1572.7 Scoti in castris militiae laboribus assueti Evidently a following statement has been omited from the text saying that the military experience gained in foreign wars was why the citizenry of Edinburgh were able to put up such a good fight against Grange.
1573.2 tribunitiis concionibus Roman tribunes, supposed to be representatives of the common people, could interfere with the operations of government by exercising their power of the veto. Johnston repeatedly uses this as a metaphor for the kind of political power ministers at least aspired to possess.
1577.1 procerum utriusque ordinis caetu Johnston seemingly means an assembly of both the higher and lower ranks of the nobility (unless the word procerum is wrongly inserted, and he is indicating a parliament of both the nobility and the commons — so Middleton understood him in his translation).
1579.2 volucris effigies More precisely, the image of a pelican. This was also the device of Queen Elizabeth, adopted for the same reason (hence in her honor Drake’s Golden Hind was originally named the Pelican).
1580.3 venit in Scotiam Iacobus Balfourius Johnston introduces this new personality with uncharacteristic abruptness. He was Sir James Balfour of Monquhanny, Lord Pittendreich [d. 1583 or 1584], an eminent legalist but a slippery tergiversator in Scottish politics, who had been exiled to France because he was deeply suspected of having been complicit in the murder of Darnley.
1582.11 addictus Moriano patrono In modern books by Mary’s devotees — Lady Antonia Fraser is one — Buchanan is still written about as if he were merely some unprincipled hireling of Moray suborned into writing against the queen. Nothing can be further from the truth. He was given a number of serious responsibilities under Moray (Johnston records at 1572.2 that Buchanan was placed in charge of the young James’ education), and long after the Earl’s death remained an important member of Scotland’s Protestant government under subsequent regents (at 1578.1 Johnston provides evidence that he was Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal as late as that year). More importantly, the murder of Lord Darnley, or more precisely the subsequent attempt to quash any investigation into the murder, struck deep in his mind, alienated him from the queen, and set him thinking radical new thoughts about politics and the law. There can be no doubt that what he wrote in his laters was heartfelt.
1587.3 Sis Paris an Graius dubito The point of this epigram is the punning on Graius, which both means “Greek”and is Maitland’s Latinization of his surname. “Greek faith” is no faith at all (this phrase contains an allusion to the incident of the Trojan Horse). In the preceding words Metellanus ius versibus proscidit, I am not sure how ius should be translated: is it a misprint for (e. g. ) eum?
1588.5 Scythica feritate The Scythians were a nomadic people inhabiting the Pontic-Caspian steppe, perhaps unfairly proverbial among the Greeks and Romans for their savage barbarism (cf., for example, Colossians 3:11).
1589.9 Something is wrong here, although it is not quite clear whether the facts were misreported by Johnston or the printer has botched what he wrote. The schoolmaster in question had name, or at least alias, of Fian (as is correctly stated at 1590.7), and Tranent was the name of the village where he lived. That the mistake was Johnston’s own is perhaps suggested by the fact that the witch’s actual name was Agnes Sampson, not Anne.
1590.5 Ioannem Gordonium, Clunensis comarchi fratrem At 1591.7 Johnston says that Gordon Laird of Gight was feeling vengeful over the murder of his brother the Laird of Cluny. Is this the killing being described here?
1590.9 Lege Cornelia The allusion is to the Lex Cornelia de sicariis et veneficiis, enacted by Sulla in 81 B. C. (discussed by Cicro in his speech Pro Cluentio), which essentially had to do with poisoning. But since witches were so often associated with the concoction of philters, potions, and poisons that they were called veneficii, this was often claimed to give a basis in Roman law for the persecution of witches during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
1593.22 XIX die mensis Februarii Johnston is being very punctual about dates. As he himself notes at 1600 § 15, as of 1600 years were formally recognized as beginning on January 1 rather than the Old Style March 25. Hence he places the birth of Prince Henry Frederick in 1593. A modern historian would have no such scruples about anachronistically retrojecting New Style dating into the past, and so would date the birth to 1594.
1600.11 Eo defuncto desiit festus haberi It is puzzling that this sentence appears to have been written after James’ death, but the words subsidium regni Scotiae in praesens et spes unica huius insulae, et imperii gloria in futurum opinione Britanniae, and also caeptum Britannicum imperium diuturnum ac stabile Iacobo rectori et Carolo principi simul et omni stirpi sit in § 14 below seem to imply that he was still living.