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Significant Scots
Cardinal David Beaton


Cardinal David BeatonBEATON, or BEATOUN, (CARDINAL) DAVID, who held the rectory of Campsie, the abbacy of Aberbrothick, the bishopric of Mirepoix in France, the cardinalship of St Stephen in Monte Caelio, and the chancellorship of Scotland, and who was the chief of the Roman Catholic party in Scotland in the earlier age of the reformation, was descended from an ancient family in Fife, possessed of the barony of Balfour, and was born in the year 1494. He was educated at the college of St Andrews, where he completed his courses of polite literature and philosophy, but was sent afterwards to the university of Paris, where he studied divinity for several years. Entering into holy orders, he had the rectory of Campsie and the abbacy of Aberbrothick bestowed upon him, by his uncle, James Beaton, Archbishop of St Andrew’s, who retained one-half of the rents of the abbacy to his own use. Possessing good abilities and a lively fancy, David Beaton became a great favourite with James V., who, in 1519, sent him to reside as his ambassador at the court of France. He returned to Scotland in 1525, and, still growing in the King’s favour, was, in 1528, made lord privy seal.

In the year 1533, he was again sent on a mission to the French court. Beaton on this occasion was charged to refute certain calumnies which it was supposed the English had circulated against his countrymen, to study the preservation of the ancient league between the two nations, and to conclude a treaty of marriage between James and Magdalene, the daughter of Francis I. If unsuccessful in any of these points, he was furnished with letters which he was to deliver to the parliament of Paris, and depart immediately for Flanders, for the purpose of forming an alliance with the emperor. In every part of his embassy, Beaton seems to have succeeded to the utmost extent of his wishes, the marriage exempted, which was delayed on account of the declining state of health in which Magdalene then was. How long Beaton remained at the French court at this time has not been ascertained; but it is certain that he was exceedingly agreeable to Francis, who, perceiving his great abilities, and aware of the influence he possessed over the mind of the Scottish King, used every expedient to attach him to the interests of France, being afraid of the predilection of James towards his uncle, Henry VIII, who also, he was aware, was strengthening, by all the influence he possessed, his interest at the Scottish court.

In 1536, finding a second embassy also unsuccessful, king James set sail for France, and proceeded to the court, where he was most cordially welcomed; and, unable to deny his suit, especially as it was exceedingly agreeable to Magdalene herself, Francis consented to their union, which was celebrated with great rejoicings on the 1st of January, 1537. On the 28th of May following, the royal pair landed in Scotland, being conveyed by a French fleet. Magdalene was received by the Scottish nation with the utmost cordiality; but she was already far gone in a decline, and died on the 7th of July following, to the inexpressible grief of the whole nation. It was on the death of this queen that mournings were first worn in Scotland. James, however, in expectation of this event, had fixed his attention upon Mary of Guise, widow of the Duke of Longueville; and Beaton, who by this time had returned to Scotland, was dispatched immediately to bring her over. On this occasion he was appointed by the king of France bishop of Mirepoix, to which see he was consecrated, December 5th, 1537. The following year, he was, at the recommendation of the French king, elevated to the cardinalship by the Pope, which was followed by a grant on the part of the French king for services already done and for those which he might afterwards do to his majesty, allowing his heirs to succeed him to his estate in France, though the said heirs should be born and live within the kingdom of Scotland, and though they should have no particular letter or act of naturalization in that country. Notwithstanding of the obligations he was thus laid under by the king of France, he returned to Scotland with Mary of Guise, and shortly after obtained the entire management of the diocese and primacy of St Andrews, under his uncle James Beaton, whom he eventually succeeded in that office.

A severe persecution was commenced at this time by the cardinal against all who were suspected of favouring the reformed doctrines. Many were forced to recant, and two persons, Norman Gourlay and David Straiton, were burnt at the Rood of Greenside, near Edinburgh. The pope, as a farther mark of his respect, and to quicken his zeal, declared Beaton Legatus a latere; and he, to manifest his gratitude, brought to St Andrews the earls of Huntley, Arran, Marischal, and Montrose, the lords of Fleming, Lindsay, Erskine, and Seaton, Gavin archbishop of Glasgow (chancellor), William bishop of Aberdeen, Henry bishop of Galloway, John bishop of Brechin, and William bishop of Dumblane, the abbots of Melrose, Dunfermline, Lindores, and Kinloss, with a multitude of priors, deans, doctors of divinity, &c., all of whom being assembled in the cathedral church, he harangued them from his chair of state on the dangers that hung over the true catholic church from the proceedings of king Henry in England, and particularly from the great increase of heresy in Scotland, where it had long been spreading, and found encouragement even in the court of the king. As he proceeded, he denounced Sir John Borthwick, provost of Linlithgow, as one of the most industrious incendiaries, and caused him to be cited before them for maintaining that the Pope had no greater authority over Christians than any other bishop or prelate—that indulgences granted by the pope were of no force or effect, but devised to amuse the people and deceive poor ignorant souls - that bishops, priests, and other clergymen, may lawfully marry—that the heresies commonly called the heresies of England and their new liturgy were to be commended by all good Christians, and to be embraced by them—that the people of Scotland are blinded by their clergy, and profess not the true faith—that churchmen ought not to enjoy any temporalities—that the king ought to convert the superfluous revenues of the church unto other pious uses—that the church of Scotland ought to be reformed after the same manner as that of England was—that the Canon law was of no force, being contrary to the law of God—that the orders of friars and monks should be abolished, as had been done in England—that he had openly called the pope a Simoniac, because be had sold spiritual things—that he had read heretical books and the New Testament in English, with treatises written by Melanchthon, Ecolampadius, and other heretics, and that he not only read them himself but distributed them among others—and lastly, that he openly disowned the authority of the Roman see. These articles being read, and Sir John neither appearing himself nor any person for him, he was set down as a confessed heretic, and condemned as an heresiarch. His goods were ordered to be confiscated and himself burnt in effigy, if he could not be apprehended, and all manner of persons forbidden to entertain or converse with him, under the pain of excommunication or forfeiture. This sentence was passed against him on the 28th of May, and executed the same day so far as was in the power of the court, his effigy being burnt in the market place of St Andrews and two days after at Edinburgh. This was supposed by many to be intended as a gratifying spectacle to Mary of Guise, the new queen, who had only a short time before arrived from France.

Sir John Borthwick, in the meantime, being informed of these violent proceedings, fled into England, where he was received with open arms by Henry VIII., by whom he was sent on an embassy to the protestant princes of Germany, for the purpose of forming with them a defensive league against the pope. Johnston, in his Heroes of Scotland, says, that "John Borthwick, a noble knight, was as much esteemed by king James V. for his exemplar and amiable qualities, as he was detested by the order of the priesthood on account of his true piety, for his unfeigned profession of which he was condemned; and though absent, his effects confiscated, and his effigy, after being subjected to various marks of ignominy, burnt," as we have above related. "This condemnation," Johnston adds, "he answered by a most learned apology, which may yet be seen in the records of the martyrs, (Fox) and having survived many years, at last died in peace in a good old age."

While these affairs were transacted, Henry, anxious to destroy that interest which the French government had so long maintained in Scotland to the prejudice of England, sent into that kingdom the bishop of St Davids with some books written in the vulgar tongue upon the doctrines of Christianity, which he recommended to his nephew carefully to peruse, and to weigh well their contents. James, who was more addicted to his amusements, than to the study of the doctrines and duties of Christianity, gave the books to be perused by some of his courtiers who, being attached to the clerical order, condemned them as heretical, and congratulated the king upon having so fortunately escaped the contamination of his royal eyes by such pestiferous writings. There were, however, other matters proposed to the king by this embassy than the books, though it was attempted by the clerical faction to persuade the people that the books were all that was intended; for, shortly after, the same bishop, accompanied by William Howard, brother of the Duke of Norfolk, came to the king at Stirling so suddenly, that he was not aware of their coming till they were announced as arrived in the town. This no doubt was planned by Henry to prevent the intriguing of the priests and the French faction beforehand. His offers were of a nature so advantageous, that James acceded to them without any scruple, and readily agreed to meet with his uncle Henry on an appointed day, when they were to settle all matters in dependence between them for the welfare of both kingdoms. Nothing could be more terrible to the clergy, of which Beaton was now confessedly the head in Scotland, than the agreement of the two kings; they saw in it nothing short of the loss of all that was dear to them, their altars, their revenues, and of course their influence, and they hastened to court from all quarters to weep over their religion about to be betrayed by an unholy conference, which, being impious in its purposes, could not fail, they said, to end in the ruin of the kingdom. Having by these representations made a strong impression upon the king, who was ignorant and superstitious, they then bribed, by the promise of large sums of money, the courtiers who had the most powerful influence over him, to dissuade him from the journey he had promised to make into England, which they successfully did, and so laid the foundation of a quarrel which ended in a war, the disastrous issue of which, preying upon the mind of James, brought him to an untimely end.

In the whole of these transactions, Beaton, a zealous churchman and the hired tool of France, was the chief actor, and knowing that the king was both covetous and needy, he overcame his scruples, by persuading the clergy to promise him a yearly subsidy of thirty thousand gold crowns, and even their whole fortunes, if this should be thought necessary. As he had no design, however, to be at any unnecessary expense himself, nor meant to be burdensome to his brethren, he pointed out the estates of those who rebelled against the authority of the Pope and the majesty of the king as proper subjects for confiscation, whereby there might be raised annually the sum of one hundred thousand crowns of gold. In order to attain this object, he requested that, for himself and his brethren, they might only be allowed to name, as they were precluded themselves from sitting in judgment in criminal cases, a lord chief justice, before whom, were he once appointed, there could be neither difficulty in managing the process, nor delay in procuring judgment, since so many men hesitated not to read the books of the New and Old Testaments, to discuss and disown the power of the Pope, to condemn the ancient rites of the church, and, instead of reverencing and obeying, dared to treat with derisive contempt those individuals that had been consecrated to God, and whose business it was to guide them in their spiritual concerns. This wicked counsel, as it suited both the inclinations and the necessities of the king, was quickly complied with, and they nominated for this new court of inquisition a judge every way according to their own hearts, James Hamilton, (a natural brother of the Earl of Arran,) whom they had attached to their interests by large gifts, and who was willing to be reconciled to the king, whom he had lately offended, by any service, however cruel.

The suspicions which the king entertained against his nobility from this time forward were such as to paralyze his efforts whether for good or evil. The inroads of the English, too, occupied his whole attention, and the shameful overthrow of his army which had entered England by the Solway, threw him into such a state of rage and distraction, that his health sunk under it, and he died at Falkland on the 13th of December, 1542, leaving the kingdom, torn by faction, and utterly defenceless, to his only surviving legitimate child, Mary, then no more than five days old. The sudden demise of the king, while it quashed the old projects of the Cardinal, only set him upon forming new ones still more daring and dangerous. Formerly he had laboured to direct the movements of the king by humouring his passions, flattering his vanity, and administering to his vicious propensities. Now, from the infancy of the successor, the death, the captivity, or the exile of the most influential part of the nobility, and the distracted state of the nation in general, he conceived that it would be easy for him to seize upon the government, which he might now administer for the infant queen, solely to his own mind. Accordingly, with the assistance of one Henry Balfour, a mercenary priest, whom he suborned, he is said to have forged a will for the king, in which he was himself nominated agent with three of the nobility as his assessors or assistants. According to Knox, these were Argyle, Huntley, and Murray; but Buchanan, whom we think a very sufficient authority in this case, says that he also assumed as an assessor his cousin by the mother’s side, the Earl of Arran, who was, after Mary, the next heir to the crown, but was believed to be poorly qualified by the humbler virtues of discharging the duties of a private life, and still less fitted either by courage or capacity for directing the government of a kingdom. Aware of the danger thai might arise from delay, the cardinal lost not a moment in idle deliberation. The will which he had forged he caused to be proclaimed at the cross of Edinburgh on the Monday immediately succeeding the king’s death.

Arran, the unambitious presumptive heir to the throne, would, had he been left to himself, have peaceably acquiesced in the cardinal’s arrangements, for he had the approbation of the queen mother, and, by presents and promises, had made no inconsiderable party among the nobility. But his friends, the Hamiltons, says Buchanan, more anxious for their owe aggrandizement than for his honour, incessantly urged him not to let such an occasion slip out of his hands, for they would rather have seen the whole kingdom in flames than have been obliged to lead obscure lives in private stations. Hatred, too, to the Cardinal, who, from his persecuting and selfish spirit, was very generally detested, and the disgrace of living in bondage to a priest, procured them many associates. The near prospect which Arran now had of succeeding to the crown, must also have enlisted a number of the more wary and calculating politicians upon his side. But what was of still more consequence to him, Henry of England who had carried all the principal prisoners taken in the late battle to London, marched them in triumph through that metropolis, and given them in charge to his principal nobility, no sooner heard of the death of the king than he recalled the captives to court, entertained them in the most friendly manner, and having taken a promise from each of them that they would promote as far as possible, without detriment to the public interests, or disgrace to themselves, a marriage between his son and the young queen, he sent them back to Scotland, where they arrived on the 1st of January, 1543. Along with the prisoners the Earl of Angus and his brother were restored to their country, after an exile of fifteen years, and all were received by the nation with the most joyful gratulations.

It was in vain that the Cardinal had already taken possession of the regency. Arran, by the advice of the Laird of Grange, called an assembly of the nobility, which finding the will upon which the Cardinal had assumed the regency forged, set him aside and elected Arran in his place. This was peculiarly grateful to a great proportion of the nobles, three hundred of whom, with Arran at their head, were found in a proscription list among the king’s papers, furnished to him by the Cardinal. Arran, it was well known, was friendly to the reformers, and his imbecility of mind being unknown, the greatest expectations were formed from the moderation of his character. In the parliament that met in the month of March following, public affairs put on a much more promising appearance than could have been expected. The king of England, instead of an army to waste or to subjugate the country, sent an ambassador to negociate a marriage between the young queen and his son, and a lasting peace upon the most advantageous terms. The Cardinal, who saw in this alliance with protestant England the downfall of his church in Scotland, opposed himself, with the whole weight of the clergy at his back, and all the influence of the Queen dowager, to every thing like pacific measures, and that with so much violence, that he was by the general consent of the house shut up in a separate chamber, while the votes were taken; after which every thing was settled in the most amicable manner, and it was agreed that hostages should be sent into England for the fulfilment of the stipulated articles.

The Cardinal in the meantime was committed as a prisoner into the hands of Lord Seton, who kept him first in Dalkeith, afterwards in Seton, and by and bye, something being bestowed on Lord Seton and the old Laird of Lethington, by way of compensation, he was suffered to resume his own castle at St Andrews. In the great confusion and uncertainty in public affairs that had prevailed for a number of years, trade had been at an entire stand, and now that a lasting peace seemed to be established, the merchants began to bestir themselves in all quarters; and a number of vessels were sent to sea laden with the most valuable merchandise. Edinburgh itself fitted out twelve, and the other towns on the eastern coast in proportion to their wealth, all of them coasting the English shores, and entering their harbours with the most undoubting confidence. Restored, however, to liberty, the Cardinal, enraged at the opposition he had encountered, and writhing under the disgrace of detected fraud, strained every nerve to break up the arrangements that had been so happily concluded. Seconded by the Queen-dowager, who, like him, hated the Douglasses, and trembled for the established religion, any change in which would necessarily involve a rupture of the ancient treaty with France, he convoked, at St Andrews, soon after his return to that place, an assembly of the clergy, to determine upon a certain sum of money to be given by them in case their measures for the preservation of the catholic church should involve the country in a war with England. The whole of the bishops not being present, the meeting was adjourned to the month of June; but the Cardinal had the address to prevail on those that were present to give all their own money, their silver plate, and the plate belonging to their churches, for the maintenance of such a war, besides engaging to enter themselves into the army as volunteers, should such a measure be thought necessary.

Aided by this money, with which he wrought upon the avarice and the poverty of the nobles and excited the clamours of the vulgar, who hated the very name of an English alliance, the Cardinal soon found himself at the head of a formidable party, which treated the English ambassador with the greatest haughtiness, in the hope of forcing him out of the country before the arrival of the day stipulated by the treaty with the regent for the delivery of the hostages. The ambassador, however, braved every insult till the day arrived, when he waited on the regent, and complained in strong terms of the manner in which he had been used, and the affronts that had been put, not upon himself only, but upon his master, in contempt of the law of nature and of nations, but at the same time demanded the fulfilment of the treaty and the immediate delivery of the hostages that had been agreed upon. With respect to the affronts complained of, the regent apologised, stating them to have been committed without his knowledge, and he promised to make strict enquiry after, and to punish the offenders. With regard to the hostages, however, he was obliged to confess, that, through the intrigues of the Cardinal, it was impossible for him to furnish them. The treaty being thus broken off, the noblemen who had been captives only a few months before, ought, according to agreement, to have gone back into England, having left hostages to that effect. Wrought upon, however, by the Cardinal and the clergy, they refused to redeem the faith they had pledged, and abandoned the friends they had left behind them to their fate. The only exception to this baseness was the Earl of Cassius, who had left two brothers as hostages. Henry was so much pleased with this solitary instance of good faith, that he set him free along with his brothers, and sent him home loaded with gifts. He at the same time seized upon all the Scottish vessels, a great number of which had been lately fitted out, as we have stated, and were at this time in the English harbours and road-steads, confiscated the merchandise, and made the merchants and the mariners prisoners of war. This, while it added to the domestic miseries of Scotland, served also to fan the flames of dissension, which burned more fiercely than ever. The faction of the Cardinal and the Queen-dowager, entirely devoted to France, now sent ambassadors thither to state their case as utterly desperate, unless they were supported from that country. In particular, they requested that Matthew Earl of Lennox might be ordered home, in order that they might set him up as a rival to the Hamiltons, who were already the objects of his hatred, on account of their having waylaid and killed his father at Linlithgow.

Arran laboured to strengthen his party in the best manner he could; and for this end resolved to possess himself of the infant Queen, who had hitherto remained at Linlithgow in the charge of her mother the Queen-dowager. The Cardinal, however, was too wary to be thus circumvented, and assembling his faction, took possession of Linlithgow, where he lived at free quarters upon the inhabitants, on pretence of being a guard to the Queen. Lennox, in the meantime, arrived from France, and was received by the regent with great kindness, each of them dissembling the hatred he bore to the other, and having informed his friends of the expectations he had been led to form he proceeded to join the Queen at Linlithgow, accompanied by upwards of four thousand men. Arran, who had assembled all his friends in and about Edinburgh for the purpose of breaking through to the Queen, now found himself completely in the back ground, having, by the imbecility of his character, entirely lost the confidence of the people, and being threatened with a law-suit by the friends of Lennox to deprive him of his estates, his father having married his mother, Janet Beaton, an aunt of the Cardinal, while his first wife, whom he had divorced, was still alive. He now thought of nothing but making his peace with the Cardinal. To this the Cardinal was not at all averse, as he wished to make Arran his tool rather than to crush him entirely. Delegates of course were appointed by both parties, who met at Kirkliston, a village about midway between Edinburgh and Linlithgow, and agreed that the Queen should be carried to Stirling; the Earl of Montrose, with the Lords Erskine, Lindsay, and Livingstone, being nominated to take the superintendence of her education. Having been put in possession of the infant Queen, these noblemen proceeded with her direct to Stirling Castle, where she was solemnly inaugurated with the usual ceremonies on the 9th of Sept. 1543. The feeble regent soon followed, and before the Queen-mother and the principal nobility in the church of the Franciscans at Stirling, solemnly abjured the protestant doctrines, by time profession of which alone he had obtained the favour of so large a portion of the nation, and for the protection of which he had been especially called to the regency. In this manner the Cardinal, through the cowardice of the regent, and the avarice of his friends, obtained all that he intended by the forged will, and enjoyed all the advantages of ruling, while all the odium that attended it attached to the imbecile Arran, who was now as much hunted and despised by his own party as he had formerly been venerated by them. There was yet, however, one thing wanting to establish the power of the Cardinal—the dismissal of Lennox, who, though he had been greatly useful to them in humbling Arran, was now a serious obstacle in the way of both the Cardinal and the Queen-mother. They accordingly wrote to the king of France, entreating that, as Scotland had been restored to tranquillity by his liberality and assistance, he would secure his own good work and preserve the peace which he had procured, by recalling Lennox, without which it was impossible it could be lasting.

Though they were thus secretly labouring to undermine this nobleman, the Queen-mother and the Cardinal seemed to study nothing so much as how they might put honour upon him before the people, and in the most effective manner contribute to his comfort. By a constant succession of games and festivals, the court presented one unbroken scene of gaiety and pleasure. Day after day was spent in tournaments, and night after night in masquerades. In these festivities, of which he was naturally fond, Lennox found a keen rival in James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, who had been banished by James V., but had returned after his decease, and was now labouring to obtain the Queen-dowager in marriage by the same arts that Lennox fancied himself to be so successfully employing. Both these noblemen were remarkable for natural endowments, and in the gifts of fortune they were nearly upon a level. Finding himself inferior, however, in the sportive strife of arms, Bothwell withdrew from the court in chagrin, leaving the field to his rival undisputed. Lennox, now fancying that he had nothing more to do than to reap the harvest of fair promises that had been so liberally held forth to him, pressed his suit upon the Queen, but learned with astonishment that she had no intention of taking him for a husband, and so far from granting him the regency, she had agreed with the Cardinal to preserve it in the possession of his mortal enemy Arran, whom they expected to be a more pliant tool to serve their own personal views and purposes. Exasperated to the highest degree, Lennox swore to be amply revenged, but uncertain as yet what plan to pursue, departed for Dumbarton, where he was in the midst of his vassals and friends. Here he received thirty thousand crowns, sent to increase the strength of his party by the king of France, who had not yet been informed of the real state of Scotland. Being ordered to consult with the Queen-dowager and the Cardinal in the distribution of this money, Lennox divided part of it among his friends, and part he sent to the Queen. The Cardinal, who had expected to have been intrusted with the greatest share of the money, under the influence of rage and disappointment, persuaded the vacillating regent to raise an army and march to Glasgow, where he might seize upon Lennox and the money at the same time. Lennox, however, warned of their intentions, raised on the instant among his vassals and friends upwards of ten thousand men, with which he marched to Leith, and sent a message to the Cardinal at Edinburgh, that he desired to save him the trouble of coming to fight him at Glasgow, and would give him that pleasure any day in the fields between Edinburgh and Leith.

This was a new and unexpected mortification to the Cardinal, who, having gained the regent, imagined he should have gained the whole party that adhered to him; but the fact was, he had gained only the regent and his immediate dependants, the great body of the people, who had originally given him weight and influence, being now so thoroughly disgusted with his conduct, that they had joined the standard, and now swelled the ranks of his rival. The Cardinal, however, though professing the utmost willingness to accept the challenge, delayed coming to action from day to day under various pretexts, but in reality that he might have time to seduce the adherents of his rival, and weary out the patience of his followers, who, without pay and without magazines, he was well aware could not be kept for any length of time together. Lennox, finding the war thus protracted, and himself so completely unfurnished for undertaking a siege, at the urgent entreaty of his friends, who for the most part had provided secretly for themselves, made an agreement with the regent, and, proceeding to Edinburgh, the two visited backwards and forwards, as if all their ancient animosity had been forgotten. Lennox, however, being advised of treachery, withdrew in the night secretly to Glasgow, where he fortified, provisioned, and garrisoned the Bishop’s castle, but retired himself to Dumbarton. Here he learned that the Douglasses had agreed with the Hamiltons, and that, through the influence of his enemies, the French king was totally estranged from him. Archibald Douglas Earl of Angus, and Robert Maxwell, in the meantime, came to Glasgow with the view of mediating between Lennox and the Regent. The Regent, however, seized them both in a clandestine manner by the way, and made them close prisoners in the castle of Cadzow. While the two factions were thus harassing one another to the ruin of their common country, Henry was demanding by letters satisfaction for the breach of treaties and the insults that had been heaped upon him in the person of his late ambassador. No notice being taken of these letters, Henry ordered a large armament, which he had prepared to send against the coast of France, to proceed directly to Leith, and to visit Edinburgh and the adjacent country with all the miseries of war; and with so much secrecy and celerity did this armament proceed, that the first tidings heard of it in Scotland was its appearance in Leith roads. Ten thousand men were disembarked on the 4th May, 1544, a little above Leith, who took possession of that place without the smallest opposition, the inhabitants being mostly abroad in the prosecution of their business. The Regent and the Cardinal were both at the time in Edinburgh, and, panic-stricken at the appearance of the enemy, and still more at the hatred of the citizens, fled with the utmost precipitation towards Stirling. The English, in the meantime, having landed their baggage and artillery, marched in order of battle towards Edinburgh, which they sacked and set on fire; then dispersing themselves over the neighbouring country, they burnt towns, villages, and gentlemen’s seats to the ground, and returning by Edinburgh to Leith, embarked aboard their ships and set sail with a fair wind, carrying with them an immense booty, and with the loss on their part of only a few individuals.

The Cardinal and his puppet the Regent, in the meantime, raised a small body of forces in the north, with which, finding the English gone, they marched against Lennox in the west, and laid siege to the castle of Glasgow, which they battered with brass cannon for a number of days. A truce was at last concluded for one day, during which the garrison were tampered with, and, on a promise of safety, surrendered. They were, however, put to death, with the exception of one or two individuals. Lennox, now totally deserted by the French, and unable to cope with the Cardinal, had no resource but to fly into England, where, through the medium of his friends, he had been assured of a cordial reception. Before leaving the country, however, he was determined to inflict signal vengeance upon the Hamiltons. Having communicated with William Earl of Glencairn upon the subject, a day was appointed on which they should assemble with their vassals at Glasgow, whence they might make an irruption into the territory of the Hamiltons, which lay in the immediate neighbourhood. The Regent, informed of this design, with the advice of the Cardinal, resolved to pre-occupy Glasgow. Glencairn, however, did not wait the appointed day, but was already in the town, and learning the approach of the Hamiltons marched out to give them battle, aided by the citizens, who do not appear to have been friendly to the Regent. The battle was stoutly contested, and for some time the Hamiltons seemed to have the worst of it. In the end, however, they gained a complete victory, the greater part of the Cuninghames being slain, and among the rest two of the Earl’s sons. Nor was it a bloodless victory to the Hamiltons, several of their chieftains being slain; but the severest loss fell upon the citizens of Glasgow, whose houses were cruelly plundered, and even their doors and window shutters destroyed. The friends of Lennox refused to risk another engagement, but they insisted that he should keep the impregnable fortress of Dumbarton, where he might in safety await another revolution in the state of parties, which they prognosticated would take place in a very short time. Nothing, however, could divert him from his purpose; and, committing the charge of the castle of Dumbarton to George Stirling, he sailed for England, where he was honourably entertained by king Henry, who settled a pension upon him, and gave him to wife his niece, Margaret Douglas, a princess in the flower of her age, and celebrated for every accomplishment becoming the female character. The Queen-dowager, aware that the faction Lennox had thus left without a leader could not be brought to submit to Arran, whose levity and imbecility of character they were now perfectly acquainted with, nor to the Cardinal, whose cruelty they both hated and feared, and dreading they might break out into some more desperate insurrection, condescended to soothe them and to take them under her particular protection. Arran was delighted to be delivered from such a formidable rival upon any terms; and in the next parliament, which met at Linlithgow, he succeeded in causing Lennox to be declared a traitor, and in having his estates and those of his friends confiscated, by which he realized considerable sums of money.

The English, during these domestic broils, made a furious inroad into Scotland, burned Jedburgh and Kelso, and laid waste the whole circumjacent country. Thence proceeding to Coldingham, they fortified the church and the church tower, in which they placed a garrison on retiring to their own country. This garrison, from the love of plunder as well as to prevent supplies for a besieging army, wasted the neighbouring district to a wide extent. Turning their attention at last to general interests, the Scottish government, at the head of which was the Cardinal, the Queen-dowager, and the nominal Regent Arran, issued a proclamation for the nobles and the more respectable of the commons to assemble armed, and with provisions for eight days, to attend the Regent. Eight thousand men were speedily assembled, and though it was the depth of winter, they proceeded against the church and tower of Coldingham without delay. When they had been before the place only one day and one night, the Regent, informed that the English were advancing from Berwick, took horse, and with a few attendants galloped in the utmost haste to Dunbar. This inexplicable conduct threw the whole army into confusion, and, but for the bravery of one man, Archibald Douglas Earl of Angus, the whole of their tents, baggage, and artillery would have been abandoned to the enemy. But although Angus and a few of his friends, at the imminent hazard of their lives, saved the artillery and brought it in safety to Dunbar, the conduct of the army in general, and of the Regent in particular, was pusillanimous in the extreme. The spirit of the nation sunk and the courage of the enemy rose in proportion. Ralph Ivers, and Brian Latoun, the English commanders, overran, without meeting with any opposition, the districts of Merse, Teviotdale, and Lauderdale, and the Forth only seemed to limit their victorious arms. Angus, who alone of all the Scottish nobility at this time gave any indication of public spirit, indignant at the nation’s disgrace and deeply affected with his own losses, for he had extensive estates both in Merse and Teviotdale, made a vehement representation to the Regent upon the folly of his conduct in allowing himself to be the dupe of an ambitious but cowardly priest, who, like the rest of his brethren, unwarlike abroad, was seditious at home, and, exempt from danger, wished only the power of wasting the fruit of other men’s labours upon his own voluptuousness. Always feeble and always vacillating, the Regent was roused by these remonstrances to a momentary exertion. An order was issued through the neighbouring counties for all the nobles to attend him, wherever he should be, without loss of time, and in company with Angus, he set out the very next day for the borders, their whole retinue not exceeding three hundred horse. Arrived at Melrose, they determined to wait for their reinforcements, having yet been joined only by a few individuals from the Merse. The English, who were at Jedburgh, to the number of five thousand men, having by their scouts ascertained the situation and small number of their forces, marched on the instant to surprise them, before their expected supplies should come up. The Scots, however, apprized of their intentions, withdrew to the neighbouring hills, whence, in perfect security, they watched the movements of their enemies, who, disappointed in not finding them, wandered about during the night in quest of such spoils as a lately ravaged town could supply, and with the returning dawn marched back to Jedburgh. The Scots now joined by Norman Lesly, a youth of great promise, son to the Earl of Rothes, and three hundred men from Fife, withdrew to the hills which overlook the village of Ancrum, where they were joined by the Laird of Balcleuch, an active and experienced commander, with a few of his vassals, who assured him that the remainder would follow immediately. By the advice of Balcleuch, the troops were dismounted, and the horses under the care of servants sent to an adjoining hill. The army was formed in the hollow in the order of battle. The English, as had been anticipated, seeing the horses going over the hill, supposed the Scots to be in full retreat, and eager to prevent their escape, rushed after them, and ere they were aware, fell upon the Scottish spears. Taken by surprise, the English troops, though they fought with great bravery, were thrown into disorder, and sustained a signal defeat, losing in killed and captured upwards of thirteen hundred men. The loss on the part of the Scots was two men killed and a few wounded.

In consequence of this victory, the Scots were freed from the incursions of the English for the ensuing summer; but it was principally improved by the Regent, with the advice of the Cardinal, for drawing closer the cords of connexion with France. An ambassador was immediately despatched to that country with the tidings—to report in strong terms the treachery of Lennox, and to request reinforcements of men and money. These could not at this time indeed well be spared, as an immediate descent of the English was expected; yet, in the hopes of somewhat distracting the measures of Henry, an auxiliary force of three thousand foot and five hundred horse was ordered, under the command of James Montgomery of Largo, who was also empowered to inquire into the differences between Lennox and the Regent and Cardinal. Montgomery arrived in Scotland on the 3d day of July, 1545, and having exhibited his commission, and explained the purposes of his master, the king of France, to the Scottish council, they were induced to issue an order for an army of the better class, who might be able to support the expenses of a campaign, to assemble on an early day. This order was punctually complied with and on the day appointed, fifteen thousand Scotsmen assembled at Haddington, who were marched directly to the English border, and encamped in the neighbourhood of Werk castle. From this camp they carried on their incursions into the neighbouring country for about a day’s journey, carrying off every thing that they could lay hold of. Having wasted in the course of ten days the country that lay within their reach, and being destitute of artillery for carrying on sieges, the army disbanded, and every man went to his own home. Montgomery repaired to court, to inquire into the disputes with Lennox; the English, in the meantime, by way of reprisals, wasting the Scottish borders in every quarter. Montgomery, in the beginning of winter returned home, leaving the Cardinal, though he blamed him as the sole author of the dissentions between Lennox and the Regent, in the full possession of all his authority.

Beaton now supposed himself fully established in the civil as well as the ecclesiastic management of the kingdom, and proceeded on a progress through the different provinces for the purpose of quieting the seditions, which, as he alleged, had arisen in various places, but in reality to repress the protestants who, notwithstanding his having so artfully identified the cause of the catholic religion with that of national feeling, had still been rapidly increasing. Carrying his puppet Arran along with him, as also the Earl of Argyle, Lord Justice-General, Lord Borthwick, the Bishops of Orkney and Dunblane, &c. he came to Perth, or, as it was then more commonly called, St Johnston, where several persons were summoned before him for disputing upon the sense of the Scriptures which, among all true catholics, was a crime to be punished by the judge. Four unhappy men, accused of having eaten a goose upon a Friday, were condemned to be hanged, which rigorous sentence was put into execution. A woman, Helen Stark, for having refused to call upon the Virgin for assistance in her labour, was drowned, although again pregnant. A number of the burgesses of the city, convicted or suspected (for in those days they were the same thing) of smaller peccadilloes, were banished from the city. He also deposed the Lord Ruthven from the provostry of the city, for being somewhat attached to the new opinions, and bestowed the office upon the Laird of Kinfauns, a relation to the Lord Gray, who was neither supposed to be averse to the new religion, nor friendly to the Cardinal; but he hoped by this arrangement to lay a foundation for a quarrel between these noblemen, by which at least one of them would be cut off. This act of tyranny, by which the citizens were deprived of their privilege of choosing their own governor, was highly resented by them, as well as by the Lord Ruthven, whose family had held the place so long that they almost considered it to be hereditary in their family. The new provost Kinfauns was urged by the Cardinal and his advisers to seize upon the government of the city by force, but the Lord Ruthven, with the assistance of the citizens, put him to the route, and slew sixty of his followers. That Ruthven was victorious must have been a little mortifying to the Cardinal; but as the victims were enemies of the church, the defeat was the less to be lamented.

From St Johnston the Cardinal proceeded to Dundee, in order to bring to punishment the readers of the New Testament, which about this time began to be taught to them in the original Greek, of which the Scottish priesthood knew so little that they held it forth as a new book written in a new language, invented by Martin Luther, and of such pernicious qualities that, whoever had the misfortune to look into it became infallably tainted with deadly heresy. Here, however, their proceedings were interrupted by the approach of Lord Patrick Gray and the Earl of Rothes. These noblemen being both friendly to the Reformation, the Cardinal durst not admit them with their followers into a town that was notorious for attachment to that cause above all the cities of the kingdom; he therefore sent the Regent back to Perth, whither he himself also accompanied him. Even in Perth, however, be durst not meet them openly, and the Regent requiring them to enter separately, they complied, and were both committed to prison. Rothes was soon dismissed, but Gray, whom the Cardinal was chiefly afraid of, remained in confinement a considerable time. The Cardinal having gone over as much of Angus as he found convenient at the time, returned to St Andrews, carrying along with him a black friar named John Rogers, who had been preaching the reformed doctrine in Angus. This individual he committed to the sea-tower of St Andrews, where, it is alleged, he caused him to be privately murdered and thrown over the wall, giving out that he had attempted to escape over it, and in the attempt fell and broke his neck. He also brought along with him the Regent Arran, of whom, though he held his son as a hostage, he was not without doubts, especially when he reflected upon the inconstancy of his character, the native fierceness of the nobility, and the number of them that were still unfriendly to his own measures. He therefore entertained him, for twenty days together, with all manner of shows and splendid entertainments, made him many presents, and, promising him many more, set out with him to Edinburgh, where he convened an assembly of the clergy to devise means for putting a stop to the disorders that were so heavily complained of, and which threatened the total ruin of the church. In this meeting it was proposed to allay the public clamours by taking measures for reforming the open profligacy of the priests, which was the chief source of complaint. Their deliberations, however, were cut short by intelligence that George Wishart, the most eminent preacher of the reformed doctrines of his day, was residing with Cockburn of Ormiston, only about seven miles from Edinburgh. They calculated that, if they could cut out this individual, they should perform an action more serviceable to the cause of the church, and also one of much easier accomplishment, than reforming the lives of the priests. A troop of horse were immediately sent off to secure him; but Cockburn, refusing to deliver him, the Cardinal himself and the Regent followed, blocking up every avenue to the house, so as to render the escape of the reformer impossible. To prevent the effusion of blood, however, the Earl of Bothwell was sent for, who pledged his faith to Cockburn, that he would stand by Wishart, and that no harm should befall him; upon which he was peaceably surrendered. Bothwell, however, wrought upon by the Cardinal, and especially by the Queen-mother, with whom, Knox observes, "he was then in the glanders," after some shuffling to save appearances, delivered his prisoner up to the Cardinal, who imprisoned him, first in the Castle of Edinburgh, and soon after carried him to St Andrews, where he was brought before the ecclesiastical tribunal, condemned for heresy, and most cruelly put to death, as the reader will find related in another part of this work, under the article WISHART. Wishart was a man mighty in the Scriptures, and few even of the martyrs have displayed more of the meekness and humility that ought to characterize the follower of Jesus Christ; but his knowledge of the Scriptures availed him nothing, and the meek graces of his character, like oil thrown upon flame, only heightened the rage and inflamed the fury of his persecutors. Arran, pressed by his friends, and perhaps by his own conscience, wrote to the Cardinal to stay the proceedings till he should have time to inquire into the matter, and threatened him with the guilt of innocent blood. But the warning was in vain, and the innocent victim was only the more rapidly hurried to his end for fear of a rescue.

This act of tyranny and murder was extolled by the clergy and their dependants as highly glorifying to God and honourable to the actor, who was now regarded by them as one of the prime pillars of heaven, under whose auspices the most glorious days might be expected. The people in general felt far otherwise, and, irritated rather than terrified, regarded the Cardinal as a monster of cruelty and lust, whom it would be a meritorious action to destroy. Beaton was not ignorant of the hatred and contempt in which he was held, nor of the devices that were forming against him; but he supposed his power to be now so firmly established as to be beyond the reach of faction, and he was determined by the most prompt and decisive measures to be before-hand with his enemies. In the mean time, he thought it prudent to strengthen his interest, which was already great, by giving his daughter in marriage to the Master of Crawford. For this purpose he proceeded to Angus, where the marriage was celebrated with almost royal splendour, the bride receiving from her father the Cardinal, no less than four thousand marks of dowry. From these festivities he was suddenly recalled by intelligence that Henry of England was collecting a great naval force, with which he intended to annoy Scotland, and especially the coast of Fife. To provide against such an exigency, the Cardinal summoned the nobility to attend him in a tour round the coast, where he ordered fortifications to be made, and garrisons placed in the most advantageous positions. In this tour he was attended by the Master of Rothes, Norman Leslie, who had formerly been one of his friends, but had of late, from some private grudge, become cold towards him. Some altercation of course ensued, and they parted in mortal enmity; the Cardinal determined secretly to take off, or to imprison Norman, with his friends the Lairds of Grange, elder and younger, Sir James Learmont, provost of St Andrews, and the Laird of Raith, all whom be feared, and Norman resolved to slay the Cardinal, be the consequences what they would.

The Cardinal was in the meantime in great haste to repair and strengthen his castle, upon which a large number of men were employed almost night and day. The conspirators having lodged themselves secretly in St Andrews on the night of May the twenty-eighth, 1546, were, ere the dawn of the next morning, assembled to the number of ten or twelve persons in the neighbourhood of the castle, and the gates being opened to let in the workmen with their building materials, Kircaldy of Grange entered, and with him six persons, who held a parley with the porter. Norman Leslie and his company having then entered, passed to the middle of the court. Lastly came John Leslie and four men with him, at whose appearance the porter, suspecting some design, attempted to lift the drawbridge, but was prevented by Leslie, who leaped upon it, seized the keys, and threw the janitor himself headlong into the ditch. The place thus secured, the workmen, to the number of a hundred, ran off the walls, and were put forth at the wicket gate unhurt. Kircaldy then took charge of the privy postern, the others going through the different chambers, from which they ejected upwards of fifty persons, who were quietly permitted to escape. The Cardinal, roused from his morning slumbers by the noise; threw up his window and asked what it meant. Being answered that Norman Leslie had taken his castle, he ran to the postern, but, finding it secured, returned to his chamber, drew his two-handed sword, and ordered his chamberlain to barricade the door. In the meantime, John Leslie demanded admittance, but did not gain it till a chimneyful of burning coals was brought to burn the door, when the Cardinal or his chamberlain (it is not known which) threw it open. Beaton, who had in the mean time hidden a box of gold under some coals in a corner of the room, now sat down in a chair, crying, "I am a priest, I am a priest; you will not slay me." But he was now in the hands of men to whom his priestly character was no recommendation. John Leslie, according to his vow, struck him twice with his dagger, and so did Peter Carmichael; but James Melville, perceiving them to be in a passion, withdrew them, saying, "This work and judgment of God, although it be secret, ought to be gone about with gravity." Then admonishing the Cardinal of his wicked life, particularly his shedding the blood of that eminent preacher, Mr George Wishart, Melville struck him thrice through with a stag sword, and he fell, exclaiming, "Fie, fie, I am a priest, all’s gone!" Before this time the inhabitants of St Andrews were apprized of what was going on, and began to throng around the castle, exclaiming, "Have ye slain my Lord Cardinal? What have ye done with my Lord Cardinal?’ As they refused to depart till they saw him, his dead body was slung out by the assassins at the same window from which he had but a short time before witnessed the burning of Mr George Wishart. Having no opportunity to bury the body, they afterwards salted it, wrapped it in lead, and consigned it to the ground floor of the sea tower, the very place where he was said to have caused Rogers, the preaching friar to be murdered.

In this manner fell Cardinal David Beaten, in the height of prosperity, and in the prime of life, for he had only reached the fifty-second year of his age. His death was deeply lamented by his own party, to whom it proved an irreparable loss, and the authors of it were regarded by them as sacrilegious assassins, but by numbers, who, on account of difference in religion, were in dread of their lives from his cruelty, and by others who were disgusted by his insufferable arrogance, they were regarded as the restorers of their country’s liberties, and many did not hesitate to hazard their lives and fortunes along with them. Whatever opinion may be formed regarding the manner of his death, there can be only one regarding its effects; the Protestant faith, which had quailed before his persecuting arm, from this moment began to prosper in the land. It is probable, as his enemies alone have been his historians, that the traits of his character, and even the tone and bearing of many of his actions, have been to some degree exaggerated; yet there seems abundant proof of his sensuality, his cruelty, and his total disregard of principle in his exertions for the preservation of the Romish faith. Nothing, on the other hand, but that barbarism of the times, which characterizes all Beaton’s policy, as well as his actions, could extenuate the foul deed by which he was removed from the world, or the unseemly sympathy which the reforming party in general manifested towards its perpetrators. As a favourable view of his character, and at the same time a fine specimen of old English composition, we extract the following from the supplement to Dempster :—

"It frequently happens that the same great qualities of mind which enable a man to distinguish himself by the splendour of his virtues, are so overstrained or corrupted as to render him no less notorious for his vices. Of this we have many instances in ancient writers, but none by which it is more clearly displayed than in the character of the Cardinal Archbishop of St Andrews, David Beaton, who, from his very childhood, was extremely remarkable, and whose violent death had this in it singular, that his enemies knew no way to remove him from his absolute authority but that (of assassination). When he was but ten years of age, he spoke with so much ease and gravity, with so much good sense, and freedom from affectation, as surprised all who heard him. When he was little more than twenty, he became known to the Duke of Albany, and to the court of France, where he transacted affairs of the greatest importance, at an age when others begin to become acquainted with them only in books. Before he was thirty, he had merited the confidence of the Regent, the attention of the French King, and the favour of his master, so that they were all suitors to the court of Rome in his behalf. He was soon after made Lord Privy-Seal, and appointed by act of parliament to attend the young king, at his majesty’s own desire. Before he attained the forty-fifth year of his age, he was Bishop of Mirepoix in France, Cardinal of the Roman Church, Archbishop of St Andrews, and Primate of Scotland, to which high dignities he added, before he was fifty, those of Lord High Chancellor, and legate a latere. His behaviour was so taking, that he never addicted himself to the service of any prince or person, but he absolutely obtained their confidence, and this power he had over the minds of others, he managed with so much discretion, that his interest never weakened or decayed. He was the favourite of the Regent, Duke of Albany, and of his pupil James V. as long as they lived; and the French king and the governor of Scotland equally regretted his loss. He was indefatigable in business, and yet managed it with great ease. He understood the interests of the courts of Rome, France, and Scotland, better than any man of his time, and he was perfectly acquainted with the temper, influence, and weight of all the nobility in his own country. In time of danger, he showed great prudence and steadiness of mind, and in his highest prosperity, discovered nothing of vanity or giddiness. He was a zealous churchman, and thought severity the only weapon that could combat heresy. He loved to live magnificently, though not profusely, for at the time of his death he was rich, and yet had provided plentifully for his family. But his vices were many, and his vices scandalous. He quarrelled with the old Archbishop of Glasgow in his own city, and pushed this quarrel so far that their men fought in the very church. His ambition was boundless, for he took into his hands the entire management of the affairs of the kingdom, civil and ecclesiastical, and treated the English ambassador as if he had been a sovereign prince. He made no scruple of sowing discord among his enemies, that he might reap security from their disputes. His jealousy of the governor (Arran) was such, that he kept his eldest son as a hostage in his house, under pretence of taking care of his education. In point of chastity he was very deficient; for, though we should set aside as calumnies many of those things which his enemies have reported of his intrigues, yet the posterity he left behind him plainly proves that he violated those vows to gratify his passions, which he obliged others to hold sacred on the penalty of their lives. In a word, had his probity been equal to his parts, had his virtues come up to his abilities, his end had been less fatal, and his memory without blemish. As it is, we ought to consider him as an eminent instance of the frailty of the brightest human faculties, and the instability of what the world calls fortune."

He wrote, according to Dempster, "Memoirs of his own Embassies," "A Treatise of Peter’s Primacy," and "Letters to several Persons."


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