Scotland's Story Chapter LXI. James IV - The Thistle and the Rose
THEN James IV. had reigned a little time, he began to
be very sorry for having rebelled against his father, James III. He spent
much of his time in the Chapel Royal at Stirling, praying for forgiveness.
As a punishment to himself he fastened a chain of iron round his waist. This
he wore night and day, so that he might ever be kept in remembrance of his
wickedness, and every year he added more links to the chain to make it
But although James did this, he was by no means always
sad and mournful. lie loved sports and games, and all the flue show of
tournaments, lie himself could fence and ride with the best. Often he held
great tournaments at court, to which not only his own nobles, but famous
knights from far countries came.
King James loved knightly games and amusements, but he
loved his people too. Often he rode through his kingdom, quite alone, and
plainly dressed, so that none might know that he was the King. He would go
into poor men's houses and sit and talk with them as one of themselves. Then
lie would ask them, what they thought of the King, and how he ruled. In this
way he found out what troubles and wants the people had.
The King, too, sailed in his ships all round and among
the islands of Scotland, so that the wild people there, who had never seen a
King before, were astonished at his grandeur. The Lord of the Isles and
other Highland Chieftains rebelled from time to time against him, and the
Borderers were ever ready to break out into war. But .James subdued them
all, and he was so just and friendly, that even those in the farthest
corners of his kingdom came to know and love him. He was generous, and spent
liberally the hoards of money which his father had gathered, so that there
was great love between the people and their King.
James at last made peace with England, and married
Margaret, the daughter of King Henry. All the people rejoiced greatly at
this marriage, and it was hoped that it would help to make a lasting peace
between the two countries.
There was great ceremony and splendour at the wedding,
and a poet called Dunbar wrote a poem about the marriage of the Thistle and
Upon the awful thistle she did look, And saw him
guarded with a bush of spears; Considering him so able for the wars,
A radiant crown of rubies she him gave, And said, "In field go forth and
guard the rest.
"Nor hold no other flower in such dainty As the fresh rose, of colour
red and white; For if thou dost, hurt is thine honesty Considering
that no flower is so perfect So full of virtue, pleasance, and delight,
So full of blissful angelic beauty, Imperial birth, honour, and
The Princess came from London, surrounded by a
splendid train of knights and nobles. King .James, beautifully dressed, rode
to meet his bride upon a fiery, prancing steed, with trappings of gold. He
and his nobles came dashing along at full gallop, and when they met the
Princess they reined back so quickly that the horses were thrown upon their
haunches. This was to show how well they could ride.
Then to amuse Margaret a little play was acted. A
knight appeared. with a lady who carried his hunting horn and led his horse.
A second knight dashed forward, seized the lady, and carried her off. A
fight followed, in which the knights fought with great skill, until the King
threw down his glove and called 'peace.'
When they caine to the city, the Princess mounted upon
the King's horse and rode behind him through the streets, the people
shouting and cheering all the way.
Afterwards came tournaments, balls, and all kinds of
rnerriments. In one tournament, the King, calling himself the Savage Knight,
appeared surrounded by fierce wild men dressed in skins of animals, and he
fought so well that he conquered all who came against him.
At last the rejoicings were over, and the people went
to their homes, delighted with their gay, handsome, clever King and their
lovely young Queen.
But time peace and goodwill between England and
Scotland did not last long. Henry vim, died, and was succeeded by his son
Henry VIII. He was hot-tempered, and so was James, and they soon found
causes for quarrelling.
In those days there was a great deal of fighting on
the seas between merchant vessels, even when the countries were at peace.
Indeed many sea-captains were little more than pirates A quarrel arose
between the English) and the Scots, and the English captains went to their
King to complain that they had been unlawfully stopped and robbed by Sir
Andrew Barton the Scotsman.
'The King looked over his left shoulder, Have I never a lord in all my
realm, Will fetch yon traitor unto me?" "Yea, that dare I," Lord
Howard says; "Yea, that dare I with heart and hand; If it please
your grace to give me leave, Myself will be the only man."'
So King Henry sent Lord Thomas, and his brother Sir Edward Howard, with two
great ships well fitted with cannon and archers, against Sir Andrew.
As they sailed along looking for Sir Andrew, they met another ship. ' Have
you seen Sir Andrew Barton?' asked Lord Howard of the captain.
'Ay, that have I,' he replied sadly, 'but yesterday I was his prisoner, and
he has robbed me of all my goods.'
'Do you know where he is now?' asked Lord Howard. 'Only let me see him, and
I will fight him and carry him prisoner to our King.'
'Heaven help you,' cried the merchantman, 'you little know what a man he
He is brass within and steel without With beams on his topcastle strong;
And eighteen pieces of ordnance He carries on each side along;
'And he hath a pinnace dearly dight, St. Andrew's cross that is his
guide; His pinnace beareth ninescore men, And fifteen cannons on
'Were you twenty ships and he but one, I swear by kirk, and bower, and
halt, He would overcome them every one, If once his beams they down
'Never fear,' said Lord Howard, 'I will bring him and his ships to England,
or he may carry me to Scotland.'
So the merchantman turned his ship about and led Lord Howard to where Sir
Andrew lay. Lord Howard pulled down the English standard, and instead, he
tied a white willow wand to his mast head, as was the custom with merchant
vessels. Then when they came in sight of the Scottish vessels, Lord Howard
sailed past without saluting.
Now this was very rude. For just as we bow and take off our hats when we
meet a friend in the streets) so, when ship meets ship upon the seas, the
captains make signs of greeting to each other.
When Sir Andrew saw the English ship sail past with. out saluting, he was
angry. 'What English churls are yonder,' he said, 'that show so little
He had two ships, a large one called the Lion., and a little pinnace called
the Jenny Perwin. So now he bade the Jenny Perwin 'Fetch back yon pedlars
now to me. I swear by the mass you English churls shall all hang at my main
The little pinnace sailed off, but Sir Andrew soon saw that it was no
merchantmen with which he had to do, but the King of England's ships of war.
Fire flashed, cannon boomed, and a fight, fierce and long, took place. Both
sides fought desperately and well, but the little pinnace was soon sunk. Sir
Andrew cheered his men, Lord Howard his, but at last a keen-eyed English
archer struck Sir Andrew, and he fell forward on the deck. He was sorely
wounded, but he would not give in.
Fight on, my men," Sir Andrew says, A little I 'm hurt, but yet not
slain, I'll but lie down and bleed awhile, And then I'll rise to
"Fight on, my men," Sir Andrew says, "And never flinch before the foe,
And stand fast by St. Andrew's cross Until you hear my whistle
They never heard his whistle blow. Gallant Sir Andrew had fought his last
fight, and lay dead upon the deck.
Then Lord Howard, seeing that the Scottish leader was killed, boarded the
Lion and took her. But when he saw Sir Andrew lying upon the deck he felt
sorry, as brave men must at the death of a gallant foe. Yet he said, 'If
thou wert alive as thou art dead, I must have left England many a day.' For
he knew that if he had not killed Sir Andrew, he himself would have been
carried prisoner to Scotland. Drawing his sword, he cut off Sir Andrew's
head, and ordered the body to be thrown into the sea. Then greatly
rejoicing, the English sailed home with their prize.
'Thus from the wars Lord Howard came, And back he sailed o'er the main,
With mickle joy and triumphing Unto Thames mouth he came again
'Lord Howard then a letter wrote, And sealed it with seal and ring;
"Such a noble prize have I brought to your grace As ever did subject to
'"Sir Andrew's ship I bring with me, A braver ship was never none;
Now hath your grace two ships of war Before in England was but one."'
King Henry was greatly delighted with the news. He richly rewarded Lord
Hoard and all who had helped him. 'But,' he said, 'where is the rover, Sir
"The rover he is safe, my liege, Full many a fathom in the sea; If he
were alive as he is dead, I must have left England many a day,"'
said Lord Howard as he uncovered the head which he had brought.
The Queen and all her fair ladies had come hoping to see Sir Andrew, for
they had heard much of his splendour and daring. Now they looked with sorrow
and dread at the ghastly face with hollow staring eyes, and turned away from
it shuddering. The King too was sad, for he loved a brave man, even though
he were an enemy.
"I would give," quoth the King, "a thousand marks, This man were alive
as he is dead;
"Yet for the manful part he played, Which fought well with heart and
hand, His men shall have twelve, pence a day, Till they come to my
brother King's high land."
So the men were sent home to Scotland. But Henry kept the Lion, and she was
made the second ship of the English navy.
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