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An Outline of the Relations between England and Scotland (500-1707)
Chapter IX - The Union of the Crowns 1568 - 1625


When Mary fled to England, Elizabeth refused to see her, on the ground that she ought first to clear herself from the suspicion of guilt in connection with the murder of Darnley. In the end, Mary agreed that the case should be submitted to the judgment of a commission appointed by Elizabeth, and she appeared as prosecuting Moray and his friends as rebels and traitors. They defended themselves by bringing accusations against Mary, and produced the Casket Letters and other documents in support of their assertions. Mary asked to be brought face to face with her accusers; Elizabeth thought the claim "very reasonable", and refused it. Mary then asked for copies of the letters produced as evidence against her, and when her request was pressed upon Elizabeth's notice by La Mothe Fenelon, the French ambassador, he was informed that Elizabeth's feelings had been hurt by Mary's accusing her of partiality.[80] Mary's commissioners then withdrew, and Elizabeth closed the case, with the oracular decision that, "nothing has been adduced against the Earl of Moray and his adherents, as yet, that may impair their honour or allegiances; and, on the other part, there has been nothing sufficiently produced nor shown by them against the queen, their sovereign, whereby the Queen of England should conceive or take any evil opinion of the queen, her good sister, for anything yet seen". So Elizabeth's "good sister" was subjected to a rigorous imprisonment, and the Earl of Moray returned to Scotland, with an increased allowance of English gold. Henceforth the successive regents of Scotland had to guide their policy in accordance with Elizabeth's wishes. If they rebelled, she could always threaten to release her prisoner, and, once or twice in the course of those long, weary years, Mary, whose nature was buoyant, actually dared to hope that Elizabeth would replace her on her throne. While Mary was plotting, and hope deferred was being succeeded by hope deferred and vain illusion by vain illusion, events moved fast. In November, 1569, the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland raised a rebellion in her favour, which was easily suppressed. In January, 1570, Moray was assassinated at Linlithgow, and the Earl of Lennox, the father of Darnley, and the traitor of Mary's minority, succeeded to the regency, while Mary's Scottish supporters, who had continued to fight for her desperate cause, were strengthened by the accession of Maitland of Lethington, who, with Kirkaldy of Grange, also a recruit from the king's party, held Edinburgh Castle for the queen. Mary's hopes were further raised by the rebellion of the Duke of Norfolk, whose marriage with the Scottish queen had been suggested in 1569. Letters from the papal agent, Rudolfi, were discovered, and, in June, 1572, Norfolk was put to death. Lennox had been killed in September, 1571, and his successor, the Earl of Mar, was approached on the subject of taking Mary's life. Elizabeth was unwilling to accept the responsibility for the deed, and proposed to deliver up Mary to Mar, on the understanding that she should be immediately killed. Mar, who was an honourable man, declined to listen to the proposal. But, after his death, which occurred in October, 1572, the new regent, the Earl of Morton, professed his willingness to undertake the accomplishment of the deed, if Elizabeth would openly acknowledge it. This she refused to do, and the plot failed. It is characteristic that the last Douglas to play an important part in Scottish history should be the leading actor in such a plot as this.

The castle of Edinburgh fell in June, 1573, and with its surrender passed away Mary's last chance in Scotland. Morton held the regency till1578, when he was forced to resign, and the young king, now twelve years old, became the nominal ruler. In 1581, Morton was condemned to death as "airt and pairt" in Darnley's murder, and Elizabeth failed in her efforts to save him. Mary entered into negotiations with Elizabeth for her release and return to Scotland as joint-sovereign with James VI, and the English queen played with her prisoner, while, all the time, she was discussing projects for her death. The key to the policy of James is his desire to secure the succession to the English crown. To that end he was willing to sacrifice all other considerations; nor had he, on other grounds, any desire to share his throne with his mother. In 1585, he negotiated a league with England, which, however, contained a provision that "the said league be without prejudice in any sort to any former league or alliance betwixt this realm and any other auld friends and confederates thereof, except only in matters of religion, wheranent we do fully consent the league be defensive and offensive". As we are at the era of religious wars, the latter section of the clause goes far to neutralize the former. Scotland was at last at the disposal of the sovereign of England. Even the tragedy of Fotheringay scarcely produced a passing coldness. On the 8th February, 1587, Elizabeth's warrant was carried out, and Mary's head fell on the block. She was accused of plotting for her own escape and against Elizabeth's life. It is probable that she had so plotted, and it would be childish to express surprise or indignation. The English queen, on her part, had injured her kinswoman too deeply to render it possible to be generous now. Mary had sent her, on her arrival in England, "a diamond jewel, which", as she afterwards reminded her, "I received as a token from you, and with assurance to be succoured against my rebels, and even that, on my retiring towards you, you would come to the very frontiers in order to assist me, which had been confirmed to me by divers messengers".[81] Had the protection thus promised been vouchsafed, it might have spared Elizabeth many years of trouble. But it was now too late, and the relentless logic of events forced her to complete the tale of her treachery and injustice by a deed which she herself could not but regard as a crime. But while this excuse may be made for the deed itself, there can be no apology for the manner of it. The Queen of England stooped to urge her servants to murder her kinswoman; when they refused, she was mean enough to contrive so as to throw the responsibility upon her secretary, Davison. After Mary's death, she wrote to King James and expressed her sincere regret at having cut off the head of his mother by accident. James accepted the apology, and, in the following year, made preparations against the Armada. Had the son of Mary Stuart been otherwise constituted, it would scarcely have been safe for Elizabeth to persevere in the execution of his mother; an alliance between Scotland and Spain might have proved dangerous for England. But Elizabeth knew well the type of man with whom she had to deal, and events proved that she was wise in her generation. And James, on his part, had his reward. Elizabeth died in March, 1603, and her successor was the King of Scots, who entered upon a heritage, which had been bought, in the view of his Catholic subjects, by the blood of his mother, and which was to claim as its next victim his second son. Within eighty-five years of his accession, his House had lost not only their new kingdom, but their ancestral throne as well. In all James's references to the Union, it is clear that he regarded that event from the point of view of the monarch; had it proved of as little value to his subjects as to the Stuart line there would have been small reason for remembering it to-day. The Union of England and Scotland was one of the events most clearly fore-ordained by a benignant fate: but it is difficult to feel much sympathy for the son who would not risk its postponement, when, by the possible sacrifice of his personal ambition, he might have saved the life of his mother.

There are certain aspects of James's life in Scotland that explain his future policy, and they are, therefore, important for our purpose. In the first place, he spent his days in one long struggle with the theocratic Church system which had been brought to Scotland by Knox and developed by his great successor, Andrew Melville. The Church Courts, local and central, had maintained the old ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and they dealt out justice with impartial hand. In all questions of morality, religion, education, and marriage the Kirk Session or the Presbytery or the General Assembly was all-powerful. The Church was by far the most important factor in the national life. It interfered in numberless ways with legislative and executive functions: on one occasion King James consulted the Presbytery of Edinburgh about the raising of a force to suppress a rebellion,[82] and, as late as 1596, he approached the General Assembly with reference to a tax, and promised that "his chamber doors sould be made patent to the meanest minister in Scotland; there sould not be anie meane gentleman in Scotland more subject to the good order and discipline of the Kirk than he would be".[83] Andrew Melville had told him that "there is twa kings and twa kingdomes in Scotland. Thair is Chryst Jesus the King and his Kingdom the Kirk, whase subject King James the Saxt is: and of whase Kingdom nocht a King, nor a lord, nor a heid, bot a member."[84] James had done his utmost to assert his authority over the Church. He had tried to establish Episcopacy in Scotland to replace the Presbyterian system, and had succeeded only to a very limited extent. "Presbytery", he said, "agreeth as well with a king as God with the Devil." So he went to England, not only prepared to welcome the episcopal form of church-government and to graciously receive the episcopal adulation so freely showered upon him, but also determined to suppress, at all hazards, "the proud Puritanes, who, claining to their Paritie, and crying, 'We are all but vile wormes', yet will judge and give Law to their king, but will be judged nor controlled by none".[85] "God's sillie vassal" was Melville's summing-up of the royal character in James's own presence. "God hath given us a Solomon", exulted the Bishop of Winchester, and he recorded the fact in print, that all the world might know. James was wrong in mistaking the English Puritans for the Scottish Presbyterians. Alike in number, in influence, and in aim, his new subjects differed from his old enemies. English Puritanism had already proved unsuited to the genius of the nation, and it had given up all hope of the abolition of Episcopacy. The Millenary Petition asked only some changes in the ritual of the Church and certain moderate reforms. Had James received their requests in a more reasonable spirit, he might have succeeded in reconciling, at all events, the more moderate section of them to the Church, and at the very first it seemed as if he were likely to win for himself the blessing of the peace-maker, which he was so eager to obtain. But just at this crisis he found the first symptoms of Parliamentary opposition, and here again his training in Scotland interfered. The Church and the Church alone had opposed him in Scotland; he had never discovered that a Parliament could be other than subservient.[86] It was, therefore, natural for him to connect the Parliamentary discontent with Puritan dissatisfaction. Scottish Puritans had employed the General Assembly as their main weapon of offence; their English fellows evidently desired to use the House of Commons as an engine for similar purposes. Therefore said King James, "I shall make them conform themselves, or I will harry them out of the land, or else do worse". So he "did worse", and prepared the way for the Puritan revolution. If the English succession enabled the king to suppress the Scottish Assembly, the Assembly had its revenge, for the fear of it brought a snare, and James may justly be considered one of the founders of English dissent.

A violent hatred of the temporal claims of the Church also affected James's attitude to Roman Catholicism. His Catholic subjects in Scotland had not been in a position to do him any harm, and the son of Mary Stuart could not but have some sympathy for his mother's fellow-sufferers. Accordingly, we find him telling his first Parliament:"I acknowledge the Roman Church to be our Mother Church, although defiled with some infirmities and corruption". But, after the Gunpowder Plot, and when he was engaged in a controversy with Cardinal Perron about the right of the pope to depose kings, he came to prove that the pope is Antichrist and "our Mother Church" none other than the Scarlet Woman. His Scottish experience revealed clearly enough that the claims of Rome and Geneva were identical in their essence. There is on record an incident that will serve to illustrate his position. In 1615, the Scottish Privy Council reported to him the case of a Jesuit, John Ogilvie. He bade them examine Ogilvie: if he proved to be but a priest who had said mass, he was to go into banishment; but if he was a practiser of sedition, let him die. The unfortunate priest showed in his reply that he held the same view of the royal supremacy as did the Presbyterian clergy. It was enough: they hanged him.

Once more, James's Irish policy seems to have been influenced by his experience of the Scottish Highlands. He had conceived the plan which was afterwards carried out in the Plantation of Ulster--"planting colonies among them of answerable inland subjects, that within short time may reforme and civilize the best-inclined among them; rooting out or transporting the barbarous or stubborne sort, and planting civilitie in their roomes".[87] Although James continued to carry on his efforts in this direction after 1603, yet it may be said that the English succession prevented his giving effect to his scheme, and that it also interfered with his intentions regarding the abolition of hereditary jurisdictions, which remained to "wracke the whole land" till after the Rising of 1745.

On the 5th April, 1603, King James set out from Edinburgh to enter upon the inheritance which had fallen to him "by right divine". His departure made considerable changes in the condition of Scotland. The absence of any fear of an outbreak of hostilities with the "auld enemy" was a great boon to the borders, but there was little love lost between the two countries. The union of the crowns did not, of course, affect the position of Scotland to England in matters of trade, and beyond some thirty years of peace, James's ancient kingdom gained but little. King James, who possessed considerable powers of statesmanship, if not much practical wisdom, devised the impossible project of a union of the kingdoms in 1604. "What God hathe conjoyned", he said, "let no man separate. I am the Husband, and all the whole Isle is my lawful wife....I hope, therefore, that no man will be so unreasonable as to think that I, that am a Christian King under the Gospel, should be a Polygamist and husband to two wives." He desired to see a complete union--one king, one law, one Church. Scotland would, he trusted, "with time, become but as Cumberland and Northumberland and those other remote and northern shires". Commissioners were appointed, and in 1606 they produced a scheme which involved commercial equality except with regard to cloth and meat, the exception being made by mutual consent. The discussion on the Union question raised the subject of naturalization, and the rights of the _post-nati_, _i.e._ Scots born after James's accession to the throne. The royal prerogative became involved in the discussion and a test case was prepared. Some land in England was bought for the infant grandson of Lord Colvill, or Colvin, of Culross. An action was raised against two defendants who refused him possession of the land, and they defended themselves on the ground that the child, as an alien, could not possess land in England. It was decided that he, as a natural-born subject of the King of Scotland, was also a subject of the King of England. This decision, and the repeal of the laws treating Scotland as a hostile country, proved the only result of the negotiations for union. The English Parliament would not listen to any proposal for commercial equality, and the king had to abandon his cherished project.

James had boasted to his English Parliament that, if they agreed to commercial equality, the Scottish estates would, in three days, adopt English law. It is doubtful if the acquiescence even of the Scottish Parliament would have gone so far; but there can be no doubt that the English succession had made James more powerful in Scotland than any of his predecessors had been. "Here I sit", he said, "and governe Scotland with my pen. I write and it is done, and by a clearke of the councell I governe Scotland now, which others could not doe by the sword." The boast was justified by the facts. The king's instructions to his Privy Council, which formed the Scottish executive, are of the most dictatorial description. James gives his orders in the tone of a man who is accustomed to unswerving obedience, and he does not hesitate to reprove his erring ministers in the severest terms of censure. The whole business of Parliament was conducted by the Lords of the Articles, who represented the spiritual and temporal lords, and the Commons. All the bishops were the king's creatures, and by virtue of their position, entirely dependent on him. It was therefore arranged that the prelates should choose representatives of the temporal lords, and they took care to select men who supported the king's policy. The peers were allowed to choose representatives of the bishops, and could not avoid electing the king's friends, while the representatives of the spiritual and temporal lords choose men to appear for the small barons and the burgesses. In this way the efficient power of Parliament was completely monopolized, and none dared to dispute the king's will. Even the Church was reduced to an unwilling submission, which, from its very nature, could only be temporary. He forbade the meeting of a General Assembly; and the convening of an Assembly at Aberdeen, in defiance of his command, in 1605, served to give him an opportunity of imprisoning or banishing the Presbyterian leaders. He had to give up his scheme of abolishing the Presbyterian Church courts, and contented himself with engrafting on to the existing system the institution of Episcopacy, which had practically been in abeyance since 1560, although Scotland was never without its titular prelates. Bishops were appointed in 1606; presbyteries and synods were ordered to elect perpetual moderators, and the scheme was devised so that the moderator of almost every synod should be a bishop. The members of the Linlithgow Convention, which accepted this scheme, were specially summoned by the king, and it was in no sense a free Assembly of the Church. But the royal power was, for the present, irresistible; in 1610 an Assembly which met at Glasgow established Episcopacy, and its action was, in 1612, ratified by the Scots Parliament. Three of the Scottish bishops[88] received English orders, to ensure the succession; but, to prevent any claim of superiority, neither English primate took any part in the ceremony. In 1616, the Assembly met at Aberdeen, and the king made five proposals, which are known as the Five Articles of Perth, from their adoption there in 1618. The Five Articles included:--(1) The Eucharist to be received kneeling; (2) the administration of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper to sick persons in private houses; (3) the administration of Baptism in private houses in cases of necessity; (4) the recognition of Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost; and (5) the episcopal benediction. Scottish opposition centred round the first article, which was not welcomed even by the Episcopalian party, and it required the king's personal interference to enforce it in Holyrood Chapel, during his stay in Edinburgh in 1616-17. His proposal to erect in the chapel representations of patriarchs and saints shocked even the bishops, on whose remonstrances he withdrew his orders, incidentally administering a severe rebuke to the recalcitrant prelates, "at whose ignorance he could not but wonder". Not till the following year were the articles accepted at Perth, under fear of the royal displeasure, and considerable difficulty was experienced in enforcing them.

The only other Scottish measures of James's reign that demand mention are his attempts to carry out his policy of plantations in the Highlands. As a whole, the scheme failed, and was productive of considerable misery, but here and there it succeeded, and it tended to increase the power of the government. The end of the reign is also remarkable for attempts at Scottish colonization, resulting in the foundation of Nova Scotia, and in the Plantation of Ulster.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 80: Fenelon, i, 133 and 162.]

[Footnote 81: Mary to Elizabeth, 8th Nov., 1582. Strickland's _Letters of Mary Stuart_, i, p. 294.]

[Footnote 82: Calderwood, _History of the Kirk of Scotland_, v, 341-42.]

[Footnote 83: _Ibid_, pp. 396-97.]

[Footnote 84: James Melville's _Autobiography and Diary_, p. 370.]

[Footnote 85: _Basilikon Doron_.]

[Footnote 86: Cf. the present writer's _Scottish Parliament before theUnion of the Crowns_.]

[Footnote 87: Basilikon Doron.]

[Footnote 88: The old controversy about the relation of the Church of Scotland to the sees of York and Canterbury had been finally settled, in1474, by the erection of St. Andrews into a metropolitan see. Glasgow was made an archbishopric in 1492.]


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