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The History of Glasgow
Volume 2 - Chapter II - Queen Mary's Reign—The Battle of Langside


WHEN Queen Mary returned to Scotland, on 19th August, 1561, the Duke of Chatelherault was still in possession of the nineteen years' lease of the bailieship of the barony and regality of Glasgow, which, as Earl of Arran and Governor of the Kingdom, he had secured from Archbishop Dunbar in 1545, after overthrowing the forces of the Earls of Lennox and Glencairn at the Battle of the Butts on Glasgow muir. By way of confirming himself in possession, after the departure of Archbishop Beaton in December, 1559, and the final withdrawal of the French troops in March, [Supra, vol. i. p. 409.] Chatelherault had seized the archbishop's Castle of Glasgow and also his manor of Lochwood, by the Bishop Loch, some six miles to the north-east of the city. [Thomas Archibald, the Archbishop's chamberlain, writing to his master in Paris on 28th August, complained that "he could not get anything of the archbishop's revenues, neither could he get restitution of the castles of Glasgow and Lochwood, for which he had applied in vain to the Duke, to the Council, and to the parliament of reformers" (Keith's Hist. 488-9; Chalmers's Caledonia, iii. 639, note f.)] The head of the house of Hamilton was then on the side of the Reformers. [The letter which he wrote to the Duke of Norfolk on 21st March, describing the retiral of the French troops from Glasgow, was signed by himself, the Earls of Argyll and Glencairn, and Lord Boyd (Bain's Calendar of State Papers, i. p. 336, No. 694).] The series of events by which he was to be restored to his natural position as one of the chief personages of the Catholic party was destined to be among the most dramatic in the history of Scotland.

As grandson of the Princess Mary, daughter of James II., he was nearest heir to the throne, and his keen ambition was to marry his eldest son, the Earl of Arran, to the queen. [MS. Letter Randolph to Cecil, 3rd Jan., 1560, State-paper Office; Tytler, iii. ch. 5.] This hope was destined to be bitterly disappointed. Arran went suddenly mad. [Ibid. ch. vi.] Further, Chatelherault's old enemy, the Earl of Lennox, whom, for rebellion and embezzlement of French subsidies, [Lesley, p. 175; Burton, iii. p. 220.] he had overthrown and driven into exile in 1544, had married at the English court Lady Margaret Douglas, daughter of the Earl of Angus and Queen Margaret Tudor, widow of James IV., and the eldest son of the marriage, Lord Darnley, was therefore next heir to the English throne after Queen Mary herself. While Mary was the daughter of Queen Margaret's son, Darnley was the son of Queen Margaret's daughter. At Queen Elizabeth's request Mary recalled Lennox to Scotland, and in September, 1564, he rode to Holyrood in much state and was received by the queen. [Keith, p. 255.]

Chatelherault's, nineteen-year lease of the bailiary and justiciary of Glasgow was now at an end, and on 28th October, 1564, by an order in council, the queen, understanding that he then held "in tak and assidation the baillierie and justiciarie of Glasgow, quhilk of auld wes ane kyndlie possessioun to the said Erie of Levenax hous, as he allegis," ordered the duke to yield up these offices, "and all uther rycht, titill of rycht, entres or possessioun," so that the Archbishop might dispose of them at his pleasure. [Privy Council Register, i. pp. 290-1.] At the same time, she desired the duke and earl to compose their feud, and they promised to do so. Next, on 15th December, parliament rescinded the forfeiture of Lennox, who was restored to his titles and estates, and in due course he returned to his office of bailie and justiciary of the Glasgow archbishopric.

Worse was to follow, however, so far as Chatelherault was concerned. Shortly afterwards the queen sent Sir Robert Melville to the English court to induce Lord Darnley to visit his father in Scotland. Melville found "yonder long lad" bearing the sword, as nearest prince of the blood, at the ceremony of conferring the earldom of Leicester on Lord Robert Dudley, whom Elizabeth was then proposing as a husband for the Scottish queen. [Melville's Memoirs, Bannatyne edit. pp. 120, 122. ] By 12th February Darnley was in Scotland, introduced to Mary at Wemyss Castle, and danced a galliard with the queen. On 29th July that same year, 1565, the two were married. The queen was twenty-two and Henry Darnley, King of Scots, was nineteen years of age.

In these events Chatellierault foresaw the ruin of his house, and made a "band" of defence with the Earls of Moray and Glencairn, the former of whom saw power slipping from his hands, and moreover had been threatened by Darnley, now suffering from swollen head. [Keith, p. 274; Tytler, iii. ch. vi.] Already on the eve of the queen's marriage, Moray had summoned his supporters to meet at Glasgow, and the queen had sent a herald thither to forbid the meeting as an illegal assembly. [Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer, 12 July, 1565.] Three days after the marriage Moray was commanded to appear at court, and, failing to do so, was proclaimed a rebel. Then Mary, with the energy of her race, aware that her treacherous half-brother was gathering her enemies against her, marched from the capital with a strong force, and drove the rebel lords from Stirling to Glasgow and from Glasgow to Argyll. [Keith, pp. 314, 316; Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 82.] Next, returning to Edinburgh, the young king and queen on 22nd August summoned a muster of men of the shires of Renfrew and

Dunbarton to meet them at Glasgow, "weil bodin in feir of weir," and with fifteen days' supplies, [Privy Council Register, i. p. 355.] and on 29th August they themselves marched into the city at the head of five thousand men. [Spottiswood, ii. 31.] Next day Chatelherault, Moray, and Glen-cairn, with a thousand men, appeared in Edinburgh; but not a man there joined them, and, hearing that Mary was marching against them, while a cannonade opened from the castle, they left the city and fled to Dumfries.

The queen was probably a good deal in the west country at this time, as the original seat of the Stewarts of Darnley, Earls of Lennox, was Crookston Castle, four miles west of Glasgow, and they had a "palace" or "place" at Inchinnan, and a mansion, as already mentioned, in Glasgow. [See the admirable monograph on "Crookston Castle," by Robert Guy, Glasgow, 1909.] So, probably, it came about that in the city on 5th September a bond was entered into by Lords Cassillis, Sempill, Ross, Somerville, and others, to give loyal obedience to their majesties and to the Earl of Lennox as their lieutenant. [Privy Council Register, i. 355-363.]

In the upshot, on ist December Chatelherault was pardoned and retired to France, while the other rebels fled from the country. To enact their forfeiture a parliament was called to meet in February, 1566, and as the Catholic party was now in the ascendant in the country it seemed that their doom was certain.

Just then Mary was being pressed to join the league which had been formed among the powers of France, Spain, and the Emperor, for the destruction of the Protestant cause in Europe. It was known that the queen's secretary, David Rizzio, exerted with his mistress a powerful influence in favour of the league. If Rizzio continued to have the ear of the queen the ruin of Moray and his friends was certain. [Douglas of Lochleven, one of the conspirators, afterwards wrote—"I causit offer to him, gif he wuld stay the Erie of Murray's forfaltour, he suld haif V thousand pundis Scottis; his answer was XX thousand and that wer all alik; it wald not be" (MS papers of the Laird of Lochleven, quoted in McCrie's Life of Knox, Period 9, footnote).] It was accordingly decided that Rizzio must be removed.

Darnley became the tool of the conspirators. By reason of his unfitness the queen had delayed the fulfilment of her promise to confer on him the "crown matrimonial"—an equal share with herself in the government—and he was induced to believe that she did this by Rizzio's advice. By hints worthy of Iago the Reformers even brought him to believe that the secretary had supplanted him in the queen's affection. [Keith, Appendix, p. 119.] A plot was therefore prepared and bonds were signed between Darnley, Moray, Morton, and others. The plan was to murder Rizzio, slay or imprison the queen, make Darnley the nominal king, and place all power in the hands of the Reformers. [See documents first printed by Tytler, iii.; Proofs and Illustrations, xv. and xvi.]

On the night of Saturday, 6th March, 1565-6, the tragedy took place. At Holyrood, in the queen's presence, Rizzio was murdered, Mary was seized and threatened with death, and Darnley, his dagger still sticking in the secretary's flesh, issued his letters as King, dissolving parliament. [Spottiswood, p. 195; Keith, p. 126.] Next day Moray appeared in Edinburgh, and, at a meeting of the conspirators, arranged to imprison the queen in Stirling Castle, force her to resign the crown to Darnley, and confirm the protestant religion.

That night, by winning over her weak husband, Mary escaped to Dunbar, where an army of her loyal subjects soon gathered about her; but when the bonds signed by Darnley were placed before her, and she realized all his falsehood and treachery, [MS. Letter State-paper Office, April 4, Randolph to Cecil, quoted by Tytler.] her feelings of revulsion and contempt rose beyond control. [Melville's Memoirs.]

After the birth of her son in June, 1566, when she was labouring anxiously to heal the feuds among her nobles, Darnley's actions became more and more a danger to the state. Mary did everything that a woman and a wife could do to bring him to act reasonably and honourably, [Keith, p. 347.] but the foolish young man would listen to nothing. When the queen herself lay in what was thought to be a mortal sickness at Jedburgh in October, he went only once to see her, and he did not attend the baptism of his son in December. By his constant intrigues and plots he made himself hated and feared by every party in the state, and with his father, Lennox, did everything he could to thwart the measures of the queen. Finally, when Mary, moved by reasons of state, pardoned the murderers of Rizzio, Darnley abruptly left the court, and went to live with his father at Glasgow. Here within a few days he fell sick of a disease which at first was given out as the result of poison, but which turned out to be smallpox. [Letter from Drury to Cecil, 23 Jan., 1566-7, printed by Tytler in Proofs and Illustrations, to vol. iii. No. xvii.]

The town mansion of the Earl of Lennox, in which Darnley lay, stood close to the Bishop's Castle, on the west side of what is now Castle Street, on ground now partly covered by the Barony North Church. Originally the manse of Stobo, it had been purchased from Adam Colquhoun, rector of that prebend, in August, 1509, by Mathew Stewart, second Earl of Lennox, who became provost of Glasgow in the following year, and fell at Flodden in 1513. After his death his widow, Lady Elizabeth Hamilton, sister of the first Earl of Arran, and granddaughter of James II., lived there. Following the forfeiture of Darnley's father in 1545, the property had been bestowed on John Hamilton of Neilsland in 1550, and on John Stuart, Commendator of Coldingham, in 1556, [Diocesan Register, i. pp. 18, 446.] With the rescinding of the forfeiture, however, in 1564, it appears to have been restored to the Earl. [Marwick's Early Glasgow, pp. 61-2.]

Here Darnley lay, attended by the queen's own physician whom she had sent him, and by Thomas Crawford, one of his gentlemen, who was destined to play a conspicuous part in the affairs which followed. In the deposition which formed one of the most important documents at the subsequent so-called trial of the queen, Crawford gave an account of what took place.

Already at Craigmillar a bond for Darnley's murder had been signed by Huntly, Argyll, Lethington, and Sir James Balfour, and was in Bothwell's hands. [Pitcairn's Trials, pp. 511-512 also other evidence cited by Tytler, iii. ch. vii.] The sick man knew that the Earl of Morton, who had plotted for him the murder of Rizzio, and whom he had afterwards betrayed, had returned to Scotland; that Joseph, Rizzio's brother, was now the queen's secretary, and that Mary had spoken very severely of himself. [Thomas Crawford's Deposition.] When, therefore, he learned that the queen was on her way to visit him he was seized with misgiving. He sent Crawford to meet Mary with the excuse that he was still weak and did not presume to wait on her himself till assured of the removal of her displeasure. Replying that there was no medicine against tear, the queen came on to Glasgow. At the momentous interview, which took place in Darnley's bedchamber on 22nd January, 1567, the sick man expressed regret for his errors, protested his affection for her, and explained his fears regarding a plot against himself. Mary told him she had brought a litter with her, and as soon as he was thoroughly cleansed of his sickness she proposed to carry him to Craigmillar, where she intended to give him the bath. Meanwhile she asked him to keep secret what had passed between them, as it might give umbrage to some of the lords, to which Darnley answered that he could not see why they should mislike it.

On Mary leaving him, Darnley called in Thomas Crawford, and telling him all that had passed, bade him inform the Earl of Lennox, at that time also lying sick in his own chamber. He then asked Crawford what he thought of the queen's taking him to Craigmillar. Crawford answered, "She treats your majesty too like a prisoner. Why should you not be taken to one of your own houses in Edinburgh?" "It struck me much the same way," said Darnley; "and I have fears enough, but may God judge between us, I have her promise only to trust to. But I have put myself in her hands, and I shall go with her, though she should murder me."

Such was the account given by Crawford in his deposition submitted to the Commissioners at York on 9th December, 1568, [Anderson, iv. 168, 169; Tytler, iii. ch. vii.] which he said he had written immediately after the interview described; Tytler says he has discovered no reason to doubt its truth. It is, however, somewhat obviously the narrative of a partizan of the house of Lennox.

But Crawford's deposition is not the only document of momentous effect which purports to have been written in Glasgow at that time. Much debate has taken place over the question as to the house in which Queen Mary lodged during her ten days' visit to the city. Tradition in Townhead in the eighteenth century declared that the queen resided in the old manse which still stands at the corner of Macleod Street, on the west side of Cathedral Square. [The Old Ludgings of Glasgow, pp. 36, 37.] Built originally in 1471 as a house for the priest in charge of St. Nicholas Hospital adjoining, and other clergy, it had, in 1565, along with the other property of the old canons of Balernock and Lairds of Provan, been granted by the queen to William Baillie, President of the College of Justice, whose family had long held these possessions as a prebend. It has been shown with fair probability that this house, with its fourteen large rooms, was the only dwelling at hand, not excepting the bishop's castle itself, at all large enough and in fit condition to receive the queen and her retinue at that time. [Old Ludgings, 37.] Only two small houses, the town manses of Renfrew and Govan, stood between the " Place of Stable Green," the Lennox mansion in which Darnley lay, and Sir William Baillie's house, and the queen had less than a hundred yards to pass from one to the other. [Provand's Lordship, by William Gemmell, M.D.] According to the charge brought against her at York, the second and most incriminating of the Casket Letters was written to the Earl of Bothwell by the queen from her Glasgow lodging immediately after her interview with Darnley. The similarity of the details of the interview recounted in Crawford's deposition, and Mary's alleged letter, forms the crux in the great controversy between the assailants and the defenders of the queen. [See Froude and Henderson for the impeachment, and Hosack and Skelton for the defence of the queen.] Whatever their character of genuineness or good faith, these two documents, written or alleged to have been written in Glasgow, were vital factors two years later in deciding the queen's fate.

After a week spent with her sick husband in Archbishop Beaton's city, Mary carried him by easy stages to Edinburgh. On the way they were met by Bothwell, who escorted them, not to Craigmillar, but to the southern suburb of Kirk o' Field, where the Duke of Chatelherault had his town residence. There Darnley was lodged in a house belonging to Robert Balfour, brother of that Sir James Balfour who had drawn up the bond for his murder. [Anderson, iv. 165.]

Events now hastened apace. Darnley reached Edinburgh on 31st January, 1567. He was strangled and the house was blown up at two o'clock in the morning of loth February. Ten days later the Earl of Lennox accused Bothwell to the queen, but nothing was done for two months. When Bothwell's trial at last took place, on 12th April, his forces dominated the court, and he secured an acquittal. At the parliament which forthwith opened Mary chose him to bear the crown and sceptre before her, and proceeded to load him with further honours. On 19th April, when parliament rose, Bothwell entertained the principal nobles at supper in Ansley's tavern, and, having surrounded the house with his hagbutters, overawed the company into a declaration of their belief in his innocence, and into a recommendation that he was a suitable husband for the queen. Two days later Mary paid a visit to her son in Stirling, and as she returned on the 24th, was met at Almond Bridge by Bothwell with a force of eight hundred spearmen, and carried to the Earl's castle of Dunbar, with, it is said, her own consent. [Melville's Memoirs, p. 177.] With indecent haste, in two days' time, Bothwell procured a divorce from his wife, Lady Jane Gordon, sister of the Earl of Huntly. On 12th May the queen created Bothwell Duke of Orkney and Shetland, and at four in the morning of the 15th, in the presence-chamber at Holyrood, Mary was married to her favourite. Next morning on the palace gate was found a paper bearing Ovid's well-known line embodying the popular superstition regarding marriages in May-

Mense malas Maio nubere vulgus ait.
[Melville's Memoirs, pp. 176, 177.]

The prediction thus made was almost immediately to begin its terrible fulfilment. Already, a month before the marriage a confederacy had been formed to defend the infant prince against his father's murderers. Outraged by the marriage, the nobles rapidly joined their strength to this association. Mary tried to summon her forces, but found her orders disregarded. Then, as she lay at Borthwick, the castle was suddenly surrounded in the night. Bothwell escaped through a postern, and the queen only managed to follow by riding dressed as a man, booted and spurred, to join him at Dunbar. There she contrived to gather two thousand men, and advanced to Carberry Hill. Here on Sunday, 15th June, 1567, exactly a month after her marriage, she saw her forces melt away, gave Bothwell her hand, saw him ride from her sight for the last time, and then yielded herself to the confederate lords. Next day she was carried to Lochleven Castle, where soon afterwards they compelled her to sign her abdication.

Meanwhile the Hamiltons, foreseeing a regency with probably their enemy the Earl of Lennox at its head, gathered Mary's friends at Dunbarton, and declared for the queen. On 8th August the Earl of Moray returned to Scotland, and on the 22nd was declared Regent. On the Sunday, when the herald arrived at Glasgow to proclaim the regency, he was forbidden by Lord Herries to do so, and ordered to depart out of that noble's rule. [Calendar of State Papers, ii. 845.]

This highly dramatic series of events was to have its culmination at Glasgow. On iith March, 1567-8, Moray came to the western city to hold a justice ayre for the shires of Dunbar-ton and Renfrew, and numerous acts of the Privy Council show him to have remained there till news reached him that on 2nd May the queen had escaped from Lochleven Castle. Her first night she had spent at Lord Seton's stronghold, Niddry Castle, and next day passed to Hamilton, where the loyal nobility crowded about her, and she soon found herself at the head of six thousand men. Declaring all the acts against herself

illegal, she yet desired to save the country from the miseries of civil war, and sent Moray her offer of forgiveness and reconciliation. [Keith, 474, 475 Melville's Memoirs, 200.]

Moray was counselled to retire from Glasgow, but saw in such an act only certain ruin. Gaining time by pretending to consider the offers of the queen, he sent out a proclamation declaring his support of the king's government, and summoning his party to reinforce him. [Privy Council Registers, i. 622.] Within a few days he had under his command an army of 4000 men, including some 6oc, of the citizens of Glasgow. Twenty-four years previously the burgesses had fought against the Hamiltons at the Battle of, the Butts, and had suffered severely at their hands. The Earl of Lennox, also, was one of Moray's chief supporters, and the people of Glasgow were likely to follow their hereditary bailie, and to cherish no very affectionate regard for the queen since her marriage with Bothwell, the murderer of Lennox's son, Darnley.

Had there been a competent leader on Mary's side he would probably have marched at once on Glasgow, and prevented Moray's forces gathering to a head. Her supporters, like Seton and Herries and Lord Claude Hamilton, though brave and devoted to her cause, were not experienced soldiers. Moray, on the contrary, while himself an expert leader, had the immense advantage of the services of one of the best generals of the time in Europe, Kirkaldy of Grange. A detailed account of the battle which now took place is given in Melville's Memoirs and in the recent admirable monograph on the subject by Mr. A. M. Scott.

On 13th May both parties were ready to move. The intention of the queen's lords was to place Mary in the strong fortress of Dunbarton, then kept by her adherent, Lord Fleming. Expecting that her forces would attempt to cross the river by the fords at Dalmarnock or Cambuslang, Moray drew out his army on the Burghmuir, to the east of the city. On being informed however, that she was marching across country further to the south, he hastily withdrew from that position. Mounting a hagbutter behind each of his horsemen, he crossed the river by the bridge and fords at the foot of the Stockwell, and pushed out to the village of Langside. His right wing was posted where the battle monument now stands, at the head of the narrow lane which ran between high banks and hedges up to the village of Langside. His centre, with the few cannon sent by the Earl of Mar from Stirling, held the slope above the present road, where the farmhouse of Path-head still stands ; and his left wing was massed on the hillside beyond the farm.

The queen's army, coming up from the direction of Rutherglen, deployed along the side of the Clinkart Hill, where the Deaf and Dumb Institution now stands. As it came into position, the artillery on both sides—the queen had ten brass cannon—exchanged a few shots across the level ground between. Then the mounted men on both sides rode forward, and, in the skirmish, Lord Herries inflicted a swordcut on the shoulder of Lord Ochiltree, which put him out of action and endangered his life.

While these preliminaries were going on, the Hamiltons, who led the queen's vanguard, with two thousand men, pushed on to force the passage of the village. As the spearmen met at the head of the narrow lane they fixed their weapons in their opponents' armour, and so closely were they jammed that when they fired their pistols and threw them in each other's faces these weapons rested on the spears, without falling to the ground. [Melville's Memoirs, p. 201.] The issue was decided by Grange bringing reinforcements from the main body, and lining the hedges above the sides of the lane with the hagbutters. These fired point-blank down upon the queen's men, and did much damage, till at last the Hamiltons were forced to give way.

The situation might have been saved by the queen's general, her brother-in-law, Argyll, ordering a general advance, or sending cavalry to attack Moray's hagbutters and right wing in the flank, but, according to the contemporary account, "The Earl of Argyll, even as they were joining, as it is reported, for fault of courage and spirit, swooned." [Advertisement of the Conflict in Scotland, MS. in State-paper Office, printed by Tytler, iii.; Proofs and Illustrations, No. xxii.]

As the Hamiltons fell back, Moray advanced with his main body, and the queen's forces gave way and began to flee. At this point the chief of the Macfarlanes, who, not twenty days before, had, for some misdeed, been condemned to death by Moray himself at the justice ayre, but had been pardoned at the intercession of the Countess of Moray, and had brought two hundred of his clansmen to the battle, fell upon the retiring troops and " executed great slaughter." [Ibid.]

The spot "within half a mile distant" from which Mary herself viewed the conflict has by immemorial tradition been identified as the Court Knowe, marked by a stone on the hillside near Cathcart Castle. With her were Lord Boyd, Lord Fleming, Lord Herries' son, and thirty others. When she saw the battle lost she turned her horse's head and rode away to the south, to Dundrennan Abbey, sixty miles distant. Three days later, on 16th May, against the advice of her counsellors, she crossed to the English coast, and threw herself upon the hospitality of Elizabeth, by whom she was kept a prisoner till her execution on 8th February, 1587.

The Battle of Langside lasted only three quarters of an hour. On Moray's side, though several, including the Earl of Home, were sore hurt, not a man of note was slain. Of the queen's forces, on the other hand, some six or seven score were slain on the field, and, according to tradition, were buried in the Dead Men's Lea, the ground to the east of the present Queen's Park Gate. [Scott's Battle of Langside.] Three hundred were taken prisoners, including Lord Seton, Lord Ross, Sir James Hamilton, the Master of Montgomerie, the Master of Cassillis, and other notables. The captives, who were mostly of the name of Hamilton, were confined in the Bishop's Castle. The Earl of Eglinton escaped by covering himself with straw in a house till night, when he got away. [Advertisement of the Conflict.]

After the battle the regent returned to the city, where he attended a solemn thanksgiving service in the cathedral and was entertained by the town council.

The Battle of Langside, thus fought within a few miles of Glasgow, must be regarded as a decisive factor in confirming the Reformation in Scotland. The smallness of the numbers engaged in it does not detract from its importance. The numbers were still smaller at the Battle of Largs, three centuries earlier, which ended the Norse ascendancy of five hundred years over the western isles and the north. John Knox, who had hidden himself in the recesses of Kyle and elsewhere after the murder of Rizzio, for his complicity in that event, [Tytler, iii.; Proofs and Illustrations, xvi.] had returned after Mary's imprisonment at Lochleven. Had the queen been victorious at Langside he would have been forced into hiding again. As it was, he remained free, till his death two years later, to exert, along with the Regent Moray, the strongest influence in the state.


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