KING JAMES III. was only thirty-five when he was
murdered in 148 A.D., having reigned for twenty-eight years.
The battle did not last long after the King had fled
from the field. The rebels won the victory, and soon after, Prince James was
crowned, under the title of James IV.
But at first no one knew what had happened to James
iii. At this time Scotland was beginning to be famous for her ships and her
brave sea-captains. Sir Andrew Wood, one of the bravest of these
sea-captains, was lying in the Forth with his ships. As the King could be
nowhere found, the lords began to think that perhaps he had taken refuge in
one of Sir Andrew's boats. So they sent messengers to Sir Andrew, asking him
if the King were with him.
'He is not here,' replied Sir Andrew. 'Search my ship
if you do not believe me.'
So the messengers went back. But the Prince and the
lords were not content. They again sent to Sir Andrew commanding him to come
Sir Andrew came as he was commanded. He was a very
handsome man, and was grandly dressed. As he came into the room he looked so
splendid that the Prince ran to him crying, 'Sir, are you my father?'
'No,' answered Sir Andrew, the tears running down his
cheeks, 'no, I am not your father. But I was his true servant, and the enemy
of all those who rebelled against him.'
At these words the Prince turned away sadly, for he
had most unwillingly risen against his father.
'Do you know where the King is?' asked the lords sternly, for they did not
like to be spoken of as rebels. I do not,' replied Sir Andrew scornfully.
Still the lords did not believe him. 'Is he not in your ship?' they asked
'He is not,' replied Sir Andrew. 'But would to God he were there safely, and
I should defend and keep him from the traitors who murdered him. I hope to
see the day when they shall be hanged for their evil deeds.'
These bold answers made the lords very angry, and when Sir Andrew had gone
back to his ship, they called all the sea-captains of Leith together, and
ordered them to fight Sir Andrew and to take him prisoner.
But the captains refused, and another brave sailor, called Sir Andrew
Barton, spoke up bravely, 'There are not ten ships in Scotland,' he said, '
fit to fight Sir Andrew's two, for lie is well practised in war, and his men
are hard to beat on land or sea.'
Later, Sir Andrew Wood came to great honour, for James IV. was fond of
ships, and was glad that Scotland should have brave sailors like Andrew Wood
and Andrew Barton.
James saw, too, that it was necessary for Scotland to have a navy. For an
island lying in the sea must have ships to guard her shores, and also to
carry goods to other countries. People were at this time slowly beginning to
learn that a country was richer and happier when at peace, and that it was
much better to trade with other nations, than to fight with them. They were
also finding out that Europe was not the whole world, and many brave sailors
had sailed into far, unknown seas, and discovered strange lands, and had
come home with curious tales of the wonderful countries and peoples they had
seen. So James built ships, and encouraged his people to fish in far seas,
and to trade with distant countries, and soon the Scottish flag was known
and respected far and wide.
Among the ships which James built was one called the Great Michael. It was
the greatest ship that had ever been known. All the carpenters in Scotland
worked upon her for a year and a day, till she was ready to put to sea. All
the forests of Fife were cut down to get wood for the building of this
monster, which cumbered all Scotland to get her to sea, says one old writer.
King James was so interested in this great ship that he used daily to go on
board to watch how the work was going on, and would often dine there with
his lords. At last she was finished, and sailed proudly out on the waters of
the Forth. Then the King commanded that cannon should be fired at her sides,
to see if the vessel was strong enough to stand fire. And the Great Michael
was so well and strongly built, that the cannon did little harm to her.
The English, too, had great ships, and they used to attack the Scots
whenever they met upon the sea. They would even come right up the Scottish
Sea, as the Firth of Forth was then often called. King James was very angry
at this, and he sent Sir Andrew Wood against the English; and Sir Andrew,
with his two ships, the Yellow Garvel and the Flower, beat five of the
English, and carried their captains and men prisoner to the King.
When King Henry heard how his ships had been taken, he was very angry. He
sent through all England, saying, that whoever would go to fight Sir Andrew,
and bring him prisoner, should have great honour, and a thousand pounds in
gold. So Stephen Bull, a daring sailor, said that he would go and would
bring Sir Andrew, alive or dead, a prisoner to King Henry.
Stephen Bull, with three great ships, sailed away till he came to the Firth
of Forth. There he found some fishing-boats, whose crews he took prisoner.
Then he sailed on again, but still could see nothing of Sir Andrew. Very
early one summer morning, however, an English sailor on the look-out saw two
ships far away. Stephen Bull made some of the fishermen, whom lie had taken
prisoner, climb the mast, so that they might see whether it was Sir Andrew
But the fishermen, not wishing to betray their own countryman, said that
they did not know.
'Tell me truly,' said Stephen, 'and whether we win or lose, you shall have
your lives and liberty.'
Then the men confessed that the ships were the Yellow Carvel and the Flower.
Hearing that, Stephen was very glad. He ordered a cask of wine to be brought
up, and all the men and captains cheered, and drank to their victory, of
which they felt sure. Then Stephen sent each man to his post, and prepared
to meet the enemy.
Sir Andrew Wood, on the other hand, came sailing along, little expecting to
meet any English. But when he saw three ships coming towards him in battle
array, 'Ha,' he said, 'yonder come the English who would make us prisoners
to the King of England. But, please God, they shall fail in their purpose.'
He, too, ordered a cask of wine to be brought, and every mail to his fellow,
and, speaking brave words to them, Sir Andrew sent each man to his post.
By this time the sun had risen high, and shone brightly upon the sails. The
English ships were great and strong, and had many guns, but the Scots were
not afraid, and they sailed on towards the English. Soon cannon boomed, and
the fight began. All that long summer day the battle raged, the heavy smoke
darkening the blue sky. The people who lived on the shore watched and
wondered, till at last night fell, and the fighting ceased. But next
morning, as soon as it was light, the trumpets sounded, and once more the
battle began. So fiercely did it rage, that neither captains nor sailors
took heed of where the ships went. They drifted with the tide, and the
fight, which had begun in the Forth, finished near the mouth of the Tay. It
ended in victory for the Scots.
Instead of being taken prisoner to Henry, Sir Andrew took Stephen Bull and
all his men, and led them before King James.
King James thanked and rewarded Sir Andrew greatly, then he sent Stephen and
his men back to England. 'And tell your King,' he said, 'that we have as
manful men, both by sea and land, in Scotland, as he has in England. Tell
him to send no more of his captains to disturb my people. If he does, they
shall not be treated so well next time.'
And King Henry was well pleased neither with the news, nor with the message.