KING JAMES V. had been twice married, both times to
French lady. his first Queen, who was the daughter of the King of France,
only lived about a month after she came to Scotland. He then married another
French Princess, called Mary of Guise. Her little baby daughter, who was
also called Mary, was only seven days old when James died, and she became
Once more the country was without a real head, and the
quarrels and struggles for power among the great nobles became very bitter.
There were two great parties. The Queen mother, Mary of Guise, and a great
churchman called Cardinal Beaton were at the head of one party, and the Earl
of Arran, who was chosen to be Regent, at the head of the other. The Roman
Catholics followed Mary and Cardinal Beaton; the Protestants followed the
Earl of Arran.
Henry of England pretended to be very sorry when he
heard of the death of King James. But he was not really sorry, for he now
saw a new way of joining England and Scotland together. He proposed that the
little baby Queen should be married to his son Edward.
Of course a little baby could not be married, but
Henry wanted the Scottish people to promise that when she was old enough,
she should marry his son.
The Scottish people did not love the English, but the
Regent and many of the nobles had become Protestants, and it seemed to them
that it would be a wise thing for their little Queen to marry a Protestant
Prince. So it was agreed that when Mary was old enough, this marriage should
take place. But the Queen mother, and Cardinal Beaton, and all those who
followed them, did not like the arrangement at all.
Henry, however, was not content with this promise. He
wanted to get possession of the little Queen, and asked the Scottish people
to send her to England. The Scots would not hear of this, and said she must
not leave Scotland until she was at least ten years old. Then, as Henry
still went on trying to get possession of Mary, the nobles took back their
promise, and said she should never be married to Prince Edward at all.
This made King Henry so angry, that he gathered his
ships and men of war, and sent them to fight against Scotland. The Regent
was a weak and foolish man, easily pulled this way and that, and never ready
for anything. He ought to have known that Henry would be angry, and he might
have been prepared. But he did nothing.
One bright May morning, a crowd of white sails
appeared in the Forth. The people watched anxiously, wondering what ships
they might be. Soon they saw the royal standard of England fluttering in the
breeze, and knew that they had to do with their old enemy. Then cannon
boomed, and the red fires of war blazed, till the fairest lands of Scotland
were blackened wastes. It was a rough wooing. Too rough to suit the
Scotsmen, and not rough enough to conquer them. For two years the war went
on, the French helping their old friends, and at last peace was made.
Cardinal Beaton now became very powerful, and really
ruled the land. But the Protestants were growing stronger and stronger. The
Cardinal hated the Protestant religion, and tried in every way to stop it
from spreading among the people. By his orders, George Wishart, one of the
boldest of the Protestants, was hanged and his body burned at St. Andrews,
opposite the Cardinal's palace, Beaton himself sitting upon the walls and
watching Wishart die.
This, and many other cruel acts, roused the hatred of
the Protestant party, and three months later, sixteen men rushed one morning
into the palace, and murdered the Cardinal.
Many people even of the Protestant party were angry
and grieved at this action. Yet they were glad that the proud, cruel
Cardinal was dead.
'Although the loon is well away
The deed was
they said. And cruel though he was, Cardinal Beaton
had helped to keep Scotland out of the clutches of Henry VIII.
Soon after this, Henry viii. died, and again the
English people tried to force the Scottish people to let Queen Mary marry
Prince, now King, Edward. Another great army was sent into Scotland, and a
terrible battle was fought in 1547 A.D., at a place called Pinkie, near
Edinburgh. in this battle the Scots were defeated. It was the last time that
they were ever defeated by the English in a great battle. But this defeat,
instead of making the Scots agree to allow Mary to marry Edward, made them
more determined than ever not to allow it.
All this time the little Queen, around whom there had
been so much fighting, for whose sake so many brave men had died, knew
nothing at all about it. She played in her nursery, or in pleasant gardens,
with four other little girls, who like herself, were all called Mary. She
was sent from place to place for safety, and her little friends always went
with her. Now it was decided to send her to France, where she would be quite
safe from the English.
So the Queen mother kissed her little daughter, who
was now six years old, and sent her away with her four little friends to the
court of France.
Some time after this, Mary of Guise, the Queen mother,
was made Regent, instead of the weak Earl of Arran. She was a clever woman,
but she made many of the nobles angry, by giving the chief posts to
Frenchmen. On the whole, however, the land was more peaceful than it had
been for some years.
Meanwhile the little Queen was growing up in France.
Far away from the sounds of war and strife, she led a gay and happy life.
Princes and princesses are sometimes very lonely. But
little Queen Mary was not lonely. Besides her friends, the four Scottish
Manes, she had as companions, more than thirty French princes and
princesses, with whom she learned her lessons and played about. She was so
pretty, and so graceful, and so clever, that every one loved her. A great
lady wrote of her, that 'This small Queen of Scots has only to smile, in
order to turn all French heads.'
Mary was taught to sing, and to play, and to dance, to
ride and to hunt. She was also taught to sew and to embroider, and she could
speak and write Latin and several other languages. So, sometimes at the gay
French court, sometimes in some sunny palace garden, the days passed
peacefully and happily for the Queen and her four Manes. Then, when the
Queen was fifteen, she was married to the Dauphin, the eldest son of the
King of France.
Mary was now quite old enough to go home to Scotland
to rule her own country; but she did not go. Among the many things that she
had been taught, no one had thought of teaching her that a Queen must work,
and think, and live, for her people. So Mary stayed at the gay French court
with her husband, the Dauphin, leaving her mother to govern Scotland.
Then the King of France died, and the Dauphin became
King, and Mary Queen, of France as well as of Scotland. And Mary called
herself Queen of England too, and used the royal arms of England. Her cousin
Elizabeth, was now upon the throne of England, but Mary said she had a
better right to the throne than Elizabeth. She never tried, however, to make
the English people give her the crown, and calling herself Queen of England
was merely an empty show. But it made Elizabeth very angry. So instead of
loving each other, these two cousins, ruling over neighbouring countries,
hated and despised each other.
But while Mary smiled and danced in France, dark and
difficult days were coming upon Scotland. The Queen Regent was a Roman
Catholic, and more and more of the Scottish nobles were becoming
Protestants. Although the Regent tried to be friends with these Protestant
nobles, it became every day more difficult. As the Protestants grew
stronger, the Roman Catholics urged the Queen Regent to persecute and
destroy them. The Protestant nobles, or Lords of the Congregation, as they
came to be called, began to be afraid that the Queen Regent meant to take
away the freedom of Scotland, and make the land into a French province. At
last these feelings grew so bitter, that war broke out. This war was called
the war of Reformation, or the war of the Congregation.
Chief among the leaders of the army of the
Congregation was a man called Knox. He was neither a soldier nor a noble,
but a preacher. He marched up and down Scotland preaching fiery sermons,
stirring up the people, till they tore down the altars and images in the
churches, and often, I am sorry to say, ruined the beautiful old churches
French soldiers helped the Queen Regent and the
Catholics; and the Lords of the Congregation, finding that they were not
strong enough, asked Queen Elizabeth to send soldiers to help them. This
Elizabeth did. So for the first time was seen the strange sight of an
English army marching into Scotland, and being welcomed by the Scots. For
some time the war went fiercely on, but the Queen Regent suddenly died, and
soon afterwards the war came to an end.
The French soldiers were sent back to their own
country in English ships, and the Scots, who no longer wanted the help of
the English, accompanied them to the Border, and there said good-bye to
their dangerous friends.
Then a Parliament was called. This was a strange
Parliament, for instead of making and discussing the laws of the land, they
made and discussed the laws of faith and religion, and made new rules for
the governing of the Church. This Parliament declared that the Pope had no
more power over the Church of Scotland, and it was made a crime for any one
to read or listen to a Roman Catholic service. Thus, by one stroke as it
were, the Reformation in Scotland was made complete.
When Mary heard of what this Parliament had done, she
was very angry, for she was a Roman Catholic and loved the Roman Catholic
Church. 'I am your Queen,' she said, 'or so you call me. But you do not use
me so. You have done what pleased yourselves.' The Parliament was no
Parliament, she said, because it had been called without the consent of the
Queen. So she would not agree to anything it had passed. It might have ended
in war between the Queen and her people, but just at this time Mary's
husband, the King of France, died. As long as he lived, Mary was of great
importance in France. Now that he was dead, and another King upon the
throne, she found that the French people did not want her any more. She felt
lonely and deserted, and so she resolved to go home to her own people; and
she got on board a ship and sailed away to Scotland. But she found it very
hard to leave France, where she had been so happy. She knew little about
Scotland, and she was not sure if she would find friends there. She was only
nineteen, and she was going away for ever from the land and people she had
All day long, she leaned against the side of the ship
watching the shores of France grow dim in the distance. When night came, she
would not go down into her cabin, but ordered a bed to be brought on deck
for her. it was a warm August night, there was no wind to fill the sails, so
the ship lay becalmed. Very early in the morning, the Queen awoke to see
faintly still the shores of France. But the wind sprang up, and soon the
last outline faded away. Farewell, beloved France,' she cried, as tears
filled her eyes, 'farewell, I shall never see thee more.'