1. Although printed in the same year as his better-known De Maria Scotorum Regina (and its vernacular companion, Ane detectioun of the doingis of Marie Quene of Scottis ), George Buchanan’s Ane Admonition Direct to the Trew Lordis Mantenaris of the Kingis Graces Authoritie reflects a distinctly later political situation. De Maria Scotorum Regina had its origin in a speech delivered at the October 1568 conference at York, in which representatives of the Earl of Moray, Regent of Scotland, and the Protestants Lairds met with with English representatives to justify Mary’s deposition and imprisonment. When the Admonition was written Mary was in English custody and hence taken off the political chessboard as an immediate threat to Scots Protestantism. But a very substantial Catholic party remained, headed by Catholic Hamiltons and their supporters. James Hamilton, Earl of Arran, was next in line to the throne after the infant James VI. Arran, to be sure, was possessed of a weak and vacillating personality, but the same could not be said of his intelligent and ambitious bastard brother John, Archbishop of St. Andrews. The danger they posed was dramatically illustrated by the recent assassination of the Earl of Moray, Regent of Scotland, by another James Hamilton (“Bothwellhaugh”), in late February, 1570, repeatedly mentioned by Buchanan in this document (paragraphs 9, 33, and 34).
2. In view of the altered situation, Mary Queen of Scots gets off quite lightly in the Admonition. Indeed, except for a passing allusion to her recently ended “tyranny” in paragraph 3, she is presented almost sympathetically, as a victim of Hamilton ambition, and the denunciation of the Hamiltons here is as rich in polemic invective as that of Mary in the other pamphlet. In Buchanan’s view, a dominant theme of the past fifty years of Scottish history is the house of Hamilton’s grasping after the Crown of Scotland and general lust for blood and plunder. Even their Catholicism, he appears to insinuate in paragraph 14, is a hypocritical prophasis designed to cloak their insatiable lust for power; this is certainly true of Arran’s conversion to Catholicism described in paragraph 28.
3. The precise date of the composition of this pamphlet is uncertain: sometime between Moray’s murder and the fall of the Duke of Hamilton in September 1571. De Maria Scotorum Regina was published in London (where the vernacular version was printed by John Day in 1571) a year before its appearance in Scotland (it appeared in Latin in 1572, published at St. Andrews by Robert Lekpreuik, and in a French version by Filipe Camuz also printed in 1572). This shows that in writing that work Buchanan was writing for English and European consumption as much as for his own countrymen, as a major part of his program was the attempt to justify Mary’s deposition to the outside world. The Admonition was more or less simultaneously issued in 1571 by Lekpreuik at St. Andrews and Day at London, and this strongly suggests that this time, too, Buchanan was writing for a much wider audience than the Protestant Lairds to whom it is ostensibly addressed. Certainly it contains one allegation (in paragraph 33) that appears calculated to arrest the attention of any English reader, and of Queen Elizabeth in particular, that Arran was engaged in a coordinated effort with the Duke of Norfolk to reinstate Catholicism in both their nations. Norfolk had already been imprisoned in the Tower for his attempt to marry Mary Queen of Scots. He was rekeased in 1570 when he promised to abjure this enterprise, but grave suspicion remained that he persisted in his ambitions, and in 1571 he was rearrested, put on trial, and convicted (albeit not executed until the following year). In this context, Buchanan’s accusation was a serious one, and may have had a telling effect in England.
4. The Admonition exists, as I say, in two versions, the St. Andrews one printed by Lekpreuik and the London one printed by Day. The present edition is based on Lekpreuik’s St. Andrews text, with a very few obvious printing errors corrected and the paragraphs numbered for ease of reference. It is accompanied by a version in modern English. I take this opportunity to thank Sine Robertson, National Information Officer of the Scots Language Resource Centre for help in negotiating some intricacies of the Scots dialect.