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The History of Glasgow
Chapter LIV - Duke of Chatelherault, Bailie of Regality—Protection to Archbishop —Progress of Reformation—Attacks on Churches and Monasteries—Treaty with England—Return of French Army—Departure of Archbishop Beaton—Meeting of Parliament

ARCHBISHOP BEATON having, with consent of his chapter, of new constituted the Duke of Chatelherault, and his heirs, bailies of the barony and regality of Glasgow, for the space of nineteen years, the Duke on 6th February, 1557-8, granted to the archbishop a bond of maintenance in the same terms as that given to Archbishop Dunbar in 1547. [Antea, pp. 373-4; Glasg. Chart. i. pt. ii. pp. 1-6.] Reference is made to "this perillous and dangerous tyme, quhair detestabil heresies ryses and increasis in the diocy of Glasgow"; and the duke undertook to repress these to the utmost of his power. Lands, servants and tenants were to be protected; and in the military phraseology of "bands of manrent" he became bound "to ryde, mantene supply and fortifie and tak afald part" with the archbishop and the chapter, in all their good, honest and lawful matters, actions and quarrels, "and speciallie sail assist and concur with him and tham in expelling of heresies within the diocy and punising of heretykis."

In the preceding December the lords of the congregation had issued their manifesto of Protestantism and the struggle between the adherents of the old faith and the propagators of the new was approaching the final stage. The Queen-Regent was petitioned for immediate reform in ecclesiastical affairs, but no impression was made in that quarter, and as for the spiritual authorities they committed the fatal blunder of putting the venerable WalterMill to death by burning on a charge of heresy. This was on 28th April, 1558, and thenceforth Protestant preachers became more energetic and popular than ever. The Roman Catholic clergy were defied and on account of the increasing number of their opponents became powerless to punish transgressors. On 1st January, 1558-9, a manifesto called the "Beggars Summons," containing an incisive indictment of the Friars and Clergy, and purporting to come from all cities, towns and villages of Scotland, was found placarded on the gates of every religious establishment in Scotland.

On 9th February, 1558-9, Letters in name of the Queen-Regent were ordered to be proclaimed at the market crosses of the burghs of Linlithgow, Glasgow, Irvine and Ayr, charging the lieges therein that none of them should take upon hand to commit, attempt or do any injury or violence to or disturb the service used in the churches, strike, menace or " bost " priests, or eat flesh in Lent, under the penalty of death. [L. H. Treas. Accounts, X. p. 416.] This proclamation, similar to that sent to other burghs, is highly significant of the state of feeling prevalent at the time.

A Provincial Council of the clergy was summoned to meet in the house of the Dominican Friars at Edinburgh, on 1st March, 1558-9, to deal with the religious difficulty, and at this council, for attendance at which Archbishop Beaton had called his suffragans and diocesan clergy, admirable resolutions and decrees were passed, but it was then too late to avert the threatened change. [Statutes of the Scottish Church (S.H.S. No. 54) PP. 149-91.]

John Knox finally returned to his native country on 2nd May, 1559, about which time the protestant preachers had been summoned to appear before the Regent and answer for their persistency in spreading the new opinions. Postponement of the proceedings had been negotiated by a large body of sympathisers assembled at Perth, but unexpectedly, in consequence of the non-appearance of the accused, sentences of outlawry were pronounced against them. This brought on a climax. After a sermon on the idolatries of Rome and the Christian duty of ending them, preached by Knox in the parish church of Perth, on 11th May, the church was stripped of its images and ornaments, not "a monument of idolatry" being left in the building. The "rascal multitude" then took up the work, attacking the places of the Dominicans and Franciscans and the Charterhouse Abbey, and within a couple of days only the walls of these buildings remained. Destruction of church buildings also took place at St. Andrews in the beginning of June and similar excesses were witnessed elsewhere, and notwithstanding negotiations and temporary arrangements it was at last recognized that between the Regent and her revolted subjects there could be no compromise. We have no specific information as to what was happening in Glasgow during the summer months of this year, but it may be assumed with regard to the cathedral at least that so long as the Duke of Chatelherault steadfastly observed his undertaking to the archbishop and the chapter, both the building and its contents would be efficiently protected from injury.

A considerable accession to the Reformers' cause was gained when the Earl of Arran, eldest son of the Duke of Chatelherault, forced to flee from France by reason of his Protestant sympathies, joined the lords of the congregation when assembled at Stirling in September, 159. Nor was this all. As the result of interviews with the duke himself, at Hamilton Palace, the lords secured his co-operation also: and being thus supported and having raised a force of about 8,000 men the insurgents entered Edinburgh with the intention of laying siege to Leith which the Regent had fortified and garrisoned with 3,000 trained soldiers, most of whom had been brought from France. But in their few encounters with the Regent's forces the Reformers were not successful, and about the end of November it was arranged that Chatelherault, Argyle, Glencairn and the Lords Boyd and Ochiltree were to make their headquarters in Glasgow, while Arran and others, including John Knox, were to act from St. Andrews as their centre.

It has been stated that while this contingent was in Glasgow the religious houses were sacked and plundered, but no definite information on this subject is available. The place of the Blackfriars is not heard of as their residence subsequent to that period, though the church, needing and getting repairs, seems to have been continuously used. Of the Greyfriars' place or monastery, as it was sometimes called, nothing is known between the outbreak of 1559 and the middle of the following year, by which time the buildings, if not destroyed, were at least deserted by their former occupants. Ina protocol dated 19th June, 1560, James Baxter, one of the Friars, is mentioned as having been "ejected," and in another protocol, ten days later in date, the place itself is referred to in the past tense, thus indicating that the building had either been removed or deserted. [Glasg. Prot. Nos. 1370, 1374.] The churches of St. Tenew, Little St. Kentigern and St. Roche are not traced as in use for religious services subsequent to June, 1559, and the Collegiate Church of St. Mary and St. Anne, a comparatively new structure, had to be renovated before being used as a protestant place of worship about thirty years after the Reformation.

In a judgment pronounced by the lords of council and session on 7th June, 1578, it is stated that before the month of August, 1559, " the haill places of Freris within this realme wes demoliscit and cassin downe and the conventis quhilkis maid residence within the samin wer dispersit." [Lib. Coll. etc. p. lxvi. The Grey Friars got their usual gift of herrings from the king subsequent to ist November, 1559 (Glasg. Prot. No. 2291), but it does not necessarily follow that their Glasgow buildings were occupied by the Friars at that time.] This deliverance need not be accepted as literally accurate though perhaps correctly narrating the early dispersion of the Glasgow friars. Some of the buildings throughout the country must have remained in a more or less perfect condition, because in an order by the Privy Council dated 15th February, 1561-2, giving directions regarding "the places of freris, as yet standand undemolissit," it was indicated that Glasgow was one of the towns in which such buildings were still standing and the magistrates were authorised to uphold the same for the benefit of the town. [Privy Council Reg. i. p. 202.]

After the fierceness of the earlier ravages was somewhat allayed the further demolition of buildings was strongly discouraged. In August 1560, a sort of circular was sent by the lords of the congregation to certain persons in different districts, requiring them to pass to the kirks within their bounds " and tak doun the haill images thereof and bring them furth to the kirkyard and burn them openly, and siclyke cast doun the altars, and purge the kirk of all kinds of monuments of idolatry; and this ye fail not to do, as ye will do us singular empleasure ; and so commits to the protection of God. Fail not but ye tak good heed that neither the desks, windocks, nor doors be onyways hurt or broken, either glassin work or iron work." [Hill Burton's History of Scotland, iii. p. 354.] It is, therefore, probable that the cathedral and all the other churches in the city were cleared of their remaining altars, relics and ornaments, either by the churchmen themselves, who removed them for safety, or by the unsparing Reformers in their zeal for the suppression of idolatry.

In the month before this circular was issued Glasgow cathedral was probably in a deserted and dismantled condition. On 19th July, when the archbishop was on his way to France, a chaplain acting as procurator for the newly appointed rector of Govan, appeared in presence of the subdean, at the outside of the cathedral, produced letters from the archbishop and asked institution to his prebend. The subdean received the letters and came to the door of the choir and chapter-house but could not gain admittance. Neither could he get the surplice, cape, and other usual ornaments for such a ceremony, but symbolic possession was given by the subdean delivering a book to the procurator who thereupon protested that the rector had thus obtained lawful institution to his benefice. [Glasg. Prot. No. 1382,]

Meanwhile national events of momentous importance had occurred. The Queen-Regent had taken possession of Edinburgh two days after the lords of the congregation quitted the city, though the castle remained in the hands of Lord Erskine, the governor. Reinforcements arrived from France, enabling her army to take the field against the Reformers, who were by that time almost abandoning hope of a successful issue to their cause. But the negotiations they had been carrying on with Queen Elizabeth resulted in a compact which completely turned the scale in their favour. By this Treaty, concluded on 27th February, 1559-60, it was agreed that an English army should enter Scotland to assist in driving the French soldiery out of the kingdom.

On the approach of the united forces the Queen-Regent, then in an infirm state of health, retired to Edinburgh Castle, where she died on 10th June. By this time all parties were eager for peace, and on 6th July it was arranged that the Leith fortifications should be demolished, that the French soldiers should leave the country, that till the return of Queen Mary the government should be entrusted to a council of twelve persons, of whom the Queen was to appoint seven and the estates five, and that the estates of the realm should convene and hold a parliament in the ensuing month of August. In the second or third week of July the French army, accompanied by the archbishop of Glasgow, embarked at Leith, on the return to their own country and the English army departed towards Berwick. Authorities differ as to the precise date of the French army's departure from Leith, but some day between 13th and 19th July is usually given.

It must have been during the period that Archbishop Beaton was with the army in Leith fort that the muniments, images, jewels and ornaments, taken by him to France, were removed from the cathedral. From the time when the destruction of church property was commenced, and specially after the Duke of Chatelherault joined the lords of the congregation, he would naturally be apprehensive for the safety of these treasures and no doubt the strong fort at Leith was regarded as the securest place of custody within reach. Transmission was easy as the well-known old thoroughfare from Glasgow to Linlithgow's port of Blackness was open, and thence the communication by water to Leith port was well within the regent's command. It is not likely that there was at first any intention of taking the muniments farther than Leith, but as events turned out there was no alternative to their removal to France if the archbishop's control over them was to be continued.

There are no contemporary accounts containing a connected narrative of the archbishop's movements during the last year of his residence in this country, but some statements have obtained currency in the pages of various chroniclers which may be accepted as at least approximately accurate. Thus at the time when the western members of the "congregation" took up their quarters in Glasgow, in November, 1559, it is said that the Duke of Chatelherault caused the images and altars in the churches there to be removed and that he, with the earls of Argyle and Arran, occupied the archbishop's castle and began to fortify it. Archbishop Beaton along with Archbishop Hamilton of St. Andrews, had by that time " declared themselves openly with the French " and obtained the shelter afforded by the garrison at Leith fort. When the news from Glasgow of the occupation of the castle reached the Queen-Regent she sent French troops, along with the archbishop, and they soon recovered possession of the buildings which had been seized and then returned to Leith. It may have been on this if not on an earlier occasion that Beaton removed his valuables to Leith, including that mass of registers and charters without the use of which the history of Glasgow from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries would, in many parts now clearly expiscated, have been as vague as that of the years leading back to the time of St. Kentigern.

The leaders of the congregation having resumed possession of the castle, it was again in their hands in March when the Queen-Regent sent a large force of foot soldiers and horsemen to attack the garrison. As related in a letter from the duke, dated 21st March, 1559-6o, the soldiers left in the Bishop's castle and " stepill," being outnumbered, surrendered to the French, and on their entry a barrel of gunpowder exploded, killing thirteen men and injuring others. An encounter took place at Glasgow bridge when eight Frenchmen were slain. The attacking forces then left the town, pursued by the earl of Arran and a body of horsemen.

[Calendar of Scottish Papers, i. No. 694 ; Medieval Glasgow, pp. 222-7, and authorities there cited.

A somewhat different account of this raid is given in the Diurnal of Occur-rents (p. 56):—"Upoun the xv day of March, 1559, the Frenchemen past to Glasgow and chaisit the congregatioun furth of the samyne, and remaynit thair twa nychtis, and than come to Linlithgow, quhairin thaj lay quhill the xxvij day of the samyne moneth ; and in thair passing to Glasgow, and returnyng fra the samyne, thai spoulzeit all the cuntrie quhair thair passage lay. And thairefter when thai come to Linlithgw, the Frenchemen was purposit to have past to Hamiltoun for destructioun of the samyne ; but thair come word that the Inglismen was cuming in, quhilk stayit that purpoise."]

After this unsuccessful attack the French troops seem to have been discouraged from further attempts in that direction, and the result of the skirmish may to some extent have hastened their ultimate surrender about three months thereafter.

In accordance with the July arrangement parliament assembled in August. Among a large number of temporal and spiritual lords the duke of Chatelherault, the earl of Arran and the archbishop of St. Andrews were present, but, contrary to the original intention, royalty was not represented. [10 By the 9th article of the Agreement it was provided " that the estates of the realme should convene and hold a Parliament in the month of August next, for which a commission should be sent from the French King and the Queen of Scotland, and that the said convention should be as lawful in all respects as if the same had been ordained by the express commandment of their majesties " (Spottiswoode, i. p. 323). Mary was married to Francis on 24th April, 1558. After the death of Queen Mary of England Francis and Mary styled themselves King and Queen of Scotland, England, and Ireland. Mary became Queen of France on the accession of her husband to the throne, on loth July, 1559. Francis died on 5th December, 1560.]

Glasgow appears in the list of "Commissaris of Burrois," but the name of its representative is not given. Probably Robert Lindsay of Dunrod, who was provost at that time, was the "commissar."

After prolonged discussions parliament passed a series of epoch making resolutions some of which may here be briefly cited. On 17th August the Confession of Faith " profest and believed be the protestants within the realme " was ratified. Seven days thereafter it was ordained that the "Bischope of Rome, called the Paip, half na jurisdiction nor authoritie within this realme" in future; all acts of parliament contrary to the Confession of Faith were annulled; and the saying or hearing of mass was prohibited under penalties involving fines, banishment or death.

Though these statutes as they stand on record were passed with ostensible unanimity, it is said that the acquiescence of the clergy was merely implied by their silence, and that three of the peers declared that they would continue to believe as their fathers before them had believed. For complete formality the consent or ratification of King Francis and Queen Mary was required but was not obtained; and yet with all their defects of irregularity the acts expressed the will of the ruling classes of the nation, and on that account, and specially as they embodied the preponderating opinion and desire of intelligent people, they were thenceforth accepted as the law of the land.

In Glasgow more than in most towns, a city which had grown up under the influence of ecclesiastical rule and with a prominent section of its population belonging to the clerical class, the substitution of the presbyterian system for the spacious observances of the old hierarchy must have been specially trying. On the religious aspect there may have been divergent opinion, but, in the peculiar circumstances of the community, the dislocation of business and of established routine could scarcely have been regarded as otherwise than disastrous. That this was the prevailing view may readily be conceived, and though our knowledge of the common everyday occurrences in the Glasgow of that period is extremely meagre, it is learned from later records that many years elapsed before the inhabitants of the cathedral quarter of the city ceased to lament the interruption to material prosperity directly attributable to the changes introduced at the time of the Reformation.


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