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The Story of Edinburgh Castle
Chapter V. The Blackest Day for Scotland


JAMES III was only seven years old when he succeeded his father in 1460, and no time was lost in arranging his coronation at Kelso Abbey, near to Roxburgh, whither his grief-stricken mother had hastened to make a chivalrous appeal to the troops besieging the castle. As usual there was a difficulty in arranging the regency. This nearly terminated in bloodshed, as the Queen’s claim did not receive the support of the Barons, who refused to submit to the sway of a woman. The matter, however, was eventually settled by appointing the Bishop of St. Andrews as joint guardian, and investing the Earl of Angus with supreme military power as Lieutenant-General of the kingdom, and the new reign commenced with great promise. But unfortunately the old Earl died not long after, which was a great loss to Scotland. The Queen-Mother, too, died suddenly, so that a great responsibility now rested on the Bishop, who continued to carry out the pacific policy for which he had constantly striven.

In due time James approached a marriageable age and an advantageous matrimonial alliance was formed with Margaret, daughter of the King of Denmark and Norway, who was known as “little Margaret, the maiden of Norway.”

The alliance was further rendered acceptable to the nation in that the royal bridegroom “gatt with the King of Denmarkes dochter, in tocher guid, the landis of Orkney and Zetland,” and in the month of July 1469, the future Queen landed at Leith in the presence of an immense crowd and amid general rejoicings of the people.

According to Abercrombye, “the very sight of such a Queen could not but endear her to all ranks of people, who, to congratulate her happy arrival, and to create in her a good opinion of themselves and the country, entertained her and her princely train for many days with delicious and costly feasts.”

But these festivities, at the Castle and elsewhere, gave place to events of a quite different character, and the young King did not foresee the troubles that awaited him. James evidently had no conception of his duties and responsibilities as monarch, sacrificing the interests of his kingdom to his tastes for the fine arts.

He did not have the slightest interest in the stirring exercises of the chase or the tilting-yard, nor in his duties of the cabinet or council-room. He spent his time in the society of ignoble favourites who speedily acquired an influence in the realm to which they had no title by hereditary rank, and as little claim on the ground of personal merit. Cochrane, an architect} Rogers, a musician; Torphichen, a fencing master; Andrews, an astrologer; Hommil, a tailor; and Leonard, a smith, were the principal persons on whom he bestowed such an injudicious and dangerous preference.

The nobility could not but feel the slight thus put upon them: alienated from their sovereign, they attached themselves to his brothers, the Duke of Albany and the Earl of Mar, who were distinguished by their skill in military exercises, their open-handed generosity, and the splendid array of friends and retainers with which they surrounded themselves. Hence arose jealousies and contentions between the young monarch and his brothers, which resulted in the Duke of Albany being imprisoned in the Castle on a charge of conspiracy, and his other brother, the Earl of Mar, being shut up in Craigmillar Castle, without the slightest evidence that they had entertained disloyal designs.

Albany effected his escape in 1478 by one of the most startling adventures recorded in the history of the Castle. The young Duke was on friendly terms with the court of Burgundy, and his friends there, learning of his imprisonment, sent by a trading vessel two casks of Malmsey, which were admitted to the Duke’s chamber without examination. On their being opened Albany found a coil of rope and a paper , of instructions enclosed in a cake of wax, explaining a plan of escape and informing him that his enemies had resolved to put him to death. Without hesitation the Duke invited the captain of the guard and his three soldiers to sup with him, and with the assistance of his chalmer-chield (attendant) he soon succeeded in reducing the party to a state of intoxication, after which the men were easily overpowered and slain. With the assistance of his attendant the Duke threw the bodies encased in their armour on to the blazing fire which burnt in the great open fireplace of the chamber, and stealing out in the darkness the fugitives made their way to a part of the outer wall and prepared for their descent. The attendant claimed the first trial, and as the rope proved to be too short, he dropped to the ground and broke his leg. Albany at once rushed back to his sleeping apartment in the Tower, took the sheets from his bed, knotted them together to the end of the rope, and effected his escape in safety down the rock. Staying only to convey his disabled attendant to a friendly shelter, he hastened to the shore and was taken on board the waiting vessel that speedily conveyed him to France, where he was hospitably received by the court of Louis XI.

A different fate befell the Earl of Mar. There is some uncertainty surrounding the closing scene in his brief career, as he was not brought to a public trial. It has been said that he was taken to a house in the Canongate where, in a hot bath, he was bled to death; but another story says that he died from fever after a process of bleeding prescribed by his physicians.

Whilst James with an army of fifty thousand men was on his way toward the border in 1481 to encounter Richard Duke of Gloucester, the angry Scottish barons felt that the time had come to assert their

THE ESCAPE OF THE DUKE OF ALBANY

power. They were in a better position when in camp to cope successfully with the royal authority, and they seized the favourites and hung them without trial over the parapet of Lauder Bridge. Plans were discussed for the seizure of the King, but there was some hesitation, as the plot was certainly attended with considerable danger. While the mode of proceeding was being considered, Lord Gray quoted the fable of the mice and the cat, whereupon Angus, the head of the new house of Douglas, with characteristic boldness exclaimed "I shall bell the cat,” an expression which gained for him the appellation of Archibald Bell-the-Cat.

The unhappy monarch was seized and carried back to Edinburgh, where he was kept a close prisoner within the Castle. The Castle once again was, as it were, a prison and palace combined. James was kept more or less a close prisoner in the custody of the Earls of Athol and Buchan ; he was attended with all the honour due to him as a prince, but no one was allowed to speakto him except in the company of his custodian; his door was locked before the setting of the sun and opened long after sunrise. During his own close confinement James’ own prisoner, James the ninth and last Earl of Douglas, lay close by in one of the dungeons. James III did not die in the Castle, but like most of the princes of his unfortunate royal house, perished by the dagger of his own rebellious nobles on June 8, 1488, after his retreat from the battle of Sauchieburn, close to Bannockburn, and was buried in the Abbey of Cambus Kenneth.

On the day after the battle the Earls of Angus and Argyle, with the Lords Hailes and Home and the Bishop of Glasgow, repaired to the Castle of Edinburgh and secured and took an inventory of the jewels, plate, and apparel which belonged to the late King. He left behind him a wonderful collection of gems and jewels in his famous black kist, believed to be the one in which the Regalia were kept, and which is still preserved in the Crown Room. In the “inventory” are mentioned five relics of Bruce, "King Robert’s Serk ” and four silver goblets, and other gold and silver plate.

With the advent of James the Fourth commences one of the brightest periods in Scottish national history. The Prince proceeded immediately to Scone—some historians say Edinburgh—where he was crowned with the usual ceremonies. The Government of the new monarch was then organized, and his confederates in the rebellion which had raised him to the throne were rewarded by their appointment to offices of influence and trust.

James was now in the seventeenth year of his age, and his love of gorgeous pageantry and show was pandered to by his councillors. He was constantly attended not only by his huntsmen and falconers, but by his jester, ‘English John,’ and his youthful mistress, Lady Drummond, daughter of Lord Drummond, to whom he seems to have been attached at an early period, and frequent notices appear in the Treasurer’s book of the sums paid to “ dansaris, gysaris, and players ” who were employed to amuse the youthful lovers.

And of his court through Europe sprang the fame Of lusty lords and love some ladies ying, 'Triumphand tourneys, justing and knightly game With all pastime according to ane Ring—

He was the gloir of princely governing!

On a green lawn close to the King’s stables James arranged great tournaments, where his nobles and barons assembled by royal proclamation for jousting. Meeds of honour such as a gold-headed spear and similar favours were presented to the victor from the royal hand or from those of the fair beauties for which the Scottish Court was famed. Knights came from all countries to take part in the tourneys, "but few or none of thame passed away unmatched, and oftymes overthrowne.”

One noteworthy meeting which the King and his train witnessed in great splendour from the walls of the Castle took place in 1503, when a Dutch knight, Sir John Cockbeuis, challenged a Sir Patrick Hamilton, said to have been the bravest knight in Scotland, to a great combat. The knights, clad in full armour, with their blazoned shields hung on their shoulders, appeared mounted on magnificent horses, and at the sound of the heralds’ trumpets plunged at each other. Both lances were splintered, and the champions returned for another charge; but the Scottish knight’s horse failed him and the encounter was continued on foot, the knights fighting with their great swords. After an hour, during which the contest continued with great spirit, the Dutchman was struck to the ground with a mighty blow from the two-handed sword of Hamilton, when the King threw down his bonnet over the Castle wall as a sign for the combat to cease, and amidst the sound of the trumpets the Scottish knight was proclaimed the victor.

The capital during this reign became the favourite residence of famous men of art and letters. The Provost of St. Giles, Gavin Douglas, who became ultimately the Bishop of Dunkeld, translated Virgil’s AEneid into Scottish verse, and dedicated his poem to the “Maist gracious Prince ouir Souerain James the Feird, Supreme honour renoun of cheualrie.” James took an immense interest in his armaments, testing them almost daily, keeping them in repair against the day of invasion. His master gunner Borthwick had orders for casting a set of brass cannon for the Castle which were christened. 'The Sisters’ on account of their beautiful design; the master gunner also cast within the Castle the bells which still hang in the belfry of St. Magnus Cathedral at Kirkwall in Orkney.

Before the marriage of James the Court was the scene of a domestic tragedy. Lady Margaret Drummond, his mistress, had been poisoned along with her two sisters by the jealous Scottish nobles. It is said that James intended to marry her without consulting his Council, as he much loved the fair Margaret; but as they were connected by blood a dispensation was required from Rome. The dispensation arrived from the Pope too late; the ill-fated lady had already been cruelly poisoned.

By this deed all impediments to the completion of his marriage with the Princess Margaret of England were removed, and on July 16, 1503, Margaret, who had attained the mature age of fourteen years, made her public entrance into Edinburgh amidst national rejoicings. The King met his fair bride on her near approach to the city, and dismounting from his horse, he fondly kissed her as she reclined in her litter. He then mounted on her palfrey, and taking up Margaret behind him they rode to the city and were met at the gate by Grey Friars bearing sacred relics which were handed to the royal pair to kiss.

Within the gates the church bells pealed and the houses were gaily decorated, the windows being hung with tapestry. Next day the King and his bride were married with great pomp by the Archbishop of Glasgow, u amid the sound of trumpets and the acclamation of the noble company.” At the dinner which followed in the Banqueting Hall of the Castle the Queen was served at the first course with “a wyld borres hed gylt within a fayr platter.” The people showed their rejoicing by bonfires, while dancing and feasting and the sports of the age were continued for many days, "and that done every man went his way.”

We must pass from these great rejoicings to follow the history of the Castle, wherein we find James preparing for his departure, against all warnings and good counsels of his Queen, to the lamented field of Flodden. He had the seven great cannon out of the Castle called ‘The Sisters,’ along with the necessary powder and shot.

The Queen had given birth to two sons, both of whom had died, and a third son and heir had been bom at Linlithgow ; but neither this event nor the entreaties of the Queen—who prayed for him to remain in Scotland—could turn James from his fatal purpose. At the head of his great army, the flower of Scottish chivalry, the gallant monarch marched across the border to the bloody field of Flodden. The great disaster of September 9, 1513, which deprived Scotland not only of her King, but also of so many Scottish fathers, sons and brothers, that innumerable homes throughout the border districts were left without a man, made Edinburgh a city of wailing. It was “the blackest day for Scotland that she ever knew before,” and the wailing of her people has been echoed down the centuries.

Professor Aytoun, in his Edinburgh after Flodden, expresses the sorrow which the people felt on the death of their beloved King.

Woe, and Woe, and lamentation, what a piteous cry was there,
Widows, maidens, mothers, children, shrieking., sobbing in despair.
\Through the streets the death-word rushes, spreading terror, sweeping on,
"Jesus Christ, King has fallen—oh great Qod, King James has gone.
Oh the blackest day for Scotland that she elpcr knew before
Oh our King, the good, the noble, shall we ne'er see him more?
Woe to us and woe to Scotland, oh our sons, our sons and men,
Surely some have ’scaped the Southron, surely some will come again?”
Till the oak that fell last winter shall uprear its withered stem,
Wives and mothers of Dunedin you may look in vain for them.

The body of James was found by Lord Dacre amongst the thickest of the slain: “his neck was opened in the middle with a wide wound ; his left hand, almost cut off in two places, did scarce hang to his arm, and the archers had shot him in many places of his body.” Thus perished, in his forty-second year, one of the most popular monarchs that ever resided in the Castle of Edinburgh.

Luckily for Scotland Henry VIII was too much engaged with the French to reap the fruits of his victory at Flodden. However, Edinburgh prepared itself for eventualities. The magistrates issued a proclamation to the effect that all men must be in readiness to assemble at the “jowing” of the town bell, wearing what accoutrements they possessed, and carrying their weapons to defend the town. This is the origin of the famous “auld toun Guard.” The proclamation likewise warned women not to be seen in the streets, clamouring and crying, but rather to go to the kirk and offer up prayers. Twenty-four men were appointed as the town guard, and five hundred pounds Scots was ordered to be levied for the purchase of artillery and also to fortify the town.

The old wall erected in the reign of James II. had already proved to be too confined for the rising capital, and now with the fear of invasion the aristocratic suburb of the Cowgate, which was beyond the wall, became keenly alive to its exposed position. No time was lost in supplying the needful defences ; every person available assisted in the work, farmers lent their labourers and horses to the national work, and in a very short space of time this southern part of the city was surrounded by the new wall, called Flodden Wall, with its battlements and towers. Considerable portions of this wall still remain in good preservation; at the vennel one may see a battlement portion, also adjoining the museum at College Street, and again at the Pleasance there is a small stretch.

As the greater part of the nobles had perished with their sovereign, the National Council was principally composed of clergy. The infant King, then only eighteen months old, was crowned at Scone. The Castle of Stirling was selected as his residence, and the Queen-Mother was appointed Regent of the kingdom and guardian of her son, in accordance with the will of the late King.

The Archbishop of Glasgow and the Earls of Huntly and Angus were selected to be the councillors of Margaret, and the government of Stirling Castle was entrusted to Lord Borthwick. The appointment of a female to hold the reins of government was contrary to the customary law of Scotland, and was far from popular among the Scottish nobles; moreover, the near connection of the Queen-Mother with the English monarch excited a suspicion that she might be unduly swayed by his influence. A secret message was despatched to France inviting the Duke of Albany, who after the youthful monarch was next heir to the throne, to repair to Scotland and assume the office of Regent.

For some time after the death of the King, the Queen-Mother seems to have discharged the duties of her office to the satisfaction of the nobles and the people, but the defects in her character soon became apparent. On April 30, 1514, about eight months after Flodden, she gave birth to a son, who was named Alexander, and created Duke of Ross. Scarcely had the Queen recovered from her confinement, however, when, to the surprise and regret of all her friends, she hastily married the young Earl of Angus, without any previous consultation with her Council. This had the effect of lowering her reputation in the eyes of the nation.

Angus was the grandson and successor of the celebrated Archibald Bell-the-Cat, and was therefore at the head of the powerful house of Douglas.

By the terms of the royal will the marriage at once put an end to Margaret’s regency, and the Council lost no time in deposing her from the office.

On May 18 the Duke of Albany arrived from France to take over the regency, landing at Dumbarton with a squadron of eight ships, and was eagerly welcomed by a large concourse of the nobles and gentry of the western counties. The citizens testified their joy on his arrival at Edinburgh by acting “sundry farces and gude plays,” and the Queen came from the Castle to the gate at Holyrood to meet him and do him all possible honour. At a meeting of Parliament held in July 1515 he was solemnly installed in the office of Regent till the young King should reach the age of eighteen. The royal children still remained in the keeping of their mother, and it became an object of great importance to withdraw them from this dangerous situation. The new Regent accordingly summoned a Parliament, which met at Edinburgh and nominated eight lords, out of which four were to be chosen by lot, and from these the Queen-Mother was to select three to have charge of the King and his brother. This arrangement having been agreed to, the four peers proceeded from the Parliament house to the Castle, for the purpose of carrying into effect the commands of Parliament. Attended by a great concourse of people, who crowded to witness the imposing scene, they approached the gates of the fortress, which were thrown open, and Margaret the Queen-Mother was seen standing under the archway of the Portcullis Gate with the little King nestling by her side with his hand held fast in hers, whilst in the background a lady stood holding in her arms the infant Duke of Ross. As soon as the cheers with which the people greeted this royal tableau had subsided, the Queen with great dignity and a loud clear voice demanded the reason of the delegates coming; they replied that they came in the name of Parliament to receive from her the King and his brother, whereupon Margaret commanded the warder to drop the portcullis. The great massive iron trellis instantly descended, and, according to Dr. Taylor, she thus addressed the delegates through the grille : u This Castle is part of my enfeoffment, and of it, by my late husband the King, was I made governor, nor to any mortal shall I yield the important trust. But I respect the Parliament and nation, and request six days to consider the mandate, for most important is my charge and my counsellors now, alas, are few ! ” As the last words fell from her lips she burst into tears.

The Queen, however, found it impossible to hold the Castle against the forces of Parliament, and suddenly moved with her children to Stirling, her usual place of residence, where her adherents were numerous. She then sent to the Regent an offer to maintain the Princes out of her own dowry, provided they were left under her charge.

Indignant at this evasion of the orders of Parliament, Albany determined to compel obedience, and ordered Lords Ruthven and Borthwick to blockade the Castle of Stirling. A proclamation was now issued, threatening the penalties of treason against all those who should continue to hold out the Castle of Stirling against the Regent and Parliament ; and Albany, at the head of seven thousand men and accompanied by almost all the peers, marched against that fortress. The Queen’s resistance was hopeless, and advancing to meet the Regent she delivered the keys of the Castle to the young King, who, by her directions, placed them in the hands of Albany.

The Regent left a guard of seven hundred soldiers, and committed the two Princes to the custody of the Earl Marischal ; whilst the Queen returned to Edinburgh, where she took up her residence in the Castle. Margaret finding herself, as she alleged, in a kind of

THE QUEEN-MOTHER, MARGARET TUDOR, RECEIVES THE REPRESENTATIVE PEERS AT THE PORTCULLIS GATE

captivity at Edinburgh, and her revenues retained by the Regent, determined to retire to Blacater, in close proximity to England while at the same time it was within the Scottish frontier, so she could not be said to have forfeited her rights by leaving the country. This imprudent step completely alienated the nobles and clergy from the cause of the Queen, and induced them to give their full support to the government of the Regent.

Albany tried in vain to avoid hostilities, and offered Margaret complete restoration of all her rights and revenues if she would return to Edinburgh Castle. The imprudent Queen-Mother refused the liberal terms, and Albany immediately advanced to the Border at the head of an army of forty thousand men, and razed the tower of Blacater to the ground. In the meantime the Queen fled to England along with Angus and Home, after finding it impossible to offer any effectual resistance. The Regent was still anxious to reclaim the Queen from the impolitic course which she was pursuing, and addressed a letter to her imploring her to listen to reason, but without success.

Eight days after her flight into England she gave birth to a daughter, the Lady Margaret Douglas, who eventually became the mother of Darnley and grandmother of James VI; and a few days after she received the news of the death of her younger son, Alexander, at Stirling, an event which the Queen and her faction did not hesitate to ascribe either to neglect or poison.

Albany now resolved to visit France in order to obtain assistance from the French court to enable him to resist the intrigues of England, and to maintain the independence of the Kingdom. His absence was arranged to extend only to four months, and on June 7, 1517, he sailed from Dumbarton. Before leaving, the young King was brought from Stirling and placed in the Castle of Edinburgh under the care of the Earl Marischal and Lords Erskine, Borthwick, and Ruthven. It was also settled that the Queen-Mother should be allowed to return to Scotland, and to resume possession of her dowry and all her effects, upon condition that she should abstain from all attempts to overthrow the authority of the Regent. As soon as she heard of Albany’s departure she commenced her journey northward, and on her arrival in Edinburgh she was not permitted at first to visit her son; but the young monarch was removed to Craigmillar Castle on there being an apprehension that the plague had made its appearance in the capital, and there his mother was occasionally allowed to visit him.

Margaret’s propensity to engage in intrigues seems to have been incurable, and a suspicion arose that she was meditating a plan to carry off the young King to England, whereupon his guardians at once restored him to his original residence in the Castle of Edinburgh.

Angus having failed in his attempt to obtain the regency, quarrelled with his wife and retired from the Court. He secluded himself in the Douglas country with his mistress, the daughter of Stuart of Traquair, to whom he is said to have been betrothed previous to his marriage with the Queen.

Margaret broke into a violent rage at this new insult, and expressed her determination to sue for a divorce; but through a friar named Chatsworth, sent by Henry from England, a temporary reconciliation took place between her and Angus.

Meanwhile the ambition of Angus continued to annoy the Government and to disturb the peace of the nation, and the Regent on his return from France summoned a Parliament to meet at Edinburgh on December 26, 1522, and cited Angus and his principal followers to appear and answer to the charges to be brought against them. But, conscious of their guilt, they were compelled to fly to the borders, where they opened a negotiation with Henry through the Bishop of Dunkeld, a nephew of Angus. They brought charges against Albany of having murdered the young Duke of Ross at Stirling; they alleged that the Regent had designs upon the Crown, that Margaret intended to set aside her son to marry Albany and raise him to the throne, to accomplish which they had attempted to induce Angus to consent to a divorce; also that the life of the young King was in danger.

The Queen-Mother was speedily made acquainted with the charges which had been brought against her, and she immediately dispatched an envoy to her brother, flatly contradicting them. But Henry had no desire for peace, and openly accused his sister of living in shameful adultery with the Regent. Angus, who had remained inactive on the borders, became desirous of removing to some other country to mature his plans and await a favourable opportunity for their execution. He prevailed on his wife to intercede with Albany for this end, and he was permitted to return to Edinburgh, from which he passed immediately into France—the Regent consenting, on his voluntary exile, to remit the sentence for treason which had previously been pronounced. Albany convened a Parliament at Edinburgh, and a formal declaration of war against England was agreed upon ; and the young King, now in his eleventh year, was removed to Stirling and placed under the sole charge of Lord Erskine. Albany was, however, anxious for peace with honour, which was speedily arranged with Henry, who professed to be anxious only that his nephew should be placed under proper guardians, while he insisted no longer on the departure of Albany from Scotland. Albany consenting to a two months’ truce disbanded his army and returned to Edinburgh.

The Queen-Mother now began a correspondence with the English nobles, to whom she revealed the whole policy of the Regent. Albany was now placed in a terribly complicated position. He was anxious to remain at peace, but Henry brought the negotiations for the continuance of a truce to an abrupt termination; and as many of the nobles were in the pay of England, Albany found it difficult to find anyone to whom he could give his confidence, or whom he could entrust with the carrying out of his designs. Harassed and disheartened by the difficulties of his situation, the Regent resolved once more to repair to France, for the purpose of holding a conference with Francis I on the best method of overcoming the English faction. Meanwhile the Queen-Mother was busily engaged in carrying on her intrigues to advance her own interests at the expense of the welfare of the country, and a plot was hatched between her and the English court to put an end to the regency of Albany by allowing the young King to assume the reins of government, with the expectation that the management of affairs would fall into her own hands. Her schemes, however, were disconcerted by the unexpected return of Albany, who determined to make a final effort to maintain the independence of the kingdom. He mustered an army of forty thousand men on the Borough Muir, within sight of Edinburgh Castle, and began his march on England, which was slow owing to the state of the roads, along which the heavy artillery was dragged with great labour. But Albany soon found himself in difficulties, for his army and its leaders broke out into insubordination and they openly refused to proceed farther on reaching Melrose. Disgusted and mortified by these proceedings, and finding that the nobles were faithless, Albany requested permission to retire to France under the pretext (it making further arrangements with Francis, his request was complied with, and in July 1524 he left Scotland never to return.

Margaret now succeeded in persuading the Earl of Arran, whose royal descent and large possessions made him a formidable rival, to unite his interests to hers; and on July 25 she suddenly left Stirling with her son, and entering the capital, showed him to the townspeople as their legitimate sovereign, now about to administer in his own name the affairs of his disordered kingdom. James had not yet reached his thirteenth year, but his educational accomplishments were much in advance of his age.

Accordingly he was welcomed to Edinburgh with great enthusiasm; through admiring and cheering crowds he passed with his mother and a procession of nobility to his ancestral Palace of Holyrood, and there was declared of age, announced his assumption of the government, and received the homage of the peers and prelates.

The Queen’s rapid and independent action enraged her brother and gave reason for distrust, which was greatly strengthened by her refusal to sanction the return of her husband Angus. She had proposed now become enamoured with Henry Stewart, the second son of Lord Evandale. This awakened general dissatisfaction, and several of the barons withdrew from her Court in consequence ; and even Arran, her principal supporter, began to consult his own interests in preference to her cause. Henry’s chaplain, Dr. Magnus, was directed to repair without delay to her Court, and to endeavour to effect her reconciliation with her husband ; but her former attachment to him had been replaced by so strong an aversion, that no argument could induce her to consent to his recall. Her opposition, however, did not prevent the return of Angus to Scotland; in the beginning of November, after a two years’ exile, he crossed the border and took up his residence at Coldingham Priory. He wrote to Margaret entreating her to grant him a personal conference, professing his readiness to make amends for any offences which he had committed. No notice was taken of this communication, not even in the Parliament which met in the middle of the month.

Early on the morning of November 23, 1525, several hours before sunrise, the citizens of Edinburgh were roused from their slumbers by the sound of war in their streets. The Earls of Angus and Lennox had scaled the walls, opened the gates, and penetrated to the Cross at the head of four or five hundred men. They announced that they only sought to have the person removed from the custody of those who were compassing the injury of the state. The guns of the Castle were directed against them, and the Queen, who was at Holyrood, collected a force of five hundred men and prepared to drive them out of the city at the point of the sword, when Dr. Magnus and others hastened to the palace to entreat her to stop the cannonade from the Castle, as it was doing much injury to the citizens. They found her in a fury of temper; she there and then ordered the prelate home to his lodging, suspecting him to be a party to the outrage, and issued a proclamation demanding the immediate departure of Angus and his adherents. This had the desired effect, they withdrew in the direction of Dalkeith, and in the dawn of the winter’s morn the Queen had passed up the High Street with her son, by torchlight, to the Castle, and shut herself in the fortress to devise measures for her security.

The Queen’s retreat into the Castle separated her to a great extent from the nobles who had still continued to attend her councils. She now sent the Bishop of Dunkeld and the Abbot of Cambuskenneth on an embassy to her brother to remonstrate with him on account of her husband’s return, but this had little promise of any satisfactory result.

The beginning of the year 1525 saw the influence of the Queen-Mother declining more and more. Angus, backed by an influential party, demanded the removal of the King from the control of his mother, and the

THE CASTLE FROM THE VENNEL

appointment of a new Council of Regency by the Parliament. Margaret could not venture beyond the walls of the Castle; the possession of the fortress and her hold on the young King were the only elements of strength that remained to her, but her spirit was not yet broken and she still maintained a high tone of independence.

As a last resource she determined to try an appeal to arms, and entreated the barons who still lingered around her to take the field on her behalf. To this, however, they would not consent unless the young King accompanied them—a condition, of course, to which Margaret dared not agree, fearing to lose the custody of her son. Accordingly she was at last compelled to yield. Under the auspices of Dr. Magnus negotiations were opened, and it was mutually agreed that James should be removed to the palace at Holyrood and placed under the guardianship of a Council elected by Parliament and presided over by the Queen; it was also stipulated that Angus should renounce his marital rights over her person and property.

It was with great repugnance that the Queen subscribed this contract, for she now saw that this was a virtual surrender of all for which she had so long struggled. Her influence was now at an end, and the disgraceful secret marriage in the following year with her paramour Henry Stewart completed the ruin of her power.

James’ early education had been entrusted to the care of Sir David Lyndsay, who instructed him in the knowledge of all liberal and manly accomplishments. Sir David was appointed gentleman usher to the royal infant on the day of his birth, and was for many years his constant companion and playmate. Sir David Lyndsay recalls to his sovereign’s recollection the amusements with which he had entertained his infancy in the two following verses :

When thou wast young I bore thee in my arm
Full tenderly till thou begouth to gang;
And in thy bed oft happed thee full warm,
With lute in hand, syne sweetly to thee sang;
Sometimes in dancing fierclie I flang,
And sometimes played farces on the floor,
And sometimes on mine office did take care.

And sometimes like ane fiend transfigurate,
And sometimes like the grisly ghost of Guy
In divers forms oft-times disfigurate,
And sometimes dissuaged full pleasantly;
So since thy birth I have continually
Been occupied, and aye to thy pleasure.

Under the pretence of providing for the security of the King’s person, the Queen surrounded him with a guard of two hundred men-at-arms, who were for the most part younger sons of noblemen. The long-pending decree of divorce between Margaret and Angus was pronounced by the Chancellor, in his Consistorial Court of St. Andrews in 1525, and in the same year a similar decision was delivered by the Pope, upon which Margaret publicly acknowledged Henry Stewart as her husband. The Lords of the Council, incensed at this presumption on the part of Stewart who had not asked consent of the King, committed him to prison for a short time. In the month of April 1525 the King completed his fourteenth year, when by the law of Scotland his minority terminated and he was permitted the full exercise of his authority.

James now proceeded to act with great promptitude and vigour against those who had so long held him in bondage. He issued a proclamation forbidding Angus or any of his adherents to approach within six miles of his Court, under pain of penalties for treason.

In 1536 James journeyed to France and there married Magdalene, the beautiful daughter of Francis. Magdalene is said to have fallen in love with the Scottish monarch at first sight; she was extremely delicate, and her physicians assured him “ that she was not strong enough to travel to a colder climate than her own, and that if she did her days would not be long.” The youthful lovers, however, turned a deaf ear to the advice, and their nuptials were solemnized with great splendour on January 1, 1537, in the Cathedral of Notre Dame. After a stormy passage they arrived at Leith on May 19, and were received with rejoicings by a great crowd, who came to welcome their sovereign home and to see their new Queen. As soon as they landed Magdalene knelt down and kissed the ground and returned thanks to God for a safe journey and prayed for the happiness of her new country, an incident which seems to have endeared her to the affections of the Scottish people. Alas! within the short period of six weeks she died, to the inexpressible grief of her husband and the whole nation, before she had completed her seventeenth year. She was buried with great pomp in the royal vault in the Abbey of Holyrood, near James II, and her epitaph was composed in Latin verse by the celebrated George Buchanan. This was the first recorded instance of mourning dresses being worn by the Scots.

James was not long a widower; within a few months after the death of his youthful Queen, he opened negotiations with Mary, a princess of the house of Guise, arrangements were speedily concluded and in June 1538 Mary landed at Balcornie in Fife and the marriage was celebrated at St. Andrews. Edinburgh and its Castle now became the scene of tragic occurrences that disturbed the peace of mind of the young monarch for a time. In June 1536 the Master of Forbes, who had married a sister of the Earl of Angus, was accused of a design to assassinate the King, and he and his father, Lord Forbes, were imprisoned upon these charges, but their trial did not take place till fourteen months after. The father was acquitted, but the son was found guilty, condemned, and executed on the same day. The young noble was beheaded and quartered outside the gates, his remains being hung on the principal portals of the city.

The next victim was Lady Glammis, a blood relation of the hated Douglases, who with her husband, her son, then only sixteen years of age, a priest, and a barber named John Lyon, was accused of conspiring to bring about the King’s death by poison. The unfortunate woman was found guilty and was condemned to be burned at the stake on the Castle Hill. The sentence was carried out in sight of her husband and in the presence of a crowd of spectators, who were deeply moved by her noble birth, her great beauty, and the courage with which she endured her cruel punishment.

Her son was also found guilty, but his life was spared out of compassion for his youth, and he was condemned to imprisonment for life, but was released on the death of James. The husband, in attempting to escape from the Castle, was dashed to pieces on the rocks. Alexander Mackay, who had sold the poison knowing for what purpose it was bought, had both his ears cut off and was banished from all parts of Scotland except the county of Aberdeen.

On May 22, 1540, the Queen gave birth to a prince who was named after his father ; in the month of April 1541 another son was born, who died almost immediately, and nearly at the same moment his elder brother, the heir to the throne, died at St. Andrews.

Pitscottie says that u the death of the two Princes caused great lamentations to be made in Scotland, but especially by the Queen their mother. The Queen comforted the King, saying they were young enough, and God would raise them more succession.” The Princes were buried on the same day in the royal vault at Holy rood.

Shortly after the death of the Princes the Queen-Dowager closed her turbulent life at Methven Castle at the age of fifty-two, and was buried in the tomb of James I in the church of the Carthusians at Perth. James felt keenly the death of his two children, who were taken from him with such suddenness, and sought consolation in interesting himself in useful enterprises such as the improvement in the breed of horses in his own country. French and Flemish armourers were brought over to increase the efficiency of his military resources, and craftsmen skilled in ornament were attracted from the Continent by the promise of his patronage. But James, in his endeavours to improve the conditions of his country, had not the support of his nobility, who were hostile to him. This was made apparent when James had collected his army at the Burgh Muir of Edinburgh preparatory to taking the field against his uncle, Henry of England, in 1542. They got the length of Fala, on the edge of the Lammermuir Hills, when the nobles persisted in their refusal to proceed farther. Some historians say that the barons manifested a disposition to renew the tragic scenes of Lauder Bridge by hanging the confidential advisers of the King, but that a difference of opinion among the leaders regarding the selection of their victims prevented them from carrying out their designs. James, after being defeated by the English at Solway Moss, flew into a furious passion on hearing the news, which was brought to him at Lochmaben, where he had remained. His mind already overstrained by anxiety and disappointments, he sunk under the blow and fell into a state of melancholy. He returned next day to Edinburgh, and afterward proceeded to Falkland Palace in Fife, where he shut himself up, brooding over his disgrace, and refused to see anyone. A slow fever preyed upon him, and being without food for many days he gradually died, on December 13, 1542, at the age of thirty-one.

The Queen was at Linlithgow Palace, where she had given birth to a daughter who became her father’s successor, and so we approach an eventful period of history in which the old Castle once more figures prominently, and the house of Stuart forfeited the throne.


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