THE HISTORY SCOTLAND UNDER THE HOUSE OF STUART.

VOLUME I.

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THE HISTORY OF SCOTLAND FROM THE ACCESSION OF THE HOUSE OF STUART TO THAT OF MARY.

WITH APPENDIXES OF ORIGINAL PAPERS.

BY JOHN PINKERTON.

IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. I.

LONDON: PRINTED FOR C. DILLY, IN THE POULTRY.

M DCC XCVII.

PREFACE.

WITH a considerable degree of anxiety the author at length delivers to the public candour the greatest labour of his life.

The plan of this work being in some respects new, it may not be unnecessary to indicate the causes of the arrangement. The characters of the monarchs are delineated at the commencement, not at the close, of their reigns; because in the most eminent historical productions, when other personages ascend the scene, they are thus introduced, and recommended to the reader's attention, as he becomes more interested in the events by a previous acquaintance with the actors. In the other mode the mind seems to feel some defect in gratification, some desire to reperuse the reign, in order to mark its correspondence with the character: nor can any just cause be assigned why the princes should, in this respect, be distinguished from the other chief personages. Nor is the private personal character of a monarch always to be discerned in the [Page vi]public fortunes of his sovereignty, often the machina­tions of ministers and parties, though it doubtless have such influence as to deserve great attention: and modern history not permitting such variety of rhetoric and digression, as the ancient classical models afford, it becomes the more important to preserve its legal wealth unviolated, and to diversify the chronicle of wars and treaties by ethic portraiture, by delineations of men and manners. Yet in this arrangement of the characters it becomes indispensable, that the reign be first composed with complete candour, from the most genuine and unbiassed sources, and meditated in all its relations of time, place, and circumstances, before a just estimate can be prefixed.

Another novelty is the Retrospect, interposed at appropriated epochs, of the state of the country in civilization, government, laws, tactics, agriculture, commerce, literature, and the arts, during a preceding period. The classical page of history, from the age of Herodotus to the latest voice of expiring Rome, is illuminated with such researches, though commonly presented in the form of digressions; but they are certainly deserving of a separate and peculiar nich in the temple of memory. At the same time it would be rash too far to depart from the models venerated [Page vii]by the wisdom of ages; or to forget that the preser­vation of national events is the allotted province of history. These sketches must therefore be kept in due subservience to the main design, least by an in­judicious exuberance of extraneous matter the very nature and name of history perish; and the grandest records of human instruction, the most pleasing pages of general entertainment, become cumbrous volumes of reference, chained to the groaning shelves of libra­ries. Sufficiently difficult, if performed with a due sense of its importance, is the task of the historian; and he needs little to encroach on other departments of science, upon which for him to dilate would be as absurd as if he were to give the natural history of the animals, and plants, of a kingdom. But when re­stricted within proper bounds, and in some imitation of classical practice, these sketches may be regarded as not only among the most instructive and interesting parts of history, but as an agreeable variety and re­lief from the less diversified series of modern events. The author was happy to find that his ideas on this topic completely corresponded with those of the late Mr. Gibbon, who was pleased warmly to express his ap­probation of this part of the plan, of its arrangement, and of the space allotted to it, as calculated, not to [Page viii]encumber and oppress the genuine province of history, but to variegate, enliven, and adorn*.

In the important and interesting division of Scotish history, now before the reader, no pioneer had arisen to clear the way; and the author soon found that the carelessness and inaccuracy, with which it had been treated, exceeded any previous expectation he could have formed. Scarce a step could be advanced, with­out some doubt arising in fact, or in chronology, so that the information of a paragraph is often the labour of a dissertation. The most skillful will be the first to pardon any mistakes that may remain; and the candour of all is requested for an attempt derived from so many new sources, so many manuscript mate­rials, that after every care, and attention, not a few errors may have escaped notice.

Had the author's abilities been equal to his ambition, it was his object and wish, to have rendered the work [Page ix]so complete a model of modern history, so perspicuous, interesting, various, animated, and elegant, as to merit general approbation, as to appear on the toilette as well as in the library: while at the same time, the events, chronology, references, and appendixes, should present an exactness impenetrable by the sharpest spear of the sternest antiquary. Vain hopes! His less san­guine expectations may yet claim the humble merits of patience and labour, the nurses not the parents of genius—may descend from the impervious mountains of ability into the vale of accuracy. Yet even accuracy is not the meanest merit of the historian, though to attain it somewhat too much may perhaps be found to be here sacrificed, in minute notes from diplomatic resources: but in excuse the reader will remember that this par­ticular division of the Scotish history had never before been attempted by any writer versed in common au­thentication, while Sir David Dalrymple, Dr. Robertson, and other learned and able authors, have minutely il­lustrated the preceding and succeeding periods. Such notes are not indeed interesting to the general reader, but they occupy little space—and the learned will not blame even a superstitious regard to accuracy and il­lustration, where much confusion and obscurity had before prevailed: nor can the author be justly censured for the cruel necessity of being his own pioneer, of [Page x]proceeding as in an American forest, with most cautious steps through the swamps, and earnestly clearing his way amid the brambles and thickets of perplexity and error.

Not to mention the innumerable new materials used in the various reigns, that of James V, in particular, is almost wholly composed from the original letters of the chief actors; and is perhaps the first attempt of the kind in any language, a few references to such docu­ments having hitherto satisfied the ambition of truth and accuracy. On a comparison with preceding ac­counts, the reader will judge how much the modern history of all states might be verified, and improved, by such a plan; and how many gross errors remain in the most celebrated pages of history. The task is in­deed laborious, but what is temporary labour when compared with eternal truth?

It is a trite remark that an historian should belong to no sect, and no party: with whatever severity and modesty he may estimate his efforts, still his labours, however humble, must in their very nature appeal to posterity; and to pollute his pages with the faction of the day, would be to violate his own dignity, and re­ject his best reward. This work, begun long before [Page xi]that change which produced the present opinions and commotions in Europe, was completed in a silent in­attention to them; and every sentiment would have been the same, if the publication had taken place ten years ago.

Amid times of singular difficulty, amid objects of far superior importance, should these volumes be re­ceived with favour, it would be the author's ambition to complete his design, by composing on the same plan the History of Scotland, from the earliest accounts to the accession of the house of Stuart. In twenty-four books, comprized in two similar volumes, for the do­cuments being more rare the divisions would be more brief, he would arrange the materials contained in his Enquiry into the early part, and the succeeding Annals of Lord Hailes, with numerous important additions and illustrations. The materials for this part are nearly complete; and it would give the author great satisfac­tion to be encouraged in presenting at length an au­thentic and legitimate history of his country, disen­cumbered from those clouds of fable and error, which have so long exposed it to neglect or contempt.

From the reign of Mary to the union of the crowns, and of the kingdoms, so much has been done, that [Page xii]little it would seem remains for future labour. Yet the untouched manuscript materials might occupy two or three years in the perusal; and perhaps not a few dis­coveries might be made by indefatigable assiduity. The best form of such a work might be, one decade of history to the union of the crowns, and one of annals to that of the kingdoms: any succeeding events might appear in a chronological abstract, at sufficient length to accompany the general history of a kingdom.

It only remains to admonish the reader, before he proceed to the perusal of this work, that the letter O, prefixed to a reference, implies that the paper is the Original, either written or signed, sealed or dictated, by the party; and that C is the mark of a Copy, generally contemporary, always ancient.

CONTENTS OF THE FIRST VOLUME.

  • BOOK I. CONTAINING THE REIGN OF ROBERT II. CONSIDERATIONS on the accession of the House of Stuart, and its state at the time—character of Robert II—claim of Douglas—transac­tions with France and England—parliament—war with England—Ber­wick taken and retaken—expedition of Nottingham—incursions—truce—Lancaster in Scotland—league with France—parliament—French troops arrive—war with England—expedition of Richard II—Scots attack England—battle of Otterburn—Fife Regent—truce—death of Robert Page 1
  • BOOK II. CONTAINING THE REIGN OF ROBERT III. Character of Robert III—disorders in the highlands—truce with England—feuds—title of Duke—war with Henry IV—expedition of that king—Rothsay's character and marriage—defection of March—incursions—parliament—murder of Rothsay—incursions—battle of Homildon—cruelty of Henry Percy—murder of Drummond—siege of Coklaws—captivity of prince James—Northumberland's rebellion—death of the king Page 45
  • [Page xiv] BOOK III. CONTAINING THE REGENCIES OF ROBERT, AND MURDAC. DUKES OF ALBANY. Character of Albany—March returns—a heretic burnt—Jedburgh taken—mutual ravages—insurrection of Donald lord of the Isles—battle of Har­law—university of St. Andrew's sounded—Henry V of England—incur­sions—disgraceful expedition of Albany—his death—Murdac regent—treaty for the ransom of James—affairs of the Scots in France Page 85
  • BOOK IV. CONTAINING THE REIGN OF JAMES I. Character of James I—parliament—execution of Albany, his sons, and Lennox—parliament—commercial negotiation with Flanders—parlia­ments—imprisonment of highland chiefs—representatives for shires—treaty with France—insurrection of Alexander lord of the Isles—his sub­mission—commercial treaty with Flanders—parliament—truce with Eng­land—commotions in the highlands—English proposals—heretic burnt—March confined—parliament—death of Mar—Margaret of Scotland wedded to the Dauphin—siege of Roxburgh—parliament—assassination of James Page 108
  • BOOK V. A RETROSPECT OF THE STATE OF SCOTLAND, DURING THE REIGNS OF ROBERT II, AND III, AND JAMES I. Sect. 1. State of the people, and of civilization—2. Government, laws, tactics—3. Agriculture, useful arts—4. Commerce, money, naviga­tion—5. Ecclesiastic history, literature, language—6. Ornamental arts, manners, dress Page 143
  • BOOK VI. CONTAINING THE REIGN OF JAMES II. Minority and regency—truce with England—Crichton, Livingston, and Douglas—marriage of the queen dowager—execution of Douglas—mar­riage treaty with Bretagne—power of Douglas—fall of Crichton and Livingston—death of the dauphiness, and the queen dowager—execution of Livingston—English incursions—battle of Sark—marriage of James, his character and active authority—parliament—affairs with Douglas—his [Page xv]treasons—murder of Maclellan—Douglas stabbed by the king—com­motions allayed—tranquility—university of Glasgow founded—grand re­bellion of Douglas—quelled—conflict at Arkinholm—death of Moray and Ormond—parliament—James invades England—truce—parliament—siege of Roxburgh—death of James Page 186
  • BOOK VII. BEING THE FIRST PART OF THE REIGN OF JAMES III. Minority of James III—regency—Henry VI and his queen in Scotland—Berwick acquired—house of Angus rivals the former power of Douglas—war with England—truce—death of Mary of Gelder—of bishop Kennedy—Boyds in favour—parliaments—Mary the king's sister wedded to Sir Thomas Boyd earl of Arran—marriage treaty with Denmark—Orkneys ceded to Scotland—Margaret of Denmark arrives—fall of the Boyds—character of James—parliament—reflections on some despotic measures—parliament—St. Andrews an archbishopric Page 246
  • BOOK VIII. BEING THE SECOND, AND LAST, PART OF THE REIGN OF JAMES III. Transactions with England and Burgundy—marriage treaty with Ed­ward IV—commencement of English influence in Scotland—forfeiture of Ross—parliament—character of Albany and Mar—Albany's escape—death of Mar—war with England—parliaments—Albany in England—Glocester's invasion—plot—execution of the royal favourites—James confined—truce—deliverance of James—Albany's treason and flight—Margaret the king's sister weds Crichton—parliament—Douglas a cap­tive—negotiations with Richard III—impolicy of James—death of Mar­garet of Denmark—parliament—marriage indenture—confederacy against James—conflict at Blackness—battle at Sauchy—death of the king Page 278
  • BOOK IX. A RETROSPECT OF THE STATE OF SCOTLAND, DURING THE REIGNS OF JAMES II, AND III. Sect. 1. State of the people, and of civilization—2. Government, laws, tactics—3. Agriculture, useful arts—4. Commerce, money, navigation—5. Ecclesiastic history, literature, language—6. Ornamental arts, man­ners, dress Page 338
APPENDIX.
  • [Page xvi]No I. Letter from the Earl of Douglas and Mar to Richard II, probably in 1377 Page 441
  • No II. Extracts from the Chamberlain's Roll, anno 1377 Page 442
  • No III. Annabella queen of Scotland to Richard II, 28th May 1394 Page 446
  • No IV. The same to the same, 1st August 1394 Page 447
  • No V. David Prince of Scotland, Earl of Carric, (and afterwards Duke of Rothsay,) to John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster, about 1398 Page 448
  • No VI. George Dunbar Earl of March to Henry IV, 18th February, 1400 Page 449
  • No VII. Christiana Countess of March to Henry IV, probably in 1404 Page 450
  • No VIII. James of Douglas, Warden of the Marches, probably to Henry IV in 1405 Page 451
  • No IX. Commission by Robert duke of Albany, Regent of Scotland, to his em­bassadors sent into England, 26th May 1414 Page 453
  • No X. Indenture between Murdac duke of Albany Regent of Scotland, and Alex­ander earl of Mar, 16th November 1420 Page 454
  • No XI. Annual Revenues of the Hostages for James I, 1424 Page 456
  • No XII. Acts for Taxes, 1424 and 1431 Page 458
  • No XIII. The contemporary account of the murder of James I Page 462
  • No XIV. Coronation Oath, and Oaths of fidelity and homage, 1445 Page 476
  • No XV. Ordinances of War, issued by William earl of Douglas in 1448. Page 478
  • No XVI. Extracts from the Chamberlain's Roll, anno 1449 Page 480
  • No XVII. Letter of James II to Charles VII of France, 8 July, 1455 Page 486
  • No XVIII. Forfeiture of the Douglases, 1455 Page 489
  • No XIX. An Account Charge and Discharge, of John Bishop of Glasgow, Treasurer to James III, for the Year 1474 Page 493
  • No XX. Edward IV to Dr. Legh his embassador in Scotland, 1477 Page 501
  • No XXI. From the old chronicle at the end of Winton, 1482 Page 502
  • No XXII. Pacification of Blackness, 1488 Page 505
  • No XXIII. Present State of the Scotish Records Page 507
  • [No XXIV. Agreement in Parliament, between the Queen Dowager and the Livingstons, 4 Sept. 1439] Page 513
  • [No XXV. Declaration of the Parliament concerning the slaughter of Douglas, 12 June 1452.] Page 516

THE HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.

BOOK I. CONTAINING THE REIGN OF ROBERT II.

Considerations on the accession of the House of Stuart, and its state at the time—character of Robert II—claim of Douglas—transactions with France and England—parliament—war with England—Berwick taken and retaken—expedition of Nottingham—incursions—truce—Lancaster in Scotland—league with France—parliament—French troops arrive—war with England—expedition of Richard II—Scots attack En­gland—battle of Otterburn—Fife regent—truce—death of Robert.

THE accession of the family of Stuart to the Scotish throne deserves the particular attention of the historian. 1371 Among the many families, which have held the regal sceptre in the various kingdoms of Europe, none have been hailed with equal applause, none have encountered equal animosity. This house being at the head of affairs, when many violent effervescences of party arose, the sober voice of candour has been drowned [Page 2]in the tumult of numerous partisans. Truth has sighed when she beheld all the weeds of obloquy, and all the flowers of praise, heaped upon the same monument.

But the period is at length arrived, when the violence both of religious, and of political, party was to suffer a considerable abatement. When universal right of conscience shall order governments to refrain from the private business of the bosom; and shall render even the name of toleration ridiculous by tearing down the veil, which obscured the most sacred prerogatives of mankind. When the interested aims of antiquated parties were to become objects of equal neglect to enlightened nations, who began to see that one party alone could serve them, an union of the people against their corrupters and oppressors.

There is a gloomy bigotry in the spirit of party which is inimical to reason, and which clouds the sunshine of the mind. Absurdity becomes as contagious as a pestilence; and many tenets are objects of belief because they are impracticable to argument. Hence we cease to wonder when we behold the human character, so variable in itself, and so liable to every alteration of time and circumstance, supposed to be constant and immutable in one family only. To the jaundiced eye of party the whole House of Stuart became, as it were, one test of political and religious opinion. Instead of granting, according to the dictates of reason and of fact, that the monarchs of that illustrious family were as various in their characters, and conduct, as those of any other genealogy, and country, faction has been so absurd as to form them into one house of fame, or dispraise. One character alone may indeed be ascribed to the whole fa­mily, in the sacred term of unfortunate: and their proverbial misfortunes as often contradict the political maxim, that want of success is but another expression for defect of prudence, as they confirm the rigorous observation. If one other general [Page 3]remark be allowed, it must be, that most of the princes of this family were better qualified for the enjoyments and elegancies of private life, than for the toil and dazzling bustle of royalty; and had little of that tyrannic splendor which pleases the people so much, because they regard the monarch as the public repre­sentative, and exult when he shews his spirit by trampling upon them. A mild sovereign may receive the appellation of a tyrant, from his yielding some prerogatives, and thus raising hope and resentment because he concedes not more; while, with equal injustice, a despot may secure popular applause, because his royal spirit preserves the tyranny in pure and un­corrupted pomp. To confirm this observation let the houses of Tudor and of Stuart be compared. But after these prepa­ratory remarks, it is now proper to return to the immediate course of the narration.

The sceptre of Scotland passed to the family of Stuart at an unfortunate period for the acceding progeny. Instead of a new sovereign who might interest the wishes of the nation, by the amiable and splendid promises of youth, or excite its con­fidence and ambition by the steady spirit of middle age, the reins of government fell into a hand trembling under the weight of years.

In order to enable the reader to form just ideas concerning this important event, it becomes necessary to explain, as briefly as possible, the origin, and progress, of the family of Stuart; and its actual condition when it ascended the Scotish throne.

The fables of adulation have now passed away, and it is acknowledged that we have no certain evidence concerning this family, till the reign of David I, when Walter the son of Alan appears as Steward 1 of Scotland: and there is room to [Page 4]believe that this genealogical appellation points to the noble and ancient English family of Fitz Alan. Walter was suc­ceeded in his high office by Alan his son; who was followed by the second Walter. No action worthy of the historic page is authentically recorded of these three: and the most important intelligence, which we can obtain from their charters, is the situation of their lands; which were chiefly in that western promontory, washed by the fertile and picturesque river Clyde, and now called the shire of Renfrew, then, and since, the territory of the family, and power, of the Stewards 2. A higher fate awaited Alexander, the fourth Steward of Scotland, who united the adjacent island of Bute to his patrimony by marrying the heiress; for in the year 1255, he appears among the great nobles, who opposed the exorbitant power of the Comyns; and, three years after, is mentioned as one of the [Page 5]regents of Scotland, during the minority of Alexander III; and, in 1263, he commanded the Scotish army at the contest with the Norwegians near Largs 3. James, the next High Steward, was also a regent of Scotland after the unhappy death of Alexander III; shared the fame of Wallace in defence of his country, but soon abandoned him; then resumed the cha­racter and exertions of a patriot, and had the merit of being excepted in the amnesty of Edward I. His age alone seems to have restrained him from assisting the early patriotic endea­vours of Robert I, for he died in 1309, after a life of sixty six years 4.

But the prosperous fortunes of this house moved in a yet higher progress, when Walter, the sixth High Steward, strength­ened and adorned his country. One of the heroes who divided the danger, and the glory, at Bannocburn, his youthful courage, and tried fidelity, were, the following year, rewarded with the largest gift which a subject could receive, in his marriage with the only daughter of his sovereign. His valour, and his abi­lities, were confirmed in the public esteem by the defence of Berwick, and by his government of the kingdom in conjunction with Douglas: and his early death was lamented by a grateful people 5. Robert, the seventh High Steward, was the only [Page 6]issue of Walter and the princess: and to him the crown of Scotland was destined to devolve. Distinguished in early youth by his conduct at the battle of Halidon, by his decisive exertions against Edward Baliol; by the singular praise of being appointed, in conjunction with Murray, governor of Scotland, at the age of eighteen, he did not afterwards frustrate the general expectation 6. Twice sole governor of a fierce and high spirited nation, he confirmed the claim of his birth by the tenor of his actions: and he afterwards ascended the throne, fully experienced in the duties of obedience, and the arts of command.

The actual state of the family, when it became royal, claims our next attention. Rewards for successive services of import­ance, and the dower of the princely bride, had encreased the possessions of the Stuarts to a great number, and extent, in various regions, both in the western and eastern parts of Scot­land 7. Had the territories of Douglas been as detached as those of Stuart, that name had never become formidable to the crown: but chance, and not design, seems to have presided in this distant allotment. The title, and office, of High Steward had succeeded, in France, to the supremacy of the Mairs of the Palace: and in that, and other, countries were soon found too lofty for the ambition of a subject: hence it is not matter of surprize that no territorial dignity was annexed to this dis­tinction, till the year 1359, when the earldom of Strathern devolving into the hands of David II, was by him conferred on Robert, afterwards his successor 8. But, in 1258, Walter, a cadet of the family, had become Earl of Monteith, by [Page 7]wedding the heiress 9; and Sir John Stuart of Bonkill, another cadet, was by David II created Earl of Angus; and he and his heirs held the estate, while the Umfravilles of England grasped at the title for many generations 1. Robert, the Steward, had but one brother, Sir John Stuart of Railstoun, the only issue of his father's posterior marriage with a sister of Graham of Abercorn 2; and this brother sleeps in the silent shades of heraldry: but the family, by the extent of their possessions and connexions, wanted not power to support their just title to the throne. Of all the great Scotish families that of Douglas alone seems to have been equal, and perhaps su­perior, in power. The successor to the sceptre was also for­tified by a numerous progeny, ready to assert and to perpetuate his claim. By his first wife, Elizabeth daughter of Sir Adam More of Rowallan, he had his successor John lord of Kyle, created Earl of Carric by David II; Walter earl of Fife; Robert, by marrying an heiress of his own family, Earl of Menteith, afterwards Earl of Fife likewise, and Duke of Albany; and Alexander of Badenoch Earl of Buchan: besides six daughters, united to the powerful families of March, Lyon of Glamis 3, Hay of Errol, Mac Donald of Ilay and the Isles, Douglas of Nithsdale, Lindsay of Glenesk. Nor was his second wife, Euphemia Ross daughter of the Earl of Ross, unproductive of additional supports to his family, in David afterwards Earl of Strathern; and Walter lord of Buchan, Earl of Athol and Caithness, and of Strathern upon his bro­ther's death, but to be in a future period branded as the mur­derer [Page 8]of James I: and in four daughters, the elder of whom afterwards wedded James earl of Douglas; while the three others were joined to Keith a son of the marshal, and two knights Logan and Swinton 4. The attachment of Robert to the fair sex also appeared from his natural issue by his concu­bines, among which six sons are noted by genealogists; and the Stuarts of Bute, Cairney, and others, are of their de­scendants 5. It was certainly fortunate for the acceding family that it possessed such internal strength at this crisis; but this chance was overbalanced by peculiar disadvantages.

The King was advanced to his fifty fifth year 6; and the weakness of his reign sufficiently testifies that age began, and continued, to freeze abilities, which had formerly flowed in a clear and copious stream. His eldest son and heir, the Earl of Carric, had been maimed by a horse 7, and was lame and weak in body, and of no power of intellect. A personal de­formity, which often arouses superior spirit in an individual, is pernicious to princes, in whom not a defect, but a superiority, of dignity is matter of a general expectation, so deeply rooted in our nature, that savage nations often appoint their sovereigns only from superior personal appearance. This remark must also be applied to Robert II himself, whose eyes, disfigured by imflammation, disgusted the beholders 8. Humanity would [Page 9]pass such topics, did not so much of human history depend on the slightest qualities, or defects of princes.

The person of Robert II was however large and majestic 9. The qualities of his mind it is difficult to mark with precision. The disease of his eyes seems to have induced a desire of pri­vacy, and age a propensity to indolence, and the indolent are always ruled by those around them. War he shunned, and declined the laborious office of a general; but the leaders whom he appointed were well chosen and successful. In the more difficult and more truly glorious arts of peace, he is intitled to considerable praise. The terrors of justice he knew how to deal impartially to the guilty, while he opened every gate of protection to the innocent. His actions proceeded in a solid and rational tenor; and his promise was the exact standard of his performance. Internal discords his equity appeased; and though his own age, and the infirmity of the apparent heir, rendered his reign feeble, yet his wisdom prevented it from being unfortunate. In a word he is little known to history, because he was a good king, and a good man.

Upon the death of David II the states of the kingdom as­sembled at Lithgow; Feb. and their determination appeared una­nimous in the appointment of Robert as successor to the vacant throne 1. But a sudden cloud arose, which threatened all the storms of civil war. William Earl of Douglas unexpectedly claimed the crown, as uniting in himself the dubious preten­sions of Comyn, and the solid title of Baliol. Yet the claim was no sooner made than withdrawn. Our elder historians assert that the strong interests of the Earls of Dunbar and [Page 10]Murray, and the yet stronger of Sir Robert Erskine, keeper of the castles of Dunbarton, Edinburgh, and Stirling, appearing decided for the Steward; induced Douglas to resign his ex­pectation; while the historian of the house of Douglas ascribes the desertion of the claim to its own friends 2. Pretensions, which now strike as vague or usurpative, might not wear that appearance in an age when the rights of succession were fluctuating and undetermined. But prudence certainly did not conspire with ambition upon this occasion, for no previous concert appears, no conciliation of interest; and the claim can only be recommended as a subject of speculation. Had Robert I united his house to that of Douglas, the prosperity of Scotland might perhaps have been more ample under a family that, though subject, shewed a regal spirit; that in war boasts a genealogy of heroes; and that happened to have few of those minorities, which harrassed the kingdom under the Stuarts: but in the more useful honours of peace the latter family seem to have been far superior, and by their merit alone better de­served the sceptre.

Robert, attended by the states, proceeded to Scone, where he was crowned with the usual ceremonies 3: March and, to settle the succession, a solemn act was passed by the king and states, de­claring John Earl of Carric, and Steward of Scotland, un­doubted [Page 11]and apparent heir of the kingdom 4. 1371 27 Mar. To conciliate Douglas, his eldest son was honoured with the hand of Eu­phemia, the King's daughter: and to procure time and oppor­tunity to win the public confidence, before engaging in difficult and important affairs, it was resolved religiously to observe the truce concluded with England, two years before, for the term of fourteen years, and the stated payments due for the ransom of the preceding monarch 5. At the same time, in order to convince France that a change of politics had happened upon the accession of the new family, the treaty with that country was renewed; and it was specially stipulated that, in case of a competition for the Scotish crown, June the King of France should withstand any English influence, and should support the deter­mination of the states of Scotland 6.

[Page 12]Another clause in the same treaty had effects apparently not foreseen, and certainly not wished nor intended. It was agreed reciprocally that the subjects of the allied powers should not serve in the English armies; and different Scotish men, who had, toward the end of the preceding reign, entered into them, in consequence withdrew. This circumstance was considered as an indication of war; and, joined with the jealousy naturally arising from the renewal and amplification of the treaty between Scotland and France, induced the English monarch to use caution and vigilance; and he issued a mandate to the Whop of Durham, 1372 Feb. ordering that all capable of arms, in the north of England should hold themselves in readiness to oppose any Scotish invasion 7.

But to such a weakness had the illustrious reign of Edward III fallen, and so disordered was the machine of his government, that from this period to his death, five years after, it is impossible to pronounce from his disposition that there was peace, or from [Page 13]his exertion that there was war, between the two kingdoms. 1372 The Scotish king endeavoured to cultivate peace by attentive payment of the ransom, though the English sovereign continued to deny his title, and only condescended to use that of "most noble and potent prince our dear Cousin of Scotland;" and when disposed to war, "our adversary of Scotland 8." But in this respect a similar conduct to the French monarch afforded precedent, and consolation.

In a memorable parliament, held at Scone, committees were, 2 Mar. in imitation of the parliament assembled by David II in his fortieth year, appointed for the general administration of justice; and lords of the articles were chosen. The chief statutes are, that no assessors be permitted to fit in the royal council, that no horses be sold into England, though cattle and sheep may; money exported is to pay forty pence in the pound. No sherif, serjand, or mair, is to require presents, or remission of debt. No mandate against the common course of law is to be obeyed, under whatever seal it may be issued. And a long, and severe, ordinance is enacted against murderers, and their abettors 9.

[Page 14]The attention of Robert was again directed to the succession in a parliament held at Scone. 1373 Apr. It was provided that, fail­ing John Earl of Carric and his heirs, Robert Earl of Fife and Monteith. Alexander Lord of Badenoch, David Earl of Strathem, and Walter afterwards Earl of Athol, should, in this order of birth, and their heirs, wear the diadem in case of the failure of immediate heirship in any predecessor 1. This act was prudent in one point of view, as calculated to strengthen the succession, and guard against civil war; but, in another, as the apparent heir was infirm, and had no children at the time, it perhaps lent a fanction and support to the ambition of the second son, which had such violent effects in the following reign.

A few succeeding years must have been peaceful and happy, for they supply no materials to history 2.

But a greater order of affairs opens upon us, 1377 when Richard II succeeds to the English throne. Two wars, pregnant with various and important events, distinguish the latter part of the reign of Robert II; and it is the not unuseful province of history to delineate hostilities in particular, as calling forth the greatest exertions of character and talents, and as lasting [Page 15]beacons to warn mankind against the danger of war their greatest enemy.

An officer of the Earl of March was slain by the English at Roxburgh, then in their possession; and the Earl, after a vain demand of satisfaction, attacked, ravaged, and burned the town, during a fair, and glutted his followers with slaughter, revenge, and spoil. The English borderers retaliated on the lands of Sir John Gordon, who entering England was encountered by Lilburn, whom after a desperate affray he defeated at Carham 3. These border tumults were at length rendered respectable by the interference of the Earl of Northumberland. Arming ten thousand men he proceeded to ravage the lands of March for three days, and returned with considerable booty 4. Excited by this success the Northumbrians, under some infe­rior leader, invaded the weft marches of Scotland; but met with a different reception, few of them escaping to tell the fate of the rest 5. And, if we credit an English historian, the government of his country, alarmed at this misfortune, sent Edmund Mortimer Earl of March to treat with the Scots, on the usual day for settling the disputes of the marches; and the truce was renewed with reluctance, and for a short time 6. Commissions for compromising these disorders were however issued by Richard II, on the twenty seventh day of September this year, and on the first of January following 7.

The revenge of an individual contributed still further to destroy any remaining harmony between the two nations. [Page 16]Mercer a Scotishman, 1378 commanding a small fleet of Scotish French and Spanish vessels, suddenly displayed his motley squadron before Scarborough, and captured some valuable English ships of merchandize, because that his father, a wealthy merchant residing in France, had been taken at sea by some Northumbrians, and imprisoned at that place. The father was a man of importance at the French court, esteemed by Charles the Wise, and his advice followed in many points detrimental to the English, and advantageous to the French, commerce. Walsingham expresses unaffected concern that the Earl of Northumberland had executed justice in soon delivering him without ransom; for, adds he, if he had been ransomed by the common rules he might have enriched the king, and kingdom, with inestimable wealth 8. But though the elder Mercer had been delivered, it would appear that his ships and cargo were not; and that retaliation conspired with revenge to excite his son to this enterprize. The young man, boasting of the exploit, continued to keep the sea, as defying the ma­ritim power of England; till John Philpot, a wealthy and ingenious merchant of London, stung with the disgrace offered to the commerce of his country, fitted out ships of force pro­vided with one thousand men, raised at his own expence, who assaulted and took Mercer, his newly acquired prey, and fifteen Spanish ships which assisted him 9. The Duke of Lancaster, [Page 17]who swayed the councils of the young English monarch, rather checked than applauded the spirit of Philpot; and commissioners were appointed to treat with those of Scotland concerning peace 1. 22 Oct.

It is difficult to discover the real pretext, or occasion, of the capture of the castle of Berwick by the Scots this year; Nov. and the events of this period are not a little embroiled by various and discordant accounts. According to the old English and Scotish writers, this breach of the truce arose from the rashness of a few borderers 2; but, if we believe Froissart, it was the con­sequence of a war, commenced by the determination of the Scotish government. This last account we are disposed to follow; and to infer, from the narrative of it's author, that the counsels of France, which aimed to divert the attention of Richard II from the ambitious views of his grandfather, had a share in stimulating the Scots, already stung with repeated insults, to regard the dubious truce in the same light with the English, and to break it when it suited their convenience 3. The French historian infroms us, that, by direction of Robert II, and his council, a small army was ordered to meet on the borders under the command of Douglas, Murray and Mar. While this host was gradually assembling, and esquire, named Alexander Ramsay, proceeded with forty companions to Ber­wick. Sending a spy to discover the state of the castle, it was found that there was no water in the ditches, and no guard on the walls. Ramsay and his followers immediately planted ladders, scaled the walls, and came to the keep, where the [Page 18]commander was in bed, it being apparently early in the day, and he was killed in attempting to escape. An alarm being given the governor of the town ordered the stop and pillars of the drawbridge to be destroyed; and upon the assailants finding that they could not pass, the governor and his people shouted "Are you there? Remain where you are. You shall not escape without our permission." Ramsay resolved to wait for succour from the army, for Douglas had already marched from Dalkeith to Dunbar 4.

Meanwhile the Earl of Northumberland summoned his array to Berwick; and with ten thousand men besieged the castle, and began a mine. The Scotish barons resolved to raise the siege: and Archibald Douglas, a relation of Ramsay, advanced with a chosen party; but found the English too numerous, and was forced to retire; upon which the castle was taken by assault, and all the Scots slain, except Ramsay who yielded to Lord Percy 5.

The Earl of Nottingham joined Northumberland, and they resolved to fight the Scotish army if it advanced against them, or, if not, to ravage the southern parts of Scotland. A party of three hundred lances and as many archers was detached, under Musgrave the governor of Berwick, to Melrose, while the rest of the English army advanced to a hamlet near Rox­burgh where the Scots lay. Musgrave sent two squires to explore the enemy, who were taken, and discovered the English situation and designs; upon which the Scots resolved to surprize Musgrave, and marching immediately arrived near Melrose at midnight; but a tempest of wind and rain blowing in their faces, they could hardly withstand it's force, and wan­dered [Page 19]from their way. Halting under a wood, and making fires, they remained till dawn, when the tempest abated: and, as they were forced to forage, they had some skirmishes with Musgrave's men who were alike employed; and he determined to advance to the right, in order to join the English army, but the Scots amounting to seven hundred lances, and two thou­sand uncouthly armed, lay in the wood, and intercepted his progress. A conflict being unavoidable Douglas, according to the custom of the times, knighted James his son, and Robert and David, two sons of the king: the battle was quickly de­cided; Archibald Douglas, lighting on foot, and wielding a sword of enormous length which another man could hardly have held, made great slaughter: Musgrave, his son, and many knights, and squires were taken. The Scotish army retired towards Edinburgh with their captives, while Northumberland and Nottingham could not pursue them, because of the tem­pestuous season of the year, and were forced to return, and dismiss their men, while the Scots were rejoicing and ransom­ing their captives at large sums 6. Such is in abstract the account of Froissart, whose native simplicity, and particularity of detail, lead, whenever he is followed, into some length of narration; but it is hoped, not unpleasing, as it paints the spirit and manners of the times. The Scotish chronicles im­pute the defeat and capture of Musgrave to Sir John Gordon; and inform us, that Johnston, and others distinguished them­selves in skirmishes with the English upon the western marches 7.

Though a pestilence now raged in England, 1379 the Scotish borderers continued their inroads, with the usual barbarity of marauders accustomed to rapine and cruelty 8. The embar­rassing [Page 20]affairs of the Duke of Bretagne the English ally, and an indecision which seems to have prevailed in the councils of Richard II at this period, conspired with the pestilence to prevent any exertion to retaliate; as the latter calamity was a sufficient barrier against any important expedition of the Scots.

But in the next year a Scotish vessel, 1380 worth seven thousand marks, being taken by English ships from Hull and Newcastle, the Scots, enraged at the loss, entered England under the Earl of Douglas; and piercing Cumberland and Westmoreland, drove from the forest of Inglewood forty thousand domestic animals of different kinds, which a party conducted to Scotland 9. Douglas with twenty thousand men surrounded the town of Penrith by night, during a fair; ravaged, and burned it, and loaded his army with spoil. Returning by Carlisle they in­tended to attack that city, but learning that the northern counties of England were armed, and advancing, the Scots determined to secure their prey, with which they were too much incumbered to fight with advantage, and continued their march to their own country 1. The pestilence had not quite abated, and it's importation revenged the enemy for their loss; this being the third great attack of this calamity in Scotland, and in which not less than one third part of it's people is said to have perished 2. [Page 21]The Earl of Northumberland meditated an active revenge, till he was prevented by an unexpected order from the king to defer the matter to the determination of the next solemn day for the affairs of the marches 3. But fifteen hundred English, chiefly of Cumberland, advanced into Scotland with fire and sword, till falling into an ambuscade of five hundred foes, on disadvantageous ground, many were slain, or drowned in the Solway in their flight, and some were made captives 4.

Happy it is for the two kingdoms, intended by their situation for perpetual union, that those unceasing inroads, destructive of cultivation and of trade, and which enriched the idle and the bad at the expence of the good and industrious, now only harass the march of the historian; who lost, as in the moving sands of a desert, sighs for the pleasing landscape of peace, or the grandeur of some important scene.

The Duke of Lancaster, who managed the councils of his sovereign, had assumed the title of King of Castile; and de­termined to prosecute his pretensions to that kingdom, arising from his marriage with the daughter of Peter the cruel, by assisting the Portugueze against the reigning prince 5. It was improtant to his purpose that a truce should be established with Scotland, either by the terrors of a decisive war, or by the conciliating respect of an honourable embassy: and he resolved to be himself the bearer of both. With a royal commission to adjust the terms of peace, and with a formidable army, he advanced to borders of Scotland. This armed negociation was successful; for, in answer to his invitation, the bishops of Dunkeld and Glasgow, the Earls of Douglas and March, and [Page 22]Archibald Douglas lord of Galloway, appeared as commissioners from Scotland; and a truce was concluded at Berwick to last for one year 6. Nov. The English, not apprized of Lancaster's original intentions, murmured to see their northern counties consumed by his numerous army: and the expence of the negotiation, which ended in delaying the ransom of David II, and in other concessions, enereased their discontent 7.

According to an agreement made in concluding the truce, 1381 June Lancaster again proceeded to Scotland in the following summer, but only with his usual train; and he was instigated to use his best endeavours for a treaty by a promise of the English council that, if he could confirm a truce for three years, they should assert his pretensions to Castile, and furnish him with a com­petent force to join with that of Portugal 8. Meeting the Earl of Carric, heir of the kingdom, and other Scotish com­missioners, at Alchester near Aytown, an important conference ensued. The Scots complained that, during the truce of four­teen years, many infractions had been made by the English upon their freedom of intercourse and commerce with England, established by that truce; and the fact being denied, they offered to submit the evidence to an equal number of noblemen of both nations: but the English waved the affair, by offering the vague expedient of calling in the mediation of some neigh­bouring sovereign. Lancaster however consented that the payment of any further part of the ransom should be deferred till Candlemas 1383, to which period the treaty was extended; and agreed again to meet the Earl of Carric in July that year 9. The insurrection of Wat Tyler prevented the Duke's imme­diate return to England, he being apprehensive of the fury of [Page 23]the rebels, from his attachment to Wickliff, and other unpopular actions. He proceeded to the castle of Edinburgh, which, as a mark of honour, was given up to him and his attendants; and hi resided there till the subjection of the rebels rendered his return to England secure 1.

A truce of one year concluded between England and France 1383 contributed still further to give a respite to the horrors of war: and as treaties were, in that age, understood only to bind the sovereigns who contracted, and not their heirs, the Scotish king sent an embassy to the succeeding French monarch Charles VI, who engaged when war should recommence between England and Scotland, to send to the latter kingdom one thousand men at arms; a formidable force at that period, in which a few knights in panoply were wont to defeat armies of rude infantry. He also promised a thousand sets of armour for as many Scotish gentlemen; and a sum of money to conciliate the court and nobles to enterprizes certainly foreign to the real interests of their country 2. The ignominious barter of the blood, and prosperity, of the nation for French gold cannot be palliated, but by the confession that it was necessary to maintain an active alliance with France; and that the sums drawn from that country were reputed a compensation to Scotland for being commonly engaged in war solely by her ally. To suppose that any treaty existed, preceding the unhappy and imprudent reign of John Baliol, is to suppose that France was capable of the utmost treachery and impolicy, when she permitted the ruin of Scotland by Edward I; and that the Scots were so [Page 24]improvident as to submit the determination of their crown to an inimical sovereign, instead of their ancient ally 3. And even after the active alliance appears, during the reign of David II, an alliance to be written with the tears, and signed with the blood, of Scotland, scarcely can history mention one war, into which France did not conduct that country. But had Scotland been blessed with a more free and democratic government, her peace, her industry, her learning, her happiness, had not been sacrificed to a corrupt aristocracy; for as to the Monarch, sup­posing that he wished for peace, and had the public interest at heart, how could he at once reject the desire of a necessary ally, and the wishes of an uncontrouled nobility?

The Duke of Lancaster and the Earl of Carric again met; July and the latter agreed to a compensation for some damage done by the Scotish borderers this year to the castle of Wark, and other places in England: but a definitive treaty being again mentioned, Carric declared that he had no powers for that pur­pose; and the conference dissolved without any further renewal of the pacification 4.

The truce being thus permitted to expire, 1384 a war of real importance, and of a singular and interesting complexion, took place. Oct. to July France had made a brief truce with England, after the part both had taken in the Flemish commotions, to last till midsummer this year: but, by some neglect, Scotland had not been included, and this circumstance was esteemed sufficient to justify an invasion of that country. The Duke of Lancaster, and the Earls of Northumberland and Nottingham, with a considerable army, Easter 28 Mar. entered Scotland by Berwick, and ravaged the country up to the walls of Edinburgh, then, as now, the [Page 25]capital city 5: from an amiable regard for a place, which had been his asylum on a recent occasion, Lancaster would not permit the destruction of Edinburgh, but withdrew his army; and, with an inadequate prey, regained England, before the Scots, who were unprepared, could intercept his retreat 6. A few villages were burned in this expedition; but the Scotish houses were then slight huts of wood, and easily refitted: and they found time to remove their cattle, and effects, into the forests, and even to carry off the straw roofs of the houses in the capital, as some security against a conflagration 7. We learn from Froissart that Robert summoned an army, but that the French envoys mean time arrived to notify the truce: although about thirty French knights and esquires, finding no further employ in Flanders, now came to Scotland as a theatre of arms 8. The King wished for peace; but the barons opposed his intentions, and meeting in the church of St. Giles at Edin­burgh resolved on war, and informed the French knights that [Page 26]their spirit should be immediately called into action. Without the avowal of the King an expedition was set on foot, and 15000 of such cavalry as Scotland then had were assembled on the borders; who ravaged the lands belonging to Northumberland, Nottingham, and Mowbray, and returned loaded with spoil, before the English had time to collect any force 9. The Earl of Northumberland ravaged the south of Scotland again; and as soon as he dismissed his army the Scots retaliated; so that the summer passed in mutual inroads 1.

The French knights taking leave, the Scotish barons desired them to send their friends, to enter this new career of glory, by carrying the war into England; and it is said that Jehan de Vienne, Admiral of France, and other potent persons of that country, were instigated by their discourses upon their return, as much as by the recent treaty, to fulfill its conditions next year 2. A resolution pregnant with such ruin to Scotland, as even to threaten the subjugation of the kingdom.

At this time the papal influence, which had increased in Scotland by a bull of Gregory XI against intromissions with the effects of deceased bishops 3, was honoured with an addi­tional support in Wardlaw bishop of Glasgow, who was raited to the rank of Cardinal, and appointed Legate a Latere for Scotland and Ireland with ample powers 4. The commons, who alone constitute a people or nation, seem only to have been regarded as patient objects of increased exactions both by the nobility and clergy. Few other events of importance hap­pened this year. William Earl of Douglas brought Tividale into a state of fidelity, which had been subject to the English since the battle of Durham: he soon after died, and was suc­ceeded [Page 27]by James his son, a genuine heir to the the valour of his family 5. Near Martinmas the Scots gained the castle of Berwick, by bribing the deputy governor; and Lancaster in­duced the English parliament to condemn Northumberland, the warden of the marches, as guilty of criminal neglect, or greater baseness upon this occasion. But the earl reinstated himself in favour, by giving a sum to the Scots, for which they consented to restore the fortress 6.

A singular fluctuation, between war and peace, 1385 now pervaded the distracted counsels of England and France, alike governed by weak monarchs. In the preceding summer the duke of Lancaster for England, the dukes of Berry and Burgundy for France, cardinal Wardlaw and the bishop of Dunkeld, chan­cellor, for Scotland, had met at Leilinghen, between Calais and Boulogne, and concluded a solemn truce; which was after­wards ratified by Robert 7. 3 Jan. Yet this prevented not a renewal of the war in the course of a few months.

Archibald Douglas lord of Galloway, finding that his people were infested by the English garrison at Lochmaban, besieged that castle, which he took and levelled with the ground 8: 4 Feb. but a truce and agreement were nevertheless made between him [Page 28]and the Earl of Northumberland, 1385 15 Mar. and confirmed by the English King 9. To preserve Roxburgh from a similar fate the baron of Graystock was sent as governor with a powerful supply: he was intercepted by the Earl of March at Benrig, the convoy seized, many of his people slain, and he himself led captive to the castle of Dunbar 1.

The national council met at Edinburgh, April but its ordinances were chiefly of a military or a private nature. Charge was given that the noblemen, to whose government certain districts had been committed during the war, should prepare their forces, and order them not to pillage in advancing to the borders: and that John Earl of Carric who, in the council of last November, had taken upon himself the administration of some points of justice, should proceed to the highlands, and call the chiefs into his presence to reform the outrages loudly complained of in those regions. The inhabitants of Tividale, now restored to the Scotish allegiance by Douglas, were ordered to produce their titles 2. This parliament was afterwards prorogued to [Page 29]the twelfth of June, when it issued some regulations concerning the coin 3.

But an event of which there had been no example in Scotish history, and which fortunately was not repeated till the six­teenth century, is to arrest attention by its novelty, and im­portance.

The government of France determined if possible to deliver that country from the repeated invasions of the English, by carrying the war into England from its northern limits, in conjunction with the Scots, and in compliance with the terms of the late treaty. Jehan de Vienne, Admiral of France, a leader of the first talents and distinction, accordingly failed from Sluys in Flanders with a thousand men at arms, May knights and esquires, twelve hundred complete suits of armour for Scotish gentlemen, and a large sum of money 4. France had [Page 30]intended at the same time to attack England on the south with a powerful armament; but this part of the design was aban­doned, after an enormous expence incurred in the preparations 5. Yet her declared intentions, and the vigour and importance of her plans, raised such an alarm in England, that all her power and resources were excited to repell the attack: and the failure of the southern invasion collected the whole tempest upon Scotland, and shook that kingdom to the center. Vienne arrived at Leith with his chosen battalion, which, to use the phrase of Froissart, formed one flower of chivalry; and they were quartered in the villages around Edinburgh, till the King, then in the country, should arrive at that capital. The French historian upon this occasion presents a deplorable picture of the state of Scotland and its people. The poverty of the country, and the barbarism of the nation, appear to have been extreme: the slightest accommodations of life, or even of war, could hardly be procured: every article of iron, or of leather, was imported from Flanders. The French at first laughed, and said that they were happy to know by experience the hardships of penury, and the dark side of a military life; but, as their discontent increased, Vienne could scarcely appease their murmurs. On the other hand the Scots were not less dissatisfied with their guests; they defamed and hated their auxiliaries, as strangers of an unknown speech, as the future sharers of their prey, and as the present consumers of their little property 6.

[Page 31]At length the Scotish king arrived; the French money was distributed among the leading barons 7, the armour allotted to proper wearers, and an expedition was determined. An army of about thirty thousand, mounted on small horses, assembled near Edinburgh, under the command of the Earls of Fife and Douglas; and marched, in conjunction with the French chi­valry, towards Roxburgh. Entering the English territory, they destroyed two small forts, assaulted and took the castle of Wark; and advancing burned several villages in Northumber­land, and ravaged the country from Berwick to Newcastle. But their progress was soon impeded by the tidings that Lan­caster was approaching with a great array; and it was resolved to secure the prey by returning into Scotland. Vienne, dis­satisfied with this retreat, prevailed on the Scots to besiege Roxburgh; but a dispute arising, upon a claim of the French to garrison and retain the fortress when taken, the siege was abandoned 8. It appears from Fordun, that the French and Scots made some other predatory incursions into England 9.

Meanwhile Richard II had made great preparations, and summoned almost the whole force of his kingdom; and finding that the commotions in Flanders had frustrated the southern [Page 32]invasion of the French, 1385 Aug. he determined to exert all his power against Scotland. If we credit an English historian his army was numerous beyong precedent; and more than three hundred thousand horses were employed in various services 1. The youthful monarch chose this as his first expedition, and solemn entry into the field of military fame; and was attended by his uncles, and by the chief nobles of England. The destruction of the abbey of Melrose, long respected by the religious awe of the English, to whom it had afforded early saints and teachers, was the first warlike act of Richard II, the disgrace of his arms and the omen of his mental weakness. Dryburgh, and newbottel, two venerable monasteries, and Edinburgh with her churches, were successively given to the flames. The Scots, unable openly to contend with an enemy so superior in numbers, prudently followed the advice ascribed to Robert the Great, by withdrawing their cattle and effects into forests, and wilds; and harrassing their foes by unceasing ambuscades and excursions. The green crops were alone left; and the harvest was trampled and destroyed. After remaining five days at Edinburgh, the English marched to Stirling, which, with an abbey adjacent, was burnt to the ground. One hundred and twenty vessels carried provisions for the army, which still ad­vancing destroyed Perth and Dundee, and many abbies and monasteries: and the couriers and vanguard even proceeded as far as Aberdeen, according to Froissart; but, from the old English and Scotish accounts, it rather appears that the English expedition only extended to the river Forth 2.

To divert the fury of this storm, the Scotish army and French auxiliaries entered England by the western marches, [Page 33]ravaged Cumverland, and besieged Carlisle. This invasion concurred with the failure of provisions to induce the English king to withdraw his vast army; which accordingly returned towards England by the eastern tract; and disunited councils prevented an encounter with the Scots, who also retired to their own country by the western boundaries 3. Such was the issue of a contest, which had excited so great expectation; and which, as usual, far from being advantageous to either king­dom, ended with the lasting detriment of both. At the close of the campaign, the French auxiliaries, exhausted with fatigue and hard fare, could not even procure leave to sail for Flanders, till they consented to pay the expence of their maintenance; and Vienne was forced to remain as an hostage till the sum was paid at Bruges, to Scotish factors, by order of the French government 4. This treatment was doubtless ungenerous, and [Page 34]the avarice was disgraceful to the king and the nobles: but one happy effect followed, for it was long before any more of those troublesome and insolent inmates infested Scotland.

After a doubtful truce of nearly one year, 1387 the war continued it's progress. William Douglas, whose graceful person and warlike fame had procured him the hand of the king's daughter Egidia, and the title of lord Nithsdale, resolved to open a long neglected field of action, by invading Ireland. Attended only by five hundred men he failed to Carlingford, and assaulted the town, whose inhabitants being no strangers to his military reputation, resolved to oppose guile to force, and begged a respite till they could collect a sum sufficient to ransom the place. The Scotish leader, whose honest courage suspected no fraud, consented; and was occupied in replenishing his ships with provisions, while the people of Carlingford sent to Dundalk, and procured an aid of eight hundred horse, which joined their own array and advanced against the enemy. Nithsdale had only two hundred of his followers on shore, from the want of proper boats for landing, and even these few were divided, a party having been sent to ravage the country. The English resolved to attack both parties, but the greater number advanced against Nithsdale; after an obstinate contest the Scots obtained the victory; and they immediately took, ravaged, and burned the town of Carlingford, despoiled the castle, and loaded fifteen Irish ships, then in the harbour, with their prey. On their return the isle of Man presented another object of depre­dation: [Page 35]and Nithsdale with his followers arrived safe at Loch Ryan in Galloway, with no small wealth and honour 5.

The weak, 1388 and impolitic, conduct of Richard II distracted the English councils, and discontent pervaded the nation, when the Scots thought the time convenient to retort the ravages of war, which that monarch had carried into their country. An assembly of the Scotish nobles met at Aberdeen, and agreed to appear with their respective vassals in arms at jedburgh, for an expedition into England 6. Age had so much impaired the faculties of Robert II that his consent was not expected, nor regarded 7; and the feebleness of John Earl of Carric the heir apparent, both in body and mind, seemed to increase with his years; so that Robert Earl of Fife, second son of the king, was respected by the nobles, and nation, as the main support of the monarchy, and the only active instrument of its influ­ence. When the army therefore assembled at Jedburgh, he appeared as commander in chief: and to as complete, and firm, battalions as Scotland had ever sent forth, was added the terror of the name of Douglas. About twelve hundred lances, and forty thousand rude infantry, composed an army, rendered still more formidable by the reputation and experience of some of its leaders. These infantry were chiefly accoutred with battle axes; for the Scots were unhappily little skilled in the bow, that perpetual instrument of English triumph 8.

Uninteresting is the narration of important actions, if not accompanied by those circumstances which recommend them [Page 36]to the imagination, and render the reader as it were a present spectator: and one of the chief utilities of history arises from the view of characters and of manners. Upon select occasions therefore it is not improper to descend to the particularity of memoirs, and to compensate pages of annals by now and then painting a momentous, or even a singular, event in all the colours of detail. Without further apology Froissart's account of this expedition, crowned by the celebrated battle of Otter­burn, shall be followed; and only with one cause of regret, that it is the last aid to be derived from that remakable writer, the worthy and honest herald of the times of chivalry 9.

The Northumbrians, having learned that a Scotish army was collecting, resolved to prepare; and, if the Scots entered England by the western, to repay the invasion by the eastern marches. An English gentleman went to espy the intentions of the enemy, who had advanced to the chapel of Salom, a noted station near the borders: and entering the chapel in the disguise of a servant saw the Scotish nobles assembled, and heard much of their designs. When he withdrew he expected to have found his horse tied to a tree, as he had left him, but he was stolen; and the gentleman's fear, or negligence of art, in walking away without any enquiry, led to suspicion. He was seized, and confessed that the Northumbrians, unable to encounter the inimical numbers, had determined on whatever side England was invaded, to assail Scotland on the opposite. This induced the Scotish leaders to restrain the main army to the protection of their own country, and to order only a strong detachment, under the tried heroism of the Earl of Douglas, to advance into England. At the head of three hundred men [Page 37]at arms, and of two thousand chosen infantry, Douglas pro­ceeded, without pillaging the country or attacking any place; passed the Tine three miles above Newcastle; and, with the suddenness and destruction of lightning, darted on the county of Durham. When the distant flames, and smoke, of burning villages had given the first tidings of the Scotish arrival, the Earl of Northumberland, then at Alnwick, sent his two sons, Henry and Ralph, to Newcastle, to assemble a force in pursuit of the enemy, while he should gather another on the north, and preclude their retreat. All the country being pillaged to the gates of York 1, and the unfortified towns and villages destroyed, Douglas returned with the spoil, repassed the Tine at the same place; and came before newcastle, whither the cheif people of the neighbouring counties had crouded, to gain the protection of a walled city, and of the two gallant Percies, Henry surnamed Hotspur, and Ralph, his brother in birth and arms. Many skirmishes ensuing, at one of them Douglas won the pennon of Henry Percy, to the great mortification of that undaunted leader and of his followers: and to add to the dis­grace Douglas vaounted, "This I shall carry as a sign of thy prowess to Scotland, and shall place it on the pinnacle of my castle to be known by all." Percy retorted with an oath, "Thou shalt never bear it out of northumberland; and in the end shalt have little cause to boast:" to which Douglas replied, "Then thou must come this night, and take it from before my tent." Next morning the Scots pursued their march; and, assailing a castle without success, wished to proceed, but Douglas commanded them to encamp, in order to see if Percy would advance to recover his pennon, and that, being refreshed, [Page 38]they should again attack the fortress in the morning. They accordingly fortified their station with felled trees, to prevent a surprize; and next day captured the castle, and pursued their journey towards the main army, till they came to Otterburn, a hamlet amid the wilds of the parish of Elsdon, about thirty miles northwest of Newcastle, and about twenty from the Scotish borders, which was to be a scene of celebrity to the bard and to the historian.

Meanwhile Percy wished to pursue the Scotish detachment, but was restrained by the tidings that the main army was near, and ready to support Douglas; till the couriers brought certain intelligence that they were far distant, and incapable of effecting a junction for some days. Percy, with his usual impetuosity, instantly cried, "To horse!" it being early in the morning; and left Newcastle attended by six hundred lances, or knights and squires, and eight thousand infantry accoutred with the dreadful long-bows of England. After a forced march, they reached the Scotish camp at Otterburn late in the evening. The Scots had supped, some had even retired to rest fatigued with various exertion; and the English began to enter the outer entrenchment, where the servants were stationed, shouting "Percy! Percy!" but they found it well fortified. Some infantry was ordered to support the servants, by the Scotish chiefs, who in the mean time armed in haste, and arrayed their men under their banners. Night was now advanced; but the moon shone clear in a serene sky of the month of August. 19 Aug.

The Scots, armed, and arranged, proceeded, not towards the assailants, but around an eminence; and attacking the enemy in the rear raised all at once the cry of battle, upon which the English in surprize turned, strengthened their ranks, and re­founded "Percy!" in answer to the Scotish acclaim of "Douglas." After a severe contest the Scots were on the [Page 39]point of yielding to numbers, when the Earl of Douglas, ardently pushed forward his banner; and both the Percies advanced against him, with equal impetuosity, so that the Scots recoiled, and, had not the valour of the two Hepburns opposed, the banner of Douglas had been taken. Douglas, irritated by the apprehension of disgrace, rouzed all his strength and courage; and, brandishing a two-handed battle-ax, opened the thick files of the foe, as with a long avenue, despising numerous blows, and committing his life to the temper of his armour. He had advanced far from his battalions, when he fell under three mortal wounds. But ignorance of his fate forbad the English to triumph, and the Scots to despair. The former only saw that some valiant man at arms had fallen: and the latter were inspirited by the Earls of March and Moray to follow a tract, which they knew not had conducted their leader to death. Fortune now began to favour the Scots. Ralph Percy, advancing too far in return, was severly wounded, and taken prisoner by Maxwell, a knight who followed Moray: and the English, exhausted with a fatiguing march and an obstinate contest, bagan to exhibit symptoms of depression and defeat.

Douglas, faint with the loss of blood, and sensible of the approaches of death, was defended by his valiant chaplain, William of Northberwick. His banner lay on the ground, not far from him, the bearer being slain, when Lindsay, Sinclair, and some other knights, pierced through the now yielding foe, and reached the spot, and bespoke their general. Even trifles in such a conversation are interesting. "Cousin, how goes it?" said Sinclair. Douglas answered "But so, so. Praised be God few of my ancestors have died in chambers or beds—Avenge me, for I die—My heart faints too repeatedly. Raise again my banner, and shout Douglas! But tell neither [Page 40]friend nor foe how it fares with me, for my enemies would exult, and my friends be disconsolate." The banner was erected; the whole field resound with the animating cry of Douglas! and the Scots, excited as with the voice of victory, instantly formed one phalanx, and with levelled spears pushed the enemy to flight.

Henry Percy was taken prisoner by Montgomery: and the defeat was complete. Radman, the governor of Berwick, was almost the only Englishman of note who escaped: and the Scots pursued the chase for five miles. The number of the English slain is computed at twelve hundred. Such was the battle at Otterburn, which Froissart represents as the most eminent fought in his time, for heroic bravery on both sides, and the real spirit of war. He also highly applauds the courtesy shewn by the Scots to their prisoners; and observes that both nations were not less laudable for their benevolence after a battle, than for their courage during its rage 2.

Douglas was carried to his tent, where he soon expired: but, though dispirited at the loss of their leader, the Scots determined to maintain their strong station against the fresh English army which approached. For the bishop of Durham had reached Newcastle, the night of the battle, with seven thousand men, two thousand of whom were cavalry: but a conjunction was prevented by Percy's impetuosity. Advancing next morning he was met by the fugitives from Otterburn, whose tidings raised such dismay, that all his followers fled back to Newcastle, except five hundred, with whom the bishop was at last also constrained to regain that city. Here he found means to inspirit his followers, and the inhabitants; so that he marched next morning in quest of the Scots attended by ten [Page 41]thousand. The Scotish scouts, the day after, notifying his approach, their chiefs determined not to leave their camp, as they had many wounded and prisoners to attend: and, when the bishop came within a mile's distance, they began all at once to sound their horns in a loud discordance of warlike music. After a pause, the same horrible din of defiance was repeated; and the bishop arranging his host, and advancing within two bow-shots, was again saluted with the thundering noise. Ob­serving the strength of the rude fortification, and that its pos­sessors were too prudent to desert its advantages, the English, after a brief council, retreated: and the Scots having refreshed themselves prepared to march. Ralph Percy requesting per­mission to go to Newcastle, to have his wounds attended, the Earl of Moray consented, and ordered him to be conveyed in a litter. The Scotish march, instead of triumphant seemed funereal, and the joy of success was tempered with tears; for the body of Douglas, inclosed in a coffin, and borne on a car, formed the chief object in the progress 3.

The main army, under the Earl of Fife, who appears to have had but mean talents for war, was now lying near Carlisle; and not a little envied the successful detachment; for the vic­tory, and the gain by ransoms, were esteemed the most re­markable which had occurred since the day of Bannockburn 4.

An assembly of the three estates being summoned to Edin­burgh, 1389 solemnly recognized Robert Earl of Fife governor of [Page 42]the kingdom; an elevation for which he was apparently as much indebted to his own intrigues, as to the age of the king, and the weakness of the successor 5. The latter seems, from the parliamentary acts of this reign, to have formerly stood in that high capacity: and the king commonly shunned the pomp, and, it is suspected, the duties of royalty, by residing on his parental estate, and example followed by his successor, though impolitic in an eminent degree. Preferring the remote man­sions of the Stuarts to the centrical and accustomed residences of the Scotish sovereigns, they seemed to forget their rank, their office, their people; and removed form the scene of action, from the vital heart of the kingdom, the monarch could only be seen by the nation in a dangerous representative. Assemblies of the states seem to have been seldom held, an aristocratic council decided upon peace and war, and upon the best interests of the people; but this fault was common to England and most European kingdoms at this period; while the appointment of the second son, as governor of the state, to the prejudice of the heir apparent, may be regarded as a new and dangerous precedent, declarative of great weakness upon the one part, and upon the other of baneful ambition.

The new Regent, desirous to signalize the commencement of his power, assembled an army on the borders against the Earl of Nottingham, Marshal of England, lately appointed Warden of the eastern marches; and who, in the usual con­comitance of pride and weakness, had reproached the Percies for the loss at Otterburn, where their army was far more numerous than that of the Scots; and boasted that he hoped to vanquish, even if opposed by number doubling his own. But when Fife accompanied by Archibald, the succeeding Earl. [Page 43]of Douglas, and by other nobles, poured his array into England, the Earl Marshal restrained his men in a secure and inaccessible station; and to a challenge of the Regent, inviting him to descend and fulfil his threats, he replied that "he had no orders to expose the lieges of his sovereign to any danger." This answer was received with peals of laughter; and the Scotish army, after standing in defiance half the day with banners displayed, ravaged the adjacent country, and returned 6.

A respite was at length given to the war, June by a truce formed between France and England for three years, in which their allies were included 7. Those of France were the kings of the Romans, Scotland, Arragon, Navarre; the Scotish Earl of March, the isle of Man, the Duchess of Brabant, the Republic of Genoa. And the allies of England were the king of the Romans, with those of Portugal and Arragon, the Earl of Salisbury, the lordship of Man, the Duke of Gelder, John Lord of the Isles of Scotland, and the Republic of Genoa. An embassy being sent from England, to notify the truce, and desire the consent of Scotland, the envoys were by the Governor remitted to the king, who agreed as from deference to France. The Earls of Salisbury and March appear to have been named in this truce, in consequence of their claims to the isle of Man, and some debateable lands upon the borders. The Lords of the Isles were really inde­pendent of Scotland, and by their fleets maintained their power in the isles, and over the western highlands, while the Scotish kings had no fleet to oppose them, and could not attack mountainous regions inaccessible to armies. The brief ard confined conquests of Alexander III and Robert I, had not [Page 44]overcome the old Norwegian spirit; and the Hebudes must be regarded with truth as an independent principality, till the sixteenth century: had the lords been told of their occasional submission to Scotland, they would have retorted by instances of the like necessity forced upon that country be England. But the circumstance, which especially induced the mention of these princes in the truce, was a treaty concluded between Richard II, and the Lord of the Isles, in the preceding year 8.

This short pacification was the last important act of Robert II, who died at his castle of Dundonald in Kyle, 1390 19 Apr. a few miles south of Irwin, after a short illness, in the seventy fifth year of his age 9; having completed nineteen years of a reign, mingled with various fortune, but upon the whole neither unsuccessful, nor inglorious.

BOOK II. CONTAINING THE REIGN OF ROBERT III.

Character of Robert III—disorders in the highlands—truce with England—feuds—title of Duke—war with Henry IV—ex­pedition of that king—Rothsay's character and marriage— defection of March—incursions—parliament—murder of Roth­say —incursions—battle of Homildon—cruelty of Henry Percy —murder of Drummond—siege of Coklaws—Captivity of prince fames—Northumberland's rebellion—death of the king.

JOHN, the eldest son of the deceased monarch, ascended the throne; 1390 and his name being reputed inauspicious to royalty, he assumed that of Robert, recommended by the virtues and the glory of Robert I, and by the accession of the House of Stuart under the preceding sovereign 1. Power depending wholly upon opinion, princes are often forced to sacrifice even to the superstitions of the vulgar. Robert III had apparently exceeded his fiftieth year, when he began to reign, and had been wedded at least thirty three years to Annabella Drummond, daughter of Sir John Drummond of Stobhall; by whom he had, however, no children till the [Page 46]year 1378, when David, afterwards Duke of Rothsay, was born; and James his other son did not appear till the fifth year of his father's reign, being the first royal birth in the family. Three daughters, to be married to the Earl of Douglas, the Earl of Angus, and Lord Dalkeith; and two natural sons, completed the progeny of Robert III 2.

Though this monarch had been lamed by an unfortunate accident, yet his person was tall and graceful: his florid coun­tenance, and vivacious eyes, joined with the snowy whiteness of his beard, rendered him an object at once pleasing and majestic. But his indolent meekness, his piety, his saint-like humility, are fitter themes of praise to the monk than to the philosopher, who knows that the virtues of a king are the virtues of ability, and of action; and that the most acceptable service to the Deity consists in the service of mankind. The lenity of Robert III may be vindicated from the yet new eleva­tion of a family, accustomed to regard the nobles as equals and brothers; but it unhappily tended to increase the power of the aristocracy, and add to the consequent stock of public calamity. Yet the years of his reign were fertile, and the people were contented: though in the continuous struggles with England for political freedom, it is no wonder that in­ternal liberty made no progress; and that the Scots remembered that they were soldiers, but forgot that they were men 3.

Before the coronation of the new sovereign had taken place, an event occurred, ominous and disgraceful to his reign. His [Page 47]brother, the Earl of Buchan, freed from parental controul, 17 June and knowing that the sceptre had fallen into a weak hand, collected his highlanders, and burned the cathedral of Elgin, esteemed one of the chief ornaments of the country, in revenge of some quarrel with the bishop of Moray. It appears not that he was even questioned for a fact, which united barbarity with profanation; while, had he received the highest punish­ment, a more useful or striking example could not have been instituted, to curb a turbulent nobility, and teach them obedi­ence to laws, and to the sovereign the guardian of laws 4.

The ceremonies of the funeral of Robert II, and the install­ment of his successor, being celebrated at Scone, 13 and 14 Aug. the king's first attention was directed to the confirmation of the truce [Page 48]with England, and the renewal of the league with France 5. The Earl of Fife managed the public affairs 6,which continued for the first eight years of this reign in a state of external peace, but were somewhat disturbed at home by inroads of the highlanders, distinguished by French and domestic writers, from early times to the present century, as the savages of Scotland.

One of their incursions into Angus has been esteemed worthy of historical preservation. 1392 According to Bowar, the continuator of Fordun, it was conducted by Duncan Stuart, a natural son of the Earl of Buchan; but Winton's account bears, by three highland chieftains, Thomas, Patrick, and Gibbon, sons of one Duncan. Sir David Lindsay of Glenesk, hearing that an inroad was intended, sent a spy to discover the circumstances of the design; but he never returned; and the highlanders, [Page 49]exceeding three hundred in number, rushed into the plains. Sir Walter Ogilvy, Sheriff of Angus, and Sir Patrick Gray, collected their followers, and marched against the plunderers, whom they found at Glasclune in Stormont; and a conflict began, during which the Sheriff was joined by Sir David Lindsay. The highland ferocity prevailed; and the Sheriff, with his half-brother Walter Lichton, and sixty of his people, were slain; and Lindsay and Gray wounded 7. That any chastisement was inflicted on the marauders does not appear from the original account; but it would have been happy if Robert III had possessed sufficient benevolence and ability to impart some degree of civilization to this unhappy part of his subjects, and to have fulfilled the noblest duties of royalty by the propagation of law, peace, and industry.

The insanity of Charles VI of France, which appeared this summer, and the consequent distracted state of affairs in that kingdom, conspired with the English discontents, under the maladministration of Richard II, to render a prolongation of the truce of Leilinghen expedient; and it was accordingly extended at different times to Michaelmas 1394, 16 Aug. and afterwards to the same term in 1398 8. This constant repetition of truces between England and Scotland, unknown to any other history, is tedious and unpleasing in every view. One is led to imagine that the system of Hobbes is founded in truth, and that war is the natural state of man. But peculiar circumstances contri­buted to this inveterate and lengthened enmity. The conduct of Edward I, when chosen the friendly arbiter of the disputes concerning the Scotish succession, was unkingly and ungenerous beyond example; and destroyed the most sacred rules of society, and every bond of mutual confidence, and of public faith. It [Page 50]is no wonder then that the Scotish nation had converted all their antient regard for the English into a rooted enmity; and that the situation of the two nations confined on one island occasioned continuous war. The ambition of sovereigns, that chief scourge of mankind, and spring of slaughter, led the English kings to maintain the lofty pretensions of Edward I, and untaught by experience to hope the vain conquest of Scotland; nor could they abandon their claims lest justice should be interpreted want of power, and the highest wisdom accounted imbecility. Such evils could arise from the ambition of one man! The inadmission, or dubious grant, of the title of the Scotish sovereigns, was an insult to them, and to the nation; which, with the unjust pretensions on the one side, and jealousy and revenge on the other, precluded all hopes of solid and lasting peace. When we find Henry VIII, in 1542, repeating the extravagant claims of the first Edward, almost in his own words, we must exult in those happy events which terminated a discord that threatened to be perpetual 9.

Our historians, barren in the important provinces of internal government, national freedom or slavery, laws, and manners, and arts, have condescended to preserve two incidents of little importance, but to shew the barbarous spirit of the times.

[Page 51]A feud arising between Lindsay of Crawford and Robert Keith, 1395 also a man of wealth and distinction, the latter laid siege to the castle of Fyvie in Buchan, inhabited by his own aunt the wife of Lindsay. Gathering between three or four hundred of his friends and followers, Lindsay passed the Gram­pian hills, called the Mounth or Mound by our old writers, and was met by Keith at Bourtie church, in the Garioch, Aber­deenshire. In the conflict Keith was discomfited, with the loss of about fifty men 1.

The north of Scotland being disturbed by continual feuds, 1396 between the two highland factions of Clan Kay, commanded by one Shee-beg and his relations, and Clan Quhele under a Christie Jonson 2, which could be appeased by no authority nor art of the king, or Fife the governor, it was at last adjusted by the Earl of Moray and Lindsay of Crawford, that the dis­pute should be terminated by thirty men, appointed upon either side to fight in the royal presence at Perth. Having met on the day named before the king, governor, many nobles and a great multitude, eager to see this novelty, one of the Clan Kay felt his heart fail, and escaped by swimming across the Tay, upon which a clown who was present offered to supply his place for half a mark. A fierce battle ensued with bows, battle axes, swords, and daggers; and ended in the defeat of Clan Kay, who had only the mercenary left alive, while eleven of the opponents keeped the field 3. The highlanders were [Page 52]afterwards more quiet for a few years: but it might be said upon this occasion that a public spectacle had been appointed, to manifest to the nation that the government was without power, and the laws without force.

To resume a more important train of events, 1398 March David Earl of Carric, eldest son of the king, the Earl of Fife, and other Scotish commissioners met John Duke of Aquitain and Lan­caster, and others, on the part of England, according to an agreement made in the preceding year, at Haudenstank on the marches; and the truce was renewed to Michaelmas 1399 4. It is not improbable that the superior title of the English Duke led to some claim of precedence, or respect, not relished by the Scotish princes, 28 April for in the course of this summer we find the first appearance of the ducal title in Scotland 5; and its appropriation affords another proof of the king's weakness, and of the governor's insatiable ambition. The heir apparent of the kingdom was created Duke of Rothsay, a miserable hamlet in the isle of Bute, while the whole island would not have afforded a territorial title to a baron; and the Earl of Fife had the real style of heir apparent, in the title of Duke of Albany, or of all Scotland north of the firths of Clyde and Forth. That such a perversion should have continued to our own times, is only an instance of that inattention, and blind imitation, so natural to mankind. These titles were conferred in a solemn council held at Scone: and prince David, then in his twentieth year, appeared as the leader of a tournament, exhibited at Edinburgh by the queen's command 6. Chivalry [Page 53]now reigned in both kingdoms: Morley, 1398 an English gentle­man, came to Scotland to challenge combats, as David Lindsay, created Earl of Crawford, had some years before been an actor in the splendid tournaments of Richard II 7.

A fresh congress of commissioners was held, October to establish further articles of truce; and guarantees were appointed for more effectual security of the borders, and to act as guardians of the peace, in preventing or chastising any limitary depre­dation 8. A difference was compromised which had arisen on the capture of a Scotish vessel, having on board Sir John Ha­milton of Cadyou, ancestor of the Dukes of Hamilton, and other men of rank, by immediate restoration, deliverance, and compensation for the damages 9. But the family of Douglas seem not to have been pleased with the appearances of amity between the kingdoms, which the critical situation of Richard II, owing to the revolt of Ireland, had led him to wish; for the Earl's son, with Sir William Stuart and others, broke down the bridge at Roxburgh, plundered the town, and ravaged the adjacent lands 1. This expedition may however have been a mere sally of intemperate courage, for the Earl of Douglas soon after consented, 6 Nov. as warden of the western marches, to observe the truce, and gave securities for that purpose 2. The English king, intent upon his Irish expedition, was now anxious to establish a real and lasting peace with Scotland, and instructed his ambassadors to use every endea­vour for this end, or at any rate to procure a long truce. The Dukes of Lancaster and Rothsay again met; but only confirmed the truce formerly established, to last till Michael­mas [Page 54]1399 3. Lancaster had long been Lord Lieutenant of the English marches, and being of course the chief instrument in the negociations, it is not matter of surprize that they did not succeed, when we consider the differences between him and Richard. Feb. 1399 Upon his death in the ensuing year, his son, irritated by the injustice of his sovereign, returned from his short banishment, Sept. 30 dethroned Richard II; and is known by the name of Henry IV, as the successful usurper of the English crown.

While the parliament of England was occupied with the deposition of one sovereign, and the appointment of another 4, the Scotish borderers took and ruined the castle of Wark, the governor Sir Thomas Gray then being absent upon his parlia­mentary duty, and ravaged the adjacent country 5. Henry IV soon after nominated Ralph Neville earl of Westmoreland to treat with Scotland; and, in case that a peace or truce could not be obtained, to offer an agreement that the towns of Dumfries in Scotland, and Penrith in England, should be declared free from any hostility 6. This and another com­mission, granted in the of the year, were alike ineffectual.

[Page 55]The malady of the monarch, 1399 and the disturbed condition of France, prevented any exertion against the new English king, though that power did not behold with indifference her ally Richard II hurled from the throne, and the intrusion of a prudent and spirited usurper. She excited Scotland to re­venge her quarrel by vexatious inroads: 1400 and early in the year Henry summoned his council, to consider the most effectual means of retorting vengeance 7. Unhappily these means were soon supplied by Scotland itself, in the weakness of its government, and its intestine divisions. The Lord of the Isles was acknowledged, as usual, the ally of England; and he visited that kingdom with his brother John, and a retinue of a hundred horse 8. Political knowledge must have been very confined in a country which permitted this constant morti­fication; for if the necessary naval force could not be procured to constrain, yet art and industry might have invited allegiance. The Earl of March, enraged by a violent affront from the Scotish government, the circumstances of which will appear with more connexion and advantage in a succeeding part of the narration, was preparing to throw himself into the arms of England, a country to which situation, and interest, had always too much attached his family 9.

[Page 56]Some Scotish ships, under the command of Sir Robert Logan, were taken by the English. This admiral had boasted that he would destroy the English fleets, and especially that employed in fishing near Aberdeen: but the event was other­wise: and the English ships ravaged some of the Orkneys, then held of the crown of Norway by a Scotish earl 1. It is surprizing that a country so well adapted for maritim power as Scotland, should have neglected that strong engine of de­fensive or offensive war, a powerful navy, while the kings of Denmark and Sweden, whose resources were little superior, had numerous fleets.

Henry IV at length determined, by the most vigorous mea­sures, to render the commencement of his reign illustrious, in the eye of his subjects, and dreadful to his foes. He resolved upon a personal invasion of Scotland, being the last to be per­formed by an English monarch. It is asserted that his chief irritation to this project arose from some intercepted letters, from the Scotish governor the duke of Albany to France, in which Henry was branded with the appellation of a preeminent traitor; and an insult must wound deeply, when sharpened by malice and truth 2. The prudence of Henry had sufficiently weighed the situations of Scotland and of France, before he ventured to try his new power in this expedition. 9 June He sum­moned the whole military force of England to meet him at York: 18 June and, to save appearances with France, he ordered protection to her ships, and to those of all countries, except Scotland 3. 25 July Arriving at Newcastle, he admitted March to his homage and fealty, and granted a pension to his wife and heirs 4. The proud usurper then fulminated a letter to the [Page 57]Scotish king, and another to the prelates and nobles, com­manding them to meet him at Edinburgh, by the twenty third day of August, to pay homage to their lord paramount. In these letters the whole fabulous claim of the first Edward is revived, and deducted with great faith from old Locrinus 5. A pitiful ballad, which has reached our times, seems to have been the only, and proper, answer of the Scots to this de­mand 6. Revenge for the insult which he had received from the Scotish government must have incited Henry to such an arrogant manifesto; for his prudence is too firmly established, to permit a belief that he entertained views of effectually subduing Scotland.

The English army entered that kingdom, 14 Aug. while a powerful fleet coasted along with provisions 7. After celebrating the Ascension of the Virgin at Hadington, Henry marched to Leith, where he remained three days, and made repeated assaults on the castle of Edinburgh, which was bravely defended by the Duke of Rothsay, attended by the Earl of Douglas, and many noblemen and gentlemen of the southern part of Scotland. Mean time the Duke of Albany had collected a copious army, and advanced to Caldermoor in East Lothian. A singular intercourse took place between the English king, and the Dukes of Rothsay, and Albany. Rothsay sent a message to the invader, that his pretensions to the Scotish crown might occasion the effusion of much christian blood, which to prevent, he was willing to settle the dispute by a [Page 58]combat of one, two, or three nobles, against an equal number of the English. Henry parried this amiable sally of youthful vivacity by a piece of wit; answering, that he was surprized that Rothsay, who shewed such aversion to shed christian blood, should propose a combat of the nobles, whose blood was certainly christian. Albany, on his side, sent a letter promising that, if Henry would keep his station for six days, he should give him battle, and either die in the field, or force him to raise the siege. The English monarch, with his usual spirit, gave his royal word that he should await the term mentioned; and to testify his pleasure at the tidings he pre­sented to the herald his upper garment, and a chain of gold. Albany however did not fulfil his rhodomontade; but keeped aloof, and left his nephew in imminent danger of death, or captivity 8.

Henry's lenity and moderation, during the whole of this expedition, were remarkable, and sufficiently contrast his character with that of Richard II; whose outrage proclaims his weakness; while this invasion shewed that cruelty and destruction are seldom the companions of courage and wisdom. To the towns, villages, monasteries, and even fortresses, which submitted, he instantly sent a banner, painted with his arms, to be displayed as the fixed signal that none of his army should approach them. And when two Canons of Holyroodhouse came into his presence at Leith, to request the preservation of their monastery, he answered with great affability, "Far be from my arms the disgrace of molesting any holy church, and espe­cially your's, in which my father, the duke of Lancaster, found a refuge. I am myself half a Scotishman, being a Comyn by [Page 59]maternal descent; and I call God to witness that nothing but gross provocation could have brought me here as a foe. But there are in your government people who write letters in a singular style: and my intention is little to injure the country, but to see if the writer dare to maintain his words, by meeting in battle him whom he terms a traitor." Finding that Albany declined an engagement, and not thinking the castle of Edin­burgh an object worthy of longer delay, or despairing of taking that fortress; perhaps even unwilling to expose to the chance of destruction a place which had afforded an asylum to his father; Henry raised the siege, and withdrew his army into England 9. It is not improbable, at the same time, that a failure of provision, and the rumoured insurrection of Owen Glendour in Wales, afforded strong arguments for this retreat.

But if it be difficult to account for the motives of Henry, what are we to think of those of Albany upon this occasion? At the head of a numerous army, he was the idle spectator of a triumphant enemy in the heart of his country; and beheld with indifference the danger of the heir apparent, whose ransom must have cost the nation an immense sum. The prudence of declining a battle with the force of England, conducted by the monarch, seems to have been fully established in Scotish politics, by the latter maxims of Robert I: and the modern axiom, that battles are the issue of ignorance, and that a weak general fights when he knows not what to do, was apparently not unknown in former times. So much may be offered in Albany's vindication. But the character of this man will soon develope all its blackness; and the consistency of wicked am­bition must force us to infer that, to such a mind, base motives [Page 60]must be the most effectual. Our ancient accounts ascribe Albany's conduct to a previous enmity with Rothsay 1; and it is probable that this gallant youth, conscious of his birth and expected royalty, saw with impatience his father, his king, his country, under such mean controul. Apparently a coward, certainly unknown in war, Albany might from baseness decline the combat with a bold and capable monarch; and from yet greater baseness might have exulted to see, in the capture or death of Rothsay, the security, the prolongation, of his re­gency.

Some events, which preceded the English invasion, have been reserved to this place, in order to present a clear and connected account of internal transactions in Scotland, in­teresting and important in an eminent degree. The King's infirmities increased with his age, and the Duke of Albany must be regarded as the chief agent, in affairs, which, from the monarch's residence on distant parental estates, sometimes hardly reached the royal ear, except by the voice of the nation. It is to be regreted that the meagreness of our annals seldom permits a near acquaintance with historical characters, till the reign of the first James. Suspended in the darkness of igno­rance, and the distance of time, the portraits rarely appear distinct, except when enlightened by the splendor of the diadem. Hence arises a barrenness in an interesting province of history, the varied and strong delineation of character, so necessary to form just and complete ideas of important events.

The Duke of Rothsay had now attained his twenty second year; and his mental features nearly resemble those of the prince of Wales his contemporary. That warm effervescence of vigorous youth, which tamed by reason, experience, and [Page 61]time, affords mature materials of a firm and spirited character, had led him into some excesses, especially of the amorous kind, which afforded pretexts of constraint from his uncle the go­vernor, and of reproof from his royal parents. A fondness for riotous pastime and arch roguery were also laid to the prince's charge; who, to candid eyes, sufficiently compensated these youthful and trivial defects by his good qualities. Endued with a comely person, an honest heart, an able head, a most sweet and affable temper, and even deeply tinctured with learning for that century, his virtues, and not his vices, at­tracted the regent's enmity 2.

Robert III only knew his own son from the malicious reports of Albany; but the queen Annablella, formerly famed for beauty, and still for sense, spirit, and generosity, was not the dupe of such practices, and appears to have suggested the marriage of the prince, as a proper and usual expedient to overcome his wildness, by the sweetness of lawful love, and domestic ties. This project must have alarmed Albany, and he employed every resource of little cunning to defeat it, while he did not dare a public opposition. To bring the scheme into contempt, to gratify his own avarice, to sow dissentions and obstacles, to procure delay and perhaps abandonment, he held up the marriage of his prince to sale among the peers of Scotland, instead of demanding a foreign princess, whose con­nexions might have aided her husband, and have overturned [Page 62]the regent's ambitious plans. The Earl of March, a friend of Albany, was the highest bidder; and having paid a large sum, his daughter Elizabeth was affianced to Rothsay. But at the instigation of the king's council, the Earl of Douglas, Archibald the Grim, oftered a larger sum, which was also received; and the regent not daring to trifle with that illustrious family, the prince actually married Marjory, the daughter of Douglas, at Bothwell 3.

The only excuse oftered to March was, that the consent of the three estates had not been procured to the marriage; and as no meeting of parliament is mentioned, it is to be presumed that in this rude age the king's council, consisting of members clerical, noble, and common, was regarded as representing the three estates, when inconvenient to summon that formidable body. Nay the repayment of the sum advanced was refused, or delayed; and March, burning with indignation, procured a safe conduct from the king of England, and retired to that country, leaving his castle of Dunbar in the custody of Sir Robert Maitland 4. After the retreat of Henry an army was [Page 63]raised to besiege that important fortress, which if betrayed to the English, might have afforded a dangerous post to the enemy; and Robert III himself appeared as general: but, before he reached Dunbar, Maitland was intimidated and yielded the castle to the son of Douglas 5. If the Scotish king had no opportunity to shew his martial talents, he at least evinced his goodness and justice in this expedition. After waiting at Hadington three days, till various reinforcements arrived, the army prepared to march, the trumpets sounded, and the king's foot was in the stirrup to mount his horse, when a poor butcher begged an audience. The complaint was against an officer of the royal houshold, who had not paid for the meats ordered: the monarch heard the claim affably and pati­ently, and sent for the officer: who not being found he paid the sum himself. He then ordered a proclamation at the market cross that all debts due by his attendants should be instantly demanded and paid; and in future always observed this custom on leaving any place; an useful example to his subjects, in an age when different statutes were required to enforce a like practice in the nobles. The people upon this occasion, remembered with pleasure his similar conduct at his coronation, when he ordered payment to the monastery of Scone, for the growing corn trodden under foot by the mul­titude 6. Such matters are often esteemed beneath the dignity of history; but far be that pride which would prevent a good action to the meanest of mankind, or its commemoration; and if this historic dignity be inimical to amiable views of manners, and to humanity, it is rather an object of scorn than of admiration.

Though, in November and December, 1401 some conferences between the English and Scotish commissioners had been held, [Page 64]only truces of a few weeks had been adjusted 7; and the war soon resumed its depredations. Henry's demands were ex­orbitant, as he had been irritated by Robert's neglect, and by being treated as an usurper. The English monarch in­structed his commissioners to require the homage of Scotland; if refused, an annuity, or lands, were held out as temptations to Robert: should this pretension prove fruitless, a marriage treaty beween their families was to be proposed, or at least a truce of thirty years 8: all these terms were rendered nugatory by the Scotish alliance with France.

Robert in vain demanded that March should be delivered up: and that earl required the restitution of his estates with as little success. Henry IV knew from experience the value of a traitor, and extended to March, his friends and followers, the warmest protection. Eager to wipe off the stain of his captivity, Henry Percy joined March, who was inflamed with revange, and anxious to evince his importance by his services; 3 Feb. and they entered Scotland, at the head of two thousand chosen men. Piercing by Peebles to Linton, they assaulted without success the castle of Hales, burned three villages, and encamped at Preston. But the son of the Earl of Douglas, advancing from Edinburgh against them, with a body of his followers, they made a precipitate retreat, leaving their spoils, and tents, and prepared provisions. The Scots pursued them a whole dreary night of that season of the year, and captured many at Colbrand's-path, the rest escaping to Berwick; at the very gates of which town the lance, and pennon, of the lord Thomas Talbot were taken 9. The heir of Douglas a few [Page 65]months after wore the brilliant coronet of that house, upon the death of his father Archibald, surnamed the Grim, a peer recommended to fame by his wisdom, as much as by his here­ditary valour 1.

This year forms an epoch in the history of Scotish legislation, the more important, as, after the various laws of Robert II, no further intelligence arises, till the luminous period com­mences with the statutes of James I.

The ordinances passed in a parliament held at Scone are 21 Feb. numerous 2. Many concern private property, then in an ob­scure and precarious condition, under the feudal oppression, and rapacity of the great: but the following chiefly deserve historical commemoration. It was decreed that the king's lieutenant-general the Earl of Fife, and other royal ministers, should hear the causes of churchmen, widows, orphans, and minors, without taking sureties, and judge without delay: that, during the papal schism, any excommunicated person might appeal to the conservator of the church, and after­wards [Page 66]to the general congregation of the clergy; that the duel should only be permitted in four cases, the crime must infer death, it must be secretly designed or perpetrated, the suspicions must bear verisimilitude, and the truth was not to be discovered by witnesses or writings. Among the causes why gifts are revocable, are classed the arts of monks in persuading the laity to donations. Usury, or interest, is not to be allowed against a minor, who is only to pay the principal. As a check on the sheriffs, their clerks are to be appointed by the king, and only amenable to him, to prevent any connivance in injustice. The justiciary courts are to be held twice in the year, on either side of the Forth: the coroner is empowered to arrest persons indicted: the lords of regalities, sheriffs, and barons, are to hold their journies of justice twice in the year, and abbreviate the terms of appearance: the king's justiciary may remove sheriffs, or other royal officers in case of default, till the fitting of the next parliament, which is to judge the cause; a singular statute, confounding the legislative and executive powers. "To prevent the great and horrible ravages depre­dations, fires, and homicides, which are daily committed in every part of the kingdom, it is ordained that all the sheriffs in the realm make public proclamations, that no person tra­velling shall be allowed more attendants than those whose maintenance he defrays." Ravagers, depredators, incendiaries, robbers, murderers, are to be punished by death and confiscation. The sheriff shall arrest malefactors, and take bail for their ap­pearance at the next journey of justice, or circuit; their nonappearance infers rebellion, and forfeiture of the bail; if no bail be found, they are at once to be tried by an assize, and if found guilty forfeit their lives; if they flee from one sheriffdom to another, the first sheriff is to send a precept to the second for their deliverance to trial; a similar procedure is [Page 67]to be used to lords, and officers of regalities, and all lieges are to assist. Among the more minute statutes, may be named, that allowing the lieges to purchase victuals where they please, on paying the customs; that against burning the heath of moors in summer, or autumn, when the corn might be damaged; those against the killing of salmon, or hares, at prohibited seasons; that which orders farmers, who rent lands for a term, not to alienate the lease for a term exceeding the agreement. These laws, like the ruins of an ancient hall of justice, inspire reverence from their pristine majesty, and utility; and will interest the philosophic reader, as reliques of the progress of society, and of the history of man.

The effects of March's vengeance have already been nar­rated; but a scene of a blacker and more deplorable kind is now to open, in the murder of the Duke of Rothsay. The power and sense of the queen, the gravity of Trail bishop of St. Andrews, a chief promoter of concord, the valour and wisdom of the first Archibald Earl of Douglas, had balanced the ambition of Albany, but these three supporters of the monarchy died within a short period 3, and the governor's passions had no longer any controul, save from Rothsay's merit, and just pretensions. Archibald the second Earl of Douglas of that name, born to adorn that family by his valour, but to disgrace it by his conduct, was married to the elder daughter of Robert III, as his father had espoused a daughter of the preceding king. Thus doubly connected with the royal family, he seems to have regarded Rothsay, who had wedded his sister, not with fraternal affection, but with the malevolent eyes of a rival in ambition. Joined in strict friendship with [Page 68]Albany, and his second son John afterwards Earl of Buchan; and misled by their offers, or by a pique at Rothsay, he shared their detestable schemes. 1402 The young prince had been married about two years, but had no children; and perhaps hating the wife forced upon him by his uncle's avarice, he pursued his former courses. Albany, on pretence of restraining his wildness, had set a band of his partisans to watch his conduct; and now that the occasion opened the regent gave the hint, and this band represented to the king that his son would no longer bear counsel, nor restraint. Indeed this impudent plan of Albany, this council of guardians appointed to watch a man of sense and spirit, and that man the heir of royalty, was a certain mode to irritate and inflame youthful passions, but never could tend to moderate their influence. The decrepit and infirm monarch was, as usual, distant from the public scene, and guided by those around him; among whom was now unhappily one Ramorgny, a knight who had formerly suggested to Rothsay the assassination of Albany, but the generous nature of the prince had rejected the proposal with horror and indig­nation. A successful criminal may be honoured; but a crime offered, and refused, exposes the character to certain hatred and contempt; and it is not matter of wonder that Ramorgny became in his turn the bitter enemy of Rothsay. At his sug­gestion, which may be construed that of Albany, Robert sent a written order to the regent, to arrest his son, and confine him for a short time, in order to subdue his stubborn spirit; forgetful of the certain disgrace which the confinement of the heir apparent must entail on his reign, perhaps on the future; forgetful of the stain on the succession, and danger of conse­quent disaffection in the subjects; forgetful how short a path leads a prince from the prison to the grave.

[Page 69]The royal mandate was born by Ramorgny and by another enemy of Rothsay, Sir William Lindsay, whose sister Euphemia had also been affianced to the prince, and rejected 4. From these circumstances it may be perceived that the scheme was laid, and conducted with all the deep and dark art of consum­mate villainy. Albany, receiving the order with joy, resolved on its immediate enforcement, and that the bearers should be the executors. Privacy was necessary; and Rothsay was in­veigled into Fife, upon pretence that he should take possession for the king of the castle of St. Andrews, till the appointment of another bishop. When the unsuspecting prince was riding with a small attendance, between Nydie and Straburn, near St. Andrews, he was seized, and held a prisoner in the castle, till the governor and his council, assembled at Culros, should determine the place of his confinement. The tower of Falk­land was named; and thither Albany and Douglas, with a strong band of followers, conducted the prince, seated on a labouring horse, and covered with a russet cloke, to defend him from the falling rain. Here under the custody of John Selkirk, and John Wright, two assassins employed by Albany, the most cruel of deaths, Easter 26 Mar. that of famine, awaited the heir of the monarchy: and he was buried in a private manner at Lindoris, distant from the tombs of the Scotish kings, or those of his family, the conspirators not daring, by a funereal pomp, to awaken the attention and detection of the people 5.

[Page 70]A great security to crimes arises from the good nature of honesty, which believes their commission impossible; and as Albany had conducted his horrible plot with great skill, and gave out that his nephew had unexpectedly died of a dysentery; and for the imprisonment there was the king's positive man­date; it is no wonder that the nation was beguiled. To secure and to continue his regency, it was however proper that every doubt should be cleared, 16 May and a parliament was called and met at Edinburgh, an assembly which the long government of Albany had sufficiently taught him how to chuse, and influence. In a mock examination Albany and Douglas confessed the imprisonment, but imputed the death to divine providence. A remission was however thought necessary; and was given by the infirm sovereign in terms as ample, 20 May as if they had murdered the heir apparent. In this pardon, which is extant, the confinement of the prince is ascribed to the cause of public utility; but the immediate motives of the perpetrators are expressly said to be concealed for a sufficient reason 6. Does this singular declaration refer to the king's mandate, which might in the vulgar eye have appeared a consent to the death of his son; or to some crime falsely imputed to Rothsay by the conspirators, as for example a design to murder his father, or uncle? This is dark: but it is certain that folly and wickedness are companions, and that the means used by Albany to clear his character are precisely those which fully establish his guilt.

To divert the public attention, it was resolved to continue the war with England, which had been interrupted by a short [Page 71]truce, and some negotiations for peace 7. A fair pretext arose from the incursions of March and his adherents, that earl and his son being pensioned by the English king, for the mainte­nance of a small body of troops during the Scotish hostilities. By the advice and support of the young earl of Douglas, then resident at Dunbar, the chief landholders of Lothian agreed to conduct separate expeditions into England, because the people of the Merse favoured the exiled earl, and did not exert their usual inroads. The leader of the first incursion was John Haliburton of Dirlton, who advanced a considerable way into the inimical country, carrying fire and ravage in his pro­gress, and returned with success and spoil. But the second, conducted by Patrick Hepburn of Hales, met with a different fate; for having advanced too far into England, and remained too long, the Earl of March found time to unite the power of Northumberland with his own, and to intercept Hepburn and his followers in their return, 22 June at West-Nisbet in the Merse, three miles south of Duns. An obstinate conflict ensued, rather favourable to the Scots, till the son of March arrived. [Page 72]with a fresh reinforcement, when victory declared for the English. The Scotish leader was slain, with several other gentlemen, and the flower of the youth of Lothian; many were mortally wounded; and John and Thomas Haliburtons, John and William Cockburns, Lauder of Bass, and many others remained captives 8.

Douglas, stung with regret for the loss of his brave friends and countrymen, and inflamed with rage against March, his particular enemy, immediately applied to Albany for a body of troops, to be added to his own power upon an expedition into England. The governor consented, and dispatched a considerable force under Murdac his eldest son; the earls of Angus and Moray also joined Douglas, who entered England with an army of ten thousand men, carrying terror and de­vastation to the walls of Newcastle. Henry IV was now engaged in the Welch war against Owen Glendour; but the earl of Northumberland, and his son the Hotspur Percy, with the earl of March, collected a numerous array; and awaited the return of the Scots, impeded with spoil, near Milfield, in the northern part of Northumberland. Douglas had reached Wooler, in his return; and perceiving the enemy, seized a strong post between the two armies, called Homildon hill. In this method he rivalled his predecessor at the battle of Otterburn, 14 Sept. but not with like success. The English advanced [Page 73]to the assault, and Henry Percy was about to lead them up the hill, when March caught his bridle, and advised him to advance no further, but to pour the dreadful shower of English arrows into the enemy. This advice was followed with the usual fortune; for in all ages the bow was the English instru­ment of victory, and though the Scots, and perhaps the French, were superior in the use of the spear, yet this weapon was useless after the distant bow had decided the combat. Robert the Great, sensible of this, at the battle of Banocburn ordered a prepared detachment of cavalry, to rush among the English archers at the commencement, totally to disperse them, and stop the deadly effusion. But Douglas now used no such pre­caution; and the consequence was that his people, drawn up on the face of a hill, presented one general mark to the enemy, none of whose arrows descended in vain. The Scots fell without sight, and unrevenged, till a spirited knight, Swinton, exclaimed aloud, "O my brave countrymen! what fascination has seized you to-day that you stand like deer to be shot, instead of indulging your antient courage, and meeting your enemies hand to hand? Let those who will, descend with me, that we may gain victory, or life, or fall like men." This being heard by Adam Gordon, between whom and Swinton there existed an antient and deadly feud, attended with the mutual slaughter of many followers, he instantly fell on his knees before Swinton, begged his pardon; and desired to be dubbed a knight by him whom he must now regard as the wisest, and boldest of that order in Britain. The ceremony performed, Swinton and Gordon descended the hill, accompanied only by one hundred men; and a desperate valour led the whole body to death. Had a similar spirit been shown by the Scotish army, it is probable that the event of the day would have been dif­ferent. Douglas, who was certainly deficient in the most [Page 74]important qualities of a general, seeing his army begin to disperse, at length attempted to descend the hill; but the English archers, retiring a little, sent a flight of arrows so sharp and strong that no armour could withstand; and the Scotish leader himself, whose panoply was of remarkable temper, fell under five wounds, though not mortal. The English men of arms, knights of squires, did not strike one blow, but remained spectators of the rout, which was now complete. Great numbers of the Scots were slain, and near five hundred perished in the river Tweed upon their flight. Among the illustrious captives were Douglas, whose chief wound deprived him of an eye; Murdac son of Albany; the Earls of Moray, and Angus; and about twenty four gentlemen of eminent rank and power. The chief slain were Swinton, Gordon, Livingston of Calendar, Ramsay of Dalhousie, Walter Sinclair, Roger Gordon, Walter Scot, and others. Such was the issue of the unfortunate battle of Homildon 9.

Henry Percy disgraced the victory by an act of cruelty. Among the captives was Sir William Stuart of Forest; and Percy insisted that he, being a native of Tividale when under [Page 75]the English power, should be regarded as a traitor. Stuart, a man of wisdom and eloquence, defended himself so well that he was acquitted by three successive juries; but the malice of Percy led him to appoint a new jury of his followers, and Stuart was drawn and quartered, amidst the murmurs of the English, who knew that his merit was the only cause of his death 1.

Henry IV, on receiving intelligence of the battle of Ho­mildon, desired the Percies not to ransom, nor deliver, their prisoners, without his consent: and, to palliate this apparently harsh mandate, he generously granted the earldom of Douglas, with Eskdale, Lidsdale, Lauderdale, the lordship of Selkirk, forest of Ettrick, county of Tividale, and all the other appen­dages of that high house, to the Earl of Northumberland; who smiled at this liberal gift of a country, neither conquered, nor likely to be an object of easy seizure 2. But the Percies resolved to take the king in his own snare, and to make this conquest the pretended object of arms, instantly to be turned against the granter. Meantime Murdac, the regent's son, sometimes termed Earl of Fife, and some other prisoners were sent to Henry, 20 Oct. and were presented in full parliament. Sir Adam Forester, one of these captives, made a speech be­fore that great audience, which would have been wiser if better timed, representing the advantages of solid and durable peace between the nations; but Henry checked the oration, because Forester had formerly deceived him, concerning [Page 76]Albany's intentions to fight, at the siege of Edinburgh castle 3. The heir of Albany was freed, upon his word of honour not to withdraw from England; the inferior prisoners were com­mitted to an easy confinement. The earl of March requested the parliament, that he might be restored to his lands in pro­portion as subdued by the English, and that such of his people as chose to observe allegiance to England should be received; all which was willingly granted, but it was insisted that his people should take an oath of fidelity 4.

An incident occurred, 1403 which contributes to paint the features of the times and of the government. Sir Malcom Drummond, brother of the late queen, had been married for some years to Isabella, in her own right countess of Mar. He was suddenly surprized in his castle by a band of ruffians, and imprisoned till he died of his hard captivity. In the next year, a decent term having expired, Alexander Stuart, natural son of Alex­ander the deceased earl of Buchan, brother of Albany, forced the countess to wed him; and as he was a noted leader of the highland freebooters there is no room to doubt that he had been the murderer of her husband, in order to attain this wealthy marriage. These unworthy deeds were sanctioned by the government; the king's name being boldly set, by the regent, to a charter confirming the earldom to a lawless in­truder 5. Thus every insult, and every crime, seem to have been crouded by Albany, his younger brothers and adherents, that could contribute to the depression and destruction of the king's family and connexions.

[Page 77]The Earl of Northumberland, and his son, were now intent upon open rebellion against Henry IV; and to colour the raising of their troops, and gain time for adding fresh musters, it was resolved to make a short incursion into Scotland, on pretence of rendering effectual the grant of the earldom of Douglas. Accordingly Henry Percy, and the Earl of March, proceeding with a considerable force besieged Coklawis, a strong tower in Tividale on the confines of the Merse 6; June but found so obstinate a defence that, both parties being fatigued, it was agreed, between Percy and Greenlaw the captain, that if no aid were sent by the Scotish king, or governor, the for­tress should surrender on the first of August, being six weeks from the date of the convention. Gladstane, the proprietor of Coklawis, who had remained concealed in the place, soon hastened to the king, who referred him to the governor. Albany assembling a council of prelates and nobles at Falkland, laid the affair before them; and they knowing him little in­clined to war, pretended that it was better to give up that paltry turret, than encounter further danger from England, when the Scots were weakened and disheartened by the late defeat. Upon which, to their surprize, the regent who ap­parently had intelligence of the commotion raised by the Percies, and that the north of England was incapable either [Page 78]of offence or defence, started up, and exclaimed, "I vow to God and St. Fillan that I shall prevent the appointed day, although none should attend me save that youth, my groom," pointing to Peter de Kinbuk, then holding his horse at a distance. The council, effectually duped and astonished by the governor's new spirit, answered with tears of joy, "May God confirm his work in you; and by his aid we engage that our help shall not be deficient." Albany was soon at the head of a numerous army, consisting according to our antient accounts of not less than fifty thousand rude cavalry, and as many infantry. With some loss he took the fort of Inwerwick in Lothian 7, which had been seized by the English, after the destruction of the flower of Lothian at Homildon; and was approaching Coklawis, when a messenger brought him tidings that Percy was defeated and slain at Shrewsbury. Upon this the governor encamped his wide battalions around Coklawis, and ordered a herald to proclaim the joyful intelligence; then dismissed his army, and returned as in triumph 8. The battle of Shrewsbury, with the prudent and bold conduct of the Scotish earl of March on the part of Henry IV, and the spirited actions of Douglas 9 in behalf of Percy, belong to English history: of this narration it is the duty to observe that the conduct of Albany was reprehensible in a high degree, and that by his usual misconduct he lost a fit opportunity of regaining Jedburgh, Roxburgh, or Berwick, or otherwise assail­ing the north of England, in its weak and disaffected state, [Page 79]and avenging the affronts and the losses of his country. The people of Scotland were then almost unknown in their own government, but the patience of the nobles and gentlemen under this long and disgraceful Regency, yet further to be lengthened and disgraced, can only be accounted for, by in­ferring that Albany shared with them the spoils of the king and of the people, and thus indulged to the utmost the na­tural spirit of aristocracy.

An impostor appearing in Scotland, 1404 under the name of Richard II 1, the policy of Henry IV perceived that dan­gerous commotions might arise from this pretext, and his desires of peace were increased. He wished to include the Scots in the long truce, formerly ratified with France; but, not succeeding, used other pacific negotiations, and Robert III on his side appointed commissioners to treat for the ransom of Albany's son, May and Douglas, and for a truce if obtainable upon proper terms; which was in fact concluded for a very short time 2. 6 July to Easter. Another meeting was agreed on to confer concerning a definitive treaty, and among the Scotish commissioners were James Douglas lord of Dalkeith, the bishop of Glasgow, Sir David Fleming, John Merton doctor of canon law, and Walter Forester canon of Aberdeen and secretary of state 3. [Page 80]The lasting bars in the way of solid peace seem to have been the treaty between Scotland and France, and the possession of some places in the borders by the English, which they could not resign, nor the Scots cease to demand, without dishonour.

A Scotish vessel, 1405 Jan. of great value, having been captured by an English armed barge near St. Andrews, letters were ad­dressed by Robert, by Albany his lieutenant-general, by the bishop of St. Andrews, and by other eminent persons to Henry demanding restitution, but without effect 4. In consequence of this injustice, the Scotish commissioners failed in their ap­pointed meetings with the English on the marches; March and mu­tual animosity began to be discovered 5.

The aged and sickly king, secluded in the isle of Bute 6, the victim of his own weakness, and of his brother's savage ambition, had yet a few friends left. Among these was Henry Wardlaw, nephew of the late cardinal, and recently appointed bishop of St. Andrews by the Pope, a prelate re­commended by his love of letters, and of his king, and country. To his charge James, Earl of Carric, and only surviving son of Robert III, now in his eleventh year, was committed by [Page 81]his father, and by his advice France was chosen as a secure retreat for the heir of the kingdom, from the brutal force or dark art of Albany 7. The polished education to be received in that celebrated country afforded a fair pretence for this plan; and the regent seems not to have opposed it, hoping perhaps somewhat from accident, divining the unpopularity of a fo­reign education, nor regreting to unite the public attention by being the nearest heir of the monarchy left in Scotland. Henry Sinclair earl of Orkney was appointed chief attendant of the prince in this voyage: and a ship was ordered to the isle of Bass, in the firth of Forth, to receive the important charge. David Fleming of Cumbernald, a relation of the king, and several chief gentlemen of Lothian, conducted the prince, and saw him safe on board: on their return they were pursued by James Douglas, uncle of the earl, and a conflict followed at Hermanston moor, 14 Feb. in which Fleming and many others fell 8.

[Page 82]The prince had only proceeded as far as Flamborough head, when he was intercepted by a ship belonging to Cley in Norfolk; and the Scotish vessel, being small and unarmed, was taken without defence. 30 Mar. The royal captive, and his at­tendants, were immediately sent to the English king, who faid with sarcastic joy, "Had the Scots been grateful, they ought to have sent this youth to me to be educated, for I understand French well." Henry then ungenerously ordered the prince, and Orkney, to the Tower: and nineteen years elapsed before James saw the end of his captivity 9.

Rothsay herald appears to have been sent, in order to treat for the deliverance of the prince: and Albany interested in the welfare of his son Murdac, who remained a prisoner in England, endeavoured to conciliate Henry, and expressed his regret for the failure of the conferences 1. 2 June But a storm now [Page 83]burst forth in the north of England, which threatened to immerge Scotland in open war.

The earl of Northumberland, who had been pardoned by Henry after the battle of Shrewsbury, began, in concert with the earl Marshal of England, the archbishop of York, and lord Bardolf, to revive his rebellion, if it can be so called, against the usurper. But Henry's vigorous measures speedily extinguished the flame. Some of the earl's confederates were seized, and executed, while he himself fled into Scotland, June accompanied by his infant grandson, and by lord Bardolf 2.

The Scots availed themselves of the confusion, to manifest their sense of Henry's injustice. Some joined Northumberland at Berwick; and the English monarch, alarmed at the com­plicated danger, in vain issued a commission to John his son, 8 July constable of England, and warden of the eastern frontier, (offices transferred to him from the earl of Northumberland two years before,) to negotiate a truce with Scotland till the following Easter 3. Upon the retreat of Northumberland into their country, the Scots gave the town of Berwick to the-flames; but the castle, which was held for the rebel earl, soon after surrendered to the English king 4.

[Page 84]Robert, yielding to age and infirmities, had abandoned the reins of government to Albany, in title lieutenant general of the kingdom, but in fact regent. It appears that Albany, probably instigated by Northumberland, meditated, or pre­tended to meditate, an invasion of England, for Henry ordered his array to be in readiness to oppose this design 5; 8 Sept. and he issued a commission to treat with Donald lord of the Isles, 16 Sept. and John his brother 6, the potentates of the Hebudes being generally the allies of England. But both parties soon relaxed in their resentment; end Sept. and a truce was concluded, to last till the ensuing Easter 7.

The ambition of Albany prevented any effectual intercession for the liberty of the prince; 1406 and perhaps his father regarded him as more secure in England than in Scotland. No warmth of animosity seems therefore to have arisen on this account: and Henry renewed his powers to prolong the truce 8. 7 Feb.

Robert III, overwhelmed with infirmities and misfortunes, died at the castle of Rothsay in Bute, 4 April after having nearly completed the seventeenth year of his hapless reign 9.

BOOK III. CONTAINING THE REGENCIES OF ROBERT, AND MURDAC, DUKES OF ALBANY.

Character of Albany—March returns—a heretic burnt—Jed­burgh taken—mutual ravages—insurrection of Donald lord of the Isles—battle of Harlaw—university of St. Andrew's founded—Henry V of England—incursions—disgraceful ex­pedition of Albany—his death—Murdac regent—treaty for the ransom of James—affairs of the Scots in France.

THE character of Robert Duke of Albany requires but a few features, to finish the delineation, which has already presented itself in his actions. He approached his seventieth year, when, by various arts and crimes, he attained the great object of his pursuits, in the sole government of Scotland. His person was tall, and majestic, his countenance amiable: temperance, affability, eloquence, real generosity, apparent benignity, a degree of cool prudence bordering upon wisdom, may be reckoned among his virtues. But the shades of his vices are deeper; an insatiate ambition, unrelenting cruelty, and its attendant cowardice, or at least an absolute defect of military fame, a contempt of the best human affections, a long practice in all the dark paths of art and dissimulation. [Page 86]His administration he studied to recommend, not by promoting the public good, but by sharing the spoils of the monarchy with the nobles, by a patient connivance at their enormities, by a dazzling pomp of expenditure in the pleasures of the feast, and in the conciliation of munificence. As fortune preserved his government from any signal unsuccess, so it would be an abuse of terms to bestow upon a wary management, which only regarded his own interest, the praise of political wisdom 1.

The three estates, having met in parliament at Perth, soon after the demise of the late king, decency constrained them formally to recognize the title of the captive prince to the sovereignty; but the regency and sole command of affairs were ratified to Albany 2. 1407 The treaty with France was renewed: and the truce with England continuing, the regent sent em­bassadors to adjust any differences which had arisen, yet appears not to have even mentioned his captive nephew 3. But a more [Page 87]sincere and effectual intercession was made for the Earl of Douglas, who was permitted to revisit his country upon an engagement to pay a ransom of one thousand marks, and leaving hostages for security 4. Many Scots now crouded to the English court, some in the hopes of admission to the pre­sence of their young sovereign, and of attracting his favour by their attentions: and others from various motives. Among these was Alexander Stuart, who had become Earl of Mar by the unwarrantable means above recited; he appointed a tourna­ment of English and Scots in which the latter were defeated: but his restless spirit carrying him into Flanders, in the fol­lowing year, he distinguished himself in the service of the Duke of Burgundy, who had sent him to assist in quelling a rebellion of the people of Liege, against their bishop John of Bavaria 5.

[Page 88]The Earl of March disappointed in his hopes of the conquest and grant of his estates, 1408 by the English monarch, was not indisposed to return to his own country; and the regent and the nobles of Scotland knew, from experience, that his en­mity, and his friendship, were not unimportant. A new government having taken place, Albany could now throw the blame of the injuries offered to this nobleman upon the late king; and an accommodation was effected. From the liberality of Henry IV March had acquired some estates in England, which served to indemnify his loss; and Douglas restored his Scotish domains, upon condition however of retaining the lordship of Annandale, and its castle of Lochmaben 6.

A scene, it is believed, before unknown in Scotland disgraces the annals of this year. James Resby, an English priest of the school of Wickliffe, was condemned for heresy by a clerical council, presided by Lawrence Lindoris, an inquisitor; and delivered to the secular arm, and to the flames, at Perth. [Page 89]The articles of his heresy amounted to about forty; and the first and chief was that the Pope is not the vicar of Christ 7. Winton particularly praises Albany for his aversion to Lollards, and to heresy, and for his devotion to the catholic church: and from this incident the reputation appears to have been well founded. But it did little honour to his government to institute the first example to his country of fanatic cruelty, though much of the blame must rest upon priestly persecution, upon the examples of other countries and, the spirit of the times. The sacred light of philosophy, which establishes ab­solute right of conscience, and unlimited scope of opinion, was yet far from its dawn; and the barbarism of the age thought to honour religion by crime, and the Deity by the destruction of man.

The truces, 1409 which had extended from the commencement of the regency to this time, having expired without renewal, some of the commons of Tividale, a people hardened by their limitory situation, and constant exposure to war, assaulted and took the castle of Jedburgh, which had remained in the hands of the English since the battle of Durham 8. The walls were so hardly cemented together, that much labour was required to destroy them, as was resolved, in order to prevent the foe from regaining so firm a hold: and it was agitated in a parlia­ment, held at Perth, that a tax of two pennies upon every hearth should be raised for this purpose. But the regent, anxious for popularity, opposed this resolution, saying that during his regency no tax had ever been levied, nor should he now begin to merit by that abuse the malediction of the poor: and he accordingly ordered the expence to be defrayed out of [Page 90]the royal customs 9. One of the inconsistencies of human affairs is, that a power irregularly or criminally acquired is often exerted in a manner far more excellent, than the just tenor of authority; for the latter rests upon an indispensable claim, while the former requires support from the affections of the people.

To revenge the loss of Jedburgh, 1410 Robert Umfraville, of the English family which claimed the title of Angus, entered the Forth with ten ships, and took fourteen vessels laden with drapery and grain: and afterwards ravaged various parts of the Scotish coast. The supply of corn which he brought on his return, was so seasonable to England, then afflicted with a scarcity, that he was honoured with the vulgar appellation of Robert Mendmarket 1. But it is uncertain whether the corn captured in the Forth was an import into, or an export from Scotland. Nor were the Scots deficient in successful hostility, for Patrick Dunbar, the son of March, took by stratagem the fortress of Fastcastle, on the northern shore of the Merse, which had been for a short time in the English power 2.

Although Henry IV was irritated by the loss of Jedburgh, and meditated a blow against the regent, yet to cover his designs he permitted a proposed truce to proceed so far, as to require Albany's ratification 3. This was conveyed in a letter to Henry, [Page 91]some expressions of which were esteemed rather presumptuous; for the regent was styled "by the grace of God," and men­tioned "our subjects of Scotland 4." As Henry's title to his crown was not so good as Albany's to the Scotish, and a con­siderable similarity occurs in the progress of their ambition, it is no wonder that such expressions seemed to imply pride, or reproach.

But the most important event during this regency now arises in the rebellion, 1411 as it was termed, of the lord of the Isles. The subject of dispute was the earldom of Ross, a title of uncertain creation, but which at least ascends to the twelfth century. The ancient line failed in Euphemia Ross, wedded to Walter Lesley, whose issue were Alexander Earl of Ross, and a daughter espoused to Donald lord of the Isles: Euphemia, upon Lesley's death, married Alexander Earl of Buchan, son of Robert II. Alexander Earl of Ross had by his wife, a daughter of Albany, an only child also named Euphemia, who became a nun, probably by the instigation of her mother's family, and with the intention of resigning the dignity to John Earl of Buchan, second son of the regent, when she came of age; but the resignation was not executed till four years after this period 5. As Euphemia by entering into a nunnery was regarded as dead in law, Donald lord of the Isles resolved to defeat the machinations of the family of Albany, by an im­mediate seizure of the earldom, which included the island of Sky, and lay contiguous to his dominions. Not contented with this acquisition, to shew his scorn of the regent, and recommend his alliance to the English king, Donald raised an army of ten thousand men of the Hebudes, and of Ross, and advanced as far as Mar in his desolating inroad, intending to [Page 92]sack Aberdeen, and ravage the country even down to the Tay 6.

To stop his destructive career, Alexander Stuart Earl of Mar, and Ogilby sheriff of Angus, hastily collected some troops from Buchan, Mar, Garioch, Angus, and Merns; and met the invader at Harlaw, 24 July about ten miles northwest of Aberdeen. Mar's army was inferior in number; and the battle was obstinate and fierce, but indecisive. On the side of Donald the chiefs of Maclean and Macintosh fell, with about nine hundred; and Mar lost five hundred men, among whom were some of rank, as Scrymger constable of Dundee, George Ogilby heir of the family, and most of the gentlemen of Buchan 7. The lord of the Isles was however so much weak­ened, that he was forced to retire; and the regent immediately collecting an army marched to the castle of Dingwall in Ross, which he took and garrisoned toward the end of autumn. Next summer Albany set three armies on foot to invade Donald's territories, who was obliged to abandon his preten­sions to Ross, to make a personal submission, and give oaths and hostages for indemnification, and future observance of peace 8. As the interests of the regent were concerned, the motives of his conduct deserve no applause; but the conduct itself was in this instance spirited and political, for it might have proved dangerous to have permitted a large and con­tiguous accession of territory to an independent chief, the ally of England.

[Page 93]Meantime it appears not that Henry IV made any exertion to assist his ally, a greater field having opened to his ambition in the affairs of France, the long dissensions of which kingdom had now ripened into civil war. Henry prepared the future conquests of his son by engaging in the party of Burgundy, to whom he this year sent a supply of troops: and it became an object of his prudence to prevent any disturbance of his designs, by terminating hostilities with Scotland. The publication of a remarkable papal bull, given by Urban V in 1368, but not openly current till now, also contributed to this end 9. In this pontifical mandate it is forbidden, under pain of excom­munication and interdiction, to all persons ecclesiastical or secular, of whatever rank, to form any leagues against the government of Scotland, or to enter that kingdom hostilely, or make any depredations in it, or even to protect or assist any who shall infringe this prohibition. To the terrors of excom­munication other penalties are added; and infamy, degradation, incapacity of any places of honour or trust, are held out to the violators; and, if kings, their subjects are absolved from their allegiance. This last threat may have had some influence with Henry, whose title little required any additional shock. Urban V was a Frenchman, and warm in the interests of his country, struggling at the period of this bull with Edward III: the origin of this fulmination is therefore easily explained; and it appears to have lain dormant at first from a discovery of the friendly dispositions of David II towards England; and, afterwards neglected and forgotten, to have been revived by accident at the present epoch.

Various negotiations for a truce between England and Scotland occupied this, and the following year, and occasioned [Page 94]a suspension of arms. Nevertheless Douglas of Drumlanrig, and Gawin Dunbar, broke down the bridge of Roxburgh, and set fire to the town 1. But neither this insult, nor the loss of Jedburgh, could divert the English king from his attention to France; and the Earl of Douglas, finding no employment for his martial spirit in his own country, resolved to bear a part in the French deeds of arms. Thrice, says a monastic historian, he was repelled by contrary winds, till by the advice of the Earl of Orkney his companion in the voyage, he visited the isle of St. Colm in the firth of Forth, and addressed his supplications to the tutelary Saint, Columba. Then he sailed to Flanders, and by the Saint's assistance soon returned 2. Douglas must have found it impracticable to take a decided share in the war, for the alliance of England shifted from one party to the other; nay the French king himself was in­decided.

To Henry Wardlaw, bishop of St. Andrews, 1412 Scotland now became indebted for her first university, an event more in­teresting and important than dubious negotiations, or the tumults of war. It is pleasing to consider the dawn of the light of learning, rising as after a tempestuous night of discord and barbarism, and commencing its salutary influence. The studies of the time were indeed unimportant, the thorny tract of scholastic theology, the clerical usurpations of canon law, a logic which taught not to reason, a philosophy devoid of wisdom: but still the mind was employed, a sacrifice, though rude, was offered to science, the field began to be manured, which in time was to yield productions of delight and of utility. At Pentecost 1410 the lectures at St. Andrews had begun, [Page 95]but the bulls of confirmation were not received till this year, 3 Feb. when Henry Ogilby master of arts, who had been deputed on that service, arrived with the papal consent. Universal festivity enlivened the city, the bulls were presented to the bishop who appeared in state in the refectory, were solemnly perused aloud, and Te Deum sung, and the elevation of joy and of wine pervaded every street. On a following day a grand procession was instituted, in which were seen not less than four hundred clergy 3.

The death of Henry IV, 1413 March and the succession of his warlike son to the English sceptre, introduced little alteration into the affairs of Scotland. One of the first acts of Henry V was to order the son of Albany, whom policy had still retained captive in England, and some other prisoners to the tower; lest they might have taken an advantage, of which there did not want examples, in escaping upon a pretence, believed in that age to be just, that their promises of honour were only engaged to the late king, and became vacated by his death 4. Resolving to take advantage of the distracted state of France, he had effectual means in his hands to secure the neutrality of Scot­land, by continuing the captivity of James, and of Albany's eldest son; and to shew his amicable intentions he dismissed some Scotish captives of inferior note 5. The Scots were afterwards amused with three unsuccessful negotiations, in the same year, between their regent and the English king, for the ransom of James. Albany sent a more serious embassy [Page 96]for the ransom of Murdac his son; but this design also failed and only a truce was agreed on, to last till June 1414: at which time it was continued by further negotiation 6.

While Henry V was occupied with his victorious expedition into France, 1415 the Earl of Douglas took and burned Penrith; and in revenge Dumfries met with a similar fate 7. The want of an Earl of Northumberland now began to be felt; and it was resolved by the English government to accomplish a treaty, commenced in the preceding year, for the exchange of the regent's son and the young Earl of Northumberland, son of Hotspur, who had been left in Scotland by his grandfather, when he retired into Wales. That he was detained as a captive, after the seizure of the Scotish prince, can hardly be imputed to injustice; but he was liberally educated at St. An­drews by the bishop, and met with such honourable hospitality that grateful impressions alone filled his mind. Before Henry proceeded to France this exchange had been determined; but was postponed on account of the ungenerous flight of Murdac, who was however taken, and the captor liberally rewarded 8. The anxiety of the regent, now far advanced in years, for the presence of his heir, and the wishes of the English for the [Page 97]protection of another Earl of Northumberland, at last conspired together: and the exchange was carried into effect 9.

A fresh treaty for the ransom of James proceeded so far, 1416 that Henry consented that the Scotish king, now of age, should visit Scotland, on condition of returning within a limited time, under the penalty of one hundred thousand marks, giving hostages for security 1. But some pretext was found by the regent for breaking off this negotiation; and he at the same time entered into a correspondence with the duke of Orleans, now a prisoner in England 2.

While Henry V had entered upon his second expedition against France, 1417 and was engaged in the conquest of Normandy, Albany collected a large army, and dividing it into two parts, appointed the one under Douglas to invest Roxburgh, while he himself with the other besieged Berwick. But the dukes of Bedford and Exeter, gathering an array of more than one hundred thousand men, if we believe an English historian, and of which Exeter boasted that forty thousand were equal to the chosen soldiers under Henry in France, the Scots were [Page 98]forced to retire 3. Albany seems to have had crude intelli­gence, and to have thought that the force of England was in France, while Henry had in fact only a small but a select army. The people of Scotland not suspecting the numbers of the foe, and only seeing the ineffectual expedition, treated this attempt of Albany with great derision.

The Council of Constance having set a laudable example in the deposition of Benedict XIII, and in asserting the superiority of councils over the popes, after securing the consent of the other catholic kingdoms, at last sent an envoy to Scotland for that purpose. A parliament being summoned to Perth, the Abbot of Pontiniac produced letters from the Council, and from the Emperor Sigismund, and the case was examined. Benedict applied to the Regent, who rather favoured his cause, and appointed Robert Harding an Englishman to defend it, who was so unfortunate as to fall into heretical propositions in the attempt; and the University of St. Andrews, and most of the clergy, supporting Martin V the new pope chosen by the Council, it was resolved that Scotland should follow the example of the other catholic states 4.

The fortress of Work was taken by William Halyburton of Fastcastle, 1419 but some English troops arriving under Robert Ogle, [Page 99]he deceived Halyburton in proposing a compensation for de­liverance of the castle, while his men secretly scaled the walls, and overpowering the Scots flew Halyburton, and his twenty three followers 5.

Henry V had now reduced all the northern parts of France; and the Dauphin was left almost destitute of friends or re­sources. In this necessity he sent an embassy to the Scotish regent, requiring assistance in conformity with long existing treaties; and a parliament being held it was resolved to comply with the Dauphin's demand. In consequence Albany sent his second son, John Stuart Earl of Buchan, with a chosen army of seven thousand men, among whom were some nobles, and many knights and esquires; and upon their arrival in France the Dauphin immediately united them with his little army, then about to attempt the reduction of Languedoc 6.

Robert Duke of Albany after having ruled Scotland for about thirty-four years, including his former management under his father and brother, 3 Sept. died at the castle of Stirling, in the thirteenth year of his sole regency, after a life of upwards of eighty years. To his high office his son Murdac succeeded; a man of a very different character, indolent and remiss even to weakness, and not capable of paternal, far less of princely authority 7. But the circumstances of the times maintained him in his difficult [Page 100]station for four years, at the end of which James assumed the sceptre of his fathers.

Few incidents worth notice arise during the short regency of Murdac, except the transactions of the Scots in France, a new scene, but which more properly belongs to the French history. However at the end of this book a brief account shall be ex­hibited of these deeds of arms, which reflected no small credit upon Scotish valour.

The Earl of Douglas, 1420 entering England with a considerable force, took the town of Alnwick, and burned it to the ground 8. In the next year Henry V proceeded to York, and invited Douglas to a conference, in which he found means to engage the earl to serve him with two hundred horse, and as many infantry, upon Henry's allowing him the yearly sum of two hundred pounds 9. The motives of Douglas to this singular and treasonable treaty are not sufficiently apparent, but it seems that the weakness of the Scotish government concurred with the English gold to instigate this irregular conduct.

To add to the domestic calamities of Scotland under the feeble regency of Murdac, that country was afflicted with a new and wide malady, proceeding from irregular seasons. This was a contagious fever and dysentery, in which many of all ranks perished. Among the persons of note were Henry Sinclair earl of Orkney, James Douglas lord of Dalkeith; and George Dunbar earl of March, a nobleman most fortunate in war, the side upon which he stood being always victorious, as in the battles of Otterburn, Nisbet, Homildon, Shrewsbury, Benrig, and other less important conflicts 1.

In order to induce the Scots to withdraw from France, 1421 by bringing them into the hateful predicament of sighting against [Page 101]their own king, Henry V determined to have the company of James into France; and, to induce him to compliance, en­gaged that he should be permitted, three months after their return, to pass to Scotland for a time, upon giving a number of Scotish nobles as hostages 2. But Henry never returned; and his death in the succeeding year opened a surer prospect to James of his deliverance from a lengthened captivity. 1422 31 Aug.

The Duke of Bedford being appointed Protector of England, justly considered it as a superior policy to form an alliance with the Scotish king, and deliver him upon ransom. James was accordingly permitted to send for commissioners from Scotland, to confer at Pomfret with those of England, 1423 6 July whose instructions were sufficiently moderate. They were to demand forty thou­sand pounds, as a recompence for the maintenance of James while he resided in England, the name of ransom being unjust and invidious for a prince not taken in war, nor by his tender age capable of arms: they were to take hostages for the pay­ment in proportions of two thousand pounds a year: to offer perpetual peace, or, if rejected, a long truce: to obtain an agreement that no more Scots should proceed to France, and that those already there be recalled: artfully to induce the Scots to demand an English lady in marriage for the king: and lastly to proceed upon compensation of damages if de­manded 3. The Scotish commissioners probably returned to submit the terms to their government, and to procure ample [Page 102]instructions; 10 Sept. for the final agreement was settled at York, and after a delay of two months 4.

Murdac the regent had sufficiently learned from experience the oppressive weight, and mortifications, of power, when not supported by abilities 5. His own sons, instead of being awed by the important office of their father, seemed to share his dignity for the sake of licence, and to regard his authority as a protection for their vices. There is a tradition, the simplicity of which seems to speak its truth, that the regent had a favorite falcon, which his son Walter had often requested unsuccessfully, and at last, vexed with repeated refusal, he tore it from his father's hand, and twisted its neck: upon which Murdac mildly exclaimed, "Since you pay me so little respect, I must invite him whom both must obey 6."

But whether the regent's consent proceeded from his wishes, or from his weakness, and want of influence and ability to withstand the national desire, it is certain that the Scotish commissioners acted with sincerity. The conclusive treaty only bears that forty thousand pounds should be paid for the main­tenance of James, within six years, by half-yearly payments: that hostages should be given: and that the Scotish regent [Page 103]should send embassadors, empowered to close the marriage of James with an English lady of rank. The last clause must refer to the consent of parliament, necessary to effect the espousal and adjust the dower. And a space of time being required to accomplish these affairs, the month of March, in the approaching year, was fixed for the final arrangement. The Scotish commissioners afterwards proceeded to London, and came under solemn engagements to fulfil the agreement, and among other articles undertook to procure four obligations from the burghs of Edinburgh, Perth, Dundee, and Aberdeen, for the whole money to be paid 7.

James soon after espoused an English lady who had long attracted his affections. 1424 Feb. This was Joanna daughter of the duchess of Clarence, niece of Richard II, by her first husband John Duke of Somerset, fourth son of John of Ghent, Duke of Lancaster, and grandson of Edward III. The ceremony was performed at the church of St. Mary Overy in Southwark; and next day the Scotish king received, as the portion of his queen, a discharge of ten thousand pounds out of the sum to be paid to England 8. The hostages came to Durham at the appointed time; and James began his long expected journey to his own kingdom. Upon his arrival at Durham, a secondary set of hostages were named, out of which, in case of death, any of the former might be supplied; and a rental of all their estates was given in, which affords an interesting record of the state of wealth in Scotland at that period 9. Many Scotish [Page 104]nobles and gentlemen now crouded to pay their court to the sovereign; 9 April and James, amid the acclamations of the people, entered at last his own realm 1. But before proceeding to his memorable and spirited reign, it will be proper briefly to re­view the deeds and fate of the Scots in France.

The year after the arrival of the Scotish auxiliaries, we find Henry V using the company of James, his captive, as a mean of preventing the hostilities of his subjects; but without effect, for they continued to serve the Dauphin, justly regarding their sovereign's will as ineffectual while under constraint. The first important action in which the Scots appear is the battle of Baugé, so called from a village in Anjou, twenty two miles to the east of Angers. The Dauphin had appointed the Scots, led by the earls of Buchan and Wigton, and Stuart of Darnley, to guard that province against the Duke of Clarence, whom Henry V had detached for its reduction. On the twenty second day of March, 1421, the English when foraging took four Scots, and brought them to Clarence, who thus learned that the Scotish army and a few French lay at Baugé. The Duke instantly sprung from the table exclaiming, "Let us attack them, they are ours: but let none follow save the men at arms:" and after a quick march he came to Little Baugé, where a few French defended the church, and gained time for Buchan to arrange his troops. The English aware of this left the church untaken, and advanced; but to a complete de­feat. Clarence, distinguished by a coronet of gold and jewels upon his helmet, was the first slain; and a similar fate awaited the Earl of Kent, the Lords Grey and Ross, and above four­teen hundred men at arms. The Earls of Huntingdon and Somerset, and many others of note, were made captives. To [Page 105]reward the Earl of Buchan, who had slain Clarence with his own hand, the Dauphin gave him the high distinction of Constable of France 2.

In the following year the Constable took Avranches in Normandy; and probably learning the agreement which his father-in-law the Earl of Douglas had made with Henry V, he resolved to detach him from the English interest. For which purpose he visited Scotland, empowered to offer the earl the duchy of Touraine; and Douglas consented to bring five thousand men into France. The Dauphin, now Charles VII, rewarded Stuart of Darnley with the lordship of Aubigny in Berry; and the family and title were to become not a little illustrious. The death of Henry V had checked the English exertions; and Buchan and Douglas were only ordered to de­fend the Loire, and prevent the foe from entering Berry 3.

But fortune now became adverse to the Scotish auxiliaries; and two successive defeats almost extinguished them. The first happened at Crevan in Burgundy, in the year 1423. [Page 106]Charles VII intended that the Scots should proceed to Cham­pagne, and defend that country against Salisbury; but Aubigny laid siege to Crevan, and sent for cannon, which were refused as he neglected his orders. Salisbury advanced to raise the siege, and an action ensued in which the Scots were defeated: Stuart of Darnley and Aubigny, constable of the Scotish army, was taken prisoner; and soon after exchanged for the marshal of Burgundy: Sir William Hamilton, and about nine hundred, were left on the field 4.

The other defeat, which may be regarded as final, happened in the first year of James; but the connexion renders its de­scription proper at this place. This was the memorable battle of Verneüil in Normandy, fought on the seventeenth of August, 1424. The archbishop of Rheims had been sent embassador to Scotland, to procure a reinforcement, which landed in Bretagne; and Douglas, now Duke of Touraine, advanced to raise the siege of Yvry undertaken by the English. But the French king learning that a battle must be risqued, before the place was relieved, assembled all his troops, and leaving Tours, with Buchan the constable, he met his barons at Chateaudun and advanced to Verneüil. Bedford upon this raised the siege of Yvry, and marched to meet the French and Scots. Arriving near Verneüil, he sent a herald to Douglas, who had in derision called him John with the leaden sword, informing him that he had come to drink with him, and that [Page 107]he would wait till he had that honour. The Duke of Touraine answered that he was most welcome; that he had come from Scotland to find him, and he begged him to come quickly. If in these minute matters the manner of Plutarch be imitated, it is because it interests, and paints men and manners. The battalions were soon arranged upon either side, and Douglas resolved not to lose an advantageous station, but to await the English: the Vicomte of Narbonne, the French general, unhappily thought otherwise, and proceeded with the national rashness which had decided the battles of Cressy, Poitiers, Azincour. Douglas was forced to follow the example; and the army lost breath, rank, and station, while the enemy re­tained all. The French sent two thousand to attack the rear of the foe; but they were defeated by the English archers, and a general rout ensued. The Duke of Touraine, and his son-in-law the constable of France, and most of the Scotish­men of note were slain: and of the French the Vicomte de Narbonne, the Count D'Aumale, and many other nobles: of common French and Scots fell about four thousand five hun­dred. Douglas was honourably interred in Tours, the capital of his short-lived duchy 5. Such was the event of the battle of Verneüil, which ruined the affairs of Charles VII, till about five years after, when the Maid of Orleans began to revive them. The heroic race of Aubigny, and other parti­cular families and individuals, were afterwards distinguished in the wars of France; but this ruinous conflict effectually prevented any Scotish auxiliaries from ever visiting that king­dom in future 6.

BOOK IV. CONTAINING THE REIGN OF JAMES I.

Character of James I—parliament—execution of Albany, his sons, and Lennox—parliament—commercial negotiation with Flanders—parliaments—imprisonment of highland chiefs—representatives for shires—treaty with France—insurrection of Alexander lord of the Isles—his submission—commercial treaty with Flanders—parliament—truce with England—commotions in the highlands—English proposals—heretic burnt—March confined—parliament—death of Mar—Margaret of Scotland wedded to the Dauphin—siege of Roxburgh—par­liament—assassination of James.

AFTER two weak and inactive reigns, and two regencies of no superior character, a monarch is to succeed, whose government is to be distinguished for its novelty and vigour; and the house of Stuart is at last to know a sovereign. James had now attained his thirtieth year; and his prime of life was yet further recommended by every advantage, which natural talents, and a complete education, could bestow. In person he was rather under the middle size, but endued with such firmness and agility as to excell in every manly exercise. In wrestling, in the management of the bow, or the spear, in throwing the quoit, in running, in horsemanship, he yielded to none. But his mental abilities were yet more conspicuous. [Page 109]A man of science and learning, an excellent poet, a master of music, the fame of his accomplishments reflected glory even on the throne. Illustrious in every personal virtue, free from any personal vice, his very amusements adorned his character; his hours of leisure being frequently dedicated to elegant writing, and miniature painting, to mechanical arts, and to the cultivation of the garden and the orchard 1.

The features of his government it is more difficult to dis­criminate. If we believe some writers, not less than three thousand men were put to death, in the two first years of his reign; and after the inroad of Donald Balloch, three hundred highland banditti met with the same fate 2. Happily these matters are quite unknown to contemporary and authentic monuments of our history: the justice of James fell only on a few nobles, and some chiefs of clans; but the numerous de­pendants of those victims of equitable severity embraced every occasion to excite discontents, and propagate falsehoods against the government, falsehoods which have even past into the page of history, for one of the misfortunes of the house of Stuart has consisted in the prejudices of several Scotish historians. If any blame must fall, let it fall where it ought, upon the mis­rule of the house of Albany. To a people who had lived for half a century under a loose and delegated government, and who had been accustomed to regard licence as liberty, it is no wonder that the punishment of crimes seemed quite a new and strange cruelty: that a salutary strength of government ap­peared [Page 110]despotism: that a necessary and legal taxation assumed the shape of tyrannic extortion. The commons, led by the nobles, absurdly regarded the cause of the latter as their own, and saw not that the king in crushing the aristocracy was doing the most essential service to his people. The plans of James were sagacious and profound, but sometimes incur the charge of temerity; and while they partake of the greatness of genius, they are limited by the want of a sufficient power in the Scotish monarchy for their complete execution. In a word James is fully entitled to the uncommon character of a great sovereign, in the arts of government and of peace 3.

Upon entering his kingdom, Easter 23 Apr. James proceeded to Edinburgh, were he keeped the festival of Easter; and afterwards ad­vancing to Scone, 21 May was there solemnly crowned with his queen; Murdac duke of Albany, as earl of Fife, performing the cere­mony of placing his sovereign in the throne 4. A truce of seven years having been previously formed with England 5, James had full leisure and opportunity to attend to the internal state of his kingdom; 26 May and a parliament commenced at Perth five days after his coronation 6. With the acts of this parlia­ment begins the regular series of Scotish laws, and a new light arises upon a most important province of history, that of go­vernment and manners. The reiterated theme of battles, and negotiations, may now be diversified with more interesting intelligence, and the arts of peace may afford a pleasing contrast to the devastations of war. In this national council it was [Page 111]decreed that the antient privileges and freedom of the church be confirmed: that the king's peace be firmly held, and no private wars allowed: that no man should travel with more followers than he could maintain 7: that efficient administrators of law be appointed through all the realm: that no extortions from churchmen, or farmers, in particular be admitted: that the customs and borough rates be assigned to the king, and mines of gold and silver under certain restrictions: that the clergy shall not pass the sea without the king's permission, nor have pensions out of benefices in Scotland: that gold and silver should not be exported but upon paying a high custom: that all persons exceeding twelve years of age should be taught archery: that agriculture be protected by the destruction of rooks, and by a prevention from setting fire to heathy ground while the corn was standing: that certain customs be raised on horse, cattle, and sheep, and herrings, and on furs: that inns be kept in every borough; and no beggars allowed, except permitted by the sheriff in the country, and in towns by the aldermen or bailies 8.

Such were the salutary regulations of this parliament, many of them bespeaking political prudence, and others an amiable simplicity of manners. But there were two others of remark­able import, and therefore reserved for a separate consideration. The first orders the sheriffs to enquire what lands belonged to the crown, under the preceding monarchs David II, and the two last Roberts, declaring at the same time that the king may summon the holders to shew their charters 9. The second imposes a large subsidy, in order to defray the sum payable to England for the king's maintenance 1. Though the justice of [Page 112]these ordinances cannot be questioned, yet their policy may. The former, it is believed, produced no effect, except suspi­cion, and discontent, among a number of the subjects: and the latter excited an almost universal dissatisfaction. Though a subsidy to defray the king's ransom, if taken prisoner, was one of the few taxes authorized by the feudal system, yet the present circumstances did not, to the public mind, justify the imposition. The tax consisted of twelve pennies in the pound of all sorts of production, farms, and annual rents, cattle and grain, whether of the clergy, or of the laity, and to continue for two years. Auditors, or chief receivers, were appointed, who in the first year collected about fourteen thousand marks; but in the second year the popular expostulations increased and prevailed 2. The consequence was, that the sum payable for the king's maintenance in England was never defrayed.

It was not to be expected that the usurpations of the family of Albany should pass unrevenged; 1425 and James was no sooner firm on the throne of his ancestors than he thought of dis­charging this great duty in a spirited manner. As their power had continued for a long time, and was deeply rooted in the nation, it was necessary to try the public pulse, an proceed by degrees. Accordingly, in the very commencement of his exercise of authority, James had ordered Walter, the eldest son of the late regent Murdac, into custody; and at the same time, probably only to veil his designs, and prevent the family of Albany from being regarded as the sole objects of his resent­ment, Malcom Fleming of Cumbernald, and Thomas Boyd of Kilmarnoc, shared the same fate, but were soon after re­leased 3. The next objects of imprisonment were Duncan [Page 113]earl of Lennox, father in law to Murdac, and Sir Robert Graham 4. At length the public inclination being sufficiently▪ explored, James ventured on a most daring expedient; and summoning a parliament to Perth he gave orders to arrest at once Murdac duke of Albany, 12 Mar. and Alexander Stuart his second son, with the earls of Douglas, Angus, March, and not less than twenty gentlemen of great ancestry and power 5. As it is certain that the revenge only extended to the house of Al­bany, and was meant to proceed no further, historians find some difficulty in accounting for the pretext or motive to this large exertion of authority. The pretext might perhaps be, that the prisoners had not complied with the late act of parlia­ment in producing their charters; and as most of them, if not all, had been warm supporters of the family of Albany, the motive appears more certainly to have been the prevention of any insurrection in favour of that house. Instantly upon the seizure of Albany, the king took possession of his castles of Falkland in Fife, and Down in Menteith: Murdac was committed to Carlaveroc castle, and Isabella his duchess to Tantallon, places remote from the seat of their feudal influ­ence 6.

That the precaution used by James, in securing the friends of Albany, was not vain, may appear from the conduct of James Stuart, the youngest son of the duke. Having escaped his intended arrest, he, with the assistance of Finlay bishop of Lismore or Argyle, raised a band of Highland freebooters, assaulted and burned the town of Dunbarton, 3 May and put to the sword Sir John Stuart of Dundonald, uncle to the king, with thirty two men. The monarch, justly enraged at this insult, [Page 114]ordered the son of Albany to be proclaimed a felon; and so hot was the pursuit that he was forced, with the bishop and other accomplices, to seek refuge in Ireland, whence they never returned. Five of his band being taken in a few days, suffered the most ignominious and extreme punishment of the law 7.

After a delay of two months necessary to collect sufficient proofs of Albany's guilt, and to prepare the minds of the people, 18 May James adjourned the parliament to Stirling, and this important trial was instituted. The jury consisted of twenty one members of parliament, all of whom, as forming only one house, were in Scotland regarded as peers 8. The judge was the king himself, fitting on the throne of justice, with all the pomp of royalty; and this usual practice of the monarch presiding in his own cause may be vindicated from the ancient ideas concerning a jury, who were esteemed arbitrators of fact and of law, the judge being only the organ of their verdict. It is remarkable that among the jury we find Walter Stuart earl of Athole, Archibald earl of Douglas, William earl of Angus, George earl of March, and three gentlemen who had been arrested with Albany 9. As by the Scotish law a majority was sufficient to condemn a prisoner, this jury seems to have been artfully managed, in order to remove any suspicion from the king, and to throw the severity of the verdict upon Albany's own adherents. Walter the regent's eldest son was first tried, found guilty, 24 May and instantly beheaded; any delay serving no purpose in such a case but to create danger. Being a man of tall and comely stature, eloquent and affable, he was rather regreted. Nor did the vulgar voice less commiserate his brother's gigantic shape, the former authority of Albany, the [Page 115]venerable age of Lennox, a nobleman approaching his eightieth year, who were all three executed on the following day 1. We are left in the dark concerning the ostensible grounds of their condemnation; but it is probable that their seizure of the royal lands, and property, formed a chief article. The estates of Fife, Menteith, and Lennox, with others, thus became the property of the crown, and contributed in some degree to compensate the defalcations, which had happened under the regencies 2.

It must not be omitted that, in the second parliament of this reign, held at Perth as above mentioned, several prudent laws were passed, for the more effectual punishment of those who infringed the acts of the national council 3: for preventing any leagues among the subjects, an edict evidently pointing to the present circumstances of Albany's adherents; as does another, punishing the receivers of rebels by forfeiture, and another noted statute condemning to death and confiscation all guilty of propagating falsehoods between the king and the people. Other laws of this assembly contain regulations re­lating to trade and agriculture, and the administration of justice; on which last head it is ordered that all the inferior judges abide by the strict tenor of the law, and that the king may warn them so to do, as well those within regalities as others: that if a poor person cannot see an advocate, the king shall provide one: that if the sovereign pardons, on condition of the damage being compensated to the plaintiff, consideration [Page 116]be had of the highlanders who before the king's return were used to rob and kill each other, for from them the compensa­tion cannot be raised, but from the lowlanders 4.

While James was celebrating the anniversary of his birth at St. Andrews, Aug. attended by Douglas, Mar, Murray, Angus, and other nobles, he gave audience to the Flemish embassadors who had been deputed to settle some commercial differences. The Scotish merchants had, during the regencies, been treated with great arrogance, nay even letters of marque had been issued against them, in Flanders, which, with the duke of Burgundy, sustained the English party against France. James had in consequence ordered the Scotish trade to be transferred to Middleburg in Zealand; but upon the offer of compensation, and enlarged privileges, by the embassadors, the commerce was restored to Flanders 5. As Venice was the grand seat of trade between Asia and Europe, so Bruges in Flanders was the commercial link, which connected the merchandize of Venice, and the south of Europe, with its northern countries. Most articles of manufacture being also imported from Flanders by the Scots, who were yet little versed in the arts of industry, it is no wonder that the Flemish were eager to retain a com­merce, [Page 117]which was one great cause of impoverishing Scotland, and contributed not a little to the riches of Flanders.

It is with much complacency that this narration now pro­ceeds with the history of peace, for which ample materials begin with this reign to be found in Scotland. 1426 11 Mar. In a third parliament, it was ordered that all merchants should import some armour, and arms, with their cargoes 6: that all the lieges should be governed by the laws of the realm, and not by particular laws, or privileges, or by the laws of other countries: that no man, who had accused another, should be of the jury on his trial: that the prelates, earls, barons, and freeholders of the king, should appear personally in parliament, and not by procurators, except on lawful cause: that the books of the law be examined, and reformed: that to support the inns, travellers should lodge in them, and not with friends: that none should pass into Ireland without licence, as the rebels had been there received, nor should the Irish come to Scotland as they might be spies for the English: that a court of session be instituted, the chancellor, and certain discreet persons of the three estates, to sit thrice a year, for a period of time, and hear all causes: that they who have nothing shall labour for their living: that the acts of parliament be registered, and copies given to prelates, barons, and burgesses, at their expence 7. This last act was particularly necessary, in order to render the parliamentary institutions known, and practical: and after all it is recorded, as an apophthegm of Buchanan, that in Scotland one great act of parliament was wanted, namely a decree to enjoin the strict observance of the others. For a chief part of government, though unobserved by politicians, rests in the spirit of the people: laws are vain [Page 118]without manners: and a nation, accustomed to loose misrule, regards even law as a part of its licence, as a sermon and not as a duty, as a splendid theory and not as solid practice. In a special assize of this parliament, regulations were introduced into weights and measures, and provisions were made against the fatal effects of domestic fire 8. The frequent assembling of the national council does great honour to James, for mo­narchs inclined to despotism have ever trembled to meet the representatives of their people; and the acts reflect praise on the patriotism and the wisdom of the institutors.

To renew the treaty with Denmark, and adjust the debt due to that kingdom for the dereliction of the Hebudes to Alexander III, May the Scotish king sent Sir William Crichton his chamberlain, and two other envoys, to Bergen; where, the debt being completely cleared, an amicable arrangement was signed 9. 29 July

Another parliament, held in the same year 1, 30 Sept. after some regulations concerning trade and agriculture, ordered that every lord beyond the Grampian mountains, in whose lands ancient castles stood, should repair and dwell in them, or at least one of his friends, in order to govern the country and expend the produce in the territory. To give an example James com­manded the castle of Inverness to be repaired 2: and finding that the highland chiefs were strangers to his laws and govern­ment, he resolved to inculcate into their obduracy some prin­ciples of good order by a salutary severity. The Lords of the [Page 119]Isles in particular, by their constant confederacy with England, and repeated inroads, well deserved a signal chastisement. In pursuance of these motives, certainly just and laudable, the king assembled a parliament at Inverness in the spring, 1427 which the highland chieftains were specially summoned to attend; and suddenly arrested Alexander Lord of the Isles, and his mother the Countess of Ross, Angus Duff leader of four thousand Mackays of Strathnavern, Kenneth More chief of two thousand, John Ross, William Lesley, Angus Moray, and Macmaken, each also a chief of two thousand; and in short about fifty principal heads of lawless clans. Two of them, leaders of a thousand each, were instantly tried, condemned, and beheaded; and one, who had murdered the late Lord of the Isles, was also executed in impartial justice. The others were scattered, as prisoners, among the castles of different lords through the kingdom; and after a time some were con­demned to death, and some were restored to liberty. The Lord of the Isles and his mother were retained in captivity till, apparently after a year or more, the former was delivered, while the latter seems in vain to have been retained as an hostage for his fidelity 3. Such were the proceedings upon this occasion, which by some have been termed sanguinary; but, if necessity be the tyrant's plea, it is also that of law and of justice. Lenient and conciliatory measures would have had the same effect as music upon the deaf, and could have served no end but to increase the pride of these chieftains, and to debase the laws and the monarchy. Perhaps it might however have proved more political if James, upon the capture of the [Page 120]chiefs, had insisted upon receiving their sons, or nearest rela­tions, as hostages; and thus not only have had pledges for their good behaviour, but also an opportunity of contributing to civilize the highlands by bestowing on the future chiefs a proper education: a conduct which might have passed into a perpetual rule. But in the choice of difficulties it is almost impossible to seize the exact mean; and if equity enforce the acknowledgement that James was apt to do too much, and too little, the peculiarities of the country, and of the time, must come in for a share of the blame.

It was ordered in a parliament, held at Perth, 1 July that those burgesses who were summoned to parliament, and were absent without lawful cause, should be fined in ten pounds each: that the lawsuits of Scotish merchants in Zealand, Flanders, or other foreign countries, be decided in Scotland: and several acts appear for the punishment of murder and felony 4.

The next year is distinguished by a considerable innovation in the Scotish constitution. 1428 March An act of parliament passed that the small barons or freeholders, might dispense with their attendance in the national council, upon appointing two com­missioners from each shire: these representatives were to have the privilege of chusing the speaker of parliament; and the expence of their attendance was to be defrayed by those who formerly owed that duty 5. July Another remarkable decree after­wards appeared, enjoining the successors and heirs of prelates and barons, to take an oath of fidelity to the queen 6; an in­stitution [Page 121]probably pointing to her regency, in case of the king's demise, and the immaturity of the prince.

Some trifling negotiations had taken place in the preceding year with England, now governed by the duke of Glocester and cardinal Beaufort; but James, though indebted to that kingdom for an education excellent and truly royal, to which, and to the school of adversity, he owed the expansion of his talents, had yet no reason to be satisfied with the generosity, or the friendship, of the English court 7. The Scotish mo­narch was therefore well inclined to follow the former tide of politics towards France, whose king Charles VII was still in a most reduced situation, and nearly overwhelmed by the power of England and Burgundy. Resolved by every con­cession to procure the aid of Scotland, Charles dispatched the Archbishop of Rheims, and John Stuart, Count de Dreux and Lord of Darnley 8, for that purpose. In consequence of their instructions, the embassadors offered to conclude a contract of marriage between Louis the Dauphin, afterwards Louis XI, and Margaret the eldest daughter of Scotland, both then in­fants, upon condition, that James should send six thousand effective men to the assistance of Charles, being the only dower required. The princess was nevertheless provided in an in­come, and contingencies, as ample and honourable as had been ever granted, upon any royal marriage of France. Such terms could not be refused; and the contract was signed and ratified. Nay, the two monarchs mutually swore to observe the former [Page 122]alliances, entered into between their kingdoms: and Charles assigned to the Scotish king the county of Xaintonge, and Lord­ship of Rochfort 9. The six thousand men were to be sent when the French fleet arrived to transmit them; but the state of affairs, which changed in favour of Charles the following year, rendered the maid of Orleans an object of greater atten­tion; to the increasing prosperity of France the aid was unne­cessary, and was never sent, nor demanded; but as no infringe­ment could be charged, the treaty of marriage maintained its force, and seven years after was fully completed.

The government of England was rather alarmed at this new connexion between Scotland and France, 1429 and an interview was proposed between James and cardinal Beaufort: the king was to be attended by a thousand horse, 10 Feb. and the cardinal ob­tained permission from the English court to meet him either on the borders, or in Scotland 1. But the interview was appa­rently not carried into effect, and was perhaps found to be unnecessary, as the French alliance did not actually occasion any infringement of the truce.

The Lord of the Isles, who had been at last set at liberty, after many admonitions and injunctions of fidelity, soon in­dulged his revenge by gathering his lawless bands, and burning [Page 123]the town of Inverness. James, justly enraged, collected an army, and overtook the invader in a marshy ground near Lochaber; 23 June where the freebooting lord was totally defeated. His force consisted of about ten thousand men, of whom two clans, Chatan and Cameron, on the sight of the royal standard, acceded to the king 2. The Lord of the Isles, reduced to de­spair, sent an embassy to entreat peace; which being refused, he resolved to put himself entirely in the king's mercy. For which purpose he came privately to Edinburgh, and on a solemn day, 27 Aug. only attired in his shirt and drawers, he before the high altar of Holy Rood Church, upon his knees presented his drawn sword to the king, in the presence of the queen and many nobles. His life was granted, in consequence of his humble submission; but he was committed to the castle of Tantallon, under the care of his nephew the earl of Angus; and his mother, the countess of Ross, to the island of Inch Colm in the firth of Forth 3.

A commercial league of one hundred years was entered into between Scotland and Flanders 4. The latter country had, in 1384, passed to the dominion of the house of Burgundy by marriage; and this treaty was concluded with Philip III duke of Burgundy, who in 1430 was to become also duke of Brabant, and in 1433 earl of Holland and Hainault; united principalities, which ranked him among the chief potentates of Europe.

Several patriotic regulations were issued by the parliament concerning the forms of procedure; 1430 March and a sumptuary law was [Page 124]passed, permitting no men to wear silk, or furs, except lords, and knights, and their eldest sons and heirs. The different sorts of armour, and arms, to be used by various ranks of persons, were accurately prescribed: and it was ordered that the same laws should be observed in relation to wrecked vessels, as were used in the countries to which they belonged: and that advocates should swear to their belief in the justice of the cause which they pleaded. All Scotishmen, who travel to England without the king's leave, are declared traitors; and, by a re­markable decree, all barons and lords, having lands on the western or the northern seas, particularly those opposite to the islands, are enjoined to furnish a certain number of galleys, according to the terms of their tenures 5. The want of a fleet, to keep the islands in due subordination, must have sug­gested this last institution: the policy was laudable, and it must be allowed that James attempted more than all his pre­decessors to join the discordant parts of his kingdom in firm and compact union; but this decree, like most other Scotish acts of parliament, seems to have been carefully eluded.

The prosperity of James was further advanced by his be­coming the father of male-twins, 16 Oct. one of whom, James, was to ascend the throne upon the premature death of his father; but Alexander, the first-born, died in early infancy 6.

The truce with England being on the point of expiration, 1431 1 May was renewed for five years 7: and the wisdom of the Scotish monarch preferred to the vain glory of war his patriotic cares for the establishment of law and order in his dominions. For [Page 125]unknown causes James ordered the Earl of Douglas, and Sir John Kennedy, his own nephews by the maternal side, to be imprisoned. Perhaps Douglas had been guilty of some private practices with England; or the king wished to secure the peace of the south of Scotland, while he was employed in quelling the northern insurrections, by retaining Douglas its chief leader in captivity. Conjecture wanders in such enquiry; but it is certain that Douglas remained a prisoner till the end of Sep­tember this year; when the king in a parliament, held, as usual, at Perth, consented, at the request of the queen, nobles, and prelates, to deliver both Douglas and the lord of the Isles 8.

Meanwhile, in spite of all the endeavours of James, the highlands remained in a state of constant rebellion and savage anarchy. In Strathnavern Angus Duff, and Angus Moray, both of them lately delivered from the imprisonment ordered at Inverness, met in conflict with twelve hundred men upon either side; and so fierce was the encounter that hardly nice of the whole were left alive 9. Donald Balloch, a relation of the Lord of the Isles, landed in Lochaber with a considerable force; and finding Alexander Stuart Earl of Mar, and Alan Stuart Earl of Caithness, stationed at Inverlochy, to defend the western coast, he attacked them, though leaders of a larger number, and put them to a total rout. Alan, who was the son of Walter Earl of Athol, was slain, with sixteen squires of his own family, and many others: Alexander, and the remainder escaped by flight. Donald, conscious of the atrocity of his offence, took immediate refuge in Ireland 1.

[Page 126]Another subsidy was attempted to be raised this year, in order to subdue the northern rebels; but with what success it was levied, is not apparent 2.

After a short period, 1432 condemned to the silence of history, but which probably passed in quieting the commotions in the highlands, of which no further intelligence occurs during this reign, 1433 the scene of public affairs again opens. The English government, sufficiently alarmed at the declining state of their power in France, became more and more anxious to prevent the now impending completion of the marriage treaty between that kingdom and Scotland: and for this purpose sent Lord Scrope to the court of James, with offers of great advantage. His proposals were a firm and perpetual peace, and the resti­tution of Roxburgh and Berwick, and every portion of terri­tory which Scotland could justly claim 3. There is reason to believe that the English were sincere; but the honour of the king and of the nation, and the mutual interests of France and Scotland, were motives momentous enough to cause the re­jection of even superior terms. The discussion of this affair ended rather ludicrously. Oct. A parliament being called at Perth, the propositions were agitated before the king, in the Domi­nican Church; and the nobles and prelates seemed to accept the terms, saying that peace and liberty were the objects of their chief desire. But the abbots of Scone and Inchcolm, fitter assistants at a monastic dispute than at a public delibera­tion, asserted that the Scotish king could not treat of peace with England, because of the confederacy with France, which [Page 127]had been examined by the university of Paris, and confirmed by the Pope. Other objections were also started; and the day being wasted in discussion, it was agreed to resume the subject on the morrow, when John Fogo, abbot of Melrose, alledged, on the other side, that no person could abide by the divine laws, who depended on the will of another; and that no king could lawfully swear to another that he would not make peace with a third, except by the consent of the second. Violent altercations among the clergy now arose; the parlia­ment was transformed into a hall of ecclesiastic disputes; and as such disputes never decide any thing, the members separated without determination, only the very want of decision left the alliance with France in full force; and the English propositions were considered as rejected. Lindoris, the inquisitor, called Fogo to account for his sentiments, as savouring of heresy; and Fogo retorted by several epistles, but was at last forced to make concessions 4. This strange affair calls to remembrance the latter history of the Greek empire, when vehement church­men ruined the national concerns by idle disputes; and so totally useless is learning out of its place, that a senate of American savages, exerting only their plain sense, would have discussed such a subject with far more ability than all the abbots in the world. To complete the absurdity, the Scotish church­men gave out that the only intention of England had been to excite schisms and heresies in Scotland 5; as if the very idea of such imbecility could fall within the conception of any political mind.

The clergy had, in the preceding part of this year, exerted their power in a manner yet more blameable. Paul Crawar [Page 128]a German, and a follower of Huss, having come from Prague to Scotland, where he exercised medicine, was called to ac­count for his opinions by Lindoris the inquisitor, condemned, and burnt at St. Andrews 6.

James proceeded in his schemes of humbling his nobility, 1434 schemes too great for his powers of execution 7. The earls of March had been long remarkable for their dubious fidelity to Scotland, and repeated ingratitude to its sovereigns: nor was the memory of the late revolt, and the mischiefs which it had produced in the preceding reign, easily to be extinguished. Having therefore quelled the isles and highlands, which, as the most important office, engaged his first cares, the king re­solved to complete his own power, and that of his kingdom, by removing the family of March from a territory which had been the free gift of a Scotish king to an English exile, and by placing that house in a more northern and secure part of Scotland. In pursuance of this just and prudent plan, James ordered the earl of March to be confined in the castle of Edin­burgh, and took possession of the fortress of Dunbar, the chief seat of the family 8.

A parliament being summoned, 1435 10 Jan. two clergymen, and seven commons, were appointed to hear and report all causes during [Page 129]the session 9; an institution not explained, but apparently in­tended for expediting this particular business, and quite distinct from the committee of lords of the articles, who are known as early as the reign of David II. The king's advocates alledged that the father of March having engaged in open re­bellion against the kingdom, it was not in the power of Robert duke of Albany the regent, to pardon him, a privilege belong­ing to the crown only; but that the estates were forfeited: and that, by the laws of Scotland, all alienations of crown-lands, to which description the forfeited estates of March be­longed, were void, when made during the minority, or cap­tivity, of the sovereign. After a long debate the parliament decreed by the mouth of David Dempster the speaker, that the estates of March were forfeited, and remained a part of the royal property 1. The king completed his design, by im­mediately granting to March the earldom of Buchan, which had some time before reverted to the crown 2. The only other act of this parliament engages all the members to give written promises of fidelity to the queen 3: and it seems that James was not unaware that his public spirited measures laid him open to attempts of private revenge: a suspicion, alas, too soon to be verified.

A considerable property accrued to the crown, by the death of Alexander earl of Mar, a personage repeatedly mentioned before. This nobleman had debased his youth by bad actions; but, in the latter part of his life, had acquired no small repu­tation in foreign wars. Being a natural son of Alexander, the fourth son of Robert II, his estates and effects, as provided [Page 130]by the old Scotish laws concerning bastardy, fell to the king 4. There may be a surmize that Walter earl of Athole, only surviving uncle of the king, being also uncle of Mar, who left no surviving issue 5, had entertained ambitious hopes of adding this contiguous earldom to his own, and that of Stra­thern, which the king had bestowed on him eight years before; and that his disappointment was one incentive to the atrocious murder of his nephew and sovereign, if he really was con­cerned in that crime.

An infringement of the truce happened on the part of England. Sir Robert Ogle younger, in support of one of the rebels against James, 10 Sept. entered Scotland with a considerable force, and ravaged the country about Halton and Paxton. After a conflict, in which about forty were slain, Ogle was defeated, and made prisoner with most of his followers, by William earl of Angus, Hepburn of Hailes, and Ramsay of Dalhousie. 30 Sept. James warmly remonstrated to the English court against this wanton infraction 6.

The dauphin of France having now attained his thirteenth year, 1436 and the Scotish princess her twelfth, it was resolved to complete the marriage. Two French envoys arrived, to be­troth the bride; and she was sent to France attended by a small fleet, and an honourable train, of which the chief persons were William Sinclair earl of Orkney the admiral, and John bishop of Brechin. The others amounted to sixteen knights and squires, and a hundred and forty young gentlemen: they were guarded [Page 131]by a thousand armed men, in three galleys, and six barges. The English government, irritated at the rejection of their proposals, sent out a fleet of one hundred and eighty vessels, to intercept the princess; and they awaited her appearance in the channel. Meantime a number of Flemish merchant ships appeared, loaded with wine from Rochelle, which were cap­tured by the English, but a Spanish fleet suddenly approaching recaptured the prizes. During these contests, the royal bride arrived safe at Rochelle, May being forced to reach that part of France, as the English and their allies possessed the north: and a dispensation of age being granted by the archbishop of Tours as diocesan, 13 June the marriage was soon after solemnized. 6 July Though James was, by the feudal law, entitled to a subsidy from his people upon this occasion, yet he had discovered from experience their inability, or disinclination, to pay any tax; and he was contented with the contributions of the principal laity and clergy, which were not a little liberal 7.

The unhappy bride had passed to a husband of famed ma­lignity; and not all her prudence, her wit, her love of learn­ing, her taste for poetry, her affability, could save her from the pangs of domestic distress. After an unfruitful marriage of nine years, her extreme delicacy of mind caused her to fall a sacrifice to a vague word of a villainous courtier 8.

Enraged at the manifest hostility committed by the English, in the attempt to intercept his daughter, the delay of redress for the incursion of the former year; and probably desirous of [Page 132]preventing any machinations of his nobility, in consequence of his vigorous measures, James resolved upon a war with England: a step to which he might also have been induced by his treaties with France, now completed by the marriage of the dauphin and Margaret. He summoned the whole array of his kingdom, computed at nearly two hundred thousand men, mounted on small horses, but not entitled to the appel­lation of cavalry, and yet a greater number of rude infantry, and loose attendants on the army. With this unwieldy force he besieged Roxburgh; 1 Aug. and after wasting fifteen days, and almost all the missive arms of the kingdom, he was forced to abandon the siege, and return inglorious 9. Such is the ac­count of our monastic historian, whose constant warmth in the praise of James, justifies his candour. Latter writers, upon no authority, say that the king dismissed his army be­cause he heard of a conspiracy, which would have been the best reason for retaining it. The real cause seems to have been that James found that he was consuming his own king­dom by so numerous an host, and could not dismiss a part, without an affront; or that the spirit of the nobles, shewn under his successors, began to operate in a contempt of the regal authority, and in the sacrifice of their country to their resentments.

The last parliament of James I met at Edinbugh. 22 Oct. It was de­creed that jurymen should swear that they had received no bribes: [Page 133]that trespassors may be accused at the king's instance, though no private prosecutor appear: that, to secure the importation of bullion, merchants should bring three ounces of bullion for every sack of wool exported, and a similar rate for hydes, and Hamburgh barrels: that no persons be permitted to remain in taverns after nine o'clock at night: that no English goods be brought into Scotland, and that no English man import such except by special permission: that no Scotishman sell salmon to the English, except the latter have safe conduct and pay English gold: that no Scotishman buy wine of certain Flemings in Scotland: that no person be permitted to remove gold, silver, or jewels, out of Scotland 1. The commercial regulations seem more calculated to fetter, than to encourage, trade; but it was long before the real spirit of commerce was understood, even in more enlightened countries.

The cruel terminating scene of the life of James approaches. 1437 A very minute, and interesting, account of this melancholy transaction is contained in a manuscript of the period, hitherto unknown to our historians, and which shall be here followed 2; and it is hoped that the singularity, and importance, of the scene will afford a sufficient excuse for a degree of prolixity.

Sir Robert Graham uncle of the earl of Strathern, after­wards of Menteith, had been imprisoned in 1425, as is above mentioned, but the cause is unknown. Two years afterwards James had resumed the earldom of Strathern, upon pretext, as seems, that it was confined to heirs male; and had given it to his uncle Walter earl of Athole for his life: assigning, in recompence, that of Menteith to Malis Graham, the former [Page 134]earl of Strathern 3. Robert Graham may have been discon­tented at this exchange of his nephew's dignity; but it is not easy to conceive that his wrath upon this account could have excited him to the murder of his sovereign, and far less that he could have wished to serve the ambition of Athole, to whom his nephew's former earldom had passed. The art of this man seems to have equalled his audacity; and he must have in­stigated Athole, now approaching, if not exceeding, his seventieth year 4, to this conspiracy by ambitious views, only fit to captivate the dotage of age, or inexperience of youth, and inspired by Graham solely to promote his own desperate revenge. This idea is favoured by the following narration, which also explains the violent causes which inflamed this assassin: but it would be neither a matter of paradox, nor blame, to infer that Athole, and his family, were really innocent; and that they were accused by Graham to gratify his animosity, be­cause Athole held his nephew's estates and dignity. It shall only be further premised that Sir Robert Stuart, grandson of Athole, on whom the conspirators pretended to bestow the crown, was the son of David, eldest son of that earl, left an hostage in England for James, ever since his arrival in his kingdom; and who apparently died there either before this period, or soon after.

According to this ancient relation, James had discontented his nobles by his vigorous procedure against them; and they asserted that his avarice of confiscated estates, and not his justice, induced him to such actions. The people were also displeased because of the subsidies imposed, to which they had [Page 135]long been strangers; and were even inclined to pronounce his government tyrannic. In this posture of affairs, and probably in the year 1434, after March had been confined, and his estates seized, Sir Robert Graham, now delivered from his first imprisonment, and irritated by that disgrace, proposed, in a meeting of the lords and chief men, that he would represent their grievances to the king, if they would support him. As he was eloquent, and versed in the laws, they willingly as­sented. Accordingly, in the next parliament, or that held for the forfeiture of March in January 1435, Graham's violence led him to exceed his commission; for he rose with an enraged countenance, and approaching the royal seat, laid his hand on the king, saying, "I arrest you in the name of all the three estates of your realm, here assembled in parliament; for, as your people have sworn to obey you, so are you constrained by an equal oath to govern by law, and not to wrong your subjects, but in justice to maintain and defend them." Then turning around, he exclaimed, "Is it not thus as I say?" But the mem­bers, struck with consternation at Graham's rashness, remained in profound silence: and the king instantly ordered the auda­cious censor to prison, to which he was conveyed, after a severe sarcasm on the meanness of spirit, shewn by those who had promised to support him. Soon after Graham was ordered into banishment; and all his possessions forfeited to the king.

The bold and gloomy exile retired into the furthest high­lands, meditating revenge: and he had even the audacity formally to renounce his allegiance, and to send a defiance to the king in writing, asserting that James had ruined him, his wife, and children, and possessions, by his cruel tyranny; and that he should kill his sovereign with his own hand, if occasion offered. Upon this a proclamation was made, promising three thousand demies of gold, each worth half an English noble, [Page 136]to any person who should bring in Graham dead or alive. Meantime that ardent spirit was employed in digesting his scheme, and he sent messages to several of the members of par­liament, during its session in October 1436, offering to assas­sinate the king, and bestow the crown on Sir Robert Stuart, Athole's grandson, nephew and favorite of James.

The court held the festival of Christmas at Perth; and the contemporary narrative details some popular stories concerning omens, which happened to James. The worst omen was his vigorous administration, which had created many enemies; among whom the conspiracy spread, like a fire among com­bustible materials, and had even reached the most intimate attendants of the palace, without exciting any suspicion. Thrice did Christopher Chambers, one of the traitors, and who had been a squire of the duke of Albany, approach the royal presence, to disclose the plot; and as often did he fail, from accident, or from a mistaken sense of honour, or pity to his associates.

At length the conspiracy being fully ripened, 20 Feb. a night was fixed for its execution; being that of the second wednesday in lent, according to Monstrelet, or the twenty seventh day of February in the year one thousand four hundred and thirty-seven; but that of the first wednesday in lent, between the twentieth and twenty first day of that month, by the account of Bowar, which deserves the preference 5. The earl of [Page 137]Athole, and Sir Robert Stuart, were at the court that evening, which was passed before supper, and after to a late hour, in the amusements of the time, in playing at chess and tables, reading romances, singing and music. An Irish or highland woman, pretending to magic, who had long before given the king a hint of the plot, and had only met with laughter, again came to unfold it; but was referred till the morrow, as the king was busy at play. An hour after, James called for the parting cup; and he and the company drank, and withdrew. Sir Robert Stuart, private chamberlain to the king, and his chief favourite, is accused of spoiling the locks of the royal chambers, to prevent their being shut, and even of laying boards across a deep ditch, that environed the garden of the Dominican monastery at Perth, where James was now lodged, in order to enable the conspirators to pass: but these offices seem to belong to meaner associates, and the guilt of Athole and his grandson is doubtful. After midnight, Graham with about three hundred persons, mostly raised in the highlands as may be inferred, entered the garden. The king was now in his bed-chamber, standing before the fire, only dressed in his night-gown, and conversing gayly with the queen and her ladies, when, just as he threw off his night-gown to go to bed, he heard a great noise, as of men in armour, crouding and clashing together, and perceived a blaze of torches. Sus­picions of treason instantly arising, the queen and ladies ran to the chamber-door, but could not fasten it, the locks being spoiled: and the king requesting them, if possible, to keep the door shut, attempted to escape by the windows, but found them closely barred with iron. Perceiving no other refuge, he with the fire-tongs and an exertion of strength, tore up a board of the chamber-floor, and letting himself down dropped the board above him. He was now in one of these incom­modious [Page 138]necessaries, usual in old edifices; but still could not escape outward, for, by a sad fatality, a square aperture in the place had been filled with stone, only three days before, by the king's command, because the balls were apt to enter it, when he played at tennis. Nevertheless he might here have remained safe, had not his own impatience betrayed him.

Meanwhile the traitors burst open the chamber-door, and several of the ladies were hurt; particularly, as our historians say, Catherine Douglas, who, with a spirit worthy of her name, had her arm broken, by thrusting it into the staple instead of a bar. The ladies shrieking with horror, fled to the furthest corner of the room; but the queen was so ex­tremely agitated that she stood without power of speech, or motion, and a villain basely wounded, and would have slain, her, had not a son of Graham interfered, saying, "What will will you do, for shame of yourself, to the queen? She is but a woman. Let us go and seek the king." The queen was then permitted to withdraw; while the ladies remained lost in tears and consternation.

The traitors sought the king in every part of the chamber, and another adjoining, without success. Most of them had gone to extend their search, and a temporary quiet succeeded, when the king most unhappily, after having heard no noise for some time, and thinking that the conspirators were gone, called to the ladies to bring sheets, and draw him up from his uncomfortable concealment. In the attempt Elizabeth Douglas fell down into the place, and Chambers, one of the assassins, entering with a torch, perceived the king and the lady, and called to his fellows, with savage merriment; "Sirs, the bride is found, for whom we have sought, and caroled all night." Upon this, another traitor, Sir John Hall, leaped down with a dagger in his hand; but the king seized him be­hind, [Page 139]and threw him under his feet. Hall's brother met with the same chance: yet the king in vain tried to wrest a dagger from either, and only wounded his hands, and rendered him­self incapable of further defence. Graham himself now en­tered the king's retreat, who requested his mercy; but Graham exclaimed, "Thou cruel tyrant, thou never hadst mercy upon thy noble kindred, nor others, so expect none." James said, "I beseech thee that, for my soul's salvation, thou wilt let me have a confessor." But Graham retorted, "Thou shalt have no confessor but this sword;" and stabbed the king, who in vain cried for mercy, and offered half his kingdom for his life. The assassin, somewhat relenting, was about to with­draw, when his comrades above desired him to complete their intention, else he should himself encounter death at their hands. Graham, and the two Halls, then accomplished the horrid deed by multiplied wounds.

Thus perished James I in the forty-fourth year of his age, and the thirty-first of his nominal reign, but only the thirteenth of his active authority.

Not satiated with the murder of their monarch, the assassins sought the queen, fearing her revenge; but she had now escaped. The rumour at length reaching the outer court, where the servants were lodged, and thence the town itself, numbers approached with arms and torches, upon which the conspirators hastily withdrew. Sir David Dunbar, arriving alone, attacked them, slew one, and wounded another, but was overpowered and left disabled. Straiton, a page, was slain: and the band made good their retreat to the highlands, only regreting that the queen had been saved, whose vengeance they dreaded. Nor without cause; for, in less than a month, all the chief actors were in jail.

[Page 140]The first taken were Sir Robert Stuart, and Christopher Chambers: who were executed with cruel tortures at Edin­burgh, and the former's confession of guilt may have been forced from his pangs. Athole was taken by Angus, tried and condemned; 31 Mar. but Easter approaching, the cross, upon which his grandson had been tormented, was taken down, as unbecoming that solemnity; and he was fastened to a pillar, with a paper crown upon his head, thrice inscribed with the term Traitor. Antony bishop of Urbino, the papal legate in Scotland, heard the confessions of Stuart, and Athole 6. The latter asserted his innocence; but said that his grandson had proposed the conspiracy, from which he had dissuaded him, and understood that he had succeeded. It might be said that Stuart having been forced by torture to confess guilt, Athole was of course obliged to accord with his grandson's testimony; [Page 141]for it is difficult to conceive that Stuart could have been guilty of such black ingratitude to his beneficent sovereign, and of such a total sacrifice of common prudence, as to engage in this conspiracy, from which to expect the diadem must have been the infatuation of frenzy. But Graham's art may have practised upon his youth, and weakness, to this degree; and the evidence of his guilt at last rather preponderates. As to Athole, his hoary head might well have been saved: the laws concerning misprision of treason are most severe, calling for a sacrifice of kindred, of friendship, and of human nature: his grandson's scheme he seems to have regarded as too wild for any man of common understanding to attempt; and was he, for what he expected to pass as idle discourse, to proclaim his grandson a madman, or a traitor, and to ruin his posterity? But to leave this discussion, the aged earl was beheaded at Edinburgh; and his head was fixed upon a spear, encircled with a crown of iron.

Graham, and many others of the traitors, were tortured, and put to death, at Stirling. The daring chief of the assassins had the insolence to plead that, having renounced his allegi­ance under his hand and seal, he had a right to kill the king, as his mortal enemy: nay he addressed his judges, and the spectators, assuring them that they should soon pray for his soul, as one to whom they were indebted for their deliverance from a tyrant. Nor was his courage less than his dark fana­ticism of vengeance, as appeared from the spirit with which he bore his horrid torments. Some of the associates asserted that they knew not even the nature of the conspiracy, but had been prevailed on to join the party, upon pretence that the in­tention was only to carry off a young lady of the court, whom Sir Robert Stuart was to marry: a circumstance apparently alluded to in the expressions of Chambers abovementioned. [Page 142]The son of Graham, Thomas Hall, and Chambers, are parti­cularly mentioned among the victims; and the latter would express no repentance for the king's death. This full and minute relation is given, not only as presenting all the circum­stances of an important event, but as it serves to correct some mistakes of former writers.

James left only one son, his successor; but his female issue consisted of not less than five daughters; Margaret married to the Dauphin; Isabel to Francis duke of Bretagne; Eleanor to Sigismund archduke of Austria; Mary to the count de Boucquan, son of the lord of Campvere; Jean to the earl of Angus, and afterwards to the earl of Morton 7.

BOOK V. A RETROSPECT OF THE STATE OF SCOTLAND, DURING THE REIGNS OF ROBERT II, AND III, AND JAMES I.

Sect. 1. State of the people, and of civilization—2. Government, laws, tactics—3. Agriculture, useful arts—4. Commerce, money, navigation—5. Ecclesiastic history, literature, language—6. Ornamental arts, manners, dress.

SECTION I. State of the people, and of civilization.

WHETHER education, 1371— climate, or government, pro­duce most effect on national character, is an impor­tant problem, discussed by many able writers, but hitherto not sufficiently resolved. It must however be granted by all, that each has its share in exciting or depressing mental energy, in establishing general industry or indolence, in promoting public happiness or misery. But of these grand causes education seems deservedly to claim the preeminence. To deny the power of climate, would be to forget that man is "subject to the skyey influences;" yet his industry, or care, my gene­rally [Page 144]overcome or elude its effects: and soil is almost equally subservient to labour. Government exerts a more pervading influence; even the peasant in his cottage is oppressed by the burning heat of despotism, or the blasting storms of anarchy. The rewards of his labour cease amid the general distress: the caprice of some little tyrant, for slaves are ever tyrants where they can, or the revenge of a foe, may assail his hovel; and while his family perishes in penury, the labourer joins the mountain robbers, and falls the victim of those laws which afforded him no protection. Even moderate governments affect domestic life, and individuals, more than is commonly conceived; a war, a tax, an unwise law, becomes an universal misfortune; while the benignity, and skill, of the rulers en­large the happiness of all. The influence, like that of the electric element, is rarely unveiled to the popular eye, though the subtile fluid operate most widely on the public health.

In the oriental legislations the connexion between laws and manners is often indissoluble: and the laws become perpetual, by being grafted on the habits of that creature of habit, man. In Europe, on the contrary, the laws and manners are pro­verbially distinct. Jurisdiction punishes crimes, but rewards not virtues; far less can it improve domestic morals, or dif­fuse the light of instruction over a benighted nation. These are the sacred provinces of education, a cause of national cha­racter more prevalent than either of the former, as it strikes the very root of offence, and sows lasting seeds of intelligence and worth.

But education, on the extensive scale here implied, remains an experiment even to the most civilized nations; and its effects must neither be regarded as speedy, nor infinite. Even infants display, some a perverse, others a placid disposition: and it is doubtful whether any care or art can eradicate, or [Page 145]subdue, the inborn temper. If the bad habits of an individual prove often unconquerable by reason or virtue, how deeply must such habits be rooted in a whole people, where example operates like a contagion?

Hence it is that the spirit, and manners, of the people ought to present the main object of political discussion on any particular state, and the more especially where government and education have little force. In whatever form of administra­tion, only a part can shine upon the public theatre, and thus attract the notice of history. The mass of the nation remains in obscurity, even in enlightened ages; and philosophy can only estimate its history by that of its manners, for which the best materials are to be found, not in the pages of the annalist, but in poems, novels, and romances. Barren however as are the annals of the poor, their state may always be justly esti­mated by that of the actors, who vaunt and vanish in the historic scene; and from the progress of nations, as savage, barbarous, or civilized. The monkish page presents but a small pulse, yet from it the health, or sickness, of the whole body may be gathered with considerable certainty.

In Scotland, at the period now under review, the people were slowly advancing from barbarism towards civilization. A peace of some duration had taken place before the accession of the house of Stuart; and the consequent intercourse with England, a country then rapidly progressive in the arts of life, must have increased the national energy. Yet the feudal set­ters continued to be firmly rivetted: every man was the soldier, or the menial attendant of his chief; and flocks, herds, agri­culture afforded only subservient occupations. While the single science of the great was war, their sole amusement hunting, their chief magnificence a numerous train, it is no wonder that the poor were ferocious and idle, secure during health of a main­tenance [Page 146]from their lords, and in sickness of monastic charity. Courage honesty, frankness, attachment to their chiefs, con­stituted the chief virtues of the peasantry; temperance, and sobriety were the virtues of the soil: spirituous liquors, that bane of the poor, were as yet unknown in Europe, except among the stores of the physician. Nor had religious fanati­cism, that unintermitting intoxication, yet poisoned the popu­lar mind with habitual gloom: the poor chiefly knew the christian religion from its charity, from the public exhortations of the preaching friars, and from the gay exhibitions of the Roman catholic system.

By more polished foreigners Scotland continued to be re­garded as a country completely barbarous. The author of the Dittamundi allows that it is rich in fish, flesh, and milk, but,

Molto e el paese alpestro é peregrino,
E ha la gente ruvida é salvatica.
"Mountainous and strange is the country,
And the people rough and savage 1."

The long and severe ordinances of Robert II against mur­derers, and their receivers and supporters, afford a proof that this charge was not unfounded 2. And the orders to the army, not to pillage their own countrymen, present another instance [Page 147]of barbaric manners 3. The Ketherani, Kerns, or marauding highlanders, by continual inroads into the low countries greatly obstructed the progress of industry and civilization; and this intestine evil, more pernicious than foreign invasion, continued to a late period. Strangers to that industry which excites the Swiss peasant to cultivate the precipice, and the Norwegian to derive that support from the sea which the land refuses, the highlanders supplied their wants by rapine: and the civil ani­mosity was increased by the difference of origin, language, and manners; so that the difficulties with which the government had to struggle, and the obstacles against order, were perhaps greater in Scotland than in any other European kingdom. The example of Henry II of England, who planted a Flemish colony in Wales, escaped the observation, or exceeded the power, of our monarchs: and the complete transposition of the population of a province, though an expedient far from unknown to the Persians, Greeks, and Romans, appears to surpass the wisdom, or the enterprize of any later government.

Though the peasantry were in fact the slaves of their lords, by menial or by feudal bondage, yet few instances occur of absolute villanage; and it is believed no example appears in our records, of an estate sold with the farmers, labourers, and families, attached to the soil 4. The appellation husbond, given to the Scotish farmers, seems indeed to imply that they were considered as bond slaves of their lord's house, or as fixed [Page 148]to their own particular farm-houses; yet what little evidence remains teaches us to consider them rather as slaves in custom, than in law. The husband lands, or farms, were divided into tillage and pasturage, were always small, and the farmers of course poor 5. The cotter who rears his hovel of turf and straw, under an old thorn, and cultivates three or four acres of the common, would in these ages have been styled a farmer. Large farms undoubtedly advance agriculture; and perhaps the numerous labourers employed are as useful and valuable members of society, as if each farmed a small portion of land.

With the accession of the house of Stuart, a stronger light begins to arise on the internal state of Scotland. Barbour wrote his celebrated poem in 1375; and in narrating the actions of Robert I, he presents many pictures of the times and manners, the lapse of half a century being imperceptible in the slow progress of civilization. But the curiosity of Froissart a stranger has preserved the strongest features; and his visit to Scotland forms an epoch in the history of national manners 6. From his account it appears that the French, themselves regarded by the Italians as barbarians, shuddered at the penury and barbarity of Scotland. Even in the Doulce Escoche or low lands, (for the highlanders of la Sauvage Esco­che were considered as we now do American savages,) a re­markable [Page 149]ignorance prevailed of the commonest arts of life. The meanest articles of manufacture, horse-shoes, harness, saddles, bridles, were all imported ready made from Flanders. The houses of the common people were composed of four or five posts to support the turf walls, and a roof of boughs: three days sufficed to erect the humble mansion 7. A contemporary historian adds, that "the country was rather desert than inha­bited, was almost wholly mountainous, and more abundant in savages than in cattle. 8."

The English education of James I contributed to the civi­lization of his kingdom. Yet even in his reign the picture by Enea Silvio, afterwards pope Pius II, is far from flattering. "Concerning Scotland he found these things worthy of repe­tition. It is an island joined to England, stretching two hun­dred miles to the north, and about fifty broad; a cold country, fertile of few sorts of grain, and generally void of trees, but there is a sulphureous stone dug up which is used for firing. The towns are unwalled, the houses commonly built without lime, and in villages roofed with turf, while a cow's hide sup­plies the place of a door. The commonalty are poor and uneducated, have abundance of flesh and fish, but eat bread as a dainty. The men are small in stature, but bold; the women fair and comely, and prone to the pleasures of love; kisses being there esteemed of less consequence than pressing the hand is in Italy. The wine is all imported; the horses are mostly small ambling nags, only a few being preserved entire for propagation, and neither curry-combs nor reins are used. The oysters are larger than in England. From Scot­land are imported into Flanders hides, wool, salt fish, and [Page 150]pearls. Nothing gives the Scots more pleasure than to hear the English dispraised. The country is divided into two parts, the cultivated lowlands, and the region where agriculture is not used. The wild Scots have a different language, and some­times eat the bark of trees. There are no wolves. Crows are new inhabitants, and therefore the tree in which they build becomes royal property 9. At the winter solstice, when the author was there, the day did not exceed four hours 1." In another place, Silvio observes that the fabulous tale of the barnacles, the invention of dreaming monks, had passed from Scotland to the Orkneys: and that coals were given to the poor at the church doors, by way of alms, the country being denuded of wood 2.

The vigorous administration of James I imparted tranquil­lity and happiness to the people; and was often regretted by them during the distractions of the subsequent reigns 3. Till this period the statutes were concealed from the nation in the darkness of the latin language; the good sense of this monarch ordered them to be issued in the Scotish tongue, while in England the laws were to be dictated in Latin and French till the reign of Richard III. Thus religion, and law, the sole [Page 151]rules of popular conduct, were veiled from the people; but there is no absurdity which man has not reduced to practice. The statures of James are wisely ordained to advance civili­zation, and the sanguine theorist may exult in their effects; but they rather proclaim the intelligence of the monarch, and of his ecclesiastic ministers, than the national advancement. Ordinances prepared in the cabinet by wise and good men, were passed by the lords of the articles; while the peers and landholders, with whom the jurisdiction lay, either did not attend, or voted with a smile. And the frequent repetition of the same laws, even so late as the reigns of James IV an V, conspires with the records of history to convince us, that the statutes rather indicate the evils that did exist, than the remedy of these evils. The roots of national habits are too deep to be affected by the thunder of laws, the slow divul­sion of education can alone explode them.

Among the statures of the first James, the following are the most pertinent to the present discussion. That no private wars be allowed; that none travel with more attendants than they maintain; that no sornars shall force their residence upon the clergy or farmers; that in burghs, and no high ways, inns be erected; and that no beggars be permitted, except distin­guished by a badge importing the leave of the magistrates: and the hospitals for the poor and sick are ordered to be re­formed. A remarkable law ordains, that all idle persons, without means of livelihood, shall be imprisoned, till they give security, and shall within forty days betake themselves to some service or craft. The trial of the causes of the poor is declared to be gratuitous 4.

The institution of inns, repeatedly enforced, was perhaps calculated to save the monasteries from the frequent intrusion [Page 152]of numerous guests; but the necessity of such laws indicates a radical defect in civilization. The first object of the Romans, after the conquest of a barbaric country, was to open high ways through it; for on mutual and easy intercourse all civilization depends. Yet this first and indispensable step is unknown in our statutes. Some regulations appear concerning ferries; but till within these fifty years the roads in Scotland were hardly passable. And while the Swiss cuts his way through the Alps, our mole hills in the highlands present insuperable barriers. The civilization of a country is always in exact proportion to the number, and condition, of its high ways. The omission of this one law was radical, and obstructed all the others 5.

In the burghs a greater degree of civilization must have prevailed than in the country; but the inhabitants of the burghs were few, compared with the general population. Froissart estimates the houses in Edinburgh, then the capital, at four thousand 6; they were small wooden cottages, covered with straw; for modern Edinburgh, with its houses of ten or twelve stories, cannot date higher than Mary's reign, when all the French customs of Scotland really commenced. By a com­mon calculation the inhabitants of the capital, in the reign of Robert II, hardly exceeded sixteen thousand.

For some unknown cause, James I prohibited the election of deacons of crafts; perhaps they abused their power in ex­citing sedition; perhaps the genuine spirit of a corporation began to operate in monopoly, and oppression. But a warden and council are ordered to regulate prices, the warden to be chosen by the council of the burgh, and not, as the deacons, by the craftsmen themselves. Masons, carpenters, smiths, [Page 153]taylors, weavers, are the only trades mentioned in the statute 7. The institution of corporations by patent seems unknown in Scotland, till the reign of James IV: the crafts embodied and regulated themselves; and the attention of government was hardly diverted to them, except to prevent imposition. They would have charged for holidays, and undertaken more work than they could accomplish, while one craftsman would refuse the work neglected by another 8. The sole intention of these acts seems to have been to break the monopoly 9.

James I has himself delineated the manners of the common people, in his poem called Peblis to the Play. This play was probably an annual festival, in honour of the saint to whom the church was dedicated, or on some other occasion; and such wakes are yet known in the north of England. The humour and jollity of the meeting end in tumult and uproar, but dis­play a very different character to the gloomy fanaticism of the two succeeding centuries. From this singular poem, among other articles of manners, we learn that the women wore kerchiefs and hoods, and tippets; the music arose from the bagpipe; the men sometimes wore hats of birch-twigs inter­woven, the hat being any high covering of the head, while the bonnet was flat. A tavern, with fair table linen, and a regular score on the wall, are introduced: the reckoning twopence halfpenny a piece, is collected in a wooden trencher. The cadger, or packman who carries fish, &c. through the country, on his little horse; the salmon dance, consisting in exertions [Page 154]of high leaping; and other anecdotes of popular manners, diversify the piece 1.

The dress of the common people consisted chiefly of a doublet and cloke, and a kind of short trowse; the head was covered with a hat of basket-work, or felt, or with a woolen bonnet; while the logs and feet remained bare 2. Shirts were hardly known even to the great. The female dress was a kerchief or a hood, and a tippet about the neck: the kirtle, or close gown, was rarely accompanied either with the wylicot or under petticoat, or with the mantle; and the feet were naked.

As the state of society was rather pastoral than agricultural, milk, and its various preparations, formed a chief article of food. Meat boiled with oatmeal, or fish, supplied more so­lemn meals. Bread and vegetables were little used, a circum­stance to which it may perhaps be imputed that the leprosy was not uncommon. The chief fish was the salmon, concern­ing the capture of which many regulations occur in the acts of parliament, and which also formed a grand article in the Scotish exports.

SECTION II. Government, laws, tactics.

THE government, and laws, of a country are so intimately connected with its history, when composed in a proper manner, and with philosophic views, that little remains to be added on [Page 155]these important topics, except to glean a few remarks, and present some general observations.

The policy concerning the highlands formed a chief object in the Scotish government. David II had excited the chief­tains to destroy each other, by bestowing the estate of the slaughtered leader on his assassin, and by the reign of terror had established tranquillity 3. This cruel policy was aban­doned by the house of Stuart. Robert II assigned the high­lands to the care of his son the earl of Carric, and other peers; who were impowered to call the chiefs before them, and concert means of justice 4. But this plan erred in the other extreme of mildness: and James I, after having been obliged so exempt the highlanders from the law of retribu­tion, because, as the statute bears, they had been accustomed to rob and kill each other 5, was at length constrained, as we have seen, to have recourse to severity.

The reign of this prince revived the long dormant power of the laws, and the boldest of the peers dared not to oppose his mandates or messengers. "The people," adds the old his­toriographers, "then sat in the opulence of peace, secure from ravagers, elate in heart, and tranquil in mind; because the monarch had wisely expelled quarrels and rapine from the state, had appeased discord, and reconciled enmity 6." But the regal jurisdiction, though much confined by the feudal system, was carried by James I to a height that proved fatal to himself.

It is unnecessary to dwell on the feudal government, so ably discussed by numerous authors. A singular feature of it in Scotland was the freedom from taxes; and that at a period [Page 156]when France was overwhelmed with them, and the blood of the poor, as usual, was mingled with the wine of the rich 7. Another remarkable distinction from modern times was, that the royal authority was weakened in war, and increased in peace. The soldiers belonged to their chiefs, and not the sovereign: but the execution of the laws was a prerogative of the latter.

An idea of the royal revenue may be formed from the mar­riage contracts of our princes, the dower of the wife being estimated at one third of the whole. Robert II, and III, were married before the accession of the family: and the avaricious conduct of the English court, in the marriage of James I, rendered any contract to this effect unnecessary. But that of James II and Mary of Gelder is extant; and though the evi­dence be somewhat excursive it is sufficiently in point 8. The dower assigned is 10,000 crowns of gold; and these crowns, in a contemporary statute, are estimated at six shillings and eight pence each, Scotish money 9. Hence 10,000 gold crowns equalled 5000 marks Scotish money, and the royal revenue was 15,000 marks Scotish, or about 7,500 marks sterling of that time; in weight about 14,000 pounds of silver, in efficacy about seventy thousand pounds of modern currency. But the rapacity of statesmen and favorites, and other causes which did not affect the estates of the aristocracy, considerably dila­pidated the revenue of the crown, and rendered it subject to fuch variations that fifty thousand pounds may most safely be assumed as a medium. Perhaps the earls of Douglas possessed a revenue equal to two thirds of the royal; which however certainly more than doubled that of any other peer 1.

[Page 157]The revenue of the crown arose chiefly from its demesnes, from the various feudal casualties, ward, relief, marriage, escheat, forfeiture; from vacant bishoprics, fines, presents for grants; and from customs on merchandize. Its preroga­tives appear to have been, 1. to summon the parliament, and propose laws, which seldom or never failed to pass: 2. the administration of justice: 3. creation of honours and dignities: 4. command of the national array: 5. nomination to eccle­siastic preferments. As the first of these prerogatives en­croached on the legislative power; so, on the other hand, the parliament regulated embasses and treaties, and ordered peace or war 2. The coinage of money belonged to the crown; but any alteration was regarded as unconstitutional, if not sanc­tioned by parliament.

Hence it appears that the revenues and power of the Scotish monarchs were in themselves sufficiently respectable; but the age of Robert II, the weakness of his successor, the disorders of the regencies, and above all the extreme avarice of the aristocracy, ever preying on the royal domains and revenue, were causes that greatly injured both the wealth and influence of the crown.

In passing to the national council, or parliament, the most striking object is the number of ecclesiastics, which exceeded [Page 158]that of the peers 3. But till the days of Forman, and the Be­tons, priestly ambition seems to have been little known in Scotland; and the statutes generally evince great wisdom and patriotism in the legislative body. The members unhappily did not assemble in two chambers as in England; the burgesses were annihilated in presence of the powerful aristocracy, who themselves only skilled in arms left legislative discussion to the clergy. An opposition was scarce ever known in the Scotish parliament, because its operations were previously settled by the well-known committees of lords of the articles, and ap­proved by the king, so that in fact the statutes were presented for its sanction, not its discussion. Nay there is room to believe that an opposition in parliament was viewed in as treasonable a light as opposition in the field; and that the minority only testified its dissatisfaction by its nonappearance.

The administration of the laws was the chief difficulty; and the king and parliament often recommended this great object to the peers in their respective territories. During a minority the parliament alone had the power of nominating a regent and council 4. At what precise period the king's privy council fucceeded the Aula Regis, or council of great officers of state is dubious. It was much on the same model, being composed of the chancellor, chamberlain, treasurer, privy seal, secretary, and a few other members. Its power during a minority was [Page 159]great, but at other times entirely under the controul of the sovereign, and hardly known in history. Far superior was the fate of the privy council in Denmark and Sweden, where the members usurped the chief power; and under the name of senates controuled the monarchs. The want of titular nobility in these countries was a radical cause of this singularity, for the prelates having no balance to their ascendancy, and most of them being senators in virtue of their sees, the landholders, burgesses, and peasants, could not struggle against so powerful an aristocracy. In Scotland, on the contrary, the bishops and the church were a public benefit, as they balanced the power of the ferocious nobles, and supported the monarch and the laws. All institutions depend on time and circumstances; and the bane of one country may be the felicity of another.

Had our kings possessed the nomination of the administrators of justice, the aristocratic influence would have been conside­rably checked. But most of the legal officers enjoyed heredi­tary and indefeasible right. Such were the sheriffs, though esteemed the king's peculiar officers; nay the peers were some­times hereditary sheriffs in their own jurisdictions.

Even in burghs, the aldermen and baillies were more fre­quently devoted to some neighbouring chief, than to the king.

Of the Mair and Serjands little is known. An act of James I seems to evince that the office of Mair and King's Serjand was synonymous; and it shews that the barons had also their serjands. The Mair was destinguished by a red wand; the officer of regality by a similar badge, red at one end and white at the other; while the baron serjand had a white wand, and he of the burgh a red. All bore horns to sound occasionally 5. The terms Mair and Serjand have varied [Page 160]more in signification than perhaps any others; even now a serjeant at law is a very remote office from a serjeant in the army; and a Maire of Paris from a Scotish Mair. In its pri­mitive meaning the term Mair is, in various countries, of high dignity, but had now been degraded in Scotland from the magistrate to the messenger. The Mair and Serjeants were the heralds of the law; but their office was in those times arduous, and honourable, and worthy of the attention of the legislature. Even these offices were often hereditary; and Skene mentions that in his time there were "Mairs of fee. 6."

The legal jurisdiction of the crown chiefly appeared in the Brief, or short writ, issued from the chancery. These brieves were of two kinds, one directed to the sheriff, or the Mair or serjand messengers of the law, ordering the party to be cited; the other empowering the judge to try the cause 7.

The royal power, though eminent in times of peace, and uncircurnscribed by any senate, was nevertheless balanced by that of the aristocracy; which during war, or minorities, even assumed the ascendancy 8. The baron was in fact a king in [Page 161]his own jurisdiction; and the operation of the laws was directed by his loyalty, or his dissatisfaction. The former was hardly to be secured, except by a munificence which weakened the royal revenue, and power: this avaricious spirit of the nobility was encreased by the accession of the house of Stuart, and the peculiar circumstances which accompanied that event. A family, formerly their equal, ascended the throne; there was no regal ancestry, no foreign splendor, to command awe and obedience: and a dubious loyalty was only to be won by con­cessions, or promises, fatal to the constitutional ascendency of the crown. Age, weakness, regencies, conspired to increase the wealth and preponderance of the aristocracy; and when James I regained his sceptre; many an effort was required in order to replace its chief gems.

The few peers, their number hardly exceeding twenty, continued to be chiefly denominated from the counties into which Scotland was then divided 9. The military force of the [Page 162]shire, and the greater part of its civil jurisdiction, were in the hands of these potentates; and the inferior barons were at­tached to them by tenure, by clan, by interest and expectation, or by bonds of manrent.

The progress of government, legislation, and the useful arts and sciences, ought to occupy most attention in history; but these pacific objects yield to wars and revolutions. War un­happily forms the grand basis of the annals of man; and one battle often produces the happiness or misery of many millions, for many centuries. Hence the ancient classical historians are ample in describing the tactics of various nations; while modern writers seem to vie with those of the middle ages in their negligence of this important theme, which, form its in­finite consequences, deserves to be arranged in the same class with the government and laws of a country.

It is well known that the chief weapon of the Scots was the spear, often ineffectual against the English long-bow, because it was not accompanied, as in the Macedonian phalanx, with strong defensive armour. The buckler in particular seems to have been small and weak, being only of wicker work covered with leather; the sallad or iron cap, and the doublet of fence, must have afforded little protection against the English arrows, which like the Parthian even pierced the mail of the knight. Other offensive weapons were the brogged staff or pike, the axe, the sword, the knife or dagger 1. Such were the arms of the common people: but the chiefs, knights, and squires, were arrayed in plate-armour which had now succeeded the habergeon, or coat of small inwoven rings; and they wielded the battle-axe, the two handed sword, the iron mace, or the spear. Persons worth ten pounds of yearly rent, or fifty [Page 163]pounds in goods, were ordered to have a hat or helmet, and gorget; a pesan braced before and behind, with plates to cover the front or the thighs and legs, and gauntlets. The yeomen worth twenty pounds in effects, were to have the habergeon, iron hat, bow, quiver, sword, buckler, knife; and, if not archers, an axe, or a pike. The burgess worth fifty pounds in goods, was to arm completely as a gentleman; while he who possessed not above twenty, appeared in the array of the yeoman 2.

James I was particularly anxious to establish the use of the bow, and ordered frequent assemblies near the parish churches for the exercise of archery: but after his death the national habits prevailed, and among a hundred attendants of a baron, hardly six archers could be found, the remainder resuming their spears 3. It appears that armour, nay spears, and bows, and arrows, were chiefly imported 4. The martial music, as is well known, consisted of horns. Some chosen followers were arrayed in the livery of their chiefs; but the rest of the army presented a motley mixture 5.

The discipline, and exercise, were trivial; the arrangement was by clans. On the march almost every man rode a small horse, to save fatigue; but none, except the knights or fixed cavalry, remained on horseback in a battle. Each man carried [Page 164]provisions for forty days, chiefly oat-meal; but meat was sup­plied by pillage. The right wing became the van, the left the rear, while the center retained its station.

The exact order of battle, the arrangement of the ranks and files, are subjects enveloped in much obscurity; and while, with all the lights of the Roman classics, it remains doubtful whether that great people arranged their Hastati, Principes, and Triarii, in single lines, or in deep files, there is less room to wonder at the carelessness of the monkish historians. Yet it appears sufficiently clear that deep files were used, and that the battels or battalions were almost square; though some­times they fought in an eschelle or circle; sometimes perhaps in the gothic wedge 6. Thin files of two or three seem a modern invention, long posterior to the use of cannon and fire arms. But the utility of the deep masses formerly used is not easily discovered; not above three spears could come into contact, and the rest seems an idle depth, exposed to the arrows of the enemy. This theme must be submitted to mili­tary men; and it is doubtful if the materials be sufficient for precise investigation.

The most eminent or skilful peers who were present com­manded the grand divisions, commonly four, the right and left wings, the center and reserve. Under them the smaller barons acted as inferior officers, in feudal gradation, and often by hereditary right.

In sieges cannon now began to be used, instead of the sows, battering rams, and other engines, the reliques of Roman skill. But no memorable siege happening after the accession [Page 165]of the house of Stuart, and the Scots having been singularly deficient in this art, it is unnecessary to illustrate the topic.

These remarks shall be closed with an abstract of the agree­ment, in the beginning of June 1385, between the earl of Carric and other peers, and Jehan de Vienne the leader of the French forces in Scotland. It bears that they shall march towards the borders on the twenty third of July, and shall lay siege to some fortresses, but as battle is expected their strength is not to be wasted in doubtful assaults: that none shall pillage in advancing to the marches, but shall pay for what they have, on pain of beheading; and all persons coming to the army to sell victuals shall be safe: if any man slay another, it is in­stant death: if any common soldier strike a gentleman, he shall lose his hand or ear; if one gentleman strike another, justice shall be administered by the captains. In riots between the French and Scots, the byestanders must seize the guilty, who if knights are to lose horse and armour, if commoners a hand or an ear; the like penalty for those who shall dislodge their companions, or disorder the march. All Scots and French are to wear, before and behind, a white cross of St. Andrew; if the armour be white, it must be borne on a square, or a circle, of black cloth. If any Scot insult a Frenchman, he is to be seized by the French, and brought before a Scotish chief; and so in the contrary. He who un­horses an Englishman is to have half his ransom. None shall set sire to a church, kill a woman or a child, or commit rape, on the penalty above mentioned of knight and common soldier. The prisoner shall belong to that captor who first received his plighted hand; if taken from him the captain shall order resti­tution; if the prisoner be killed a reasonable ransom shall be allowed. All safe conducts granted by Vienne shall be observed by the Scotish lords and captains; and the French [Page 166]leaders shall pay like reverence to those of the Scotish gene­rals 7. Such is this curious ordinance, which throws con­siderable light on the military manners of the times.

SECTION III. Agriculture, Useful Arts.

ON these topics only a few brief illustrations occur. Though Scotland was already denuded of wood, as before evinced, it was not owing to the progress of agriculture. James I or­dered that each poor person who ought to be a labourer, should either be the half proprietor of one ox in the plough, or dig every day a square of seven feet of ground, a toil which ex­tended through the year must not have been inconsiderable 8. His statutes also ordain that every farmer, using a plough of eight oxen, shall sow every year a firlot, or four Scotish pecks, of wheat, half that quantity of pease, and forty beans, under the penalty of ten shillings to the baron 9. Oats and barley were almost the sole crops; not only wheat but pease and beans were extremely rare, and pease-bannocs were till lately esteemed the next regale to wheaten bread. The acts concerning wolves and rooks, and burning of heath at improper seasons, need not be recapitulated. Stealers or peelers of green wood, breakers of orchards, destroyers of rabbit warrens, and dove­cots, were all justly punished by this wise prince; who also established a new extent or valuation of landed property 1.

The frequent wars between Scotland and England, since the death of Alexander III, had occasioned to the former [Page 167]country the loss of more than a century in the progress of civilization. While in England only the northern provinces were exposed to the Scotish incursions, Scotland suffered in its most civilized departments. It is apparent that, in the reign of Alexander III, the kingdom was more abundant in the useful arts and manufactures, than it was in the time of Robert III.

When James I concluded the commercial treaty with Flan­ders, it is highly probable that he invited Flemish artisans to settle in his dominions. With his admirable talents for go­vernment, it seems impossible that he could overlook the ad­vantages of a plan certainly pursued by his successors 2.

Yet the evidence concerning useful arts and manufactures continues barren. In a statute of 1428 masons, carpenters, smiths, taylors, weavers, are mentioned 3; and perhaps one or two others crafts, as cordiners, or the like, may be omitted. The weavers were apparently solely employed in coarse linens, and perhaps some woolen stuffs. But while Ireland from its English settlements exported the latter, Scotland had certainly no manufactured export 4. The rich were wholly clothed in foreign products; which seem even to have furnished the holi­day dresses of the poor.

SECTION IV. Commerce, Money, Navigation.

THE grand emporia of commerce at this period were Venice. England, Flanders, and the Hanse Towns. Venice in parti­cular concentrated the commerce of the east and south; and Flanders that of the west and north. Hence the extreme opulence of the Netherlands, and the rapid progress of their useful and luxurious arts. To them almost the whole Scotish trade was confined: some voyages to Norway, Denmark, and one or two of the Hanse Towns, and some to France for wines, formed perhaps the only varieties.

The imports from Flanders extended, as has already ap­peared from Froissart, even to the commonest necessaries. The exports by the account of pope Pius II, were hides, wool, salt-fish, and pearls 5. The statutes further supply horses, kine, sheep, various skins for furs, as mertrik, fulmart, otter, fox, hart, and roe: and woolen cloths, probably of Scotish wool manufactured in Flanders for Scotish merchants 6. The customs on imports and exports amounted to about two shillings in the pound, or a tyth; but the extent of the trade cannot be ascertained 7. The balance was however greatly against Scotland, as may appear from the gradual impoverish­ment [Page 169]of the country, and rise in the value of the coin; and no less than five statutes of James I appear, against the expor­tation of money.

The merchants often went abroad with their cargoes; but none was permitted to use this privilege, except he were worth three serplaiths of wool, each serplaith being eighty stone weight, or about two sacks 8.

Campvere does not appear to have been the staple port, till after the marriage of its lord to a daughter of James I. The Dam or Amsterdam, Sluys, Bruges, are mentioned as the places of resort; and in the latter city James I founded a Scotish chapel, to be supported by some duties on vessels 9.

In the old manuscripts of our laws those concerning shipping appear, certainly not later than the reign of the first James; but they throw no light on commerce. It is remarkable that they always name Berwick, in mentioning a sea-port; and Bourdeaux is almost the only foreign haven known to their doubtful pages. They are merely private regulations, pro­bably English, and composed at Berwick, which, when ships were of fifty tons, aspired to be a port; and even so late as the reign of James V demanded to be considered as the staple for all Scotish salmon imported into England 1.

Domestic traffic was chiefly carried on at fairs, an amiable and useful invention of the Roman catholic superstition. They were commonly held on the day of the saint to whom [Page 170]the parish church was dedicated, and sometimes on sundays. Thither the merchant or the chapman brought his goods; and the farmer and the peasant disposed of their products, and returned to their wives, daughters, or mistresses, with neces­saries, or little luxuries, the cloths and tools of Flanders, or the silks and spices of Venice and the East.

Yet the defect of industry in agriculture, pasturage, and manufactures, occasioned as above mentioned a great balance against Scotland, and affected the coinage, which till the year 1355 had been equal in name, weight, and purity, to the English. In a parliament of June 1385, it was ordered that the moneyer should issue coin of sterling purity, either from bullion, foreign money, or vases and other plate; and render out of the pound weight of silver twenty-nine shillings and four pennies, or in other words three hundred and fifty-two pennies. Those who bring blanks of France are to have the same weight, except the loss of six blanks in the pound. The English noble of six shillings and eight pence is ordered to go for seven shillings and eight pence Scotish: the French crown of 47 deniers for 42 Scotish pennies; and that of Flanders for 47 and a half-penny; while the French mouton is to bear 50. The exportation of money, by sea or land, is prohibited, on pain of forfeiting the sum, and even the life of the offender to be in the king's power; except foreign merchants who bring corn, wine, boards, or the like necessaries, who may export their profits 2. In the reigns of Robert III, and James I, Scotish money was to the English as one to two. The gold coinage of Scotland commences with the accession of the house of Stuart 3.

[Page 171]Navigation continued in state of imperfection. The short and heavy shape of the ships, with a high chamber on the poop and prow, or fore and back, castle, large tops like gal­leries in the masts, and other inartificial mechanism, presents a striking contrast to the light elegance, and rapid movements, of modern vessels. Even the galleys, or ships with oars, dis­played their high castles, and a form far from agile. The ships had thus less command of the sea, and were more ex­posed to the storm, so that it is no wonder that sailing in the winter months was strictly prohibited. James I ordered with great justice that, in case of shipwrecks on the Scotish coasts, foreign vessels should undergo the same laws as were practised in the countries to which they belonged. 4 To judge from what little evidence arises few foreign ships visited Scotland, and the little trade was chiefly conducted by the natives.

SECTION V. Ecclesiastic History, Literature, Language.

IN the middle ages the history of literature is intimately connected with that of the church; and it is a singular reverse of chance and time when literary men, themselves the priests of the muses, become enemies of their predecessors the priests and monks, whose influence was only that of knowledge over ignorance. During those barbarous times, when science was neglected, and force alone reigned, a literary man could not [Page 172]pursue his studies, except in a monastery: and there is reason to believe that many cordially despised the superstitions which they professed, and had, like the ancient philosophers, their exoteric doctrine for the people, and their esoteric for the learned: at least this seems the most rational way of account­ing for the preservation of many classics, and works of phi­losophy, little accordant with the christian purity, and doctrine; and for some minute but singular circumstances, in several sculptures and manuscripts of those times.

That christianity had an eminent effect in the progress of civilization, it would be absurd to deny. Its enemies assert that it introduced only new motives of discord, proscribed all vigour of intellect by the imbecility of belief, excited innu­merable wars of religion, (a contradiction in terms almost unknown to the ancient world,) murdered millions for any absurd dogma; and even by the severity of its doctrines, tended to vitiate or madden mankind, unable to observe laws repug­nant to their nature. But such are human affairs that no eminent advantage can be produced, without great concomi­tant disasters; and the objections proceed upon a fallacious ground, as being estimated from a partial view of the influ­ence of christianity in civilized times, instead of a general retrospect of its influence on barbarous nations and periods. The tenets of the ancient philosophers had been confined to a few individuals; but the christian system was diffused through all ranks of men; and its progress into the northern kingdoms is marked by the first dawn of science, and civilization. It was in itself a system of education; and thus accomplished what no conquest, intercourse, nor form of government, could have supplied; and even where its first steps are marked with blood, the temporary evil produced a lasting benefit, by abo­lishing the constant wars and slaughters of savage life, and the [Page 173]immolation of human victims to deformed idols. Reason has as yet had no power over nations, and enthusiasm alone could produce such wide and lasting effects: but while some may doubt whether any particular system of religion be designed by providence as an eternal fabric, or as a scaffolding to hide and accomplish some great design, let us be contented to as­cribe to christianity its just merits, in advancing the state of barbaric society.

The history of the church of Scotland preceding the re­formation presents few important events, and the chief are inwoven with the national annals. Only some detached facts and remarks are reserved for this place.

The privileges of the Scotish church are often confirmed in the statutes, but are no where precisely enumerated. They seem to have been an exemption from tribute and war, and from the sentence of a temporal judge: a judicial authority in the spiritual causes of tithes, testaments, matrimonial and heretical affairs: freedom to let lands and tithes: submission to no foreign church, but to the pope alone: a power of holding provincial councils for the regulation of the national church. In benefices the pontiff had only the right of con­firmation and deprivation, and the purchase of any benefice at Rome was strictly prohibited. The bishops were elected by the chapter, and the royal recommendation seems seldom to have intervened. Abbots were chosen by the monks alone; the secular clergy were named by the proprietors of the lands 5. [Page 174]Many sees, and abbeys, were opulent; but James III seems to have been the first monarch who seized and made a traffic of the nomination.

Winton gives a singular tale, unknown to other writers, concerning the appointment of a bishop of St. Andrews. In the year 1399 Walter Danielston, parson of Kincardin O Neil in Aberdeenshire, by some means took possession of the castle of Dunbarton. Three years after, on the death of Trial bishop of St. Andrews, Thomas Stuart brother to the king was elected by the chapter, but not confirmed by the pope; and Danielston offered to surrender Dunbarton, if the see were affigned to him. The terms were accepted by Albany: but Danielston only survived this strange transaction half a year 6.

James I introduced the Carthusian order into Scotland: he found the Benedictine and Augustinian monks so relaxed in their discipline, that he wrote a letter of exhortation on the subject to their abbots and friars 7. After a lapse of near a century, a general council of the Scotish clergy was held at Perth in 1420; but its regulations are of little moment. Another council met Antony bishop of Urbino in February 1437, but the king's death prevented any procedure 8.

The mass, pilgrimages, and preachings, formed the great objects of devotion. Bowar displays the virtue of the mass, in saving three monks of his monastery, who were bringing ale in a boat that was lost, with a credulity worthy of the ninth century 9. The most noted pilgrimage appears to have been Whithern; and James I issued a general permission to the [Page 175]English and people of Man to visit that sanctuary 1. Sermons in the vulgar tongue were not only delivered by the preaching friars, but by such of the bishops, and other secular clergy, as were capable. At the coronation of Robert III, 1390, Thomas bishop of Galloway preached the sermon 2. An idea of these sermons may be drawn from those at the opening of English parliaments: latin sentences from scripture were mixed with declamations in the language of the country.

Scholastic divinity continued to be regarded as the chief branch of literature: an idle study, in which the powers of the human mind were consumed in mere disputation concern­ing ideal words, while things were neglected or unknown. The acuteness wasted on quiddities, entities, and other ab­surdities, might if applied to life, manners, or real science and philosophy, have made important discoveries: but such is man, ever ready to abandon the important realities before him, and eager in pursuit of barren visions. Till the univer­sity of St. Andrews was founded in 1412, the Scotish youth designed for the church were chiefly educated at Paris and Oxford 3.

Amid many important circumstances, which mark the ac­cession of the house of Stuart, may be placed the commence­ment. [Page 176]of a successive series of Scotish authors; while before that period hardly half a dozen can be enumerated, at distant intervals, and those chiefly meagre chroniclers or rimers in latin. At the head of this series stands John Barbour arch­deacon of Aberdeen, who in 1375 wrote his celebrated histo­rical poem on the actions of king Robert the Great. He also composed a genealogy of the kings of Scotland, from the fa­bulous Brutus of Geffrey of Monmouth, down to Robert II inclusive; and endeavoured to render the new dynasty more illustrious by poetical embellishment. This work is lost; but we learn that he derived the Stuarts from Wales, and from Fleance de Waran, and fell into unchronological errors which Bowar points out, about sixty years after the appearance of this ideal genealogy, an offering of flattery on the altar of loyalty 4.

John of Fordun, an useful compiler of history, also flourished under Robert II. His work was however little known, till it was republished with large additions by Walter Bowar in the reign of James II. Thomas Barry, canon of Glasgow, and first provost of the collegiate church of Bothwell, wrote a long latin poem, in various kinds of rime, on the battle of Otterburn, 1388. It is preserved by Bowar, and is not without merit in its singular line 5.

Andrew Winton, prior of Lochleven, composed his riming chronicle of Scotland, while Murdac duke of Albany was regent, 1419—1424, as appears from his prayer that the son of Robert Duke of Albany may equal his father 6. James I is well known as a poet of great genius. It is likely that Sir [Page 177]Hew of Eglinton, Etrik, Heriot, John Clerk, James Afflek, Mungo Lockhart of Lee, and Clerk of Tranent, old poets mentioned by Dunbar, belong to this period: and we know that metrical romances were now common, and formed a fa­vorite amusement of James I 8. Barbour and Winton present ample specimens of the Scotish language at this epoch.

The civil, canon, and municipal, law, must have been cultivated; but no certain work remains on these topics, though the statutes evince considerable skill and prudence. Moral philosophy, natural history and philosophy, mathematics, medicine, practical divinity, astrology, chymistry, were branches of science not uncultivated at this period, but no trace of them can be found in Scotland.

SECTION VI. Ornamental Arts, Manners, Dress.

THE state of the arts was not so mean as may be imagined. Architecture, in particular, began to assume all the richness, of which the Gothic style is susceptible. To the credit of Robert II and III it may be remarked, that no religious foun­dation is ascribed to them; and the revenues of the crown were keeped sacred from superstition. Of the latter prince it is recorded, that when Annabella his queen endeavoured to persuade him to erect a magnificent tomb for himself, he an­swered, with his accustomed piety and humility, that he would prefer the meanest sepulchre, as more proper for one of the worst of kings, and greatest of sinners 9. The foundation of [Page 178]monasteries had, in the preceding century, remarkably sub­sided. The wealth of the monks had rendered them volup­tuous, illiterate, and remiss in their duties, so that even the masses for the founders appear to have been uncelebrated. Hence a new species of religious foundation became fashion­able in the fifteenth century, that of collegiate churches or provostries, so named because the superior was styled provost. The secular canons, or prebends, formed a body at the college church, occupied in divine service, and singing masses for the founders, while their vicars served their respective parish churches. These collegiate edifices, with some foundations for the Observantines, a branch of the Franciscans or Gray Friars remarkable for austerity, present the most certain and genuine specimens of ecclesiastic architecture at this period; such as Dunbar, Bothwell, Botham, Corstorphin 1.

The larger castles continued to be distinguished by one or two exterior walls, and a court in the centre of which stood a large and high tower, or donjon. Some there were which approached to more modern architecture, being built around a central court, and only fortified with a ditch and draw­bridge. Every laird or country gentleman had his fortalice, or tower, a lofty edifice with small windows, surmounted by a flat stone roof and battlements, and secured by a ditch. In towns the few chief houses had more of the modern style, fortification being unnecessary while the town was guarded by a wall and ditch. The architecture seems to correspond with the Flemish; the Scotish artisans perhaps studying in Flanders.

[Page 179]Bowar celebrates James I for the construction of palaces, and reparation of castles, but he does not specify the instances 2. Gardening was also a favourite amusement of that prince; and Bowar mentions his delight in planting herbs, and trees, and in grafting 3. The use of pot-herbs seems never to have been interrupted in the middle ages; and constant intercourse with Flanders, a celebrated seat of horticulture, must have given the Scots a taste for gardening. The monasteries in particular were distinguished for good gardens and orchards 4.

In painting it is probable that no native artist arose, though James I was himself an eminent calligrapher, illuminator, and painter in miniature 5. But Venice had already introduced many arts from Constantinople, and in the current of com­merce had imported them to Flanders. Oil-painting in par­ticular was known for centuries, before John Van Eyck about 1410 made some improvement, which gave him the fallacious honour of being considered as the inventor 6. In the erection of the palaces, colleges, and churches, often commemorated in this century, it seems impossible that painting should have been forgotten. An old writer mentions that, on the execu­tion [Page 180]of Murdac duke of Albany, his sons, and Lennox, 1425, they were buried in the Blackfriars church at Stirling, on the south side of the great altar, with paintings of their persons and arms 7. Heraldic painting, at least, must have been common 8.

James I was also distinguished for his skill in music; and the chronicler in celebrating this talent throws some light on the state of music in Scotland at the time. That prince, he says, sung well; and played on the tabor, bagpipe, psaltery, organ, the flute, the harp, the trumpet, the shepherds reed: on the harp in particular his performances were admirable, and were highly applauded both by Irish and English masters 9.

In the consideration of the manners of the great, hunting forms an eminent feature. Deer-stealers were severely punished; and a statute appears ordering that no partridges, plovers, black-cocks, muir-cocks, nor other game, be taken from the beginning of Lent till August, under a penalty of forty shillings 1. Falconry seems to have been a favourite diversion of Murdac duke of Albany; and was long to continue in high esteem 2.

But tournaments presented the grandest theatre of enter­tainment. In 1390 Sir David Lindsay of Glenesk, afterwards [Page 181]earl of Crawford, passing with a gallant train to a tourney, appointed at London by Richard II, overcame lord Wells, a valiant knight, both in the horse and foot combat: and the circumstances are detailed with minute pride by the Scotish chroniclers 3. On the day after the contest, a specimen arose of the rude wit of the time; an English knight saying that there were no doubt bold men in Scotland, but such were the issue of the English by illicit intercourse with Scotish ladies, during the conquest of that kingdom; to which Sir William Dalyel, a knight in Lindsay's train, retorted that the case might be true, but that it was equally certain that a propor­tional degeneracy had taken place among the English warriors, the progeny of valets, cooks, clowns, and fathers confessors, whom the ladies had admitted to their arms, during the ab­sence of their lords in Scotland. And Sir Piers Courtenay, an English knight, royal champion, and brother to the pri­mate, wearing on his sleeve an embroidered falcon, with this motto,

I beer a falcon, fairest of flicht,
who so pinches at her, his death is dicht
In graith.

Dalyel assumed a similar dress, with the badge of a magpye, and this device,

I beer a py pykkand at ane pes,
Quhasa pykkis at her, I sal pyk at his nese
In faith.

The challenge was understood, and accepted; but the affair terminated in a ludicrous demand of Dalyel, that, as by the laws of tournament, the champions ought to be perfectly equal, [Page 182]and he had lost an eye at the battle of Ot [...]erburn, Courtenay of course should have one of his extinguished before the com­bat 4. In 1394 the earl of Moray was slain in a tourney with the earl Marshal of England: and in 1407 Mar was defeated in a similar contest 5. James I seems not much to have en­couraged these spectacles: and it is his higher praise that he brought the realm to such tranquillity, that there was no occa­sion to proceed to any court in arms, nor to raise any spear, except that which bore the royal pennon, the mark of his omnipresent authority 6.

While the commonalty were so much attached to the foot­ball and golf, that positive statutes became necessary against these diversions, in order that archery might meet with due attention, the great amused themselves with pawme or tennis. The disposal of the evening, a great object in a life of ease, forms a marked diversity in the manners of the great in dif­ferent ages. Among the ancients the chief repast, at that time, beguiled the fatigues of the day. But the barbaric customs of a large dinner in the morning, and a slight supper three or four hours after noon, left the evening listless, soli­tary, and vacant. The game of tables or draughts, supplied modern cards; and the minstrels now and then atoned for the want of theatric exhibitions. The evenings of James I passed in playing at chess, or tables, reading romances, singing, piping, harping: the voidee, or parting cup, was the signal of retiring to rest 7.

In food little luxury seems to have been known, till James I. who had resided nineteen years in England, set the example [Page 183]of a higher style of living 8. Under Robert II, the French knights could procure no wine but at a great price; the ale was no better than small-beer, and the bread was of barley or oats 9. Among the Romans indeed barley bread was the food of gladiators, to give them strength; it was also a favorite of the Greeks, and Hippocrates has written in its praise. In the cookery of the middle ages meat was highly seasoned; and even the wines were often mingled with spices. Distilled spirits are unmentioned even in the south of Europe, till about the year 1300; and were chiefly confined to the shop of the apothecary till the sixteenth century. There seems little mention of brandy or whiskey in Scotland, till the reign of Charles II 1.

The dress of the common people has already been described; but that of the great was more complex. The linen shirt began to be used, over which was a doublet, or vest with sleeves; and the jacket or the gown supplied the modern coat 2. [Page 184]The hose, or breeches and stockings in one piece, and shoes of cordwain, cordovan or Spanish leather; and the hood, or the silken or velvet cap, ornamented with jewels, completed the dress. An act of James I prohibits any to wear silk, or the finer furs, except those lords and knights whose income amounted to two hundred marks a year, and their heirs; the use of embroidery, pearls, or ornaments of plate, was alike restricted; but others might wear serpes, belts, broaches, and chains 3. The belt, or girdle, formed also a necessary article of the dress of the great: and there were other modes adapted to different ranks and occasions, the mantle or short cloke open at one shoulder, the tabard or loose jacket, and the like. But the gown and the robe, and their furring, constituted grand objects of distinction and expence, being generally of silk, velvet, or cloth of gold. Other particulars may be learned from the contemporary account of the assassination of James I: that prince was "standing in his night-gown, all undressed save his shirt, his cap, his comb, his coverchief, his furred pynsons upon the form." Shoes with long peaks, fastened to the knees with chains of gold or silver, were in fashion for some time, as appears from numerous authentic testimonies; but it is remarkable that they occur in no paint­ing nor illumination 4.

[Page 185]The dress of the ladies consisted chiefly of the kirtil, or close gown and petticoat in one piece, and the mantle. Other articles were, the wylicot or under petticoat, shift of fine lin­nen from the Netherlands, hose or high stockings of linnen or woolen cloth, and shoes of leather from the Straits, Morocco or Spain. Nor ought the girdle, and the broach, which fastened the mantle, to be omitted. The head-dress appears to have varied considerably, according to the rank or taste of the wearer 5.

BOOK VI. CONTAINING THE REIGN OF JAMES II.

Minority and regency—truce with England—Crichton, Livings­ton, and Douglas—marriage of the queen dowager—execution of Douglas—marriage treaty with Bretagne—power of Douglas—fall of Crichton and Livingston—death of the dauphiness, and the queen dowager—execution of Livingston—English in­cursions—battle of Sark—marriage of James, his character and active authority—parliament—affairs with Douglas—his treasons—murder of Maclellan—Douglas stabbed by the king—commotions allayed—tranquillity—university of Glasgow founded—grand rebellion of Douglas—quelled—conflict at Ar­kinholm—death of Moray and Ormond—parliament—James invades England—truce—parliament—siege of Roxburgh—death of James.

OF the reign, 1437 now about to be described, no original and authentic history remains; and at a period when we might expect a light so strong, as to illuminate the minutest features of action, and of character, a kind of twilight sur­rounds us, in which only a few large objects can be discerned. The acts of parliament, and other records, present unques­tionable evidence; but it is not in the fixed formality of such writings that the most interesting details of history are to be found; and any regular epistolary correspondence concerning [Page 187]public affairs Scotland cannot display, till towards the end of the reign of James IV. These remarks are introduced to solicit some indulgence for this particular part of the narra­tion; in which however no labour shall be spared to recover authentic facts, and to place them in a distinct point of view 1.

A parliament being called at Edinburgh,25 Mar. the first object was the coronation of the young king, now only in the sixth year of his age, and which was solemnized on the twenty-fifth day of March, then reputed the first day of a new year 2: the next, was an act passed to revoke al alienations of lands, or other property, belonging to the crown, since the death of the late king, except granted by the consent of the three states; and to declare all future alienations void, save those warranted in like manner, until the king shall have attained his twenty-first year 3.

[Page 188]In our defect of constitutional information it is not to be discovered by whom this parliament was summoned. Late writers assert that this high privilege was exerted by the officers of state; but their duty certainly expired with the deceased sovereign, and the sacred truth that such officers belong to the nation is a modern discovery. The same authors carelessly inform us that the government was divided, by the parliament, between Sir William Crichton the chancellor, and Sir Alex­ander Livingston appointed keeper of the king's person. Both accounts seem more than doubtful. There is every reason to believe, from the repeated oaths of fidelity ordered by James I to be taken to his queen, and from other circumstances, that the late monarch had, by his testament, appointed the queen regent, with a chosen council 4: that the parliament was called by the regency: and that Crichton and Livingston were not [Page 189]indebted to the national council for their power, but derived it from the will of James I. It is most improbable that a proud aristocracy should have forsaken their pretensions, upon this great occasion: but that the late king should have appointed two gentlemen of reputed wisdom and integrity, in opposition to the dangerous ambition of the nobles, is concordant with his character, and highly credible. A similar series of events ensued to those which occur in the minority of James V: the spirit of the nation, and of the times, was little adapted to the conduct of a female hand, not only feeble, but exposed to just suspicion, because the queen was a native of England, between which country and Scotland had long subsisted either open enmity, or inveterate jealousy. Finding that her power could not command confidence, nor influence, she soon shrunk from it; and left Crichton and Livingston to maintain their turbulent elevation.

An open war with England had taken place before the death of James I, and the spirit of that prince was not such as to solicit peace; but the present state of Scotland, under the distractions of a minority, rendered a treaty desireable. After some negotiation, 18 Sept. a safe conduct was granted, by Henry VI, to John bishop of Glasgow, Alexander Seton of Gordon, Sir Walter Ogilvy, and Sir John Forster, as embassadors from Scotland 5: yet, from some unknown cause, probably a dis­sension between Crichton and Livingston, these embassadors were not sent. 30 Nov. Soon after, other persons were appointed, namely the lords Gordon and Montgomery, Methven provost [Page 190]of Lincluden, 1438 31 Mar. secretary to the king, and John Vaus esquire; and a truce of nine years was sanctioned 6.

If we credit the doubtful accounts which we have of this reign, Crichton had found means, probably by the superior influence of his office, as chancellor, to gain possession of the infant king, whom he retained in the castle of Edinburgh. The queen, favouring the just claim of Livingston, by a stra­tagem obtained, and conveyed her son to Stirling, and delivered him to the care of his legal guardian. The chancellor applied to Archibald earl of Douglas for his assistance, which was de­nied: Livingston invested the castle of Edinburgh; but he and the chancellor agreeing to join against Douglas, concord was restored 7.

There cannot be a stronger proof of the ignorance of our carlier writers, concerning this reign, than their assertion that the powerful earl of Douglas was neglected, while it is known, from authentic records, that he held the high office of lieute­nant general of the kingdom, 27 Nov. and even summoned a parlia­ment 8. In another national assembly it was ordered that the lord lieutenant, 1439 13 Mar. and the king's chosen council, should hold two sessions yearly for the administration of justice: and that the lord lieutenant should seize any rebels, or despoilers, lodged in castles, or strongholds, and enforce them to find surety for their good behaviour 9. But Archibald earl of Douglas died this year; and was succeeded by his son, a youth whose years [Page 191]did not exceed fourteen, 1439 and were too immature to support the dignities of his father 1.

Meantime petty feuds and commotions destroyed the public peace and welfare: the flood of aristocratic tyranny and vio­lence, which had been confined by the stern government of James I, burst the temporary barriers, and deluged the country.

Joanna, the queen-mother, married Sir James Stuart, com­monly called the Black knight of Lorn: the barbarism of the age rendering it unsafe for a woman of rank to remain without the protection of a warlike husband. But Sir James Stuart being a friend to the family of Douglas, as is said, Livingston confined him, and his elder brother, and even the queen, till they engaged not to support the house of Douglas. 1440 The fruit of Livingston's insolence was that the chancellor, by another stratagem, recovered the possession of the king's person, and conveyed him to Edinburgh. But, by the mediation of friends, a lasting agreement was at length formed between them; and the king was committed to Livingston's care, as ordered by his deceased father 2.

[Page 192]However this be, it is certain that a parliament was held at Stirling 3,2 Aug. in which it was decreed that the privileges of the clergy should be observed: that the administrators of justice should hold their sessions twice a year: and, by a remarkable act, that "the king should ride through the realm, imme­diately upon intelligence being sent to his council, wherever any rebellion, slaughter, burning, robbery, outrage, or theft, happened; to call the sheriff of the shire, wherein the crime was committed, before him, and before he leaves the shire to remedy the mischief and punish the offenders; in the execu­tion of which ordinance all the barons, with one assent, are obliged to assist 4." In this singular decree we find the legis­lative body regarding the king in the modern light of a chief magistrate, bound equally with the meanest subject to an obe­dience to the laws: yet it may be suspected that this new style, used by the parliament, flowed from temporary circumstances, and not from fixed principles of the constitution; the nonage of the king evidently pointing the act to those who had the custody of his person, as implying that the sovereign was not to be the prisoner of an individual, but the free inspector of his kingdom at large.

The power of the house of Douglas had arisen to a formi­dable height, and was during this reign to contend with the royal authority. Galloway, Annandale, and other extensive territories in Scotland, the duchy of Touraine and lordship of Longueville in France, rendered to the chief of that family revenues perhaps equivalent to those of the Scotish monarch. The young earl, now in his sixteenth year, possessed the im­petuous spirit, and haughtiness, natural to his age and fortunes. [Page 193]His highest title, that of duke of Touraine 5, which a weak regency had permitted the house to assume, and which impolicy had not applied to the French king to discontinue, emboldened the Douglas to regard himself as a foreign prince, independent of the laws of his country. The prudence of age might have induced a concealment of pomp, and power, from the fear of envy, and danger; but, in the arrogance of youth, William earl of Douglas displayed a constant train of one thousand horse, and a dazzling magnificence in his household; nay he would even create knights, and hold courts in imitation of parliaments 6.

The chancellor, who, by his office, was chiefly charged to see the due execution of the laws, was irritated at the insults offered to them by the power of Douglas. Instead of bearing with the young earl's insolence, in the hopes that a few years would infuse moderation and prudence into his conduct; in­stead of secretly using the king's influence with the court of France, that the foreign titles and possessions might be with­drawn from the family, Crichton resolved to cut off the earl, and his brother; a measure which might perhaps have admit­ted some apology, had they been advanced to maturer age, for it seems strictly equitable that an oppressor, who is above the procedure of justice, may be sacrificed to the laws, with­out any procedure of justice; but which, while we consider the tender age of the offenders, must be pronounced unjust, murderous, and tyrannical. Nay when the consequences are [Page 194]seen, this act will appear weak and impolitic, and will incur the bitterest charge of depravity, that of ineffectual guilt.

By plausible invitations, and flatteries, William earl of Douglas, his brother David, and Malcom Fleming of Cum­bernauld, a faithful adherent of the family, were inveigled into the castle of Edinburgh, and after an insidious entertain­ment, and a brief and delusory trial, were beheaded 7. The earldom of Douglas fell to the next male heir, James lord of Abercorn, surnamed the Gross, a prudent and peaceable man, but who unfortunately enjoyed his title only two years, and left a turbulent son William, the third of that name: the un­entailed estates of Galloway, Wigton, Balvenie, Ormond, and Annandale, were inherited by Margaret, sister of the murdered earl, commonly called The Fair Maid of Galloway, who wed­ded her cousin the third William, thereby restoring the house of Douglas to all its power 8. The want of wisdom in the government, upon this occasion, exceeds belief; but it is easier to commit a murder, than to perform an action of common prudence, and crime ought never to infer ability. Margaret was apparently a ward of the crown; at any rate the new earl [Page 195]William, and the heiress, were within the degrees of consan­guinity, and he was forced to apply secretly to the pope for a dispensation, which not arriving so speedily as he hoped he married her on Good Friday, in the time of Lent, a day and period esteemed as unlawful as the marriage 9. The opposition to this connection ought to have been cogent, the pretexts for annulling it were just: but for this unaccountable neglect the regency, the nation, the king, were afterwards sufficiently to suffer.

An embassy arrived from Bretagne, 1441 to propose a marriage between Francis count de Montfort, son and heir of John V surnamed the Good and Wise, and Isabella of Scotland sister to the king 1. The proposals were favourably heard; and Sir George Crichton admiral of Scotland 2, Foulis archdeacon of St. Andrews, and William Monipeny esquire, who was after­wards [Page 196]employed in many negotiations, proceeded to Bretagne to complete the transaction.19 July It was soon after settled that James should pay with his sister a portion of one hundred thousand saluts of gold; and the duke of Bretagne agreed to a dower of six thousand livres 3. Her voyage was, from un­known causes, delayed till the following year.

The truce with England, 1442 which would have expired in 1447, was, by anticipation, extended for seven years longer, till the first day of May 1454 4. Isabella sister to the king proceeded to Bretagne, Nov. where she was wedded to he new duke Francis I 5.

Sir William Ruthven, sheriff of Perth, 1443 conveying an high­land freebooter to justice, was attacked by a body of Athole men, led by one Gormac, but by the spirit of Ruthven, and some gentlemen in his company, the assailants were defeated, and about thirty slain 6. 4 Nov. A parliament was held at Stirling: of its proceedings we only know that an act was passed, to se­cure the property of the church against despoilers 7. Some doubts having arisen concerning the succession to the important [Page 197]earldom of Orkney, 1443 Thomas of Tholac, the bishop, made a formal report on the subject to Christopher III, king of Den­mark Sweden and Norway, in which the right of the house of Sinclair is evinced 8.

The king now approached his fourteenth year, 1444 when, by the usage of most kingdoms, he was regarded as capable of managing his affairs: the perturbation of a minority, flattery, and the danger of opposing the royal will, as soon as the slightest degree of manly thought appears, concurring to sup­pose in princes, whose station is the most difficult, a far more early discretion than is to be found in the common ranks of mankind. That reign must indeed be very weak, which transcends not the inefficacy, and disturbances of a regency. By the common course of human affairs, the young king de­tested the control of Livingston and Crichton; and the nu­merous friends of the house of Douglas were successful in sharpening his resentment against those stern guardians, who had held him in captivity, and in turning his affections to the earl of Douglas, whose youth was more congenial with that of the king, and whose power could irresistibly enforce the royal designs. It is said that Galbraith, a partisan of Douglas, having slain Semple deputy governor of Dunbarton castle, and seized the whole command of that fortress, Douglas became anxious for the event, and proceeding to the king's presence, put himself wholly in the power of James, with professions and oaths of the humblest fidelity: and that the monarch, de­lighted with his submission and behaviour, admitted him to his [Page 198]most chosen counsels 9. However this be, it is certain that the office of chancellor was now taken from Crichton, and conferred upon James Bruce bishop of Dunkeld 1. Crichton shut himself up in the castle of Edinburgh, of which he had been governor since the late reign, with a resolution to defend himself against the violence of his enemies: and Livingston, who was less obnoxious, either by office or crimes, held the castle of Stirling. Douglas used his new power with an ex­cess, dangerous to the king, and to himself. In a short time all the followers of the late administration were displaced, and successors devoted to the present ministry were appointed: three brothers of Douglas soon became peers 2. Archibald, by marrying the younger daughter of James Dunbar, earl of Moray, acquired that title and estate, upon the death of his father-in-law, to the prejudice of the chancellor's eldest son James, who had wedded the elder daughter 3. Hugh was created earl of Ormond; and John lord of Balveny 4. This accession of power to a family, before too potent, was the height of impolicy, and could only be granted by a youth to a favourite.

Douglas procured a parliament to be held, 1445 in which Crich­ton and Livingston were denounced rebels, and their estates [Page 199]forfeited. The castle of Crichton was taken, and destroyed; and, in revenge, the late chancellor made excursions from the castle of Edinburgh, and ravaged the lands in Lothian be­longing to Douglas. The Kingdom fell into complete anar­chy, and became one scene of violence and disorder 5.

James was induced to besiege the castle of Edinburgh, which was bravely defended by Crichton 6, who had indeed no reason to regard the royal army but as that of Douglas. The siege was turned into a blockade, and continued till the next year.

Eleanor and Jane, the two unmarried sisters of James, pro­ceeded to France, to their sister the dauphiness, apparently on the death of the queen-mother 7; for Scotland was in a state of lawless confusion; and there was reason for apprehension, that Douglas would convert he princely bridals into a further ac­cession of power to his family. Upon their arrival, they found the dauphiness dead 8: 16 Aug. but the French monarch received them [Page 200]with great affection, and demanded a dispensation for marrying the elder to the dauphin, which being refused by the pope, [Page 201]she was many years after wedded to Sigismund duke of Aus­tria: and Jane returned to her own country 9. The queen-mother who died this year, left three sons by her second hus­band, John, and James, afterwards earls of Athole, and Buchan; and Andrew, who became bishop of Moray 1.

Meanwhile the disorders of the country encreased, under the mismanagement of Douglas, and caused even the regency of Crichton and Livingston to be regreted. Among the petty feuds, commemorated in our dubious annals, a discord of more importance is introduced. A dispute arising between Lindsay son of the earl of Crawford, and Ogilby of Innerquharity, the former was joined by his father, the latter by the earl of Huntley, and a desperate conflict ensued. Crawford, Hunt­ley, and Ogilby, were slain, with many other gentlemen, and near two hundred of their followers 2.

Crichton at length surrendered the castle of Edinburgh, 1446 upon terms highly advantageous to himself, for his estates, and honours, and even his office, were to be restored; and the conditions were strictly adhered to 3. Several reasons ap­pear [Page 202]to have induced the king and Douglas to such concessions: it was probably now discovered by both that the aged experi­ence, and abilities, of Crichton were necessary to give some stability, and order, to government, and restore greater respect to the laws. Douglas seems to have found that, by grasping all, he would lose all; and that the accession of Crichton's talents, and fame, would much strengthen the power of his administration. It also appears that Crichton had never been cordially united with Livingston, but had from necessity only consented to concord; and now when the death of the queen-mother had left Livingston destitute of strong influence, he ungenerously made his peace with Douglas, by the sacrifice of his colleague. It has surprised some that Douglas satiated his revenge upon Livingston and his family, who were innocent of the murder of his two relations; and that Crichton was never charged with that assassination: but it is reasonable to infer that there were powerful motives for this conduct; the king himself had been present at the murder, and in the jealousy of his authority might consider it as a matter rather too delicate for discussion; Douglas might have had little in­clination to condemn an action, which laid the foundation of his power; and the intention of which was perhaps not un­known to his father, who might otherwise have immediately instigated the whole force of the house of Douglas against the government 4.

The earl of Douglas was, about this time, created lieutenant general of the kingdom 5; an office of extreme power, which had been held by one of his predecessors at the commencement [Page 203]of this reign. He now resolved upon the perdition of the family of Livingston, which had only done its duty to the king and kingdom, by opposing the exorbitant influence of the house of Douglas. Accordingly Sir Alexander Livingston, formerly keeper of the king's person, James his eldest son, Robert and David Livingstons, and Sir James Dundas, and Sir Robert Bruce, connected with the family, were committed to several prisons: but Sir Alexander, and the two other knights, Dundas, and Bruce, were delivered upon paying large sums of money: the others were tried and beheaded 6. Dec.

Although the truce with England had, in 1442, 1447 been con­tinued from 1447, when it was otherwise to expire, till 1454, yet the English borderers, knowing the confusion into which the maladministration of Douglas had plunged Scotland, re­solved to avail themselves of the occasion. The saintly imbe­cility of Henry VI, and the cabals of the queen's party, and that of the duke of Gloucester, distracted the government, and rendered the subjects unruly and disaffected. Several in­roads of the borderers took place this year; in which, as is said, Dumfries on the one part, and Alnwich on the other, were burnt 7.

[Page 204]Ravages of such importance called greater powers into action; 1448 and the battle of Sark, so called from a river in An­nandale, terminated the difference in a manner advantageous to the Scots. Unfortunately we have no English, nor Scotish contemporary account of this battle, the only one which occurs between the nations for a long period of time. When at the distance of near a century we find records of this action, the English pass it in complete silence, and the Scots too much swell their victory. The accounts of Jean Chartier, and Monstrelet, seem to deserve the preference; but even there the number appear to be exaggerated. According to the French historians, the English, to the number of fifteen thou­sand, conducted by the earl of Huntinndon and lord Percy, apparently wardens of the marches, entered Scotland by the western border, and advanced six miles into the country. The earl of Douglas hastily advanced, with only six thousand, attacked the enemy in the open field; conquered, and took the two generals captives. Upon the tidings of this defeat, the earl of Salisbury, who was lord lieutenant of the north of England, raised an army of sixty thousand, and sent this for­midable force to invade Scotland. Douglas, and his brother Ormond, with thirty-two thousand men, attacked the English by surprize, and put them to a total route; with the incredible loss of between twenty and twenty-four thousand, taken and [Page 205]slain. The Scots then entered England, and ravaged the country as far as Newcastle 8.

[Page 206]Sir William Crichton, chancellor of Scotland, John Rails­ton bishop of Dunkeld secretary, and keeper of the privy seal, and Nicholas Ottirburn official of Lothian, had passed on a solemn embassy to France and Burgundy. The grand objects of their mission were, to renew the alliance with France; and to discover a proper bride for James now in his eighteenth year. The league between France and Scotland was accord­ingly repeated in the most solemn and ample form, 31 Dec. and with a confirmation of all the preceding treaties, since that of Charles the Fair and Robert I, in the year 1326 9.

As the court of France then presented no suitable wife for the Scotish king, 1449 the embassadors proceeded to that of Bur­gundy. Philip the Good, who ruled that potent duchy, or rather kingdom, with celebrated wisdom and splendor, had in 1430, as above narrated, concluded a commercial treaty with Scotland for one hundred years. He recommended to the embassadors his kinswoman Mary, daughter of Arnold duke of Gelderland, as a lady worthy of the hand of their sovereign 1.

This matrimonial engagement was accordingly entered upon, in the presence of envoys from France, then in strict alliance with Burgundy. 1 April The treaty was concluded at Brussels; and bore that Philip should pay at Bruges in the course of two years sixty thousand crowns of gold, as the portion of the bride. James enfeofed Mary in Strathern, Athole, Meth­ven, Linlithgow, and other lands for the payment of a dower [Page 207]of ten thousand crowns, in case of his previous decease; and he relinquished all the hereditary claims of his wife, in case her father left a male heir. On the same day a perpetual league of mutual defence was concluded with Philip, in which the duke of Gelderland was comprehended 2.

During the negotiation reciprocal intercourse, and festivity, occupied the courts of Scotland and Burgundy. A Burgun­dian historian describes at great length a tournament cele­brated, in the time of lent, at Stirling in the presence of the Scotish king, the judge and rewarder of the combat. Two Burgundians of the noble house of Lalain, and a third styled the squire Melyades, challenged two of the Douglases, and Halket, to fight with the lance, battle-ax, sword and dagger. After a festival of some days, the combatants entered the lists, clothed in velvet, and proceeded to their pavilions to arm; the earl of Douglas himself, attended by not less than about five thousand followers, accompanying the Scotish champions. After having been solemnly knighted by the king, the parties engaged: the spears were soon thrown away: one of the Douglases was felled by a battle-ax, and the combat becoming unequal, the king threw down his baton, the signal of its ter­mination 3.

[Page 208]As the lady had been educated in the court of Philip, he defrayed, with his accustomed magnificence, the nuptial pre­parations on her side. The lord of Vere in Zealand, whose son had before this period married a sister of James, was ap­pointed to conduct the bride; who with many tears took leave of the duke, June and his son the count de Charolois. Coasting not without terror, along the inimical English shore, on the sixth day Scotland arose to their eager eyes; and they anchored near the isle of May, where then stood a hermitage and a chapel sacred to St. Andrew. Having paid her devotions, the queen proceeded to Leith, where she was met by many nobles, and a concourse of all ranks of people, who to the polished Burgundians appeared almost barbarians. Seated on horseback behind the lord of Vere, Mary advanced to Edin­burgh, where she was lodged in the convent of the jacobins or gray-friars. After the refreshment of the following day, the king visited her at midnight, and remained three hours. In the course of a week her nuptials, and coronation, were celebrated with much barbaric pomp 4.

[Page 209]The victories of Douglas had afforded little compensation to Scotland for his tyranny and oppression, which seemed to in­crease in proportion to the continuance of his power. For him, and his followers, there was no law, and the country groaned under the most destructive anarchy. But the six heavy years of his authority were soon to expire; and different circumstances were already preparing to lessen his influence. The charms and sense of the queen began to infuse a more manly character into her husband, to arouse him from his lethargy, and to form a party capable of undermining the odious power of Douglas.

James II may now be said to have assumed a permanent character, of which the delineation shall be here attempted, as far as barren and scanty materials will admit. His actions proclaim him a prince of decisive, and sometimes even violent, spirit. In war he was a valiant and popular leader; and sur­passed his father in a marked attention to military discipline. Negligent of pomp, the equal of every soldier, he shared the mean repast of the march, confident that poison is seldom administered in vassels of wood, reposing absolute faith in the love of his people 5. The power of his ablities, the excel­lence of his intentions in peace, are best displayed by the laws of his reign, always the most instructive an valuable portion of history. His wisdom appears conspicuous, in his reverence for the counsels of the wise, in guiding his most important actions by the experience of Crichton, and the benign and patriotic prudence of Kennedy. The perdition of the aristocra­tic and tyrannic house of Douglas was to be a spirited exertion of justice to himself, and to his people. But that any fixed plan yet existed, for the destruction of the aristocracy, seems a refined theory, incongruous with the ignorance and spirit [Page 210]and manners of the times; and is best confuted by the plain facts, that the families abased are ever remarkable for im­portant crimes, and that the property, and power, which were withdrawn from one house, were ever to be bestowed on another. Even when Louis XI, and Henry VII, were, to­wards the termination of this century, in countries of greater civilization, and political science, to humble the aristocracy, an unprejudiced reader will be ready to infer that the events proceed rather from chance, and circumstances, and the rota­tion of society, than from design. As to the person of the second James, we only know, that it was robust; and that a red tinge, which deformed one of his cheeks, gave him the vulgar appellation of James with the fiery face 6.

The truce with England had been, in May, renewed for a very short time; and among the commissioners named to prolong it, in September, we find Livingston, who had been again taken into favour, and appointed justiciary of Scotland: a circumstance which appears to present a proof that the in­fluence of Douglas was much on the decline. At length, in Novermber, a truce of a new and singular complexion was ratified, bearing no certain term, but that either monarch might violate it, when he pleased, upon giving a notice of one hundred and eighty days 7.

One of the last traces of the power of Douglas occurs in the decrees of a parliament, held at Edinburgh, this year, and [Page 211]probably in the early part of it. The sheriffs are therein or­dered to cause restitution be made of any stolen effects: if they should refuse, or be negligent, or partial, the complainant is to apply to the king's lieutenant, who is to punish the sheriffs as if they were the robbers: and they are to be treated as those who disobey the king's acts, given under the royal seal, and decreed by the lieutenant, and the three estates 8. It would appear, from this ordinance, that the office of lieutenant ge­neral of the kingdom wanted little of being a sole regency.

This dangerous dignity certainly fell, soon after the marriage of the king: and Douglas retired from the court, attended with the execrations of the people. It is said that Sir Richard Colville, having suffered repeated injuries from Auchinleck, a follower of Douglas, thought he might now venture upon revenge; which he completed in the slaughter of his enemy. Douglas, irritated at this insult offered to his fallen power, ravaged the lands of Colville, besieged his castle, took it, and left not one inhabitant alive 9. That age, in the true spirit of chivalry, praised the earl's exertion of friendship: at present this action appears in its real colours, as a sanguinary revenge, as a contempt of justice, as an insult to the laws, and to so­ciety; and as peculiarly disgraceful to him who had been the second magistrate in the kingdom.

The commencement of the king's active authority was signalized by a memorable parliament, 1450 Jan. held at Edinburgh, in which a great number of salutary regulations were issued 1. It is ordained that a general peace be proclaimed through all [Page 212]the realm, so that all men might travel in security, without any protection, save that of the king's peace; and if any sub­ject stand in fear of another he may have borrowes of peace, that is a pledge for his good behaviour: that just, and able, judges be appointed: that the justiciary shall pass twice through the country in the year, as ordered by the ancient laws: that any rebellion against the king be punished according to its nature, and by the advice of the three estates; and if any openly rebel, or make war upon the king's subjects, in defiance of his prohibition, the king shall advance against them with the whole force of the land, if necessary, and punish them according to their deserts. These unusual ordinances suffi­ciently paint the disorders, into which the bad administration of Douglas had thrown the kingdom. Other statutes decree, that if any person assist those who shall be brought to justice, he shall be punished equally with the transgressors: that the warden of the marches see that the truce be strictly observed, and appoint such officers as he shall answer for: that admi­nistrators of law, who wilfully transgress, shall lose their office for a year, and be fined: that despoilers be compelled to make full, and speedy, restitution, pay all expences, and a fine to the king: that the justiciary or justice general, the chamber­lain, the coroners, and other officers obliged to travel through the country, have but a moderate attendance, that they may not annoy the people: that forestallers of corn be punished, and the corn forfeited to the king; and that even the pos­sessors of grain keep no more than is necessary for their annual consumption, and sell the remainder in open market at the current price.

Above all, one remarkable act of this parliament deserves attention, being conceived in the following terms. "It is ordained that if any man, as God forbid, commit or do treason [Page 213]against the king's person, or his majesty, or rise in war against him, or lay hands upon his person violently, of whatever age the king be, young, or old; or receive any that have com­mitted treason, or that supply them with help or advice, or garrison the house of them who are convicted of treason, and hold their houses against the king, or garrison houses of their own in assistance of the king's rebels, or that assault castles, or places where the king's person shall happen to be, without the consent of the three estates, shall be punished as traitors 2." This statute has occasioned altercations between the favourers of monarchy, and those who attach ideas of freedom to a par­liament of the middle ages, when the only dispute lay between monarchy and aristocracy.

It was further ordained that all the regalities, in the royal possession, should be judged by the king's justiciary; and the freeholders of such regalities should appear in parliament, equally with those of the royal domains 3. As many large estates had fallen to the crown, in the preceding reign, this measure seems intended to increase the king's influence in parliament: and such was the spirit of the times that, to in­crease the power of the sovereign, was to enlarge the freedom and happiness of the people, labouring under the worst tyranny, that of a feudal aristocracy. Other prudent statutes concern the punishment of robbery, the regulation of the coin, and the penalties of contumacy against the course of justice 4. Such laws shine like a coruscation amid the night of barbarism; but, it is believed, imparted little of vital heat to the political atmosphere. It is easy to form good laws: the difficulty lies in the execution. The chief felicity of a nation is to have few laws, and to be accustomed to obey them.

[Page 214]Douglas, disgusted at the loss of his power, or wishing to display his pomp in foreign countries, passed to the jubilee at Rome, with a train of six knights, fourteen gentlemen, and eighty attendants 5. In his absence many complaints were made against the insolence of his dependents: the earl of Orkney, a nobleman of princely munificence, respectable for his talents, and patronage of letters, was sent to examine the abuses, and was insulted: the king, justly enraged, proceeded in person with a sufficient force, took the castle of Lochmaben, and demolished that of Douglas 6. Upon his return from Rome Douglas sent a submissive message to the king; and as he could not, in equity, be reputed guilty of events which happened during his absence, and for which a sufficient punishment had been taken, he was graciously received 7.

[Page 215]A commission was granted by James to Douglas, 1451 April and other embassadors, to confer with those of England, concerning any breaches of the truce 8. But the earl certainly did not deserve this confidence, being engaged in a secret plan of revenge against his sovereign; and in the following month hi obtained from the English court a protection for himself, his three brothers, twenty-six gentlemen, and sixty-seven attendants 9; the chief persons, therein mentioned, afterwards following the house of Douglas in their revolt. 14 Aug. Other plenipotentiaries were nominated, who adjusted a truce of three years 1.

In a parliament, 25 Oct. held at Stirling, a long series of regulations was made concerning the coin, in which a laudable attention is shewn to its purity, and regular currency 2.

Meanwhile Douglas proceeded in his disorderly, and trea­sonable, practices. He attempted, as is said, to assassinate [Page 216]Crichton; 1451 who escaped, and afterwards had nearly surprized Douglas, then lodging in Edinburgh with a small train 3. The lands of John Herries, a gentleman of eminent loyalty, being ravaged by some followers of Douglas, he complained to the earl without effect, and in revenge ravaged a part of Annandale: but he was taken, and hanged by the command of Douglas, in contempt of the king's prohibitory mandate 4.

These appear trivial offence, when compared with a grand measure now entered into by Douglas, and which threatened destruction to the king, and the kingdom. As Douglas was by far the most powerful noble of the south of Scotland, or rather a petty sovereign in that department, so Alexander Lindsay earl of Crawford, and John earl of Ross, lord of the Isles, held the highest authority in the north. The policy, and vengeance, of Douglas conciliated a league with these potent nobles, strictly obliging all the parties to mutual defence against every injury 5; and to such a conjunction the laws themselves were injuries. The monarch trembled at this confederacy, the power of which was in fact superior to the royal authority; but he resolved to dissemble for a season, [Page 217]though the nation, in a just alarm, already beheld the king dethroned, and the country passing, from aristocratic tyranny and discord, into a subjection to foreign dominion.

An incident however soon occurred, 1452 which hastened the execution of the royal vengeance. Douglas had persuaded or overawed most of his vassals, especially those in Galloway, Kyle, Carrick, Cunningham, and the districts adjacent, into an engagement of attendance, and aid, even against the sove­reign himself. But a few of the more moderate, and prudent, were averse to such illegal ties; and among these was distin­guished Maclelan, guardian of the heir of Bomby, and a near relation of Sir Patrick Gray, who was son of lord Gray, and captain of the king's guard, an office of the greatest confi­dence 6. The earl of Douglas, irritated at Maclelan's obsti­nacy in rectitude, suddenly besieged his house, took it, con­veyed the owner to the castle of Douglas, 7 and threw him into strict durance. Upon hearing this, Sir Patrick Gray laid the affair before the king, and instantly obtained a mild letter, rather of supplication than of command, requesting Douglas to deliver the prisoner to Gray. The earl was sitting at dinner in the castle of Douglas, when he was told that Gray, a familiar servant of the king, was at the gate; and, in some surprize, arose to receive him with much apparent civility, and invited him to partake of the repast. During the enjoy­ments of the table, Douglas was revolving what Gray's com­mission could be; and guessing the truth gave a secret order, [Page 218]in consequence of which the prisoner was led to a green beside the castle, where his head was struck off, and taken away, and a cloth was spread over the body. The meal ended, Gray produced the royal letter, which was received with all the respect of fraud; and the earl having perused it said, "I am beholden to you for bringing me so gracious a letter from the king, especially considering how matters stand be­tween us at present. The demand shall instantly be granted, and the more favourably for your sake." He then took Gray by the hand, and led him to the green, where removing the cloth, Douglas coldly said: "Sir Patrick, you are come a little too late. This is your sister's son, but he wants the head. Take his body, and do with it what you will." Gray replied in anguish, "My lord, since you have taken his head, you may dispose of his body:" then calling for his horses he mounted, and said to the earl, "My lord, if I live, you shall be rewarded for your present labour, according to your demerits." Douglas, enraged at this threat, called for his horse; but Sir Patrick by the goodness of his led steed escaped the pursuit, which ex­tended near to Edinburgh.

The king irritated beyond measure at such repeated insults, aggravated by the most sanguinary cruelty, and the most pro­fligate contempt of the laws; and anxious to prevent the effects of the formidable league formed against his authority, called a chosen council to deliberate upon the measures to be followed. It was resolved, in order to avoid the horrors of civil war, that Douglas should be inveigled into court by flattery, and upon pretence that the king forgave his past enormities, and only desired him to reform his future conduct 8. 22 Jan. About this time a passport was obtained from the English king, for Douglas, [Page 219]his brother James, and lord Hamilton, joined with Crichton, Montgomery, Gray, three bishops, and others, to go in pil­grimage to Canterbury 9. This safe conduct was apparently never used; and Douglas and his enemies are so strangely blended in it, that there is room to suspect that, under the pretext of a pilgrimage of mutual repentance and conciliation, a scheme had been formed to assail Douglas, when in the de­fenceless garb of a pilgrim.

However this be, the earl was prevailed upon, towards the beginning of lent, which this year happened in the end of February, to visit the court at the castle of Stirling 1. After Supper, the king taking him apart into a secret chamber, where only some of the privy council, and the guard, were in attendance, mildly informed him that he had heard of the league with Crawford, and other nobles; and desired him to break such illegal engagements. Douglas proudly refused, and had the arrogance to upbraid the king with his procedures against him, which had forced him, as he asserted, to form this confederacy. The sense of repeated insults, and of an outrageous contempt of his authority, conspired with the present personal affront, to kindle a flame of instantaneous fury; and the monarch exclaiming, "If you will not break this league, by God I shall," drew his dagger, and stabbed Douglas. Sir Patrick Gray then struck the earl with a battle ax, and the wound was instantly mortal 2.

[Page 220]It is said that the four brothers of Douglas, Sir James the eldest, who had abandoned his clerical character, and now became earl of Douglas, Archibald earl of Moray, Hugh earl of Ormond, and John lord Balveny, in the first eruption of revenge, proclaimed the king a despiser of his covenants and of good faith, even at the gates of the castle of Stirling. Then collecting their force, and returning, they burned the town 3. Two of their own name were extremely obnoxious, because they were loyal, the earl of Angus, and Sir John Douglas of Dalkeith: the castle of the latter they besieged in vain. After Douglas, and his family, and followers, had excited great commotions in the south of Scotland, James partly by exer­tion, and partly by lenity, prevailed on them to return to their duty 4.

This happy effect was produced, in a considerable degree, by the discomfiture of Crawford, the associate of the Douglases; who rising in arms, was defeated by the royal troops com­manded by Huntley. 18 May The action happened near Brechin; and was accompanied with great slaughter on the part of the vanquished 5.

The civil conflicts being in some measure appeased, a parlia­ment was held at Edinburgh, 26 Aug. which issued regulations tending to prevent a scarcity of grain, in consequence of the internal commotions 6.

[Page 221]Douglas, 28 Aug. at length reconciled to the king, entered into a solemn engagement, 1. Not to pretend any title to the earl­dom of Wigton, except with the queen's consent: 2. Nor to the lands of Stewarton, a part of the patrimony of the duchess of Touraine, his mother: 3. To abandon in future all hatred, or enmity, against all persons: 4. To preserve the public peace, and make compensations to persons already injured: 5. To observe the strictest duty and respect to the king. This instrument was signed by Douglas, and lord Hamilton, for themselves and their adherents 7.

The public tranquility being completely restored, 1453 the earl of Douglas, the abbot of melros, and Robert Liddel of Bali­mire, proceeded on an embassy to England, April to prolong the truce, which would otherwise have expired in 1454. It was accordingly protracted to May 1457: July and was duly ratified by James 8. During his residence in London Douglas obtained safe conducts for himself, and lord Hamilton, to pass to Rome 9, probably with a view to solicit dispensations for his marriage with Margaret, the fair maid of Galloway, the [Page 222]widow of William late earl of Douglas, his brother. In this design he was opposed by the influence of James; nor is there evidence that he ever completed the marriage.

This interval of domestic quiet was distinguished by the foundation of the university of Glasgow, by the pious cares of William Turnbull bishop of that see. It was endued with ample privileges; and a bull of Nicholas V confirmed the erection. The respectable founder soon after died at Rome, whither he retired from the subsequent commotions in his country 1.

Isabel duchess of Bretagne, sister of James, being now a widow, was requested in marriage by the prince of Navarre; but the proposal being disagreeable to the French court, the bishop of Galloway, and David Lindsay esquire, were sent embassadors to Bretagne, in order to frustrate the prince's ap­plication, in which they succeeded 2.

[Page 223]The deepest obscurity impends even over the latter part of the reign of James II, 1454 and it is almost impossible to enlighten the events with the clear colours of chronology. Amid this uncertainty, the most probable plan of arrangement shall be followed, and committed to the candour of the reader.

The death of Crichton, the chancellor, who had long mo­derated public affairs, seems to have opened the way to the succeeding tumults 3. Meanwhile the English government complaining of depredations on the frontiers, the bishop of Brechin, June and the earl of Orkney chancellor, were appointed embassadors to adjust the grievances 4: and soon after a safe conduct appears to Beatrix, 16 June countess of Douglas, widow of James the Gross, and Margaret widow of William, with John Douglas lord of Balveny, on pretence of a pilgrimage to Eng­land, but probably to form treasonable connections between their family and that country 5. The contests between the houses of York and Lancaster had now commenced; and the duke of York being, at this period, possessed of the supreme power, he favoured the house of Douglas, in opposition to James, who, in conjunction with France, supported the in­terests of Henry.

Crawford, who had joined in the bond which proved fatal to the late earl of Douglas, had been punished with forfeiture, but was pardoned on submission 6. Yet Moray and Ormond, [Page 224]the brothers of Douglas, again excited a rebellion in the north, and ravaged the lands of Huntley and other loyal persons. Huntley assembling his followers gave half of Elgin to the flames, because that part of the town supported Moray: and, though defeated at Dunkinty, he raised fresh troops, and forced the Douglases, Moray and Ormond, to leave the north of Scotland, and take shelter in the Hebudes, whence they proceeded to join their brother in his grand rebellion 7. autumn

To understand this rebellion aright, it seems necessary to throw a brief glance on the affairs of England. In the end of the preceding year Henry VI, a prince whose weakness ren­dered his whole reign one minority, had fallen into a state of insanity; and Richard duke of York had been soon after de­clared protector of the realm. As James was ever firmly attached to Henry, and evinced on subsequent occasions an eagerness to support his interests, there is reason to infer that York excited, or favoured, the rebellion of Douglas, in order to prevent James from an interference in the affairs of Eng­land. Nor in case of the success of Douglas, in driving James from his throne, would the example have been unuseful to the designs of York; nor the supreme power of Douglas in Scotland unimportant to his purposes. The intercourse be­tween York and Douglas appears to have been mediated by Beatrix, the mother of the latter, and John lord Balveny his brother, who as is abovementioned had proceeded to England; and who were afterwards specially included in the forfeiture of the family, for designs on the Scotish monarchy supported by English influence.

When to the aid of York are added the internal causes, the native ambition of the house of Douglas, unsatiated even by [Page 225]the highest honours of regal favour; its latent but deep en­mity, excited by the destruction of two of its chiefs, during the present reign, and by other injuries and mortifications; its consciousness that no monarch could ever sincerely pardon a family, which formed one nursery of rebellion, which despised the laws, and rivalled the throne; its apprehensions, from the recent ruin of its power in the north, that if effectual resistance were not instantly opposed, the annihilation of the stem and other branches might follow; when these considerations are weighed, the sources of this grand rebellion may not perhaps appear obscure. The inflammatory principles had long existed, and were deeply and widely scattered: the power of York, the money and protection of England, the overthrow of Moray and Ormond, and the consequent stings of apprehension and revenge, were only temporary circumstances, which set fire to the train that shook Scotland to its centre.

Such appear to have been the causes of this grand rebellion, which threatened to overturn the Scotish throne, and which our elder writers ignorantly consider as a prolongation of that which arose in 1452, on the assassination of William earl of Douglas; but which as is evident from original documents above adduced, was wholly extinguished in that year. Later writers have either followed their example, in confounding distinct events; or have, under the general term of England, blended the remote, and opposite, interests of York and of Henry. They also tell us that, soon after the death of the former earl, Beatrix his mother, and Margaret the fair maid of Galloway his widow, took refuge in England: that Doug­las accepted the embassy, in the view of securing the hand of Margaret, whose domains were large; and, in order to obtain a dispensation, he afterwards procured a safe conduct for a [Page 226]pretended pilgrimage to Rome 8. That a dispensation being refused, he nevertheless wedded Margaret, who in disgust fled to the Scotish king; and he bestowing her in marriage on his uterine brother Athole, the consequence was a civil war. But there is no evidence that James now earl of Douglas wedded his brother's widow: or that she returned to Scotland before the ruin of the family. The same writers, who state this affair as the origin of the war, also assert that Douglas and his brothers were, in July this year, summoned before a parliament, to answer for their crimes; and upon nonappear­ance, were declared rebels and forfeited. This latter circum­stance would of itself present a sufficient cause of the commo­tion: but the difficulty in the account of these authors consists in discovering what new crimes the house of Douglas had committed; and the act of forfeiture, 1455, is infallibly the first and sole act against the family, as is clear from the records.

The facts and authorities, about to be adduced, will be found unanimous in the support of the previous observations above given. Nor is there any evidence that James had plan­ned the ruin of the potent family of Douglas, as theoretic writers would infer; for he was unprepared, and trembled at the impending danger. The instrument of August 1452, the honourable embassy of the following year, indicate complete reconciliation; and though embers of jealousy might at this season be revived, by the ruin of Moray and Ormond, and by the king's interference in frustrating the earl's design to wed his brother's widow, yet the ambition of Douglas, joined with [Page 227]the other causes above mentioned, will to a candid mind ap­pear the chief springs of this memorable contest.

Unfortunately there is not, for its commencement in the autumn of this year, that clear evidence which attends its termination in the next. The first events rest upon doubtful and inaccurate authorities, the use of which necessity alone can vindicate; and all that can be done is to select the most im­portant, and probable, circumstances, omitting such as are contradicted by the genuine records of the ensuing year.

It appears that James, discovering the treasonable corres­pondence carried on by Douglas in England, and suspecting his designs, sent an herald to summon him to appear before the privy council, or perhaps the parliament. Far from shewing obedience that potent earl sent secret messengers to affix, in the night, placards upon the church-doors of Edin­burgh, charging the king with the murder of the two chiefs of the house of Douglas, and replete with insulting expressions 9.

Instantly assembling a small array, James ravaged some lands belonging to Douglas. It being the time of harvest, the king not only felt repugnance in destroying the corn, but could not, except in the most urgent necessity, harrass his subjects by assembling a large force: he therefore returned; and, dis­missing a part of his followers, he ordered the remainder to besiege Abercorn, a strong castle belonging to Douglas, and which, from its proximity to the capital, was an object of pe­culiar jealousy 1.

Yet the suddenness of the attack on his domains had so much alarmed Douglas, who little expected such promptitude, that he withdrew to the borders; whence he sent lord Hamil­ton [Page 228]into England to request York's assistance; and a sum of money was immediately remitted 2.

The circumstances of Douglas were now reduced to that crisis, that the only choice lay between a bold exertion of his whole strength, in the ardent execution of great and extreme measures, or a patient submission to total ruin. Reinforced by the pecuniary supply from England, by the imagined fidelity of vassals long oppressed, by the martial influence of that name, which a succession of heroes had rendered the trumpet of war, he resolved to oppose his power in the open field to that of the king. The armed force, that would arise at the call of Doug­las, was estimated at forty thousand men; most of them from their situation near the borders, and constant exercise in fight, far superior to any other troops of Scotland.

James had sent the earls of Orkney and Angus, with six thousand men, to besiege the castle of Abercorn, when Doug­las summoned all his force to meet him at Douglas, on the tenth day, with provision for twenty days, to pass with him to Abercorn, there to rescue the fortress; or give the king battle, and force him to fight, or to leave the kingdom. Surprized at this intelligence, the king justly distrusting the south of Scotland, the chief seat of the power of Douglas, passed in a ship to St. Andrews; and his despair even suggested to him an intention to abandon Scotland. But the prudent and respect­able bishop of that see, James Kennedy, a son of the countess of Angus daughter of Robert III, insinuated motives of con­solation, and of courage. By his advice the king issued pro­clamations, summoning the array of the north, and offering amnesty to all who should now join his service: and in a few days a considerable force arrived; the royal banner was raised [Page 229]in St. Andrews; and the army marched to Falkland in order of battle. Entering Stirling, attended by the barons of Fife, Strathern, and Angus, James remained there, till the more northern troops should approach; and, upon their junction, he found himself at the head of forty thousand men. He then advanced against Douglas, whose army, amounting to near forty thousand, (among whom Hamilton, at the head of three hundred horse, and as many chosen infantry, was to render himself remarkable,) had encamped on the south side of the Carron, in his march towards Abercorn.

A battle was believed inevitable, which was to decide whe­ther James, or Douglas, should have the dominion of Scot­land. But bishop Kennedy, anxious to prevent the effusion of blood, had attended the royal army, and now sent a secret message to Hamilton, his nephew, assuring him, in the king's name, not only of remission, but of high reward, if he would leave Douglas. Hamilton returned rather a favourable answer, yet hesitated between the laws of friendship, and the advantages of loyalty, when the haughtiness of Douglas con­spired to induce him to embrace the latter. A herald, arriving from the king, charged the rebels to disperse, under pain of treason: Douglas sent him back with derision; and imme­diately arrayed his host and marched towards the royal army; but seeing its strength, and doubting the effect of the proclama­tion of amnesty, nay thinking that he perceived its influence in the dubious service, and fallen spirit of his people, he con­ducted them back into their camp, hoping to reanimate their fidelity and courage, before he led them to battle in the morn­ing. This imprudent procedure was little approved by the barons, and leaders, especially by Hamilton, who immediately went to the earl, and inquired if he intended to give the king battle, or not; affirming at the same time that the delay was [Page 230]full of danger, as his people were deserting while the royal army was upon the increase. Douglas answered, with con­tempt, "If you are tired, you may depart when you please;" and Hamilton, that night, passed to the king. The other chiefs alarmed at his departure, and suspecting each other, also disbanded; so that in the morning Douglas trembled when he beheld a silent and desert camp, not one hundred men remain­ing, besides those who belonged to his household, or were his immediate servants. Upon this unexpected change, the earl fled to Annandale, where he lurked with his brothers till the ensuing spring. In this surprizing manner fell for ever the enormous power of the house of Douglas; which had arisen from patriotic heroism; and was conducted to perdition by aristocratic tyranny, and the most ungrateful rebellion.

The events of the subsequent year are happily illustrated by original evidence, 1455 and particularly by a letter from James to Charles VII king of France, reciting at some length the ter­mination of the rebellion of Douglas 3.

Having sent Thomas Spence bishop of Galloway, John lord Lindsay of the Byres, and Dr. Arons archdeacon of Glasgow, as embassadors to France, in order to state the progress and decline of the rebellion, James, as soon as the season permitted the tedious operations of a siege, recommenced that of the castle of Abercorn, which had been raised on the approach of winter. The army of James pitched their tents around this fortress in Easter week; 2b. 8 Ap. and so imperfect was the art of attack that the siege occupied a month 4.

[Page 231]While the monarch's arms were thus employed, Douglas, who had hitherto lurked in the borders, fled into England, attended only by four or five persons. But his brothers, Moray, Ormond, and Balveny, remaining in Eusdale with some fol­lowers, they harrassed the adjacent country, till they were en­eountered by the Scotts, 1 May and other borderers, who completely routed the marauders. Moray falling in the action, his head was cut off, and sent to James, then before Abercorn. Or­mond was made prisoner, condemned, and executed. Balveny escaped into England 5. This remarkable route, so fatal to the family of Douglas, happened at Arkinholm, on the river Esk, a little to the south of the junction of the Eus with that stream 6.

At length the towers of the castle of Abercorn being shaken by the repeated force of machines, an assault was ordered, the fortress was taken by storm, ab 8 May and levelled with the ground; the chief defenders being hanged, and the others dismissed. James then proceeded against the castles of Strathaven, Douglas, and others belonging to the rebels, all which he took, and destroyed even to the foundations. He then ordered a detachment to besiege that of Creif in Galloway 7; and his power being now [Page 232]firmly established, he returned to the capital to meet a parlia­ment which had been there summoned.

In this national council the forfeiture of Douglas, 9 June his mother Beatrix, his brothers Moray and Balveny, was solemnly de­creed. Moray had fallen in a rebellious conflict; but his for­feiture remained to be pronounced by the law: while that of Ormond is unmentioned, as having been already sealed by his public execution for treason 8.

Henry VI having in the mean time somewhat convalesced, James had in May destined a solemn embassy to England 9. But the battle of St. Albans having restored the power to York, the Scotish monarch manifested his enmity by an at­tempt on Berwick. July Some of the adjacent borderers had given information that the place might easily be taken by surprize: but an Englishman, who had been admitted into Scotland by [Page 233]safe conduct, and bound by oath not to retire without the royal permission, preferring his country to his conscience, found means to escape, and give the alarm. So that when James advanced with a numerous army, he found the English prepared to defend Berwick by sea and land, and was con­strained to abandon the enterprize 1. 8 July He sent Rothsay herald to France with a letter relating this and the other events of the year; 9 July while Henry, or rather the English government, re­mitted letters of acknowledgment to Northumberland the war­den of the marches, and others, for the defence of Berwick: and the English parliament granted supplies to guard it against the Scots, who are accused of besieging it during a truce 2.

Douglas was received with favour by the ruling party in England, and a pension was granted to him for services to be done, till he could recover his estates, seized, as the record expresses, by the person who calls himself king of Scotland 3. When such is the language of a period depressed by civil war, we no longer wonder at the truces between England and Scotland, and that no solid pacification could exist: the sub­jection of Scotland was ever the chief object of the English kings, and a contemporary writer of that nation hesitates not to prefer its importance to that of France 4; the Scotish court well knew that this obstinately weak and ambitious pretension might seem to sleep, but was always alive.

[Page 234]The transactions of parliament are interesting and impor­tant 5. 4 Aug. The first statute concerns the annexation of lands to the royal domains, and mentions that the poverty of the crown often causes that of the realm; for which reason, and others not expressed, it is ordained that, in every part of the kingdom, there be certain lordships, and castles, perpetually annexed to the royal property, and never to be alienated except by the advice of parliament; that any other alienation shall be void, and resumeable by the sovereign at pleasure, with all the profits which have resulted; and that the king and his successors be sworn to observe this statute. This last clause seems to indi­cate that the legislative power possessed a title to direct the executive: but it is suspected that neither the king, nor the parliament, then knew the nature of absolute power, or of liberty. The ordinance proceeds to declare that the whole customs of the kingdom, as they stood at the death of James I, shall be vested in the present monarch; and to specify the lands annexed to the crown, among which we sind Ettrick forest, and Galloway, which belonged to the family of Douglas, but no other lands of that house seem to be mentioned; a circumstance unaccounted for by our careless writers, and which probably arose from the other extensive domains of Douglas being shared among the nobles, and others, who assisted in suppressing the revolt 6. The other chief territories, recorded as belonging to the crown, are the castle of Edin­burgh [Page 235]with some lands in Lothian; that of Stirling, with its dependent grounds; that of Dunbarton, with some small estates; the earldom of Fife, with the palace of Falkland; the earldom of Strathern; the lordship of Brechin; the castle of Inverness, and the lordships of Urquhart, and Abernethy, with other northern domains; the Redcastle in the south east of Rosshire, with the appended lordship of Ross, a minute limb of that great earldom, probably retained by James I, when he pardoned the earl of Ross, the lord of the Isles, as a key to that distant, and dubious, province.

This parliament further ordered that the office of warden of the marches should not be hereditary: that all regalities in the king's hands be annexed to the royalty, and that no regalities be granted in future without the sanction of the states: that no office be hereditary, and that all offices granted since the death of James I, be revoked except the wardenship of the marches bestowed on the infant Alexander, earl of March, and lord of Annandale, second son of the king, and afterwards duke of Albany. It is also decreed that, in the boroughs, a council of eight or twelve persons, according to the extent of the town, be established, to decide petty suits: and that the members of parliament wear particular habits, which are minutely described 7.

The national council having again met, on the thirteenth of October, took into consideration the report of an intended English invasion; and gave directions concerning the arrange­ment of beacons and other necessary preparations. They then ordered that persons suspected of treason should be imprisoned: that none should pass into England in time of war, without permission, under pain of treason: and several other regulations [Page 236]appear, all relating to hostilities, but not of such importance as to merit especial consideration. To the apprehension of war was added a more immediate calamity, that of the pestilence, which extended its ravages through the kingdom, and perhaps preserved it from any invasion at this infectious period 8.

If credit be given to the late, 1456 and doubtful, accounts of this reign two invasions of Scotland took place this year. The first was conducted by John lord of the Isles, who is said to have committed several ravages, and even to have burnt Inverness: he then retired, and was some time after pardoned on sub­mission 9. This seems fabulous; and perhaps the same character may be assigned to the more probable account that Douglas, and the earl of Northumberland, ravaging the borders, were defeated by Angus, with small loss on either side 1.

From superior authority it appears that James, enraged at the conduct of the English court in the supply and reception of Douglas, entered the north of England, with a large army; but was met at the river Cayle, by two English embassadors, by whose arts he was so far deceived, as to return, and dismiss his forces. The fraud being soon discovered, the Scotish monarch, in twenty days, raised a more formidable army than the former, ravaged Northumberland with fire and sword; levelled many castles with the ground; and returned with some shew of military fame 2.

[Page 237]Meanwhile Douglas was admitted to the titles of an English subject 3, and continued in that allegiance to the following mo­narchs Edward IV, and Richard III, but in him the family, and the treason, were to become extinct. His sister-in-law, Margaret, afterwards returned into Scotland; where the king, commiserating her rank, her beauty, her tears, assigned to her the lordship of Balveny, and wedded her to his uterine brother the earl of Athole 4.

A parliament was held at Edinburgh, 19 Oct. which published a few ordinances regulating the manner of national defence against England, the power of the duke of York the enemy of James, and the invasion of that country, leading the Scots to expect reprisals. Certain rules were established, concerning those in­fected with the pestilence, which still desolated the kingdom, being, it is believed, the fifth great visitation of that horrid contagion. The value of coin, foreign and domestic, was considerably raised, so that the Scotish money became to the English as one to three: and some abuses committed by the king's officers, in exacting the customs at fairs, were repressed. The most important act, which was however altered in the next parliament, concerns the holding of the sessions, or high court of justice, which was ordered to sit for three months at a [Page 238]time; and was to consist of three eminent clergy, three barons, and three commissioners of the burghs, to be changed each month; and who were to be sworn, in the royal presence, impartially to administer the laws. The instructions sent to France were voted sufficient, but their purport is unknown 5.

A truce with England, 1457 June where York was no longer in authority, was negociated, and at length concluded at Conventry to last till the sixth day of July 1459 6. The territory imme­diately appertaining to the earldom of Douglas, with Douglas-dale, and the appendant domains, was now granted to the earl of Angus, in which family, a branch of the former, it was to remain 7. This measure was imprudent, as it raised the house of Angus to a power little inferior to that of the preceding lineage of Douglas, and which was afterwards too deeply felt in the kingdom: but individuals learn from experience, while nations, and successive kings, seldom draw wisdom from former faults. That our monarchs were strangers to the fixt plan of humbling the aristocracy, imputed to them by theoretic writers, is sufficiently clear 8.

[Page 239]About this time a negotiation was proceeding at Paris, 1457 con­cerning the claim of Denmark to an annual sum, for the cession of the Hebudes about two centuries before 9. This affair, unimportant in itself, led to the re-union of the Orkneys to the Scotish crown in the succeeding reign.

The national council, 1458 6 March being summoned to Edinburgh, distinguished itself by enacting a great number of prudent laws. The ordinance of the year 1456, concerning the supreme court of judicature, was revised; and it was decreed that the sessions were only to continue for forty days at a time, but should be held three times in the year, at three different cities, Edinburgh, Perth, and Aberdeen; that is once a year at each place, in successive periods. This court consisted, as has above appeared, of committees of parliament; and, from a specification in the act, it seems that the Scotish parliament did not now exceed one hundred and ninety members 1. The rotation of these committees of justice was a laudable measure, and partook more of a free constitution, than the foundation of James V, origin­ally projected by John duke of Albany, on the model of a French judicatory parliament, after despotism had tainted the government of France. This institution also contributes some­what to instruct us how a French parliament dwindled into a court of law. Particular regulations were enacted, concerning the causes to be tried by this court of session, and the mode of [Page 240]procedure: 1458 but it is unjustly, and impoliticly, ordered that the members should defray their own expences. Other acts con­cern the regulation of the coin, of the hospitals, and of military discipline, particularly for the encouragement of archery. A curious sumptuary law appears, which shall be reserved for future consideration: and one common rate of measure is ordered to be followed through the kingdom. The decrees for the promotion of agriculture deserve applause; they ordain that lands may be let in fee-farm, and that the king shall set the example; that woods, trees, and hedges, be planted; that wheat, peas, and beans, be regularly sown; game is recommended to preservation; wolves, and birds of prey, to destruction. A decent and peaceable attendance on the courts of justice is enforced: the violent seizure of lands is guarded against: he who attains the royal remission is, nevertheless, to make com­pensation to the plaintiff for any robbery or spoil: negligent, or corrupt, officers of justice are to lose their office, and profits, for a year and a day, if heritable; if not, for ever 2.

The famous statute of James I is confirmed, concerning leasing making, or the propagation of falsehoods between the king and the people 3; a law perhaps not deserving of much blame, during the struggles between monarchy and aristocracy, but which afterwards became an oppressive engine of state. Two other acts particularly regard the constitution; by the one it is wisely ordained that no leagues or bonds of association be entered into, nor any commotions raised, under the pain of confiscation, and even the life of the guilty to be in the king's mercy; and that, under the same penalty, no inhabitants of boroughs shall engage in bonds of attendance; or ride in armour, save with the king, his officers, or the lord of the [Page 241]borough. The other act declares that no freeholder, that holds of the king a property of less value than twenty pounds a year, be constrained to come to the parliament or general council, as a member, except he be a baron, or be commanded by the king's officer or writ 4. This ordinance, really intended as a relief of the subjects at a period when attendance on parliament was regarded as a burdensome expence, and loss of time, has been construed into an intention of undue influence.

The patriotic exertions of this last parliament of James II are terminated with a decree, that the proper officers order its statutes to be copied and proclaimed through the kingdom, in order that none may pretend ignorance. The members con­clude with an affecting peroration, to the effect that, since God has sent their sovereign such prosperity, that all rebels and infringers of justice are banished, and no party able to excite commotion remains in the realm, if the king and his ministers be inclined to the quiet and utility of the state, and to dispense justice and equity among the people, the parliament therefore exhorts, and requires, the monarch diligently to enforce these statutes, that he may meet with the approbation of heaven, and of all his subjects; and expresses gratitude to God, who has sent them such a prince to be their governor and defender 5. Alas, two short years were to close their hopes, and their gratitude! A fatal chance was again to reduce Scotland to the confusions of a minority, and to retard the civilization, and the glory, of that ill-fated kingdom. That the happiness of millions should depend upon the infancy of one, is a paradox in human affairs, which may provoke the smiles of those who think, and the tears of those who feel. But such instances seldom occur, and must be suffered, to avoid greater evils. Severe however, [Page 242]as are the misfortunes of elective monarchy, when compared with the hereditary calamities of Scotland, they lose their terrors, and assume the aspect of felicity.

Plenipotentiaries were named, 1459 July to extend the truce with England, which expired this year; and it was prolonged for nine years 6. The civil wars of York and Lancaster now raged in that kingdom; and were long to consume its force, and prevent any molestation of the neighbouring states 7.

A commission was issued to Sir William Monipeny of Rattray, Nov. and Mr. John Kennedy provost of St. Andrews, to proceed on an embassy to France, and demand the earldom of Xaintonge, which had been granted to James I. They were also to form a treaty with Castille; and to join Patrick Fokart, captain of the Scotish guard, in ascertaining and settling the debt due by Scotland to Denmark: and afterwards to pass to Rome, with Mr. Hugh Douglas archdeacon of St. Andrews, in order to testify the king's obedience to the new pontiff Pius II 8.

In the deficiency of historical materials, 1460 it is not easy to discover the pretences, or causes, which induced James to break the truce by besieging Roxburgh. It is certain that, in June, he sent embassadors to England, to confirm the truce, and to compose any slight infringements, which might have [Page 243]occurred since its commencement 9: and that, on the third of August, he was slain. That, in the contest between the families of York and Lancaster, the Scotish monarch inclined to the latter is to be inferred from his personal relation, by the mother, with the families of Somerset and Gaunt, and from the assistance lent by the French king, his ally, to Henry VI; and is ascertained by the treaties when Henry maintained his authority, and the intervals of war when York was in power, and by the flight of Henry, and his queen, into Scotland. The castle of Roxburgh was in the custody of William Nevil, lord Fauconberg, of the house of Warwick, the chief pillar of York's honourable cause 1. It appears therefore that the embassy of June, which consisted of not less than two bishops, three abbots, and three peers, had far superior intentions to those expressed in the commission; and was sent to promise aid to Henry, upon certain previous terms, probably that Rox­burgh and Berwick, held by the enemies of Henry, should be restored to Scotland, if taken by James. On the tenth of July the Lancastrians had been defeated at Northampton, and Henry reduced to captivity; an event which seems instantly to have excited the Scotish monarch to arms, and he proceeded to secure the concessions in the first place, as not only a neces­sary object of prudence upon his part, but as affording a dis­traction to the arms of York, or a motive to their blame, by holding them out to the English as the origin of national dis­aster, and disgrace.

Accordingly, toward the end of July, James, with a nu­merous army, well furnished with cannon, and warlike ma­chinery, proceeded to the siege of Roxburgh castle; which had ever since the battle of Durham remained in the hands of [Page 244]the English, and presented a monument of jealousy and envy to Scotland 2. While the king was observing the effects of his artillery, one of the rudely contrived cannons of that age, consisting of iron bars, girded with circles of metal, suddenly burst; a fragment struck his thigh, and the great effusion of blood produced a death almost instantaneous. The earl of Angus, who stood next to James, was wounded 3. It is im­possible to express the grief of the camp, and of the kingdom, at the premature loss of a beloved sovereign, in the flower of his age, aggravated by the circumstances, and by the strange wantonness of the fatality. The young regretted the death of a youthful prince, of an ardent leader; the old sighed at the prospect of another minority. Could any consolation have arisen, it must have proceeded from the spirit of the queen, Mary of Gelder; who, immediately upon the tidings, arrived in the camp with the infant heir of the monarchy, and shewing him to the soldiers, while the tears gushed from her eyes, she conjured them by every domestic tye, by the memory of their sovereign, by the fame of Scotish valour, not to depart from their design, but to destroy this calamitous fortress. The castle was taken, and levelled with the ground 4.

Such was the misfortune which deprived Scotland of the opening virtues of the second James, in the twenty ninth year of his age, and twenty fourth of his reign. His progeny were [Page 245]James who succeeded him; Alexander duke of Albany, who was to be the father of John, the regent during the minority of James V; John, to be the earl of Mar: and two daughters, Mary, first wedded to lord Boyd, and after to lord Hamilton, whose family, by this connection, were to form hopes of the royalty in Mary's reign; and Margaret, who married William lord Crichton, son of the chancellor 5. Such marriages at­tended the ignominious sovereignty of James III.

BOOK VII. BEING THE FIRST PART OF THE REIGN OF JAMES III.

Minority of James III—regency—Henry VI and his queen in Scotland—Berwick acquired—house of Angus rivals the former power of Douglas—war with England—truce—death of Mary of Gelder—of bishop Kennedy—Boyds in favour—parliaments—Mary the king's sister wedded to Sir Thomas Boyd earl of Arran—marriage treaty with Denmark—Orkneys ceded to Scotland—Margaret of Denmark arrives—fall of the Boyds—character of James—parliament—reflec­tions on some despotic measures—parliament—St. Andrews an archbishopric.

THE castle of Roxburgh being demolished, 10 Aug. the Scotish leaders performed ceremonies of homage, and fidelity, to their young sovereign, now in his eighth year, at the neighbouring town of Kelso, and then proceeded to the fortress of Wark which they also destroyed. Contented with their success, and anxious to settle the government of their country, they returned and dismissed the army 1.

[Page 247]Soon after a parliament was held at Scone; and the king's coronation was solemnized. The queen mother, who had the sole care of her royal son, his brothers, and sisters, ap­pointed that loyal and prudent prelate, Kennedy, to conduct the young monarch's education 2. The settlement of the re­gency is not a little obscure; some authors inferring the queen, Mary of Gelder, to have been the sole regent, and to have managed public affairs by the advice of Kennedy; while others add a council of regency, consisting of the chancellor lord Evandale, a natural descendant of Murdac duke of Albany; the earl of Orkney late chancellor, the lords Graham and Boyd, and the bishops of Glasgow and Dunkeld 3. But it appears most probable that this council, if it existed, was only of state; and that the ostensible management had, by the will of the late king, or the practice of Scotland, passed to the queen mother, who used the tried wisdom and abilities of Kennedy, in conducting the government. This prelate, by the best influence, that of talents, and probity, and poli­tical skill, had acquired an authority before unknown to any churchman in Scotland; a country always more remarkable [Page 248]for the moderation of its clergy, than for their ambition: and at a period while even the barren wastes of Sweden had be­come the bloody scenes of ecclesiastical dominion, it is pleasing to observe the Scotish prelates only eminent in honesty, and patriotism.

An important event soon attracted the attention of the Scotish government. 1461 Henry VI of England, having been de­feated at Touton in Yorkshire by Edward IV, fled to Scotland, with his queen and son; 29 Mar. the dukes of Somerset and Exeter, lord Ross, Fortescue the chief justice, and other persons of rank 4. While the mental infirmities of Henry confined him at Kirkudbright, his heroic queen advanced to Edinburgh, and embraced in Mary of Gelder a form of similar elegance, a spirit of similar elevation 5. The resemblance of their dispo­sitions rendered the former alliance an instant friendship. A marriage between Edward the son of Henry, and Mary the daughter of Scotland, was proposed and resolved; but delayed by the youth of the parties, and finally prevented by the mis­fortunes, and the death of that prince 6. To conciliate the expected aid, Berwick was surrendered to the Scots; and ob­ject often wished and attempted since the disgraceful invasion of Edward Baliol. June In return, a Scotish army entered England, and laid siege to Carlisle, which was held for Edward IV: but the English led by lord Montague raised the siege, and defeated the Scots with great slaughter 7.

[Page 249]So far were the Scotish monarchs from the refined policy of humbling their nobility, who, in a lawless country and period, formed, as it were, the bonds of fidelity between the king and the people, that James II had, in destroying the power of Douglas, only transferred that influence to Angus, another branch of the family. To gain the assistance of this powerful house, Henry VI now entered into an engagement to give George, earl of Angus, lands between the rivers Trent and Humber, amounting to the yearly value of two thousand marks sterling; and to erect these lands into a dukedom. It was however stipulated that the earl might war on England, at the command of the Scotish king; and that he should not be amenable to the English parliament, or courts of justice 8.

To balance the influence of Henry in Scotland, Edward IV entered into a negotiation with John of Ilay, Oct. earl of Ross, and lord of the Isles, who maintained the independence of his ancestors. 1462 13 Feb. By the treaty this potentate, and his numerous vassals, become the liege subjects of Edward, who assigns to the earl a certain pension; and engages that, if Scotland be vanquished by the alliance, the part to the north of the river Forth shall be bestowed on Ross, while that to the south is to be held by the banished earl of Douglas, both acknowledging the superiority of England 9.

Eager to strengthen her designs by additional assistance, Margaret of England sailed from Kirkcudbright to Bretagne, 16 Apr. where she prevailed on the duke to advance twelve thousand crowns. She then passed to Anjou, to her father, whence she proceeded to the French court at Chinon 1. By an engagement [Page 250]to surrender Calais, 23 June when in her power, this spirited princess induced Louis XI to reinforce her cause with a sum of twenty thousand livres, and a permission to Brezé, the high steward of Normandy, to accompany her with five hundred men at arms; who, with their usual attendants, formed a force of about two thousand men 2. Oct.

She landed near Bamborough, and seized that fortress, Aln­wick, and Dunstanburgh. But Edward IV, and Warwick, advancing with a numerous army, Margaret and Brezé with­drew to their fleet; and passed to Berwick amidst a dangerous tempest, Dec. in which several ships, mariners, and soldiers, were lost on Holy Island. The three castles speedily surrendered to the arms of the English king. Yet Angus and Brezé gallantly advanced with a considerable force, and brought off in safety Brezé's son, with the French garrison, from Alnwick, in the sight of the English army 3. 1463

Margaret of England finding all further resistance vain, fled with her son, and some adherents, to Flanders, whence she [Page 251]passed to her father who assigned her a residence and revenue 4. The battle of Hexham fought by her adherents in the follow­ing year was fatal to her cause: while Henry, suspicious of the Scots, ventured into England in disguise; and, after lurking a year in Lancashire, was discovered and sent to the tower of London.

Warwick had artfully shaken the attachment of Mary of Gelder to the cause of Henry, by proposing her marriage with the new English monarch: and the queen dowager seems even to have proceeded to Carlisle, to advance the negotiations 5. But her doubtful reputation, and the ruin of Henry's affairs, frustrated the design; and she may appear to have fallen a victim to her mortification on the occasion. Mary of Gelder died on the sixteenth of November, in the flower of her age 6. [Page 252]Her prudence, her spirit, her various virtues and abilities, re­commended her to public veneration, and esteem. A widow in the bloom of beauty, and vigour of youth, it would not be a matter of surprise that her chastity was dubious; and even this stain would disappear in the splendor of her merits, for nothing can be more unjust than to infer that the loss of female modesty is the loss of every virtue. But there may perhaps be reason to believe that this charge belongs to calumny, and originated among some of the ambitious and inimical nobles, who vainly aspired to her hand or her power; or, while awed by her authority, despised her sway as that of a woman and a foreigner 7.

[Page 253]Nevertheless the bishop of Glasgow, and other embassadors, met the commissioners of England at York; and a truce of about one year was concluded. 19 Dec. The support of Henry's cause was formally abandoned by Scotland; and Edward on his side resigned that of the banished earl of Douglas: but the deposed king and peer were to remain inviolate in the respective realms to which they had fled for refuge 8.

The truce, 1464 May lately concluded with England, was violated. The young duke of Albany, proceeding to Gelderland, with a numerous train, after having procured a safe conduct from the English monarch, was nevertheless captured at sea: but, by the spirited remonstrances of the Scotish government, declaring instant war in case he were not released, his deliverance was speedily effected 9. This event appears to have been acci­dental, for the truce was immediately extended to fifteen years 1; 1465 and in the following year to the term, before unknown, of fifty-four years, closing at the last day of October 1519 2; a vain space, and soon to be interrupted! Edward IV, dissolved [Page 254]in luxury, and more fond of pleasure than of war, eagerly wished that the Scotish king should wed an English lady, and that a perpetual peace should be established between the king­doms; while the government of Scotland, influenced by bishop Kennedy, seemed at length to have learned that war was no path to solid advantages. The new politics of Louis XI, his avarice, his want of faith, seem also to have had some weight in the pacific inclinations manifested by Scotland 3.

The death of bishop Kennedy, 1466 10 May a prelate of high and deserved reputation, excited much public regret. A grandson of Robert III, his virtues, and abilities, conferred a greater glory than his royal descent 4. His wisdom, his munificence, his public spirit, secured the applause, and gratitude, of his country: and his fame would diffuse a strong and steady light, inde­pendent of the darkness of a barbarous age. Upon the death of the queen mother, he appears to have retained the chief management of affairs, by the declared will, or implied consent, of the nation. To the foundation of the college at St. An­drews, this prelate added two other monuments of his wealth, [Page 255]his tomb of the finest gothic construction, 1466 and a ship of great size called the Bishop's Barge. The former was sacred to the idle pride of the times; but in the latter he might reproach his nation with inattention to commerce, and maritime affairs, and hold out an example for their imitation. It is asserted that the expence of these three objects amounted to ten thou­sand pounds sterling each; or a total sum equal at present to about three hundred thousand pounds: but it is hardly con­ceiveable that, even in twenty-six years of prelacy, and five of public emolument, such a treasure could have been amassed. Eminent in knowledge of the civil law, in the learning of the age, in the experience of men, and manners, and politics, the late king, the nobles, submitted to his wisdom as to that of a public parent. Nor was the bishop less respectable than the counsellor of state, in enforcing the residence of his clergy, their regular preaching, and visitation of the sick; and in affording an example, by preaching four times in the year at every church of his diocese, by inspecting the maintenance of the poor, and the education of youth, and by the vigorous punishment of clerical negligence 5.

The king, now in his fourteenth year, being delivered from the stern instruction of the prelate of St. Andrews, became a prey to flattering courtiers. Among these Robert lord Boyd was distinguished for his conciliating manners, and interested cunning. His sons, Thomas and Robert, were introduced to the royal favour; and their uncle, Sir Alexander Boyd, a [Page 256]mirror of chivalry, was appointed to superintend the military exercises of the youthful sovereign 6. After the death of Kennedy, the Boyds had proceeded to such audacity that, when the king was sitting in the exchequer at Linlithgow, 9 July they con­strained him to proceed with them to Edinburgh, and to re­move from his presence those who had been ordered to attend him by the parliament 7. This violence, which had been declared direct treason by a late act, was in a very few years to furnish means for the condemnation of the perpetrators.

A parliament being summoned to Edinburgh, 9 Oct. lord Boyd was solemnly pardoned by the king; and appointed governor of his person, and of the princes, and royal castles, and afterwards one of the council chosen to conduct the marriages of James, his brothers, and sisters 8. The privileges of the church were, as usual, ratified: it was ordered that the dowery of the future queen should amount to one third of the royal revenue, in lands and customs: several regulations to restrain the avarice of the clergy concerning pensions, and commendams, were issued: and a statute of Robert I, denying to any Englishmen benefices [Page 257]secular or religious in Scotland, was confirmed. For the further security of the public peace, high fines were imposed upon the burrows, or pledges, of those who had been obliged to give security for their behaviour, and afterwards violated the paction. This parliament further ordained that no person should send money out of the kingdom, nor take more with him than was necessary for his expences, under pain of forfeit­ing the sum, and ten pounds more: an ineffectual provision for the want of industry, and calculated to fetter commerce, and increase that poverty which it was intended to prevent. The increasing wealth of England rendered the poverty of Scotland more conspicuous: but we in vain peruse the Scotish acts of parliament, to find encouragement given to the woollen trade, or to manufactures, or any invitation to foreign manufacturers, to settle in the kingdom. On the contrary the regulations seem only adapted to banish commerce; and in consequence depress industry; and as it can hardly be conceived that the commissioners of the burghs were blind to their own interest, there is room to believe that the overbearing nobles, and prelates, intended to crush the wealth of the citizens, a subject of their envy and scorn. The Scotish money was now to the English as one to three; and the Scotish silver penny became a most diminutive coin, so that it could not be cut into quarters, or farthings, as formerly: for the benefit of the poor, this par­liament decreed that billon farthings, of copper mixt with a small portion of silver, should be issued, being the first example of that coinage in Scotland 9.

The national council, having again assembled, 1467 31 Jan. published several decrees wholly regarding commerce. It was instituted that none but freemen of burghs, and their domestic factors, [Page 258]and servants, should pretend to foreign trade, except the bishops, lords, barons, and higher clergy, who might send their servants: that no craftsmen should engage in foreign mer­chandize: that none should aspire to trade, who had not a certain property: that no ship should sail, without a formal agreement between the merchants and the master of the vessel; nor enter upon a voyage in winter: that no merchant should freight any vessel to certain towns in Flanders, among which Bruges, the grand staple of commerce, is mentioned, but that Middleburg should be the only allowed port in the Nether­lands, while Rochelle, Bourdeaux, and the other havens of France, are left free as before; an ordinance apparently pro­ceeding from some fresh dissention with the Flemings 1.

Meanwhile the Boyds proceeded in their ambitious designs, and collected a power too heavy for them long to support. Strangers to the prudence of moderation, their career was rapid in the extreme; and the nation beheld with disgust, and sur­prise, their influence so far abuse the weak youth of the king, as to procure his eldest sister, who had been affianced to the son of Henry VI, in marriage to Sir Thomas, the son of lord Boyd. The island of Arran, and other lands, were given as the dower of the princely bride, and erected into an earldom in order to elevate the station of her husband, who was at the same time created constable of Scotland 2. This connection was the more invidious, as lord Boyd was one of those who had been appointed to manage the nuptials of the royal family; and as it was asserted that the princess had been promised to [Page 259]Hamilton's son, as a recompence for his critical services to her father, 12 Oct. in withdrawing his forces from Douglas 3.

The statutes of the two next sessions of parliament chiefly concern the state of money in the kingdom 4; 1468 12 Jan and must have excited discontent by the repeated alterations of the value, a symptom indicative of a weak or a pernicious government. Scotish money now became to the English as one to four; a circumstance rather imputable perhaps to the increasing wealth of England, than to the penury of Scotland; though in the latter country a great source of abundance had been stopped, by the long discontinuance of inroads into England, whence a degree of opulence had arisen, from the spoil and the ransom of captives. However this be, the unpopular example of James III long served as a beacon to warn the succeeding monarchs, and there is no further alteration in the value of money till the reign of Mary.

Among the singular incongruities of human affairs, may be classed the fortune of the third James. His feeble and ty­rannic reign was, in its commencement, graced with the capture of Roxburgh, the reddition of Berwick, and the im­portant annexation of the Orkneys to the Scotish monarchy; any one of which events would have reflected honour on the able reigns of his father, or grandfather. Let us then abandon the maxim, that political prudence, and success, are the same. The acquisition of the Orkneys forms an incident, so remark­able in itself, and attended with such lasting consequences, that no apology need be offered for entering into some detail upon this interesting subject.

That the Orkneys were considered as a part of Pikland, till the Norwegians seized them, with the Hebudes, in the ninth [Page 260]century, 1468 has been before explained. When the latter islands were, in 1266, so far recovered by Alexander III, that the Norwegian kings resigned the title of their sovereignty to the Scotish, though the Lords of the Isles never paid homage, ex­cept by a constraint which seldom occurred, the Orkneys still remained an earldom, acknowledging no superior but the king of Norway. The Norwegian line of earls failed about the year 1330, in the person of Magnus V: and the earldom passed, by female succession, to Malis earl of Strathern 5; who leaving only daughters, William Sinclair obtained the Orkneys, in right of his marriage 6; and in this family they long re­mained. The undoubted superiority however rested with the kings of Denmark, to which Norway had been annexed since the year 1387; they continued to give the investiture; and, on the failure of heirs, or any pretext of rebellion, or neglect of allegiance, might have resumed the property. The Nor­wegian and Danish monarchs even considered the house of Sinclair as rather invested with the titular, than with the real, succession; and sometimes appointed other governors 7.

When Hakon VI, in 1379, admitted the claim of Henry Sinclair to this earldom, his investiture was burthened with severe conditions: 1, Sinclair was considered as being ap­pointed governor, and earl, of the Orkneys, by an absolute grace of the king: 2, besides precise fidelity upon all occasions, he is bound to serve his sovereign with one hundred men com­pletely armed, when required, upon a notice of three months: [Page 261]3, to defend the Orkneys, and Shetland, against any invasion, not only with the native force, but with the whole power of his house: 4, to exert both the said powers in assistance of his Norwegian sovereign, when he attacked any foreign state: 5, not to build any castles, or forts, in the islands without the royal consent: 6, to maintain all the inhabitants in their own laws: 7, not to sell, or impledge, the earldom, or the right to it: 8, to be bound to answer for maladministration accord­ing to the laws of Norway: 9, to attend the king upon any just cause, or at national council: 10, to assist Hakon against the bishop of Orkney: 11, the earldom is to return to the king, in case there are no male heirs: 12, Sinclair is to pay to the king one thousand gold nobles. The deed contains other strict clauses, unnecessary here to commemorate: nor need it be added that Sinclair, in case of a war, must have chosen between his Scotish and Norwegian fidelity, in a cer­tainty that the possessions under both could not be retained 8.

The direct sovereighty of the kings of Denmark and Nor­way, over the Orkneys, appears most evidently in the years between 1422 and 1434, when different governors were ap­pointed, as would seem during a minority in the house of Sin­clair; for in the latter year the investiture of this earldom was, by Eric the Danish monarch, conferred upon the celebrated Wil­liam Sinclair, afterwards chancellor of Scotaland. To this great man, who held the earldom, when the cession was made, it may appear that Scotland was not a litte indebted for this advantage 9.

[Page 262]Another object to be considered upon the present occasion, as leading to the final treaty between Denmark and Scotland, is the annual of Norway, as it is termed in a Scotish act of parliament 1. When after the unsuccessful expedition, and death, of Hakon IV, Magnus V king of Norway, had, in 1266, ceded the Hebudes to Scotland, it was stipulated, in the treaty, that the Scotish kings should pay the annual sum of one hundred marks, as an acknowledgment for the renuncia­tion. This small sum, as might be expected, was rather allowed to accumulate, than regularly paid, especially when any commotions intervened in the Scotish government. The treaty had been confirmed by Robert I in 1312; and by James I in 1426 2. But, in 1457, the payment had been neglected for a long period; and Christiern I, in whom the house of Oldenburg had nine years before ascended the Danish throne, having at length attained possession of the sceptres of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, and having in the preceding year concluded an alliance with France, remonstrated, even with menaces, upon this account to the second James 3. The object had been considered as of such importance by the Danish monarch that, in the treaty with France, a special article bore that, in case of any dispute with the Scotish king, upon this occasion, Denmark should be secure of the friendship of France 4. It appears indeed that the sum demanded by Den­mark [Page 263]was large; for the penalty of ten thousand marks, for each failure, was charged: and the aggregate in forty years of omission arose to four hundred and four thousands of marks sterling, or nearly ten millions present currency 5. After some negotiation, the commissioners of Denmark and Scotland at length appeared at Paris, in the year 1460, in the presence of the French king Charles VII. The Danes only producing a copy of the agreement between Eric and James I; and the duplicate original of the Scotish archives being in the possession of the bishop of St. Andrews, the chief of the embassy, who had been arrested by sickness at Bruges; the Scotish envoys seized the occasion to start objections. The penalty, they affirmed, could not be incurred as the treaty had not been in­fringed, but only neglected; and they even hinted that the long forbearance, on the part of Denmark, implied a pre­scription. Charles, wishing to conciliate his allies, alledged the absence of the orginal treaty as a ground of indecision: but prudently recommended a marriage between the heir of Scotland, and the daughter of the Danish sovereign, as the best mean of terminating the difference. After some con­sideration of this proposal, the Scotish envoys, who appear to have had previous powers, assented, upon condition, that the arrears of the annual sum payable for the Hebudes should be discharged, and the payment for ever remitted: that the king of Denmark should abandon his right to the Orkneys and Shetland; and pay one hundred thousand crowns for the de­coration of the royal bride. The Danes required time to con­sult their court, but in the meanwhile James II was slain: [Page 264]upon which event, the king and council of France recom­mended delay and deliberation 6.

It was not to be supposed that the Scotish government would neglect an object of such moment; and the king's approach to maturity recommended it to increasing attention. The parliament of 1466 had considered the marriage of James as connected with the annual of Norway: but nothing further arises till the present year, when Christiern sent to demand the payment, expressing at the same time his wishes of amity with the Scotish monarch. In his answer James protested an equal desire of friendship with Denmark, a country of such proximity to Scotland, and so much connected by mutual commerce; and promised to send embassadors in order to conciliate this, and other affairs 7. 28 July Accordingly full powers were granted to lord Evandale chancellor of Scotland, Boyd earl of Arran, the bishops of Glasgow, and the Orkneys, and other persons of inferior note, to visit the courts of France, England, Spain, Denmark, Burgundy, Bretagne, Savoy, and other regions, that they might select a wife for James, and contract the mar­riage; a general commission either intended to provide for a failure in Denmark, or to flatter the Danish court by the ap­pearance of choice, and preference 8. This honourable em­bassy proceeded to Copenhagen; and awaited Christiern's re­turn from Sweden 9.

Christiern I was one of the most powerful monarchs who had ever held the Danish sceptre. Possessed of the three northern kingdoms, and of the duchies of Sleswick and Holstein, pious, prudent, liberal, and a lover of peace, he was regarded with veneration by the neighbouring princes, who constantly chose him as the arbiter of their differences. But the frequent tu­mults [Page 265]of Sweden, and the repeated ascents of Charles Canutson upon the throne of that kingdom, one of which happened this year, joined with the sums paid for the acquisition of Sleswick and Holstein, had exhausted the penury of the Danish trea­sure. No king of Denmark had ever rendered his influence so much known in Europe, by foreign alliances; among which that formed with France against England was the chief: and a connection with Scotland, important in itself, was further recommended by mutual friendship and enmity. These circumstances considered will abate any surprize at the con­duct of Christiern, in abandoning to Scotland the islands of Orkney and Shetland, remote and little profitable to Den­mark; and commanded by a Scotish family, of divided, and uncertain fidelity.

But to Scotland the proximity of these islands, and the uni­versal belief that they had anciently belonged to the monarchy, rendered their acquisition a matter of glory, and importance; not to mention their intrinsic value, which was far from being inconsiderable. The Scotish embassadors, aware of the weight of their negotiation, conducted it with zeal and prudence; but could not prevaiol upon Christiern to grant an immediate dere­liction of the Orkneys and Shetland; while his desire of the alliance, and his poverty, consented to impledge them for the greater part of his daughter's portion. The chief articles of this memorable treaty were; 8 Sept. 1, that the arrears of the annual sum arising from the Hebudes, should be remitted, with all the penalties; and no future payment should be demanded from the king and queen of Scotland, their heirs and child­ren 1: 2, that the bride's portion should amount to sixty thou­sand florins, of which ten thousand are to be disbursed before [Page 266]she leaves Denmark with the embassadors; and for the re­maining fifty thousand Christiern, with the advice and consent of the prelates, peers, and chiefs of Norway, assigns the islands of Orkney, as a pledge to be retained, till redeemed by him, or any future Norwegian king: 3, that James should, in case of death, confirm Margaret of Denmark in the possession of the palace of Linlithgow, and castle of Down in Menteith, with their territories; and in a revenue of one third part of the royal income: 4, that if the queen should in widowhood chuse to leave Scotland, she should, instead of this provision, accept one hundred and twenty thousand florins, of which fifty thousand should be esteemed paid upon the redeliverance of the Orkneys; provided that the queen did not marry any Englishman of whatever rank 2.

The Swedish commotions continuing to consume the Danish revenues, the delay of the payment agreed on protracted the residence of the Scotish embassy at Copenhagen; and Arran returned to Scotland, to lay the terms before James; and ob­tain instructions concerning the conveyance of the bride 3. Winter now approached, and the ice and storms of a Scandi­navian sea being dreadful to the embassadors, and their fair charge, it was resolved that the voyage should be delayed till spring; 1469 when Arran, with a noble train, again proceeded to Denmark 4. The Scotish peers envied not his commission; but resolved to avail themselves of his absence, by completing, what on his former departure they had commenced, his ruin and that of his family. Christiern had not replenished his treasury; 20 May and his despair of supply prompted him, while he al­ledged the Swedish war as an apology, to offer the islands of Shetland, on the same terms with those of Orkney, but a [Page 267]pledge only for eight thousand florins; while he paid the re­maining two thousand, a sum now equal to about twenty thousand pounds 5. The offer was instantly accepted: and since that period the Orkneys, and Shetland, have been gems of the Scotish crown 6.

Margaret of Denmark arriving at Leith, July the royal nuptials, and her coronation, were celebrated with much joy; for the king and the nation exulted in the merits of the queen. She was now only in her thirteenth year; but to eminent personal charms, she was to unite such excellent manners, and unaf­fected piety, that her example became a living lesson of virtue. The pomp of her reception corresponded with her worth, and the value of her dower: and the grandeur of the ceremonies was long after remembered with applause 7.

[Page 268]Amid the general joy, one family was lost in cares, and in all the remorse of imprudent ambition. The sudden elevation of the Boyds had excited uncommon envy; and their pride had created numerous and powerful enemies. During the last absence of Arran, such influence had been exerted, that James had passed from extreme favour into a total alienation from that family; and it was natural that, as he advanced in years and intelligence, he should become inimical to a house, which had so grossly abused his power and his youth. As soon as the ships which conveyed the Danish princess, and her attendants, had arrived in the Forth, the sister of James with a laudable zeal for her husband, hastened on board to inform Arran that Scotland was now to him a hostile, and dangerous, soil. They fled together into Denmark, Arran hoping that his wife would prove a pledge for his safety 8. But the Scotish monarch yet further irritated by this insult, proceeded to ex­treme measures against the Boyds. The chief of the family, lord Boyd, had an idle recourse to arms: his few followers disbanded, upon the first rumour of the royal standard being displayed. 20 Nov. A parliament was held: the charge against the Boyds chiefly rested upon an action of declared treason, the removal of the king from Linlithgow: it was pleaded that this deed had been pardoned in open parliament: the answer seems to have been, that the possession of the king's person had, upon that occasion, given the Boyds such influence, as to constrain the legislative body. 22 Nov. Sentence was pronounced; and Sir Alexander Boyd was beheaded. Lord Boyd escaped his brother's fate, by retiring into England, where he died in a few years at Alnwick, under the united pressure of age, and [Page 269]of misfortunes, rendered doubly keen, by the consciousness that they were deserved 9.

Arran remained in Denmark for some time; and James afterwards found means to have his sister sent back into Scot­land. Her unfortunate husband wandered into England, and other countries, till he found an early death, and obscure tomb 1. Either after his death, or upon a divorce, the Scotish princess was at length, in 1474, wedded to lord Hamilton, a connec­tion which was to open to that noble family a near prospect of the crown. Her children by the first marriage, James Boyd, created lord Kilmarnoc in 1482, and slain in a feud with the Montgomeries in 1487; and Grecina, wedded to lord Forbes, and after to the earl of Cassils, died without issue. Her second [Page 270]bed produced James, created earl of Arran in 1503; and Elizabeth, who wedded Matthew earl of Lennox 2.

The king, who had now nearly attained his eighteenth year, was, upon his marriage, regarded as arrived at the age of majority; and the reins of state were left entirely in his hands. His person was elegant, his mind weak. In attachment to favorites, in superstition, in love of retirement, and literature, he not a little resembled James VI. The other chief features of his character were avarice, caprice; and a delight in archi­tecture, music, and astrology, too violent to leave room for the duties of a monarch. His aversion to the severity of public business rendered the relaxation of his government obnoxious to the united evils of anarchy and tyranny: for, besides a fixed inclination to despotism, his impatience of slow and moderate measures prompted him to sudden acts of outrage; and his favorites oppressed the people, while the indolence of the king abandoned the reins of justice; and his lenity to the bad was cruelty to the good. His sceptre was so little stained with blood, that the future fate of his brother may excite doubt, or astonishment: yet oppression may proceed by rapid, though silent, steps, while the fears and weakness of the sovereign constrain him to shrink from sanguinary violence 3.

[Page 271]After the condemnation of the Boyds, the parliament con­tinued to sit, and issued several statutes 4. The privileges of the church were confirmed, as not unusual at the commence­ment of a reign. Among many acts of less importance, some deserve particular notice. In order to prevent the frequency of murder and homicide, which, as the statute declares, had of late become very common, it is decreed that every man­slayer, who flees to the sanctuary, shall be brought out, and de­livered to a trial by jury; that if the case be not accidental he may be put to death, no murderer having any legal claim to sanctuary. By the writ, called a brief of distress, the property of the poor tenants was liable to seizure, for the debts of the landlord; an injustice which this parliament condemns, and declares that the tenants shall only be answerable to the amount of the rent due. These acts, and others more minute, as that for the preservation of salmon and trout, and that ordering registers to preserve important writs, deserve praise: but some there are of a different complexion, and which seem to contain the first germ of despotism ill understood. The election of aldermen, (afterwards called provosts,) and baillies, is formally wrested from the people of the burghs, upon pretence of avoiding annual clamours; and, by a ridiculous aristocracy, the old council of each burgh is to chuse the new; and both united are to appoint the alderman, the baillies, and other officers. The institution of the lords of the articles is lost in [Page 272]the darkness of the fourteenth century, and that innovation seems rather an ignorant, than a designed, attempt upon the liberties of the parliament, and of the nation. But the present was a flagrant infringement of the freedom of the people; and though the commissioners of the burghs were generally ma­gistrates, who gained by the court, or by private interest, sanctioned this measure, yet the nation saw it in a proper light, and the monarch soon became an object of public detestation. Another statute of this parliament speaks a new, and strange, language; "it is thought proper that the court of parliament, justice's court, chamberlain's court, and such like courts, which continue their sessions, need not be continued from day to day; but that they be of the same force, until the time that they be dissolved, the parliament by the king, the justice's court by the justice, the chamberlain's by the chamberlain, and so in other such like courts." It is unnecessary to add that the legislative assembly of the nation is here, for the first time, put upon the mean and dependent footing of a mere court of justice, existing by the royal pleasure; and assimilated, in terms of contempt, with the inferior courts 5. This novelty calls for a pause, to dis­cover, if possible, the motives, and advisers, of such measures.

The youth of James, at this period, and the weakness he afterwards discovered, lead to a strong suspicion that some fa­vorite minister, or ministers, were the real authors of the despotic procedure, which, during this reign, disgusted all orders of men. But so barren are still our materials, concern­ing the internal government of the kingdom, that conjecture, [Page 273]and probability must supply the defect of clear information. The power of the chancellor became, in this reign, yet more remarkable than at any prior period; and he now obtained the high distinction of a precedence next to that of the princes of royal blood 6. In parliament he presided, and di­rected the lords of the articles; and in fact the whole legisla­tive body. This office during the far greater part of this reign, from 1460 to 1482, was filled by Andrew Stuart, lord Evandale, the natural son of Sir James Stuart, son of Murdac duke of Albany. It appears to be a novelty in our history that one so nearly connected with the royal family, especially when Evandale and his brothers were legitimated by the king's mandate in 1472, should hold this important office: and there is room to suspect that Evandale sacrificed his duty to the na­tion to the aggrandizement of the royal family, which he re­garded as his own. Besides this motive, other circumstances conspired to extend the prerogative during this reign, unhap­pily not upon the prudent plan, soon after to be followed by Henry VII of England, in depressing the nobles and raising the people; but upon that already established by Louis XI of France, in crushing the spirit and freedom of the commons, with those of the aristocracy. In Scotland the people never knew their own weight, and the government turned between aristocracy and despotism; the nobles and the king commonly forgetting the nation, which deserved the neglect while it silently abandoned its awful claim. But till James VI acceded to the English throne, and left the Scotish nobles at a great distance, and in a degrading inferiority, despotism made but a slow progress in Scotland, and the chief evils arose from the aristocracy which prevented the progress of industry and civi­lization. [Page 274]Yet the conduct of James III seems to evince that the nation could have no reason to prefer the power of the king to that of the nobles; for the despot who prescribed de­grading laws, and expressed open contempt for the nation, represented in its legislative assembly, was yet more inimical than the aristocracy; which, even by its dissensions, maintained, in some degree, the freedom, the vital current of the nation. A chief motive of the arbitrary procedure of James III appears to have arisen from the temporary humiliation of the nobility; who, though still possessed of equal power, as they were after to shew in the imprisonment and slaughter of their sovereign, yet were awed for a time by the ruinous examples of the houses of Douglas and Boyd. The contemporary reign of Louis XI 7 seems also to have corrupted the counsels of James; for not only did the alliance with France introduce, at different times, many imitations of the French government and institutions into Scotland, but James seems to have selected Louis for his particular model: yet as a man of abilities never imitates, so happily, in the present instance, abilities cannot be imitated. Crimes and faults may: and we behold Louis reflected, so to speak, by James, in the heavy suspicion of a brother's blood, in contempt of the nobility, and in the choice of low favorites, in an appearance of devotion, in attachment to astrology, in avarice, in a life of retirement and jealousy, and in the love of arbitrary power. In their attention to some sciences they were also similar; and the patronage of Louis to an ingenious foreigner, Galeotus Martius, is rivalled by that of James to [Page 275]another, William Roger, the English composer of music 8. But the success of their political plans was very different. Louis, assisted by chance and circumstances, laid the lasting foundation of absolute power, levelled the nobility, crushed the people; and by discontinuing the states general annihilated national freedom. James wished to establish arbitrary govern­ment by the depression of the nobles, and the people; and by converting the national council, which neither his abilities nor his power would permit him to discontinue, into a mere court: but he forgot that neither his revenue, nor his authority, cor­responded with his designs; and fell a sacrifice to the aristo­cracy, whose influence resumed its former sway. These re­flections have been excited by the importance of the subject; but their prolixity having already exceeded the intention, it is proper to return to the narration.

After a silent year in the Scotish annals, 1471 6 May the first object, which arrests attention, is another parliament, of which some ordinances deserve historical commemoration 9. The statute of the last parliament against murder is enforced, and en­larged; that crime being again declared to have become com­mon. It is decreed, "considering the great poverty of the realm," that none shall wear silk, the importation being so expensive, except knights, minstrels, that is performers of music, and heralds, and those worth one hundred pounds in the an­nual income of lands. Another statute shews that the interests of the country began to be somewhat understood: it concerns the fisheries, an object of repeated attention, and endeavours, for three centuries; and now, it is to be hoped, the successful care of a patriotic society. This remarkable act is conceived [Page 276]in these terms: 1471 "the lords 1 think expedient, for the common good of the realm, and the great importation of riches to be brought into the realm from other countries, that certain lords spiritual and temporal, and some burghs, cause equip large ships, busses, and other great pink-boats, with nets and all ne­cessaries for fishing: the execution of this object, and the form, and number, to be considered at the prorogation of this par­liament 2." But the subject was not resumed: and the scheme only excites a sigh at the consideration how easily nations are excited to war, or any ruinous project, and with what extreme difficulty any plan of public benefit is carried into execution. Another prudent statute provides against the encroachments of the Roman church, now arising to such enormity, as, in half a century, provoked the reformation, by prohibiting the clergy, under pain of treason, to procure any benefices from the court of Rome, not formerly held by the pope's disposal; or to collect more money for the papal treasury, than had been regulated by the antient taxation of Bagimont 3. In this act the clergy's title to free election of their dignitaries is men­tioned, and confirmed: but two years after we find that James despoiled the pope only for his own purpose, and crushed even this mean relict of freedom. The monks of Dunfermlin having chosen an abbot, the king probably won by a sum of money recommended another to the pope, obtained his confirmation; and this new tyranny became inviolable custom 4. Among the secular clergy also the monarch usurped the rights of the [Page 277]bishops; and gave, or sold, benefices to laymen, as well as abbacies and priories, a source of great national disorder and discontent 5. James was unconscious of the weakness of an unsupported throne; and his wild despotism assailed all orders of men.

Nevertheless the Scotish clergy now attained greater con­sistence, and dignity, from the appointment of a primate. Patrick Graham, the successor of Kennedy in the bishopric of St. Andrews, obtained from the pontiff a bull erecting that see into an archbishopric: and to this new dignity he added the titles of papal nuntio, and legate a latere. Instead of con­gratulating their order upon this accession of importance, and the kingdom upon the honour and advantage of a metropolitan see, at this period to be found in all the other chief states of christendom; and the want of which, as religion then stood, might bear a derogatory interpretation, and had induced and might induce the usurping claims of the primates of York; a spirit of envy seized the Scotish clergy. By an offer of eleven thousand marks, the bishops excited James to oppose, and in­sult, the archbishop: reciprocal interests, and abuses, concurred to unite the king and the prelates against Graham, a man of worth and learning, who was imprisoned in the castle of Loch­leven; where he died seven years after, in the vain enjoyment of his titles 6.

BOOK VIII. BEING THE SECOND, AND LAST, PART OF THE REIGN OF JAMES III.

Transactions with England and Burgundy—marriage treaty with Edward IV—commencement of English influence in Scotland—forfeiture of Ross—parliament—character of Al­bany and Mar—Albany's escape—death of Mar—war with England—parliaments—Albany in England—Glocester's in­vasion—plot—execution of the royal favourites—James con­fined—truce—deliverance of James—Albany's treason and flight—Margaret the king's sister weds Crichton—parliament—Douglas a captive—negotiations with Richard III—impo­licy of James—death of Margaret of Denmark—parliament—marriage indenture—confederacy against James—conflict at Blackness—battle at Sauchy—death of the king.

NOTHING memorable occurs, 1472 10 Mar. in the course of the en­suing year, except the birth of a prince, afterwards James IV1; and the continuation of the truce with England; the throne of Edward IV having at length been firmly esta­blished [Page 279]by the death of Henry VI, 1472 and his son, that monarch resolved to preserve the pacification with Scotland, which had been somewhat interrupted by the mutual incursions of the borderers, and other incidents. The commissioners of both nations having met, it was agreed that the long truce should be strictly observed; and provisions were made against any in­fringement 2.

Charles the Rash, duke of Burgundy, 1473 having engaged in war with Louis XI of France, sent to request the aid of England. Edward was willing to listen to the demand; but expressed apprehensions left the Scots should in this case support their French ally. To obviate this objection the Burgundian em­bassadors proceeded into Scotland; and, by gifts or promises, prevailed on James to agree to a specific continuation of the English truce for two years, without prejudice of the long pacification 3.

[Page 280]The statutes of the next Scotish parliament are too minute for the notice of history; 1474 9 May but the three estates desired the king to form an alliance with the German emperor, by the means of his father-in-law, the sovereign of Denmark: and at the same time requested that an embassy might be sent into England, in order to obtain redress concerning the seizure of a large ship 4. This vessel was the noted St. Salvator, commonly called the Bishop's Barge, having been constructed at the ex­pence of bishop Kennedy, as formerly mentioned. Remaining the property of the see of St. Andrews, this ship, freighted with valuable merchandize, on the account of the archbishop, (for in this, and the following century, the prelates and nobles in England and Scotland aspired to commerce,) went aground near Bamborough. Some merchants, literary persons, and other passengers, were drowned: the abbot of St. Colm, being captured by the English, was detained till a ransom of eighty pounds was paid 5. In the following year Edward IV ordered a partial compensation of five hundred marks, with permission to the Scots to sue for any further redress in the courts of law 6.

Meanwhile a more important affair was in agitation between the courts of England and Scotland. Edward IV was aware of the arts by which Louis XI had endeavoured to fix the Scotish monarch in his interests; and resolved to frustrate the design by the display of superior advantages. In 1472 the duke of Bretagne had accused Louis of inviting the Scots to assault that duchy, upon a promise of assigning it to James; a charge apparently well founded, for Louis had commissioned [Page 281]his envoy Concressault to persuade the Scotish king to equip as many vessels as he could, 1474 and engage troops from Denmark 7. As the offer of Bretagne was a proof of the artifice of Louis, though too gross to be attempted except with a young monarch, and unexperienced council; so the demand of a Scotish fleet was a mark of his ignorance, Scotland having no ships of war, and none to spare from her scanty commerce. On the other side, James appears not to have acted without duplicity; for while he consented to the truce requested by England and Burgundy, he imparted their designs to Louis, and insinuated that he could listen to no proposal inimical to the French alli­ance. At the same time he desired permission to pass through France in a pilgrimage to Rome, a design which may have proceeded from the known superstition of James; but which rather seems, from the circumstances, to have been founded upon the supposition that his absence might excuse the Scots from lending any assistance to France. Louis, in return, sent Monipeny his chamberlain, to request James not to leave his kingdom in the present conjuncture: and the advantages offered by England inducing the Scotish king to a decision in favor of that kingdom, the advice of Louis was followed, though not the motive 8.

[Page 282]To counteract the arts of France, and to fix the wavering resolution of James, the English monarch entered into a treaty with Scotland, upon a more solid foundation. The Scotish embassadors, who had entered England in July 9, returned to Edinburgh in October, accompanied by the bishop of Durham, Lord Scrope, and two other English commissioners; who having met with the bishops of Glasgow and Orkney, the earls of Argyle and Crawford, and others appointed on the part of Scotland, established an alliance upon the following terms. 26 Oct. 1. That in order to promote the wealth, peace, ho­nour, and interest, of this noble isle callit Gret Britane, a marriage shall be contracted between James the prince of Scot­land, and Cecilia youngest daughter of Edward IV, both in early infancy. 2. That the truce of fifty four years, extending till 1519, shall remain in full force. 3. That, during the truce, both monarchs shall assist each other against rebels, if required. 4. That the prince being only two years of age, and the bride four, the kings shall solemnly engage to accomplish the mar­riage in due time. 5. That the prince and princess shall, during the life of James, enjoy the usual lands of the heir of Scotland, being the dukedom of Rothsay, the earldom of Car­ric, and the lordships called the Stuart-lands. 6. That Ed­ward shall give with his daughter the sum of twenty thousand marks sterling, (now equivalent to about one hundred and forty thousand pounds,) of which two thousand shall be paid yearly in the parish church of St. Giles at Edinburgh; the first payment to be made on the second day of February next 1475. And lastly, it was agreed that in case of the death of the prince, or princess, the heir of Scotland should marry a daughter of England, upon the same terms; otherwise all the [Page 283]sums advanced shall be repaid within four years, except the sum of two thousand five hundred marks, which Edward agrees to abandon in consideration of the intended amity 1.

Such was this memorable treaty, which, had it been ob­served, might have proved highly advantageous to both king­doms; and in particular might have saved Scotland from the loss of Berwick, and from the ruinous battle at Flodden. The annual payments of Cecilia's portion may be regarded as a subsidy of importance, amounting as may be conjectured, to an increase of nearly one third in the royal revenue of Scotland; and the English policy in this advanced mode of disbursement seems assumed in order to secure the continuance of the Scotish amity. A lively writer has observed that a poor state, which is adjacent to a wealthy, must, in the natural course of human affairs, expect to be ruled by the money of her neighbour 2; and when we behold Sparta in the pay of Persia, overturning the liberties of Greece, during the Peloponnesian war, we need not sigh at the comparison of ancient and modern virtue. Taught by the example of France, which disbursed regular pensions to Edward and his courtiers 3, England seems now, for the first time, to have laid down a scheme of policy con­cerning Scotland, which was afterwards to be resumed, and continued, with success, till the accession of James VI to the English sceptre. Resolving to rival, or exceed, France in pecuniary gratifications, England found gold more powerful than steel, in fixing the fidelity of her northern neighbour; while Scotland must find an excuse in her penury, and in the general defects of human nature, for exposing her fidelity to [Page 284]the mutual temptations of French and English subsidies. Nor must it be forgotten that the most able politician might have been perplexed in the decision, whether the connection with England, or that with France, would most advance the honour and interest of Scotland; so that no blame of treason to their country can rest with the receivers of the gold of either king­dom.

The treaty, 1475 which Edward IV had entered into, had been negotiated at Edinburgh, a mark of friendship before un­known between the countries, as the English monarchs, from precedency of rank, had ever insisted on the negotiations being conducted in their own kingdom. To maintain the new in­tercourse with Scotland, April Edward sent Dr. Alexander Legh, his almoner, on an embassy to that country. He was in­structed to give complete redress to the Admiral of Scotland, for a ship fitted out by James himself, which, by a singular chance, had been captured by the May-flower, a vessel be­longing to Richard duke of Gloucester 4.

Having secured the friendship, or forbearance, of Scotland, Edward passed into France with his army; July but, being over­come by the money and the wines of that kingdom, he yielded to the arts of Louis XI, and withdrew inglorious 5.

[Page 285]The parliament, which was prevented from meeting in September by some appearances of the pestilence, having at length assembled at Edinburgh in November, issued several unimportant regulations, chiefly concerning the coin 6. A clause in the late treaty with England bearing that neither monarch should assist rebels, and the king's insular power being enlarged by the acquisition of the Orkneys, it was re­solved to proceed vigorously against John, the earl of Ross and lord of the Isles, who had supported Douglas and his brothers in their grand rebellion, had in 1462 entered into engage­ments with England, and whose conduct merited chastisement. Accordingly having neglected to appear when summoned, a sentence of forfeiture was pronounced against him 7. 1 Dec. As soon as the season of the year permitted, 1476 May a force was collected to execute the sentence. Some vessels being assembled on the north of the river Forth, the earl of Crawford was appointed admiral, and the earl of Athole general. Ross, alarmed at this effectual preparation, was induced to submission by Athole's intercession, which the king rewarded by the gift of the lands of Cluny. In the ensuing parliament the rebellious earl ap­peared, and submitted to the royal will: July Ross was withdrawn from his power, and annexed for ever to the domains of the crown, with liberty nevertheless to the sovereigns to grant that extensive earldom to their second sons. The title of Lord of the Isles was confirmed in consequence of his submission, and engagement to maintain the laws of the kingdom. But [Page 286]Knapdale and Kintyre, forming a chersonese in the western sea, 1476 were also withdrawn from his authority, with the castles of Inverness and Nairn. The earldom of Ross though claimed, or held, by the lords of the Isles, Donald and Alexander, the grandfather and father of John, from nearly the commence­ment of this century, it was yet no violent stretch of power to resume from hereditary foes of Scotland 8.

In the same parliament, the king, who had now attained his twenty-fifth year, a period to which the civil law annexed the title of complete majority, solemnly revoked all alienations, or gifts prejudicial to his crown, or to his heirs; and, among others, the custody of his castles, otherwise than during plea­sure, especially those which formed the keys of the kingdom 9.

The third, 1477 and last payment of the portion of Cecilia which Edward IV thought proper to make, was duly performed 1; but a change of political views was speedily to terminate this plan of pacification.

Of the next national council the chief statute concerns the importation of provisions. 6 Aug. The congregated wisdom of the nation is not ashamed to declare, that provisions being usually very scarce, the chief support of the realm lay in the hands of strangers, who import them from various countries; and who are of course intitled to a favourable and honourable reception. Any restriction, or imposition, is therefore withdrawn; and it is ordered that after the foreign provisions are entered in the tolbooth, or guildhall, the king, and lords of the council, shall have the choice at the market price; and the remainder shall [Page 287]be open to general sale 2. The state of the kingdom may be better discerned by this statute, than by volumes of declama­tion: and it is almost unnecessary to add that this want of common industry led to a gradual increase of impoverishment; for Scotland possessed not, like ancient Athens, or modern Holland, commerce, arts, and manufactures far more than sufficient to counterbalance the great disadvantage of acquiring subsistence by foreign purchase.

This parliament also decreed that an embassy should be sent to the duke of Burgundy, at the expence of the burghs, to confirm and renew the alliance formerly contracted, and to obtain a ratification, and if possible an enlargement of the im­munities granted to Scotish merchants, and a redress of any damages 3. This potent prince had sent conciliating letters to the Scotish court, as the act expresses: but could the parlia­ment be yet ignorant that the dead body of Burgundy had been trampled into the ice and mud, before Nanci, on the fifth of January; and that Mary his only daughter was unmarried, not having united those wide territories to the house of Austria, by her marriage with Maximilian, till the eighteenth of August? But it is probable that the parliament sat a considerable time; and that the latter may be the duke mentioned. An embassy into England is also ordered, to negotiate another marriage-treaty with the royal house of that kingdom 4.

But Edward again sent Legh as his embassador into Scot­land, with instructions to represent that the marriages pro­posed by James, between his sister Margaret and the duke of Clarence, and between Albany and the duchess of Burgundy, widow of Charles the Rash and sister of Edward, could not be then negotiated, as her year of mourning was not expired 5.

[Page 288]The superstition of James now suggested a desire to visit the shrine of St. John at Amiens, 1478 17 March and Edward granted a safe con­duct for his passage through England, with a thousand attend­ants, for that purpose; not omitting his earnest desire to confer with the Scotish king 6. Yet the journey was deferred: and James was contented with striking a large medal of gold, which he sent to be appended to the shrine 7.

The fresh disputes between England and Scotland appear to have originated in this, or the preceding year; but their cause has not been accurately explained. The death of the duke of Burgundy, which changed the views of France and England, seems to have been the chief source of this altera­tion. Louis XI having been delivered from this dreadful foe, and having secured himself from the enmity of Edward IV by a truce for their lives, by the punctual remission of pensions to the English king and court, and by flattering Edward with the marriage of the dauphin to Elizabeth his eldest daughter, there was reason to expect a lasting peace between their king­doms 8. In consequence, Edward, whose temporary fears, and interest, had alone formed the treaty with Scotland, and whose only desires were money and luxury, began to regret the annual disbursements, and to wish for another war as a pretext of raising money for his pleasures and profusion. But their sacrifice of the French alliance, and their intestine com­motions, prevented the Scots from hastening into an open en­mity with England.

The reign of James had hitherto been successful; and for­tune had showered favours upon him, which to his wiser pre­decessors had been denied. The acquisition of Roxburgh, [Page 289]Berwick, the Orkneys, and Shetland; the honourable mar­riage treaty with England, the resumption of the earldom of Ross, were splendid events, which prevented the eruption of public discontent at many new and arbitrary measures. But James had provoked deep and inveterate hatred; and, having no standing army, could not rule by fear alone. A great alteration is now to take place; imprudence is to incur the usual destiny: and a thick cloud of crimes, and misfortunes, is to darken the succeeding years of this reign.

The character of James was strongly contrasted by those of his brothers, Alexander duke of Albany, and John earl of Mar. While the king, in solitary retirement, indulged his favourite studies of music, architecture, and astrology, he forgot the duties, amid the idle amusements, of a monarch. The nobles, in the feudal ages, seldom visiting the court, except upon occasions of business, or high festivals, and being igno­rant of the arts in which James delighted, he had recourse to the conversation of those who excelled in them; but forgot the majesty of the sovereign so far as to make companions and fa­vorites of men of mean origin; imitating Louis XI who had raised his barber Oliver le Dain to great wealth, and high dignities; but a stranger to the standing army, large revenue, and other resources, which enabled that king to crush the lofty, and exalt the humble. Cochran a mason or architect, and Rogers the English master of music, were respectable names among the favourites of the Scotish king, when followed by those of Leonard a smith, Hommil a taylor, and Torphichan a fencing master 9. The contempt and indignation of the no­bility were extreme, when they beheld the public favour of the sovereign to those minions, joined with a pointed neglect of their haughty order.

[Page 290]Albany was a sensible and spirited prince, fond of martial exercises, of fine horses, and of attendants tall and vigorous. In person he was of a middle stature, strong, and well propor­tioned: his broad shoulders, and blooming yet stern counte­nance, engaged the praise of a martial age: and his known courage, if we believe an historian, was the only cause why the nobles did not rebel against James, while he lived in amity with this brother 1. Mar added superior stature to youth, beauty, and elegance of person: his gentle manners won every heart; nor did he yield to his brother in the favourite exercises of the nobility, or in his attention to the breed of his war­horses: and in hunting, hawking, and every knightly pastime, his skill and grace were admired 2.

The wardenship of the eastern marches had been assigned to Albany, for life, by his father James II; to which the honours of governor of Berwick, and lord lieutenant of the borders, had been added. From his father he also derived the earldom of March, and its strong castle of Dunbar 3. If we credit Lind­say, who somewhat depraves his information by represent­ing Alexander lord Home as chamberlain since the reign of James II, while he held not that office till the commencement of that of James IV, a violent enmity had taken place between Albany, and the Homes and Hepburns, whose estates lay con­tiguous to his earldom of March. In order to ruin Albany, his enemies applied to Cochran, who resented that prince's contempt, while he dreaded his power: this favourite knowing the weak part of his sovereign's character, procured a witch to pronounce to James, that he should be slain by one of his nearest kindred; and his children being infants, the suspicion fell upon his brothers, and led to their ruin. Buchanan im­putes [Page 291]the king's enmity against his brothers to a prophesy of Andrew, a Flemish astrologer, and favorite of James, that in Scotland a lion should be devoured by his whelps; which, if a real prediction, was singular in its accomplishment: but the account of Lindsay is more probable, as the latter emblem could not point to brothers. From the account of Ferrerius, which is the most ancient, it appears that Mar was accused of using magical arts against the king's life 4. In our choice of weak motives, we are however left certain that the tyranny of James was strong: nor is there the smallest reason to infer from the base treaty made with Edward IV by Albany in 1482, and to which he was driven by despair and resentment, that he now entertained any disloyal designs; far less any in­tercourse with England 5, which kingdom he did not visit till three years after his escape to France; and even then was in­duced by the special invitation, and interested views, of Ed­ward. It is however not improbable that Albany and Mar, having also encountered the king's indifference, shared the re­sentments of the nobles, and with them conspired against the royal favourites, who had sufficient interest and address to con­found their safety with that of the government. Amid the dark­ness which attends the commission of crimes, it belongs to can­dour, and reason, to infer a motive strong enough to blunt the feelings, and corrupt the heart, for human depravity cannot at once proceed to the utmost degree: but when we speak of the [Page 292]"good old times," let us reflect that the three contemporary sovereigns of France, England, and Scotland, were all stained with a brother's blood.

However obscure the origin of the tempest might be, 1479 its effects were apparent and dreadful. Mar was seized by the king's command, and confined a close prisoner in the castle of Craigmillar, near Edinburgh. Albany was committed to Edinburgh castle; and Evandale the chancellor was sent to besiege his fortress of Dunbar, which soon yielded, the gar­rison withdrawing in boats to the English coast 6.

As the despotic temper of the king was certain, his frater­nal affections dubious, Albany thought proper, after a confine­ment of some duration, to contrive means of escape. Either by concert, or chance, a French vessel arrived in the Forth, and anchored near Newhaven, a small and little frequented port to the west of Leith, and of short and easy access from Edinburgh. The captain, either in the plot before, or now gained by Albany's emissaries, pretended that his cargo con­sisted of excellent wines; and sent to the castle to request the duke to honour him by the first choice. Two small casks of malmsey, then a favourite wine, were ordered: and the cap­tain in one of them concealed a roll of wax, inclosing a paper of intelligence and directions; while the other conveyed a long rope, the mean of deliverance. As the duke's messenger was [Page 293]a confidential domestic of tried fidelity, he was intrusted with the secret, and served his master's design with zeal. After supper the commander of the fortress went to the king's apart­ment to receive his orders, James lodging in the castle at the time; and having ordered the gates to be shut, and set the watch, he returned by appointment to Albany's chamber, to enjoy a collation and wine. The duke and his servant were abstemious, while they artfully engaged the commander, and three of the garrison who guarded the prisoner, in repeated draughts of intoxication. Secure in their sleep, or in their death, for according to some accounts the odious guests were slain, Albany and his domestic proceeded to a retired part of the wall, concealed from the view of the watch; and the rope being fixed, and let down, the servant first explored the dan­gerous height: but from the shortness of the rope, fell, and broke his thigh: the duke guarded against the same fate, by increasing the length with the torn sheets of his bed, and de­scending safely, first carried his faithful domestic on his back to a place of security; and then proceeding to Newhaven made the signal appointed, and was received on board the ship, which immediately sailed for France. The king was so much sur­prized at this escape, almost from his own presence, that he would not yield to conviction, till he had himself examined the prisoner's apartment, and seen the spot and instrument of his flight. Vain orders were given to search the castle, and send out horsemen on all sides, with promises of high reward, be­fore the truth was discovered 7.

[Page 294]Albany having arrived in France went to Paris, where he was honourably received: Gaucourt in the king's name, and the magistrates and council of the city, awaiting on the road with congratulations. Louis ordered Monipeny and Concres­sault, Scotishmen of rank, to attend the duke; and his ex­pences were defrayed by the royal favour, but his train not exceeding twelve persons there was no great room for munifi­cence 8.

A different fate awaited Mar, who, instead of an open trial by his peers, encountered a private condemnation by the king's domestic council, apparently consisting of Cochran and the other minions 9. The unfortunate youth was afterwards brought from Craigmillar to the Canongate of Edinburgh, where a vein was cut, and he was allowed to bleed to death; an easy mode of extinction, preferred by the philosophy of Se­neca, and the luxury of Petronius 1. Several persons of both [Page 295]sexes were, at the same time, condemned and executed, for conspiring in the pretended magical practises of Mar against the king's life 2.

The wars between England and Scotland now begin to be 1480 more unfrequent, and upon this account to deserve greater attention: that which now commenced is the most memorable, since the battle of Sark, a space of more than thirty years: and similar distances divide the present contention, the battle of Flodden, and that of Pinkie. The great inequality of the contest is matter of glory to the smaller state, which unhappily [Page 296]either declined, or was stationary, in wealth, and power; while the other was rapidly progressive. Henceforth defeated in every great contest, the spirit of Scotland remained unim­paired; and while her soldiers knew not the name of fear, they might execrate the caprice of chance, and the want of military skill, patience, and genius, in their leaders. The historian of the house of Douglas hesitates not to pronounce that, since the fall of that family, Scotland has performed few deeds of arms 3: many of that illustrious progeny were indeed born generals, and the deficiency of such singular genius, which depends upon great and prompt faculties, cool intuition, and a kind of prescience, and to which the impetuosity of the na­tional character is highly adverse, was repeatedly felt by this warlike kingdom.

If it be often dubious, even in modern times, which of two warring nations was the aggressor, a superior certainty is not to be expected in remote ages. Some assert that Edward IV was the author of hostilities; while others affirm that Louis XI excited the Scotish king to arms. The latter opinion might be supported by the treaty, which was entered into, in the end of the year 1479, between Edward IV and the dukes of Austria and Bretagne, the foes of Louis 4: but as the French monarch pretended ignorance of that transaction, and continued to pay Edward's pension, and to cultivate his amity, dreading lest he should openly assist the Flemings, with whom the French were at war, it does not seem probable that he should wish, by in­citing the Scots to arms, to provoke the decided enmity of England. A diversion of a part of Edward's force was all that could have been gained; while the practices of Louis might have been punished by the remainder. Other arguments against [Page 297]this supposition arise from the silence of Comines, that great contemporary, and other French writers, concerning this war, or any part taken by Louis in its provocation; and from the reception of Albany in France, which argues no friendship between Louis and James: the truce of fifty-four years, and the marriage treaty with England, having considerably impaired the connection between France and Scotland. On the other hand, as is before observed, it is certain that in 1478 Edward, by discontinuing the payment of Cecilia's portion, had infringed the amity with Scotland, whose resentment had only been sup­pressed by the commotions in the royal family, and by the long disuse of war. But to guard against any hostile intention of the Scots, Edward, on the twelfth day of May 1480, had named his brother Richard duke of Glocester, the future usurper, lieutenant-general of the North, and appointed him to lead an army against his inveterate enemy the Scotish king; whom he accuses of an intention to violate the truce, and enter the English territories, "in contempt of his own same 5." But in the same of crimes Edward and James were equal; and to that of virtues their pretensions were similar. Some incursions having been made by the Scots, Edward, on the twentieth of June following, commanded his array to be in readiness: yet no important hostility followed, till the ensuing year.

[Page 298]In his aversion for war James sent a herald to the English court, 1481 offering to redress any infringements of the truce com­mitted by his subjects, provided that Edward would condescend to the same terms: but the herald was dismissed without answer, a circumstance which of itself sixes the violation upon Edward 6. Louis XI having fallen into the malady, which in two years terminated his existence, Edward had entered into an active alliance with Maximilian duke of Austria, who en­gaged to pay him a pension equal to that allowed by Louis; so that the English king was now at liberty to pursue his own measures 7. 2 March Accordingly he ordered preparations to be made for the march of his army to the frontiers 8; and from the writs it seems that a siege was proposed, which it is reasonable to infer was to be directed against Berwick, the loss of which was not a little regretted by the English.

To provide against the designs of the enemy, 2 April a parliament was assembled; the statutes of which, and of some in preceding reigns, leave it doubtful whether the right of peace and war was conceived to belong to the king, or to the national council; but in those ignorant ages no political department was properly divided or understood. Yet the fears, and conscious unpo­pularity, of James induced him to desert his despotism on this occasion, and to submit much to the deliberations of parliament. Besides regulations concerning the length of spears, and nature of defensive armour, all persons assembling to the army are prohibited, on severe penalties, to commit any damage, or spoil, in the Scotish dominions; and the castles on the borders, and eastern coast, are ordered to be repaired, and provided with garrisons, and provision 9.

[Page 299]The campaign nevertheless ended with little glory, or ad­vantage, to either side. About sixty Scotish hamlets were burnt by the incursions of the English; and the fleet of Edward, en­tering the Forth, captured eight vessels, and gave to the flames the village of Blackness and another ship which lay there; after which actions it regained its native shores 1. The Scotish borderers carried destruction into England: and the English fleet returned, but found the coasts so well guarded, that the latter expedition was ineffectual 2. Andrew Wood of Leith, in par­ticular, shewed distinguished courage in the maritime service 3. Meanwhile Edward entered into a treaty with the lord of the Isles, whose misfortunes had not taught him prudence, and who followed the hereditary conduct of his family, since the invasion of Edward I, and which was to be continued to the reign of Edward VI 4. It is said that James led his army into England, but was met by the papal legate, who denounced a peace among the potentates of the west, in order to oppose the Turks, who in the preceding year had taken Otranto, and alarmed all Italy: upon which the king returned, and dismissed his army, while Edward little regarded the pontifical mandate 5. This is highly probable in point of chronology; but as a similar [Page 300]event occurs in a preceding reign, it is difficult to believe the repeated success of the same stratagem; and the siege of Berwick not being attempted by the English, it may seem that the royal host, especially assembled for the defence of that place, was in consequence disbanded.

Another parliament being summoned, 1482 18 March the members engaged, with great warmth, in the national enmity against England 6. The depredations of the English by sea and land, being more sensibly felt after so long a period of peace, and being perhaps directed by the innate cruelty of Glocester, the commander in chief, appear to have excited an indignation remarkably keen. But the decency of modern times is surprized to find the legislative body using terms of such asperity, as repeatedly to style the English sovereign, Edward the reifar, that is the robber, or pirate; a title due to many kings, but seldom employed. It is added that Edward "calls himself king of England," for the connection between Scotland, and Henry VI, was not forgotten. The three estates engage that, since Edward seems resolved to prosecute the war, which he had unjustly commenced, they shall maintain a firm obedience to their sovereign, with their persons, lands, and goods, in defence of his person, his suc­cession, the realm, and the subjects; as they, and their an­cestors [Page 301]had done formerly. They order all men within the kingdom to be prepared, upon a warning of eight days, or less if necessary, to attend the king in arms, and with provisions for at least twenty days: and a regulation is given concerning couriers, or posts, to convey orders and intelligence 7. In con­sideration of the king's great expence, in repairing and fortify­ing the walls of Berwick, and the castle, in providing them with artillery, and in maintaining a garrison of five hundred men in the town, the estates oblige themselves to support gar­risons in thirteen forts, upon the borders; the Hermitage is to receive one hundred men, the others from twenty to sixty. This statute is singular, and interesting in many respects; the chief captains are nominated by the states, who ordain that the captains shall appoint their lieutenants, and shall receive the pay of their soldiers at the rate of two shillings and sixpence for every spear, and two shillings for each bow 8; the garrisons consisting of equal portions armed with these weapons, and being allotted to the forts only during the month of May, after which they were to be lodged in Berwick for three months. The clergy engage to maintain two hundred and forty of these soldiers; the nobility as many; and the boroughs half that number. In another statute the national council, in terms of control, and not of advice, declare that if Edward invade Scotland in person, the Scotish king shall appear in the field, at the head of the whole force of his realm; and the members express their firm resolution to live or die with their monarch 9. [Page 302]Those who are attached to systems, the bane of history, might build a splendid speculation upon such decrees: but the wiser, who prefer even inconsistency to system, will be perhaps in­clined to found little upon the fluctuating views of a rude age, in which no branch of power was properly defined, or circum­scribed. Yet a degree of bigotry must be required not to perceive principles of eminent dignity, and freedom, in these transactions. The parliament was doubtless aristocratic; and the Scots having unfortunately no house of commons, the deputies of the burghs were annihilated by the pomp of the nobles and prelates; but such had been the despotism of James that the cause of the nobles became that of the people. Per­haps the usual royal influence guided this assembly; and the fears of James, exposed at once to internal discord and foreign war, led him to extraordinary concessions, in order to strengthen his throne by popularity. Perhaps the aristocracy seized this critical period to regain lost authority, and, by plausible mea­sures, to secure the favour of the nation, in the meditated scheme against the king's favorites. However this be, the loyalty and unanimity expressed by the parliament were com­pletely delusive.

Other statutes of this assembly are essential to history. It is ordered by the king, and parliament of Scotland, that an em­bassy be sent from them to the king of France, and parliament of Paris, to desire aid; to assure them that James had ever been, and would be ready to act reciprocally; and to complain that Louis had returned no answer to repeated letters of James upon this subject 1. This furnishes an additional proof that Louis was not the author of the war: but did the strange com­pliment to the parliament of Paris proceed from ignorance, or [Page 303]from a design to collate the Scotish legislature with a court of justice? A high reward is offered for the slaughter, or capture of James, the exiled earl of Douglas; and even his followers are rated at proportional remunerations; that nobleman acting as a dangerous enemy in the present hostilities against his country 2. 22 Mar. Lord Lyle was tried by an assize of sixteen lords of parliament, the king sitting as judge, for corresponding with Douglas; but was acquitted 3. In recompence for the apparent loyalty of the parliament, the monarch engaged, by a formal promise, to attend to the impartial administration of justice, so that the people might have cause to rejoice in the public order, to the confusion of the king's enemies, and of all "false traitors and untrue hearts," an expression dangerous and ominous 4.

The next important incident of this eventful year was the passage of Albany from France into England. That deluded, and desperate, prince was instigated probably by the artifices of Glocester, who desired such an example, to aspire to the Scotish crown, 11 June and to enter into a treaty with Edward IV, disgraceful to himself, and treasonable to his country. He uses the title, at once ambitious and degrading, of Alexander king of Scotland, by the gist of the English king: consents to pay homage, and to abandon some countries, and places on the south of Scotland, particularly Berwick: and disclaims the league with France. Edward agrees to assist Albany in reducing Scotland, and maintaining his royalty against James 5. In consequence of [Page 304]this treaty Albany joined the English army, which advanced, under the command of Glocester, against Berwick 6. The Scotish king assembled his array, and was upon his march to relieve that important place, when he was prevented by a revo­lution, which calls for a pause and an ample detail.

Though conscious of the discontents of the nobles and people, James persisted in his attachment to mean favourites. Among these Cochran was the chief. This architect, whose skill, dis­played in the erection of several edisices, might have been rewarded by employment, or by a pension, became the foun­tain of royal favour; and was elevated to a giddy and invidious height of power. The liberal presents of those who sued for his protection, and influence, soon constituted a wealth enor­mous for the person, the age, the country: and a part of this base opulence procured from the king's avarice the earldom of Mar, the fatal dignity of his murdered brother 7. This high [Page 305]honour, disgraceful to the infatuation of James and of his favourite, was followed by the utmost hatred, and scorn, of the nobility, and by the execrations of the people. But the new earl of Mar, unconscious that his extreme elevation was an infallible step to the deepest ruin, continued to abuse his power, and that of his sovereign, and to increase his wealth by every species of peculation. His oppression extended to all ranks of men. The nobles beheld the places, formerly given by the king to their sons, now sold to Mar's followers: the prelates, and dignitaries of the church, sighed at the increase of simony: even the daily pittance of the poor did not escape, for Cochran had debased the current silver, with a degree of alloy, which rendered it black money, a fraud which led to his ruin, and that of his master; and which has been erroneously confounded with the billon coinage, ordained by the parliament of 1466, which was intended for the benefit of the poor, and was continued in all the succeeding reigns. But this corruption of the money was peculiar to that of James III, and was such that the mer­chants, and farmers, rather chose to let the grain rot in their granaries, than to receive the price in such dubious metal: and the populace afterwards repeated with exultation the prophesy of Mar, who, when he was told that his coin would be recalled, answered, as an impossibility, "That day I shall be hanged." In short the whole honour and welfare of the king, and king­dom, were sacrificed on the domestic altar of this base, and covetous, minion 8.

Some of the peers had formerly assembled, and consulted upon the means of delivering the realm from the disgrace, and destruction, inflicted by Cochran, and the other royal favourites. [Page 306]A nobel deputation had even been sent to the king, requesting that he would dismiss these pernicious counsellors; and restore the confidence placed by his ancestors in the loyalty of the nobility. The answer of James was far from satisfactory; but the peers assented to delay; and dissembled till some decisive occasion should arise. An occasion now occurred, such as the Scotish nobles, to their singular disgrace, have been accustomed to seize, from the reign of the first to the termination of that of the fifth James. Instead of using the proper period of peace, the proper place of parliament, the day of war, and the camp, have afforded the ruinous scene of internal dissention; and the sacred interests and glory of their country have often been abandoned by the nobility, to gratify a just, or unjust resent­ment against their sovereign. But the fatal forms of a Scotish parliament, so well adapted to royal influence, the conception that it was a royal court, the incapacity of rude nobles to speak against an educated clergy, ever devoted to the king the source of their fleeting dignities, contribute greatly to absolve the nobles from this imputation; and it is matter of regret, rather than of surprise, that they always seized the only occasion when their power was collected and firm.

The Scotish array, amounting to about fifty thousands, had crouded to the royal banner at Burrough-muir near Edinburgh, July whence they marched to Soutray, and to Lauder, at which place they encamped between the church and the village 9. Cochran, earl of Mar, conducted the artillery; and his presence and pomp were additional insults. On the morning after their arrival at Larder, the peers assembled in a secret council, in the church, and deliberated upon their designs of revenge. The earls of Angus, Argyle, Huntley, Orkney or Caithness, [Page 307]Crawford, the lords Home, Fleming, Gray, Drummond, Hales, and Seton, are chiefly mentioned upon this occasion; and the discontent must have spread far when we find Evandale the chancellor, and some bishops united to the above names 1. In the course of the debate Gray took occasion to introduce an apologue: the mice consulted upon the means of deliverance from their tyrannic enemy the cat, and agreed that a bell should be suspended about her neck, to notify her approach and their danger; but what mouse had courage sufficient to fasten the bell? "I shall bell the cat," exclaimed the impatience of Angus, in whom a current of the blood of Douglas flowed; and the homely times conferred upon him the appellation of Archi­bald Bell the Cat. It was concluded that the king should be put in a gentle imprisonment, in the castle of Edinburgh: and that all his favourites should be instantly hanged over the bridge of Lauder.

Cochran, ignorant of their designs, at length left the royal presence to proceed to the council. This upstart earl was attended by three hundred men, armed with light battle-axes, and distinguished by his livery of white with black fillets. He was clothed in a riding cloak of black velvet, and wore a large chain of gold around his neck: his horn of the chase, or of battle, was adorned with gold and precious stones: and his helmet, overlaid with the same valuable metal, was born before him 2. Approaching the door of the church, he commanded an at­tendant to knock with authority; and Sir Robert Douglas of Lochleven, who guarded the passage, enquiring the name, was [Page 308]answered, "'Tis I, the earl of Mar," Cochran, and some of his friends, were admitted: Angus advanced to him, and pulling the golden chain from his neck, said "A rope will become thee better;" while Douglas of Lochleven seized his hunting horn, declaring that he had been too long a hunter of mischief. Rather astonished than alarmed, Cochran said, "My lords is it jest or earnest?" To which it was replied, "It is good earnest, and so thou abused our prince's favour; but no longer expect such advantage, for thou and thy followers shall now reap the deserved reward."

Having secured Mar, the lords dispatched some men at arms to the king's pavilion, conducted by two or three moderate and prudent leaders, who amused James while their followers seized the favourites. Sir William Roger the English musician, Preston a gentleman, Hommil, Torphichan, Leonard, and others, were instantly hanged over the bridge at Lauder. John Ramsay of Balmain, having clasped the king's person, was alone spared. Cochran was now brought out, his hands bound with a rope; and his weak pride desiring to exchange the ig­nominious bonds of a thief for the silken cords of his own pavilion, he was answered that he was a traitor and only found merited shame: he was conducted to the bridge, and hanged above his companions 3.

Such was the influence of the aristocracy over their warlike followers, that the king was conveyed to the castle of Edin­burgh, without commotion or murmur. Here he was served with respect: but was attended by some of the peers, to ob­serve his conduct, and prevent his escape, till he should give ample security not to revenge the death of his favourites; to [Page 309]which he shewed obstinate repugnance. Except this constraint, his will was unviolated, and the royal authority remained un­impaired 4.

Meanwhile the English army had acquired possession of the town of Berwick: and the generals, Glocester and Albany, learning that the Scotish army was disbanded, and the king imprisoned, left a party to conduct the siege of Berwick castle, and advanced with the main force to Endinburgh 5. Their subsequent conduct is not a little mysterious. The capture, or death, of James, and the coronation of Albany might have been expected from the English treaty: but the next authentic paper presents to us Albany suing for his pardon from James; and our early historians, ignorant of Albany's ambition, re­present him as the deliverer of his brother from the power of the nobles. If, with some writers, we believe that James was not imprisoned in the castle of Edinburgh, but chose that fortress as a secure retreat, the difficulty remains the same, or greater 6. Even records cannot atone for the want of con­temporary historians; and in such England and Scotland are at this period barren. That Edward IV and Albany were sincere in their agreement appears from its renewal in the following year; which also instructs us that Angus and Gray were then, if not before, engaged in the treasonable ambition of Albany. Hence almost the only rational view which pre­sents itself is, that Albany, finding a great majority of the nobles, and the popular voice, completely adverse to his unna­tural and base schemes 7, was forced to temporize, and accept [Page 310]a pardon, and the restoration of his estates; in the hopes that his presence, and influence, might strengthen his pretensions before their open declaration. The acquisition of Berwick would afford a prize sufficient to satisfy Glocester; who might judge, from personal knowledge, that a delay was more expe­dient than the perdition of the scheme by precipitation.

The English army amounted only to about sixteen thousand; and the materials for a siege had been left before Berwick; hence the capture of the castle of Edinburgh, and of James, could hardly be attempted by so few battalions, liable soon to be surrounded or intercepted by a superior force. A Scotish army was actually assembling at Haddington, under the com­mand of several patriotic peers; and even the courage of Glocester might tremble at the prospect of a battle, without the possibility of a retreat 8. An historian informs us that those peers prevailed on Albany to pass to their party, upon an offer of appointing him lieutenant general of the king­dom 9; a rank tempting to his ambition, for he might, with greater certainty, aspire to the crown by Scotish, than by English, aid. However this be, after a brief negotiation, Shevis, the archbishop of St. Andrews, Livington the bishop of Dunkeld, lord Evandale the chancellor, and the earl of Argyle, all rather eminent in attachment to James, entered into a solemn engagement with Albany, 2 Aug. that if he preserved his duty to the king, and the terms of his bond to them, and other Scotish lords, his lands and offices should be restored, and he and his followers receive an amnesty: they also engaged [Page 311]that the king should ratify the treaty in the next parliament 1. And a truce with England being necessary, in the distracted state of the kingdom, Berwick was yielded, after having re­mained for twenty one years in the Scotish possession, to which it was not to return; and the provost and merchants of Edin­burgh engaged to repay the sums advanced for Cecilia's por­tion, if Edward refused to complete the marriage; which resolution being notified, two months after, the money was repaid 2.

The other embroiled transactions of this year are, the pass­port of Edward to Margaret the sister of James, 22 Aug. whose mar­riage with lord Rivers, the brother of Edward's queen, appears to have been frustrated by the enmity, and intrigues, of Glo­cester, or by the machinations of the Scotish court, for it does not appear that the lady proceeded to England 3: a safe conduct to James, who again wished to visit the shrine of St. John at Amiens 4, 23 Nov. probably induced both now and before by the arts of Albany, to whom his absence might have been advanta­geous: and a fruitless commission of Edward IV, to renew, and conclude, the negotiation for the marriage of Rivers and Margaret 5. Dec. But from the passport to James, and the parlia­ment held at Edinburgh 6, 11 Dec. it appears that the captivity of the king was terminated.

[Page 312]According to the unanimous report of our historians, this deliverance was effected by Albany, and probably in the end of September. They narrate that James being still retained in the castle of Edinburgh, under the care of Athole his uncle, the administration was conducted by Albany, Evandale the chancellor, and Shevis archbishop of St. Andrews; that Al­bany passing to visit the queen Margaret of Denmark, and the prince her son, at Sterling, was instigated by her to deliver the king; which he effected after a siege of some duration, upon which Argyle, Shevis, and the chancellor, fled in consternation to their respective places of abode. Albany hence acquired so much favour from his royal brother, that they shared one bed and one table 7.

[Page 313]The parliament of December appears to have been wholly influenced by Albany; 1483 but that prince's unbounded ambition, and avarice, speedily disgusted most of the peers; and James was little satisfied with the power of his brother, of whom he had every cause to entertain the utmost jealousy 8. Finding upon what a precarious foundation his authority rested, per­ceiving the renewed strength of the loyal party, early in the following year Albany appointed Angus, Gray, and Sir James Liddel, 12 Jan. his commissioners to Edward IV, to strengthen the former treasonable treaty 9: 11 Feb. and soon after that infamous agreement was repeated, and enlarged. It appears that Al­bany managed the public affairs, for it is agreed that a year's truce shall be observed: the homage and dereliction of some provinces are left in silence, but Albany engages to assist Ed­ward against France, and to wed one of his daughters 1: the exiled earl of Douglas is to resume possession of his lands, as far as settled in an agreement made between him and Angus: and Edward engages to send Glocester and Northumberland, [Page 314]with succours, to assist the duke in conquering Scotland 2. But the death of Edward IV, 9 Apr. in the prime of life, terminated these schemes of unjust ambition: and Glocester, who upon the murder of his two nephews seized the English sceptre, 22 June and the title of Richard III, found sufficient occupation in settling domestic discord.

The violence, and imprudence of Albany's conduct soon exceeding the bounds of mere suspicion, and his views evi­dently tending to the disgrace and destruction of the kingdom, the nobles had resumed their loyalty, and the king was restored to his free and full power. Albany, understanding that his designs were discovered, or conscious of guilt, retired into England 3, leaving his castle of Dunbar in the hands of an English garrison. His forfeiture followed; but while the treason of Angus, Gray, and others, remained unknown, a similar penalty was imposed on lord Crichton, who had also garrisoned his castle of Crichton and escaped 4. If Buchanan be believed, a private pique of James gave occasion to the condemnation of this peer: for the king having seduced Crichton's wife, he, in revenge, found means to win the love of Margaret, the sister of James, by whom he had a daughter named Margaret Crichton, who died not long before our great historian composed his work. Nay, according to that hater of kings, before this adultery of Margaret, she had lost her [Page 315]virginity in the incestuous embraces of her royal brother 5. The reader may assent, or disbelieve, according to the weight of the evidence: but Buchanan deserves more implicit credit in the information that Crichton was restored, a short time before the death of James, in order that, his former wife now being dead, he might compensate the dishonour of the princess by marrying her; but Crichton dying soon after, this alliance produced no other progeny 6.

A parliament was held at Edinburgh, 1484 24 Feb. which proceeded to settle the disorders of the kingdom 7. The expiration of the [Page 316]truce, the retreat of Albany into England, the hostile views of Richard III, conspired to render war apparently so inevit­able, that the parliament ordered all the subjects fit for arms to be ready, upon a warming of eight days, to march with provisions for twenty days, in defence of the realm against its English foes. In order to appease the discords of the barons, that they may proceed in concord against the enemy, the king is advised to call them into his presence, and conciliate their differences; while those of less eminent station are to submit their feuds to the administrators of justice, so that internal peace, and obedience to the royal authority, may be restored. The strict execution of justice is enforced, "that the realm may be brought to good rule." Some regulations are issued for the artisans in gold, or rather in silver 8: and, after some institutions concerning the coin, the new placks, or large pieces of base metal, the real black money which gave such just of­fence, are called in; a measure long due to an oppressed people.

Charles VIII having acquired the active sovereignty of France, March at the early age of fourteen, sent Bernard Stuart lord of Aubigny, and an inferior ambassador, to Scotland, to an­nounce the new reign, and ratify the alliance: and James in return sent an embassy to France, July to obtain the ratification of Charles 9. Meanwhile, though Richard III had increased the [Page 317]pension paid to the exiled earl of Douglas, the state of his affairs did not permit him to assist that earl, or Albany, in the invasion of Scotland. In their impatience, these two leaders collected a troop of five hundred horse, and some infantry, hoping that their friends and followers would soon swell their array; and with this view advanced to Lochmaben, during a fair. 22 July But the influence of Douglas was forgotten, even by his former vassals; and that of Albany was despised: the neighbouring gentlemen collecting some hasty bands, the occasion furnished numbers, fury arms; and after a conflict, or rather affray, which lasted from noon till night, the last Douglas remained the ignominious captive of a vulgar hand, while Albany found his safety in the swiftness of his horse. Douglas, now old and unwieldy, was conveyed to the royal presence; but, either from shame or scorn, turned his back on the son of James II, the destroyer of his house: a ray of pity illuminated the des­potic mind of the king, who had now himself tasted misfor­tune: he sentenced the years and infirmities of Douglas, who had been educated to the church, to the religious retirement of Lindoris abbey, while the earl's indifference muttered, "he who may no better be, must be a monk." In this retreat Douglas perhaps first knew happiness; and died after four years of penitence and peace 1

[Page 318]Albany, having lost all hopes of Richard's assistance, retired into France; where he wedded, in his second nuptials, the daughter of the earl of Boulogne, by whom he had a son John, afterwards duke of Albany, and regent of Scotland during the minority of James V. The father, after residing in France for some years, was accidentally slain in a tournament by the splinter of a spear; leaving a fame fatal to his title, unnatural ambition, and the want of fraternal affection 2.

[Page 319]The embarrassments of Richard and James rendering the continuance of war ineligible to both, a treaty was opened; and, after a short negotiation, concluded at Nottingham 3. To strengthen the pacification, 21 Sept. it was agreed that James duke of Rothsay, heir of the Scotish throne, now in his twelfth year, should wed Anne de la Pole, only daughter of the duke of Suffolk, and niece of the English king 4: but this marriage was defeated by the death of Richard. In the mean time the truce was only established for three years, upon the grounds of present possession, except with regard to the castle of Dunbar, still garrisoned by the English; and which, by a singular clause, the Scotish king was allowed to recover by force, after six months had elapsed, and upon a warning of six weeks given to Richard 5: a mode probably intended to preserve measures between Richard and Albany. The powers comprehended are, on the part of England, Castile and Leon, Arragon, Portugal, Austria, Burgundy, Bretagne; on that of Scotland, France, Denmark, Gelder, Bretagne: and by an usual, but unaccountable article, except of mere form, the lordship of Lorn in Scotland, and the isle of Lundy in the river Severn, are excepted from the truce 6.

In a succeeding national council, 1485 4 Feb. the renewal of the French league, and the English truce, were solemnly approved; an [Page 320]embassy was ordered to be sent to York, at the expence of the clergy, barons, and burghs, in order to complete the marriage treaty 7. As the truce permitted the capture of Dunbar, the parliament advises the king to proceed against that fortress, on the first day of May; and the right of peace and war again dubiously appears, in the particular directions given by the legislature. An embassy is also appointed to the pope, to ob­tain his confirmation of the French alliance, and of the treaty with Denmark concerning the Orkneys and Shetland; and this embassy Shevez, the archbishop of St. Andrews, offers to un­dertake at his own expence; a singularity, which like the ex­penditure of the commission to England, betrays great penury of royal revenue. A further solicitation was to be moved to the pontiff, that he would grant to the Scotish kings a power of superseding, for six months, the dispensations to vacant bishoprics; that they might have time to advance the promo­tion of such as they could trust, the bishops having the first vote in parliament, and being of the privy council. Another pru­dent statute, but attended with little success, occurs for the encouragement of the herring fishery in the western sea 8. Symptoms of discontent disturb the national laws: some friends of Albany, or some foes to the weak government of James, are recommended to the royal blame: regulations for the ad­ministration of justice are repeated, and respites are reprobated as more iniquitous than pardons: the abettors of Albany's crimes are pointed out, as the objects of peculiar prosecution: and the king obliges himself to grant no respite, nor pardon, to notorious offenders for the space of two years; an engage­ment perhaps prohibitory of weak lenity, perhaps of avarice.

[Page 321]If the castle of Dunbar as besieged, it was without success 9. Richard III, far from opposing the enterprize, was occupied in counteracting the designs of the earl of Richmond; who soon after landed in England, and sealed his title to the crown in the blood of the usurper; 22 Aug. while Henry VII was hailed by the acclamations of his victorious troops 1.

Meanwhile James had insensibly relapsed into his former impolitical conduct. Immersed in mean pleasures, and trivial pursuits, he neglected the reins of government, which were alternately relaxed, or restrained with too much violence 2. Lost in the retirement of his palace at Stirling, his chief cares were occupied in architecture and music, at best but laudable amusements. Had not the prosperity of the monarchy been neglected, public praise might have attended the erection of the great hall in the castle of Stirling, and that of the adjacent splendid chapel, in which a dean and a double series of chanters and musicians were appointed, that the royal ear might never [Page 322]want the luxury of sound 3. But the most exquisite harmony of a king ought to be the voice of a happy people; and to this James was a stranger. Even his munificence arose upon dis­content: the priory of Coldingham, which the Humes regarded as their patrimony, was now annexed to the royal chapel of Stirling 4. The weak obstinacy of James was ignorant that there are barriers, and prejudices, which even eastern despo­tism dares not to infringe. Thinking that the spirit of the nobility was fled with Albany, the monarch issued a mandate that the nobles should no longer wear arms, as before, within the precincts of the court 5: to add to the disgrace, Ramsay, the favourite who had escaped, and who had been recently created lord Bothwell, was excepted, as captain of the royal guard, and institution which apparently originated in the pre­ceding reign 6. The attachment of the Scotish monarch to England, and to English favourites, which had commenced in his youth, and had suffered little interruption from a short and unwilling war, was viewed with disgust by the prejudices of the people 7. The peers even accused him of an intention to [Page 323]enslave the nation by English guards and armies: Angus, Argyle, Lennox, the lords Home, Hales, Drummond, Lyle, Gray, confederated together, again to imprison the king, and to appoint the prince regent; but this design was delayed, till a further occasion should be presented by the increasing weak­ness of the government 8.

In the midst of winter James advanced, 1486 and at length dis­possessed the English garrison at Dunbar 9; but Henry VII, disposed to peace by inclination and by policy, named the bishops of Worcester and Lincoln, and other commissioners, to meet William Elphinston the learned bishop of Aberdeen, lord Bothwell, and others, on the part of Scotland: and a truce of three years was concluded, 3 July the former being held as annihilated by the usurpation, and death, of Richard III. James was either ignorant of the perfidy of Angus, or con­strained to conceal his knowledge; for the traitorous friend of Albany is named as one of the conservators of the truce 1.

Margaret of Denmark, 1487 the amiable and respected queen of James III, died, in the middle period of life: the silence of our early and barren historians, concerning her interference [Page 324]in politics, may be interpreted in her praise; but their neglect to mention the epoch, and manner, of her death, redounds not to their fame 2. To the character of her virtues and ac­complishments, formerly given, it is unnecessary here to add; but it may be suspected that the fate of James, soon to follow, had been somewhat protracted by the birth and connections, by the merits, and by the counsels, of the daughter of Denmark.

The last parliament during the reign of James III being Assembled 3, 1 Oct. the king solemnly engaged to contribute to the protection of the common people 4, harrassed by the wanton cruelty of the great families, and that of the public peace in general, by granting no pardon, for the space of seven years, to any persons guilty of treason, murder, setting fire to houses, rape, robbery, theft, or forging the coin. He also consented to several statutes, especially proposed by the commissioners of the burghs, importing, among less matters, that merchants engaged in foreign trade should have a certain property, and respectable character; that no craftsmen should engage in fo­reign trade; that the magistrates of burghs should be chosen [Page 325]as specified in a former act 5; that some commissioners of the burghs should meet once a year at Innerkeithing, to deliberate concerning commerce, and the interests of their towns. These transactions were popular; and the states express much satis­faction that the sovereign has so benignly granted to them all their desires and requests: but whether James really saw his errors, and resolved to cultivate a new mode of government, or those apparent concessions were extorted by his sense of dis­content, and apprehensions of a dangerous conspiracy, must be left in doubt. However this be, the lords spiritual and tem­poral, barons, freeholders, and commons, engaged, on their part, that they should not support the cause of their criminal friends, or relations, by appearing with armed followers; a practice frequent in this and the following century, and which leads to the best interpretation of this statute: they moreover engage to contribute their assistance to the exact administration of justice. Several ordinances follow, strongly indicative of the height of feudal anarchy, the violence of the great, and the oppression of the poor: the feeble voice of the law appears to have been drowned in the public tumult, and civil order seems to have endured a violent relapse since the death of the first James: the blame can hardly be ascribed to external vio­lence, time, or fortune; and while candour confesses the bar­barism of the period, and country, it must at the same time allow that the relaxation of government by the royal neglect, and the sale of justice by the royal favourites, conspired to con­stitute [Page 326]the worst of tyrannies, upon which a complete satire is authentically conveyed in the national decrees. Such was the increase of crimes, that Justices General are appointed for the division north and south of the Forth, to hold courts in every part of the realm with all expedition, supported by their own power, and what aid the king could spare, in order to bring transgressors to punishment, and to rescue the royal authority from contempt.

In this parliament the lands of March and Annandale, which had fallen to the crown by the forfeiture of Alexander duke of Albany, earl of March, Mar, and Garioch, lord of Annandale and of the isle of Man 6, are annexed to the regal domains; by a solemn deed, authenticated by the seals of the bishops, abbots, priors, earls, lords, barons, freeholders, and commis­sioners of burghs. A statute appears for the encouragement of strangers, who import provisions, and other merchandize: and another, appointing four persons from each of the three estates, to revise the ancient laws.

The transactions of this year are closed by a singular inden­ture, 27 Nov. subscribed at Edinburgh by the Carlile herald for England, and Snawdon herald for Scotland 7, importing that the bishop of Exeter, and sir Richard Edgecomb, the English embas­sadors, had agreed with the bishop of Aberdeen, and lord Bothwell, commissioners on the part of Scotland, in the follow­ing manner: that, to establish a lasting peace, three marriage [Page 327]should be negotiated; between James, and Elizabeth widow of Edward IV; the duke of Rothsay, and a daughter of Edward; the marquis of Ormond second son of James, and Catharine the third daughter of the same English sovereign: and that to con­clude these contracts, and to terminate the controversy con­cerning Berwick, which the Scotish king ardently desired to regain, a congress should be held at Edinburgh on the twenty-fourth day of January next, another in May, and an interview between the kings in July 8. This treaty evinces the strong desire of Henry VII to secure the amity of Scotland; and at same time the attachment of James to the English, laudable in itself, and concordant with the best interests of his kingdom; but impolitic, considering the period, and national prejudices.

The final events of the reign of James III approach, 1488 in­teresting from their novelty, and magnitude. A gradual con­federacy of many nobles had long been forming against the feeble and despotic government of this monarch; but amid materials not eminent in opulence, or accuracy, amid the various interests and political views of modern writers, it is difficult to ascertain the different actors in this important scene. There is no evidence that the congress, appointed to be held by the commissioners of England and Scotland in January, took effect; and it even seems that the caprice of the Scotish king, May or some other cause, had alienated Henry, who granted a safe-conduct, in terms rather unusual, to the bishops of Glasgow and Dunkeld, the earl of Argyle chancellor of Scot­land, the lords Hales and Lyle, the masters, or heirs of Darnley and Home, with one hundred and sixty attendants 9; not as [Page 328]embassadors, but for causes unknown, and the more extraor­dinary as some of them undoubtedly belonged to the conspiracy, and a rational suspicion must affect the others. On all sides it is agreed that the former traitors, Angus and Gray, united to them Home, justly enraged at a despotic violation of private property; the first and the last nobleman being the chief authors of the rebellion. The power of the Hepburns was led into it by lord Hales; and the treason of the lords Drummond, and Lyle, is equally unquestionable. Darnley, or Lennox, is ob­noxious to the same charge, from the strong testimony of the earliest narration, and from the mention of his son in the English passport; which fixes a stain on Argyle, the less easily to be overcome, as he also appears in the most ancient account. When it is added that to these great names afterwards acceded Huntley, Errol, the earl Marshal, and lord Glamis, the impolicy of James, which could alienate so many chiefs, must appear in a striking point of view; and the rebellious war of Douglas, in the preceding reign, sinks into unimportance, when compared with this grand confederacy 1. On the part of the king re­mained [Page 329]the earls of Crawford, Athole, Monteith, Rothes, Sutherland, Caithness, Buchan, the lords Forbes, Lovat, Erskine, Maxwell, Ruthven, Kilmauris 2, and Boyd. The causes of the conspiracy have already arisen to view, in the course of the narration: the open pretext was that James had introduced Englishmen into the kingdom, with a design to subdue it to his own absolute power, and to foreign influence 3: the pro­fessed intention, to dethrone, and imprison James; and assign the royalty, or regency, to his son.

[Page 330]Of the events which preceded the decisive engagement, Buchanan has, contrary to his usual practice, given the most ample and accurate detail, and the most concordant with the original records. According to that historian, James shewed distinguished favour to Crawford, whom he afterwards created duke of Montrose; and to Angus, whose conduct at Lauder, and attachment to Albany, he affected to forget. But the king's dissimulation and insincerity being known, Angus regarded this new affection as only the snare of his own destruction, and even suspected that his powerful concurrence was courted against the peers, with a view to sow division and ruin, afterwards to recoil upon his own head. It is asserted that the factious nobles being assembled at Edinburgh, Jan. the king invited Angus to the castle, and proposed to him to lend his assistance in making them prisoners. Instead of compliance, the earl disclosed the design to the peers, and joined them in their retreat 4.

In consequence of this most imprudent confidence, after the desertion of Angus, the chief potentate on the south of the Forth, who could have assisted him against the rebellious in­clinations of the remainder, James distrusting the whole of that region, resolved to pass into the north, which remained devoted to his interests. With his usual imprudence he crossed the Forth in one of sir Andrew Wood's vessels, employed in the Flemish trade. A report immediately spread that the king, [Page 331]overcome by his fears, had quitted the realm to retire into Flanders; and amid the general consternation the rebels took the castle of Dunbar, and advanced to Leith. Having issued order to the array of Fife, Strathern, and Angus, to attend his standard upon an appointed day, James proceeded to Aberdeen, where the northern counties eagerly poured forth their bands in defence of the royal cause 5.

The king now returned to Perth with his standard displayed, and followed by Athole his uncle, by Huntley, Crawford, and many northern peers and chiefs, and by a numerous army. As he advanced David Lindsay of the Byres, who had gathered warlike experience in the campaigns of France, joined him with a thousand horse, and three thousand infantry, if we credit the, perhaps, partial relation of Lindsay the historian; who adds, that the king accepted from his hands the ominous present of a grey courser, more fit as would seem for flight than for attack. Among others who furnished their array, lord Ruthven was also remarkable, who led a thousand gentlemen on horse­back, provided with defensive armour and spears, a thousand bowmen, and a thousand armed with swords and mail. When James had reached Stirling, he was followed by thirty thousand men, who only wanted a leader 6.

Thus prepared he advanced against the rebels, who had not been deficient in their preparations. April? He found them near Blackness, on the south of the Forth; and an indecisive skir­mish followed, in which Crawford, sir Thomas Turnbull, who [Page 332]bore the royal banner, and Innes of Innes, eminently distin­guished their valour. But both parties being sensible of the odiousness of shedding civil blood, and dreading the absolute decision of the contest, a negotiation commenced; the king subscribed some unknown articles, and delivered Athole to Hales as a pledge of their accomplishment. The armies were dismissed, and tranquillity was for a very short time restored 7. Thus did the timidity of James lose an occasion never to be recalled.

The demands of the rebels appear to have been exorbitant; and James eluding or delaying their accomplishment, the con­federates gradually extended their influence, and projects, till at length they insisted on the king's abdication, and the substi­tution of his son in the regency, or on the throne 8.

The monarch learning this formidable design dispatched envoys to France, and England, to solicit the immediate inter­ference of these powers, by embassadors to mediate between him and the discontented aristocracy: but this mediation, if effected, was fruitless 9. The royal heralds, sent to summon the refractory peers, were treated with contempt and personal [Page 333]injury; and their written mandates torn in derision. Both parties again prepared to terminate the dispute in the field. James fortified the castle of Edinburgh, May where the treasure ac­cumulated by the unwise avarice of many years was placed; and again sent to summon the northern chiefs to his standard.

Meanwhile the conspiring peers found means to corrupt Shaw of Sauchy, in whose charge the prince had been left at Stirling; and the infamous governor surrendered the innocent youth, who was conducted to Linlithgow, and by constraint was to appear guilty of a father's blood. It was artfully pro­claimed that James sought the life of his son, whose defence had called the peers to war; and the prince's name was itself an army. A part of the king's treasure, which had formerly been seized at Leith, contributed to provide waggons for baggage and stores, and to attract the desperate and the mer­cenary 1.

James proceeded to Stirling, to join the peers of the north and west, who were advancing with their troops. On his arrival the treacherous governor denied him admittance. In the north, Huntley, Errol, the earl Marshal, and Glamis, had now deserted the royal cause; and the junction of such distant troops as continued their attachment was attended with ne­cessary delay. In the impatience of irresolution James was led to commit his fortunes to a battle. Glencairn, and other peers of the west, having joined the royal army, the king advanced to meet the rebels, who had passed the Carron; and a field, about a mile south of the famous scene of Bannocburn, was to [Page 334]be the spot of this civil conslict 2. The army of the peers was apparently superior in number to the royal battalions: 18 June but the cowardice, and instantaneous flight, of the king terminated the action, with small effusion of blood. It was in vain to defend a cause thus betrayed by its patron; and the adverse ranks shrunk from the horrors of mutual slaughter. Yet a few showers of arrows had darkened the air, and the long spears of Annandale had made an impression on his array, before James left the field: Glencairn, Ruthven, Erskine, and a few others of rank, were slain; and many were wounded 3.

As the king, in his slight, was about to pass the rivulet Ban­nocburn, at the hamlet of Miltown 4, a woman, who was drawing water, alarmed at his appearance, and rapidity, fled, and left her pitcher, which startled the steed, or disordered his career, so that the unexperienced rider fell from the saddle, and oppressed with the weight of his armour fainted away. A miller and his wife conveyed their unknown sovereign into a corner of the mill; and, to conceal the stranger from any pur­suers, they covered him with a cloth. Some time after he re­sumed his senses; but perceiving himself much hurt, and very weak, he called for a priest to hear his confession: and to his blunt hosts, who enquired his name and quality, his impatience answered, "I was your king this morning." The woman upon this ran into the road, wringing her hands, and calling aloud for a priest to the king. It so chanced that some of the rebels were in the neighbourhood, engaged in disorderly pursuit; and a priest, one of lord Gray's followers as is said, riding up, ex­claimed, [Page 335]"I am a priest, where is the king?" Being conducted to the place, he knew his sovereign; and kneeling enquired if he thought he might survive, by the help of surgery, to which James answered, "I believe that I might; but let me have a priest to hear my confession, and to bring me the eucharist." The priest, it is averred, heard his confession; and then stabbed the unfortunate monarch: whose weakness deserved a milder fate than to fall the victim of a lawless aristocracy, more inimical to public order, and prosperity, than the feeble despotism of their sovereign5.

On this important event some reflections naturally arise. Had James been victorious, the power of the Scotish aristo­cracy might have been crushed for ever; and, weak and des­potic as he was, it would have been better for the people to have had one tyrant than many. But this monarch, (if we set the dubious murder of his brother aside,) was more weak than vicious; and even when his feebleness and impolicy are men­tioned, it is rather in a relative than in a positive view, for his conduct was chiefly blameable, because ill-adapted to the fero­cious times and people, which required, in the character of sovereign, the duties of a magistrate, and the valour and skill of a general. Had James lived a century or two later, his faults would perhaps have escaped observation. But the conduct of the rebellious peers, whose sanguinary lust of power, and eager­ness to continue their lawless rapine, opposed the son in open combat against his father, that last infamy of civil war, cannot be too severely reprobated. They excite horror, while the monarch attracts a reverential compassion. Loyalty, in some cases only the virtue of a slave, is in many the truest patriotism; [Page 336]and it is no wonder that men of eminent sense and integrity have manifested an attachment to the house of Stuart, ap­proaching even to enthusiasm. For its interests, in opposition to those of that wild, ignorant, and ferocious aristocracy, which long continued to disgrace Scotland, were those of the country at large. The exuberant power of the peers, ever eager to gratify their private ambition at the expence of the nation, was the sole spring of the noted misfortunes of the house of Stuart. A long reign6, a stable government, would have circumscribed their ruinous sway, would have prevented their plans of public plunder; and they sighed for a minority, a regency, the peculiar season of their arrogance, of their spoil. The regency of Robert duke of Albany had taught them the sweets of sharing the royal power, domains, and revenue; and had contributed to the separation of their interests from those of the monarch, whose influence rested on their support, and whose limited wealth and authority could little withstand their continued encroachments. Yet by uncandid or superficial observers, the desire of our kings to resume their just magi­stracy, and to enforce equal laws, has been interpreted as a design to overturn the aristocracy, while the royal measures were solely those of defence. But as the peers really possessed the chief power, it is no wonder that historians living at the period, flattered, as usual, the leading authority; and have dif­fused over their pages calumnies against their sovereigns, easy to form and difficult to eradicate. In England, and in France, the fall of the aristocracy about this time was occasioned by [Page 337]chance, by the revolution of human affairs; in the former country by the wars of York and Lancaster, in which most of the ancient noble families perished; in the latter by a similar destruction in the struggles against England: no power of the sovereign could have effectuated so vast a plan, even in those more civilized countries: and to impute such a design to the successive princes of the house of Stuart, seems the excess of system and theory, the bane of historical veracity.

James III fell the victim of the ambition of others, and not of his own. He had held the sceptre nearly twenty-eight years, though his age amounted not to thirty-six. His issue were James his heir; a second James marquis of Ormond, and afterwards duke of Ross, and archbishop of St. Andrews; John earl of Mar. No female progeny survived to represent the graces, or mild virtues, of their mother7.

BOOK IX. A RETROSPECT OF THE STATE OF SCOTLAND, DURING THE REIGNS OF JAMES II, AND III.

Sect. 1. State of the people, and of civilization—2. Government, laws, tactics—3. Agriculture, useful arts—4. Commerce, money, navigation—5. Ecclesiastic history, literature, language—6. Ornamental arts, manners, dress.

SECTION I. State of the people, and of civilization.

THE origin,1437—1488 and progress, of civilization seem more to depend on fortuitous circumstances, than upon any ex­ertion of human power, or wisdom. In India, and Egypt, countries distinguished by the first dawn of science, the natu­ral fertility of the soil redeemed much time from labour; and gave leisure to the mind to build speculations of knowledge and improvement, of art and luxury. Yet that much depends upon the ability of the governors, may be judged from the ex­ample of the lawgivers of antiquity, and of Peter the great, and others in modern times.

[Page 339]No theme can be more important than the means of diffu­sing civilization in a barbarous country, yet the richest libra­ries will be found to present no disquisition on this grand topic. Sir Walter Raleigh has observed that "the wisdom of one age is the foolishness of another;" and the remark is peculiarly verified in the labyrinths of fruitless science, while the paths of useful knowledge are seldom explored. Many eminent writers have recently reviewed the progress of society, from the forest to the city, from the feeble canoe to the wooden fortress which conveys a thousand mariners, and thunders its mandates in the most distant seas: but the sacred plans of im­proving whole nations, of educating the barbaric mind to in­dustry and peace, of speedily advancing a community from rudeness to refinement, have not yet attracted the attention which their high importance demands. The very theory would afford useful views, and expand political and moral knowledge: but leaving this vast theme to the sedulous labour of philosophy, the present object only warrants a few brief re­flections.

Amid the various questions concerning government, it has rarely been discussed to what particular stages of society the different forms are best adapted. One of the chief intentions of government, and society, is to advance the national wisdom and prosperity; and it seems a self-evident proposition that a democracy of savages, or barbarians, would be a mere anar­chy; and that equality of ignorance, and equality of misery, would be among the most sacred rights of its constitution. As the advantages of laws would be unknown, it would be vain to expect a lawgiver to arise; and the more sagacious could only consolidate the mass by the cement of some degrading superstition, in itself the very strongest obstacle to knowledge and improvement. But the habits of man forbid such a state [Page 340]to exist, except in theory; and an aristocracy of chiefs and of priests, of strength and of wisdom, is the earliest stage of so­ciety yet discovered in any country. Even here the smallness of the communities, their jarring interests, their continual conflicts, present an insuperable barrier to improvement; and such is the path of providence in drawing good from evil, that the first tyrant who overcomes all the others, and usurps the style of monarch, may be hailed as the father of his country. Superstition, the execration of civilized nations, is in this stage most useful, as uniting the people in one great body politic, and as assisting the imperfection of the laws. The blended tribes aspire to be a nation, the government assumes a stable form; the monarch must employ the most able men in the country, or invite foreign talents, to render his autho­rity lasting and respectable; and the court thus becomes a focus of civilization, which must enlarge the more rapidly in proportion to the ascendancy of the regal power. Uncivilized nations may be regarded as in a state of infancy, incapable of judging what is for their benefit; and exertions, even of des­potism, to render a nation more happy, may, it is believed, be pardoned by the warmest advocate for universal democracy.

Such have been the uniform steps of civilization, in all ancient and modern nations. The democracies of Greece had passed through the ordeal of monarchy: and if the republican form of government be ever found convenient and durable, in a large country, even after the invention of representation, it must be when the national character has been enlightened, and improved in a superlative degree.

No error can be more fatal to the balance of historical truth, than the estimation of ancient times by modern ideas. An institution, eminently useful at one period, may at another become most pernicious; and the bane of one epoch may be­come [Page 341]come the felicity of another. While in a barbaric country the regal power forms the chief engine of civilization and prospe­rity, and an ignorant aristocracy the grand obstacle to these important ends, in a more advanced period an enlightened aristocracy may diffuse multiplied rays through the national mass, and kindle the flame of industry and improvement in the most remote corners of a wide empire: may by their presence and example vanquish prejudices, irradicable by the laws or regal power, or by any democratic scheme, in which the people may assert their right to ignorance and fanaticism. In short, whatever form of government most promotes domestic comfort, and universal prosperity, during any particular pe­riod of the national progress, may be regarded as the most eligible, without attention to any universal theory, or predi­lection for particular constitutions. A barbarous common­wealth (if such ever existed without an aristocracy) could only become enlightened by the conquest of civilized states: Sparta, and Poland, loudly proclaim the disadvantages of an ignorant aristocracy, destructive of all art, science, and national ad­vancement: that despotism is the worst of all forms for a civi­lized people, the desolated regions of the east murmur with a melancholy echo.

The state of Scotland continues to present a considerable degree of barbarism during the reigns of James II and III. The laudable efforts of the first James, to introduce public order, were followed by fatal minorities, and confusions; and the aristocratic storms again ruined the welfare of the commu­nity. In impressive language Bowar, who flourished in the minority of James II, bewails the misery of his country. "Long appears to us, O king, the time of thy arrival at majority, when thou mayest be able to deliver us, confounded as we are with daily tyranny, oppressed with rapine and spoil; [Page 342]when thou mayest dictate laws, and exercise justice, that the poor, who among us have no helper but God and thee, may be freed from the hand of the powerful. Mayest thou remem­ber that thou art a legistator in order that thou mayest crush the robber, and restrain those who deal in rapine." "The groans of the humble, and the miseries of the poor, whom I myself, who write this, have seen this very day, in my own neighbourhood, stripped of their garments, and inhumanely despoiled of their domestic utensils, constrain me to exclaim with him who says, 'I have seen the injuries which are done, the tears of the innocent, and no comforter; and that the destitute cannot resist violence. I have praised the dead more than the living: and happier than both have I esteemed the unborn, the sole strangers to the evils of this world.' And in another passage, comparing the reign of James I with his own times, "Woe to us miserable wretches, exposed to rapine and injury, how can we endure to live, who enjoyed such prospe­rity in the days of that most illustrious king, and now by a sad change of fortune experience the complete reverse1!"

It is remarkable that this contemporary author clearly indi­cates the monarch as the legislator, a circumstance which con­firms the idea formerly advanced that the king and his council prepared the laws, which afterwards received the sanction of parliament. Nor did James II fail in the hopes which Bowar entertained; for numerous are his laws calculated for the ad­vantage of the poor. The preceding pages present the more memorable ordinances, but a brief recapitulation may not be improper. The strict observation of universal internal peace, with the privilege of demanding a surety from the turbulent; the equal administration of justice; the punishment of those [Page 343]who assist infringers of the law: the security of leases, for the safety "of the poor people who labour the ground," whatever change lords might happen: the privilege to farmers of church lands, not to be expelled on a vacancy of the benefice: the severe decrees against despoliation2. A singular act merits transcription; "It is statute and ordained, for the away-putting of sornars, over-lyars, and masterful beggars, with horse, hounds, or other goods, that all officers, sheriffs, barons, al­dermen, baillies, as well within the burgh as without, take an inquisition at every court which they hold concerning these matters: and if any such persons be found, that their horses, hounds, or other goods, be escheated to the king; and their persons secured till his will be known. And also that the sheriffs, baillies, and officers, inquire at every court, if there be any pretended fools, bards, or other such like vagabonds; and if any be found, that they be put in custody, or in irons, for their trespass, as long as they have wherewith to live, and when they have not, their ear to be nailed to the trone, or a tree, then cut off, and they banished the country; to which if they return, they shall be hanged3." This forcible lodging of some of the pretended great, and idle, upon the poor, was a notable grievance; and they are deservedly placed with con­tempt in the same statute which condemns pretended fools, and highland bards. By another statute these sornars are punished with death. The country, though long since de­livered from such oppressive lodgers, still classes sturdy beggars among its grievances4.

[Page 344]This prince also regulated the customs exacted at fairs, but apparently not with a sufficient liberality to trade. James III justly extended the prohibition, and forbad any exaction from the poor who carried their little articles to the fairs5. Jean Bonhomme has, in all ages, left a great part of his fleece, either on the brambles of aristocratic oppression, or shorn by the polished scizzars of taxation, often only a circuitous mode of oligarchic avarice and extortion. The regulation of the hospitals for the sickly poor, and other statutes of humane im­port, confer honour on the intentions of the legislature.

James III ordered copper coin to be issued, for the conveni­ence of the indigent; that on account of the holidays "and divine service," no distress for rent should take place, till three days after Whitsunday and Martinmas: that the proprietors of ferry-boats be restricted to certain freights: that persons ad­vancing to the army refrain from injuring grass, or corn6.

Of the laws concerning the burroughs, passed in these two reigns, some account has already been given in the historical narrative. The municipal authority became an oligarchy in the reign of James III, on pretence "that great contention had arisen, through the multitude and clamour of common simple persons7:" and this form was unhappily to continue, because a few are more easily influenced by government, than a great number. But it is surely the genuine interest of a government to stand upon as wide a basis as possible: and for the fake of a few to render a number discontented, cannot be an act of political prudence.

Edinburgh is, at this period, by an English contemporary historian styled a very rich town8. The city and barony of [Page 345]Glasgow were, in 1450, granted to the bishop, and his suc­cessors, blanch for a red rose: and archbishop Beton was to date "from my city of Glasgow9." But the prosperity of the latter city was to commence during the usurpation of Corm­well.

A poem written in the latter part of the reign of James III, or beginning of that of James IV, presents curious intelligence concerning the manners of the citizens1. A question is pro­posed, Why the wealth of burgesses commonly expires with their immediate heirs? The reasons assigned are, that their fathers begin in rigid poverty, "with good luck, and a half­penny, and a lamb's skin;" then proceed to the situation of a pedler, who, when his pack becomes worth forty Scotish pounds, buys a large horse, then a cart. The next stage is a shop in town; with a counter, chests, and Flemish coffers. He becomes a merchant, and goes to sea with exports and imports; marries a rich wise; his cupboard of plate is worth three thousand pounds; his gowns and other garments are gay, silk on sundays, green or grey cloth at other times; while his wife is arrayed in scarlet. He dies; and his heir succeeds to opulence unacquired by labour. The son is nurtured in lux­ury, wears rich rings, and is disgusted to hear that his father sold sheep-skins: keeps many servants, spends his time in the tavern, or playing at hazard; till sinking into penury, he be­come the follower of some lord's son at court.

[Page 346]In the same poem the maladministration of justice is repeat­edly mentioned, as a chief cause of the oppression of the poor. The coroners, the justices, the serjands or mairs, derived their impious emoluments by extortion, on various pretexts, from the more thriving yeomen, till they reduced them to poverty, or forced them to leave their jurisdictions, when their successors suffered the same fate. Bribes alone could secure an audience; an honest farmer would be accused of theft, or rapine; and the fine imposed was measured by the prosperity of his in­dustry2. The very laws intended for the protection of the poor were converted into instruments of their oppression; while the repeated statutes for the due administration of justice were eluded during the regal sway, and fell asleep during a minority. Even so late as Mary's reign, the balance of justice was com­monly used in weighing which bribe was heaviest. It was re­served for England to set the first example to the world, of complete and impartial justice, one of the chief blessings of civilized society: and though the expence of the law be great, that of a potent bribe might far exceed it, while equality of wealth could alone secure an equitable decision.

The Burgundian historian, in describing the marriage of Mary of Gelder, mentions the manners and dress of the com­mon people as very rude. "There are even," says he, "many among them who seem to be altogether savages3." The con­trast between a polished Burgundian, of the most splendid court in Europe at the time, and a Scotish highlander, must indeed have been striking.

Of this barbarism the want of education was a chief source; a defect which Scotland has since supplied, in a most laudable [Page 347]manner, by innumerable schools, where the mind may be cultivated at an expence accessible by the most indigent. It is only to be regretted that so little attention is paid to the salaries of the humble teachers; who, while their income ought not to raise them above their office of educating the poor, ought however to be enabled to preserve the ease, and respect, due to so useful an order of men.

The dress of the common people continued a long time in the state described in the former retrospect. The sumptuary law of James II ordained that no burghers, except bearing a municipal office, shall wear gowns of silk, or scarlet cloth, or decked with mertrick furs. The regulation is extended to their wives, and daughters; who are moreover to use no gowns with long trains, except on holidays; and to wear "short kerchiefs with little hoods, as are used in Flanders, England, and other countries." Inferior barons, and gentle­men are alike restricted. None of the clergy are to wear gowns of scarlet, or mertrick furs, except they be dignitaries of a cathedral, or collegiate church, or doctors; or such as may yearly spend two hundred marks, or English nobles. And with regard to the commons, "that no labourers, nor husbandmen, wear on the work day other than grey or white; and on the holiday only light blue, green, or red: and their wives the same, and kerchiefs of their own making: and that it exceed not the price of forty pence the eln. And that no woman come to church, or market, with her face mussalled, or covered, that she may not be known, under the penalty of forfeiting the head dress4."

SECTION II. Government, Laws, Tactics.

TO the information already presented on these subjects, in the preceding retrospect, and in the course of the narrative, the abundance of materials may present large and important additions.

The able contemporary Fortescue, in his treatise on the Dominium Regale and the Dominium Politicum et Regale 5; the former a government in which the king makes the laws, or absolute monarchy; the second when he rules by the laws made by the people, or limited monarchy; classes Scotland under the latter description. "The king of Scots," says he, "reigneth over his people by this law, to wit regimine politico et regali." He then proceeds to shew the misery of France, because the laws were made, and taxes imposed, without sum­moning the three estates of the kingdom: that cowardice alone preserved France from insurrection, while the English being rich never arose, except against injustice6; and their liberties being secured by parliaments, industry and wealth followed. After discussing the revenue, and expences, of England, among the latter of which he mentions the borders towards Scotland, and the garrison of Calais as exorbitant articles, he observes that the nobles of France were so powerful, that no authority dared to tax them; and that great danger would arise if Eng­land permitted subjects to attain such preeminence. He adds [Page 349]that the king of Scots who last died, had only from apprehen­sions of his rebelling expelled Douglas, "whose livelihood, and might, were nearly equivalent to his own." In this the venerable chief-justice was misinformed, as the reader has seen that more than apprehensions existed.

It has already been remarked that in the treaty with France 1484, it was agreed that on a failure of immediate heirs, the succession to either crown should be determined by the prelates and nobles. By an act of 1466, it was decreed that the dowry of the future queen should be "a third of the king's rents of assize, that is to say of lands and customs ONLY7." This would seem to imply that the dower of Mary of Gelder had extended to one third of the whole royal revenue.

A most important topic, the constitution of the Scotish par­liament, has been reserved for this epoch, as a centrical point, upon which the various information bears. Only desultory knowledge could have been acquired, by dividing the minute authorities into different periods; and the interesting nature of the subject will excuse some length in the discussion. Till the year 1587, when the representation of the shires was fixed and ascertained, there is hardly a variation in the model of the Scotish parliament: and the present view will of course anti­cipate a century, as well as revert to the records of preceding ages. Nor till the present period are the collective materials sufficiently ample, to authorise accurate disquisition; though the statutes themselves assume a regular form, at the com­mencement of the actual reign of the first James.

Reserving till another place any remarks on the two supe­rior states of the kingdom, the clergy and barons, it shall here be observed that the burgesses are first mentioned, so far as our [Page 350]imperfect records afford positive evidence, in the year 13268. Whether they appeared before, is rather a question of antiqua­rian curiosity, than of real importance; and the cause of en­lightened freedom requires no support from the barbaric usages of dark ages. Suffice it to observe that, as all the freemen of a burgh could not appear in parliament, they selected persons for that purpose, and instituted the first example of REPRESEN­TATION, that grand secret of modern government, and which forms a basis of liberty unknown to all the ancient states.

The able reign of Robert the great was unhappily followed by the disturbed minority of his son David II. Yet the reign of this feeble prince presents some documents concerning the state of parliament, which shall here be mentioned, as un­known to former writers, and as preparatory to the considera­tion of the national council, under his successors of the Stuart family.

In the parliament held at Perth, on the thirteenth of January 1365, the names of the members are given, forming, it is believed, the earliest example of what is called the roll. The bishops are followed by the abbots of Dunfermlin, Arbroth, Paisley, Scone, Kilwinning, Coupar. Among the peers is John Stuart lord of Kyle. After many knights, are twelve per­sons without designation, and a general clause of "the other persons usually called;" nor are the commissioners of the burghs specified9.

The general council at Scone, 20th of July 1366, consisted of the bishops, abbots, priors, free-tenants in capite, "and [Page 351]from each burgh certain burgesses summoned for especial rea­sons1." In that held at the same place, on the 27th of Sep­tember 1367, the three communities of the kingdom being called, "certain persons were chosen by them to hold a par­liament, leave being given to the others, on account of the harvest season, to return to their homes." From the clergy were selected sixteen; from the lords fourteen, at the head of whom is the Steward; and there were absent, from contu­macy, the earls of March, Ross, and Douglas. The burghs are only Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Perth, Montrose, Hadding­ton, and Linlithgow; their selected delegates thirteen. The object of discussion was the royal revenue: and the king is empowered to send embassadors, and levy the expence by a tax, without recourse to another parliament.2.

In that of Perth, 6th of March 1368, a few were contu­maciously absent; but by the consent of the three communities, on account of the inconvenience and scarcity of the season, "certain persons were elected to hold the parliament, leave being given to the others to return." Seven bishops, and nine others, are chosen for the clergy; among the latter are Wil­liam Biggar rector of Errol and chamberlain of Scotland, and the procurators of the bishops of Aberdeen and Ross; but as it was found that fewer were sufficient, the number was abridged. For the barons are the Steward, the earls of Mar and March, and the procurator of earl Douglas, with thirteen landed gen­tlemen; and eight others, perhaps for the burghs3.

At the parliament of Scone, 12th June 1368, appeared "the prelates, lords, and burgesses, who would or could be [Page 352]personally present; others represented by their commissaries; others being absent from contumacy." Among other acts, it was ordained that all processes of appeal be presented to the chancellor, before the meeting of parliament; and that the parties should appear in the parliament next following to hear the decision4.

In the last general council recorded of David II, and held at Perth on the 18th of February 1370, the burgesses present are mentioned to have been specially summoned for certain causes. Of the lords three were absent from contumacy, Mar, John of the Isles, and Gillespic Cambel 5.

The model of this noted parliament being imitated by the kings of the Stuart line, as mentioned in their statutes, it is proper to lend it due illustration. The preamble bears that, as the chief purport of this general council was to consider the state of the realm, the royal revenue, and some points relating to the administration of justice, it was not expedient that all the members should attend: for which reason some were elected, "BY THE GENERAL AND UNANIMOUS CONSENT AND ASSENT OF THE THREE COMMUNITIES ASSEMBLED, to order those things that concern common justice, such as the contradicted judgments (or appeals,) questions, and other complaints, which ought to be discussed and determined by parliament. And others were elected, by the SAME CONSENT AND ASSENT OF THE COMMUNITIES, to treat and deliberate on certain SPECIAL, and SECRET, affairs of the king and kingdom, before they came to the knowledge of the said general council6."

[Page 353]For the matters concerning the administration of justice were chosen six of the clergy; ten knights, and four others, for the barons; and seven burgesses.

For the secret affairs three clergy; and ten others, among whom the Steward, and the earls of Carrick and March are first named, and the last is Duncan Wallace, "one of the attorneys of the earl of Douglas." It is specially added that the king may name any others.

This, as far as appears, was the very first institution of the famous LORDS OF THE ARTICLES, originally only a committee for secret affairs, selected by the voice of the whole legislative body. But the power assigned to the king, of adding any members he thought proper, led to great abuses.

After the accession of the house of Stuart the earliest memo­rable parliament is that of Scone, 2d March 1372, in the first year of Robert II. The burgesses present continued to be spe­cially summoned, ex causa, for a certain cause. And as the general council is held for purposes relating to the king and realm, and the administration of common justice, "in imita­tion of the order and method which were observed in the par­liament held at Perth, in the time of king David of venerable memory, and of his reign the fortieth year," [18 Feb. 1370,] some were chosen BY THE GENERAL AND UNANIMOUS CON­SENT AND ASSENT OF THE THREE COMMUNITIES, for matters concerning common justice. And others, "BY THE CONSENT [Page 354]AND ASSENT OF THE SAID COMMUNITIES, to treat and de­liberate on certain SPECIAL affairs of the king and kingdom, before they come to the knowledge of the general council." The other members were dismissed. For the names of those chosen we are referred to another register. It is remarkable that in this parliament the plea of secrecy is omitted; and the lords of the articles are only chosen for SPECIAL affairs.7.

The parliament of Robert III, in February 1401, only bears that there were present the bishops, [abbots,] priors, dukes, earls, barons, "freeholders, and burgesses who hold of our lord the king in capite 8." But that the institution of the lords of the articles continued an inveterate usage, appears from the parliament of Perth, 26th May 1424, the first of James I9; and the first, it is believed, in which the style of the ARTICLES appears; and from numerous succeeding par­liaments. It is also certain that the usage of dismissing the other members, after the committees of justice and of the ar­ticles had been selected, was continued to the parliament of 1424, if not long after: so that the prolongation of the session, after the appointment of these committees, was a mere stretch [Page 355]of the prerogative, as well as the latter corrupt mode of chusing the lords of the articles. At what precise epoch the committee of justice was divided into two, 1 ad judicia, or of judgments in criminal cases, and 2. ad causas, or of civil causes and law­suits in the last appeal, does not appear: but such was the method in the reign of James III1. Yet even at this period the lords of the articles were modestly named last, after the two former committees had been appointed; not first, as was afterwards the usage, when the lords of the articles were named by the influence of the court, whose demands usurped a preference over the administration of justice.

The steps that led to this radical alteration of the constitu­tion of the Scotish parliament, which was at first to preclude the power of debate, by only requiring the sanction of a full parliament to decrees already adjusted; and was afterwards to make that assembly a mere instrument of the crown; deserve particular investigation. The chief cause was the indolence and avarice of the members, who regarded their attendance in parliament, to which they were not only bound by their te­nures, but under a sine of ten pounds for absence, as a most heavy constraint and intolerable burden. Even in England at this period committees were frequently appointed and leave given to the other members to depart2. The sole distinction was, that in Scotland the custom by a political solecism re­mained, while the parliament itself continued in full session. This apparently slight difference, and the equally slight cir­cumstance, that in England the members were too numerous to meet in one room, decided the destinies of the two king­doms. [Page 356]England had a free parliament for discussion, and a house of commons: Scotland an influenced parliament for assent, and her commons were overpowered by the presence of the superior orders.

From the advantage which was afterwards taken of this institution of lords of the articles, it would seem a device of some cunning Augustus, to sap the freedom of his country. It was, on the contrary, the mere product of chance and weakness. The appointment of committees, and dismission of the other members, in September 1367 and March 1368, the first on account of the harvest, the second an unexpectedly severe season and scarcity, evince the progress of chance: and the character of David II, and his hatred, at the time, to the Stuarts, who were to be the heirs of his power, shew the want of design. The unanimous consent and assent, of the whole three estates assembled, testifies that they exulted in their de­liverance from the slavery of attending in parliament, and re­garded the eighteenth day of February, thirteen hundred and seventy, as a jubilee of freedom!

The subsequent statutes, which illustrate the constitution of parliament, are far from numerous. The most memorable is the next in chronological order, that of James I, in March 14283.

"The king, with consent of the whole general council, has ordained that the small barons, and free-tenants, need not come to the parliament, or general council, provided that each sheriffdom send two, or more, wise men, chosen at the head court of the sheriffdom, according to its extent, except the sheriffdoms of Clackmanan and Kinross, which may only send one member for each.

[Page 357]"These members shall be called Commissaries of the shire: and, by these Commissaries of all the shires shall be chosen a wise man; and expert, called the Common Speaker of the parlia­ment, who shall propose all and sundry necessities and causes, pertaining to the Commons, in the parliament or general council4.

"The Commissaries shall have full and entire power from the rest of the sheriffdom, testified by the seal of the sheriff, and those of several barons of the shire, to hear, treat, and finally to determine, all causes to be proposed in the council or parliament.

"Which Commissaries, and Speaker, shall have their expence defrayed by those of each shire who owe appearance in the par­liament or council, an equal assessment being laid on every pound of rent, except those of bishops, abbots, priors, dukes, earls, lords of parliament, and banrents, whom the king di­rects to be summoned and admitted to parliament by his spe­cial precept."

Such is this remarkable statute, the intentions of which are supposed never to have been fulfilled till 1587; when it was revived and enforced, and the first regular representation for counties commenced in Scotland. It is evident that this great monarch wished to establish a House of Commons, on the Eng­lish model, and to lay the foundations of genuine liberty, by dividing the landed gentlemen from the peers, and thus strengthening the third estate, which only consisted of a few burgesses, unable to contend against the whole landed interest united, a French noblesse, instead of a distinct order of noble­men [Page 358]like those of England. But when this act was revived in 15875, the clause concerning the Common Speaker, or Speaker of the Commons, was carefully omitted: and thus the chief intention was eluded, and the commissaries of the shires, and burghs, continued to sit in the same house with the peers.

It has already been observed in the historical narrative that, in 1458, it was enacted that no freeholder shall be constrained to attend as a member of parliament, if he hold of the king "under the sum of twenty pounds" in land. In 1504 the exemption is, under "one hundred marks of the extent that now is;" and an extent implies annual value. Twenty pounds in 1458, Scotish money being to the English as one to three, and its power being to the present as ten to one, may nearly equal seventy pounds sterling of modern currency. In 1504 the coin was as one to four, and one hundred marks might equal one hundred and sixty of our pounds. The Eng­lish parliament had enacted, in 1429, that none should vote for knight of the shire, who had not freeholds of the value of forty shillings: but in Scotland it was esteemed a great privi­lege to be exempted from sitting in parliament; and voting could not be enforced even by the united efforts of the monarch and legislative body.

From 1504 till 1587 there are no statutes concerning the constitution of parliament.

To return to the consideration of the period under review, we have seen that in 1469, an oligarchic plan of appointing the council, and magistrates of burghs, was instituted, and the parliament was compared with common courts of justice: and in 1482 the mention of the parliament of Paris indicates that the French idea of a parliament was, by the court, pre­ferred [Page 359]to the English. The numerous clergy present at a Sco­tish parliament, and the want of an opposition, are features delineated and explained in the preceding retrospect.

In 1488, as has already been observed, the titled nobles of Scotland amounted to about forty. The ducal denominations were mostly confined to the royal family: the others were earls and lords. But these greater barons had no privileges above the smaller: all were peers, or pares, in courts of jus­tice: a lord and a lard are the same, and the latin only admitted dominus for either: the lard, or laird, was designed from his estate; and his wife was lady by the same designation even down to modern times. For distinction the titled lords were created and styled lords of parliament. While there was no house of commons, there was no house of peers: every landed gentleman holding of the crown might sit and vote; but he could not be constrained to attend except his estate amounted to a certain sum.

Had the great plan of James I been carried into execution, as much additional respect would have accrued to the peers, as to the commons: greater lustre, more important privileges, would have arisen to the former, as well as to the latter. A distinct legislative capacity, a marked line of separation from the landed gentlemen, might have gratified the pride, and stimulated the abilities, of the peers; while the esquires, united with the burgesses, might have learned by degrees the eminent advantages which commerce and agriculture derive from each other.

The lesser barons or lairds, corresponding with the English LORDS of manors, form such a singular and amphibious class, in the Scotish parliament, that they excite curiosity and dis­quisition. The roll of parliament, 1472, will give us an idea [Page 360]of their proportion to the other members; which seems to have greatly exceeded that of the roll of 1365 above-mentioned.

"On the 18th day of February, in the presence of our sovereign lord the king; and the bishops, abbots, priors; and the noble dukes, earls, lords, barons, freeholders, and com­missaries of the burghs, underwritten:

  • Alexander duke of Albany.
  • Bishops.
    • Dunkeld
    • Aberdeen
    • Ross
    • Orkney
  • Abbots
    • Arbroath
    • Melrose
    • Holyroodhouse
    • Paisley
    • Scone
    • Dryburgh
  • Priors
    • Portmoak
    • Restenoth
    • Coldingham
    • May
  • Earls.
    • The Chancellor
    • Errol
    • Marshal
    • Huntley
    • Crawford
    • Morton
    • Argyle
    • Rothes
  • Lords.
    • Innermeth
    • Erskine
    • Haliburton
    • Seton
    • Borthwick
    • Darnley
    • Lindsay
    • Gray
    • Forbes
    • Kilmauris
    • Kennedy
    • Hamilton
    • Monipeny
    • Salton
  • Barons (or Lairds)
    • Sanquhar
    • Bewfort
    • Haltoun
    • Craigmillar
    • Restalrig
  • [Page 361]
    Barons
    • Dundas
    • Bargeny
    • Bass
    • Caldor
    • Luss
    • Terreagles
    • Elliotstoun
    • Ruthven
    • Sauchie
    • Elphinston
    • Guthrie
    • Torthorwald
    • Corstorphin
    • Edmondston
    • Dalhousie
  • Barons
    • Bothiok
    • Pittarrow
    • Abercromby
    • Erolet
    • Rusky
    • Carns
    • Cranston
    • Halkerston
    • Boyle
    • Ker
    • Gask
    • Dron
    • Hume
    • Balcolmy.
  • Commissaries of the Burghs.
    • Edinburth Young and Bonkil.
    • Aberdeen Knowls.
    • Stirling Walter Stuart.
    • Linlithgow Fowlis and Forest.
    • Haddington Girnlaw.
    • Dumfries Welch.
    • Air Multrar.
    • Dundee Monorgound and Guthrie6.

[Page 362]In this parliament the lesser barons almost equal in number the clergy and peers. The rolls indeed seem imperfect, for none, apparently, remains which enumerates more than about eighty member; while, in a stature of 1458, they are esti­mated, as we have seen, at about one hundred and ninety: and this, though one of the most ample, omits no less than twenty of the burghs. But it is not the number of the lairds, or tenants in capite, which surprizes: it is their fewness which merits investigation.

An idle tradition prevailed in the middle ages, that one of our monarchs distributed all the lands of Scotland among his great barons, reserving none for himself, except the Moot-hill of Scone. This tradition, though vague, expressed the state of the country, chiefly divided into large territories, the poten­tates of which held of the king; while their numerous vassals, enjoying greater or smaller allotments, held of their lords. Hence the numerous charters of confirmation in our records, only lending the royal sanction to charters granted by the ba­rons: and a list of the tenants in capite, including even the smaller, would not, it is believed, for the writers who might be expected to illustrate this topic, prefer declamation on the feudal system; a rich mine, but already exhausted by the la­bours of Montesquieu, and other able authors7. Those parts [Page 363]of our history, and antiquites, which are clear, have been illustrated with great force and precision; while the obscure even require a taper to make the "darkness visible."

In England the baron was a lord, a peer: in Scotland he was only a laird, a man of landed property: the word indeed originally only implies a man of courage, a chief8. From Domesday Book it appears that the immediate vassals of the crown amounted, after the conquest, to about seven hundred, exclusive of the eccesiastic fees9: of these seven hundred a few were earls and lords; the remainder would in Scotland have been termed barons or lairds. In the latter kingdom it may seem that the immediate vassals of the crown could not, before the reign of David I, exceed two hundred; and the profuse do­nations of that prince to the church must have diminished the number of lay-fees.

These vassals of the crown, or tenants in capite, were how­ever speedily to be multiplied by various causes. New dona­tions of the regal demesne, forfeitures of great fiefs, afterwards divided into smaller, gifts of land by vassals themselves to their followers, coheirship, and at length purchase by the ac­quisitions of commerce or chance, were among the operations which increased the number of the vassals in chief. Hence in the reign of Henry III of England, representatives appear for the counties at the same time with those of the burghs: and so rapid was the progress of liberty in that fortunate kingdom that, from the first appearance of representation for the con­ties, [Page 364]all and had a right to vote who held lands, or tenements, of whatever lord or superior; while in Scotland, when this re­presentation was attempted in 1428 and established in 1587, the privilege, or servitude, of voting was confined to the free­holders of the crown.

One great cause which defeated the representation for coun­ties in Scotland, and rendered even that for the burghs irregu­lar and incomplete, was the avarice of the freeholders, and citizens, which shrunk from paying the costage, or salaries of the representatives. And they not only abhorred the duty, or bondage as they supposed, of sitting in parliament, but they even detested the trouble of giving their votes. Another cause was, that the members of parliament had no privileges what­ever, not even the peers themselves considered in that capa­city; while the political wisdom of England had stimulated emulation, and had inspired respect for the meanest member of the national council, by the freedom from arrest, and other immunities. Had James I, in his eager wish to render the nation free, industrious, and happy, assigned special privileges to the representatives of counties and burghs, it is probable he might have succeeded in establishing two houses, and an ex­cellent constitution. The struggle is singular; the court in­sisted on diffusing some degree of freedom; and the people opposed their deliverance with surprizing zeal and persever­ance.

To return to the consideration of the barons or lairds, they were hardly to be distinguished, either in common or legal language, from the titled nobility. They were not only de­nominated from their estates; but to a late period they used a titular signature, as well as the peers. Peer, and peerage, do not indeed appear to be Scotish terms: in England, when a lord of parliament was created, he was styled a PEER, but [Page 365]there seems no vestige of this usage in Scotland; and there being no house of peers or equals, to which he could be called, the nobles were peers of the realm, and not peers of parlia­ment. The term peerage is indeed vague, even at present; an English peerage is an inelective hereditary right to sit in parliament; while a Scotish peerage is only a right to vote for sixteen representatives1. In strict propriety the word has no connection with the parliament or general council; it is an honour at first territorial, and passing with the land like a Scotish lairdship; afterwards personal and hereditary; but ever implying power, territory, rank, precedence, investiture by the monarch, distinction of seat and dress on solemn occasions. In France the twelve peers seem ot have succeeded the comites, or companion of the early monarchs, after the latter title had dwindled into the count or earl; and acknowledging no supe­rior but the sovereign, they bore the humble and proud title of peers or equals. The Normans introduced the term into England; where it was to be extended to all who were so­lemnly ennobled by the king, and thereby attained a right of sitting in the upper house, only known in that country, and thence styled the House of Peers. But in Scotland the peers having at no period a separate house, and after the extinction of the Scotish parliament by the Union, having only a right to select sixteen of their number; the title remains in its original state, quite distinct from any reference to parliament.

The Banrents, or Bannerets, were an intermediate order, between the peers and the larids; possessing estates of such ex­tent, and of so many knights fees, that they could lead a great [Page 366]number of followers to the field, whence they had a title to display a banner 2. They were also distinguished by their pe­culiar enseigny, or cri de guerre; and by supporters to their armorial bearings.

But the Scotish barons, or lairds, had none of these high distinctions. However small their freeholds, they had a title to sit in parliament, as appears from the above acts, exempting those under a certain revenue from any constraint for appear­ance. In civil matters they could decide questions of debt, and many of possession within their baronies; regulate work and wages; and enforce the payment of their rents. All criminal cases fell under the cognisance of the laird, except treason, and the four pleas of the crown: he had the power of pit and gallows, or drowning female and hanging male cul­prits, convicted of theft or robbery; and his jurisdiction com­prized many penal statutes3.

On the other hand numerous were the distinctions between the lord and the laird. The latter had no permanent denomi­nation, no personal honour, his existence was merely territo­rial: he had no solemn investiture, no fixed rank, no prece­dence, nor was he addressed with any appropriated term. His tenants indeed called him Master, not landlord, but this was a slavish relique of the days of villenage: and hence apparently the Scotish phrase of Master, for the heir apparent to an estate, thus Master of Huntley, of Darnley, and the like, frequent in our history and records, and still retained where there is no second title.

[Page 367]The same causes which operated in England were, by slower degrees, to increase the number of the Scotish tenants in capite. Money being scarce, gifts and rewards were commonly assigned in lands; and even a messenger of good tidings was recom­pensed by a small estate4. The nobles and lairds maintained their friends, and secured the fidelity of their followers, by similar donations5: but the tenure being from themselves, as superiors, the number of persons intitled to sit in parliament, or vote, had representatives been established, was little swelled by their alienations. An inborn preference which most men give to land above all other kinds of property, the desire of retirement ease and a rural life, so natural to the busy citizen, conspired to render the purchase of land a great object of am­bition to the industrious merchant, and to the fortunate adven­turer. Entails were unknown in Scotland, till the seventeenth century; a deed of taillie merely regulating the manner of suc­cession, and commonly altering it from heirs general to heirs male6: but other obstacles prevented the free acquisition of [Page 368]land, so essential to the circulation of the blood of the state. An able judge even supposes that the jus retracius prevailed, by which a right of redemption exposed the purchaser to an uncertainty in his property, a bar at once to its enjoyment and improvement. While the famous statute of Quia Emptores was to diffuse wealth and cultivation through England; in the adjacent kingdom the heritable proprietor was to be distin­guished by the heritable sterility of his possessions, and by a firm entail of indolence and poverty. Yet by degrees com­merce and industry were to assert their rights, private vices were to become public benefits; and landed prodigality was to minister to the national advancement. And though many of the purchased lands held of the under lords, there is little room to doubt that the freeholders of the crown were increased by this progress of society: but a just estimate of their number could only be formed from an enumeration of the charters in the register at various periods, a toil perhaps surpassing the value of the information.

That no representatives for the counties appeared till 1587, is sufficiently clear from the silence of the statutes, and records: and the act of James II, concerning the parliamentary dress, is mute concerning the commissioners of the shires, or even the lesser barons in general, though most particular in regard to the earls, lords, and burgesses. It is hence to be inferred that the lairds appeared in parliament in their usual dress; nor does it appear that, in latter times, the representatives of shires were distinguishable by their apparel from the burgesses.

To close this discussion concerning the lesser barons, the length of which can only be excused by their importance in the national and constitutional scale, and the singularity of [Page 369]their rank in society, when compared with more civilized go­vernments, it shall only be further observed, that the term laird has become of no respect, and is even ironically applied to the portioner of land, whose estate is half a field, but who joins the industry of an artisan to the healthy pursuits of his little agriculture. For the denomination, being territorial, is only honourable in proportion to the territory; while the English term Esquire, assigned to any man who bears a shield, or in other words has an armorial blazon, is a personal distinction, extended to opulence, to eminence of talents, to fortunate in­dustry, as well as to considerable possessions of land.

In passing to the last division of the national council, the Burgesses, it is first to be observed that the Royal Burghs alone had a right, or rather, to speak in the language of the times, were burdened by their tenures from the crown with the heavy duty of sending representatives to parliament. The Burghs of Barony, or those that held of great barons whether temporal or spiritual, were exempt from this slavery: Glasgow for in­stance though a burgh of some consequence, even then, as holding of the bishop, sent no commissioner. To those already mentioned, in the above roll, may be added Berwick, Jedburgh, Selkirk, Peebles, Lanark, Dunbar, Kinghorn, Forfar, Brechin, Wigton, Kirkudbright, Irvin, Dunbarton, North Berwick, In-verkeithing, Coupar, Perth, Montrose, and others7; so that the representatives for the burghs might have amounted to between thirty and forty, if another singular practice had not prevailed, that of many of the burghs appointing the represen­tatives of the others to be proxies; every method of ex­emption from attendance being sedulously practised, in order to avoid the trouble and expence.

[Page 370]As the session of a parliament commonly lasted only a few days, the chief magistrates of the burghs could attend, without a long absence from their duty; and it appears that they were generally the representatives. The oligarchic form of muni­cipality, introduced by James III, necessarily confined the elec­tion to the town-council, the body of the burgesses or freemen being excluded. Hence it is computed that there are not in Scotland, at this day, above three thousand voters for national representatives, either of counties or towns8.

In the earliest Scotish parliaments, of which we have any record, it appears that deputies for the burghs attended, to settle the proportion of taxes, which the towns were to bear: and it is not improbable that the magistrates of the principal burghs may be included in the sapientes, probi homines, or preud-hommes, and tota communitas regni, of the most ancient national councils9. Many ancient English customs may be traced in more modern Scotish usages; and for this reason the study of the latter is important to science in both kingdoms. That the magistrates of the chief towns were, in an appro­priated sense, members of the national council before the reign of Henry III in England, and Robert I in Scotland, there is unhappily no positive proof: but that they attended, especially in cases of taxation, and probably at the bar, there is some proof, and every reason to infer. In Scotland there were neither towns nor commerce, till a comparatively late period; but the usages are evidently of English origin, constant inter­course, and an amity seldom interrupted, having prevailed between the nations, till the base and unkingly conduct of Edward I forced Scotland into the arms of France. Now in [Page 371]England, as in other European kingdoms, no representatives from towns could appear in early times; and the numerous barbaric codes of laws, though most minute in other points, are, it is believed, completely silent, not only on this head, but on municipal regulation. The reason is clear; it was be­cause the barbarians who overturned the Roman empire de­tested the civic life; and preserved their ancient rural manners, and occupations. The towns being conquered, had no right to expect a representation in the national assemblies of their victors, held in ample plains under the canopy of heaven; and it was to the contempt and indifference of the conquerors, that they were commonly indebted for such privileges as they retained, as the right of electing their own magistrates, and other minute reliques of freedom. When the Saxons, when the Normans conquered England, the same causes must have operated; the English representatives of London must have made a strange appearance in an assembly of Norman free­holders, to whose language and laws they were absolute stran­gers. But the magistrates might be called to the bar, to advise and give their consent to the best manner of proportioning a tax, and enforcing its collection in their respective towns, the language of money being very audible and clear.

On looking into the history of the Scotish parliaments, we accordingly sind the burgesses specially mentioned on the oc­casion of a tax imposed by William1. Even in the reign of James II, as will afterwards appear in this retrospect, they sat at the bar of the national council: in that of James III several acts bear to be passed by the clergy and lords: in 1504 a spe­cial statute appears, ordaining "that the commissaries and heads-men of the burghs be warned when taxes or contribu­tions [Page 372]are given, to have their advice therein, as one of the three estates of the realm2." In 1560 we find ten provosts of the chief towns among the lords of the articles3. As the statutes are silent concerning the mode of election, and repre­sentation, for burghs, it would seem that one or two of the magistrates were nominated by the others, or by the council.

The Royal Burghs were indeed bound by their tenures, as holding in chief of the crown, to attend the parliament; but as proxies were allowed, and the fine itself for absence was only ten pounds, the tenure was neglected and illuded. Nor could the incorporation of a burgh by royal charter be an usage of much antiquity in Scotland, perhaps not more an­cient than the reign of David I.

So much for the Burgesses, the only real commons of Scot­land; the lesser barons having weakly preferred an insignificant mixture with the peers to the noble ambition of heading a se­parate assembly. Modern party has embroiled many of the questions on this subject; a whig wishing to increase the anti­quity and power of the commons, while a tory endeavours to diminish them: but to plain sense, and cool reason, the topic is only important as illustrative of history; nor can the discus­sion of barbaric customs hinder, or advance, the cause of en­lightened freedom.

Having thus considered the several classes of men, which composed the three estates of the national council, one of the most interesting objects in modern history; some other parti­culars remain to be stated, in order to present clear informa­tion concerning its constitution, and procedure.

The number of the members, we have seen, amounted to about one hundred and ninety; but from the rolls there never [Page 373]appears more than half the number; the others being absent from sickness, distance, feuds, nonage, especial affairs, or other reasonable causes; and some from contumacy, or an opposition to the measures of the court at the time. Even in modern times to secure the attendance of a certain number, in a na­tional council, the members ought to double that number. James I ordered, in 1426, that no prelate, earl, baron, or free­holder, should appear by a procurator, except on proving a lawful cause of absence4. It would seem that the procurators are omitted in the rolls, and often indeed one member might appear for many; but sometimes a lawyer was proxy for an absent peer; and the omission might be according to the forms, or intended to discountenance the practice. At any rate the omission of the procurators must considerably abbreviate the rolls of parliament.

It was a royal prerogative to summon the general council, which was done by letters, under the signet, to the clerical members, and greater barons; and by precepts from chancery to the sheriffs, for general summonses to all members resident in each shire. During a minority this prerogative was exerted by the council of regency; but few or no permanent laws were ever passed, except when the sovereign had attained the years of majority prescribed by law.

The members having, a day or two before, arrived in the city or town where the parliament was to be held, on the morning of the meeting they assembled at an appointed place, and proceeded on horseback in grant state to their hall. This procession was called the Riding of the Parliament, and was [Page 374]a singularity retained to the latest period of the Scotish legisla­ture. Amid the sound of numerous trumpets, and the armo­rial displays of heralds, first appeared the commissioners of the burghs, then the lesser barons; followed by the lords, the bishops, the earls, the archbishops, the dukes. Three chosen peers bore the crown, sceptre, and sword, before the monarch, who was attended by his guards. At the door of the hall sat the lord high constable, to receive the members as they alighted, and probably in his original office of giving orders concerning the stabling of their horses till their return5.

The clergy probably took their seats on the right, the peers on the left of the throne, as in England: and so numerous were the former, that the lesser barons present would merely complete the left ranks. At the bottom, near, or perhaps without, the bar, sat the commissioners of the burghs. The clerk of the register was apparently the clerk of parliament: and it is to be inferred that he, and some other officers of state, sat in the middle before the throne6.

The roll being called, and some other formalities arranged, the chancellor, or sometimes the secretary, made a short speech; and as they were commonly churchmen, it was in the nature [Page 375]of a sermon of the time, seasoned with latin quotations from scripture. The three estates then proceeded to their chief of­fice, the appointment of commitees of justice, and of the ar­ticles; who being selected, the other members were at liberty to depart to their respective homes: and often did not assemble till next year, when they gave their sanction to the laws pre­pared by the committees. But it also often happened that the statutes and ordinances were already fashioned by the chancel­lor, and other officers of state, or could easily be forwarded; so that the members remained in the town, and even continued their session occasionally from five to fifteen days, the last of which was appropriated to the pronunciation of the decisions of the committee of justice, in presence of the whole house7.

As the members were inelective, the commissioners of the burghs alone excepted, the prorogation, or dissolution, of the parliament could not be alternatives of great consequence. In England, at this period, a parliament seldom sat above one session of twenty or thirty days; but sometimes three sessions were known. The general form of the Scotish parliament seems to have been annual; and the magistrates, who repre­sented the towns, being commonly of yearly continuance in office, it may be difficult to point out an instance of a proro­gation from one year to another: though those of two or three months in the same year are not unfrequent. A curious in­stance of the prorogation of a parliament, followed by its dis­solution, occurs in the records. In the turbulent last year of the reign of James III, a parliament met in January, and was prorogued to May. But on the 17th February 1488, James issued the following order. "We do you to wit that our sove­reign [Page 376]lord, by the advice of his council, has for certain rea­sonable and great causes, deserted and dissolved his parliament, which was formerly prorogued till the fifth day of May next to come: and has ordained a new general parliament, to be set, and proclaimed to be holden at Edinburgh the twelfth day of May next to come, with continuation of days; and general precepts to pass to all lords, prelates, barons, frecholders, and commissaries; and with special letters under his signet to all the prelates, and great lords of his realm, to shew and declare to them the cause of the sitting of his said parliament." These special letters it is to be presumed, James did not direct to his enemies: and it is even probable that they were never sent to members in the opposition; an omission which might be regarded as a hint that their absence would be more agree­able.

After the parliament, the Privy Council attracts the greatest attention by its dignity and importance. The nature of this meeting has been already explained in the preceding retrospect, where it is observed that it succeeded the Aula Regis, or King's Court. This court, anciently held in a hall of the palace, has been by some authors confounded with the nationa coun­cil; and the vague synonymes, and impure latinity, of the writers of the middle ages, have sometimes blended the terms curia and consilium, so as to occasion a doubt whether the lat­ter be a general or privy council; and whether the former be a senate or parliament in the classic acceptation, or an affected substitute for the curtis or court of the king. The explanations of glossarists are also arbitrary, and often derived from a single sentence, without considering the scope of preceding and suc­ceeding paragraphs, or the affected sense in which a particular8 [Page 377]writer may use a particular expression. That the king's court was merely of consultation, and of judicature in particular cases, like the succeeding privy council, there is every reason to infer; and if the parliament be styled the royal court, in barbaric latinity, it is an abuse of terms. The king's baron-courts were a kind of inquests, consisting of the great officers of the crown, and other chief barons to judge on important crimes and causes: even they differed much from the courts held by the barons themselves, because the monarch, however controuled and impoverished by the great barons, yet main­tained during the feudal ages a sublime and superlative charac­ter in the constitution, as the fountain of honour, the general, and chief magistrate, of the state. But from these courts the parliament, or general council, was distinguished in many ways. 1. It succeeded the general assemblies of the German tribes, mentioned by Tacitus, who says that on smaller mat­ters, or particular cases, the nobles met and decided; while in larger the whole community assembled to determine on affairs of general interest9. The former was the king's baron-court; the latter a parliament: the former was a meeting of the notables; the latter of the states general. 2. The aula regis, or king's baron-court, though perhaps the former con­sisted only of the chief officers of state, the latter added the great barons, yet whether the same, or distinct, never possessed any legislative power. 3. The states general often opposed the royal will; and the English parliament even deposed Richard II; attributes which no fancy can ascribe to the king's own courts, which existed only in virtue of his authority. 4. The king's courts met in his palaces, while no parliament ever sat in a royal mansion; but in convents, abbeys, guild­halls, [Page 378]and other detached places1. It may be added that the tenure in capite was not a right to sit in parliament; it was on the contrary an obligation, in order that the national council, in which the sovereign appeared in his greatest lustre, might be numerously attended, and not exhibit symptoms of disaffec­tion by the rarity of the members. Before the feudal tenures prevailed, there can be no doubt but that every free-man had a right to appear in the general assembly, while the king's court was sacred to the chiefs; and supposing a barony allo­dial, or free from tenure, that circumstance could not have operated against the right of its possessor to appear in the na­tional council. But the small tribes, general assemblies, and idle life, of the ancient Germans, being followed by wide kingdoms in which no general assembly could be held, and by various occupations, it became necessary to enforce attendance by tenure, and fines; means from which the question of right, acquired by tenure, is extremely remote.

In the more ancient periods of Scotish history the kings were the chief judges in fact, as well as in law; and sat, at particular times, before a gate of the palace to hear and deter­mine causes, especially those of the poor. This judicature was, in more polished times, exerted by the monarch, in con­junction [Page 379]with his privy council: but it was chiefly used in punishing riots, and in other special cases which demanded a speedy remedy, and could not be deferred till the meeting of a parliament, the last court of resort. In the last century it was to usurp the odious powers of a star-chamber, and its fall was matter of national exultation.

Such numerous minorities occur in the history of the Scotish monarchs, that the state of the government at those periods deserves much attention, and will be found explained in several passages of the historical narration. It appears that the privy council retained its chief powers under a Council of Regency, though the officers of state were often the principal members of both.

These Officers of State themselves claim the next conside­ration; and their original importance in the government, and in the national history, demands that particular attention should be paid to their distinct duties and privileges.

In Scotland those of chief consequence at this period were the Lieutenant General of the Kingdom; the Steward, an office now held by the prince, and little exerted; the Consta­ble; the Marshall; the Chancellor; the Great Chamberlain; the Treasurer; the Justiciary; the Admiral; the Master of the Household; the Privy Seal: the Comptroller; the Secre­tary. Among those of smaller moment may be named the Clerk of the Register; the Treasurer depute; the King's Ad­vocate; the Justice Clerk; the King's Chamberlain.

The first named of these offices, though almost unknown to all writers on our constitution, was doubtless the second in the kingdom, and almost amounted to a regency during a weak reign or a minority. The Lieutenant General commanded the whole military array and force of the realm; being a sub­stitute for the king himself, in his high capacity of general of [Page 380]the nation. We have seen the ambitious Robert duke of Al­bany appear in the synonymous characters of lieutenant gene­ral, and governor of the kingdom, during the reign of Ro­bert III his brother. The potent earls of Douglas held this office in the minority of the second James: and it appears at intervals in the minority, and reign, of James V.

The stewardship, upon the accession of the House of Stuart, merged in the principality. As David duke of Rothsay was the sole prince of that family, who came to majority after the accession of the family, the kings held the lands and privileges of the office: and James IV, in the parliament of 1490, was to order that all the free-holders of the steward-lands "should appear an answer in the parliaments, and court of circuit, with their suits and presence, in a proper manner, till our sovereign lord have a son, who shall be immediate betwixt the king and them, to answer for them in the said parliaments, and courts of justiciary: and suit-rolls to be made thereupon, which shall endure till the prince be born2." A statute requiring the explanation of some legal antiquary.

The Constable, originally as the name implies, the officer who had charge of the royal stables, arose by degrees to be commander in chief under the sovereign; and continued in that high rank in France, even in the century now under view. His office in Scotland appears to have been vague, and titular; and was confined to the arrangement of the royal camp, a duty which seldom occurred; to the reception of the [Page 381]members of parliament at the door of their hall; and other objects of more lustre than utility. The noble family of Hay have long inherited this office; but we have seen it usurped for a season by Boyd earl of Arran: yet he might perhaps ap­pear as a delegate for the aged earl of Errol.

The Marshall was master of the horse; as the Seneschall, Styward, or Steward, was of the herds and flocks, the chief wealth of early times. The marshall ought to have arranged the army in battle: and he was the chief judge in the courts of chivalry, to determine points of honour and arms. He was also considered as a commander in the field; and the French marechals long retained the office. The hereditary marshalsy of Scotland continued for centuries in the family of Keith.

In the reign of James III the Chancellor arose to a precedence next to the prince of the blood. He was president and speaker of parliament; examined, and passed, charters under the great seal; was president of the privy council, where and in the committees of parliament, he exercised great juridical func­tions. In short he had the chief rank in civil affairs, as the Lieutenant General had in military.

The Great Chamberlain, an office originally joined with that of Treasurer, collected the royal revenues, and accompted for the expenditure. His jurisdiction, as appears from the Iter Camerarii, was very extensive: and a great proportion of the revenue arising from the customs, and other duties paid by the royal burghs, they were committed to his particular charge. The management of the magistrates, the use made of the pro­perty of the towns, the complaints and disputes of the burgesses and craftsmen, the prices of provisions, the rules of barter and sale, were among the objects of his authority3. The collec­tion [Page 382]of the royal revenues, and his power over the collectors, were also sources of great influence. But the power of the Chamberlain over the Burghs was considerably restricted by the Court of Four Burghs, consisting of commissioners from these towns, who were summoned extraordinarily to hear appeals from the Chamberlain's circuit courts: but their ancient an­nual meeting was at Haddington4. These four burghs were Edinburgh, Stirling, Roxburgh, and Berwick; till the two latter falling into the hands of the English, it was ordered in the parliament of March 1368 that Lanark and Linlithgow be substituted, reserving the rights of the former when re­taken5. The meeting of commissioners of the burghs at In­verkeithing, authorised by James III to form mercantile re­gulations, seems little to have increased their importance in national scale.

Latterly the office and power of the chamberlain were shared by the Treasurer, who received and expended such of the royal revenues, as belonged to the private expence of the king and his family. This office was introduced in 1424 by James I, on his return from England6.

The Justiciary was originally an officer of great power, as appears from the Iter Justiciarii. His jurisdiction was both civil and criminal; and he held circuit courts twice in the year. Treason, and the four pleas of the crown, were spe­cially reserved for his cognizance. But while the Justiza of Arragon was to controul the monarchs, the Scotish Justiciary never attained any preeminence above other officers of state. On the contrary his power was divided; there being often a Justiciary for the counties south of the Forth and Clyde, and another for the north7. Till the office was assigned heredi­tarily [Page 383]to the noble family of Argyle by James V, it had been held by Sir Robert Lauder of Bass, and other names hardly known in history. And when Charles I withdrew it from Argyle it passed to Sir Thomas Hope, and afterwards to Sir Ludovic Stuart, men of talents, but far remote from the charac­ter of Spanish Justizas. It is sometimes useful to collate do­mestic customs with foreign; but to form general views of the feudal system, and afterwards apply them to particular coun­tries, without a profound and laborious study of their history, is a practice pregnant with errors. The feudal system of each European kingdom forms quite a distinct province. It is easier indeed to draw materials from the literature of France, England, and other enlightened countries, than to search into obscure chronicles, old manuscripts, and records, for the ge­nuine history of the Scotish constitution. But an infinite con­fusion arises from an injudicious mixture of our history, and antiquities, even with those of England: they ought sedulously to be keeped apart; and the skillful reader may afterwards himself compare the topics, as treated by the historians, law­yers, and antiquaries of the sister nations.

It is to be regretted that we have so few materials for the history of the next important office, that of Admiral: nor to the notices, scattered in the historical narrative, can any thing be here added. His jurisdiction in maritime affairs, in the reign of James III, appears from the reference of the English to his judgment, concerning the capture of vassels, and com­pensations on that account. In latter times he was Justice-general upon the seas, on fresh waters within flood-mark, and in all harbours and creeks; his authority extended to all mari­time causes, comprehending questions of charter-parties, freights, salvages, bottomries, and the like. His delegate is the judge of the high court of admiralty; and he may appoint [Page 384]inferior deputies for districts, but their sentences are subject to the revisal of the high court. The admiral's jurisdiction is su­preme, and no question can be transferred even to the session, except by suspension or reduction. Even many mercantile cases are by usage submitted to the admiral8.

The lord Privy Seal was an officer of considerable confi­dence, who put the royal signet to gifts of moveables, and other small grants not requiring seizin. The Secretary wrote the royal letters, and managed several private departments of business; latterly he came to be an officer of high rank and importance, and his frequent access to the royal ear gave him such influence that he almost rivalled the chancellor.

The Master of the Household, Magister Hospitii, superin­tended the royal domestics; and the Comptroller shared the former offices of the chamberlain, and treasurer, by regulating the expences and checking the accompt, and supplying tem­porary advances of money.

The clerk of the register, or master of the rolls, had the care of the records and charters, and was clerk of parliament. The treasurer-depute's duty is explained by his appellation. Royal causes, and prosecutions for crimes, especially treason, were prerogatives of the king's advocate. The justice-clerk, or clerk of justiciary, was an assessor to the Justiciary, to assist him in points of law; and the lord justice-clerk remains an office of importance. The king's chamberlain, or private chamberlain, was an officer of great favour and trust; Sir William Crichton held this place, while Sir John Forester was great chamberlain; and the former was more in confidence with James I, than the latter.

[Page 385]In passing from the constitution, and court, to the admi­nistration of justice, the following ordinance of James II may be added to the intelligence concerning the Mairs and Serjands. "Our sovereign lord, and his three estates, ordain and deter­mine that if any of his Officiars, or Sheriffs, Mairs, Baillies, Crowners, Serjands, Provosts of Burghs, and their deputies, either in town or country, be found faulty or negligent in the execution of their offices, and the offence may be legally proved or notoriously known; if the said office belong to him in fee or heritage, he shall lose his office, and the prosit thereof, for a year and a day, and be punished by the king in his person, and effects according to the trespass: if his office be not of inheritance, he shall entirely abandon it, and be punished in his person according to his trespass, at the royal pleasure9."

It is a chief object of these retrospects to retrieve from the darkness of antiquity such information as may have escaped former research. The duties of the sheriff have been fre­quently explained; but the Coroner, an officer of high impor­tance in various stages of our history, seems unknown to our legal or antiquarian enquiries. His function may be illustrated by the following statutes, which at the same time throw a strong light on the administration of justice, at the period of the last parliament of James III.

"It is thought expedient, and ordained, for the advance­ment of justice, the bringing in of trespassors to law, and their punishment, that in time to come when the Crowner receives his porteous1and traistis, if there be any persons disobedient, [Page 386]whom he dares not, nor is it in his power to arrest, in that case the Crowner shall pass to the lord and baron of the barony where they dwell. And if he dwell not within a barony, he shall pass to the sheriff of the shire, and shew his porteous, that he has such persons therein mentioned, and enquire if the lord, baron, or sheriff, will be surety and pledge for these persons, to produce them at the circuit. If they consent, he shall de­liver to them the names that they may become pledges, by writings sealed and subscribed. And if they refuse to be sure­ties, he shall require the lord, baron, or sheriff, in the king's name, either to pass, or send their officers, with their follow­ers and servants in sufficient number, with the said Crowner, or assist and aid him in making the arrest, or seizing him who will not become surety, till he be brought to the sheriff, to be retained till the circuit. Any lord, baron, or sheriff refusing, to forfeit ten pounds to the king, the Crowner proving the offence2."—"It is thought expedient for the punishment of criminals, who escape from the Crowner, that in future he shall bring such to the sheriff, who shall keep them prisoners on our sovereign lord's expence, till the next circuit, and then present them to the Justiciary. The sheriff shall be allowed from the exchequer three-pence a day for each, on bringing a certificate from the Justiciary. If the sheriff refuse to receive the criminals brought by the Crowner, he shall incur the danger and unlaw 3 of the Justiciary-circuit, to the fourth court, as a surety should do in default of producing the person arrested4."— "It is ordained that because the Crowners in times past, through erroneous custom and abuse of the law, after a criminal was convicted before the Justiciary, and condemned to death, would immediately pass or send to escheat the effects of such [Page 387]criminals, though belonging to the king, and appropriate a part of the corn, cattle, and other effects, neither in law nor reason appertaining to their office. Therefore it is decreed that in future no Crowner pretend to take any such effects, till the sheriff or his deputy shall pass or send, examine the effects, and allot the Crowner his share, the remainder to be delivered to the king's treasurer; nor shall the sheriff deliver more to the Crowner than his legal portion. Punishment, as of rob­bery5." Another statute ordains that, on the last day of the circuit, the Justiciary shall appoint a jury to examine if the sheriff and coroner have done their duty: and another decrees to the latter a young labouring horse, if any be, among the effects of an executed malefactor6.

From other evidence it appears that the family of the Neil­sons had, in the reign of James V, been heritable coroners of Bute for two hundred years: and in 1535 Hugh earl of Eg­linton was appointed Coroner of the county of Cunningham, on the resignation of Cunningham of Caprinton7. During the civil commotions, in the reign of Charles I, the military force of each county was led by a Crowner 8, a term which appears to have been succeeded by that of Colonel.

In 1475 gifts of lieutenancy were issued by James III to Lennox, Argyle, Athole, Huntley, of various sheriffdoms in which their estates lay. Nor were the clergy averse to such secular authority; among other instances the abbot of Kilwin­ning obtained the power of chamberlain over all the abbey­lands, [Page 388]and the repledging of the tenants from any other judi­catory9.

The court of Session had been instituted by James I in 1425. Its members were nominated by the king from the estates of parliament; and it was termed the Session because its meet­ings were fixed at certain periods and places. James II or­dained particular regulations concerning this court; but as its members only served by rotation, and without salary, it was at once ignorant and negligent; and was at length to be ex­changed for a daily council, appointed by the patriotic parlia­ment of 1504. It is to be regreted that James I did not found courts upon the English model; but perhaps the penury of the country afforded no funds for salaries; perhaps the confined nature of the regal jurisdiction, or some other circumstances prevented such an attempt.

But the power of the session, the justiciaries, the sheriff and coroner, was greatly restricted by the Regalities, or Lordships Palatine. Their jurisdiction was royal, as the name implies; in civil affairs it equalled that of the sheriff; and in criminal it even comprized the four pleas of the crown, murder, rob­bery, rape, and fire-raising, rivalling that of the Justiciaries over every crime, except treason. The lord of regality could repledge, or reclaim, all criminals subject to his jurisdiction, even from the courts of the Justiciaries1. These extravagant grants, incompatible with the regular administration of justice, had been lavished by the royal favour; or extorted by the [Page 389]power of several great barons, when they had themselves ex­pelled the English from their territories, or had rendered some eminent public service. In 1455 an attempt was made to prevent any further grants of regality, by subjecting them to the consent of parliament2; but the practise was as inveterate as it was imprudent. The ecclesiastic lords, ever desirous of exemption from any authority save that of the pope, are sup­posed to have set the first example of regalities; the temporal authority was delegated to a Bailiff, and often hereditary. Regalities continued to be granted, and confirmed; and the charters of hereditary sheriffdom to the peers and chiefs within their lordships, were almost tantamount, and became so nu­merous as to extend over all the country. When regality lands were forfeited, the king appointed stewards over them with similar powers; hence the hereditary stewards of Strath­ern, Menteith, Annandale, Kirkudbright: while over baro­nial lands in the crown only Bailiffs were nominated, as in Kyle, Carric, Cunningham, and even the last-named offices were to be held hereditarily by peers. Happy country, thus filled with hereditary wisdom and hereditary justice!

Nor must the Spiritual Courts be omitted, which before the reformation were to become great grievances. They origi­nally sprung from the confidence which piety reposed in the bishops; who were entrusted with the care of estates, and orphan children. Hence their claim to judge in testaments and legacies: and marriage being a sacrament, administred by ecclesiastics since the twelfth century, prior to which it was merely a civil contract, all questions of divorce, breach of vows, and the like, passed to the ecclesiastic courts; from which no appeal lay except to the metropolitan, or finally to [Page 390]the pontiff. Tythes and patronage were natural objects of church decision, and notaries were appointed by the pope: but scandal, and any affairs confirmed by an oath, though ly­able to ecclesiastic jurisdiction, might in all ages seem secular questions. The bishops were supposed to be occupied in divine duties, and delegated their power to officials or commissaries: but the court was styled the Bishop's Court, or Curia Christi­anitatis, and also the Consistorial Court, from the consistory, or court of appeals held by the Roman emperors3.

Two statutes of James II, concerning the administration of justice, deserve particular attention. "The three estates have ordained that the Justices on the south side of the Scotish sea (the firth of Forth) hold their courts of circuit twice in the year; and in like manner on the north; according to ancient use and custom. And so also lords of regality within their re­galities, and the king's baillies of his regalities. And that the king himself, till the due course of justice be restored, pass to every town where the circuit is held, or to its vicinity, as his council shall think convenient4."—"It is ordained and decreed that in all circuits of justice, sheriff courts, and generally all courts spiritual and temporal, all persons, freeholders and others, shall attend in a sober and quiet manner. And that no man bring with him more persons than are in his daily house­hold, and family service. And when he arrives at his lodging, he and they shall lay aside their weapons and armour, if any they bring; and wear no weapon except a knife. And if any be at open enmity, and alledge fear of his life, the sheriff shall require law-burrows, or legal surety, from both; and prohibit them in the royal name to disturb the king's peace, on pain of incurring the law, which the king shall execute without re­mission [Page 391]on the infringer. If the sheriff be negligent he shall be punished, according to the statute ordained for reforming the faults of officers of justice5." In 1487 the lords and commons in vain engaged not to support any criminal friends, or rela­tions, at the bar: but the offence was to continue common in the succeeding century6.

James III in 1469 ordered that if the Justice, Sheriff, Stew­ard, Bailie, or Baron, Provost or Baillie of burghs, refuse to execute justice the complainant shall repair to the king in council, who shall punish the offending magistrate by the pe­nalties there mentioned7. Among the grievances of this reign the abuses of the court of Session appear to have been one of the chief. The want of regular intermediate civil courts, between that of the sheriff and the king's council, must have led to much inconvenience, and maladministration; the power of the privy council having been ever esteemed one of the grand defects of the Scotish constitution, being an arbitrary star-chamber un­controuled by genuine justice or equity. With all its imper­fections the court of session, consisting of all the members of parliament in rotation, must have been an institution far more free and impartial.

Some regulations appear concerning inquests, and juries on criminal causes; but the want of juries in civil cases was to continue a disgraceful contrast between English and Scotish jurisdiction.

Among the means of preserving the public peace, the let­ters of Law-burrows must not be omitted. The term is de­rived from borgh, a pledge or surety, which any person, in fear of another's violence, had a title to demand, that he should not be injured in his person, family, or estate8. He who re­fused [Page 392]to grant such security was lyable to high penalties: when granted, the sureties became amenable in the terms of the fol­lowing statute of 1466. "Concerning law-burrows it is en­acted, that if they be infringed on any bishop, abbot, or prelate of the church, earl, or lord of parliament, with their personal hurt, or that of their servants, the sureties of the infringer shall pay to our sovereign lord a sine of one hundred pounds. If on any knight, baron, squire, or clergyman of large bene­fice, fifty pounds. If on a burgess, yeoman, or priest, thirty pounds. Together with due compensation to the party injured. Unless the sureties produce the infringer before the king or the sheriff, within forty days. The king to have the fines of all law-burrows broken, that shall fall within the jurisdiction of his own officers, either in town or country: and the lords of regalities and baronies to have those taken in their lands, by them or their officers, according to their ancient infeof­ments and privileges9."

One of the last statutes of James III is in the following terms. "The three estates have committed the full power of the whole parliament to the persons under-written, (they do not appear,) to advise, confer, and report to the next parlia­ment or general council, concerning the reduction of the king's laws, Regiam Majestatem, acts, statutes, and other books, to be bound in one volume, and authorized; and the others to be destroyed. Four persons to be appointed for each of the three estates. The prelates to bear the expence of the clerical mem­bers: the barons of those they shall appoint: and the burghs that of their commissaries1." In like manner James I had ap­pointed a committee of six of each of the estates, to examine, and amend, "the books of law, that is to say Regiam Majestatem, [Page 393]and Quoniam Attachiamenta 2." It has been shewn by skilful judges that the work quaintly styled Regiam Majestatem is a transcript of Glanville's production. It was probably brought into Scotland by David II, who was greatly attached to Eng­land, and desired to bequeath his sceptre to an English heir; and by an artful incorporation of some genuine laws of Daivd I, Scotland was prepared to receive it as a code of that illustrious monarch. The feeble reigns of Robert II and III, and above all the tumultuous regencies of the dukes of Albany, had so far obliterated the very memory of the laws, that the error had in the reign of the first James taken deep root, and was to shoot vigorously3. The Quoniam Attachiamenta, or Baronial [Page 394]Laws, seem chiefly of genuine indigenous birth. But an edition of our authentic ancient laws, with an ample disserta­tion [Page 395]on the subject, is reserved for enlightened times, of more acute and suspicious judgment than those of James I, or III. The code, of infinite importance to philosophy, history and an­tiquities, would probably embrace, 1. The genuine laws of David I, forming many pages in the Regiam Majestatem, not to be found in Glanville: 2. The Laws of the Burghs, appa­rently ordained by David I: 3. Those of the Baronial courts: 4. The Statuta Gildae: 5. The Iter Camerarii, and the Iter Justiciarii: 6. The Forest Laws. The acts of Robert I, Da­vid II, and the two latter Robert, admit of easy and certain authentication: those of William and Alexander II, for none have yet arisen of the third Alexander, would require more sedulous care to complete the series; which demands neither eminence of talents, nor excess of labour, but is essential to the national science and reputation4.

The obscurity attending the reign of James II, the impor­tant service which the house of Hamilton rendered to that prince, its subsequent connection with the royal family, and ambition latterly to reach the diadem itself, will apologize for presenting the less learned reader with a translation of the in­teresting erection of Hamilton in 1445, into a hereditary lord­ship of parliament, or what would now be termed a peerage; nor is the grant without intrinsic value and curiosity to the an­tiquary and man of science, as a specimen of the constitutional forms, and law language of the period.

"James by the grace of God king of Scots, to all honest men of his whole realm, clergy and laity, greeting. Know [Page 396]ye that we, with the mature deliberation of our parliament, held at Edinburgh on the twenty eighth day of June, and of our reign the ninth year, have given, granted, and have by this our present charter confirmed, to our beloved cousin James lord (laird) of Hamilton knight, all and singular the lands of the baronies of Cadyhow and of Mawchane, and the superiority of the lands of Hamilton-farm, and the lands of Corbaskat, with the appendages, lying in the sheriffdom of Lanark and barony of Kinneil, and with the appendages lying in the sheriffdom of Linlithgow. Which lands, and superiority, were formerly the hereditary property of the said James; and which he, not moved by force or fear, nor led by error, but of his own free will, did restore, and purely and simply resign, by staff and baton, in the presence of the three estates of our kingdom, into our hands, we then sitting on our throne in parliament, in royal state and majesty; and he perpetually quitted all right and claim, which he might have, or acquire, to the said lands, superiority, or appendages, for himself and his heirs. All which baronies, lands, superiority, and appendages, we create, join, and unite into one real free and entire Lordship, which shall in all future times be styled and denominated the Lordship of Hamilton. And the manor-house of the said James, now called the Orchard, situated in the barony of Cadyhow, shall be in future the principal and capital messuage of all the above baronies, superiority, and lands, with appendages, of all the above Lordship, and shall be styled and denominated Hamil­ton. And we create and name the said James an hereditary lord of our parliament. To have, and to hold, all and sundry the baronies, superiority, and lands above mentioned, (the said James having before of us, as baron of Kilbride, held in capite the superiority of the lands of Hamilton-farm, and the lands of Corbaskat,) by the said James, and his heirs, of us, our [Page 397]heirs and successors, kings of Scotland in fee, and perpetual inheritance; with all their ancient boundaries and divisions, with all and singular the liberties, commodities, and conveni­ences, and just appendages, named or not named, above ground or beneath, far and near, anywise belonging to the said ba­ronies, superiority, and lands; of all the said lordship of Ha­milton, or accruing to them in future; as freely, quietly, en­tirely, honourably, well, and in peace, in all respects, as the said James, or any of his predecessors, held of us, or our an­cestors, the barony superiority and lands of the whole lordship of Hamilton, or of us as baron of Kilbride the superiority of Hamilton-farm and lands of Corbaskat, before his said resig­nation. The said James performing to us, our heirs and suc­cessors, kings of Scotland, the services due and wont. In testimony whereof we have ordered our great seal to be ap­pended to this charter, before these witnesses, the reverend fathers in God John, James, John, John, and Michael, bishops of Glasgow, Dunkeld, Moray, Brechin, and Dunblane; Wil­liam, David, Archibald, Hugh, and Alexander, earls of Doug­las, Crawford, Moray, Ormond, and Huntley, and our dearest cousins; Duncan, Patrick, William, Herbert, and Alexander, lords Campbell, Graham, Somerville, Maxwell, and Mont­gomery: John Dalrimpill, John Scrogs, and James Parklee, burgesses commissioners of Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Lin­lithgow; masters William Turnbull keeper of our privy seal, John Shevis, clerk of the rolls and register, and John Railstone our secretary. At Edinburgh the third day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand four hundred and forty five, and of our reign the ninth year5."

[Page 398]At the time of this erection the house of Douglas was in the plenitude of its power; and the Hamiltons having ever been attached to that great family, the source of favour becomes evident; nor is it matter of surprize that lord Hamilton at first followed Douglas, against his sovereign. After the fall of that house, and the marriage with the princess, the Hamiltons were to become one of the most potent families of Scotland; and in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that of Argyle could alone contest the superiority.

To the observations formerly given on TACTICS little can be added. In a parliament of 1456 James II ordered, "that all men who have lands or goods be ready, horsed and ac­coutred as their lands and effects will afford, for the defence of the realm, at the command of the king . . . . . . . And that every man, whose effects extend to twenty marks, be provided at least with a jack with sleeves to the hands, or splents; and a pricked hat, a sword, and a buckler, a bow and a sheaf of ar­rows if he can procure them, if not an axe; and a targe either of leather, or firm board, with two bands upon the back6."

James III in 1471 ordained, "that no merchants should import spears less than six elns in length, and that no bowyer in the kingdom should make them of shorter size . . . that every yeoman, who cannot use the bow, shall have a good axe, and a targe of leather, to resist the English arrows, which will only cost the value of the hyde7." By both par­liaments carts of war are ordered to be provided, which bore two patereros or small cannon; a machine probably derived from the Flemings or French; and which Henry VIII was, from the Scotish example, to introduce into the English army8. [Page 399]In 1481 the spears are ordered to be five elns and a half in length; and the jacks, or leathern tunics, to extend below the knee; the targe of timber, or leather, to be made after the form of one sent to every sheriff9.

While the defensive armour of the commons was the jack and targe, the leaders were arrayed in plate armour of com­plete steel, which had succeeded the mail or interwoven rings. The helmet had a visor to turn up, for sight; and a bever to turn down, to admit drink or food: sometimes they both went up in divisions under the front of the helmet, so as to leave the face open. The gorget, for the throat or neck, resembled a flat bason open in the middle. The cuirass covered the body; and had projections to defend the shoulders from the violent down-stroke of the axe or two handed sword, as the crest de­fended the head; these projections were termed pass-guards. To allow motion to the thighs the culet, or garde-des-reines, a short steel petticoat was contrived. The arms were protected by the brasers; the thighs by the quissets; the legs by the greaves; the gauntlets, splents, and other pieces, need hardly be enumerated. Even the horse had his armour of appro­priated denominations; and all his front was particularly pro­tected from the spear, or sword: the chafron, or cheveron, with a projecting point, covered his forehead; the poitrinal his breast; the criniere his neck: the buttock-pieces were [Page 400]more rarely used, an embroidered cloth commonly displaying the heraldic bearings of his master1.

The assassination of James I probably led to the institution of the royal guard, which appears under his successor, and James III; but which James IV was probably to discontinue, as on its revival by Albany, in the minority of the fifth James, it was regarded as a novelty. Concerning the number, or pay of the officers and soldiers, nothing arises till the last men­tioned reign.

The Scotish guards of France were apparently instituted between the years 1453 and 1461; though they may be as ancient as 1445, when the gendarmerie were restored. In the following century the captain was generally a Frenchman: till 1612 many of the soldiers were Scots; under Louis XIV most were French: yet even in the middle of this century, when the watch was changed, the answer was Hamir, a cor­ruption of "I am here2."

If we except the royal guard, and a few occasional garrisons on the frontiers, Scotland was a stranger to any permanent troops, till the Restoration. France, her ally, had long set the example of standing forces, at first the prop of a govern­ment, and latterly the ruin. The connexion between that country and Scotland may warrant a brief digression on the origin of an institution, which has produced such memorable effects on the political arrangements of Europe. The original [Page 401]feudal array of France generally served for three months, on their own charges: the period was afterwards restricted to forty days, exclusive of the time occupied in joining the army or returning. About the year 1200 Philip Augustus had a paid militia, each fief furnishing and defraying the expence of an apportioned number of soldiers; the defaulter was not only constrained to pay the sum required for the service, but a fine: and in 1392 Charles VI extended the penalty to the forfeiture of the fief. The communes, communitates, or parishes and burghs, also furnished and paid their proportions. The soldats, or soudoyers of Froissart, had fixed wages; and the officers and men sold themselves to any state engaged in war. But their disorders becoming excessive, Charles V terminated them, and raised the gendarmerie, the soldiery of the sovereign, who paid the noble leaders from the royal treasury, they providing the men. In the weak reign of Charles VI the disorders re­turned; Charles VII reestablished the gendarmerie about 1445. He maintained fifteen troops, of 100 lances each; and per­suaded the burgesses and yeomanry to defray the expence, for their own benefit and protection, for the former gendarmerie had been lodged on them: each lance had five followers; so the whole number was nine thousand. But there were also volunteers who served at their own expence, in the hope of succeeding on a vacancy: so that the troop, or company, sometimes amounted to 1200 horse. They were lodged in the towns, only twenty or twenty five being allotted to one place; and their utility was soon perceived by the prevention of public ravages and disorders, and the consequent restoration of agriculture and commerce. They were all gentlemen, led by the nobles, who were ambitious to be captains of the gen­darmerie, instead of leading their feudal force, which hence­forth was never raised except when the Arriere Ban was [Page 402]summoned. This institution maintained its purity till the reign of Francis I, when modern soldiery appeared2.

Nor must it be omitted that Charles VII ordered every parish to maintain one archer, who had certain immunities3; an example worthy of the imitation of the Scotish sovereigns, in their anxiety to promote archery, as a band of one thousand, trained and eminently skilled, might have afforded no mean aid in battle, and might have kindled universal emulation.

From the numbers of the Scotish army perhaps the only materials arise, from which the population of the country may be vaguely estimated: but unhappily the variations are so great that no accuracy can be expected. Bowar computes the array in 1436 at 400,000, half horse half foot, including all between the age of sixteen and sixty, capable of arms, ex­cepting only herds, officers and servants of prelates, and some excused from necessity or merit4. Supposing the array a sixth of the population, the incredible number of two millions, four hundred thousand, would result. Other general arrays are computed at one hundred thousand; which supposing every eighth person appeared, gives the probable number of eight hundred thousand. The present population exceeds a million and a half, and it has been gradually increasing in this century: in the middle ages the most rational computation would be a million, yielding an array of eighty thousand effective men; but sometimes doubled by a disorderly rabble of unarmed pea­sants and boys.

SECTION III. Agriculture, Useful Arts.

THE information on these important topics continues la­mentably barren; and the acts of parliament present almost the only authentic evidence.

The statute of James II, 1458, permitting lands to be let in feu, free from military service, was a notable introduction to improvement5. The same prince had before ordained that a mortgagee of lands should not reduce the rents, in order to prolong his possession after his demand had been cleared6. An ordinance of James III also deserves notice: "Concerning new inventions, and selling of lands by charter and seizin, and taking again of reversions, and the buyer may sell the land again to another person; it is now seen expedient in this present parliament, and according to law and conscience, that the first seller have recourse to the lands, sold by him under reversion, into whatsoever hands they may come, on paying the money, and shewing the deed of reversion; and have the same privi­lege and freedom against the holder of the lands, as against the first purchaser. And because such deeds of reversion may chance to be lost, our sovereign lord shall order them to be registered in his register, on paying the expence, half a mark each; and the extract shall have the same force as the prin­cipal reversion7."

[Page 404]Lord Kaims supposes that the law of Scotland, even in that century, did not permit the absolute sale of lands, or houses, except in cases of poverty, and where the apparent heir could not purchase8. This restraint must greatly have impeded the progress of improvement, to which the free and frequent alienation of estates so much contributes; a new and monied possessor having many incitements, unknown to the indolence and routine of hereditary holders.

Severe statutes were issued against those forestallers, who de­tained their corn from the market, in expectation of a scarcity. In August 1452 it was ordered that all the corn in the kingdom should be thrashed out before the last day of May then next, and that none should keep more in a granary than was suffi­cient for their family. The measures were regulated in 1458; the firlot, containing eighteen pints, was to be sixteen inches and a half in the recipient diameter; the half firlot, and peck, to follow in proportion9.

A parliament, held in July 1454, ordered every encourage­ment to foreign merchants importing grain; and to Scotish merchants bringing it from England1. The act for that pur­pose in 1477 allows, as has already been mentioned, that the chief support of the country was by foreign importation. The low state, and slow progress, of agriculture may be further judged of from the statute of James II, 1458, ordering that every man, using a plough of eight oxen, should sow every year at the least one firlot of wheat, half a firlot of pease, and forty beans, under a penalty of ten shillings to the baron2: a mere transcript of a statute of James I in 1426.

The same parliament of 1458 decreed that no fences should be made of stakes, sticks, or hewn wood, but only of lyand [Page 405]wood, a term not absolutely clear2. Ordinances also appear for the destruction of eagles, bustards, kites, hawks, and par­ticularly wolves: for the latter purpose the sheriff or bailiff of the county, where any appear, is to collect the people to hunt them; and the slayer of the wolf is to receive one penny from every householder in the parish3. The burning of heath, from March till Michaelmas, is prohibited under the penalty of five pounds, that the standing corn may not be damaged4. In 1477 the legislature condescended to ordain that a smith, who injured a horse in the shoeing, should supply another till he were sound; or if irremediable, should exchange him5.

The sowing of broom is ordered by a statute of 1458: it is still mashed, and given to cattle in a scarcity of other food. The same act orders the freeholders, when they grant their yearly leases at Whitsunday, to insist on their tenants' planting wood and trees, and making hedges6. But these regulations seem to have had little effect; and a tenant liable to be turned out every year, must have had little spirit to plant or improve. Had the legislature ordered long leases, their skill and patriotism would have been more apparent. Even now the Scotish pea­santry object to hedges, because forsooth they shelter flocks of birds, who injure the grain; while the warmth and protection from the wind, supply double the store devoured by these in­truders. So the use of oxen in agriculture is objected to by the servants, because they cannot ride them. When we per­ceive what mean interests, and prejudices, oppose improve­ments in enlightened ages, there is less room to wonder at the slow progress of darker times.

An old chronicle has the following articles of intelligence. "1439. Was the dear summer, for the boll of meal was at [Page 406]twenty four shillings, and the boll of malt at two marks, and the boll of wheat at thirty shillings; and many died of famine." In 1482, after the king's imprisonment in the castle of Edin­burgh, "the corn became more cheap, for the boll, that was at four pounds, was then sold for thirty shillings of white (pure) silver7." The learned Ruddiman estimates a boll of wheat in 1424 at two shillings; of rye, barley, and pease, at one shilling and four pence; of oats at six pence: an ox six shillings and eight pence; a horse thirteen and four pence8. Even in 1523 the boll of meal was at thirteen shillings and four pence. The above scarcities must of course have been enormous, and shew the incredible distress of the country in times of internal commotion; the value of the commonest provisions being increased about twenty fold, as if the English quarter were to rise from sixty shillings to sixty pounds!

Concerning the Useful Arts little information appears. Special regulations were issued, in 1458, concerning works in gold and silver; the standard purity of which is to be ascer­tained by a mark, stamped on it by the deacon of the craft9. In 1484 three marks were ordered; one of the artificer, one of the deacon, the third of the town. No dyer of cloth is permitted to exercise the trade of a draper; and the measure of cloth is to be computed exclusive of the selvage1. Till a late epoch, Flanders was to supply Scotland with most of the ar­ticles of useful art and manufacture.

SECTION IV. Commerce, Money, Navigation.

THE state of commerce in Scotland at this period may best be estimated from the following lines of a noted old English poem, apparently written in the reign of Edward IV. It is intituled The Bibel of English Policy; and contains a number of just observations on the political interests of England, with some account of the trade of most countries2. That of Scot­land is thus described.

"Of the comoditees of Scotland, and drapyng of her wolle in Flandres.

Also over all Scotland the comoditees
Are selles, hides, and of wolle the flees.
All this must passe by us away,
Into Flaundres by England, this is no nay.
And all her wolle is draped for to selle
In the townes of Poperyng, and of Belle;
Whiche the duke of Gloucester, in grate ire,
For her falshede sette upon a fire.
And yit thai of Belle and Poperyng
Coude never drape her wolle, for any thyng,
[Page 408]But yef thei had English wolle with alle;
Our goodly wolle it is so generalle,
Nedfull to hem of Spayn, and Scotland als,
And other costes: this is not fals;
The worthi marchauntis, I do upon ydoo,
That this is trew ye wote wele how.
For the staple of that marchaundie
Of Scotland is Flaundres truly.
Than the Scottes ben charged at sye,
Out of Flaundres with litell mercerye,
And grete plente of haberdashe ware,
And with cart wheles bare,
And barowes are laden in substaunce;
Thus must rude ware ben her chevesance.
So may thei not forbere this Flemysh lond,
Therfore yef we wold manly take on hond
To kepe the see fro Flaundres, and fro Spayn,
And fro Scotland, and fro Litell Bretaigne,
We shold right sone have pease, for all her bostes,
For thei must nedes passe by oure Englishe costes."

The main objects discoverable from those rude rimes are, that the chief exports of Scotland were fells or skins, hides, and wool; that the wool was manufactured at Popering and Bell, or Baileul, towns on the southern Flemish coast, between Dunkirk and Calais; that to make fine cloth it was necessary to mingle it with some English wool: and that the Scotish im­ports from Flanders were mercery, but more haberdashery, cart-wheels, and wheel-barrows.

Further hints concerning commerce may be derived from the statutes. Salmon formed an important article of export; in 1487 it was ordered that each barrel should be capable of [Page 409]containing fourteen gallons; and that each burgh dealing in that article should have three iron hoops, to measure the cask, which is afterwards to be marked with a hot iron. Cattle were not allowed to be sold into England, except for ready money3. Many other regulations concerning merchandize have already been stated, in narrating the transactions of the parliaments. It is singular that an act of 14584, bearing that merchants must be burgesses worth at least three serplaiths of wool, is only enacted by the clergy and barons; the interest of the burgesses being esteemed a ground for excluding them from the deliberation.

A statute of 1467 considerably illustrates the subject. "It is ordained that in future no ship be freighted without a charter-party, containing the following agreements; namely that the master of the ship shall find a sufficient steersman, tymmer-men, and ship-men sit for the service. That the master gratuitously furnish the merchants with sire, water, and salt. If there happen any contention or dispute between the master and the merchants, they shall abide by the jurisdiction and decree of the town to which the ship is freighted. That no merchant's goods be torn or spoiled by improper stowage, nor anywise injured by the master or his servants, on penalty of losing the freight, over and above compensation for the damage. That the master stow no goods upon the upper deck, else they shall bear no freight; and no goods under deck, that may injure the others in a tempest. That every ship exceeding five lasts of goods shall pay to the chaplain of the nation in the foreign port, one sack; and under five lasts, half a sack; on the pe­nalty of five pounds to the king. No drink money is to be paid to the master, or his agents. Each ship, homeward bound, [Page 410]shall bring one tun of materials, for the church-work of the town to which it is freighted5."

Concerning foreign merchants an important regulation was issued by James III, in his last parliament 1487. "For the common profit of the whole realm, and to excite strangers of other realms to visit this, with grain and other merchandize, to support the king's subjects; it is ordained, that in future all strangers be treated honourably, with all favour, at whatever port they arrive. That none of our sovereign lord's officers, nor other subjects, disturb them, or arrest their persons, ships, or goods; but they shall have full liberty and freedom to dis­pose of their goods, and sell them to free-men, without com­pulsion or violence: nor shall any price be set upon their goods, except in fair bargain and sale. That no new customs, imposi­tions, nor exactions, be levied on them, but solely the ancient duties. And when any articles are wanted for the king, that his comptroller, or receiver, after the price has been settled, shall have as much of the first and best, as is necessary; for which immediate payment shall be made, that the strangers may not suffer by the delay. That in future no person, under pretence of purchasing for the king, take goods from strangers, to sell again, under the penalty of exile, and escheat of move­ables. And any strangers now in the realm, complaining of any goods taken from them, or any injury, shall have imme­diate payment and compensation, according to justice: and in like manner any now absent, who may arrive with complaints, shall receive compensation and justice, against any person in the kingdom: so that by the administration of justice, and fa­vourable treatment of all strangers, they may be excited to return, to the great utility of the whole kingdom6."

[Page 411]The same monarch, about 1476, grants a passport to some Florentine merchants7. Commerce was now in a flourishing condition in many countries: France, the ally of Scotland, had beheld Jaques Coeur, goldsmith or banker to the king, attain enormous wealth by industrious trade. In the reign of James II John Dalrymple had the singular title of the king's merchant 8; and perhaps carried on commerce for his sove­reign's behoof. It has already been stated that James III had ships, his own private property; one of which was taken by a vessel belonging to the duke of Glocester. Nor were the bishops, and barons, averse to this laudable spirit of adven­ture.

Of the annual value of the customs, and extent of the trade, no evidence remains9; and any further illustrations of the state of commerce must be reserved till another retrospect, after remarking that the collector of the customs is, in the statutes, termed the customer: and that sums arising from them were offen assigned by the monarch, as annuities of compensation or reward.

The nominal value of the Scotish money, compared to the English, was about one to two, till 1451, when it became as one to two and a half; and five years after as one to three. In 1467 it was about one to three and a half: and at last, in 1475, as one to four: in which state it continued till the reign of Mary. The gold coin has St. Andrew on one side, and the arms of Scotland on the other; and from the latter it was termed the Lion; it also bore the name of Demy, because in the time of James I it weighed half the English noble. James III coined gold Unicorns, so called because that animal [Page 412]was chosen as the supporter of the Scotish armorial bearings; apparently by this prince, the supporter of the Stewart's arms having been a stag1. It is almost unnecessary to mention that the devices, imputed to our monarchs, and retailed by our later historians, are the futile inventions of the last century2.

The silver denominations were groats, half-groats, and pennies. Cochran, in the reign of James III, issued base groats and pennies; the former were called placks, and only passed for three-pence; in 1482 this corrupt coin was re­voked3.

The copper coinage of Scotland commences in 1466. Of James III there are only farthings: of his successor pennies, half-pence, and farthings. A little silver is mingled, so as to constitute what is called billon.

The statutes shew that English, French, and Flemish coins were not unfrequent in currency.

Concerning Navigation little can be added till the reign of James IV, though the Scotish navy commenced in that of his predecessor, when Wood and Barton began to distinguish them­selves. In 1458 the rates imposed for repairing the harbour of Dundee were, ten shillings on every ship; five shillings on a crayer, buss, barge, or ballinger; twelve pence on every fercost; and six-pence on large boats4. Other circumstances may be found in the text and notes of the narrative.

SECTION V. Ecclesiastic History, Literature, Language.

THE few incidents of ecclesiastic history are mostly inter­woven in the preceding books. Deservedly jealous of the papal power, our kings continued to guard, by repeated statutes, the liberties of the Scotish church, which in some measure cor­responded with those of the Gallican. In 1471 the purchase of any benefice or office at Rome was declared treason5; that avaricious court contriving at this period to draw immense sums from most European kingdoms, by the sale of benefices, by arbitrary taxations, indulgences, and other arts: but the expence of the bulls of confirmation was to continue a severe tax on the Scotish bishops and abbots.

The clergy loudly exclaimed against James III, for quashing the freedom of election, and assuming into his own hands the nomination to vacant benefices, which he sometimes sold to laymen. This right was to become a considerable source of influence to the crown, when no minority intervened; but it was perhaps one cause of the enmity betrayed by Mair, Boyce, and other ecclesiastic writers, against the royal family and prerogative. The avarice of the pope, a churchman, would have been more tolerable to them than that of their sovereign; and the injury of their holy monopoly was an unpardonable oftence. James I had, in his first parliament, ordered that no clergyman should pass or send an agent out of the realm, without permission; and that no benefices should be purchased6: [Page 414]but the royal nomination seems rarely to have been exercised till the reign of James III; and the wealth of the church, which was at least equivalent to that of all the lay-interest, became a great object of state intrigue. In 1481 "it is or­dained by the king and his three estates, concerning the pri­vilege of the crown, used and observed in all times past, in the presentation to benefices during a vacancy in the sees of bishops, that our sovereign lord, and his successors, shall in future, during the vacation of a see, have power to present to benefices, till the bishop shew his bulls to the king's highness and to the chapter. And in case that our sovereign lord, of his special grace and favour, admit any prelate to his tempo­ralities before he shew his bulls, such admission shall imply no prejudice nor harm to his highness, concerning the said privi­lege and right of presentation7."

While even the penury of Scotland was taxed to pamper papal avarice, and luxury, the miseries of other kingdoms were extreme. On the enquiry into the causes of the poverty of France, instituted in the States General held at Tours in 1484, though the Tiers-Etat chiefly consisted of clergy and maistres, it was agreed that the chief cause was the avarice of the popes, Alexander and Martin, which had drained the kingdom of not less than two millions of gold: much of the coin had also passed to England, and none remained in France except foreign money. The bishoprics of France at that time amounting to one hundred and one, the abbies and conventual priories to more than three thousand, the effects of papal ex­tortion were very extensive; and it is ordered that no legate be be in future admitted to pillage the kingdom8.

[Page 415]It is not a little remarkable that the papal dominions them­selves, at a time when all the wealth of Europe was pouring into them, were almost a desert; a striking instance of the absurd and heterogeneous nature of ecclesiastic power in tem­poral affairs. The state of the church-lands in Scotland re­mains in obscurity; but while the clergy sometimes aspired to commerce, they do not appear to have advanced agriculture.

Ecclesiastic censures, and excommunication, beginning to be despised in the reign of James II, they were enforced by secular penalties9. In 1469 the power of appointing notaries in civil causes was assumed by the king, though the German emperor had before been understood to possess that prerogative. Yet the regal notaries are to be examined by the bishops; and the papal notaries retain their power.1.

The eloquence of the pulpit remained in a low condition. Some judgment of it may be formed from the latin oration of Whitlaw to Richard III, in which he quotes Virgil, Statius, Cicero, and Seneca; and among other arguments for peace says, "Christ was born in peace, was buried in peace, sleeped in peace, and rested in peace." Yet in England at that period Dr. Shaw, and Friar Pinke, were celebrated preachers at St. Paul's cross, in the popular idiom to a popular audience; and perhaps instituted the execrable example of political sermons, by promoting the sanguinary usurpation of Richard. In de­lineating the character of bishop Kennedy, Lindsay says "he caused all parsons and vicars, to remain at their parish churches, [Page 416]for instruction and edifying of their flocks, and caused them to preach the word of God unto the people, and to visit them when they were sick. And also the said bishop visited every church within his diocese, four times in the year, and preached to the parishioners the word of God truly; and enquired of them if they were duly instructed in the word of God, by their parson and vicar, and if their sacraments were duly admi­nistered, and if the poor were sustained, and the youth edu­cated and taught, conformably to the order that was taken in the church of God. And where he found that order was not followed he made great punishment, to the effect that God's glory might shine through all the country within his diocese; giving good example to all future archbishops, and churchmen in general, to cause the patrimony of the church of God be used for the glory of God, and the common benefit of the poor2."

The remainder of the character of this venerable prelate may well interest the reader, as a picture of ecclesiastic worth, drawn in simple and pleasing colours. "He was a man well learned in the civil laws, and of great experience in them; and by his genius, literature, knowledge, lengthened practice, and years, he knew the nature of Scotishmen so well, that he was the most able of all the lords of Scotland, spiritual or temporal, to give any wise counsel, or an answer when the time occurred, before the prince or the council; and specially in the time of parliament, or when the embassadors of other countries came for their affairs, there was none so able as he to give them answer, conformably to their petition, and the desires of their masters. When any commotions occurred in [Page 417]the realm, he shewed equal wisdom; for he gave counsel to king James II, when he was ready to depart out of Scotland, for fear of the earl of Douglas who had gathered against him to the number of forty thousand men, ready to give him battle, or else to chase him out of the realm." Lindsay adds that the bishop led the king into his oratory; and after prayers produced a sheaf of arrows, not to be broken when joined, but easily fractured apart: from this demonstration of an Eso­pian apologue he shewed that the power of the aristocracy must be assailed by degrees3.

The state of the church may also be estimated from the old poem before quoted4. One of the questions is, Why the pious bishops, and clergy, of former times, exercised all good works, and performed miracles; while no such practise or power, ap­peared among their successors? The answer is, that anciently the bishops were chosen by the people, after invocation of the Holy Ghost, either from among the clergy of that chapter, or by selecting from those of all the kingdom the person most proper for that particular see: that now they are appointed by the king, and introduced by the sole hand of power; so that they can work no miracles, except by the special assistance of the devil: that no man procures a benefice by merit, literature, or even birth, but solely by gold, simony being accounted no transgression: and the Holy Ghost having no hand in the elec­tion, his precious gifts were in consequence not imparted; while the regal inspiration could only confer the love of gold, a gift of no miraculous nature: and the bishops being them­selves shorn, they practised the shearing of their flocks with [Page 418]great affiduity and success; this being the genuine meaning of the symbolic ecclesiastical tonsure.

While the bishops, and many abbots, were lords as having seats in parliament, the inferior clergy were distinguished by the titles of Master and Sir; the former perhaps appropriated to a Master of Arts, the latter to one who had passed all his degrees, or possessed a considerable benefice. When Mary of Gelder came to Scotland, Gerard Boot monk of the Char­treuse, her confessor attended her; on a voyage to Flanders he was taken by the English and robbed. In recompense Henry VI orders him a present of twenty yards of fine black cloth5.

Though the repeated internal commotions were unfavourable to the progress of literature, yet several writers arose during this period. Margaret the dauphinefs, as has already appeared, was a poetess in French; and perhaps some of her ballads and rondeaux may lurk in the libraries of France. Holland, the author of the Houlat, wrote about 1450; Henry the Rimer, a strolling poet, repeated his fables concerning Wallace, about 1460 or 1470: and about the same period Clerk of Tranent seems to have composed his metrical romances on the adven­tures of Gawin, a knight of Arthur's court6. The riming prophecies, ascribed to Merlin, Beda, and others, were of English growth; but were adopted in Scotland with all the credulity of a dark period, and had even their influence on public measures, these books of the Sybil being consulted and repeated, in this and the following century, with great con­fidence in the application of the prediction7.

[Page 419]Holland and Clerk build their stanza in a singular manner; and the alliteration, and frequent recurrence of the same rime, render their poetry affected and obscure.

In the middis of Maii, at morne as I went,
Throw mirth markit on mold, till a grene meid;
The blemis blywest of blee fro the sone blent,
That all brychnit about the bordouris on breid.
With alkin herbis off air, that war in erd lent,
The fieldis flowryschit, and fretful of fairheid.
So soft was the seasons our sovrane down sent,
Throw the greabill gift off his godheid,
That all was amiable ower the air, and the erd.
Thus throw the clifts so clere
Above, but fallow or fere,
I waikit till a riweir,
That ryallye rer'd8.

Nor in the list of poets must the author of the Tales of the Priests of Peebles be forgotten, whose homely rimes reflect considerable light on the manners of the age.

The chief chronicler of this period was Bowar, the enlarger and continuator of Fordon's work. He wrote in the year 14449; and Scotish history is indebted to his labour, though his deplorable defect of judgment render his work a mere chaos of materials, mingled with eccentric digressions, and excursive reading. Yet from these the state of learning in the country may be estimated. He quotes upwards of one hundred authors, and among them many latin classics; but former compilations no doubt supplied him with much of his erudition. The common use of paper rapidly increased the number of ma­nuscripts: [Page 420]and the invention of printing was still more to serve the cause of science.

Bowar had unhappily no successor till John Mair wrote in 1521: and for the affairs of the fifteenth century we are in­debted to the researches of Lindsay, Ferrerius, Lesley, and Buchanan, who do not indicate their sources of information. Yet apparently short chronicles were written, and preserved in the monasteries, till they perished in the violence of the re­formation, or mouldered amid the neglect of literature, in the succeeding century of ecclesiastic dispute and fanaticism. In his last chapter Bowar says he desists from writing, lest he might seem to flatter the living actors; and he closes with the following advice. "It is properly ordered in most countries, and as I have heard in England, that every monastery of royal foundation should have its appropriated scribe, to narrate the more memorable events, that occur during each reign, in that and the neighbouring countries, according to strict truth, and chronology. On the death of a king, these chroniclers proceed to the first general council, and produce their labours; which are referred to the examination of the most sagacious and skillful, who from the whole digest one summary chronicle. The books are then returned to the libraries of the monasteries, as authentic chronicles deserving of faith, lest by the lapse of time the memory of events should perish in the kingdom. So would I advise our king to order, lest if the present work should be lost, which heaven forbid, the memory of popes, kings, peers, and illustrious men, should also perish; with the in­citements to virtue, or the cautions against faults, which are afforded by the perusal of their actions1." This advice was unhappily not followed: and our monarchs, amid their pa­tronage [Page 421]of the arts, seem little to have attended to the utility and glory of national history. The monastic cellar was better replenished than the library; and the jolly inhabitants preferred one terrestrial beauty to all the nine muses. In France, as has appeared in narrating the events of 1448, there was a chronicler at St. Denis, who inserted narratives upon the oaths of the relators: and indeed every historian ought to write as if he had made a solemn asseveration, in the presence of God and his country, that truth shall be his sole pursuit. The judicious Fortescue informs us that the chronicler of St. Albans wrote, at the end of every month, what had hap­pened in its course: and that this work, which was called Flores Chronicarum, was of more authority than any in Eng­land2.

In the other departments of science little appears. Sir Gil­bert Hay, formerly chamberlain to Charles VII of France, in 1456 translated Bonet's Arbre des Batailles, a once popular book of arms and heraldry, into Scotish, at the request of William Sinclair earl of Orkney and chancellor3.

For the language of this epoch the appendix may be con­sulted, where several papers in Scotish will be found. In general there is little difference, in the speech of England or Scotland, between this and the following century; and the spelling is as little redundant.

SECTION VI. Ornamental Arts, Manners, Dress.

THE Gothic architecture had now attained its greatest perfection, in sublimity, richness, and variety. About 1444 William Sinclair, the celebrated earl of Orkney, founded a collegiate church at Roslin, four miles from Edinburgh, for a provost, six prebendaries, and two singing boys4. A chapel, which remains entire, is a gem of Gothic architecture, uni­versally known and admired.

James III was so fond of this art that Cochran, an architect, became his chief favourite. Besides the great hall in the castle of Stirling, he founded the royal chapel there, an institution of great magnificence for that age5. The dean was to be the queen's confessor, and to have episcopal jurisdiction: this dignity was first annexed to the provostry of Kirkheugh near St. Andrew's, another royal chapel; and afterwards to the bishopric of Galloway. There were besides a sub-dean, sa­cristan, chanter, treasurer, chancellor, arch-deacon, sixteen chaplains, and six singing boys, with a master of music. The endowments consisted of two abbies, numerous churches, and lands. James IV was to maintain and enlarge the institution; and to procure the papal confirmation6. The architecture, [Page 423]and decorations, apparently corresponded with the greatness of the revenue annexed, and with the royal favour and piety.

In the year 1458 bishop Kennedy founded St. Salvator's college in St. Andrew's: and erected a magnificent tomb for himself in which he was interred in 14667. This tomb is a favourable specimen of the state of the arts at that period. But a Turkish custom, of a plain stone, with a large hole or two to collect rain-water, that the birds may find drink, breathes more of christian humility and charity.

The large golden medal of James III, appended to the shrine of St. John at Amiens, and minutely described by Du Cange, was probably the production of an Italian or Flemish artist. That some eminent foreign painter had also visited Scotland about 1482, appears from the celebrated picture at Kensington, in the form of a folding altar piece, painted on both sides, or in four compartments. The first represents the king kneeling; behind him is his son, a youth about twelve years of age, which ascertains the date; and St. Andrew the patron saint of Scotland. The royal crown is not arched, nor was apparently till the reign of James V, when new re­galia were ordered, but it has high fleurons of great richness; the robe is of a lilac hue furred with ermine; the vest, cloth of gold. In the second compartment the queen appears, also kneeling, in a kirtle of cloth of gold, and blue robe; her head-dress one blaze of gold and jewels: the arms depicted with exact heraldry indicate the daughter of Denmark; and behind her is a personage in plate-armour, apparently her father in the character of St. Canute, the patron of his king­dom.

Of the two compartments, on the reverse of this grand piece, one represents the Trinity. In the other an ecclesiastic [Page 424]kneels; but his heraldry of three buckles and a cheveron can hardly be traced, except to the obscure family of Bonkil in the Merse8. Behind is a kind of organ, with two angels, not of ideal beauty, and perhaps portraits of the king's two sisters, Mary lady Hamilton, and Margaret then unmarried; a con­jecture supported by the uncommon ornament of a coronet on the head of one of the angels. Hardly can any kingdom in Europe boast of a more noble family picture of this early epoch: and it is in itself a convincing specimen of the atten­tion of James III to the arts9.

[Page 425]In describing the character of that prince, Ferrerius men­tions that he not only loved literature, and invited John Ire­land a celebrated Scotish doctor of the Sorbonne into his king­dom, and rewarded his talents with a rich benefice; but ex­tended his patronage to music in particular. William Roger, an excellent English musician, having attended the embassa­dors of Edward IV into Scotland in 1474, James was delighted with his performances; and persuading him to remain in his court, raised him to knighthood. "Under the instruction of this man, the most celebrated of his profession, numerous eminent musicians arose in the court of Scotland: and, even so late as 1529, many great musicians boasted that they were of his school1."

Holland, in his poem of the Houlat or owl, apparently a satire on James II, by a partizan of the house of Douglas, mentions no less than twenty five kinds of musical instru­ments2.

In proceeding to consider the state of Manners, the military exercises attract the first notice. To promote the practise of archery, the games of foot-ball, and the golf, continued under strong prohibition. Yet the highlanders appear to have been the chief archers in the ancient Scotish armies, while the low­landers preferred the spear. In describing the army of James III, in 1488, Lindsay enumerates no less than ten thousand highlanders with bows, under the earls of Huntley and Athole3. Repeated statutes were ineffectual to introduce [Page 426]archery in the lowlands. One of the most precise is that of James II, in his noted parliament of 1458. "It is decreed and ordained that the displays of weapons be held by the lords and barons, spiritual and temporal, four times in the year: and that the foot-ball and golf be utterly cried down, and not to be used. That the bow-marks be made, a pair of buts at every parish church, and shooting be practised. That every man shoot six shots at the least; and that two pence be levied upon the absent, for drink to the shooters. The practice to last from Easter till All-saints; and all to be ready by next midsummer. That there be a bowyer, and fletcher, in every chief town of a shire; the town to furnish them with the ne­cessary materials to serve the country. The penalty on foot­ball and golf, a fine to the baron; and if he neglect, the king's officers shall levy it. If the parish be large, there shall be three, four, or five bow-marks, in the most convenient places; and that all men exceeding twelve and under fifty years of age practise archery4."

Among the great the chief exercise of arms was the solemn tournament, which might almost be classed under the head of Tactics, did that science comprize the preparations for war. These grand displays of martial skill were seldom undertaken by any, save those who had been solemnly invested with the order of knighthood, an institution forming a kind of fraternal society throughout Europe, and which contributed not a little to divest war of its horrours, to abate national animosity, and to pro­mote the intercourse and consequent civilization of remote kingdoms.

Knights were generally created with great solemnity by the king himself; sometimes by the general, or other aged knights [Page 427]of eminent fame before a battle. The ancient oath adminis­tred in Scotland has been preserved, and deserves insertion, as a curious relique of the spirit of chivalry.

1. "I shall fortify and defend the christian religion, to the uttermost of my power.

2. "I shall be loyal and true ot my sovereign lord the king; to all orders of chivalry, and to the noble office of arms.

3. "I shall fortify and defend justice at my power; and that without favour or enmity.

4. "I shall never flee from my sovereign lord the king; nor from his lieutenants, in time of affray of battle.

5. "I shall defend my native realm from all aliens and strangers.

6. "I shall defend the just action and quarrel of all ladies of honour, of all true and friendless widows of orphans, and of maidens of good fame.

7. "I shall do diligence, wheresoever I hear that there are any murderers, traitors, or masterful robbers, who oppress the king's lieges, and poor people, to bring them to the law at my power.

8. "I shall maintain and uphold the noble state of chi­valry, with horse, armour, and other knightly habiliments; and shall help and succour those of the same order, at my power, if they have need.

9. "I shall enquire and seek, to have the knowledge and understanding of all the articles, and points, contained in the books of chivalry.

"All these premises to observe, keep, and fulfill, I oblige me; so help me God by my own hand, and by God himself5."

[Page 428]The Scotish knights continued to vye with any in Europe. The celebrated tourney of 1449 has already been briefly men­tioned in the historical narrative, but a minute account of that noted contest shall here be translated, as literally as possible, from the Memoirs of Olivier de la Marche, a contemporary Burgundian writer; as a picture of manners, delineated in plain and simple colours6.

"When Messire Jaques de Lalain saw that there was no further occasion for him there, he returned, and sound the good duke of Burgundy in his city of Lille, who received him favourably: but he soon took leave of the duke, and set our for Scotland. He was accompanied by Messire Simon de La­lain his uncle, and Hervé de Meriadet, and many other worthy men; and so far as I understand Messire James Doug­las, brother of the earl of Douglas, and the said Messire Jaques de Lalain, had formerly wished to meet in arms, and had sought each other for that purpose. At the instance of the said Messire James Douglas battle was permitted by the king, be­tween him and M. Jaques de Lalain: but the affair grew and multiplied so that a conflict to outrance was concluded on, of three noble Scotishmen, against M. Simon and M. Jaques de Lalain, and Hervé de Meriadet, all to fight at once before the king of Scotland. And when the day of the conflict came, the king most honourably received them in the lists: and though I was not myself a spectator, yet I must recount the [Page 429]ceremonies, for example to future times. For three memo­rable things occur, besides the battle, which was most fiercely disputed on both sides."

"The first was, that when the three belonging to the court of Burgundy were all armed, and each his coat of arms on his back, ready to enter into battle, M. Jaques de Lalain spoke to M. Simon his uncle, and to Meriadet, and said, "Messieurs and my brothers in the conflict, you know that it is my enter­prize which has led us into this kingdom, and that in conse­quence the battle has been granted to M. James Douglas; and although each of us may assist his comrade, I beg and request you that, whatever befall me this day, none of you attempt to succour me, for it would seem that you had passed the sea, and entered into this conflict only to assist me; and that you did not hold or know me a man able to sustain the assault and combat of one knight, and hence less account will be held of me and my knighthood."

"After this request sallied from the pavilions the champi­ons in armour, furnished with axes, lances, swords, daggers; and they had leave either to throw or push their lances as they chose."

"The two Messires James Douglas and Jaques de Lalain were in the middle, to encounter each other, which they did. On the right was M. Simon de Lalain, who was to engage a Scotish squire, and Meriadet was to meet a knight of high power and fame; but they found themselves transverse, so that the knight was opposite to M. Simon: and then Meriadet, (who desired to assail him who was appointed, without regard to the strength or fame of his antagonist,) passed across, to place himself before M. Simon, and meet his man. But the good knight coldly and firmly turned towards Meriadet, and said, "Brother let each keep himself to his opponent; and I [Page 430]shall do well if it please God." So Meriadet resumed his rank before his antagonist: and this is the second thing which I desired to commemorate."

"The champions began to advance each against the other; and because that the three on the part of Burgundy doubted least the place might be too confined, for so many lances, they all three threw their lances behind them, (the third cause of my recital;) and seized their axes, and rushed on the Scots, who came within push of lance, but that availed them nothing. Though all fought at once, I shall rehearse the adventures one after the other."

"The two Messires James, Douglas and de Lalain, met each other, and approached so nigh, that of all their weapons there remained none save a dagger, which the Scotish knight held. The said M. Jaques de Lalain seized him by the arm, near his hand which held the dagger, so closely, that the Scot could not avail himself of it; and he held the other arm below the arm-pit so that they turned each other round the lists for a long time."

"M. Simon de Lalain and the Scotish knight were strong champions, and neither of them skilled in warding blows of the axe: like two valiant knights they attacked each other of often, that in a short time they had crushed the visors of their basinets, and their weapons and armour, with mutual blows; and the fight seemed equal."

"On the other side was Hervé de Meriadet, whom the Scotishman attacked with the push of lance; but Meriadet turned off the blow with the but end of his axe, so that the lance fell from the Scot's hands: and Meriadet pursued him so keenly that, before the Scot could undo his axe, he came within his guard, and with one blow felled him to the earth. Meriadet then left the Scot to arise, who was quick, light, [Page 431]and of great spirit, and arose speedily, and ran to Meriadet for the second time. Meriadet, (who was one of the most re­doubted squires of his time for strength, lightness, coolness and skill in arms and in wrestling,) received the assault with great composure, then returned it, and again struck him to the ground with his axe; when the Scot again attempted to rise, but Meriadet struck him on the back with his hand and knee, and made him fall flat on the sand. And notwithstand­ing the request which Messire Jaques de Lalain had made, the said Meriadet, seeing the struggle of the two knights, advanced to assist the said Jaques; but the king of Scots threw down his baton, and they were parted. Now though it be against my plan, and though I write of this combat without having seen it, I nevertheless report it truly, by the report of the Scots and of our party."

Such is this curious contemporary relation. Other valuable materials concerning the manners of this period, may be found in the annals of De Coucy, another Burgundian coeval histo­rian, who probably attended Mary of Gelder to Scotland in 1449, as before mentioned. On her landing, the clergy, citizens, and people of Leith, were ready to receive her; and she thence proceeded on horseback, behind the lord of Vere, to Edinburgh, where about ten thousand people advanced to meet her. A bishop, and the chancellor, conducted her to the monastery of the Jacobins, or Gray Friars. After the king's first visit on thursday, the countesses of Orkney, and March, and another, attended on her by the royal command. When she had sufficiently refreshed herself from the fatigues of the voyage, James, on the following wednesday, sent to ap­point the next day for the wedding; and presented her with two hackneys worth about thirty French crowns. On thurs­day, the wedding-day, the king came on horseback, and was [Page 432]dressed in a grey robe lined with white cloth, boots and spurs. The queen was clothed with a robe of violet colour, lined with ermine; in a strange fashion, says De Coucy, if com­pared with those of France; and her long hair hanging down. The coronation of the queen immediately followed the mar­riage7. From some of the preceding circumstances it would rather appear that James II was austere in manners, and ex­pence; and reversed his father's magnificence, which was un­popular in a penurious country, and was imputed to an English education.

At the festival, which followed the solemnity, the first dish was the figure of a boar's head painted, and stuck full of hards, or coarse bits of flax, which was served up in an enormous platter, surrounded with thirty two banners, bearing the arms of the king and chief nobles. The flax was then kindled, amid the joy and acclamations of the numerous and brilliant assembly in the hall. A ship of silver, exquisitely wrought, was then introduced, probably containing salt and spices in distinct compartments. The earl of Orkney then entered, accom­panied by four knights, preceding the first service: and every service was brought by about thirty or forty persons all bearing dishes. At the second table the countess of Orkney, and other ladies, sat with the lord of Vere. At a third was a pa­triarch, says De coucy, perhaps a papal legate, or foreign vi­sitant, or some Scotishman enjoying a titular dignity; three bishops, an abbot, and other churchmen; the five dignitaries drinking out of a large hanap, or bowl of wood, without spil­ling any: the wine, and other liquors, being as abundant as sea-water. The dinner continued about five hours, there [Page 433]being neither dancing nor supper. On the following days there was excellent cheer in their way, proceeds this author, which was very rude and strange, when compared with that of France. In five or six days Vere set out on his return; and the king made some presents. The queen weeped at their departure, though Isabel de Lalain, and two or three other women, and as many men of her country, were left to serve her8.

In the reign of James III, the author of the old poem before quoted represents his three priests as enjoying their collation at Peebles, consisting of three roasted capons with sauce, and many other meats; and imputes to their desire of privacy that they had only a boy to serve them. A roundel or round table, covered with a fair cloth, stands before them; and neither bread nor liquor are wanting. Taverns, and dice, are repro­bated; and a merchant's cupboard of plate is estimated at three thousand Scotish pounds, or about seven thousand five hundred of modern sterling currency9.

The advances of luxury among the aristocracy, and clergy, may also be estimated by that of concomitant crimes. The two statutes of 1450, against domestic and foreign importers of poisons, shew that profligacy had made more rapid strides than civilization. Another sort of poison, bad wine, was in­terdicted by a statute of 1482, declaring the penalty of death to any importer, seller, or composer of corrupted or mixed liquor1.

[Page 434]Game and hunting were luxuries of the great. In 1458 it is ordered that none destroy the nests or eggs, or fowls them­selves when moulting; nor kill hares or rabbits in the season of snow, on pain of indictment. A penalty of ten pounds is in 1474, imposed on stealers of hounds or hawks, trained or untrained; or even taking eggs, or young hawks, out of nests in another person's property: that for robbing the nests of partridges or wild ducks is forty shillings. The slaughter of does, roes, or deer, in time of snow, or their young under a year's growth, is punished by indictment, and a fine of ten pounds: and the stealing of deer or roes from inclosures or parks, rabbits, pigeons, or fish in ponds or ditches, is made liable to the same punishment as any other act of theft2.

To diversify the prolixity of a life of idleness, and relieve the formalities of ceremony, were objects attempted by the maintenance of a regular fool, who however had generally sense enough to respect his master. He was distinguished by his party coloured coat, his cap with large ears and bells, and his club or bauble, ornamented with grotesque allusions to his profession. The minstrels and choristers were musicians, so termed because in the middle ages church music was the only branch of the art which was regularly cultivated. But Lind­say mentions that a part of the choristers of the chapel-royal at Stirling always attended James III, "to make him merry3;" and it appears that the ecclesiastic musicians did not disdain strains of recreation. In Holland's poem the minstrels are solely occupied in singing hymns, accompanied with numerous musical instruments4. The poets, composers of songs and romances, were generally of the clerical order: the term of [Page 435]minstrel was afterwards applied to any musician, but the only strolling poets were the Irish or highland bards, whose rude manners are depicted by Holland, and who are classed in the statutes with common vagabonds: while James III so highly favoured minstrels, or musicians, that he permitted them to equal knights or heralds in their apparel. Holland's Irish bard sings a wild song, and fabulous genealogy, in his native language: and afterwards fights with two fools, his proper equals and companions5.

The character of RIMER, or poet, was as superior to that of minstrel, as the jugler was beneath it. In Holland's curi­ous production the juglour merely exhibits feats of manual magic; a view of hunting is followed by a sea-fight: the king's cup is suddenly changed; a grey goose becomes a gold garland, sand becomes silver; and the like experiments of common adepts6.

Yet the belief in real magic, and witchcraft, was now pre­valent both in England and Scotland. The duchess of Glo­cester had been imprisoned as a witch7: and about thirty years after we find many witches and magicians condemned to the flames in Scotland, for conspiring with Mar against the king's life. This new folly was to vegetate, and flourish, for near three centuries.

The manners of the great may be further illustrated from the Tales of the Priests of Peebles. One question is, why the peers have so much degenerated from their ancestors in vir­tue, wisdom, and valour? The answer is, that the royal offi­cers of justice diminish the privileges of the lords, by indicting [Page 436]and fining their tenants for pretended crimes; so that the latter are reduced to poverty, and unable to arm themselves properly to attend their masters in war, or to pay their rents in peace. The peers in consequence become poor themselves, and en­deavour to replenish their coffers by unworthy marriages with the opulent bastard-daughters of priests, or heiresses of mer­chants; or by selling the right of marriage of their sons to rich commoners8. But this satire rather refers to the artful avarice of James III; and seems to evince that a great cause of the conspiracy of the peers was their impoverishment, occasioned by his exactions on pretence of the administration of justice; which, as appears from the statutes themselves, was never in a worse state than under his reign.

The Dress of this period may best be illustrated from several statutes on the subject. The following is of August 14559.

"Concerning the habits of the Earls, Lords of Parliament, Commissioners of Burghs, and Advocates, to be used in the parliament or general council, it is ordained,

"That all Earls shall use mantles of brown granit (or fine cloth,) open before, lined with white furr, and trimmed in front with same furring, of a hand's breadth and down to the belt; with little hoods of the same cloth, pendent on the shoulders.

"And the other Lords of Parliament shall have a mantle of red, open in like manner before, lined with silk, or furred with cristie gray, griece, or purray, (some furs inferior to the er­mine worn by earls;) with a hood of the same cloth, furred as the lining.

"And all Commissioners of Burghs each to have a pair of clokes (a cloke) of blue cloth, furred to the feet, open on the [Page 437]right shoulder; the fur of proportional value; and a hood of the same.

"Whatever Earl, Lord of Parliament, or Commissioner of the Burghs, shall enter the parliament or general council, except dressed as above, shall instantly deposit a fine of ten pounds to the king.

"In every burgh, where a parliament or general council is to be held, there shall be erected at the bar three tiers of benches, each higher than the other, for the commissioners of the burghs to sit upon; under the penalty of ten pounds to be raised on the town where the parliament or general council shall be held.

"All men hired as fore-speakers (or advocates) shall wear green habits, in the form of a short tunic, (tunikil) the sleeves to be open like those of a tabard. Any advocate otherwise appearing before the parliament or general council, and speak­ing for a reward, shall forfeit five pounds to the king."

The curiosity of this statute may excuse a few remarks. The brown granit, worn by the earls, was perhaps a tawny fine cloth, a colour fashionable in this century, till it was sup­planted by a brighter tint scarlet; a term corresponding to gra­nit, and applied by metonymy to the fineness of the cloth or to its colour. The common people, as has been already men­tioned, were allowed to wear on holidays light blue, green, or red; tartan being as yet little known or confined to the great: but the finest cloths appear to have been generally dyed tawny or scarlet; while purple and crimson were tints almost con­fined to velvets, and silks, and appropriated to princes. May it not be inferred, from the particular order for seats to the commissioners of the burghs, either within or without the bar, for the expression is dubious, that they were sometimes obliged to stand in the presence of the haughty clergy and aristocracy?

[Page 438]In 1458 this act was confirmed; with the addition that the king should order patterns of all the dresses to be made1. The sumptuary law of the same year has already been stated in the first section of this retrospect: it permits the dignified or rich clergy to wear gowns of scarlet with costly furs.

James III in 1471 ordered that, considering the great penury of the realm, and the expence of importing silk, none should wear it in doublets, gowns, or clokes, whose revenue was under one hundred pounds Scotish money in landed rent, ex­cepting knights, minstrels, and heralds: and that women, whose husbands came not within the above descriptions, should not use silk in linings, but only in making the collar and sleeves2. The dress of this prince, and his queen, has been already described.

The gowns and mantles were sometimes indecently short at this period, as appears from a penalty imposed by an English statute of the twenty-second year of Edward IV. The doublet and hose were long to remain in the same form: but shoes, more than six inches broad at the toes, began to succeed the other extreme of long peaks. Louis XI of France, 1461—1483, appears in those broad shoes3.

On the 24th of June 1470 occurs a charter of the lands of Kilmarnoc, and others, forfeited by lord Boyd, to Margaret of Denmark, the queen, during her life, "for her robes, and to supply her with the ornaments of her head-dress4." Other minute particulars may be traced in the treasurer's accompt for 1474, reprinted in the appendix. James Homel the king's taylor, and a favourite afterwards executed at Lauder bridge, has four elns of French black to make a long gown for the [Page 439]king, which is lined with sustian. Hose of white cloth; shirts of fine holland; chamlet gowns, lined with lamb-skin; socks of white cloth; doublets and hose, lined with broad-cloth; a pair of spurs valued at four shillings; two elns of velvet to make two tippets, and furs to line them; a long mantle of velvet; a bonnet at fifteen shillings; and two hats at ten shillings each; a satin jacket lined with lamb-skin; grey cloth for long socks; black satin to cover a prayer-book; velvet for a chesabel to his closet, and for his brigin­tynis; knobs of gold for his saddle; a chymna or grate for his closet; ribbons for his doublet and sleeves; pillows covered with broad-cloth; drugs from Flanders; an eln of scarlet for his petticoat; a gown of cloth of gold, lined with satin, pre­sented to an English herald who attended the embassy; gloves, muchis or caps; are among the articles provided for the king.

For the queen are pattens and corks; livery gowns lined with grey for six ladies of her chamber on a pilgrimage to Whithern; satin for her turrats; black cloth for a sliding gown; velvet for another gown; leathern gloves; a cloke and capite bern of black, lined with Scotish cloth; eight elns of broad cloth to cover a bathing vat, and three for a sheet to put around her while bathing; hose of black cloth; seven elns of crimson satin for a kirtle, and to cover bonnets of tire; a grate for her closet; band-leather for furring her gloves; five elns of cristy gray, at thirty shillings the eln, to line a gown of black damask; blue velvet to cover her stirrup-irons; half an eln of double tartan to line her riding collars; satin for tippets and collars; seven pounds for more than a year's shoes; satin for stomachers, and ermine to line them; twenty-six bestes of grece to line a tippet; ten pounds thirteen shillings and four pence "for a mass-book to her altar, at her command, by captain John Cat," who probably brought it from Flanders.

[Page 440]The chief articles for the prince, then a babe of two years, are shirts and caps of holland cloth; coats of brown lined with white cloth, and some of the latter for his cradle; fine broad cloth for his sheets, or rather blankets; white hose and petti­coats, and lawn caps; French brown cloth, and tartan with buckram-binding for his cradle; English russet for a gown to his nurse; white fustian for blankets, and broad cloth for sheets; a coat of satin, and a gown of cloth of gold, lined with blue tartan.

These minute particulars will be excused, as they contribute more to illustrate the state of manners, and dress, than the most elaborate disquisition.

APPENDIX.

No I. Letter from the Earl of Douglas and Mar to Richard II. probably in 1377. Cotton Library, Vesp. F. VII, f. 34.

TRES noble et peussant prince, Jeo monstre par voi de compleinte a vous, Seigneur, et a votre bonne Consaile, par cestes mes let­tres, comment que John Mercer mon homme ore ad estee par grant temps tribuleez, et annoieez torcenousement, deinz votre roialme, con­tre la vertue de noz grantz trews, comunement tailliez et accordez perentre les roialms: parla ou ile rienz ne mespristes, mes que ile es ses loials marchandises retournant en sa payse, par force de meer et tem­peste seut dejettuz au terre, et arrestez par vos subgitz; et uncore par le Conte de Northumbreland detenuz en prison. Au quoi, tres noble prince, vous pleas avoir regards et consideration; et par voz lettres au dit Conte faire commander expressement, que le dit John mon homme soit delivrez franchement, sanz lui plus travailler et ryot faire. Kar au proscheine joer de marche, si ceo vous pourra pleer, ile sera present, pour y demonstrer devant voz deputeez, que ile ny ad rien trespassee ne mesprise en celle part, si Dieu pleast. Oultre ceo, tres noble prince, touchantz meistre Thomas Mercer, mon clerk, pour qui jeo escriva au votre noblesse devant celle temps, et monstre . . . lement a vous, Seigneur, et a votre dit consaille, les damages, costages, et per­des, qile ad sustenue et fait durant sa arreste forpris; sez tribulations, annoys, et tortz, qui amontent au deux centz marcs de sterl. et oultre; des queux vous please luy faire avoir redresse et restorance en due ma­niere; ou aultrement celuy, ou ceux, qui luy arresteint, commander pour comparer personalement au dite joer de marche, pour le charge soubtzaler devant voz deputeez susditz, ou le dit mon clerk sera prest pour respondre et receiver semblable maniere, selont les usages des joers des marches, par voi de reson, si Dieu pleast. Tres noble prince, ceo qui vous pleira de commander, pour estre fait cellendroit, me deignetz lesser savir par vos lettres, oe le portour du cestes. Que luy toute peussant Dieu, par sa tressantisme grace, votre noblesce veulle demesner au vie perdurable. Esc. le xvime joer de Novembre*.

Le Conte de Douglas et de Marre.

(Directed, Au tresnoble et peussant prince le roy d'Engleterre.)

No II. Extrcts from the Chamberlian's Roll, anno 1377. Register Office, Edinburgh.

Note. Part of it is considerably becayed.

COMPOTUM Johannis Lyoune Domini de Glamys, Cam. Scocie, reddit. apud Dunde, xviii die marci, Anno Dni millmo, ccc, Sepruag. Septimo, de omnibus receptis suis, et expensis, pro officio Cam. in Cama Regis, a tempore introitus sui in dicto Officio, viz. a vicesimo die Octobris, Anno Dni Millimo cccmo lxxmo viimo usque in diem hujus Compoti.

Idem onerat se in primis de xiii li. vi s. viii d. rec. a vic. de Kyn­cardyne.

Summa patet.

Item, Idem onerat se de iii s. viii d. rec. a Ball. de Edynburgh. Et de xlvi s. iiii d. rec. a Ball. de Ruglen. Et de viii li. xv s. x d. receptis a Ball. de Innerkethyne. Et de iii li. v s. vi d. receptis a Ball. de Dunbret. Et de xxii s. viii d. rec. a Ball. de Monros. Et de viii lib. xv s. vi d. ob. receptis a Ball. de Abden. Et de xiiii li. ii s. viii d. receptis a Ball. de Innernyss. Et de xx li. recept. a Ball. de Haddyngton. Et de iii li. iiii s. viii d. receptis per Ball. de Forfar.

Summa hujus Recept. lxi li. xvi s. x d. ob.

Item, Idem onerat se de cc li. recept per Custumar. de Lythco. Et de xiiii li. xix s. ii d. ob. receptis per eosdem Custumar. Et de cc l. li. rec. per Custumar. de Edynburgh. Et de clxviii li. xiii s. iiii d. re­cept. per Andream Bet, depōtorem dicte Custume. Et de ccxxiii li. xvi s. rec. per Custumar. de Hadyngton. Et de clxxi li. xvii s. xi d receptis per Custumar. de North Berwyk. Et de xxxvi li. xiii s. ix d. recept. per Custumar. de Dunbar. Et de xvii li. vi s. viii d. per Alexrum de Cokburn, depōit. de Hadyngton et de Dunbar. Et de iiii li. iii s. iiii d. recept. per Custumar. de Stryvelyne. Et de c. iiii xx, xii li. iii s. ob. recept. per Custumar. de Monros. Et de xxviii li. xi s. vi d. ob. rec. per Custumar. Sancti Andree. Et de xiii li. x s. ii d. ob. receptis per Custumar. de Dunde. Et de lxvii li. vi s. viii d. receptis per Patricium de Innerpesyr, depōit. dicte Custume de Dunde. Et de ccc xxxix li. x s. vi d. ob. recept. per Custumar. de Abden. Et de cc lxi li. iii s. vii d. recept. per Willm de Leth, De­pōitor. [Page 443]de Abden. Et de lvii li. vi s. viii d. receptis per Custumar. de Innernyss.

Summa hujus Recepti M. M. xxxvii li. s. v d. ob.

Item, idem onerat se de xiii li. vi s. viii d. recept. per David de Fou­lertoun a una Eschaet.

Summa patet.

Et ii li. hic per exitus Curie Compot. quod non fuerunt tent. Itinera Cam. post decessum Dni Walteri de Byggar nuper Cam. prout in Septem Burg. que nuper tenuit Computans, de quibus non potuit le­vare exitus ante diem hujus Compoti, propter temporis brevitatem.

Summa totalis hujus Onerationis M. M. C. xxv li. xii s. viii d.

Expens. ejusdem. In primis Compotat in liberac. fact. Dno. nro. Regi, ad proprios usus suos, ut patet per quatuor pecia literarum, sub Signeto Anuli, iii c xxxii li. xv s. iiii d. Et in liberac. fact. Dne Regine, in parte Solucionis summe sibi assignate, ut patet per tria pecia literarum ipsuis Dne Regine, de receptis ejusdem super Compo­tum, c l li. xv s. ii d. Et Compotat. in liberac. fact. Johi. de Dis­pensis, Clerico liberac. Domus Dni nostri Regis, ad expens. ejusdem Domus, ut patet per quindecim pecia literarum ipsius Clerici, de recept. ejusdem super Compotum, et per duas lras dni Alani de Largis, clerici liberac. ejusdem, super Compotum, c xxix li. iii s. x d. ob. de quibus responderunt. Et eidem Johi de Dispens. clerico liberacionis ad expens. ejusdem Domus, ut patet per tria pcia* literarum ipsius Clerici, de recept. ejusd. super Compotum, ix li. ix s. vi d. de quibus responde­bit. Et dno Alano de Largys, tunc Clerico liberac. Domus Dni. nostri Regis, ad expens. ejusdem Domus, ut patet per quinque pecia lrum ipsius Clerici de recept. ejusd. super Compotum, xv li. ix s. de quibus ren̄dit. Et in liberac. factis Dno David Bell, Clerico Gardrob, pro diversis receptis in dictam Gardrob, ut patet per tria pecia literarum ipsius Dni David de receptis ejusdem super Compotum, liiii s. x d. super quibus ren̄debit. Et in liberat. factis Dno nostro Regi, ad pro­prios usus suos, ut patet per unam literam sub Signeto suo, xii li. xvii s.

Summa hujus expens. vi c liii li. vi s. i d. ob.

[Page 444]Item, Idem Computat in Soluc. fact. Mro Rich cementario, in parte solucionis sibi faciend. pro factura tumbe Dni nostri Regis qui nunc est, xiii li. vi s. viii d. Et Johi de Roos, ad Construccionem* tris de Clony, xxxviii li. xiii s. iiii d. de quibus respondebit. Et Dno Comiti de Fyf, percipienti per annum, ad Custodiam et sustentacionem Castri de Strivelyne, in partem Solucionis dicte summe de anno hujus Compoti, ipso Comite fatente rec. super Compotum, lxvi li. xiii s. iiii d. Et Dno Roberto de Danyelstoun militi, percipienti per annum per literas Regis ejus super Compotum pro tempore vite Octoginta li. pro Custodia Castri de Dunbret: de tempore hujus Compoti, ipso fa­tente recept. super Compotum, xxvi li. xiii s. iiii d. vidz. in partem solucionis dicte summe. Et Willmo de Fentoun pro uno termino xx li. Et Dno Jacobo de Douglas, filio Dni Comitis de Douglas, in partem solucionis summe sibi debit. liii li. vi s. viii d. Et Mro Ja­cobo Monetario, de dono Regis, iiii li. vi s. Et Dno Patricio de Grahame, Dno Symoni de Ketnys, et Johi Marc, Nunciis missis in Angliam, c li. Et Dno Abbati de Abbroth, pro Comite Moravie, cui Rex tenebatur in una summa pecunie xii li. Et Dno Jacobo de Lyndesay percipienti per annum, pro tempore vite sue, viginti li. pro feodo Vicecom. de Lanark, de tempore hujus Compoti xx li. Et Pa­tricio de Innyrpesyr, Depōtatio apud Dunde, pro suo servicio, vi li. xiii s. iiii d. Et eidem pro superexpens: suis Compoti sui redditi de dicto Depōito, xiii li. xviii s. viii d.

Summa hujus Expens. iii c. lxxv li. xi s. iiii d.

Item, Idem Compotat in Solucione facta Magro Johi de Peblys, Archidiac. Sti Andree, pro pensione sibi assignat: namque suscepit Officium Canc: de anno vz lxxmo sexto, xiii li. vi s. viii d. et Johi Rollok percipienti per annum ex infeodacione Regis hereditar. ut patet in Rotulis Compotorum preceden. de anno hujus Compot. x li. Et Johi Gray, clerico rotulorum et Registri Regis, percipienti per an­num Viginti libr. pro predicto officio, pro tempore vite, de Anno hujus Compoti xx li. Et Dno Alano de Largis, clerico probacionis domus Regis, pro feodo suo, de Anno hujus Compoti xl li. Et dompno David Bell, Clerico Gardrob. pro feodo suo de Anno hujus Compoti, et de Anno precedent. de quo non percepit feodum, xx li. Et Johi de Dispens. clerico libcionis pro feodo suo xx li. Et in Expens. Auditorum Compotorum, et in vadiis Garconum et equo­rum, pro temporibus Scaccarii, c xxxiii li. vi s. viii d. Inf. Compo­torum, vadiis garconum et equor. Clerici Rotulorum et Registri. Et in expensis Dni Jacobi de Lyndesay unius Auditorum Compot. infra predictam fummam non Comput. xxvi li. xiii s. iiii d. Et in Cu­rialitate [Page 445]servientium v li. Et clerico Rotulorum et Registri pro Roba sua xl. s. Et hostiario pro Roba sua xl. s. Et Clericis scribenti­bus v li. Et in feodo simplici serviencium in domo Regis, xvi li. xvi s. iiii d. Et Ade Page v li. Et pro Scaccario et Compotorio ejus­dem xxi s. viii d. Et pro reparacione domus in qua tentum fuit Scac­carium, xvi s. vi d. Et Cristino de Gardroba pro suo servicio, liii s. iiii d. Et fissori et Peilipario, paramentoribus Regis Apud Edyn­burgh, iii li. xviii s. Et fratribus Minoribus de Dunde de gratia ad presens xl s. Et Mro Simoni de Ketnys, pro pensione sibi Assignat. de uno termino hujus Compt. v li. Et Domino David Bell Clerico Gardrob. pro aliquibus receptis in Gardrob. et expenditis, ut patet per unam literam suam, de receptis Ostens. super Compotum, lvii s. Et Thome Acarsane, Ministrallo Regis, percipienti per Annum, pro tempore vite sue, pro suo servicio, decem libr. ut patet per literas Regis directas Camer. de precepto, et ipsius Thome de recept. ostens. super Compotum de uno termino hujus Comp. v li. Et Carpentariis et Cementariis Castri de Strevyllyne, pro feodis suis de uno termino hujus Comp. xi li. xiii s. iiii d. Et pro pargameno x s. Et Waltero de Tulach, Considerato labore suo ad presens, de gratia Auditorum iii li. vi s. viii d. Et in Solucione facta pro lampadis emptis, et re­cept. per Dominum David Bell, ad expens. Domini Comitis de Car­ryk, nuper fact. apud Melros, xxxi s. Et in quibusdam minutis expensis examinat. Super Compot. xxvi s. Et Johi Lyoune Camer. Scocie constituto pro tempore vite Sue, Capienti per Annum ducentas libras Sterlingorum, ut patet per litteras sub Magno Sigillo Regis, on̄s super Compotum, pro dicto officio, licet in ipso non ministravit pro Anno, tamen de Voluntate et Concessione Regis, per unam literam signatam anulo suo, ōns super Compt. de tempore hujus Com. cc li.

Summa hujus Vc. lx li. iii s. vi d. Summa tot expens. M. Vc. iiii xx viii li. xix s. xi d. ob. Et sic debet Vc. xxxvi li. xii s. viii d. ob.

No III. Annabella queen of Scotland to Richard II. 28th May 1394. Vesp. F. VII, f. 38, n. 2.

A TRES haut et tres puissant prince, Richard par la grace de Dieu Roy d'Engleterre, notre trescher cousin, A. par ycelle mesme grace Royne d'Escoce, salut, et entier dilection. Trescher Cousin, des bon­nes nouvelles de votre fainté, et prosperitee de corps, sicomme nous avons entendu par vos aimables lettres, et la relacion de votre escuier Jehan Dorwell, nous sommes treslees, et en avons grant comfort. Si prions a Dieu qu'il la face tousdiz continuer, selon ce que myelx voi­driez. Et pour ce que nous tenons, qu'il vous fera plaisir tout mes­mes oyr de nous, vueillez savoir qu'au faisance de cestes, nous estions en bonne sainttie, la Dieu mercy. Trescher Cousin, touchant la mari­age entre aucuns noz enfans, et aucunes prochaines de votre sanc, pour la traitie du quelle, comme vos lettres font mencion, vous avez ordiné pour envoyer dens Kelcou certaines personnes de votre consail, pour traiter fur celle matier, a les octaves de la Trinité, vueillez savoir, que pour la brevetee de temps, depuis que mon tres souverain Seigneur le Roy a receu vos lettres, et consideree le retourner du dit votre escuier devers vous, aveque fes lettres de respons, il nous est avis, que de votre part le dit jour ne se pourra tenir bonnement; car a venir de dit escuier en noz partiez, mon tres souverain seigneur le Roy adonque estoit en les lontaignes parties d'Escoce, si que votre escuier ne se povoit atteigner a sa presence devant le xix jour de May. Si que mon dit so­verain le Roy vous a devisee un autre jour assez covenable, pour la dicte traitie; sicomme ses lettres a vous envoieez pourportent; pour la quel jour vueillez faire addresser aucuns de votre consail pour y etre, pour faire a laide de Dieu bonne conclusion sur la dicte matiere; car certes la bonne conclusion de celle traitie est, et sera, mout greable a mon seigneur et souverain, et a nous. Trescher cousin notre Seigneur vous vueille tousdiz garder, et vous donit bonne vie et longue. Esc. a Edenburgh, le xxviii jour de May.

No IV. The same to the same, 1st August 1394. Vesp. F. VII, f. 39, n. 1.

A TRES haut et puissant prince, R. par la grace de Dieu Roy d'Engleterre, notre tres cher cousin, A. par mesmes ycelle grace Royne d'Escoce, salutz, et dilection. De votres aimables lettres, a nous pre­sentees par notre bien amé Douglas le heraud d'armes, nous vous re­mercions mercions entierement, et de cuer. Par les quelles nous avons entendu votre bonne estate, et sauntee, a grant plaisir et confort de nous. Et tres cher cousin, quand au tratie touchant le mariage a fair par entre aucuns procheins de votre sanc, et aucuns des enfans de Roi mon seignour et de nous, vuelliez savoir, quil est greable au Roi mon dit seignour, et a nous; sicomme il vous a signifié par ces lettres. Et par especial que pour tant que la dicte tratie ne se poira tenire le tierce jour de Juilee darrein passee, pour certaines et resonables causes contenus es vous lettres, envoiez au Roi mon feignour susdit, vous estes assentuez que une austre jour de mesmes la tratie se preigne, le premier jour d'Octobre prochein venand; le quele est greable au Roi mon seignour avant dict, et a nous; et vous amercions de tout notre volentee, et de cuer: et prions cherement que vous vuelliez continuer la dicte tratie, et faire tenire le dict jour; quar il est la volentee de Roi mon seignour sus dicte, et de nous, quant en nous est, que la dicte jour se teigne sans defaut. Et tres cher cousin, nous vous re­querons, et prions cherment, qu'il ne displaise a votre hautesse, que nous n'avons plus tost escript a vous; quar nous estremez gisant malade d'enfant masquil, a non James; et sommes bien et graciousment delivre, la grace de Dieu et de notre dame. Et ausi pour ceo que le Roi mon dict seignour estoit, a la venu de vous lettres, esloignees es Isles de son roialme, nous ne receivon pas ces lettres envoiez a nous sur ceste ma­tiere, tang le darrein jour de Juillie darrein passee. Tres haut et puissant prince, le seint esprit vous vueil toutz jours garder. Doné soubs notre seal, a labbay de Dunfermelyn, le premier jour d'Auoust.

No V. David Prince of Scotland, Earl of Carric, (and after­wards Duke of Rothsay,) to John of Gaunt Duke of Lan­caster, about 1398. Vesp. F. VII, f. 68, n. 2.

HAULT et puissant prince, mon tres chier et tres amé cousin. Quant a la matier de quoi vous, et l'evesque de Saint Andreu, avez parlez, jay entendu, et veu ce que vous avez avysez en icelle matier, et le raportera au Roi mon seignour: et selons ce bon luy semblera, procedera a la avansement du busoigne, a laide de Dieu, en la ma­niere comme vous avez touchie, ou en aultre; au temps contenu en votre escript, ou pluys tost, sy bonnement faire se pourra. Hault et puissant prince, sil y a chose au votre plaisance, que faire puisse affiablement, le me vueilliez certifier. Et luy Dieu tout puissant vous ait en sa tressantissime garde. Esct. a Melross, le xvii jour de Marz.

David, aisne filz du Roy d'Escoce, Conte de Carryk.

No VI. George Dunbar Earl of March to Henry IV, 18th February, 1400. Vesp. F. VII, f. 22.

EXCELLENT, mychty, and noble prince, like yhour realté to wit, that I am gretly wrangit be the Duc of Rothesay; the quhilk spousit my douchter, and now agayn his oblisyng to me, made be hys lettre and his seal, and agaynes the law of halikirc, spouses ane other wife, as it ys said. Of the quhilk wrang and defowle, to me and my douchter in swilk maner done, I as ane of yhour poer kyn, gif it like yhow, requer yhow of help and suppowall, fore swilk honest service as I may do, after my power, to yhour noble lordship, and to yhour lande. Fore tretee of the quhilk mater, will yho de­deyn to charge the lorde the Fournivalle, or the erle of Westmer­land, at yhour liking, to the marche, with swilk gudely haste as yhow like; qwar that I may have spekyng with quhilk of thaim that yho will send, and schew hym clerly mine entent; the quhilk I darr nocht discover to nane ather bot tyll ane of thaim, because of kyn, and the grete lowtee that I traist in thaim; and, as I suppose, yhe traist in thaim on the tother part. Alsa, noble prince, will yhe dedeyn to graunt, and to send me, yhour sauf conduyt, endurand quhill the fest of the nativité of Seint John the Baptist, fore a hun­dreth knichts, and squiers, and servants, gudes, hors, and harnais, als wele within wallit town, as withowt, or in qwat other resonable maner that yhow like, fore travaillyng and dwellyng within yhour land, gif I hafe myster. And, excellent prince, syn that I clayme to be of kyn tyll yhow, and it peraventour nocht knawen on yhour parte, I schew it to your lordship be this my lettre, that gif Dame Alice the Bewmont was yhour graunde dame, Dame Marjory Comyne, hyrr full sister, was my graunde dame on the tother syde; sa that I am bot of the feirde degré of kyn tyll yhow; the quhilk in alde tyme was callit neir. And syn I am in swilk degre tyll yhow, I requer yhow as be way of tendirness thareof, and fore my service in maner as I hafe before writyn, that yhe will vouchesauf tyll help me, and suppowell me, tyll gete amendes of the wrangs and the de­fowle that ys done me; sendand tyll me, gif yhow like, yhour answer of this with all gudely haste. And, noble prince, mervaile yhe nocht that I write my lettres in English, for that ys mare clere to myne understandyng than latyne, or fraunch. Excellent, mychty, and noble prince, the haly Trinité hafe yhow evirmar in kepyng. Writyn at my castell of Dunbarr, the xviii day of Feverer.

Le Count de la Marche d'Escoce.

Directed, Au tres excellent, et tres puissant, et tres noble prince, le Roy d'Engleterre.

No VII. Christiana Countess of March to Henry IV, probably in 1404. Vesp. F. VII, f. 96, n. 2.

MON tres excellent, et tres redouté Souvereigne Seigneur, Jeo me necommande au vous sy entierment, come creature terren poet penser, ou diviser au Roy du monde coronné; vous esmerciant humblement as genoilles, de les hauts graces et benefices, que vous m'avez faits devant ces beures; vous suppliant piement de votre gracieus conti­nuance, et nomement de le gracieus refreschement que vous meneoi­astes darreynement, Dieux vous eurent greez la ou jeo ne puisse. Non pur ceo, non tres gracieus seigneur, vous pleis savoir que mon­seigneur mon baron, et moy, avoins este en taunt duresce et distresce, puysque nous fuymes exclus de notre pays, que encore jeo suy remys en graunt debt; de quelle sans votre gracieus eide, et sucour, ne me puisse deliverer. Et ore la pestilence est taunt fort et dure, la ou nous sumes, que jeo suy molt paorous, que jeo morra en le graunt debt que jeo suy encorrue: et pour nulle traitie que nous poons fair, ne poons avoir suffrance de nos enemys, pour nous treer a notre fortres de Colbrandespath, pour illoex attendre tantque la mortalité soit cesse. Et pour celle cause jeo emprie humblement a votre haut Roiall Ma­jefte, que vous me pleisez avoir en remembrance, quant vous verrez loisir, et me eider que permy votre gracieus re...enement jeo puisse eftre engettez de le debt qui me face tristes. Outre ceo, tres re­doubté et mon tres gracieus seigneur, nous portons graunt enemyte pour la mort de Sir Henr. Percy; issuit que sovent fois est grasne a mon baron, et ses gents, qils vueillient estre morts, sils ne se retrehent hors du pays; issuit que les gents le dit Sir Henr., ne facent rien fors escontent confortables novelx de vous, pour alors faire la malice qui eft formé en leurs coers. Et mon tres gracieus et tres souvereigne seigneur, touchant la pris de nos gents par ceux attendants au Count de Douglas, deignets ent donner credence al porteur dicestes; et sur ceo que vous pleisez ordener tiell remedy, sicomme le dit portour vous dirra par bouche. Et prie sovereignement al tres benoit Dieux de ciel, qil vous ottroie longe vie, ene tout encresment de honour et joy ensemble, ene victorie de vos enemys, et apres cest mortell vie vous rent la regne de gloire. Amen.

Votre humble oratrice la Countesse de la Marche d'Escoce

Directed, A mon tres excellent, et tres redoubté Seigneur, le Roy d'Engleterre.

No VIII. James of Douglas, Warden of the Marches, probably to Henry IV in 1405. Vesp. F. VII, f. 17.

HE, excellent, and rycht mychty prynce, Likit to your henes to wyte, me haff resavit your honorabile lettres to me, send be a Re­verend Fadir the Abbot of Calkow, contenand that it is well knawin that trewis war tane and schorne* a late, betwix the rewmys of Ingland and Scotland; and forthi yhu mervalis gretly that my men, be my wille and assent, has byrnde the toun of Berwike, and in other certayne places wythin the rewme of Inglande; in brekyng fully the saide trewis, in my defaute, and nothing in yhours; and als agayn my ath, made in streynthning of the same trewis: of the qwhilke yhe desire rather that amends war made, than ony mar harme war done, tharfor requirande me to do yhou to wyte qwhethir I will gere refourme the sayde at­temptats, or qwhat my full will be to do o that mater. Anente the qwhilkys, Hee and Excellent Prynce, qwhar yhe say yhu mervalys gretly that my men, be my will and assent, has brennede the town of Berwik, the qwhilk is wythin Scotlande, and other places in Inglande, in brekyng fully of the sayde trewis, I understand that giff yhour hee excellent war clerly enfourmyte of the brennyng, slachtyr, and takyng of prisoners and Scottis schippis, that is done be yhour men to Scottys­men, within the saide trewis, in divers places of Scotlande, befor the brynnyng of Berwike; the qwhilk skathis our lege lorde the Kyng, and his lieges, has paciently tholyte in the kepyng of the saide trewis, and chargit me til ask, and ger be askyte be my deputs redress tharof; the qwhilk my deputs has askyte at dayis of marche, and nane has gotyne; methink o resoune yhe sulde erar put blame and punition to the doarys of the saide trespas, done agayn the trewis in swilke maner, and callys thaim rather brekars of the trew, than me that has tholyte sa mikylle injur so lang, and nane amends gottyn. Bot it is like that the gret attemptats, that yhour men dois agayn the trewis, is well concelyte fra yhour audience, for I suppos and yhe wist it, yhe wald of yhour he worschipe ger it be refourmyte and redressit, as the cause requiryt. For lang befor the brynning of Berwike, yhour men com within our lorde the Kyngs awin propir lande of Arane, and Ile Ma­lasch, and til his castell of Brathwike, and brynt his chapelle, and other diverse places of that land; and tuke and rawnsounde the capi­taine of the sayde castelle, and slow his sone, and heryde al that thai mycht ourtake. And alsua thai hade takyne, befor that tym certayne [Page 452]Scotts schippis chargit with marchandis, and the marchands tharof, in the contrer of the said trewis: of the quhilk reparacioun and redress has bene askyte befor the brennyng of Berwike, and nane gottyne. And qwhar yhe say that Berwike, that stands in Scotlande, the qwhilk toun yhe call yhouris in yhour sayde lettres, and certayne lands of yhouris wythin Inglande, was brende be my men, my will and my assent, brekand the trewis in my defaute, and nocht in yhouris, and in the contrar of my athe: thar to I answer in this maner, that qwhat tyme it like to our lege lorde the Kyng, and to yhour hee excellent, to ordane redress to be made be his commissaris, and yhouris, of all at­temptats done of aythir syde, I fall with the help of Gode make it well kennyt, that I haff trewly kepit my athe, and the trewis, as afferys to me of resoun. And quhaever ensourmyt yhour excellence, that I hade brokyn my athe, it hade bene fayrar for him to haffe sende me that querell into wyrt, undir his selle, and till haff tane answere greable, as asserit to him under my scelle agayne, than sua untrewly in my ab­sence till enfourme yhour excellence: for I trayst he has saide mar in my absence, than he dar awow in my presens; for nocht displece yhour honour, learys sulde be lytille alowit wyth ony sic worshipful kyng as yhe ar. And qwhar yhe say in yhour sayde lettres that yhe desir rather amends of attemptats done agayn the trewis, than ony mar harme war done, tharfor to that I answer in this maner, that qwhen yhour saide lettres came to me, our lorde the Kyng was passit in the northe partis of Scotlande, and I with al gudly hast fende yhour lettres til him; of the qwhilk at the makyng of thir letteris I hade nane answer. Never the latt qwhen I hade understandyne yhour lettres, I gert cry in diverse placis the trewis to be kepit, traystand that it suld be sua done on the tother part, aftyr the qwhilk crye yhour men of Inglande has rydyne in Scotlande wyth gret company, like in fere of were; and has heryde Lawadyr dalle, Tewy dalle, and a part of Etryke forest, the qwhilke at the making of thir letteris was tholyt, and nocht don tharfor. And foringiffe the trewis sall stande, it lyes to yhour heenes to se for chaftying of trespassouris, and for amends of attemptats done, and that be tym: and qwhat the wochesaff of your heenes to do, twychand the forsayde materis, yhe wolde certify me be your lettres wyth al gudly hast. Hee almychty prynce, the haly gast yow haff in his yhemsal evirmar. Wyrtyn at Eddynburgh, under my selle, the xxvi day of July.

Jamis of Douglas wardane of the marche.

(Directed. To ane excellent, and a mychty prynce, Kyng of Inglande.)

No IX. Commission by Robert duke of Albany, Regent of Scot­land, to his embassadors sent into England, 26th May 1414. Vesp. F. VII, f. 114, 11.2.

ROBERTUS Regis Scocie genitus dux Albaniae, comes de Fife et de Menteth, et regni predicti Gubernator, universis ad quorum noticiam presentes literae pervenerint, salutem in Domino. Noverit universitas vestra, quod nos de fidelitate, circumspectione, et industria, dilectorum et fidelium nostrorum, Roberti de Maxwelle de Caldarwodde militis, consanguinei nostri, et Magistri Roberti de Lanyne, prepositi Sancti Andree, in decretis licenciati, plenius confidentes, ipsos fecimus, constituimus, et ordinavimus, facimus que constituimus, et per presentes ordinamus, pariter ex certa scientia et deliberato consilio, nostros am­baxiatores, commissarios, et nuncios speciales. Dantes et concedentes eisdem nostram plenariam potestatem, et mandatum speciale, ad trac­tand. concordand. et concludend. cum serenissimo principe Henrico Rege Anglie, seu commissariis suis quibuscunque sufficientem potestatem habentibus ab eodem, super deliberacione carissimi filii nostri Murdaci Steuart militis. Et ad omnia et singula faciend. gerend. concordand. concludend. et solvend. que circa filii nostri deliberacionem necessaria fiunt seu quomodolibet optima, etiam si mandatum exigant magis spe­ciale, ratum, certum, stabile, atque firmum promittentes nos per per­petuum habituros, quicquid dicti commissarii nostri in premissis, vel aliquo premissorum duxerint faciend. Dat. sub testimonio sigilli nostri, apud mancrium nostrum de Falklande mensis Maii die xxvi, Anno Dni. Millesimo ccccmo quarto decimo, et gubernationis nostrae anno ix.

No X. Indenture between Murdac duke of Albany Regent of Scotland, and Alexander earl of Mar, 16th November 1420. A copy in Sir James Balfour's collections, MS. Harl. 4694, 22.
Indentur betwix Murdack Dvck of Albaney, and Alexander Earll of Mar.

THIS indenture made at Perth, the xvi day of the mounth of November, in the yeir of our lord a thousand, four hundereth, and twentie, betwix hie excellent and mightie prince Murtheu Dvck of Albaney earll of Fife and Menteith and Governour of Scotland, one the ane pairt; and a vorschipful lord, Sir Alexander Steuart Earl of Mar and Garivach, on the tothir pairt; Conteins and beirs vitness, that it is fullie accordit betwix them, in forme and maner as after sall follou: and that is to say, that the forsaid Earll of Mar is become man of spalen, duelling, and reveneu, till the forsaid dvck of Albany Go­vernour of Scotland, for all the termes of his lyffe, befor and agains all uthirs deidlyk persons; his alleigance aught till our lord the king allenerlie outane. And he salle giffe his letter therupone till our forsaid lord the Governour, in deu forme under his saille, for certane gude deeds done till him be our said lord the Governour. Alsua it is accordit, that our said lord the Governour sall gife to his darrest cusin forsaid the Earll of Mar, the tenth* halfe of the profitts of the Justry of Aber­denie, Bamffe, and Inernesse, and als oft as they be haldin, outtane the corns and victuals of men and horse, in the halding of the said ayeirs. And the said Earll of Mar sall doe all hes bisness and diligence till bring justris, till the honour and profit of the said lord the Governour, for beath ther profit. Alsua our lord the Governour sall gif hes letters patents till the said Earll of Mar of power to be steadhaldand till him, after the tennor of the letters the quhilks the said Earll hede of um­quhilum our lord the Governour, quhom God assoyle. Alsua the forsaid lord the Governour as assentit, and sall gife hes confirmatione till his cusin sir Thomas Steuart, upon the infeftment that the said Earll of Mar makes till the said Sir Thomas hes sone, apone the lands of Mar and Garevach, if it sa beies that the said Earll of Mar shares a confirmatione of our lord the King till our lord the Governour, givin till him and hes heirs and assig­nais, apone the lands of Mar and Garivach forsaids; for the quhilk confir­matione [Page 455]to be given to the said Sir Thomas, through our lord the Governour that nou is, and for uther good deids done of befortyme till the said Sir Thomas, through our said lord the Governour, the said Sir Thomas is become mane till the said lord the Governour, of spalen, duelling, and reveneu, for all the tymes of hes lyffe, befor and agains all uther deadlyk persons, hes alleagence aught to the King allanerlie outane; and therupon sall gife his Letters of Retenewe in deu forme till our lord the Governour. Alsua it is accordit that our lord the Governour sall giff his letters, baunde, and sealle, till his forsaid cusin the Earll of Mar, of mantinance helpe and suppleie, in al forme and in effect, as quhilum our lord the governour hes fader did befor tyme, bot fraude or gyle. Alsua it is accordit betwix the forsaid lord the Governour, and hes darrest cusin the Earll of Mar, that sen Valter Steuart the sone, and ayire appirand, of our forsaid lord the Go­vernour is oblisched till the forsaid lord his fader, that he sall not tak in mariage the daughter of Sir Robert Erskeine, vithout the consent of hes forsaid lord and fader, our forsaid lord the Governour is oblis­ched, and oblidges him be this indenture till hes said cusin the Earl of Mar, that he sall nought gife hes consent till the fulfillan of the said mariage, vithout vittining, and consent, of the said Earl of Mar. And alsua it is accordit that our said lord the Governour hes given to hes forsaid cusin the Earl of Mar, the profitts comand of the lands of Badenach, Urquart, and Strathowne, ay till the tyme that they may be sett to profitt; and fra thensfurth our forsaid lord till have the tane halse of the profitt comand of the saids lands, and the forsaid erl his cusin the tother halffe of the profitt of the lands, endurand the tyme of the said earl's live. And alsua the said Earl is oblischit, and obless him be this indenture, that he sall doe al his goodlie bussiness and dili­gence to bring and sett the saids lands of Badenacht, Urquart, and Strathowen, vith the pertinents, till the maist profitt that he may, and vithin als short tyme as he may, bot fraud or gyle. In the vitnising of the quhilks things, leillie and trewlie for to be keipet, bot fraud and gyle, the sealls of the forsaid lord the Governour, and of the forsaid Earll of Mar hes cusin, to thir indentures interchangablie are toput, the day, yeir, and place, forsaids.

No. XI. Annual Revenues of the Hostages for James I, 1424. Rymer X, 327.

JACOBUS Rex . . . . . tradidit, dedit, et liberavit, pro securitate solutionis summae quadraginta Milium librarum, bonae et legalis mo­netae Angliae, ad locum, dies, et terminos, in dicto appunctuamento contenta; ac plenae et integrae executionis et complementi omnium et singulorum, in praedicto appunctuamento contentorum, obsides, et personas obsidum, aestimatas per partem dicti Jacobi Regis in valore annuuo reddituum ad summas infrascriptas; videlicet,

  • David, primogenitum, et haeredem, comitis Atholiae, reddituatum ad xii C. Marc.
  • Thomam Comitem Moraviae, ad M. Marc.
  • Alexandrum Comitem Crawfurdiae, ad M. Marc.
  • Duncanum Dominum de Argill, ad xv C. Marc.
  • Willielmum, primogenitum et haeredem Domini de Dalketh, ad xv C. Marc.
  • Gilbertum, primogenitum et haeredem Willielmi Constabularii Sco­tiae, ad viii C. Marc.
  • Robertum Marescallum Scotiae, ad viii C. Marc.
  • Robertum dominum de Erskyn, ad M. Marc.
  • Walterum dominum de Driltone, ad viii C. Marc.
  • Thomam Boyd de Kilmernoch, ad D. Marc.
  • Dominum Patricium de Dunbarre, Dominum de Camnok, ad D. Marc.
  • Alexandrum Duminum de Gordonne, ad iv C. Marc.
  • Obsides alias concordatos, ac vice et loco aliorum absentium etiam alias concordatorum obsidum, quorum nomina continentur in quadam cedula, dicto appunctuamento annexa.
  • Dominum Willielmum de Abbirnethy, ad D. Marc.
  • Jacobum de Dunbarre, Dominum de Frendrath, ad D. Marc.
  • Andream Gray de Foullis, ad vi C. Marc.
  • Dominum Robertum de Levinston, ad iv C. Marc.
  • Johannem Lyndesay, ad D. Marc.
  • Dominum Robertum de Lille, ad iii C. Marc.
  • Jacobum Dominum de Caldor, ad iv C. Marc.
  • Jacobum Dominum de Cadyo, ad D. Marc.
  • Dominum Willielmum de Rothvane, ad iv C. Marc.
  • Williemum Olyfaunt, Dominum de Abirdalgy . . . . .
  • Georgium, primogenitum et haeredem Hugonis Cambell, ad iii C. Marc.
  • [Page 457]Robertum primogenitum et haeredem Domini Roberti de Marta­lent, ad iv C. Marc.
  • David Meignes, ad ii C. Marc.
  • David de Ogilby, ad ii C. Marc.
  • Patricium primogenitum et haeredem Domini Johannis Lyon, ad iii C. Marc.

No XII. Acts for Taxes, 1424 and 1431.

Scotish Acts of Parliament, edit. 1566. fol. iii. 1 parl. James I, 26 May 1424.

Of finance to be maid for the Kingis costage in Ingland. Ca. X.

ITEM, It was consentit, throw the Estatis and Parliament, that for the fynance and payment to be maid in Ingland, for our Souerane Lordis costage, and delyvering of his hostageis being in Ingland, thair falbe resit ane YEILD*, or maa, gif it misteris, throw the haill kynrik, alsweill throw the regalyteis, as throw uther landis. For it wer grevous, and greit charge on the commonis, to rais the hail finance at anis, it is accordit that a YEILD be rasit, that is to say xii d. of ilk pund; and that the landis, rentis, maillis, and gudis of lordis, within thair proper domanis, baith corne and catell. Bot for the extent of the proper domanis thay sall not pay, drawin oxin, reddin hors, and utensillis of hows, alanerlie, outtaking the burgessis in lyke maner of thair gudis and rentis.

Of the maner of taxatioun to be maid in the realme. Ca. XI.

ITEM, Thir ar taxis ordanit, throw the counfall of Parliament, upone the Cattel and Corne, to be raisit to the Kingis finance to be maid in Ingland. In the first YEILD now concludit, the boll of quheit is taxit to ii s. Alswa the boll of rye, beir, and peis, to xvi d. the boll of aittis vi d. And this of all corne that is now in hows, or in stak, the lordis purviance to thair howshald alanerlie owttane; and the grene corne that is naw upone the erd growand sall remain untaxit, quhil it cume of the erd. Alswa the beistis ar taxit one this maner. The Kow and hir followar, of twa yeir auld, to vi s. viii d. Item ane Woodder, or ane Yowe, ilk ane to xii d. Item Gymmer, Dunmund, and Gaittis, ilk ane to xii d. Item ane drawin Oxe, of thre yeir auld or elder, to vi s. viii d. Alswa the wilde Meir, with hir followar of thre yeir, to x s. A Colt of thre yeir auld, or elder, to ane mark.

This is the maner that landis and gudis sall be taxit. That ilk schiref within his schirefdome sall gar call befor him all the barronis, and fre haldarris of the King, and with counsall of tham he sall cheis [Page 459]leill men and discreit, and sic as he will answer for; the quhilks sall abyd knawlege befor the King gif thay have done thair deuoir, at the end of the taxation; and that als mony personis as may sufficiently extent the cuntre, and na ma, for eschewing of coste; and that all schirefis be sworne to the king or his deputis that thay sall lelely and trewly gar this extent be fulfillit, of all the landis, and gudis, in forme as is above writen; and that the extentouris sall be sworne befoir the Barronis of the schirefdome, that thay sall do thair full power to the said extent: and thay sall have with thaim the paroche Preist, and that he be chargit be his Bischop till informe thaim lelely of all the gudis of the parochin; and that thair be maid a buke of the said ex­tent, contenand the namis of ilk towne in speciall, and the names of ilk persone dwelland in thay townis, and thair gudis followand thair names. And that thair buikis be presnetit to the Kingis Auditouris at Perth, the day limit thairto, that is to say the xii day of Julij nixt to cum. Alswa quhair thair is ane greit schirefdome, thair be chosin be sicht of the Baronis leill discrete men to keip thame.

Alswa that all the landis of the kinrike be taxit, after as thay ar of avale now, and that but fraude or gyle. Alswa that all gudis be taxit and payit, after the valu of the money that now is. Alswa that na exceptioun be maid in this taxatioun to na man, nouther of det nor of male: bot all the gudis ay quhair thay be fundin, to pay the said YEILD, after the taxatioun, baith of Clerkis, Baronis, and Burgesses. Alswa it is sene speidful that all taxatouris, the tyme of thair extent, warne all maner of man, that of all thair gudis that ar taxit, baith of beistis, corne, and uther gudis, within xv dayis nixt after following the taxt, the payment be reddie in siluer and gold, as is befoir writtin. And gif at the end of the said xv dayis the payment be not reddy, the officiaris of ilk schirefdome sall tak of ilk man that warnis payment, a Kow for v s. a Yow or a Wedder for xii d. a Gait, a Gimmer, or a Dunmund, for viii d. a wylde Meir and hir follower for x s. a Colt of thre yeir auld, or mair of eild, xiiis, iv d. a boll of quheit xii d. a boll of rye or peis viii d. a boll of aittis iii d. And gif the Schiref takis thir gudis he sall gar the lord of the land, gif he may be gottin, pay the taxt to the King, and deliver the gudis till him. And gif he will not, the Schirese, sall gar sell the gudis at the nixt markat day, or send thame to the King, on the Kingis coist, quhair the King till his deputis ordanis.

ITEM, It is ordanit and sene speidful, that the Prelatis gar taxt thair rentis, and kirkis in this maner. That is to say ilk Bishope in ilk Denrie of his Diocie, gar his Officiall and his Dene summund all the Tennentis and frehalders befoir him, and cheis Taxatouris, and charge thame in maner and forme as is befoir writtin; to the saidis day and place. And gif the Schiref sendis ony man on the Baronis behalf, [Page 460]that he be resavit with thame and se thair taxatioun. And that the Official gar warne the Schiref, quhen he wil cheis his taxatouris, and mak taxatioun of kirkis landis, gudis, and rentis, befoir said. And quhair a kirk man payis the haill valour of his beneficis, that all the frutes of his kirk of the yeir followand be fre.

Alswa anent the taxatioun of Burgesses gudis, and rentis, it is sene speidfull that ilk Alderman and Baillies of Burrowis call befoir thame the Burgessis, and gar cheis leill and trew men in maner as is befoir said, takand with thame the Curat of the towne, chargeit be the greit aith throw the Bischop. And that the Schiref send als on the Barronis behalf a lele man, to beir lele witnes to thair taxt; to the quhilk he salbe sworne lelylie with thame. And that thay warne the Schiref to send that man to the day that thay cheis thair taxatouris. Alswa the Prelatis, the Schireffis, the Aldermen of townis, sall taxt and ordane the coistis of all Officiaris, that sall laubour about this YEILD rasing, be thair lautie that thay aucht to the King, and thair coistis to be tane of the haill taxt. Alswa the yeild rasit to the King mot be allowit to thame in the yeild foirsaid.

Alswa that thair be ordanit in ilk Scherifdome, and chosin be the Schireffis and the Barronis, gude lele and discreit men, to taxt the foirsaid rentis and gudis. And that with the Clerkis thair be ordanit lawit men be the Schireffis, and with lawit men clerkis be the clergy, to see and beir witnes that all thingis be lelylie done, and rychtswa within Regalyis. And that ilk cuntrie releif uther. Alswa that the Schireff depute certane men to be with the Baillies, and taxa­touris of the Burrowis, to see that all maner of gudis, alsweill corne, cattel, as uthers gudis, be lelylie taxt, and presentit to the auditouris or­danit thairto, till appeir at Perth the xii day of July nixt to cum. Of the quhilkis auditouris thir ar the namis; the Bischoppis of Dunkeldin, Dumblane, the Abbottis of Balmerinach, Sanct Columbis Inche, Maister John Scheves, the Erle of Athole, Schir Patrik of Dunbar, Williame Borthwich, Patrick Ogilwy, James of Dowglas of Balwany, and William of Erskin of Kinnoull.

Ibid. folio verso xxij, 10 Parl. J. I, 15 Oct. 1431.

For the resisting of Rebellouris in the North. Ca. cxlvi.

For the resisting of the King's rebellouris in the North land, and the costage to be maid thairupone, it is fullely consentit be the Thre Estatis, ordanit and concludit, that thair be liftit and resit ane Contri­butioun; that is to say of all landis of the realme, quhair the YEILD of twa pennies was resit, thair be now x d. resit; and quhair the twa d. [Page 461]was not rasit thair be now xii d. rasit of ilk pund. And this Contri­butioun to be tane throw all the realme, of all mailis of landis, and rentis of haly kirk, as of temporall Lordis; na gudis of lordis na Burgessis outtane, saifand the extent of the mailis of the Lordis proper domanis haldin in thair awin hands, mailis of Burgessis housis within Burrowis inhabite be thame self, and with thair proper gudis, of the quhilkis thay tak na maill; riddin hors, and drawin oxin except allanerly, of the quhilkis na yeild salbe rasit. Attoure this Contribu­tioun salbe taxit and rasit with all celeritie possibill, brocht and de­liuerit to the auditouris of it, that is to say the Abbotts of Balmeri­nouch, St. Columbis Inche, Schir Johne Scrimgeour, Johne of Fyfe of Abirdene; quhilkis sall begin thair comptis on the morne nixt after the Purificatioun of our Lady nixt to cum, at Perth, gif the pestilence be not thair, gif it beis thair at Sanctandros. The quhilkis auditouris sall put this Contributioun in a kist of iiii keyis, of the quhilkis keyis ilk ane of thame sall have ane. And that kist to re­mane in the Castell of Sanctandros, under the keiping of the Bischop and the Prioure. And in caise that peax beis maid in the menetyme, this Contributioun sall remane under the samin keiping in depois, to the commoun proffeit and use. The quhilk done the King commandit till continow the Parliament, till monounday the xii* day of the foirsaid moneth and yeir.

No XIII. The contemporary account of the murder of James I.
Here folowyng begynnythe a full lamentable cronycle, of the dethe and false murdure of James Stewarde, last Kynge of Scotys, nought long agone prisoner yn Englande, the tymes of the Kynges Henrye the Fifte and Henry the Sixte.
The dethe of the Kynge of Scotis.

FROM a MS. formerly belonging to Mr. Thoresby of Leeds, (see Nicolson's Scotish Historical Library;) now, Aug. 1790, to Mr. Jackson of Clement's Lane, Lombard Street: written about 1440*.

ROBERT STEWARD, the kyng of Scotis, hadde ii sonnys; of the whiche the eldere was a semely mane of persone, and knyght, clepid the duke of Roseye; and the yonger, clepid James Steward, that was bote of yeres yonge, and meane of stature. This Duke of Roseye perseyved in his reason the greet age of the Kyng his fadir, the ympotencye of his lymmes and membirs, the febilenese of his per­sone that sore vexed hyme yn his age, begane unlawefully to tak upon hym the Royall guvernance. Thurghe the whiche presumcion, or­guyle and pruyde, he wexe full of viciousnes yn his lyvyng, as yn dispusellyng and defowlyng of young madyns; and yn brekyng the or­dire of weddelok, by his fowle ambicious lust of that voluptenus lust of advoutre. Wherfore the Lordes and the Nobles of the Rewme of Scotland, consideryng that vicious lyvyng of that said Duke * * * * * * * * * * * * * * a leaf torn out * * * * * * * * * * * * Thes traturs furters, and contractes, ended by the counsell and consente of bothe the parties of the Kynges, the Kyng of Scottes hadde leve en­lagissid, and had saufecondit of his maister the kyng of England, (for so the Kyng of Scottes clepid hym,) to returne safe and sownde ayene ynto his region of Scotteland.

[Page 463]Of whos cumyng the Erle Douglas and the Erle of Bowgham*, fully advertised to hemselfe in thaire owne misgovernance, he beyng Kyng and absent, ne durste nat abide his home-cumyng, for fere of the pitous dethe of the Duke of Rosey his brother, whome thay haved so mischevously murdured unlawfully yn prisone, as afore this cronycle made clere memorie, they ordeynd hem, for dowte of thare lyvys, with a gret nowmber of thare frendis and subjectes, with all the possibilité, to passe the see ynto France. Frome whense thay come never; bott both thay, with many other worshipfule capitaignes, knyghts, and swyers, and lordes of the Armynakes and Scottes, all enmyes to the Kyng of England, were slayne and takyne at the bataile of Vernoile yn Perch, withyne the revme of France, by that noble and so excellent prynce John of Loncaster, Duke of Bedeford, thene the Regent of France, to whome that day God granted the disconfitoure, and victorye of the feld.

Remanyng at thare home the Duke of Albayne, the Erle of Leynys, the Erle of Manthet, Watir Stuard, and other many lordes of Scotteland, thynkyng that thay were so neghe of the Kynges blode of Scottes, and demyng also yn theire conseites that [thai] hade nat offended theire Kyng yn no wise; bot so abode still yn the lande the Kyng's cumyng home out of England ynto Scotteland. Whome all, with many other of thare afinite, the saide Kynge of Scottis lete arrest, and hem severally yn diverse castell full hard prisoned, till he had fondon meanes and wais for to do hem lawfully to deth, as false traitours, because of the false mur­dure of his brother the duke of Rosay. Whos deth the people of the land sore grutched, and mowrnid; seying that thay suppoised and ymagynd that the Kyng did rather that vigorious execucion upon the Lordes of his kyne for the covetise of thare possessions, and goodes, thane for any other rightfull cause, althofe he fonde colourabill wais to serve his entent yn the contrarye.

All thos thinges thus done, the saide kynge of Scottes, noght stanchid of his unsacionable and gredi avarice, ordeynd that tallage, and other imposicions upon his people, gretter and more chargeant then ever were acustumyd afore that tyme. So that the comoners of his land secretly clepid hym nat rightwes, bot a tirannous prynce, what for the outra­geus imposicions importables of use, on taxes and tallages, upon his poure subjectes and peple. But after the wisdome of some philisophers the comone langage of the peiple oft spekith without reason. Never­theless many of the Lordes of that land, dredyng sore of the harme that myght betide, drowghe hem to counsell how thay myght withstand and resist the Kynges tyranye, sithe he hade so litill pite of the dethe done to hyme of his Lordes, many of hem beyng so negh of his roiall blode, [Page 464]and also of the gredi covatise that he oppressid and enpoverisid his co­monalte. Withall the Kyng beyng present yn his said cownesell, rose up with a maneli swollon hart a knyght, clepid Sir Robert Grame, a grete gentilman and an Erles sune, a mane of grete wit and eloquence, wundir futtilye wittyd, and expert in the lawe: saying thes wordes opynly to the Lordes, ‘Sirs, yf ye woll firmely stand by that at I shall say to the Kyng, yn youre audience, I trust to God that we shall fynde a good remedye and helpe.’ To the which sayng the Lordes co­sentid: and saide that they trustyng holly yn his prudent and discret manchode, wold conforme and consent, yn hie and low, to mayntene all that he wold tak on hand to say, for the general weele of hem, and of all that land, yn that mater by hym than mevid.

Upon this the Kyng lete to somond a parliament of the iii astatis of his rewme, where this same Sir Robert Grame, fully sette and asurid and purposid to performe that at he had behight and promysid unto the Lordes, as is afore rehersid. He rose upe with a grete corage, with a violent chere and countenance, sette handes upon the Kyng sayng thes wordes, ‘I arrest you yn the name of all the thre astates of your reume, here now assemblid yn this present parliament, for right as youre liege people be bundun and sworne to obeye your Majeste noble riall, yn the same wise bene ye sworne and ensurid to kepe youre peple, to kepe and guverne youre lawe, so that ye do hem no wronge, bot yn all right mantene and defend hem.’ And there and then forthwith the said Sir Robert Grame, asuryng hym fully yn the promyse made unto hym bi the said Lordes, said, "Is hit nat thus as I say?" Unto the which sayng none of all the astates afore rehersid wold, ne durst speke oone word, bot kapid silence. The Kyng therwith percevyng all this pre­sumptuous rebellion, and wirchyng of the said Sir Robert Grame, gretly movyd and stirryd ayenst him, as that reason wold, lete do hym arrest, and commandid to put hym yn sure and hard prisone.

This Sir Robert Grame, seyng hymself thus desavyd there of the said Lordes, spake and said yn this wise, "He that serveth a comon mane, he serveth by short procese of tyme." After this the Kynge exiled this Sir Robert Grame; and all his haritages and goodes deemed as forfaturs to the Kyng.

Upon his exile this Sir Robert Grame toke his [way] ynto the cun­treis of the Wild Scottis, wherthat he conspired and ymagynd how that he myght destruye his Kyng. And furthwith he renounsed his lege­ance, and by wordes, and by writyng, he defied hem, seying that he had destruyd hym, his wif, and his childerne, his haritages, and all his other godes, by his cruell tyranny. Wherfor he said he wold slee hym [with] his owne handes as his mortall enmye, yf wer he myght se tyme, and fynd wais and meanes. Therto the Kyng, hugely vexid in his spretes with the traturous and malicious rebellion of the said Sir [Page 465]Robert Grame, did mak an opyn proclamacion by all the rewme of Scotteland that whoso myght slee or tak hyme, and bryng hym to the Kynges presence, shuld have iii thousand demyes of gold, every pece worth half an Englissh Noble.

Nocht long after this the Kyng lete so ordeyne his parliament yn due forme, at Edenbourghe, somunde yn the yere of oure lord A Thou­sand, Foure Hundreth, Six and Thirtye, yn the fest of All Hallowen. To the which parliament the said Sir Robert Grame stired a full cruell vengance ayene the Kyng, sent privie messages and letturs to certayne men and servantes of the Duke of Albayne, whome the Kyng a litill afore hade done rigorusly to deth, lich as hit is entitild here afore, opynly, that if thay consent and faver hym, he wold uttirly take upon hym for to slee the Kyng, lest thurgh his tirannye and covetise he wold destruy this reume of Scotteland: and the corone of the land shall be yovon to Sir Robert Stuard, which is the Kyng's cosyn, and next of the right of the corone, bot yf the Kyng had a sune; the same Robert's fadir thenne liggyng in hostage to the Kyng of England, for the said James Kyng of Scottes, yn the towre of London, till that his fynaunce were fully content and paid. And the said Sir Robert's grantesire, the Erle of Athetelles, of that treison and counsell as hit was said; and by hym­selfe secretly desirid and covetid to have the corone. For which causes the same Sir Robert Grame was half the better consentid to bryng thaire purpos to effecte. For this Sir Robert Stuard did ever abide yn the kynges presence, full famulier aboute hyme at all houres, and most privey above all other; and was a full gentill squyer, fressh, lusty, and right amyable. Whome the Kyng entierly loved as his owne sone; and for the tendure love that he had to hyme he made [hym] Constable of all his host, and . . . . at the sege of Edenbourgh*.

After this the Kyng sodanly avisid made a solempne fest of the Cris­tynmes at Perth, which is clepid Sant Johns towne, which is from Eden­bourgh on that other side of the Scottesh See, the which is vulgarly clepid the Water of Lethe. Yn the myddis of the way thare arose a woman of Yreland, that clepid herselfe as a suthsayer. The which anone as she saw the Kyng, she cried with lowde voise, sayng thus, "My Lord Kyng, and ye pase this water, ye shall never turne ayane on lyve." The Kyng heryng this was astonyed of her wordis; for bot a litill to fore he had red yn a prophesie, that yn the selfe same yere the Kyng of Scottes shuld be slayne. And therwithall the Kyng as he rode clepid to him oone of his knyghtis, and gave hym yn co­maundment to torne ayane to speke with that woman, and ask of here what sheo wold, and what thyng sheo ment with her lowd cryyng? And sheo began, and told hym as ye hafe hard of the Kynge of Scottes, yf [Page 466]he passed that water. As now the kynge askid her how sheo knew that? And sheo said that Huthart told her so. "sire," quod ho, ‘men may calant y tak non hede of yond womans wordes, for sheo nys bot a drunkine fule, and wot not what sheo saith.’ And so with his folk passid the water, clepid the Scottisshe See, toward Saynt Johnnes towne, bott iiii myles from the cuntreth of the Wild Scottes; where, yn a close of Blakfriars withowt the said towne, the kyng held a gret fest.

Where upon a day, as the Kyng plaid at the chesses with oone of his knyghtis, whome yn playng wise he clepid Kyng of Love, for he was a lusti man, full amorous, and much medeled hym with loves' arte. And as hit came the Kyng to mynd of the prophecie spokyne tofore, the Kyng said to this knyght, "Sir Kyng of Love," quod he, ‘hit is nat long agone fith I redd a prophecie, spokyne of tofore, that I saw how that his yere shuld a kyng be slayne yn this land. And ye wote wele Sir Alexander, there be no mo kynges yn this reume bot ye and I; and therfor I cownesell you that ye be well ware, for I let you wit that I shall ordeyne for my sure kepyng sufficiently, I trust to God, so I am undir youre kynghood and yn the service of Love.’ And thus the Kyng yn his solas plaid with the knyght.

Withyn short tyme after this, the Kyng beyng in his chambur, talk­yng and playng with the Lordes, knyghtis, and squyers, that were abowte hyme, spak of many dyvers maters. Amonges was ther a squyer that was right acceptable to the Kyng, that speke, and said, "For sothe My Lord," quod he, ‘me dremed varelye to nyght that Sir Robert Grame shuld hafe slayne you.’ And that heryng the Erle of Orkeney thoo warnyd the squyer, that he shuld hald his peace, and tell nane such tales yn the Kynges presence. And therwith the Kyng herying this squyers dreme, remembred hymselfe how that same nyght how* had a sweyvyn slepyng; and semyd to hym varaly that a cruell serpent, and an horribill tode, assailid hym furiously yn his kynges-chambur; and how he was sore afright and aferd of hym, and that he had nothyng wherwith he myght socoure and defend hymselfe, bot oonly a paire of tanges that studyn yn the chymneth.

And many other tokyns, and tailes, liche to this, the which now may well be demyd by varay demonstracions, and also pronosticacions to the Kyng, of his deth and murdur, had he or the tyme of his deth fell. Also oone of kynges traitours, clepid Cristofere Chawmebur, that was a squyer of the Dukes hous of Albayne, iii tymes he drugh hym to the Kynges presence, for he wold haf playnely opynd, and told hym of the purpos of all the traitours, that wer aboute to murdure hyme, bycause that the Kyng withowt any cause hatid hym rightfully. [Page 467]And thus, as hit is said by the old wise fadirs, many years or we were borne, what thyng that destyned to a person, be hit late be hit sone, at the last ever hit cumyth.

Thus, after this, cane fast apporoch the nyght, yn the which the said James Stward kyng of Scottes shuld falsely hym unwittyng, suffure his horribill deth by murdure; this which is pite that any gentill or gode man to thynk upon. so both afore soper, and long aftire ynto quarter of the nyght, in the which the Erle of Athetelles, and Robert Stward, were aboute the Kyng; where thay wer occupied att the playng of the chesse, att the tables, yn redyng of Romans, yn syngyng, and pypyng, yn harpyng; and in other honest solaces, of grete pleasance and dis­port. Therwith came the said woman of Yreland, that clepid herself a dyvenourese, and entred the Kynges courte, till that she came streght to the Kynges chambur dore, where sheo stood, and abode by­cause that hit was shitte. And fast sheo knokyd till at the last the ussher opyng the dure; marvelyng of that woman's beyng there that tyme of the nyght, and askyng here what sheo wold? ‘Let me yn Sire,’ quod sheo, ‘for I haf sumwhat to say, and to tell unto the Kyng; for I am the same woman that noght long agone desirid to haf spokyn with hym, at the Lith, whan he shuld passe the Scottish See.’ The ussher went yn, and told hym of this woman. "Yea," quod the Kyng, "let hir cume to morrow:" bycause that he was oc­cupied with suche disportes at that tyme, hym lit not to entend her as henne. The ussher came ayane to the chamber dore, to the said woman; and there he told hir that the Kyng was besye in playng; and bid her cum soo ayane upon the morow. "Well," said the woman, ‘hit shall repent yow all, that ye wil nat let me speke nowe with the Kyng.’ Therat the ussher lughe, and held her bot a fule, chargyng her to go her way. And therwithall sheo went thens.

Withyn an owre the Kyng askid the voidee, and drank, the travers yn the chambure edraw, and every man depairtid and went to rist. Than Robert Stward, that was right famylier with the Kyng, and had all his commandementes yn the chamber, was the laft that departid; and he knewe well the false purveid theison, and was consentid therto, and therfore left the Kynges chamburs doore opyne; and had brussed and blundird the lokes of hem, yn such wise that no man myght shute hem. And abowt mydnyght he laid certayne plaunches, and hurdelles, over the diches of the diche that environd the gardyne of the chambure, upon which the said traitours entred. That is to say the forsaid Sir Robert Grame, with other of his covyne ynto the nowmbre of Thre Hundreth persons; the Kyng that same tyme ther stondyng in his nyght gowne, all unclothid save his shirt, his cape, his combe, his coverchif, his furrid pynsons* upon the forme, and the foote sheet; so stondyng [Page 468]afor the chymney playng with the Qwene, and other ladis and gentil­women with here; cast offe his nyght gowne, for to have gone to bedd.

But he harkynd, and hard grete noise without, and grete clateryng of harnych, and men armyd, with grete sight of torches. Than he remembred hym, and ymagynd anone that hit shuld be [the] false tratours knyght, his deedy enemy, Sir Robert Grame. And sodenly the Qwene, with all the other ladis and gentilwomen, rane to the chawmber dure, and fonde hit opyne; and thay wold have shitt hit, bot the lokes wer so blundrid, that thay nethir cowth ne myght shut hit. The Kyng prayd hem to kepe the same dore as wele as thay myght, and he wold do all his myght to kept hym to withstond the false malice of his traitours and enmys; he suppoisyng to have brestyn the farrements of the chaumbur wyndos, bot thay wer so sqware, and strongli sowdid yn the stonys with moltyne lede, that thay myght not be brostyne for hym, withowtyn more and strenger helpe. For which cause he was ugly astonyed, and in hys mynd kouth thynk on none other socoure, bot start to the chymney, and toke the tonges of yren that men rightid the fire with, yn tyme of neede; and undir his fete he myghtily brest up a plaunch of the chaumbur flore, and therwithall cuverid hym ayane, and entred adowne lowe beneth amongis th' ordure of the privay, that was all of hard stone, and none wyndow ne isshue therupon, save a litill square hole, even at the side of the bothum of the pryvay, that at the makyng therof old tyme was levid opyne to clense and ferme the said privay. By the which the Kyng myght well escapid; bot he maid to let stop hit well iii dayes afore hard with stone, bicause that whane he playd there at the pawme, the ballis that he plaid withe oft ranne yn at that fowle hole, for ther was ordenyd withowt a faire playng place for the Kyng.

And so ther for the Kyng nether reschows, ne remedie, bot ther he must abide, ellas the while! The traitours withowt laid at the chaum­bur dors, and at the privay dore also, with wawis, with levours, and with axes, that at the last thay brak up all, and entred, (bycause the durs were not fast shutte,) with swerdes, axis, glavis, billes, and other terribill and ferefull wepons. Amonges the grete prese of the which traitours, ther was a faire lady sore hurt yn the bak; and other gentil­wemen hurt and sore wondid. With the which the ladis, and all the wemen, mayd a sorowfull skrye, and rane away for the hidos fere of tho boistous and merciles men of armes. The traitours furiously passed forth ynto the chaumbures, and founde the Qwene so dismaid and abassid of that horribill and ferfull guvernance, that she cowth nether speke, ne withdrawe here. And as sho stode ther so astonyd, as a cryature that had lost here kyndly reason, oone of the traitours wowndid here [Page 469]full vilanysly, and wold have slayne here, ne had not bene oone of Sir Robert Grame's sones, that thus spek to hym and said, ‘What woll ye dow, for shame of youre selfe! to the Qwene? Sheo is bot a womane. Let us go and sech the Kyng.’ And then not wityng wele what sheo did, or shuld do, for that ferfull and terribill affray, fledd yn hir kirtill, her mantell hangyng aboute hir; the other ladyes yn a corner of the chaumbur, cryyng and wepyng, all distraite made a pitous and lamentable nose with full hevy lokyng and chere.

And ther the traitours sought the Kyng yn all the chaumbur abowte, yn the withdrawyng chaumburs, yn the litters, undir the presses, the fourmes, the chares, and all other places, bot long they besily sought the Kyng. Bot they couth nat fynd hym, for they nether knew ne re­membred the privay. The Kyng heryng of long tyme no noyse, ne stiryng of the traitours, wende and demyd that thay had all begone, cryed to the wemen that they shuld cume with shettes, and drawe hym up owt of that uncleyne place of the privay. The wemen at his callyng came fast to the pryvay dore, that was nat shutt, and so tha opynd hit with labure. And as they were abowteward to helpe upe the Kyng, oone of the ladis, clepid Elizabeth Douglas, fell ynto the pryvay to the Kyng. Therwith oone of the said traitours, called Robert* Chaum­bur, suppoisid varaly sith thay couth nat fynd, yn none of all the sayd chaumburs, the Kyng, that he of nessessite had hyd hym yn the pryvay. And therefore he said to his felawes, "Sirs" quod he, ‘wherto stond we thus idill, and lese owre tyme, as for the cause that we be cumne forehid? Cumith on furth with me, and I shall redily tell you wher the Kyng is.’ For the same Thomas* Chaumbur had bene afore right familier with the Kyng yn all places; and therfore knewe he wele all the pryvay corners of thoo chaumburs. And so he went forth streght to the same pryvay where the Kyng was, and persavyd wele an sawe how a plaunch of the flure was brokyn up, and lift hit up, and with a torch lokyd ynne, and saw the Kyng ther, and a woman with hyme. Sayng to his felows, ‘Sirs the spows is foundon, wherfore we bene cumne, and all this nyght haf carold here.’ Therwithall oone of the said tirantes and traitours, clepid Sir John Hall, descendid downe to the Kyng, with a grete knyf yn his hand; and the Kyng, dowtyng hym sore of his lif, kaught hym myghtily by the shuldurs, and with full grete violence cast hym under his fete. For the Kyng was, of his parsone and stature, a mane right manly strong. And seyyng another of that Hallis brethyrne that the Kyng had the betture of hym, went downe ynto the pryvay also, for to destroy the Kyng. And anone as he was ther descendid, the Kyng kaught hym manly by the nek, and cast hym above that other; and so he defowlid hem both [Page 470]undir hyme, that all a long moneth after men myght see how strongly the Kyng had holdyn hem by the throtes. And gretely the Kyng strogild with hem, for to have berevyd thame thare knyvys; by the which labur his handis wer all forkute. Bot and the Kyng had bene yn any wise armyd, he myght well have escapid thare malice, by the lengthe of his fightyng with thoo ii false traitours. For, yf the Kyng myght any while lengar have savyd hymslefe, his servantes, and much other peple of the towne, by sume fortune shuld haf had sume knaw­clege therof, and soo haf cumne to his socoure helpe. Bot, ellas the while, hit wol not be! Fortune was to hym adverse, as yn preserwyng of his life any longer.

Therwithall that odyus and false traitour Sir Robert Grame, seyng the Kyng labord so sore with thoo two false traitours, which he had cast undir his fete, and that he wer faynt and wery, and that he was we­ponelese, the more pite was, descenden downe also ynto the pryvey to the Kyng, with an horribill and mortall wepone yn his hand. And then the Kyng cried hym mercy. "Thow cruell tirant," quod Grame to hym, ‘thou hadest nevyr mercy of lordes borne of thy blode, ne of non other gentilman, that came yn thy dawnger. Therfor no mercy shalt thow have here.’ Thane said the Kyng, ‘I besech the that, for the salvacion of my soule, ye woll let me have a con­fessore.’ Quod the said Grame, ‘Thow shalt never have other confessore bot this same swerd.’ And therwithall he smote hym thorogh the body, and therwithall the goode kyng fell downe and la­mentablé with a pitous voyce he cried hym oft mercy, and behight to gyf hym half hys kyngdam, and much other good, to save his lif. And then the said Grame, seyng his Kyng and Soveran Lord ynfor­tuned with so much deseyse, angwesh, and sorowe, wold hafe so levyd, and done hym no more harme. The other traitors above, perceyvyng that, sayd onto the sayd Sir Robert, ‘We behote the faithfully, bot yf thow fle hym, or thow depart, thow shalt dye for hym on owre handys sone dowtlese.’ And then the said Sir Robert, with the other two that descendid first downe, fell upon that noble prynce, and yn full horribill and cruell wise they murdrid hym. Ellas for sorow, that so ynmefurably cruelte and vengance shuld be done to that worthy prynce, fer hit was reportid by true persons that sawe hym dede, that he had sixtene dedely woundes yn his breste, withowtyn many and other y dyverse places of his body.

And hit is rehersid and remembred, yn the historiall and trewe cronicles of Scotteland, that yn the self same place, by old tyme passed, there haf bene iii kynges of Scottes slayne*.

[Page 471]And whene this abhominable and horrible homycidie, and false treason of this cruell murdur, was thus done, the said traitours fought the Qwene; and yn thare furous crueltye wold hafe slayne her, yn the same wise. Bot God, of his grace and goddnes, preservyd and kepe here owt of thare handis. And upon this the noise arose, and sprang owt, both ynto the courte, and ynto the towne, of that horribill doyng and faite, of that at the faid traitours hadde done. And anone forthwith all the Kynges servantes, that were logid yn his said court, and all the other peple of the same towne, with oone will and oone assent, as the Kynges trewe men, and his liege subjectes, comone with force and armes, with many a torch, and other lightis, and approched the Kynges court. And whene the traitours hard the noise and [...]o­more of those comones, thay with all ha [...]t possibill fled. Bot yit yn thare withdrawyng, or thaye were fully passed the diches of the Kynges place, a worthy knyght that was called Sir Davy Dunbarre, he allone, ascried and pursued hem, and with his owne hand sloghe oone of hem, and another he sore woundid. And as he faught with them yn thaire fleyng, thay kut of thre of his fyngurs of his oone hand, and sore woundid hym upon his hed. And thay slogh an other yong mane of the Kyngys chaumbur, that was good grome.

And yn this wyse Sir Robert Grame, with all the other traitours, escapid, and droghe hem to the o [...]ntreth of the Wild Scottes. And thay said amonges hemselfe, ‘Ellas why sloghe we not the Qwene also; for and we had so done we shuld have bene out of muche disease, and trobill, which we bene now lich to have. With here we have cause gretely to drede here, lest sheo woll pursue, and la­boure for to do vengance upon hus.’ And soth hit was the Qwene did suche diligence and pursuet, ayanst the said felonouce traitours, that withyne a moneth next aftir that so abhomynable murdure, thay were all takyn, and byhedid at Edynburghe. The Qwene did hirselfe grete worship for here trew acquitable. Hit hath not oft beene sene, so so­deynly vengaunce takyn upon so horribill and a cruell ded.

For furst was takyn Sir Robert Stuard, and Cristofere Chaumbur, and lad ynto strong prisone withyne the Castell of Edynburgh; and after by the sentance of the law thay were drawne, and hangid, and quarterd. Furst ther was ordenyd a cart, wherupon was set a crose of grete heght, that was maid of tree. To the which crosse the said Robert Stuward was fast boundon, stondyng upright all nakid, boundon to the bak of the same, nothyng upon hem bot thare pryvay clothes. The hongman there stondyng above with hem, havyng in his handis a paire sharpe tangis, with the which he twitched and all to tare thare skynne and flessh, that the blode