Scotland's Story Chapter LXVI. James V - The King of the Commons
- His Last Days
DURING the whole of the reign of James v., his uncle,
Henry, the King of England, tried to interfere with Scottish affairs, He
kept spies in Scotland, who told him everything that took place there. But
neither James, nor the people, were willing to submit to Henry's
You remember that in the old days all Christian people
belonged to one Church. But after a time, some people disagreed with the
Pope, and began to form a new Church. These people were called Reformers, or
Protestants, and as far back as the time of Regent Albany, a Protestant
martyr had died in Scotland.
Henry viii. did not like this new religion, but he had
quarrelled with the Pope, so lie told the people of England, that they must
no longer look to the Pope as head of the Church, but to their King. Having
himself quarrelled with the Pope, and being always anxious to mix himself up
in Scottish matters, King Henry tried to make his nephew, King James, also
quarrel with him. He proposed to meet with King James at York, so that they
might talk the matter over, and although James had many reasons for not
wishing to leave the Romish Church, he agreed to come, for neither did he
wish, at that time, to have war with England. And Henry was so hot tempered,
that to refuse might have meant war.
In great state Henry travelled to York, and for six
days he waited there for .James. But James never came.
The fact was, his wise men would not let him go. They
did not trust King Henry, and they were afraid of what lie might do to their
After waiting for six days, Henry turned home again,
furiously angry, and at once declared war against Scotland. He renewed the
old and almost forgotten claim of over-lordship, and vowed to make himself
King of Scotland.
Henry gathered an army and marched northward. James,
too, gathered an army and marched to meet the English. He had reached the
Border, when news was brought that the English army had dispersed. In the
heat of his passion, Henry had not laid his plans well. The weather was cold
and wet, for it was in the middle of November. There was nothing in all the
land for either man or horse to eat, so he was obliged to send them home
As soon as the Scots nobles heard that the English had
turned back, they too, resolved to go home. They had gathered to protect
Scotland, not to invade England. Scotland was no longer in danger, so they
would not fight.
But James now wanted to fight, and he was very angry
with the nobles when they said they would not. He implored; he threatened,
all in vain. They would not go on. So at last, angry and disappointed, he
too broke up his army, and went back to Edinburgh.
But James could not give up his desire to fight his
uncle, and making great efforts, he again gathered a small army and sent it
into England. This army crossed the Border at a place on the west, called
the Solway Moss.
James had secretly decided to make leader of the army
a favourite of his, called Oliver Sinclair. So as soon a they had entered
England, Oliver, standing upon a shield raised upon the shoulders of four
strong men, read aloud the King's letter, or commission as it was called,
bidding the soldiers accept him as their leader.
Murmurs, loud and fierce, broke from the soldiers as
they listened. The captains, leaving their posts, gathered to talk it over.
All discipline and order were at an end. The whole army was thrown into
Unfortunately, at this moment a small body of English
horse drew near. At once the English leader saw that the Scots were in
disorder. What the reason was they cared not. It was an opportunity not to
be lost, and with levelled lances they dashed forward.
The Scots were utterly taken by surprise. With scarce
an attempt to fight, they fled. Not knowing the country, many were caught in
the Solway Moss, or marshy ground, and died there. Others were taken
prisoner. It was not a battle, but a rout
The news filled James with despair. He was a crushed
and broken King. Everything of late had gone wrong. His two Sons had died,
his nobles, he thought, had wronged and forsaken him. Now his army was
shattered without striking a blow. For hours he sat alone, sullen and
brooding. Once he had been merry and laughter-loving, now he would hardly
utter a word.
The year was drawing to a close. 'Where will you spend
Christmas?' asked his courtiers and servants, 'so that we may make
'Choose you the place,' he answered sadly, 'for I care
not But this I can tell you, that before Christmas day ye shall be
masterless, and Scotland without a King.'
At last James became so ill that he would neither eat
nor drink, but lay upon his bed, scarcely speaking.
As he lay thus, word was brought to him that a little
girl baby had been born to him. But even that could give him no joy. ' Is
that so?' he said with a sigh. 'It came with a lass, and it will go with a
lass.' This he said, meaning that the crown had come to the Stewart family
through a woman, Marjorie, the daughter of Robert the Bruce, who you
remember married Walter the High Steward. Their son was Robert it., the
first of the Stewart Kings. James now thought that with his little daughter
the crown would pass away from the Stewart family. But it did not.
A few days after this, on the fourteenth of December
1542 A.D., King James V. died. He died because his heart was broken, and he
did not care to live. He was only thirty years old. He had been stern, and
perhaps cruel, to the nobles, and had made many enemies among them. But the
people loved him. To the poor, his palace gates were ever open No one in
poverty or distress ever came to him in vain, so that he was called the King
of the Commons. During his reign, he had sailed all round his kingdom, going
even farther than his father had done. He had made wise laws, he had
encouraged trade and learning, and in every way tried to be a good King.
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