appear on the appointed day, by reason of his contumacy he was removed from his position and stripped of his benefice. And yet there was no lack of men at the synod who praised him for his great-heartedness. Only a few were of the opinion that he ought to be excommunicated because of the indignity of the thing and his contempt of majesty. The King nonetheless made up his mind to persevere in his affability and kindness and refrain from harsher remedies, because some hope remained of persuasion rather than compulsion. Although this contumacy, which was still a-budding and not grown to ripeness, could not be cured by easier remedies, he never used stronger ones, yet throughout his life he never ceased defending the dignity of bishops with all his power.
11. Amongst these things, the French ambassador de Gosseron arrived in Scotland, and was given a very kindly reception by the King. He was allowed to address a packed Privy Council. The reason for his arrival was that the old alliance with the French, who had so often done well by the Scots, and had been approved by the authority and judgment of so many Kings, should be renewed, and the new pacts with the English dissolved. When the ambassador had been given a hearing, those Scottish lords who inclined to the English treatiy replied that, in accordance with their national custom, nothing could be decided about peace or alliances save in a national Parliament. They furthermore warned that he not waste his time to no good purpose, nor imagine that he could gain his way by fraud or cleverness. Afterwards he had frequent discussions with the King, mixing terror in which his threats, and boasting that friendship with France was fated to be ruptured. Finally he protested that no league with the Queen of England should be entered into without prior consultation with the King of France. The King was unmoved by this menacing talk, and responded more prudently than one would expect for someone of his age: he placed his trust in heaven, not in the friendship of the French, who were opposed to God’s glory; it was no less permissible for him to make an alliance with the right serene Queen of the English without consulting the King of France, than it was for him to have lately made one with him without consulting her. When they heard this reply, the French, who, as I have said, imagined that, in accordance with the old alliance, that they were very closely leagued with us, perceived that the Scots, who shared a common religion with the English, had turned away from all friendship with themselves and zeal for cultivating them, had turned to an alliance with the English, and were prepared to defend Christ’s true religion. While the Scottish Kirk was split by foul rivalries, Maxwell Earl of Morton, relying on the support of his clansmen, and emboldened by his recent victory and kinship with the Hamiltons, promoted the Roman rite, in defiance of the laws and national way of worship. He attempted to restore the authority of the Pope of Rome, from which we had now freed ourselves, and openly celebrated Mass at Dumfries. He led a procession to Lincluden Collegiate Church, led by an elder bearing a cross and banner. Witnessing this outrage, the mayor was terrified, and did not dare make a speech forbidding or discouraging it. As the atrocious rumor of Papism spread abroad, the ministers of the Kirk took it hard, warned the lords t0 stamp out this budding idolatry, a public menace, and with great complaints reported this matter to the King. For this reason Maxwell was commanded to plead his case. He came to Edinburgh, where he was tried and imprisoned. Since he enjoyed favor with lords less well-disposed towards Rome but mindful of his late good service, and were related to him by blood, and he was let go. Afterwards this man, steeped in superstition, did not abandon his project of restoring the Roman rite, and when he persisted in this madness he did not receive the same pardon.
12. While these things were transpiring in the north of Britain, the western islands (inhabited by the worst of men, barbaric in their cruelty, wildness, sloth, love of luxury, and arrogance) witnessed the beginning of a feud, and matters began to head towards a fight. Angus M’Connel, their chief, who was hateful for his savagery, and uncouth by nature, grew ill-disposed towards Maclean, the lord of Islay, a civil man, because he begrudged his power and royal favor, although he was married to his sister. He plotted against the man’s virtues, as if ill-disposed towards his vices. This was the beginning of a disturbance in the islands, and at the proper time I shall describe its outcome: murders, plundering, and robberies. Nor were things any more quiet in Caithness and Sutherland: the islanders are men devoid of nearly all civilization, and by their impulsiveness and a certain kind of rashness they are always ready for all manner of disturbances, with their lords leading them into fights. During these days the Earl of Huntly disposed his sister on George Earl of Caithness and sought to restore their friendship. He also effected a reconciliation with the Earl of Sutherland, a kinsman by blood. So as to make their reconciliation appear all the stronger, these two neighboring Earls decided to harry the Gunns with sword and fire, for having alienated their ancestors and because of their frequent troublemaking. Learning of this, the Gunns called their men to a council, where they agreed that they must take up arms for their safety’s sake. Inspired by this development, they seized arms from their woodlands and remote places and proclaimed that they shirked no danger on behalf of their security. Soon they abandoned their flatlands and migrated to the hills, so that they could defend themselves both by arms and the lay of the land. Henry Sinclair, a vigorous fellow, was the commander of the Caithness men, and, before the Sutherlanders could assemble to aid them, he marched against the rebels. Scorning the small numbers of his enemy, he fought a sharp battle with a shower of arrows. The Gunns resisted his hot onslaught, and drove his men back down as they climbed up the steep, rough terrain. Finally, after Henry Sinclair and about a hundred and forty others hand been killed, the rest barely got away under cover of night. On the following day the auxiliaries of the Earl of Sutherland came up, under the command of John Gordon and James Mackay. The Gunns, wearied by the previous battle and fearing for their lives, thought they ought to try their fortunes no more and quickly fled into Ross. Their enemies hastened there, pursuing them in their eagerness to get for revenge, and, overtaking them at Lochbroom, made a sharp attack. There the Gunns were surrounded and slaughtered. Their commander George, having received many wounds, was taken and brought to the Earl of Southerland, and the rest were overwhelmed by the disorderly multitude of their enemies.
13. Now that the quarrel of his lords was ended, D’Aubigny was dead, James Stewart had been driven into a private, dishonorable way of life, the power of the Guises was gradually being broken, and the King was of an adult age and capable of governing with greater equity and tranquility, the affairs of Scotland were managed as the Privy Council saw fit. Justice, peace, moderation, security, and dignity were flourishing. The King regarded his reign as nothing other than a public responsibility to serve the people’s welfare, and to consult for their common liberty and the interests of the commons, and he ruled everything with such advantage and dignity that the laws held sway, and good morals and the customs of our ancestors were observed. The King knew full well that the beginning of his reign was the critical time, when the outlines of his future government were to be set forth. For, just as the people’s attitudes are shaped by the beginning of their reigns, so, generally speaking, kings are henceforth either held in scorn or in honor. So he had a care for his reputation and in an edict excellently set forth his plan for beginning his reign. And assuredly James was not inferior to any of his ancestors when it came to judgment, wit, memory, and the rare praise he won for his polished education. He attained to an innocence thus far granted to none of his predecessors: his anger did not drive him to impose unfair punishments, neither men’s over-boldness nor the raillery of the ministers in their pulpit-sermons tried his patience. For these reasons he was greatly praised by his common subjects. As he came to maturity, he developed both his power and nobility of intellect, and his knowledge of the Liberal Arts and fine studies as helps in his government, as is shown by the writings, in both prose and poetry, that he published. The Basilikon Doron, that golden work he dedicated to his son, embraces each particular thing which ought to ornament and inspire the life of a sovereign, setting forth wholesome precepts for attaining glory and virtue both in his public and private dealings. He likewise wrote some verse which still survives, in which the excellence of his genius shines forth.
14. I cannot omit to mention that kindly nature had endowed James with a very tenacious memory, in which he could inscribe whatever he read to the letter, and what he heard word for word. In his youth he had absorbed those two most important disciplines, military science and letters, the one a bulwark of peace and quiet, the other a help and ornament in governing. While still at a young and impressionable age by his devotion to the hunt he had been trained in hard work, endurance both physical and mental, and gymnastic exercise, safeguards against avarice, luxury-loving, and the other vices which arise from idleness, and these were his delights both in the first heat of his youth and after he had attained the summit of good fortune. His morals were not inclined to license, the arrogance of success made no impression on his mind: rather, his desires were moderate. By his forgiving, his charity, and his indulgence he won over the minds of the common folk forever, and nothing was stolen from the commonwealth by him, either furtively or by force. He was wonderfully gifted in understanding men and judging their character. In his government and his bestowal of public dignities he opened a highway for the virtues, and appointed very honorable young men to his highest offices and supreme positions of honor. The most important of these were John Maitland, a gentleman of honorable station, loyalty, and well-tried industry, whom he adopted as one of his closest advisors, first making him his Secretary (a position his brother had held under the King’s mother), and then his Lord Treasurer, a shrewd, ready, and adroit man, ill-disposed towards the nobility, who later provoked very turbulent storms in the commonwealth; Patrick Gray, the heir to his family, notable for his knowledge of the ways of the court and his handsome appearance, who had all the endowments of nature save an honest mind; Lewis Ballenden, a man of happy intellect, carefulness, and diligence; Alexander Lindesay, a young man of noble dignity and a youthful appearance, and his brother James. William Keith, born of an ancient noble family; George Elphinstone, a man who enjoyed no less royal favor but was not Keith’s equal in breeding, whom the King advanced from a humble station to a knighthood; Walter Stewart of Blantyre, innocent and industrious; George Home, a man of middling origins, promoted not just to honors but also the office of Lord Treasurer; and Thomas Erskine, a member of the ancient and noble family of the Erskines. For a long time these men held first place at court. Maitland, Gray, Ballenden, Stewart of Blantyre, and a large team of young men who could boast no mean family names, but who were a great credit to their ancestors, handled the King’s greatest affairs both public and private.
15. Other elegant young men were almost the King’s equals in intimate friendship, and kept themselves free for the delights of his pastimes. Afterwards he grew alienated from many of his supporters, more because of their offences than any fault of his own character. As I shall relate later, he was made averse to Gray because of a grave offence, and from others because their manners and enthusiasms altered. Keith was undone by Maitland’s hatred, Spynie by the zeal of the Botlineiani party, Elphinstone because of his sluggish wit, and Blantyre because his power made him unpopular. George Home and Thomas Erskine flourished in power, wealth, and authority throughout their lives: the King punctually and carefully observed the duties of friendship, and continued his good will towards these friends, not with any ardor of affection, but rather with constant, perpetual steadfastness. To be sure, no few sovereigns have displayed a number of virtues: reason, intellect, memory, carefulness, diligence, learning, prudence in managing their dominions, determining and alleviating the condition of their peoples, and exercising their full right over peace and war. Fearing no suspicion of flattery, I can bodly say that, although you may enumerate many such rulers, none have surpassed him in goodness, clemency, innocence, piety, generosity, or self-control. I do not wish to dilate on this subject, lest in recounting all his virtues I consume a great part of this volume.
- 1586 -
HIS year the King exiled James Stewart, the sometime Earl of Arran, and banished him the land, which elicited great cheering from the common folk and favorable murmurs from the Privy Council. He obeyed this command and retired into solitary wastes, where he lay hidden in extreme doldrums of his life and fortune, he who had a little earlier adored lavished banquets and magnificence. His enemies rejoiced at his squalor and filth, and, since he was atoning to his sorrow, they ceased to pursue him, since hope is the only consolation men have amidst their miseries. His wife, that awful woman, was permitted to return to her estates and home. At this time a list of presbyters was compiled by Alexander Hay, the Clerk Register, and exhibited at an Edinburgh Kirk convention. Soon, by means of its managers, the synod petitioned the King to sanction the authority of presbyters. His response was that this would be impossible unless bishops had authority over the presbyteries in their dioceses and the presbyters did their bidding. And he desired the synod to be aware that he was unwilling to make any decision concerning those presbyteries save what the bishops of the various cities adjudged fair and good. After a lengthy controversy, it was agreed that bishops should preside over presbyteries everywhere, but at St. Andrews Robert Willich should perform this function in lieu of a prelate. Melville in his rage prevailed in obtaining this, for when he began to strive against the Archbishop of St. Andrews concerning his life and fortune, he directed his wrath against him and the rest of the Scottish bishops and wheeled up all his artillery for their destruction. In so doing he relied on Willich’s privilege, for he imagined that he was exempt from the Archbishop’s jurisdiction. He announced to the Archbishop that he must submit to the judgment of the presbyteries, adding grave threats should he not comply. The Archbishop scorned this attempted intimidation and did nothing to alter his former way of life. So the ministers of the Kirk excommunicated him.
2. Now Adamson, the Archbishop of St. Andrew, the victim of the contumacious and uncouth insults of Melvin’s brother ministers, shut out of the Kirk and excommunicated in absentia without a hearing, openly declared that this had been done in accordance neither with the rule or the ancient customs of the Kirk. And, so that the ministers might understand how unmoved he was by the imprecations of their lower order in an unjust cause, the prelate lashed them with his harsh curses, since their insolence had grown to the point that, not contented with their own function, they would appropriate the duties of bishops. Their previous sentence of excommunication was null and void, and condemned in the opinions of nearly all men, since a peer does not have jurisdiction or authority over his peer, let alone an inferior over his superior. But with an equal excess of boldness and fury, egged on by Lindesay and certain Lairds of Fife, he was evilly beset by blows and cudgels, with Melville’s followers approving and assisting this crime. Quickly a great complaint about this affair was lodged with the King, He took up the cause of the bishops and announced he would regard it as his most important task, because of his zeal for God’s honor and the dignity of the Kirk. He summoned the assailants to plead their case for their crime, and Melville’s ministers for their lack of self-control and immoderate license. They took up their old song and denied that this event fell within the royal purview, but rather that of the Kirk, notwithstanding the recent Parliamentary edict that subject everything to royal authority, without exception. But during such a strong buffeting of the Kirk he strove to turn a blind eye to the onrush of this savage storm, whipped up by the passion of Man’s pride, and deliberated how to dispel the tempests that had arisen by taking counsel rather than making an assault. And so, gathering the ministers at a general synod at Edinburgh, the King remarked on their unprecedented decree against the Archbishop, saying that the downfall of the Kirk was threatened by pride and accursed party hatred. They, steadfast in their bull-headedness, persevered, and said that when it came to sacred law they acknowledged no higher authority but God.
3. In a Parliament of lords and fathers, the King made this the subject of a legal debate among fair-minded judges, and argued that episcopal authority had been approved by right, law, the ancient customs of the Kirk, and a decree of Parliament. The ministers denied that bishops had any office or usefulness in the Kirk, and maintained that this was a matter for the special jurisdiction of their synod, since supreme government and counsel resided in the general synod. Great arguments were advanced by both sides, and umpires appointed to resolve the controversy between the prelates and the ministers. But they were terrified and dared arrive at no definitive conclusion. Seeing that the King was fearful and endangered, and the weakened Kirk was openly being rent asunder, the Archbishop made his humble submission to the synod. There the moderator, who possesses supreme authority among them, spoke to this general effect: if the Archbishop acknowledged that he was divinely placed in his position to feed his flock, if he henceforth claimed no jurisdiction or mastery over the Kirk, if he maintained his dignity with diligence and moderation, if he submitted to the synod’s decrees and judgments with no cavil, he had hope of absolution. He, saying a few words agreeable to the times by way of preface with degenerate pleas, and not without infamy, subscribed to these most iniquitous conditions, and was received back into the bosom of the Kirk by vote of the clergy — the prelate who had done his manly best to hold up the tottering Kirk, the dignity of his order — and steeled himself to perform this duties both public and private. At this time the ministers possessed incredible authority, and at no time of our commonwealth was their rule firmer or more strong. Therefore, out of the infinite gentleness and prudent moderation of his nature the King held his tongue about many things, endured many, and conceded much.
4. Meanwhile great and very unworthy murders were committed. The chiefs of the islanders M’Connel and Maclean, of whom I have written a little earlier, each refused to defer to the other, since they were of nearly equal fortune and dignity, and a grudging rivalry arose between them. They dealt by means of treacherous friendliness. In order to gain sole domination over the islanders, M’Connel, secretly hating Maclean for his virtue, shrewdly went to the neighboring island of Islay and paid an uninvited visit to Maclean. He was fed a hasty meal with no condiments but plenty of dinnerware, and indulged largely in dining and drinking, continuing to eat and drink by night and by day. When theo food ran out, the departing M’Connel employed a false modesty in proposing to use equal kindness in entertaining Maclean, for reconciliation’s sake. Maclean declined, pleading his suspicions concerning their rivalry. M’Connel gave him the noblest members of his family, his brother and son, as hostages to allay his fear. Maclean took them, and freely went to Cantyre with a modest escort of four hundred and five companions, bringing along the hostage boy to bind his father’s mind more effectively. There he was given a lavish reception, and the glee was protracted late into the night. Acting by treachery rather than angry impulse, M’Connel went about the slaughter of his unarmed guest, his capital foe, having put off his plan until the still of the night. He invited Maclean to a nocturnal drinking-bout. Maclean said the time was not right. Then M’Connel commenced roaring, surrounded by swords and spears. When Maclean learned from the racket that a trap had been set for him, and perceived that his one hope of rescue lay in boldness, he took his help from daring. He was carrying the hostage boy on his shoulders, and threw him towards his father’s sword. While their swords clashed the bawling boy begged for his uncle’s life, and the nephew’s prayers prevailed to prevent the commission of an even worse crime. Only bodyguards were summoned to assist. Maclean’s domestic servants were paralysed with fear and taken prisoner. The two who occupied first place in the eyes of their master were demanded for punishment, and, while seeking somewhere to hide, were locked in the house and burned alive. M’Connel employed similar perfidy, impiety, and wildness against the others, killing them at spaced intervals as if for his amusement, and demanding that Maclean witness their suffering. M’Connel, infamous for his outraged both at home and abroad, not only ordered these but, even though stricken and sorely wounded, eagerly watched them. When the massacre of his companions had been completed, only one victim remained. Maclean, filthy and covered with dirt, was reserved for his end. But God, disguised as a suppliant, took His vengeance on this barbaric thirst for blood. M’Connell fell from his horse and broke his leg, and his dependents were amazed at this sudden miracle. This was reason to put off the murder, which M’Connel had demanded be done posthaste, so this accident brought safety to the man in his hour of supreme peril.
5. At almost the same moment, rumor of this savagery reached Argyll. Concerned about Maclean’s danger, he informed the King. A herald was sent. Landing at Cantyre, he demanded M’Connel’s presence, and announced the King’s command: having handed Maclean over to Argyll, he must come and plead his infamous case. He replied that Maclain had conspired against him with an unsafe banquet, but that the traitor had been forestalled. He was suspected of lying. Soon he received a gentler rescript: if he were free of fraud, he could rely on the innocence of his cause. Argyll sent these letters and serious exhortations to Cantyre together with some of his dependents, to whom Maclean was to be surrendered. Although M’Connel was anxious when he recalled the outrages he had committed, nevertheless was afraid of Argyll’s vengeance, should he spurn his authority, so he sent away his captive, an unexpected turn of good fortune. Maclean, freed from his imminent peril, returned to Islay, but quickly went back to Cantyre to attack the enemy of his safety, and drove him within his castle. Then he raged against M’Connel’s dependents with no less malevolence and savagery, for having slain his companions. He wasted the fields far and wide with sword and fire, harassing the wretched common folk with all manner of catastrophes, and commanded that the legs of their cattle be broken.
6. Would that this savagery had remained limited to the islanders, and that uncontrolled wrath had not passed over to affect our manners! The Cunninghams were no less fierce in visiting their anger on the Montgomeries. Hugh Montgomery Earl of Eglington, a man of comely tall stature and remarkable physical strength, was the leader of his family and of Scottish youth during that age, and was making his way towards Stirling, unarmed and with a modest company of followers. But Robert, the Earl of Glencairn’s brother, together with Cunningham of Robertland, the Laird of Aiket, and a number of Cunninghams, furious with rage, decided to avenge their private insult by his killing. Having set an ambush, they satisfied their hatred with the blood of that innocent Earl. When the crime became common knowledge, the common people piteously mourned him because of his outstanding body and high character. The son of the slain Earl, sill a young boy, took refuge with his uncle Robert Montgomery, who raised him. For a while he supported his noble family, reduced almost to extinction, by his mind’s virtue. The murderers were summoned to the bar and, having been caught red-handed in the crime of murder by treachery, they fled the land. Cunningham of Robertland made a happy escape to Denmark, and later, at the entreaty of Queen Anne, he was absolved of his crime. Meanwhile the Queen used frequent letters and an embassy of Thomas Randolph, mentioned a little earlier, to demand their treaty be solemnized with tighter bonds.
7. Secretary Maitland, an energetic man and a shrewd observer of the times, advised the King that he had an excellent opportunity of gaining his desire with the Queen, thus guaranteeing his annual pension by a fixed agreement and public contract, if she would name him as heir to the kingdom of England by decree of Parliament, should she be childless, and add this to their treaty document. The Queen wrote back to about this effect, that the security and prosperity of her realm was always her concern; if James were to provide no cause for offence and did not attempt to anticipate his lawful time of coming to the throne, and had done nothing, nor would do anything in future, which would obstruct his legitimate right to the English throne. In her youth she had learned music, and knew that an instrument of this kind was likelier to provide dissonance than harmony, and so she had hitherto ignored it. Furthermore, regarding such a momentous matter it would be more conducive to both their majesties to rely on a promise made in good faith and a simple agreement than a signed and sealed document full of legal formulas, and she could not be persuaded that this disagreement did not arise from others rather than for him. In this same letter she went on to a severe criticism of Matiland as a beginner in politics, and she professed herself to be a sovereign who displayed good faith to all the world. The English treaty was openly approved, over the vehement objection of the French ambassador, who vainly issued fearful threats. Soon delegates from the English Queen came to sign the treaty: Edward Earl of Rutland, a man of fine nobility and learning, Baron Evers, and the Thomas Randolph I have mentioned so often, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. They came with a magnificently ostentatious retinue, well worth the seeing. James sent Francis Earl of Bothwell, Baron Robert Boyd, and Sir James Home of Cowdenknowes, the governor of Edinburgh Castle. The met at Berwick-upon-Tweed, where everything went smoothly. They entered into an alliance for preserving the true Gospel religion, and made the bonds of their pact tighter than hitherto. They mutually gave their word to have the same friends and enemies, previous or future treaties notwithstanding. It was likewise agreed that, should any foreign nation invade Britain with warlike intent, each should furnish aid to the other, and not receive any enemy of, or fugitive from, the other. This treaty did much to detract from the French alliance, and provided timely protection for English security against any hostile attack by the Spanish.
8. Next Archibald Douglas of Whittingame, who had previously gone abroad with the other accused men, now returned to his homeland from exile, although his infamy created very passionate feelings. He was indicted as having been privy to the murder of Lord Darnley, or having participated in the doing of the deed, by Arran’s brother William Stewart of Monkton. On the day of the trial the accused came up to the Edinburgh Tollbooth with a great bodyguard of friends, where jurymen were mostly chosen from out of his supporters, and pronounced a sentence of amnesty for his guilt: they saw no reason to convict him of the crime Therefore he was unanimously let go, with the jury exercising more moderation than severity. In this case we may contemplate the double standard applied by juries, for the amnesty which could not be granted to innocence was bestowed in deference to the power of Gray, which was almost equal to that of the laws, and as a favor to the English ambassador Randolph. At this trial the vehemence of Arran’s prosecutor was lacking, nor were the juryman as ill-disposed towards Douglas as those who sat at the trial of Morton, when he sought to defend himself from an accusation of regicide. Furthermore, eloquent modesty and sober, keen intelligence provided a stronger bulwark of the defense. Thanks to this amnesty, the accused (who could not deny the accusation) was freed of legal blame for his crime, but not the infamy of what he had done. Even though no man dared oppose this sentence of amnesty, complaining voices were heard, issuing from the common folk, which exclaimed that he had deserved worse, and that it would have been fair to mete out vengeance proportionate to the magnitude of his evildoing.
9. Meanwhile the feud of the Maxwells and Johnstones continued as they caused trouble at the outskirts of the realm, and they did much harm to each other. This, or lust for booty and lack of restraint, provided the occasion for this discord and civil strife. As if they had been given permission to commit their acts of devastation, the Armstrongs ranged far and wide with their robbery and reiving, driving and carrying off farmers’ wealth with impunity. With their thieving they infested not only the countryside and its hamlets, but even, as their boldness grew as the result of this impunity, they set ambuscades for townsmen, if they should travel the highways conducting business or for pleasure’s sake. The King had a particular care for maintaining the peace against theft, robbery, and the license of sedition. Hence he stripped Maxwell of his power as warden of the borderlands, for his arrogance, contumacy, and enthusiasm for Papism, contrary to our national laws and way of worship, and, by decree of the Privy Council, bestowed it, together with viceregal authority, on Archibald Douglas Earl of Angus, a singular devotee of law and right. Surrounded by an armed guard, Angus pronounced the law with consummate equity, using the hangman’s noose to check the boldness of reivers, and the terror of Douglas’ name by itself sufficed to bring about obedience. He attempted to dissuade the Johnstones and the Maxwells, those high-spirited and brave fellows, from their feuding, but there was no possible ending to their quarrel save for their universal destruction or the domination of the victor. His great efforts were rewarded by a glory well-remembered by posterity.
- 1587 -
T the beginning of the year, it was claimed that Maitland, Gray, and the exiled lords had entered into a conspiracy either to assassinate the King or lead him captive into England. The man responsible for this accusation was James Stewart, the erstwhile Lord Chancellor driven out of office by the lords, with the intent of using the idea of their transferring the government to the English to render them unpopular, thereby avenging his personal suffering. When these sayings, popular rumors, and anonymous writings increased, the restored lords crowded about the King asking to be put on trial, if they so deserved, or for the punishment of their detractor, a fellow unaccustomed to denouncing men who were actually guilty, if he were telling falsehoods. The King soothed the lords’ passion, telling them that he knew for a certainty that the accusation was a fiction. By so doing he gained great popularity and the innocence of the lords came as welcome news to the people. The absent accuser was sentenced to perpetual banishment and to death in absentia, and his writings, filled with vanity, were burned. By his act of kindness James made the lords most devoted and obedient to himself. Then the lords, eager to seize the main chance, worked harder for Stewart’s destruction. But he went into hiding, and dragged out his life for many years, a life he ended with an unhappy death, after having long baffled his pursuers by various arts. Now the King, wearied of his people’s many complaints and desirous for public tranquility, undertook his first expedition out of his desire to curb robberies in Niddisdale and Annandale, and to tame the proud license of Maxwell Earl of Morton, who often rebelled because of his confidence in his fellow clansmen. Maxwell learned of the King’s intention and, terrified at the prospect of his arrival, voluntarily fled from his home to live a life in Portugal, far removed from Scotland. His kinsman John Hamilton looked after the affairs of the absent man and his personal fortune. He frequently petitioned for Morton to be granted leave to return, but he did not obtain this over the objections of Maitland and the royal ministers of the opposing faction. Many felons were hanged, many were pardoned in the hope they would lead better lives. A number of offenders were handed over to the Queen of England. The clan chiefs who had disturbed the public peace with their thievery and plunder were suppressed by fear of punishment and pledged their faith and due obedience. Hostages were demanded and given. The King sent outriders in every direction, because of the great number of malefactors, to ban the recalcitrant from fire and water, unless they were found to be obedient to their governors, and to make them less troublesome at home.
2. John Maxwell, the brother of Baron Herries, made a royal favorite and sent to take possession of Caerlaverock Castle, was very cruelly slain by the Graham reivers, not without indignation over the deed. The angry King curssed this brutal murder, and commanded the men responsible to be found and hanged. Having lingered a few days at Dumfries, he went to Edinburgh for the holding of a Parliament. With troublemaking and the robberies of the reivers suppressed by this diligence, and the clansmen having been handed a defeat, he particularly devoted himself to the uprooting of personal rivalries, the hereditary feuds of noble families, and ancient quarrels. Hence he summoned powerful leading men who, relying on their great wealth, kinship and blood relations, and dependents, were disturbing the public peace by their violence or ambition. He requested them all to set aside their squabbles, refrain from killing, and end their discords by forgetting their grudges. He told them that, if he could persuade them to do this, if they could be made accustomed to laws, civilization, a sense of shame, frugality, and good manners, they would always find honors and rewards with him; if not, they should expect fines, punishments, and the severity of the law.
3. Although there were grudges, embittered by long-standing hatred, between Crawford and Glamis over the murder of his brother, and between Angus and Montrose over the sentence passed against Morton the Regent, they were moved by the King’s entreaties and authority. The Master of Glamis, a most brave man and Captain of the Guard, immediately reconciled with the right distinguished Lindesay Earl of Crawford, Archibald Douglas Earl of Angus with John Graham, a man of equally high station, and the most noble Mar with Glencairn They agreed that with a single mind and will they should defend the security of their King. Soon they held an elegant banquet with festivity and good cheer, having set aside their burdens of office, and entered into a drinking-bout. On the following day a kindly speech by the King soothed their anger, if any remained from their disagreements and discords. The city magistrates held a public feast in Edinburgh market-place, where the King and lords provided a common spectacle by making their entry with joined hands. The whole city poured out, including its women and children, as the people heaped everything with its praise. After this reconciliation of the nobility, only Baron Yester showed himself as implacable and inexorable in his hatred of the noble Sir John Stuart of Traquair, so he was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle. After these things, Patrick Gray, who I have often mentioned, a young man of supreme power, who at the time was flourishing in the royal favor, was accused by Gilbert Stewart (who rivaled his brother in bold-facedness) of having ill-performed an embassy to England and of betraying Queen Mary. He supposedly used very brutal words in upbraiding Elizabeth for her fear and delay in having her executed (namely “the buried don’t bite”), and had entered into secret communication with the King of France and the Guises against the Reformed Religion. The King, his sense of propriety offended, summoned his leading friends to a conference., and by their common consent both of them were confined in Edinburgh Castle. Soon they were haled before the Privy Council, and Stewart persisted in his allegation of disloyalty and treason, describing his crime and his mandate. The accused denied these criminal reproaches. Then Stewart said that, if he denied he had done this and the other things he had alleged, he should defend himself with his sword. Gray was shaken by this persistent accusation, and when he appeared to be pleading his case inconsistently and with a trembling voice, and was not bold in defending himself against a doubtful charge, the lords fell all over each other in shouting that he was guilty of treason. Amazed by the atrocity of his monstrous deed, the King managed nothing more than to say “Oh the wicked crime! Oh the felony!” and commanded that he be executed for his treason. But in the meantime John Hamilton, who enjoyed supreme authority at that time, knelt before the King and begged for mercy, and demanded that he not be handed over to his doom. The King wept over this most cruel deed and issued an edict cursing the traitor. Maitland flayed him in an epigram:
I am not sure whether you are a Paris or a Greek. You have the appearance of fair Paris, being his equal in beauty, gallantry, and love. You do not differ from him in being the light of your nation, nor in your fate and your ill auspices. And yet Greek faith taught you to be Gray.
4. Meanwhile Bothwell’s suspicions were aroused, and he arrested a certain Englishman, who was brought to the King on the unspeakable charge of intending to poison him. Bound in chains, he was cast in prison,, and a nasty rumor about Leicester began to circulate. The fellow was granted a hearing in the presence of the King and given a chance to clear his name, lest the English nation regard his arrest as a hostile act. Neither did he make an open confession nor were the facts ascertained afterwards, so that his guilt was never established, and when put to the question about his accomplices he revealed nothing. But a persistent popular rumor was that he was sent by those responsible for his mother’s death to poison her son James. Bothwell told the nobility the man was Leicester’s hireling. Not much later, at a Parliament of the nobility, the King remarked that there is great power in the unanimity of lords who all share the same feelings. The greatest families had been completely undone by feuds and quarrels., and the fruitfulness of friendship and concord can be learned from such arguments and grudges. Domestic discord and internal factions hand your enemies a bloodless victory, whereas concord is the tightest and best bond of security in every commonwealth. Then he bitterly inveighed against those who had put his mother to death, saying that he had a suspicion there would be a war with the English. He asked the opinion of the lords there present. When the matter was debated in that public national assembly, the more belligerent were of the opinion that this criminal act required very harsh vengeance. They all offered their assistance, freely and without any stipend, and proclaimed that they were prepared to submit their lives and all their fortunes to the chances of war. If any man challenged the King’s right to England, they said that this insult, given to their very brave nation, was no longer to be tolerated. The foreign help of the Spanish, French, and the Pope was to be sought, and henceforth no opportunity was to be ignored. The most vehement of them all was Francis Earl of Bothwell, ardent with fury and rage that the name of Scotland was so scorned and Scottish arms held in such disdain. I shall speak of his fortune and end at the proper time. The more prudent were of the opinion that they should think of security rather than revenge, should abide by their English alliance and received religion, and not jeopardize James’ sure hope for gaining the kingdom of England by submitting to the uncertain hazards of war. The king pondered many things and hatched secret counsels and arcane projects involving the Guises. Hearing the opinions of his lords, he praised their affection, good will and zeal in deliberation, but replied that revenge would be his business, and he announced a Parliament of the realm, to be held on July 29 at Edinburgh.
5. Amidst such a great press of affairs, James, in the flower of his young manhood and enjoying supreme popularity at home with his lords and common people, and incredible good repute abroad, sought the hand of Anne, the daughter of King Frederick II of Denmark, for the purpose of begetting children. He sent to Denmark the honorable knight Patrick Vaux and his old tutor Peter Young, gentlemen suitable for the task, with a free mandate. And now, assured of his marriage, he sponsored domestic peace and kept his lords unified in concord. During these days Maitland was enlarged with the dignity of Lord Chancellor, and showed such proof his intellect sitting on the bench, not just in the unspoken opinion of his friends, but with the obvious admiration of all men, that the King daily came to have greater reliance on his judgment and prudence. He carefully watched every detail of affairs and the times, he looked around for all wounds suffered by the commonwealth, and omitted no opportunity for helping it. He took upon himself the King’s business and the tasks of the realm. But he attended to public matters in such a way that he did not neglect private ones. He had a deep fear of the suspicions created by ministers who gained great names and great esteem for their lives and manners, and of the growing dislike of the lords. It chanced that during those days the Kirk was rent by contentions: the bishops rued the things that had happened because of their vices and sloth, and acted manfully to defend their rights and the dignity of their holy order. The ministers strove either to subject the prelates to themselves or wholly overthrow them, and these contentions reached the point that they allowed the prelates no right to estates or revenues, chiding them for their idleness, inactivity, and opulence. Now that the treasury and the King’s personal treasury had been drained dry by the neglect of the Regents, and a large part of it spent on increasing the Kirk income guaranteed by James’ ancestors, Maitland supported the ministers’ strivings, for by their speaking and writing they were condemning Kirk wealth, saying that the possession of estates, revenues, and immobile property was sinful. Out of the annual income of bishops, abbots, and similar benefices, and out of the income of tithes, they required nothing but a salary to supply food and clothing. When the size of the profit that could be gained was revealed, it moved the Lord Chancellor and courtiers who held sway over the King’s mind and ears with their fine-sounding arguments, to the point that they urged the King that he reassert his power of appointing bishops as he saw fit, and that he annex Kirk farms and income to the royal patrimony by an indissoluble bond. Thus he could pay for public necessities with prelates’ resources, and reward the well-deserving.
6. By these fawning flatteries they easily won over the King, weak because of his youth, to their opinion. The bishops, informed by friends that these things were being discussed at court to their detriment, and that the King was being won over by their enemies, foresaw this growing evil, which they were not strong enough to cure, and saw no other remedy than to expose themselves to the greed of the courtiers. For they adjudged this was being done by the advice of a few, and could not be achieved by free vote of the estates. Meanwhile the ministers, eager for the ruin of the prelates and avid for vengeance, won over the King and his courtiers by the hope of profit-making, and had no hesitation to rudely boast they had inflicted a fatal wound on the bishops, even at the cost of inflicting a wound on the Kirk as a whole. Maitland and the leading courtiers thanked the ministers for lending the King their help and support, and assisting his revenues. While these things were afoot at court, the day of the Parliament approached. And so, in accordance with national tradition, managers were appointed to report the wishes of the lords and commons to the estates, as had been the custom at previous Parliaments. Select lords, knights, and mayors were called to court, where a discussion was held about annexing Kirk landholdings to the Crown, but they could not be convinced that this question ought to be placed before the Parliament. Maitland, Blantyre, and Ballenden strove mightily to gain their way, if the managers had any regard for the King and his convenience. But they flatly refused to place this item on the agenda, averring that, should they do so, they would be acting against the national interest. Maitland worked on the terrified fellows with violence, fear, and threats, telling them that such was the royal will. He dangled prospects of turning a profit before their eyes, and attempted to win them over. In the end they retreated from their position because of his entreaties, threats, and proffered bribes, and promised to do his bidding.
7. When the day of the Parliament arrives, the lords and commoners came flocking together, but public business was delayed because of private quarrels. Contentions arose between Crawford and Bothwell, extremely powerful lords, and Home and Fleming, about precedence in voting. Their fury was incredible. They collected their dependents and the matter was put to a vote. Crawford was unanimously given preference to Bothwell, and Fleming to Home, and their quarrel was resolved in such a way that henceforth similar ones were forbidden by public decree. Likewise at this Parliament David Lindesay, a preacher of Leith, beset the prelates and bishops not only with criticisms, but with slanders and evil speech, on the grounds that they were neglecting their supervision of Kirk discipline and were concentrating their thoughts on wealth, revenues, and private advantage. He requested that men who did not administer the Sacraments to their flocks or preach the Word of God should not enjoy free votes in Parliament. His demands were denied, since the assembled lords did not think that the order of prelates should be subverted. The managers, heedful of their promise, requested that Kirk manors be contributed to the royal patrimony, in accordance with the courtiers’ scheme. Lord Chancellor Maitland seized the opportunity and spoke of the royal authority over sacred matters: if the Kirk possessed any right, if it owned any far-flung possessions, if it reaped any income from its opulent patrimony, it ought to thank the generosity and bounty of Kings. Without incurring a charge of manifest ingratitude, it could not dissimilate the fact that, more than the other sovereigns of Christendom in proportion to their resources, Kings of Scotland had given churches fine donatives and noble estates. David I had surpassed them all in increasing ecclesiastical revenues, and, with a preposterous access of zeal and spendthrift generosity, subsequent Kings had reduced themselves nearly to disgraceful poverty. The profit they had reaped from these gifts was modest: the pursuit of learning was extinguished, since these expenses were hindrances rather than helps, burdens rather than subsidies for studies. “Therefore,” he said, ”you are confronted by two important questions: is it advantageous to prelates to possess huge farms and ample revenues, which are burdens more than helps, at a time when the public treasury is impoverished, and when the royal patrimony is suffering a great reduction? Or are things unwisely given to be regained?” Meanwhile the ministers, the chief instigators of the Kirk’s ruination, delivered very acerb sermons attacking the prelates and bishops as being sluggish in their own cause, and burdensome to the commonwealth with their luxury and opulence, issuing many calumnies against their wealth and income. The bishops warded off all these shafts of abuse with the shield of patience, and beat back these verbal assaults with their modest silence: they stated that their incomes were not meant to incur unpopularity or buy luxury, but only to satisfy their necessities. The lords deliberated for a long time, and it struck them as most just to ask back the things that had been given the Kirk with such little moderation that this was the reason for the public impoverishment. Quickly, by the vote of all the lords and the popular estate, the temporal estates and possessions of bishops which, in accordance with the liberality of sovereigns and lords, had been bestowed by secular law on abbeys, colleges, and bishoprics, should be contributed, with an indissoluble bond, to the fisc of the commonwealth and the sovereign’s patrimony. But this did not long prevail, since monasteries and bishoprics were put up for sale and basely auctioned off for money. Men who held sway at court were honored with Kirk dignities. Tithes and and the priestly rights of the Kirk were not preserved for the ministers. With all the patrimony of the Kirk abolished by the public decree of the estates, the Parliament was dissolved.
8. Amidst his public concerns, under a show of promoting the public welfare Maitland made money on these court auctions, money which ought to have been added to the accounts of the public or the fisc, and by paying a fee he converted feudal holdings, huge farms, and other sacred properties of the prelates to his private use. He did a fine job of imposing on the ministers’ greed, and baffled their importune petitions by offering empty hope. This immediately made him highly unpopular. And so this remedy failed to heal the wounds of the Kirk, which continued to be gravely affected, nor were royal incomes helped. For immediately after the public decree everything was either given or sold to those courtiers who flourished in the King’s good graces, and the public burdens were not relieved. The ministers deplored that large estates and Kirk revenues were being granted to courtiers, and no public wares were as easily bought as ecclesiastical property. By their show of poverty the ministers played on the minds of the common folk, and raised their popularity to a fever pitch. Now those who had railed so unworthily at the idleness and opulence of the prelates reaped the reward of their wishes and prayers. Many royal ordinances wholesome for the commonwealth were enacted at this Parliament. The King, who in his boyhood had been under the power of others, now came into his own right. He recalled things which had been granted or alienated in a manner prejudicial to the Crown, and he commanded that it should not be lawful to alienate Crown property.
9. The Parliament concluded, the lords who sought delayed revenge knelt before the King and told him he should avenge his mother. If he decided to punish this unspeakable crime by force of arms, with a unanimous voice they reminded him that they were willing to stand up for his glory and the revenge of this hateful wrong. The King thanked them and with many words praised the lords’ good will. Meanwhile many schemes were afoot, not for destroying the commonwealth, but for its alteration. The Earl of Huntly, notable neither for his good counsel nor his bravery, but by far the wealthiest Scotsman of them all, harbored a dislike of Maitland, who at this time governed everything in Scotland as he wished. John and Claud, the heads of the Hamilton family, the Earl of Glencairn, and Maxwell Baron Herries were equally ill-disposed because he had driven out Maxwell Earl of Morton, his friend and ally. These men had in no way been taken into the government, and refused to hold their peace in their private condition. Collecting their friends and dependents, they met with the King at Dumfermline, inspired by this opportunity. Maitland was now enhanced by his rank as Lord Chancellor and a barony, and the leading ministers at court, Ballenden and Blantyre, foreseeing a change in affairs, warned the Edinburgh magistrates that they should mount night watches and resist seditions and criminal enterprises, and they manufactured rumors that Huntly was contriving the overthrow of Reformed Religion, and planning to do violence to the magistrates and assault the commonwealth. Hence the young men of the city were forearmed against a sudden assault by the Gordons and Hamiltons. So, when his plots against Maitland were making no headway and when he understood that the city was protected by watches, Huntly was quite terrified and for his safety’s sake he quit Dumfermline.
10. Thus, thanks to his carefulness, thought, and industry, the Lord Chancellor strengthened the peace and kept his power safe and tranquil. The cities of Scotland remained pacified and quiet, until Maxwell of Herries, the warden of the western border revived the power of the Roman Pope, long detested, and the Roman way of worship at Dumfries. Therefore, hopeful of regaining their erstwhile dignity, the priests crept out of their hiding-holes and made some show of a disturbance by celebrating a solemn Mass in the city. The Puritan Ministers took to their heels. But there was more fright than danger in this Dumfries affair, since by his threats of punishment the King cowed Herries into abandoning his enthusiasm for promoting the Mass, and stopped this attempt at religious innovation with no death or loss of blood. He threw such a fear of judgment into the Baron that he voluntarily knelt and begged for mercy. The King invited Huntly’s uncle, the Jesuit James Gordon, a man possessed of no small knowledge of Scripture, to come to Holyroodhouse, and there the King very shrewdly disputed in front of a throng of ministers about those very thorny subjects, the authority of the Church, the sacrifice of the Mass, divine Presence in the Host, Communion in one kind, Purgatory, indulgences, and the other inventions of Gordon’s profane way of worship, and employed many weighty arguments to refute with great ease those pious frauds, witnesses of impiety, and portentous Papist opinions. For this reason he met with the ministers’ effusive praise, rejoicing, and popular applause, pronouncing him the victor. When James could not restore Gordon (infirm by both his nature and his age) to his sanity, he sent him to France with his good leave.
11. Meanwhile during the very hard midwinter season, Huntly (who would have been a very unambitious man if his tumultuous kinsmen had permitted) did not cease his troublemaking. He sent his servants around to his friends and held a muster in his territory. He assembled, armed, and set in order a multitude of men, and added to his faction the Hamiltons, who were blood relations, and many lords who were ill-disposed towards the Lord Chancellor for personal reasons, all of whom assembled at an appointed time at Linlithgow. Maitlands perceived that this storm was directed at himself and, fearing imminent vengeance, protected himself by assembling his armed friends, dependents, and many noblemen. He joined consummate fortitude to his supreme prudence. Protected by a breastplate under his shirt, he concealed a dagger in his clothing for self-protection, should any violence occur. When the storm appeared about to break, the King dispelled fear of an imminent commotion by an exercise of prudence, sending his dependent Patrick Moray to Huntly, commanding him to abide by his faith and duty. This plan achieved its result: the Earl of Huntly, scarcely a violent man and inclined to peace, was mindful of his faith and duty, if only by decree of the Privy Council Lord Chancellor would be removed from his administration. He restrained his bloodthirstiness and, accompanied only by twelve of his strongest friends, went to Holyroodhouse. Falling to his knees, he appeased the royal wrath by a show of meek dutifulness. Maitland was nevertheless afraid lest his youthful mind be changed by Gordon, who would very maliciously explain to the King his arts and dodges, mentioning that he was corrupted by bribes and many foul deeds. But Gordon did not prevail, so that the King was more mindful of Maitland’s good points than he heeded his slanderer’s ill-will. Thus, since Gordon could not drive him out of office, after a few days he went home to the city of Aberdeen in his province. When he got there, with great difficulty he reconciled that city to the Laird of Baliohan.
12. While this was the situation in Scotland, fear of war impending from the Scots and the Spaniards struck deep in the Queen of England’s mind. Nor, thinking of the grave injury she had recently inflicted, did she have any hope of placating the King without giving him some satisfaction, until his very acute grief lessened with the passage of time and his anger cooled down. At length, casting the blame on Davison and the untamed rashness of certain of her counselors, she strove to reconcile James, or at least to mitigate his feelings, and by means of Hunston, the governor of her garrison at Berwick, she tried to sway him by the allurements of kindness and boundless flattery, and advised him to reflect how perilous it would be to undertake a deadly war. He had neither the strength at home, nor the friends abroad, nor would the English be lacking in virtue and fortune if things cane to blows. England abounded in arms, wealth, a fleet, and young men, whereas Scotland was worn down by dire civil war, and her hope for finding favor abroad was uncertain and vain. His mother had discovered to her sorrow that help was far away. The King of France was not unaware how useful it would be for France to gain Scotland, he was looking at this with narrowed eyes. At present the King of Spain, boasting that he was the closest in kin to Elizabeth, being descended from the House of Lancaster, was unambiguously making plans to gain the throne of England., and the Jesuits and English exiles were egging him on in his preposterous ambition, producing pedigrees to support his obsolete, doubtful and vain title. She added that, if any disturbance of war should arise between their kingdoms for this reason, so that the safety of the English people and all their nobility would be endangered, then the people of England would understand that they must risk their dignity, life, and all their fortunes to offer timely protection to their Queen and the security of the realm. By public decree they would exclude both James and his descendants from the English line of succession, either taking away or diminishing his right of inheritance, which now was firm and assured, and destined to be confirmed by the vote of her lords at the proper time, if he would abide in religion, peace, and friendship. Finally she declared that he had consulted sufficiently for his piety towards his mother and his own honor, since he had omitted no duty of a very pious son towards a parent at its proper time. She herself would have had to die, if Mary, a woman born to govern and destined never to abandon that save in death, had gained power. By her blandishments Elizabeth was not yet able to appease James’ just sorrow over this grave offense and his craving for revenge, although the passage of time and public utility later mitigated it. For the lords of the English faction impelled the King, incensed about these things, to think about his security and the succession to the English throne more than about his anger, since now a great slaughter by the hostile King of Spain, who was breaking forth into open warfare, impended by land and by sea.
- 1588 -
OHANNES Regiomontanus and Henricus Renzovius, skilled astrologers and seers, foretold this year would be marked by a number of catastrophic human events, and mass slaughters by both land and see. These forecasts elicited various emotions among all the nations, but the outcomes of events proved the truth of their prophecies: Britain was terrified by the stupendous Armada; France thrown into confusion by the murders of the Guise brothers; Poles, Swedes and Germans depopulated by mutual killing; Belgium never suffered worse catastrophes of famine or plague; both in the Occident and the Orient things were troubled; Scotland was rife with seditions, and amidst her internal discords nothing could be kept concealed. Huntly’s spies, observing Maitland’s sayings and doings at court, reported that he uttered witticisms laced with much acerbity, which was all the easier to believe because he was very loquacious by nature and had written epigrams laden with many jibes against his opponents. But Maitland’s own spies announced that these gentlemen had been stricken with drawn steel and cowed so that they suddenly went home. Huntly was a devotee of the Papist religion, and decided to remove the Lord Chancellor by any possible means, since he thought it was particularly thanks to his prudence and authority that all Papist endeavors were being baffled. So that he could do so in a less dangerous way, he retired to take counsel with his friends. He reported what had occurred, and discussed with them about how he might gain revenge. They professed that they would shirk no danger in retaliating for his insults. Having had this discussion, Huntly, Crawford, and Montrose (the leaders of the faction hostile to the Chancellor) gathered a large band of dependents and friends, and, joined by the Hamiltons, marched to the court for the sake of ejecting Maitland. As soon as they were granted an interview with the King, they sought by all means to fire him against Maitland. They demanded the Lord Chancellorship for Claud Hamilton, the governorship of Edinburgh Castle for the Huntly, and the Captaincy of the Guard for Colonel William Stewart. Annoyed that his authority was being held in contempt, the King bid them refrain from these untimely demands.
2. Maitland was a man of great courage and counsel, and in such a great storm of the commonwealth he continued to remain in office and pronounce the law with singular greatness of spirit. Seeing his danger, he considered he should think of nothing other than his nation’s perils. He shattered his opponents present at the Privy Council with his oratory and debating skills. He did sow the seeds of hatred by troubling their minds, but he won over many. Hence the adversaries were greatly troubled that their plans were going awry, so they hatched schemes and decided to send assassins against the Lord Chancellor. He learned of their secret plans and looked out for his safety with the aid of Angus, Bothwell, Mar, and the nobility roaring its opposition, and so retained his Chancellorship with dignity and authority. For the sake of his future security, he bound many lords to himself by his favors and gifts, and let no man advance to honor who did not promise to aid him in maintaining his dignity, and so very bravely protected himself from the fury of his enemies by a bulwark of friends and dependents. When neither his wiles nor the schemes which he had set in motion against Maitland fared well, but rather his favor, power, and wealth had unexpectedly grown, Huntly threw up his hands and went home, and devoted himself entirely to quietude, discharging only private responsibilities. To enhance the public peace and tranquility and cement his popularity with good men, the King went to Jedburgh to suppress reivers. Many men of Teviotdale were sent hostage to England so as to deter the rest from robbery, as were several Lairds given to mischief-making: Hunthill’s sons, Greenhide, Corbet, and Overton. This put a scare into the entire province, since the King freely took hostages for the security of his common folk, not just from the men of Teviotdale, but from districts beyond it as well, and they were terrorized. Men infamous for the magnitude of their evildoing he banned from water and fire. This expedition not only confirmed his popularity with the ordinary people, but also gained him great fame in neighboring lands. Coming home, he made an inspection of Berwick and its surrounding lands. The garrison had never before shown equal honor and dutifulness to any man, since it was assured that he had hopes for the succession after Elizabeth’s death. He thanked the governor and sergeants for such handsome treatment and shared out rewards among the soldiers of the garrison.
3. Meanwhile Maxwell Earl of Morton returned to Scotland without any companions, bringing a memorandum about the outfitting of the Armada and secret commands of Philip to several lords who adhered to the Roman religion, showing at the same time that rewards from Philip awaited them. To him was added Sempill, a colonel of the Scottish regiment who had abandoned Lier, a man infamous for his treachery, sent to test the popular mind regarding innovation and to try to arrange a marriage between Isabella, daughter of the Spanish King, and King James. Chisholm, Bishop of Dunblane, an exile for religion’s sake, was likewise sent by the Pope to observe the Scottish situation and make trouble. He was also commanded to confer with the King, but was forbidden to meet with him. For at that time nothing was omitted by the English Queen to enhance the King’s majesty and promote his good will. Moreover the King issued an edict that all men dwelling this side of the Forth should gather in arms at Dumfries to put out the fire lately kindled in his lands by Maxwell, persistent in standing up for our ancestors’ rites and ceremonies, and he marched so quickly ahead of any rumor of his coming that he caught Maxwell all but unawares. When the King’s arrival was announced, Maxwell disguised himself as a servant and fled to Kircudbright, a harbor of Galloway, and attempted to make his escape to Spain in a skiff. Learning of his flight, James sent Sir William Stewart of Kiltyre, who was in his service, to arrest him. Stewert hurried as quickly as possible to the harbor of Millport. There he found a ship and filled it with 120 armed men. Resting neither by day nor night, he sailed for Kircudbright, so that he might forestall any word of his coming. Arriving there, he saw the ship carrying Maxwell, keeping its course with a following wind. He gave chase and, drawing near, terrified Maxwell. He, amazed and unprotected, disembarked and had himself rowed to King’s Cross Abbey in Carrick. Therefore, to escape detection, he lurked in a dark tavern with a single companion. Informed by his spies, Stewart dragged him out of hiding and spared him, not for a trial, but for his certain doom.
4. After his capture, the ministers clamored that he must be punished for his contempt of religion and disdain for the government, but he was resued by happenstance. For his bowels were weak and he suffered from the flux, and all agreed that he appeared on the point of death, so he avoided his punishment, although many pitied him for his great change of fortune. When these things had been accomplished, Stewert hastened to Dumfries. Then he went to Lochmaban, a town of Annandale, where he found the King besieging its castle. The King was a safe place and had a guard of soldiers under their captain David Maxwell of Cornhill. He sent messengers to urge the men of the garrison that they would do better to experience his mercy than his power. When they gave a rather pugnacious reply, and he had vainly angled for a bloodless surrender, he began the siege. Seeing that it would be long-drawn-out because of nature of the terrain and the belligerence of its governor, he commanded that equipment be fetched from nearby England: cannon, powder, shot, and everything else that pertained to siegeccraft. Soon thereafter, having dug trenches and placed his guns, he hastened the siege. Afterwards, when part of the wall was collapsed in ruins and the bombardment terrified the besieged, they began to negotiate terms for the surrender of the castle. William Stewart was sent to do this. Receiving a pledge of safe conduct, he entered and informed the mmebers of the garrison that there was no longer any hope of help for them now that Maxwell had been captured, and that the garrison had nothing left beyoud the castle and their scanty provisions. Then he imprudently entered into an agreement in his sovereign’s name, promising them their lives and safe passage. After the King had made his response, that there would be no agreement unless they made an unconditional surrender, the governor trusted in this and came out of his castle. A number of men rushed up and cast him in chains, and he was quickly hanged together with five of his assistants. They say that the bystanders imagined he was dead, but when he had been cut down and lain on the ground for a while, he appeared to draw air. But now, his life’s breath choked, no human assistance could rescue him from his fate. Having achieved these things, the King went back to Dumfries, and by fear of execution he made thieves and roving robbers do as they were bidden. He easily took the castles of Langholm, Castlemilk, and Morton, their strongholds, and he commanded that Robert Maxwell, the bastard brother of the Baron, and Willie Armstrong of Kinmont, notorious for his robberies both domestic and foreign, be sought. Men of the royal service were sen,t who pursued those fugitives through rough country and gave them considerable trouble. But they betook themselves into lurking-places or forests. When the King had spread sufficient terror, he led back his army, having achieved great praise for his mercy and justice. [At this point Johnston inserts a description of the destruction of the Armada. Then he returns to affairs in Scotland.]
5. My mind shudders to recount how all the districts of Scotland were flooded with rivers of blood, and likewise the pillaging, murder, arson, and deadly catastrophes of our realm. For if I were to list them all, I should grow weary of writing and the sadness of these calamities would offend the minds of my readers. I have conjoined two murders because of the man responsible, their similarity, and their outcome. George Home’s brother David, a savage and bloodthirsty man, provoked Francis Earl of Bothwell with his raillery and was surrounded and killed. The death of this scoundrel was not so much undeserved in itself as it set a bad example for the public. William Stewart of Ochiltree, Arran’s brother both in his nature and his morals (I have often written about him), nicknamed The Bloody because of his bloodthirstiness, was reproached by Bothwell for a lie in Holyroodhouse, and replied by aping an obscene kiss. Bothwell took this insult in silence, but conceived a great loathing in his mind. On the following day the two of them met at Edinburgh with an equal number of seconds and fought a bitter duel, which paralyzed other friends and dependents with dread or frightened them off by its violence. Stewart himself fought very bravely but in the end Bothwell knocked the sword from his hand, and with the ferocity of a Scythian he mercilessly ran him through. So he found the end he deserved. Stewart earned what he suffered, and Bothwell deserved to do what he did. The common folk said that blood had been expiated by blood, and by their bloodshed a fine sacrifice had been offered up to the shades of the innocent dead.
6. The King was earnestly beseeched by the friends of the captive Maxwell not to allow this noble man, nearly done in by sickness of mind and weakness of body, to die in prison. Overcome by pity, he granted the petitioners their wish and pardoned him after he had posted bail that he would create no further disturbances. Rescued from his unanticipated danger, Morton conducted himself in a more moderate way. Throughout the land the common folk cried out that public enemies were being emboldened by the King’s great mildness; it was in the public interest that wrongdoing not go unpunished; to gain praise for clemency, it was sufficient to pardon a man once, but to pardon him twice was a terrible thing to do; severity was more wholesome than mercy; the optimism of evildoers was being increased by their hope of impunity; Scotland would never be at peace as long as the Papist faction went untouched. Disturbed by such sentiments, the King greatly regretted that murders most foul were going unpunished. But no man born of high degree, no matter how involved he might be with bloodshed and murder, could be punished without giving grave offense to his kinsmen, to the great endangerment of the sovereign, because of the kinships, blood relationships, friendships, dependencies, factions and associations that existed between the noble families of Scotland. The King assembled the nobility and announced that the majesty of the national government had been foully violated and all but overthrown by the audacity of robbers, hired assassins, and arsonists. He set forth the benefits he had conferred on his lords, and how he had lifted up many a man from his humble station to prosperity and greatness. In exchange for so many good merits, he urged that they prosecute the deaths of those who had died without good cause; that they refrain from harming those weaker than themselves; and that they concentrate their thoughts on the suppression of crime. After the lords had affirmed that their minds would not be troubled by the punishment of their friends or neighbors, in his severity the King held a judicial session at Edinburgh, presided over by the Lord Treasurer with the assistance of very upright gentleman. The court executed the most felonious, making no distinction between rich and poor. Likewise it imposed fines on other convicted men, some of their lands, some of their property. It not only denied petitions for amnesties and immunities lodged by friends, but even went so far as to revoke immunities previously granted by the Treasurer and managers of the fisc, unless those convicted had with their penitence and compensation made satisfaction to the parents and kinsmen of those murdered by their foul deeds and evildoing. Nor did the King bestow immunities in exchange for the zeal, favor, or bribes of his courtiers, although he did turn a blind eye to Bothwell, who could rely on his many powerful connections of kinship.
7. Then too, a small matter gave rise to a great disturbance. Alexander Lindesay, a handsome young man who derived his noble distinction from the Crawford family, was added to the number of royal favorites. For some time he prosperously enjoyed God’s favor and his own power without doing harm to any man. Then he revived the ancient family hatred of the Master of Glamis, a great hothead, when he was appointed Captain of the Guard as a mark of royal friendship, after Glamis had been removed from that office. This event was variously discussed, and it irked many lords, and especially Glamis, because of the indignity of the thing. This caused new trouble and terror in the royal city. Glamis always went about surrounded by a band of choice young gentlemen. Lindesay also had many keen supporters in that controversy over the captaincy. Although the King particularly liked to indulge Alexander Lindesay, nevertheless, to nip in the bud this rising disturbance between the ambitious supporters of the one side and the other, if so many thousands of their friends and dependents should gather, he removed him from that office, and gave many other proofs of being an excellent sovereign. To prevent cause for confrontation, he remanded Bothwell to custody at Linlithgow and Glamis in Edinburgh Castle, where they went with a few friends apiece. He limited the number of followers each lord could have at Edinburgh.
8. In those same days, now that the vain hope of a Spanish marriage was abandoned, Colonel William Stewart was sent to Denmark. Since King Fredrick of Denmark had died, he was to deal with his son and successor about a marriage with his sister Anne and her dowry, and so that the seeming controversy about the Orkneys and Shetlands might be resolved. He easily negotiated with the Danish King concerning the marriage. Having stayed there a few days, the ambassador returned and at a Parliament of the nobles he announced that all matters had been agreeably settled in Denmark, and that the King of Denmark had renounced his right over the Orkneys in perpetuity. He requested that everything he had done on the embassy be ratified. The next item for discussion was what man, distinguished by breeding and wealth, should be chosen to escort the new Queen. The matter was tabled and the Parliament dissolved.
9. Now that Glamis had been demoted and Lindesay removed because of the disturbances, Huntly, enlarged by having lately married the sister of Ludovic Duke of Lennox, was appointed Captain of the Guard and Master of Horse. This new office was burdensome to him because if the unpopularity it engendered, for it was hateful to the common people, and a source of anxiety for Chancellor Maitland, his adversary. But it gave the Papists high hopes for innovating in Scotland. Chrichton, the Jesuit Gordon, and the Papist Robert Bruce, factious men all, strove for the ruin of their nation. Under a false cover of piety they asked for and received money from the King of Spain and the Pope of Rome, to be used against those who had defected from the Roman Church in Scotland. They explained the resources at Gordon’s disposal and how strong they were, and how great was his ardor and zeal for reasserting the Mass. The money sent to Scotland was sufficient to fuel their hopes, but not enough to accomplish the thing, when it was paid out to a number of lords of the Roman persuasion so that they might bright back the Highlanders to the old ceremonies. The leaders of these, Huntly and Errol, began to devote all their efforts to this project. Huntly had under his control all the inhabitants of the north country, either out of fear of his judicial power or because they were dependents bound by their servitude. Errol was dear to all men because of his bravery, his lofty high-mindedness, his ancient pedigree, and his old services to his nation. Not a few lords converted the money they had received to fund an uprising to their personal use, valuing a private agreement, and an illegal one at that, less than their public faith and duty.
10. The secret strivings of the Papist lords in Scotland were scarcely unknown to the Queen of England, and her spies put the worst interpretations on all things. Hence, by means of her ambassador Ashby, she accused Huntly and Claud Hamilton, a gentleman of the high nobility, to have sworn their faith and dependency to King Philip of Spain, freely offering them their support in the hope of achieving the downfall of the kingdom of England and of all Britain. There a letter, which implicated these men in promising to assist the Spanish enterprise with their help and advice, was produced before the Privy Council, in the presence of the king, but they were manufactured and the signatures of Huntly and Claud Hamilton had been forged. In the letter they went on to entreat Philip to have no reluctance in waging war on England anew, and offered much evidence of Catholic piety and the helpfulness of the Highlanders. Huntly and Hamilton were questioned before the Council. Their chagrin transformed into anger, they proved the letter was a false one, as was the interpretation placed on it. These were the fruits of an ill-performed embassy and spurious authority. These were English lies, meant to provoke the King’s wrath against his subjects and imposing on the loyalty of his subjects. This atrocious insult touched upon them, but it set an example for all the lords, since this mischance could befall them too. Next, interrogated about the money distributed by the Jesuits on Philip’s instructions, they flatly denied they had received a penny of that: this was an vague accusation, devoid of all proof. When the ambassador pressed his case by saying that something is not false just because it cannot be proven, and harassed the accused with fallacious assumptions, the lords where put into Edinburgh Castle, more because of the suspicion of wrongdoing than became they had been convicted of any infamy. But, since their accuser could not prove his case, they were freed of this grave calumny, immediately released, and restored to their former good graces. But when his controversy with the Attorney General was renewed, and he saw that, thanks to the fraud of his enemies and the sly arts of Maitland, it had all but come to the point that he was besieged by the townsmen in his Edinburgh lodgings, Huntly quit the city, finding safety by making his exit out the rear gate. He was terrified by a rumor threatening his death at the hands of the common people, so that his zeal for the Church could be made more visible. He indignantly asked the King for leave to take his departure, lest he be seen at court during this unpropitious time, and retired to Dumfermline. From there he hastened onwards, awaiting opportunities for innovation, and he was yet more hot for revenge. Errol, equally peeved at the Lord Chancellor, kept away from the court, and so Maitland kept down his two most powerful adversaries down, but not even in this way could he checkmate them, as they were boundless in their persistence.
- 1589 -
HEN Huntly, ill-disposed towards Maitland and incensed because of the English ambassador’s accusation, saw that the Lord Chancellor was enjoying supreme favor and authority, and, while being near to the King, had incurred the very bitter dislike of his fellow-citizens, he called for Errol. Crawford, Moray, Montrose, and assembled their forces at Brechin. A great number of nobleman followed these men, the leaders of their factions, each man irate over his own personal indignity or chagrin. Among these was Bothwell, troublous by nature, who was furious at Maitland and accused him of disloyalty and treason, and humbly petitioned the King that he be permitted to speak on behalf of himself and his right noble friends. The King refused his request. Therefore this man, fierce by nature, was overcome by resentment. His wrath went further, and he collected desperadoes from all quarters and made ready to join Huntly’s camp. Having recruited a huge army, Huntly marched for Perth and stayed there, and intercepted the Master of Glamis, terrified by his sudden invasion. Although he found himself surrounded by sudden turmoil on all sides, the King did not loser heart. Acting on Maitland’s advice, he proclaimed his opponents to be public enemies. He commanded an army to appear at Edinburgh on a specified day. Having gathered a great band of commoners and thinking that the lords’ enterprise must be forestalled, with great haste he marched there, sending lightly-armored cavalry before him. Learning this, the conspirators, unable to withstand the sight of their angry sovereign, fled the town by night, and, falling back, were driven as far as Aberdeen. There Huntly had within his power all the surrounding regions and the most flourishing part of Scotland. He decided to ward off his enemy by the depth of its rivers, or by defending their banks. Some of his outriders were cut off by rivers to the north and south of them. Following on this success, the King gave chase, marching northwards by a shorter route through the wastelands, and kept watch on the waste slopes of the Cairnwell hill, with his soldiers sleeping n their armor and ardently demanding a chance to engage in battle.
2. Meanwhile scouts reported that the rebels had taken their foot and horse and fallen back on Aberdeen, hot for a fight. Lest he give the appearance of having accomplished nothing in this expedition, the King decided to march against his enemy. Learning of his plan, the traitors abandoned the city and drew themselves up along the further side of the Bridge of Dee, trusting in the narrowness of the bridge and the depth of the stream, with the intention of preventing the royal forces from crossing, should they make the attempt. The King, irritated that the rebels could withstand the sight of himself, exhorted his soldiers, seeing they were firm in their resolution, telling them that must shirk no danger for the sake of their safety and the preservation of religion. He saw that everything was readied for battle and, with all of them very eager, moved forward. At dawn, their fearful scouts reported the royal army was at hand, the traitors were dumbstruck with fear. They had no arms, no order, no counsel, but rather, feeling reverence for their sovereign, despair, and lack of confidence in their own resources, at the first sight of his armed van they suddenly fled. Crawford was the first to take to his heels: it is uncertain whether he was more ashamed of his rebellion or anxious about the prospect of punishment. Huntly too, either astonished by the magnitude of the thing or because of his sluggish wits, lost his courage. Seeing the fraud of the lords and understanding they were being led against the King, the Highlanders abandoned their leaders in the extremity of their misfortune, having cast away their arms. Errol, bold and daring, was swept along by other men’s cowardice and cried out that they were traitors, and thus was made an unwilling participant in other men’s panic. Having crossed the Bridge of Dee, the King entered Aberdeen, where he spent the next four days in peace and quiet. He received hostages from clan chiefs and Lairds, the whole local nobility flocking to him. He gave reassurance to the wavering Highlanders, Grant, Macintosh, the chief of the Caithness clans, and Drumme and his dependents, for whom, in accordance with our national custom, it would be criminal to abandon their patron Huntly.
3. He stationed garrisons at suitable places, occupied castles, and did many a good turn by sparing men whom by rights he could have punished. Huntly was summoned to court but obstinately refused, so James decided to demolish Strathbogie and other castles belonging to the Gordons., and he quickly marched against Huntly territory. In his anger he abstained from neither arson nor destruction, so that Huntly would have no more places of refuge where he could shirk his duty. When he had arrived, Huntly, his mind affected either by repentance for his rebellion or hope of receiving mercy, because he had many devotees among the nobility at court, went out to meet him, begging that James forgive him and spare his life. But, although he played on the royal mercy with every form of blandishment, he did not receive it. Rather, he was led off to custody by Carmichael, first at Aberdeen and then at Edinburgh, where he was kept pending his trial. Crawford, Bothwell, and Errol were repeatedly commanded by edicts to return to their obedience, but they refused. Bothwell and Crawford, however, trusted in the promises of courtiers, and, changing their minds, rode into the royal city with modest trains of followers, and there they were imprisoned. Quickly Huntly was tried at the Edinburgh Tollbooth, before a throng of lords. The royal advocate accused him of treason, rebellion, amd disturbance of the commonwealth. He added that King Philip of Spain, in waging his war, had supplied him with money. With his spirits unbroken, the accused denied this final charge, although he did admit to committing a domestic disturbance and entering into a league with Crawford, Erroll, and Bothwell that was detrimental to the public interest. Before his trial had been completed, he threw himself on the royal mercy, and thus was immediately spared. Then Crawford and Bothwell were accused of treason, because they had assembled their armed dependents for the purpose of sedition; because they had plotted against the King; and because they had been failing in their patriotism and duty to their sovereign. Accused in such a way, they replied that they had taken up arms to defend themselves against Maitland, who was fierce, arrogant, plunged in crime, and ill-disposed towards the nobility, rather than against their sovereign or his security. They denied the other accusations. Their sentences were pronounced in the dead of night, and, with Maitland not bothering to conceal his loathing, all three were convicted of sedition and disturbance of the peace by vote of the lords, and were destined for a speedy death. But in their case the King’s mercy counted for more than equity. The prudent King applied his moderating mercy in dealing with the afflicted fortunes of great men, which was wise for the commonwealth. The stubbornly absent Erroll was likewise adjudged a traitor, and subsequently found that the King was merciful by nature and choice and was not a bloodthirsty man, so that all men praised his mild gentleness. The condemned lords where kept in easier confinement until, having foresworn the Papist and Spanish faction, they might return to their wonted obedience. Thus Bothwell was imprisoned at Tantallon, Huntly at Borthwick, and Crawford at St. Andrews. Having granted them their lives, the King decided they should be granted the use of those lives, and so brought them into his privy chamber, and, about to send them way, urged them to conduct themselves with modesty, always remaining true to their faith and reverence, and not to expect that in future they would receive the same gentle and moderate handling. Thus an end was made to the commotion in the north country.
4. The entire aspect of the court was changed, now that the King held these lords, lately destined for execution, in high honor. He devoted his time not consumed by his occupations to honorable pursuits and pleasures, relieving his heavy efforts on behalf of his commonwealth by wholesome happiness but not wantonness. Among these were the hunting and delights from which the affairs of the north had taken him. Now he returned to Aberdeen with the people giving him great attentiveness and glory, where in an upright and faithful way he held a judicial session, presided over by the managers of his treasury. He repressed the errant ways of a few men whom his good treatment had not improved, by fining them of their property, horses, and cattle. The rest he reduced to obedience by his clemency. And so his mercy to suppliants and his reputation for clemency became well known. Hence those noble gentleman Erroll and Buchan, and the Lairds of Auchindoun and Clume abandoned hope for support which was far-distant and foreign, and experienced the nearer and better mercy of their King, surrendering themselves with immunity and not debarred from meetings and companionship. Then he quit Aberdeen and made a progress through the neighboring districts of Ross, Mar, and Moray, whose lords and clan chiefs manifested their happiness with their cheers, banquets, and hunting expeditions. Refreshed by these things to the point of surfeit, he returned to Edinburgh to hold a Parliament, now that the traitors had been put down and peace returned to the northern provinces.
5. Having achieved a peace which was safer and more glorious, and in the prime of his manhood, the King was led by his desire for children and cementing his royal family by establishing a line of succession ardently to pursue a marriage with Anne, the daughter of King Frederick II of Denmark, a woman in the flower of her youth and possessed of fine physical handsomeness. For he knew that such a marriage would prove beneficial in many ways, and that it was most agreeable to his requirements. Although he had already sent ambassadors to ask for her hand, by decree of the estates he sent George Keith, Earl Marshal of Scotland and his viceroy in the north country, conspicuous for his splendor and wealth, Andrew Baron Dingwall. James Scrimgeour Lord Mayor of Dundee, and the jurisconsult John Skine as his ambassadors to Denmark, equipped with a mandate to form a league and alliance, and at the same time to settle the marriage. The ambassadors’ dealings for both the treaty and the marriage gained the Danes’ approval. The King of Denmark was eager to speed the marriage, and select leading men of Denmark well-tried for both their counsel and their authority, were chosen to supervise the marriage. They set sail but put in at opportune harbors so as to revive the royal girl, who was suffering from fear of a lengthy voyage and seasickness. When they were all reunited and the Scottish ambassadors summoned for a conference, the Admiral of the fleet recommended that they abandon a voyage during the harshest season of the year and await the welcome coming of springtime, and shelter his fleet in the harbor of Oslo. His opinion was seconded by the votes of them all.
6. Anne immediately sent Baron Dingwall and Andrew Sinclair to greet the King in her name. He, overjoyed at the news of the marriage settlement, had the utensils and plate of his court polished; he assembled his household; his suburban palace, unhandsome with its old structures, were improved with new ones; and his lords and the cities of the realm outfitted their homes with every matter of elegant ornament. Meanwhile, an anonymous rumor spread of a shipwreck. He refused to believe this report and awaited the news. Soon Dingwall and Sinclair made their appearance, telling him that the fleet had been scattered, the Queen’s ship damaged, but that she herself had avoided danger by remaining at Oslo during the savagery of winter. Hearing of his bride’s peril, the King was unhinged by his love and fear and summoned his Privy Council. He thought over the hazards of the sea and the violence of his love. In the end, when greater frustration and longer delay seemed more than his desire and loneliness could easily bear —he was the sole survivor of his family, and had no brothers or children — and since his affairs at home were at peace and he had leisure from other cares, without delay he appointed a triumvirate with full authority to govern Scotland. These were Ludovic Duke of Lennox, Francis Earl of Bothwell, and John Hamilton, the governor of all his borderlands, whose father had obtained a Dukedom in Pithou and the power of a Viceroy over Scotland. Then at the beginning of the winter he secretly outfitted a fleet at Leith, to take his departure, keeping in mind the short time at his disposal. None of his friends opposed this, lest they try in vain to dissuade him. And there, with the choice youth of Scotland and a a great company of lords, he took ship for Norway. From there, accompanied by Chancellor Maitland, his leading officials, and a very ample company of lords, he was driven by the violence of the gales to Norway and put in at Oslo so unexpectedly that he all but overwhelmed his bride before she had gotten word of his arrival. For her part, Anne, detained by the foul weather and contrary winds, was awaiting the coming of spring, and, hearing of her bridegroom’s arrival, went to meet him. In accordance with our national custom, the King took her up in his arms and kissed her, unwilling and struggling, because the Danes thought this was improper before an actual marriage.
7. Therefore on November 23 the wedding was celebrated with magnificent pomp, congratulations, and gifts presented by countless embassies, with David Lindesay celebrating. On one side stood James with an eager expression, on the other Anne, gleaming with much jewelry. Calling on God to witness, they touched the altar, joined hands, and happily entered on their shared life. From the cathedral and its altar they went to a royal feast. Many toasts were given for the safety of the royal couple and for childbirth, the wedding day was lavishly given over to dancing, spectacles, and cheering throughout the city. Waiting no longer, James hastened on by a land route to Denmark to meet his brother-in-law. The festive days of his visit were crowded, for nearly all of the neighboring sovereigns came to pay him their honor and duty. The young men of Germany were excited and came, each in his own way ornamented with silver, gold, and precious fabrics. The Scots and the Danes vied with each other both in public and private in hilarity, good cheer, expense, elegance, magnificent display and generosity. In the course of these things mock battles and cavalry-fights were staged, and prizes given the victors. At length, wearied with the marriage celebrations and pomp, James sent embassies in all direction and by letters and messengers informed his agents Colonel Stewart, Dingwall, Peter Young, Carmichael, and Barnborough of what he was doing. Even if rumor itself surpassed these messengers in its speed, his news and letters were most welcome to the Scots. Nights and days they rang out with cheers. When the departure of the King had been announced and an edict published instructing his subjects to abide by their loyalty and dignity and obey the triumvirs, Lennox and Bothwell, having shouldered this sovereign authority, girded themselves to perform their public duties for the commonwealth, and throughout the entire period of his absence they kept Scotland peaceful and tranquil. By edicts and letters they terrified wrongdoers. Hamilton, placed in charge of the borderlands, coerced the constant raids of his neighbors by inflicting extreme punishments, not hesitating to suppress anyone he held in suspicion and taking hostages, and confirmed the borderers in their reverence to their absent sovereign. By such measures the triumvirs had a constant care for the public tranquility. There were no injuries, no arsons, no murders. Quite to the contrary, many things were excellently arranged, and the triumvirs remained harmonious until they resigned their magistracies.
8. At this same time Bowes was sent once more to Scotland by the English Queen to observe conditions and he came to Edinburgh without having obtained permission. For this reason he received a verbal castigation and two days’ house arrest. Afterwards he was given a hearing by the Privy Council, and told them that in their hiding-places Jesuits and priests were criminally contriving a plague for their nation, and secretly worming their way into the minds of noblemen. After revealing this crime and naming suspects, he promised the help and assistance of his Queen in maintaining the security of the realm during the absence of the King. The Council replied that Scotland had never been more peaceful or secure., and bade him report that they were sufficiently strong to suppress mischiefmaking, disloyal priests. This interview served to increase the dutifulness and industry of the Councillors, lest they appear to require outside assistance in the absence of their King. Meanwhile, the winter in Denmark came to an end, which had been passed with elegant banquets but marred by discord. William Keith, proud and magnificent in his French clothing, who got his nobility from his father the Earl Marshall, a member of an illustrious family, and surpassed all the courtiers of his time in his finery, was rebuked by Maitland for his extravagant luxury of dress. He was first removed from his position as a royal favorite and deprived of his power, and then forbidden to meet or converse with the King. Finally, troubled by the King’s sudden aversion, he sadly wandered about Germany and Italy until he died. His excessive desire for luxury, or the fact that the King’s affection had made him over-proud, brought about his downfall. His end deeply troubled the Earl Marshall, who became hostile to Maitland and desirous to gain revenge, should the opportunity be offered. Lewis Ballenden, deemed praiseworthy for his life and reputation, rashly fostered his intention, and word of this got out of the Earl’s household. Therefore Maitland grew suspicious of Ballenden, and sent him packing to England under the guise of doing him honor, and so avoided the man’s keen intellect. Thanks to the King’s entreaties and threats he managed to dissuade the Earl from his project. With young Keith put out of the way, George Home assumed his responsibilities, and he, with his austere demeanor and his dutifulness (or rather servility) towards his sovereign, began to lift his head higher. Later he gained a great reputation throughout all Britain.
9. While the King was wintering in Denmark, it chanced that a certain schoolmaster named John Cunningham, alias Jean Tranent, Anne Sampson, and other fanatic women attended nocturnal covens in the North Berwick churchyard for the destruction of the King and Queen. By their magic ceremonies they conjured up infernal spirits, so that during his crossing the King would be storm-tossed and exposed to the hazards of the sea. I leave it to the minds of my readers to decide what to think about this manner of witchcraft. It was decided to defer their questioning until the King returned. Bothwell did not divine that this turbulent storm was aimed at himself, either because he was easy and carefree in his mind, or because he took his counsel from his bold self-confidence, with a disposition to commit any foul deed, should he be driven to such by his greed.
10. Meanwhile the Papist priests and members of the Benedictine, Dominican, and Franciscan Orders who had disguised themselves as soldiers or merchants to avoid the punishment prescribed by law, were energetically hunted down. The magistrates announced that not a one of them would be spared, should he be arrested. Their hands coming down harder, they burned all books inimical to Puritan doctrine, and as part of this effort many books of the civil and canon law were consumed because they featured rubric letters printed in red. They also destroyed everything not essential to faith: seasons of vigil, linen priestly vestments, and other feast-days observed in olden times.
- 1590 -
T the beginning of the year, when the sailing season commenced, King James thought of his return and hastened to his fleet waiting in the Skagerrak. A countless throng lined the harbor, anchorage, and shore, out of its eagerness to see him. He himself, in royal array, and, not far distant from him, the Queen, in a golden garment, went in procession, boarded ship, and set sail. Before his embarkation, he had sent a letter to Scotland, borne by Colonel William Stewart, that the magistrates should come to meet him, and prepare a lodging-place for his Danish companions at public expense. Amidst all this prosperity, such being the vicissitude of mortal affairs, adversity overtook these happy events. While the royal pair, escorted by the Danish fleet, were making for Scotland, as they were on the mid-sea a terrible storm blew up, and for a long time they were tossed by adverse winds and very tumultuous gales, and the fleet was scattered and greatly vexed. After the storm had calmed, they put in at Leith on the first of May. With extreme happiness and good will all the lords and burghers, together with their children and womenfolk, poured out to witness the sight. They were likewise received at Edinburgh with cheers and very lavish exhibitions of loyalty, together with games, feasts, choirs of little boys and girls singing hymns of praise, and matrons in their most expensive garments and jewelry, all gawking at them in the flower of their youth. With banquets and acclamations the exultant populace thanked God for their fortunate arrival, prayed for a speedy childbirth, and that all go happily and well. The noble Danes, Admiral Peder Munk Stephen Bua, Rantzau, Nicholaus Theophilus, a Doctor of Law, and Hendrik Gyldenstierne and their company were honorably escorted to lodgings prepared for them, and accorded all the honors both public and private that could be arranged The remaining time until their departure was spent in feasting and drinking-bouts, given with the most lavish tableware, yet sometimes rather boorishly done. When they were led around the cities of Scotland, they were treated to public dinners, and the homes of our lords were thrown open for our Danish guests. The Scots spent no further money on the Danes. At this time untimely and extravagant gluttony became prevalent, as our erstwhile traditional national thrift came to be old-fashioned, and it henceforth continued, to the great harm of Britain.
2. Meanwhile, amidst a crowded assembly of lords and principals of the court, in the mystic rite of coronation Anne was anointed by Robert Bruce, an Edinburgh preacher, with no prelate in attendance. The crown was placed on her head and with their unrestrained acclamations she was hailed as Augusta of Scotland, and enriched with the dowry of many estates betokening, as it were, her enlarged dominion. The charters of her dowry were signed by the King and endorsed by the Great Seal of the realm, then handed over to the Danes. Receiving these, they returned to their homeland. Upon their departure, the King accorded them every honor as well as gifts. He always held Anne in extreme and most ardent affection, honored her, and, in his continence, amidst that most corrupt age of the world, when everything was permitted, he kept his pleasure-seeking within the bounds of lawful marriage, something that was rare with any of his predecessors.
3. Meanwhile Lewis Ballenden, who had been sent to England as ambassador, reported in the Privy Council that the Queen of England had not only given a kind reply, but had also sent an ambassadors to the King, together with gifts. Soon the Earl of Worcester came to Scotland as Elizabeth’s representative, to convey her congratulations and convey gifts and presents, a golden mantle and a jeweled necklace. He was affably received and treated honorably, and soon returned home. A few days thereafter Maitland was enhanced in wealth and honors, for in many situations the King had experienced his faithfulness and loyalty, conjoined with prudence. Likewise the young man Alexander Lindesay, a handsome lad born of a noble family, was introduced to the inner circle of power and created Baron Spynie: his estates had been owned by the Bishop of Moray within the memories of our fathers and grandfathers: no layman had previously received an ecclesiastical dignity. George Home (who later enjoyed great favor with the King) and James Sandilands were knighted. Among James’ concerns for more important matters, Colonel William Stewart was sent as ambassador to Germany together with the legalist John Skine to form closer ties between that nation and Scotland. John Carmichael, the Captain of the Guard, a great devotee of the English was sent as ambassador to Elizabeth, and she found him welcome and acceptable. The roads were choked with a throng of ambassadors traveling to and fro.
4. Next came a notable squabble in which John Graham, a vehement spirit who was newly coopted into the college of judges, accused David Macgill, a royal advocate, sly in the courtroom, of bribe-taking. This argument had a bitter begining, and was continued with persistent ill-will on both sides, but was ended by the intervention of their colleagues. The King called courtroom corruption the ancient evil of our commonwealth and referred the matter to the Privy Council.
5. During those same days a controversy arose between Grant, a man of considerable power at home and widespread family connections, and Gordon, concerning a farm and fishing-rights, and was waged with terrible conflicts. The Earls of Athol and Moray stood up for Grant, and his patron Huntly for the Gordons. Their contention was made hotter by angry passions. Under the pretext of dealing with some common concern, Athol, Moray, and Grant assembled with many friends and kinsmen in Tarnoway Castle. The Gordons regard this as an insult, called a larger number of men to arms, mounted their horses, and spurred them to Trarnoway, where they scornfully rode up to the castle to take it. Those within were at first on their guard and ready, if any harm should be attempted. Then, no longer able to tolerate the contempt of the horsemen, they shot John Gordon, brother of the Laird of Cluny. His death made the Gordons furious, and no man doubted that this would be the beginning of a greater evil. Learning of this, the King feared that there would be greater commotion in the north and was greatly concerned, and made them take their controversy to law. He cited by name certain lords who were more eager for strife than for law and right, and took hostages to guarantee their peace and quiet. Huntly, his friendship with Maitland reconciled by means of suitable men, was the superior not only in strength but in favor at court, and harbored great anger in his heart, and he complained about the killing of his dependent. He shunned the lawsuit with his adversaries and petitioned the King to address the injuries he had suffered, which he could not neglect without disgrace and shame. The King replied that his request was unjust, and urged him to forgive these small harms, scarcely worth the mention, for the sake of the common good.
6. Matters in the north were thus far held in suspension, with the lords regarding each other with mutual suspicions, at a time when all of Scotland was enjoying the bounties of peace and liberty and rejoicing in its present condition. Francis Stewart, Earl of Bothwell, who got his nobility from being born of a royal mistress, was a man great in his popularity with the common folk and the support of noblemen, and was obliged to the King for many favors. But he was a habitual troublemaker, restless, and prone to take matters into his own hands. When he served as viceroy he got a taste of the sweetness of supreme authority and revealed many signs of an alienated mind, secretly plotting how he might start an uprising in Scotland. For not just his words, but also his deeds were riotous. Thus he decided that Maitland, who stood in his way with his authority and counsel, must be killed or driven out of his office as Lord Chancellor. He tried to endanger him by begging the King to think of the cheats, deceptions, and outrages of this unjust evildoer. But the Chancellor, forewarned that his downfall was being prepared, set aside his old quarrel with Huntly, which he had waged so singlemindedly, so that he might have the opportunity to indulge his new hatred more freely. By his canny manoeuvres he dodged all the traps and snares set by the very eager Earl, and planned on avenging this very grave insult by the Earl’s own downfall.
7. During just about these same days, a very energetic inquisition was conducted concerning witchcraft throughout all cities, villages, and provincae. Fian, alias Cunningham, an infamous mage, the witch Anne Sampson, and other women suffering a bad reputation for the practise of that art were arrest. When they were shown the instruments of torture, they immediately disclosed what they had prepared for the destruction of the realm, and atoned for their magical superstitions by suffering the extreme penalty. Euphemia Maclean and Barbara Napier, matrons of Edinburgh, far from loathsome in their handsome appearance, were accused of this same crime, of having consulted concerning the sovereign’s health and about his death. Richard Graham was taken, led into the sight of the instruments, and in open court did not deny allegations concerning witchcraft and incantations. To the great amazement of the onlookers, he accused Bothwell. And, so that he would not give the appearance of making an accidental slip of the tongue, he added that Bothwell had relied on his help in ascertaining the sovereign’s end by his magical ceremonies. The bystanders, aroused by hatred of the accuser and love of the accused, exclaimed that he was bearing false witness. They claimed that, in the heat of his infamy, the accused had sought a glimmer of hope for rescue in making this doubtful claim, so that he might escape his danger because of his association with that very noble man. Others, thinking the thing to be unbelievable, said that Graham had been induced by Maitland’s bribes and promises to level his accusation. As each man believed, so he rashly proclaimed. The desperate wizard persisted in the atrocity of his crime, setting forth all the details of his ministry: the rites of mages, and the promises of demons, and he confessed to the crime objected against himself. Therefore the friends of the sovereign, in whom he was most wont to confide, did not leap to the conclusion that this evidence was false, although it could not be proven. They shuddered and openly exclaimed that these counsels indubitably spelled the downfall of the kingdom if they were not forestalled. At the same time Maitland, always on the look-out for the main chance, put it in the King’s ear that he should no longer tolerate Bothwell’s folly in stirring up the multitude and his magical ceremonies. He told the King how much danger would threaten both himself and all Scotland, should the King allow the man’s contumacy and infamy for such great crime to go unpunished, and he requested him to act in accordance with the law. At this time there was no lack of men who thought that the Earl’s wild ways were to be tamed rather than provoked by accusations. And, since this crime was still suspected but not self-evident, the King elected to summon Bothwell, thus far unaware of the accusation and the man who had made it, so that his defense might be heard, inasmuch as he was too powerful to die undefended and unheard. The King did not spurn an indictment, but summoned his most important friends to be present and bade the accused be summoned. He said nothing about his innocence, but rather demanded revenge against his accusers and enemies. Since proof of such a great accusation was lacking, the King neither freed nor condemned him.
8. Because of this accusation, may witches were denounced by name, so that Bothwell might be caught up in more denunciations. Some of these men and women were haled before magistrates and confessed under torture about covens by night, unspeakable curses, fanatic dances, the mysteries of their horrendous art, their obscene misdeeds and outrages. To these things were added silly, vain shape-shiftings, deadly sexual intercourse, lycanthropy, things which it is a sin to relate or to hear about, let alone to believe in. There was no delay in judgment and punishment. Some were condemned and burned. The property of the condemned was confiscated, and this would have been cause for fear throughout the realm, had not our mildest of sovereigns gotten a whiff of the avarice of his tax-gathers gaping after the wealth of these unhappy wretches, and decided that a limit must be placed on inquisitions, and that one should not begin with torture in an investigation of witchcraft, for in torture things are extracted which cannot be confirmed by any evidence or proof.
9. Now I fancy I shall be conducting myself in a worthwhile way if I say who and what witches are, those whom the common people call sorceresses, enchantresses, and necromancers because of the enormity of their crimes, so that prosecutors may use them in making their indictments more exact. First, for the most part they are women, originally disturbed by the frenzy of their minds, and then seduced by the wiles of demons. They imagine they drink, dance, and dine in abandoned places, and fancy they are initiates in the nocturnal rites of demons. Then there are fanatic men, very similar to the women, made witless by frantic stimulations and melancholy humors, who meet at night with their magical rites to destroy men. These witches are covered by the lex Cornelia de veneficiis, who concoct or give out poison for the sake of committing murder, or who in their odious arts rely on both poisons and spells. But minds seized by superstition are not covered by the civil law if they cannot be accused of evildoing, nor are they punished by canon law beyond being imprisoned until, by divine inspiration, they vow to alter their lives, or banishment lest their contagion infect the more weak-minded sort of fellow-citizen In such a doubtful matter it will be permissible for every man to judge as he wishes, as dictated by the nature of his intellect, concerning magical portents, malicious incantations, and the fallacious promises of astrologers. But no man can doubt but from this workshop of witchcraft come forth all manner of corruptions: poisons, charms, and murders and likewise images, amulets, and incantations to ward off diseases. I would not have touched on these incidental issues, unless they were in agreement with my present narrative of events. The King took this occasion to publish a book on magic, having the distinguished and pretty title De Daemonomania.
10. Meanwhile there were bloody murders and robberies throughout Moray, Ross and the Hebrides. Such was the ferocity of the wild Scots in their anger, who possessed no learning and no devotion to letters. At the same time Robert Kerr of Cesford, a young man endowed with great spirit and wit, conceived a great anger against his kinsman William Kerr of Ancrum who was slow to pledge his dependency, and was wholly consumed with thoughts of revenge. Many are of the opinion that the offence was increased by Ancrum’s own contumacy, making some arrogant and contemptuous boast. Furthermore some mischiefmaking dependents fired the lad’s improvident mind, readily swayed by bad counsel, not only by their canny insinuations, but by taking the lead in arming the boy to commit murder. They maintained that Ancrum was more inclined to his rival Home, and was inducing his fellow clansmen to engage in discord: there was no other remedy for this growing feud than for him to be killed. Therefore in the royal city Robert Kerr, the chief of his clan, killed the right noble Sir William of Ancrum, with a bullet and, having committed the murder, retired into Teviotdale and hid himself in unknown places until the King’s anger cooled. Nor was the King appeased by the entreaties of Maitland, whose niece Kerr had for a wife as a means of retaining his friendship and good will. When Robert Kerr of Cesford had removed into England, the care of Teviotdale, whose governor was absent, was entrusted to others.
11. At about this same time Laird Home of Spott was murdered by an unknown hand. In death he left his son-in-law James Douglas, the bastard son of Morton the Regent, as heir to all his property. Spott’s nephew George Home, who at the time enjoyed much royal favor, begrudged Douglas his sudden prosperity and accused him of being party to the murder of his father-in-law, hence of being unworthy of his position as heir. He put into the man so much fear of being found guilty of this foul and detestable crime that he did not attempt to defend himself, thinking it sufficient to be absent. Home nevertheless went ahead with his prosecution, and queried his domestic servants, offering them a reward if they named Douglas as the person responsible. George Home presided over the questioning of the witnesses and interrogation of the servants as both judge and prosecuting attorney. I will relate the result of this accusation in connection with the following year.
- 1591 -
URING this year, at Maitland’s instigation, the King decided to proceed against Francis Earl of Bothwell according to the law, on a charge of witchcraft. With Graham’s testimony made public, he was summoned and brought to the palace, indignant at the indictment and demanding that he and the infamous mage be weighed in the same fair set of scales. He called God to witness that he had entertained no thoughts of endangering his sovereign. He ignored the inquisition, since nobody else was accusing him, and had no hesitation in saying that within the Privy Council unworthy men were lording it over the most noble. To further this charge of witchcraft, the matrons Maclean and Napier were put on trial, but they persisted in defending the Earl’s innocence. Soon, by a decree of the Privy Council initiated by the leading lords, Bothwell was arrested. He was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle, and an inquiry into the accusations lodged against him was ordered. Complaints circulated among the common people thick and fast, and nobody bothered to keep them secret. Seditious sayings were heard that Bothwell was being deceitfully encompassed by his enemies, that this assault was aimed at him: because of his popularity, and that Maitland was using his astute wiliness to entangle him in guilt and danger. Grim-faced nobles were seen passing back and forth in the area in front of the castle, keeping watch and promising to use their votes to keep him out of danger. Realizing the unpopularity this was creating and fearing a more serious commotion, to counteract these sinister popular rumors the King appointed the day for his trial at the Hermitage, his country manor. The charges were to be treason and witchcraft, because he had consulted the mage Richard Graham and witches touching the safety of the sovereign and the overthrow of the commonwealth. For, according to ancient Scottish custom and tradition, Kings have no absolute power over capital cases save to predetermine the charges, to set the arrangement of the trial, and to name the judges. Meanwhile, while the day of the capital trial was approaching, Bothwell, either afraid of punishment or acting out of a troubled conscience, did not dare make an appearance. Suborning his custodian Gilbert Lauder, he broke out of the Castle in the dawn and, having recruited a sorry collection of great ruffians with all the speed at his command, he did not refrain from openly lying in wait for Maitland. He, fearing for his life in his turn, assembled a guard of his sturdiest dependents and in a very hostile manner he harped on the Earl’s flight: he had associated himself with all manner of impious assassins to destroy the commonwealth, he had believed the riddling oracles of soothsayers when abroad in Italy, and at home had consulted with necromancers and witches about the killing of the King. The report of this business quickly spread abroad in all the cities of Scotland.
2. The King was of the opinion that by all means he should be forestalled. He collected his forces and went into Teviotdale as quickly as possible, so as to catch him unawares. But Bothwell took advantage of the nature of that district, which is shut off on all sides by wastelands, to escape his imminent peril. So he was condemned of treason in absentia, with Maitland for the most part supervising the prosecution, and declared a public enemy. Since his popularity persisted, in vain it was proclaimed by an edict that no city should receive him within its walls, nor should any man provide him or his accomplices with any help, on pain of suffering the punishment traditionally meted out to those who harbor traitors. Before resorting to violence and arms, Bothwell sent letters to a number of lords that he was being assailed by the false accusations of Maitland, and that he had escaped confinement, not because he was guilty, but so that he might defer to the faction of his enemies, the times, and his fortune. Stopping for a few days with James Douglas of Spott in Lothian, he entered into sinister compacts with some very noble gentlemen, of whom the principal members were the Earl Marshal. William Douglas, Morton (now that Maxwell had been stripped of that dignity), and Erroll. These were the members of the higher nobility. Then there were Baron Home, Buccleuch, and the Master of Glamis, men of great spirit and high birth, equals to the leading lords. When these things became known at Edinburgh, Maitland informed the King at Falkland (where he was wont to pass his summers every year) of this clandestine conspiracy, and without delay the King came to Edinburgh. He arrested the Earl Marshal and the Master of Glamis, and sent abroad Home and Buccleuch, men of great power and with extensive family connections, obliged to Bothwell because he had done them particular favors, to travel in France. But this did not make him free of traps. Bothwell hit on the plan, as unwise as it was bold, of seizing control of Holyroodhouse. He disclosed his idea to John Colville, a keen man but a riotous one who was eager for trouble, James Douglas of Spott, who was suspected of having murdered his father-in-law because of George Home’s accusations but was highly popular at the moment, and a number of young fellows steeped in evil arts. They promised to take the lead in carrying out his plan and offered their help in its accomplishment, a promise they were punctual in keeping.
3. He therefore sent letters to his kinsmen, friends, and the members of his faction, summoning them and telling them that his life was in extreme jeopardy. They took up arms against Maitland. He begged each and every one of them not to allow him, innocent and convicted without a trial, to grow old in exile because of false and misleading suspicions. He had no difficulty in persuading them, and a time was set for the doing of the deed. Relying on these friends and confederates, on the day appointed for the commission of this criminal act Bothwell took a large number of horsemen and covertly rode to Edinburgh in the evening. Approaching the palace, he commanded them all to dismount so that they would appear to be a group of comrades rather than an assault party, and together with his companions he burst into the palace through narrow doors, brushing aside those of the servants who opposed him. John Shaw, a groom, offered resistance and was killed. In the darkness, he threw everything into sudden confusion with his noise and tumult. Maitland (it is uncertain whether he was caught unawares or, as is believed, had been forewarned by Douglas of Spott to avoid his imminent death) made a dash for his lodging-place. Swiftly the conspirators broke open the locks with their iron-shod hammers, threw open the doors, and vigorously strove to get inside. The domestic servants of the Chancellor, armed with weapons, pistols, and piling up chairs, strenuously defended the doorway. They wounded and drove back their enemies, clad in armor and with drawn swords. Meanwhile James Douglas Laird of Spott, having broken down the palace doors and seized the doorkeeper, snatched the keys to the gates and vainly searched many secret places for his servants, who had been arrested on suspicion of participating in the murder of his father-in-law and any day now were to be put to the torture and questioned about their patron. Then he tried to get his hands on his mortal enemy George Home, who at the very outset had fled to the royal apartment. Having no respect for God or sacred majesty, Spott tried to break in. Bothwell’s other followers were driven back by Maitland’s dependents and dashed to the door of the royal bedchamber, attempting to break it down with their hammers. This sudden development and the sight of this furious crew astonished the King’s servants, who swiftly reinforced the door with bedposts they had snatched up, and took up arms to defend their King. They offered a brave resistance, fending off the most evil felons who had come with murder in mind. Regarding this rashly-adopted scheme, everything immediately turned to the destruction of the traitors, as well it should.
4. In the city, after the uproar had quickly become public knowledge and the King’s danger was revealed, the townsmen snatched up arms to defend the safety and dignity of the King, and rushed straight for the palace, bearing torches. With their great onrush and shouting they brought about a change of fortunes. The traitors were seen, and then, quite terrified, they took their horses and made their escape through twisting byways., trusting in nought but flight and concealment. Eight of them were arrested wandering about in the dark and dragged to prison, and on the following day they paid for their great wickedness at the end of a rope, for usually rebels find no other ending. When the commotion had grown quiet, the common people demanded to see the King. He yielded to their demand and showed himself, thanking the crowd for its loyalty and energetic help. After he had remarked that he was safe thanks to an act of God’s mercy, the citizens congratulated each other and went home with shouts of rejoicing. Suspicion of having been part of this evil project fell on a number of noblemen. Maitland, forewarned to take precautions, was more fearful in the future, and increased the number of his bodyguard. He restored to his previous standing, with a grant of immunity, Robert Kerr of Cesford, the husband of his niece, who had been banished for the murder of William Kerr of Ancrum, for the sake of the court’s protection, and for his own protection he retired to the royal city, where he could avoid danger. There, freed from anxiety, he turned his thoughts to ensuring the sovereign’s security. He persuaded many lords to defend him, partly by using servants in their masters’ good graces as intermediaries, and partly by gifts and promises, to protect the King. The Privy Council summoned royal servants who had been privy to the murderous conspiracy. David Cunningham of Robertland, Montgomery’s murderer, and James Durham, suspected of favoring Bothwell, were taken and imprisoned.
5. Nor did Maitland cease filling the King with fresh anger, not just against Bothwell, but against other lords as well, Athol, Moray, and Ochiltree, who had been moved with pity for the exiled Earl and supported the Stewart cause. Learning of their headstrong rashness and daring, and that Bothwell and his partners in crime had scattered and fled to Boot Isle, without hesitation he sent the Duke of Lennox and the Earl of Huntly with their dependents and servants to find them, so that they might outrun the rumor of their coming and catch them unawares. But, since their safety was a matter of concern to a number of men, the rumor got their first. Bothwell, learning he was being sought for murder, escaped the danger that was being prepared for him. Not finding the Earl, they arrested Stewart, the governor of the island, a judge and a member of Bothwell’s faction who was flagrantly unpopular, and took him away as a prisoner. The King, content with that accused fellow’s repentance and humble vow to help in maintaining his dignity, received him back into his good graces.
6. Thereafter James Sandilands, a quick-witted royal servant, and the governor of Boot Isle were sent with henchman to set an ambush for the Earl and arrest him, and to prosecute his dependents and servants. When their ambush failed to go well, they turned to violence and hunted down those who had followed Bothwell, and executed those who fell into their grasp. They obliged the Earl himself to flee into England. By these remedies, the first movements of Bothwell’s rebellion were checked and Maitland daily grew stronger. He could not hold such great power without incurring unpopularity, for most lords avoided his company, although they were invited by promises of great rewards, mistrusting his devious character.
7. Amidst so many upheavals there befell the pitiable murder of the Earl of Moray. James Stewart of Moray was the best-loved young Scotsman of his age, tall of stature, strong and endowed with a grace rare in such a large frame, conjoined with manly dignity. His entire physique had a certain wonderful comeliness, and these gifts of nature were accompanied by great kindness and affability in his every action, mildness, and modesty. Huntly and Moray had certain adjacent estates and castles and, in accordance with our national habit, peace could not long endure between two very wealthy neighboring families because of the friction between their dependents, as I have mentioned above. They were egged on in this rivalry by an unfriendly Maitland, who blamed him for his friendship with Bothwell, since he had learned that Moray had entertained Bothwell after his flight. Therefore the Gordons made no secret of the fact they were searching for some means of destroying Moray and looking out for their own security by extracting a just vengeance. Gordon and Gight, a cruel and bloodthirsty man outraged over the murder of his brother Cluny, promised to take a leading role, and by their importunate demands they prompted Huntly, who had almost been unwilling, to commit the deed. They pointed out that, were the Earl to be removed and with his son in earliest infancy, there would be no head of his family and nobody to take revenge. But the one who prompted his murder the most eagerly was Maitland. By means of Campbell Laird of Calder he revived old talk against Moray, urged that he be killed, and commanded all ferry boats to be removed from the nearer bank of the Forth on February 13, so that news of the crime could not be carried over to the other side, and so that they would be ready to take over Huntly and his dependents. Moray was in his hall at Dunibristle on the farther bank of the river with a few companions, seeking to use Ochiltree as an intermediary to turn Maitland and Huntly from their rivalry and dislike and restore himself to their good graces.
8. Huntly (whom nobody imagined would bestir himself), armed and with a hundred and twenty kinsmen and dependents dissimulated the reason for his journey and secretly rode out of Edinburgh so as to take Moray unawares with the least possible commotion, and so that no news of his coming would arrive beforehand. On his departure, the Chancellor is said to have given him a mandate to kill Moray. The Gordons immediately surrounded the house, so that nobody could escape. Having taken away their ability to flee, they broke the locks, beat down the doors, and attacked with steel and fire, giving the terrified inmates no chance to gather their wits. With no less self-confidence they rushed at Moray, defended by his followers with whatever weapons they could take up in their haste. The boldest of these were killed, including Dunbar, Moray’s justicer, who was a companion of those trying to defend the doorway. Now that everything was thick with smoke and flame, there seemed no other way out than to make their way through the enemies lying in wait. With difficulty he managed to get out through the back door of the building into a nearby garden, and from there he made his way past St. Bridget’s Church, and thence to the shore where he hunted for a skiff, the sole cure for his affliction. Seeing none, for the sake of hiding himself he lay in the rocks and seaweed, keeping his head down and trusting in the darkness and solitude. But his straw hat had been scorched and the assassins, following along with drawn swords, caught a whiff, found him, and miserably slaughtered him. The rocks were cruelly spattered with the blood of this best and most comely of young men.
9. The King chanced to be hunting, and from a high place he saw this sad conflagration. Maitland was cheered by the bad news. When rumor of this crime spread through Edinburgh during the night, the townsmen spent the remainder of that night in mourning and rioting. The common folk were bent on avenging his death, and, not without tears, they cried to arms. His lordly friends Lennox, Mar, and Ochiltree, amazed by the unexpected, sudden misfortune, mounted their horses and pursued the men responsible for the unspeakable deed with the sword. When word of the consternation of the commons and the indignation of all good men reached Huntly, he traveled to his home in the north by byways, leaving behind Captain Gordon, who had been seriously wounded by a bullet during the struggle. Afterwards Moray’ body, the most handsome of his time, torn by gashes, was displayed naked in the Leith marketplace, to the great commiseration and loud lamentations of the onlookers and, being touched by the hands of the common folk for a long time, served to provoke great hatred and loathing of Huntly.
10. Meanwhile Lord Doune’s mother begged the King to promise he would not let the murder of her innocent son go unpunished. He, inclined to venegeance, replied that he would make the just punishment his business. But this attitude quickly turned into one of forgiveness, since the condition of times and the parlous condition of the ever-shifting court swayed him to favor the murderer, out of his concern for peace and quiet. But men’s hatred was not extinguished for this reason. Much was said about Moray’s murder in popular conversations, with everything being exaggerated for the worse, as one would speak of the nobility of the slain man, another of his handsomeness and tall stature, and many would praise his gentleness and modesty, either out of dislike for his murderers or pity for the victim. As if by God’s punishment, almost none of his murderers died a natural death. Some were condemned. Captain Gordon was beheaded, the Laird of Calder, the chief intermediary between the Captain and Huntly, was cut down by the treachery of a kinsman, and others died in other catastrophes. Moncoffer received many wounds at the hands of Chrichton of Cluny, who was the keenest in hunting down and punishing the killers, as they chanced to come to his notice.
11. Not long thereafter, the King quit the city and, turning its government over its magistrates, made a tour of the western districts. The Privy Council and leading lords accompanied him so as to assist him in his concerns of state with their reasoned advice. Many men were put to the question for having favored Bothwell and Huntly and for having secretly habored them. Many guilty men were upbraided for this zeal and good will, but none were put to death.
12. Soon he sent suitable men to the riotous Hebrides to check their robberies. He summoned M’Connel and Maclean, those untamed masters of the islands, men who should have prevented thieves and murderers from stealing grain and cattle, and bade them be imprisoned until they had indemnified the common people for damages suffered, and paid a fine as well., and he required their oaths and their signatures that they would agree so to do. A few days later, because of his innate readiness to forgive, he let them both go, threatening them with death if they continued to conduct themselves in a disorderly manner, and he took hostages as a guarantee for the future. But they disdained their oaths and scorned his threats, and, having received his pardon, practised barbaric ferocity with arms and armies, cruelly killing many with steel and fire.
13. Meanwhile at Dumbarton Elphinstone, the head of his family, who busied himself at court discovering all the King’s plans for Huntly’s destruction and forewarning him by means of suitable men, humbly petitioned the King that Huntly and the Gordons, who had been responsible for Moray’s murder, be tried in the traditional way, and that his accusers, the wife, mother, and children of the deceased, either be present or send representatives. It struck many men as strange that a man who relied on the strength of Huntly’s faction, condemned in advance not only in his own conscience, but by his public ill-repute for the crime, should be so bold as to request a trial on a capital charge. He imagined that he would be able to avoid blame for such an unpopular crime because of secret instructions issued by the Lord Chancellor, and he had it in mind, if ruin were to threaten him, to produce those instructions before the lords and accuse the Chancellor. Making no delay, the King bade the accusation be laid. When the day of the trial approached, the accused made his way to be tried, having been commanded to go into custody at Blackness at least until the day of the trial, and his friends and accomplices went to Edinburgh. Desiring to satisfy the King, he obeyed the edict. But his friends, reflecting on the magnitude of their crime and hearing the hard things the common folk had to say, thought it better to stay away. Come the day of the trial, the accusers failed to make their appearance and the accused, thanks to Maitland’s favor and the protection of his friends and henchmen, proved stronger than the law. Cautioned to appear when once again summoned to court, he was freed from custody. But he was not freed of his infamy for his misdeed and unpopularity, nor did he remain free of danger.
14. The clansmen of Caithness, Grant, and many other dependents of Moray who lived near Huntly lands, being inferior in wealth and strength, took counsel about his killing, despoiled nearby fields, and killed some Gordons. These included Baron Brachley, a man consumed by old age. They were invited to his table, a table which they, being men almost devoid of all humanity, sinfully spattered with the blood of their host, and by this crime they hastened their own end. Huntly, a man of supreme power at home, was greatly irked that Macintosh, the clan chief, and Grant, both powerful men, should set themselves up as his opponents. So he sent as his plenipotentiary, who invaded Badenoch, defeating and putting to rout those clansmen of Caithness who dared resist, killing five hundred. Macreginald was sent against Grant, and he killed eighty and ravaged with sword and fire.
15. Nor did the ministers cease their religious strife, as if they had not worked enough mischief by signing away all the patrimony of the Kirk. In the next synod they deliberated about making equal shares of the revenues of parsonages, vicarages, and ecclesiastical benefices. Henceforth the titles of curate, vicar, canon, and prebend were abolished, as if they were redolent of Papist superstition This created great dislike for them, since at court Kirk honors and benefices were being divided up and parceled out, auctioned off or sold to qualified purchasers. Amidst these developments, Patrick Adamson, Archbishop of St. Andrews was contumaciously and rudely harassed by the disciples of Melville, and for the security of his life was obliged to maintain a guard of armed servants and dependents. When he was drained dry by paying these men pensions and largesse, he was reduced to such poverty that he was obliged to turn to the ministers for help. Overjoyed at this development, by their force and threats they extorted a palinode from him, which they published in print, adding countless interpolations of their own. And so the man whom Fortune had raised to the glory of Kirk dignity, was driven to a notable downfall by Melville’s fury. In the end, exhausted by this, he died, a man better in his erudition than in his life.
16. Hence Scotland went without bishops for nearly four years, because of their deaths, departures, or flight For most prelates were compelled to go into hiding, because they saw their help was useless for the collapsing Kirk, and they declined to argue with the ignorant multitude about their livelihoods and fortunes. With the bishops driven out of office, the Presbyterians, headstrong in their ambition, managed everything according to their will. Robert Bruce was put at the head of the Puritans, and his principal concern was to be venerated and commend himself to the congregation by a show of sanctity. The Kirk wholly surrendered itself to him, compelled by the times and domestic evils, to the healing of which the prelates had proven unequal. The others strove more on behalf of their faction than for the sanctity of religion. Nor were the courtiers sorry that the door had been thrown open for their auctions and sacrilegious rapacity. Therefore, under the guise of piety, the insolence of those restless men overthrew the dignity of bishops and cemented the power of their order.
17. Now that he could set aside his fears of plots and domestic discords, since the treasury and the personal patrimony of his fisc had been consumed by its managers, having now completed his twenty-fifth year, the King revoked all donations and sales made to the prejudice of the Crown. With his reason, concern, and cogitation he pondered all the ways by which the advantage of the commonwealth might be procured and enhanced. With great effort, and by running great risks, he brought to pass that which he devised. His revocation had annoyed a few rapacious gentlemen who had turned a profit on the sale of estates, or been enriched by a donative. But by this deed the King satisfied the more fair-minded, to whom it seemed more honorable to ask those things back which had been the reason for the public impoverishment, than to resort to force and wrongdoing in extorting property from the wealthier sort of men, or troubling the common people with special exactions piled one atop another. Nor did the nobility of the court disapprove of the King’s diligence in procuring the public advantage by honorable means, although only with great difficulty could it place a limit on its insatiable greed. The prudent sovereign, possessed of a steady and enduring will, preferred to bequeath a heritage of bankruptcy to his successors than to amass a heap of wealth by dishonorable and criminal means, or to conduct an endless assault on the property of his subjects. Many wholesome laws about not alienating the public patrimony of the realm were nullified by the fraud, ambition, and ambition of powerful men, who were willing to dissolve the bonds of society, and had no concern for public law, as often as it served their advantage.
Go to 1592