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An Outline of the Relations between England and Scotland (500-1707)
Chapter VI - Scotland, Lancaster, and York 1400 - 1500


When Henry of Lancaster placed himself on his cousin's throne, Scotland was divided between the supporters of the Duke of Rothesay, the eldest son of Robert III and heir to the crown, and the adherents of the Duke of Albany, the brother of the old king. In 1399, Rothesay had just succeeded his uncle as regent, and to him, as to Henry IV, there was a strong temptation to acquire popularity by a spirited foreign policy. The Scots hesitated to acknowledge Henry as King of England, and he, in turn, seems to have resolved upon an invasion of Scotland as the first military event of his reign. He, accordingly, raised the old claim of homage, and marched into Scotland to demand the fealty of Robert III and his barons. As usual, we find in Scotland some malcontents, who form an English party. The leader of the English intrigue on this occasion was the Scots Earl of March,[52] the son of Black Agnes.

The Duke of Rothesay had been betrothed to the daughter of March, but had married in February, 1399-1400, a daughter of the Earl of Douglas, the hereditary foe of March. The Dunbar allegiance had always been doubtful, and it was only the influence of the great countess that had brought it to the patriotic side. In August, 1400, Henry marched into Scotland, and besieged for three days the castle of Edinburgh, which was successfully defended by the regent, while Albany was at the head of an army which made no attempt to interfere with Henry's movements. Difficulties in Wales now attracted Henry's attention, and he left Scotland without having accomplished anything, and leaving the record of the mildest and most merciful English invasion of Scotland. The necessities of his position in England may explain his abstaining from spoiling religious houses as his predecessors had done, but the chroniclers tell us that he gave protection to every town that asked it. While Henry was suppressing the Welsh revolt and negotiating with his Parliament, Albany and Rothesay were struggling for the government of Scotland. Rothesay fell from power in 1401, and in March, 1402, he died at Falkland. Contemporary rumour and subsequent legend attributed his death to Albany, and, as in the case of Richard II, the method of death was supposed to be starvation.

Sir Walter has told the story in _The Fair Maid of Perth_. Albany, who had succeeded him as regent or guardian, made no effort to end the meaningless war with England, which went fitfully on. An idiot mendicant, who was represented to be Richard II, gave the Scots their first opportunity of supporting a pretender to the English throne; but the pretence was too ridiculous to be seriously maintained. The French refused to take any part in such a scheme, and the pseudo-Richard served only to annoy Henry IV, and scarcely gave even a semblance of significance to the war, which really degenerated into a series of border raids, one of which was of unusual importance. Henry had no intention of seriously prosecuting the claim of homage, and the continuance of hostilities is really explained by the ill-will between March and Douglas and the old feud between the Douglases and the Percies. In June, 1402, the Scots were defeated in a skirmish at Nesbit in Berwickshire (the scene of a small Scottish victory in 1355), and, in the following September, occurred the disaster of Homildon Hill.

Douglas and Murdoch Stewart, the eldest son of Albany, had collected a large army, and the incursion was raised to the level of something like national importance. They marched into England and took up a strong position on Homildon Hill or Heugh. The Percies, under Northumberland and Hotspur, sent against them a body of English archers, who easily outranged the Scottish bowmen, and threw the army into confusion. Then ensued, as at Dupplin and Halidon Hill, a simple massacre. Murdoch Stewart and Douglas were taken captive with several other Scots lords. Close on Homildon Hill followed the rebellion of the Percies, and the result of the English victory at Homildon was merely to create a new difficulty for Henry IV. The sudden nature of the Percy revolt is indicated by the fact that, when Albany marched to relieve a Scottish stronghold which they were besieging, he found that the enemy had entered into an alliance with the House of Douglas, their ancient foes, and were turning their arms against the English king. Percy and Douglas fought together at Shrewsbury, while the Earl of March was in the ranks of King Henry. The battle of Shrewsbury was fought in July, 1403. In 1405,Northumberland, a traitor for a second time, took refuge in Scotland, and received a dubious protection from Albany, who was ready to sell him should any opportunity arise. A truce which had been arranged between Scotland and England expired in April, 1405, and the two countries were technically in a state of war, although there were no great military operations in progress.[53] In the spring of 1406, Albany sent the heir to the Scottish throne, Prince James, to be educated in France. The vessel in which he sailed was captured by the English off Flamborough Head, and the prince was taken to Henry IV.

It has been a tradition in Scotland that James was captured in time of truce, and Wyntoun uses the incident to point a moral with regard to the natural deceitfulness of the English heart:   "It is of English nation   The common kent conditionn    Of Truth the virtue to forget,    When they do them on winning set,   And of good faith reckless to be    When they do their advantage see." But it would seem clear that the truce had expired, and that the English king was bound to no treaty of peace. His son's capture was immediately followed by the death of King Robert III, who sank, broken-hearted, into the grave. Albany continued to rule, and maintained a series of truces with England till his death in 1420. The peace was occasionally broken in intervals of truce, and the advantage was usually on the side of the Scots. In 1409 the Earl of March returned to his allegiance and received back his estates. In the same year his son recovered Fast Castle (on St. Abb's Head), and the Scots also recovered Jedburgh. Albany's attention was now diverted by a danger threatened by the Highland portion of the kingdom. Scotland, south of Forth and Clyde, along with the east coast up to the Moray Firth, had been rapidly affected by the English, French, and Norman influences, of which we have spoken.

The inhabitants of the more remote Highland districts and of the western isles had remained uncorrupted by civilization of any kind, and ever since the reign of Malcolm Canmore there had been a militant reaction against the changes of St. Margaret and David I; from the eleventh century to the thirteenth, the Scottish kings were scarcely ever free from Celtic pretenders and Celtic revolts.[54] The inhabitants of the west coast and of the isles were very largely of Scandinavian blood, and it was not till 1266 that the western isles definitely passed from Norway to the Scottish crown. The English had employed several opportunities of allying themselves with these discontented Scotsmen; but Mr. Freeman's general statement, already quoted, that "the true Scots, out of hatred to the Saxons nearest them, leagued with the Saxons farther off", is very far from a fair representation of the facts. We have seen that Highlander and Islesman fought under David I at the battle of the Standard, against the "Saxons farther off", and that although the death of Comyn ranged against Bruce the Highlanders of Argyll, numbers of Highlanders were led to victory at Bannockburn by Earl Randolph; and Angus Og and the Islesmen formed part of the Scottish reserves and stood side by side with the men of Carrick, under the leadership of King Robert.

During the troubles which followed King Robert's death, the Lords of the Isles had resumed their general attitude of opposition. It was an opposition very natural in the circumstances, the rebellion of a powerful vassal against a weak central government, a reaction against the forces of civilization. But it has never been shown that it was an opposition in any way racial; the complaint that the Lowlands of Scotland have been "rent by the Saxon from the Gael", in the manner of a racial dispossession, belongs to "The Lady of the Lake", not to sober history. All Scotland, indeed, has now, in one sense, been "rent by the Saxon" from the Celt. "Let no one doubt the civilization of these islands," wrote Dr. Johnson, in Skye, "for Portree possesses a jail." The Highlands and islands have been the last portions of Scotland to succumb to Anglo-Saxon influences; that the Lowlands formed an earlier victim does not prove that their racial complexion is different. The incident of which we have now to speak has frequently been quoted as a crowning proof of the difference between the Lowlanders and the "true Scots". Donald of the Isles had a quarrel with the Regent Albany, and, in 1408, entered into an agreement with Henry IV, to whom he owned allegiance. But this very quarrel arose about the earldom of Ross, which was claimed by Donald (himself a grandson of Robert II) in right of his wife, a member of the Leslie family.

The "assertor of Celtic nationality" was thus the son of one Lowland woman and the husband of another. When he entered the Scottish mainland his progress was first opposed, not by the Lowlanders, but by the Mackays of Caithness, who were defeated near Dingwall, and the Frasers immediately afterwards received what the historians of the Clan Donald term a "well-merited chastisement".[55] Donald pursued his victorious march to Aberdeenshire, tempted by the prospect of plundering Aberdeen. It is interesting to note that, while the battle which has given significance to the record of the dispute was fought for the Lowland town of Aberdeen in a Lowland part of Aberdeenshire, the very name of the town is Celtic, and the district in which the battlefield of Harlaw is situated abounds to this day in Celtic place-names, and, not many miles away, the Gaelic tongue may still be heard at Braemar or at Tomintoul. It was not to a racial battle between Celt and Saxon that the Earl of Mar and the Provost of Aberdeen, aided by the Frasers, marched out to Harlaw, in July, 1411, to meet Donald of the Isles. Had the clansmen been victorious there would certainly have been a Celtic revival; but this was not the danger most dreaded by the victorious Lowlanders. The battle of Harlaw was part of the struggle with England. Donald of the Isles was the enemy of Scottish independence, and his success would mean English supremacy. He had taken up the role of "the Disinherited" of the preceding century, just as the Earl of March had done some years before. As time passed, and civilization progressed in the Lowlands while the Highlands maintained their integrity, the feeling of separation grew more strongly marked; and as the inhabitants of the Lowlands intermarried with French and English, the differences of blood became more evident and hostility became unavoidable. But any such abrupt racial division as Mr. Freeman drew between the true Scots and the Scottish Lowlanders stands much in need of proof. Harlaw was an incident in the never-ending struggle with England.

It was succeeded, in 1416 or 1417, by an unfortunate expedition into England, known as the "Foul Raid", and after the Foul Raid came the battle of Bauge. They are all part of one and the same story; although Harlaw might seem an internal complication and Bauge an act of unprovoked aggression, both are really as much part of the English war as is the Foul Raid or the battle of Bannockburn itself. The invasion of France by Henry V reminded the Scots that the English could be attacked on French soil as well as in Northumberland. So the Earl of Buchan, a son of Albany, was sent to France at the head of an army, in answer to the dauphin's request for help. In March, 1421, the Scots defeated the English at Bauge and captured the Earl of Somerset. The death of Henry V, in the following year, and the difficulties of the English government led to the return of the young King of Scots. The Regent Albany had been succeeded in 1420 by his son, who was weak and incompetent, and Scotland longed for its rightful king. James had been carefully educated in England, and the dreary years of his captivity have enriched Scottish literature by the "King's Quair":   "More sweet than ever a poet's heart   Gave yet to the English tongue".

Albany seems to have made all due efforts to obtain his nephew's release, and James was in constant communication with Scotland. He had been forced to accompany Henry V to France, and was present at the siege of Melun, where Henry refused quarter to the Scottish allies of France, although England and Scotland were at war. Although constantly complaining of his imprisonment, and of the treatment accorded to him in England, James brought home with him, when his release was negotiated in 1423-24, an English bride, Joan Beaufort, the heroine of the "Quair". She was the daughter of Somerset, who had been captured at Bauge, and grand-daughter of John of Gaunt. The troublous reign of James I gave him but little time for conducting a foreign war, and the truce which was made when the king was ransomed continued till 1433. It had been suggested that the peace between England and Scotland should extend to the Scottish troops serving in France, but no such clause was inserted in the actual arrangement made, and it is almost certain that James could not have enforced it, even had he wished to do so. He gave, however, no indication of holding lightly the ties that bound Scotland to France, and, in 1428, agreed to the marriage of his infant daughter, Margaret, to the dauphin.

Meanwhile, the Scottish levies had been taking their full share in the struggle for freedom in which France was engaged. At Crevant, near Auxerre, in July, 1423, the Earl of Buchan, now Constable of France, was defeated by Salisbury, and, thirteen months later, Buchan and the Earl of Douglas (Duke of Touraine) fell on the disastrous field of Verneuil. At the Battle of the Herrings (an attack upon a French convoy carrying Lenten food to the besiegers of Orleans, made near Janville, in February, 1429), the Scots, under the new constable, Sir John Stewart of Darnley, committed the old error of Halidon and Homildon, and their impetuous valour could not avail against the English archers. They shared in the victory of Pathay, gained by the Maid of Orleans in June 1429, almost on the anniversary of Bannockburn, and they continued to follow the Maid through the last fateful months of her warfare. So great a part had Scotsmen taken in the French wars that, on the expiry of the truce in 1433, the English offered to restore not only Roxburgh but also Berwick to Scotland. But the French alliance was destined to endure for more than another century, and James declined, thus bringing about a slight resuscitation of warlike operations. The Scots won a victory at Piperden, near Berwick, in 1435 or 1436, and in the summer of 1436, when the Princess Margaret was on her way to France to enter into her ill-starred union with the dauphin, the English made an attempt to take her captive. James replied by an attempt upon Roxburgh, but gave it up without having accomplished anything, and returned to spend his last Christmas at Perth. His twelve years in Scotland had been mainly occupied in attempts to reduce his rebellious subjects, especially in the Highlands, to obedience and loyalty, and he had roused much implacable resentment. So the poet-king was murdered at Perth in February, 1436-37, and his English widow was left to guard her son, the child sovereign, now in his seventh year. It was probably under her influence that a truce of nine years was made. When the truce came to an end, Scotland was in the interval between the two contests with the House of Douglas which mark the reign of James II.

William the sixth earl and his brother David had been entrapped and beheaded by the governors of the boy king in November, 1440, and the new earl, James the Gross, died in 1443, and was succeeded by his son, William, the eighth earl, who remained for some years on good terms with the king. Accordingly, we find that, when the English burned the town of Dunbar in May, 1448, Douglas replied, in the following month, by sacking Alnwick. Retaliation came in the shape of an assault upon Dumfries in the end of June, and the Scots, with Douglas at their head, burned Warkworth in July. The successive attacks on Alnwick and Warkworth roused the Percies to a greater effort, and, in October, they invaded Scotland, and were defeated at the battle of Sark or Lochmaben Stone.[56] In 1449 the Franco-Scottish League was strengthened by the marriage of King James to Marie of Gueldres. Now began the second struggle with the Douglases. Their great possessions, their rights as Wardens of the Marches, their prestige in Scottish history made them dangerous subjects for a weak royal house. Since the death of the good Lord James their loyalty to the kings of Scotland had not been unbroken, and it is probable that their suppression was inevitable in the interests of a strong central government. But the perfidy with which James, with his own hand, murdered the Earl, in February, 1451-52, can scarcely be condoned, and it has created a sympathy for the Douglases which their history scarcely merits. James had now entered upon a decisive struggle with the great House, which a temporary reconciliation with the new earl, in 1453, only served to prolong.

The quarrel is interesting for our purpose because it largely decided the relations between Scotland and the rival lines of Lancaster and York. In 1455, when the Douglases were finally suppressed and their estates were forfeited, the Yorkists first took up arms against Henry VI. Douglas had attempted intrigues with the Lord of the Isles, with the Lancastrians, and with the Yorkists in turn, and, about 1454, he came to an understanding with the Duke of York. We find, therefore, during the years which followed the first battle of St. Albans, a revival of active hostilities with England. In 1456, James invaded England and harried Northumberland in the interests of the Lancastrians. During the temporary loss of power by the Duke of York, in1457, a truce was concluded, but it was broken after the reconciliation of York to Henry VI in 1458, and when the battle of Northampton, in July, 1460, left the Yorkists again triumphant, James marched to attempt the recovery of Roxburgh.[57] James I, as we have seen, had abandoned the siege of Roxburgh Castle only to go to his death; his son found his death while attempting the same task. On Sunday, the 3rd of August, 1460, he was killed by the bursting of a cannon, the mechanism of which had attracted his attention and made him, according to Pitscottie, "more curious than became him or the majesty of a king". The year 1461 saw Edward IV placed on his uneasy throne, and a boy of ten years reigning over the turbulent kingdom of Scotland. The Scots had regained Roxburgh a few days after the death of King James, and they followed up their success by the capture of Wark. But a greater triumph was in store. When Margaret of Anjou, after rescuing her husband, Henry VI, at the second battle of St. Albans, in February, 1461, met, in March, the great disaster of Towton, she fled with Henry to Scotland, where she had been received when preparing for the expedition which had proved so unfortunate.

On her second visit she brought with her the surrender of Berwick, which, in April, 1461, became once more a Scots town, and was represented in the Parliament which met in 1469. In gratitude for the gift, the Scots made an invasion of England in June, 1461, and besieged Carlisle, but were forced to retire without having afforded any real assistance to the Lancastrian cause. There was now a division of opinion in Scotland with regard to supporting the Lancastrian cause. The policy of the late king was maintained by the great Bishop Kennedy, who himself entertained Henry VI in the Castle of St. Andrews. But the queen-mother, Mary of Gueldres, was a niece of the Duke of Burgundy, and was, through his influence, persuaded to go over to the side of the White Rose. While Edward IV remained on unfriendly terms with Louis XI of France, Kennedy had not much difficulty in resisting the Yorkist proclivities of the queen-mother, and in keeping Scotland loyal to the Red Rose. They were able to render their allies but little assistance, and their opposition gave the astute Edward IV an opportunity of intrigue. John of the Isles took advantage of the minority of James III to break the peace into which he had been brought by James II, and the exiled Earl of Douglas concluded an agreement between the Lord of the Isles and the King of England. But when, in October, 1463, Edward IV came to terms with Louis XI, Bishop Kennedy was willing to join Mary of Gueldres in deserting the doomed House of Lancaster. Mary did not live to see the success of her policy; but peace was made for a period of fifteen years, and Scotland had no share in the brief Lancastrian restoration of 1470.

The threatening relations between England and France nearly led to a rupture in 1473, but the result was only to strengthen the agreement, and it was arranged that the infant heir of James III should marry the Princess Cecilia, Edward's daughter. In 1479-80, when the French were again alarmed by the diplomacy of Edward IV, we find an outbreak of hostilities, the precise cause of which is somewhat obscure. It is certain that Edward made no effort to preserve the peace, and he sent, in 1481, a fleet to attack the towns on the Firth of Forth, in revenge for a border raid for which James had attempted to apologize. Edward was unable to secure the services of his old ally, the Lord of the Isles, who had been again brought into subjection in the interval of peace, and who now joined in the national preparations for war with England. But there was still a rebel Earl of Douglas with whom to plot, and Edward was fortunate in obtaining the co-operation of the Duke of Albany, brother of James III, who had been exiled in 1479. Albany and Edward made a treaty in 1482, in which the former styled himself "Alexander, King of Scotland", and promised to do homage to Edward when he should obtain his throne. The only important events of the war are the recapture of Berwick, in August, 1482, and an invasion of Scotland by the Duke of Gloucester. Berwick was never again in Scottish hands. Albany was unable to carry out the revolution contemplated in his treaty with Edward IV; but he was reinstated, and became for three months Lieutenant-General of the Realm of Scotland. In March, 1482-83, he resigned this office, and, after a brief interval, in which he was reconciled to King James, was again forfeited in July, 1483.

Edward IV had died on the 9th of April, and Albany was unable to obtain any English aid. Along with the Earl of Douglas he made an attempt upon Scotland, but was defeated at Lochmaben in July, 1484. Thereafter, both he and his ally pass out of the story: Douglas died a prisoner in 1488; Albany escaped to France, where he was killed at a tournament in 1485; he left a son who was to take a great part in Scottish politics during the minority of James V. Richard III found sufficient difficulty in governing England to prevent his desiring to continue unfriendly relations with Scotland, and he made, on his accession, something like a cordial peace with James III. It was arranged that James, now a widower,[58] should marry Elizabeth Woodville, widow of Edward IV, and that his heir, Prince James, should marry a daughter of the Duke of Suffolk. James did not afford Richard any assistance in 1485, and after the battle of Bosworth he remained on friendly terms with Henry VII. A controversy about Berwick prevented the completion of negotiations for marriage alliances, but friendly relations were maintained till the revolution of 1488, in which James III lost his life. Both James and his rebellious nobles, who had proclaimed his son as king, attempted to obtain English assistance, but it was given to neither side. The new king, James IV, was young, brave, and ambitious. He was specially interested in the navy, and in the commercial prosperity of Scotland. It was scarcely possible that, in this way, difficulties with England could be avoided, for Henry VII was engaged in developing English trade, and encouraged English shipping. Accordingly, we find that, while the two countries were still nominally at peace, they were engaged in a naval warfare.

Scotland was fortunate in the possession of some great sea-captains, notable among whom were Sir Andrew Wood and Sir Andrew Barton.[59] In 1489, Sir Andrew Wood, with two ships, the Yellow Carvel and the Flower, inflicted a severe defeat upon five English vessels which were engaged in a piratical expedition in the Firth of Forth. Henry VII, in great wrath, sent Stephen Bull, with "three great ships, well-manned, well-victualled, and well-artilleried", to revenge the honour of the English navy, and after a severe fight Bull and his vessels were captured by the Scots. There was thus considerable irritation on both sides, and while the veteran intriguer, the Duchess of Burgundy, attempted to obtain James's assistance for the pretender, Perkin Warbeck, the pseudo-Duke of York, Henry entered into a compact with Archibald, Earl of Angus, well-known to readers of "Marmion". The treachery of Angus led, however, to no immediate result, and peace was maintained till 1495, although the French alliance was confirmed in 1491. The rupture of 1495 was due solely to the desire of James to aid Maximilian in the attempt to dethrone Henry VII in the interests of Warbeck. Henry, on his part, made every effort to retain the friendship of the Scottish king, and offered a marriage alliance with his eldest daughter, Margaret. James, however, was determined to strike a blow for his protege, and in November, 1495, Warbeck landed in Scotland, was received with great honour, assigned a pension, and wedded to the Lady Katharine Gordon, daughter of the greatest northern lord, the Earl of Huntly.

In the following April, Ferdinand and Isabella, who were desirous of separating Scotland from France, tried to dissuade James from supporting Warbeck, and offered him a daughter in marriage, although the only available Spanish princess was already promised to Prince Arthur of England. But all efforts to avoid war were of no avail, and in September, 1496, James marched into England, ravaged the English borders, and returned to Scotland. The English replied by small border forays, but James's enthusiasm for his guest rapidly cooled; in July, 1497, Warbeck left Scotland. James did not immediately make peace, holding himself possibly in readiness in the event of Warbeck's attaining any success. In August he again invaded England, and attacked Norham Castle, provoking a counter-invasion of Scotland by the Earl of Surrey. In September, Warbeck was captured, and, in the same month, a truce was arranged between Scotland and England, by the Peace of Aytoun. There was, in the following year, an unimportant border skirmish; but with the Peace of Aytoun ended this attempt of the Scots to support a pretender to the English crown. The first Scottish interference in the troubles of Lancaster and York had been on behalf of the House of Lancaster; the story is ended with this Yorkist intrigue. When next there arose circumstances in any way similar, the sympathies of the Scots were enlisted on the side of their own Royal House of Stuart.

FOOTNOTES: [Footnote 52: George Dunbar, Earl of March, must be carefully distinguished from the child, Edmund Mortimer, the English Earl of March, grandson of Lionel of Clarence, and direct heir to the English throne after Richard II.] [Footnote 53: In the summer of 1405 the English ravaged Arran, and the Scots sacked Berwick. There were also some naval skirmishes later in the year.] [Footnote 54: Cf. App. B.] [Footnote 55: _The Clan Donald_, vol. i, p. 154. The Mackenzies were also against the Celtic hero.] [Footnote 56: There is great doubt as to whether these events belong to the year 1448 or 1449. Mr. Lang, with considerable probability, assigns them to 1449.] [Footnote 57: James's army contained a considerable proportion of Islesmen, who, as at Northallerton and at Bannockburn, fought against "the Saxons farther off".] [Footnote 58: He had married, in 1469, Margaret, daughter of Christian I of Denmark. The islands of Orkney and Shetland were assigned as payment for her dowry, and so passed, a few years later, under the Scottish Crown.] [Footnote 59: Cf. _The Days of James IV_, by Mr. G. Gregory Smith, in the series of "Scottish History from Contemporary Writers".]


 

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