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GIOVANNI FERRERIO OF PIEMONTE SENDS HIS GREETINGS TO THE RIGHT REVEREND FATHER IN CHRIST JAMES BEATON, ARCHBISHOP OF GLASGOW, OUR MOST SERENE QUEEN’S AMBASSADOR TO THE MOST CHRISTIAN KING OF FRANCE, HIS MASTER AND SINGULAR PATRON
ECTOR Boece, that most most honored man, endowed with singular erudition, who bequeathed to posterity the deeds of your kings and the Scottish nation, as they were most nobly undertaken and most bravely performed, published his elegant volume in seventeen Books, as issued by Josse Bade’s publishing house on May 1 of the year of Christian Salvation 1526. For the remainder of his life, he regarded nothing as more important than to continue the forward progress of his history and carry it down to his own times with similar care and industry. So as soon as he returned to Scotland from France, he began taking notes for this Book XVIII, containing the events that occurred both at home and abroad during the reign of James II. And he made such progress in its composition that I cannot imagine anybody writing something more fully or significantly on a similar subject. He left only two unimportant gaps, where the Christian names of certain noblemen are wanting. I have earnestly endeavored to supply these, but in vain. For when I questioned elderly gentlemen who lived nearer to that age, who might be thought to have kept this information green in their memories, I managed to accomplish nothing. But if some noble men who once upon a time died while fighting bravely or otherwise go without their praises because their names are wanting, the value of the history itself cannot seem to be diminished, as long as the sequence of events and deeds, narrated in their proper places, are rightly judged by serious readers. When he had in this manner finished this treatment of James II, he turned his hand to the writing of a Book XIX, intended to describe the tragic things, virtually lacking in all humanity, which happened under that king’s son and successor James III. But when he had started to assemble the beginning of that Book, he was forestalled by death, leaving it to posterity to complete what he had barely begun.
2. At length, since no man had come to the rescue, this responsibility devolved on muyself. For some good and distinguished men, with whom I had long lived on familiar terms, encouraged me over and over to undertake this very thing. They added many reasons (all of which I shall set forth in my subsequent Epistle to the Reader) why they thought I should do this. They furthermore promised to furnish me with certain records of actions and times of great importance to someone engaged in this task, which in the end they failed to produce. So I hesitated, doubtful of how to procede, lest, once I had been invited to undertake this task by certain promises and recollections that were not forthcoming, all the labor I had already invested would go to waste. Since I had barely started the project and lacked what I needed to bring it to its completion, I attempted to find help wherever I could. But when I had diligently sought for everything which I thought necessary to write a continuation of this Book and had failed in the attempt, I was not unhappy to forswear entitling this a History, and instead to call it an assemblage of Notes, as being a appropriate description of my efforts. If at some time the things I presently lack come to light, then either I or someone else can work up these notes into a continuous account of events set forth in their chronological order, which can properly be called an Annals or a History. Meanwhile, if many things turn out to be wanting here, and familiar and well-known things at that, these notes of mine, of whatever quality they happen to be, will serve to provide all earnest readers with the principal topics and the things most necessary for an understanding of the things that occurred under James III.
3. And so, my good Maecenas, I have wanted these notes of mine about Scottish affairs to be published after all this time, dedicated to yourself, until I have searched out better, so that, thanks to my account, posterity will understand how much the kings of Scotland and the entire realm have justly acknowledged their debt to the individual members of your family since its foundation, and have nobly professed this by the gifts they have conferred upon you all. Here I shall not forget to mention your most famous kinsmen of olden times, who have lived under your kings enjoying great praise and authority, lest, because of the great passage of time, we be obliged to accept and tolerate the slanders of the envious, who so often dismiss things remote from our own age as falsehoods. And I shall devote a few words to things which I witnessed with my own eyes while living in your Scotland forty-four years ago and learned by personal experience, and which were witnessed by many others as well, both Scotsmen and Frenchmen, who still are alive, things which no man, no matter how impudent, will dare to, or be able to, refute. For your uncle was the great James Beaton, first Archbishop of Glasgow and then Metropolitan of St. Andrews and Chancellor of the realm, who distinguished himself by performing an embassy to the Pope on behalf of his king. Then, upon his return home, by daily offering his king sound advice and consulting for the welfare of the commonwealth, he left to all men capable of passing judgment on thorny issues very clear evidence of his fine intellect and singular prudence. Furthermore, amidst the great difficulties of the realm during the infancy and boyhood of King James V, no man who is a not a complete fool is unaware of the degree to which he surpassed all the other distinguished and illustrious men of his age with his prudence and skill in managing affairs.
4. But these things will be remembered, when the subject permits, in my accounts of James IV and James IV. But after the death of that great man, the incomparable David Beaton, your father’s brother, came to prominence. He was the right noble Cardinal Priest of the Title of St. Stephen on the Caelian Hill of the Holy Roman Church, Abbot of Arbroath, and Metropolitan of St. Andrews, and also your kingdom’s Chancellor, and while he was diligently toiling day and night to defend religion and his nation’s ancient liberty, he was savagely assassinated in his own palace by his treacherous domestics and corrupted servants, by an exercise of more than barbaric savagery. Next to your uncle the Cardinal, you would have remained nearly the sole champion of the old religion and defender of your nation’s liberty, if Fortune had allowed the results in any way to match your strivings. But even though, by the operations of your unkind destiny, this was not allowed, you have tenaciously clung to the protection of your innate nature, a very wise and excellent thing to do, and have disdained all the good things of Fortune, which are admired by many folk whom they have deceived. You were unafraid to follow Prodicus’ example of Hercules (as is described by Cicero in Book I of De Officiis) and reject things which merely looked plausible, and wholly devote yourself to Virtue, albeit your were still faced with almost infinite labors still to be dealt with, which you were obliged to encounter in those troubled times, and even now are enduring with your tireless mind, although no end is in sight. Nevertheless, as I began to say, amidst such difficulties of your affairs and your life, you do not grow downcast, but rather you address yourself to your responsibilities with all the greater ardor, so that you can achieve, if it is in any way possible, that which your great uncle accomplished not so very long ago, and what has lately been accomplished by your father’s brother, a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, whom all men agree in thinking to have persevered in defending religion and the liberty of their nation, in which they were born and piously reared, even to the point of shedding blood and trading life for death.
5. So you must continue in the footsteps of your forebears and do your best to restore piety to the position from which it might seem to have fallen, assert your nation’s freedom, and apply you labor and industry to persuade the Most Christian King to rescue your most seren esovereign from all the evils with which she is y mocked by Fortune, so unfairly and in such strange ways, so that, thanks to your singular act of good will and the earnest assistance of her kindred sovereigns, she might someday be freed from all her troubles. Let no fear of villains weigh so heavily on you that you depart from that duty which both God and nature wish you to display towards your mistress. If you constantly practice those arts of virtue by which your forebears lived, like them you will gain immortal glory in the eyes of God Almighty and enduring praise among good men, as long as the history of your deeds and counsels continues to be read. And this (if nothing impedes me) will soon be published. In it they will expressly be memorialized, not without high heaps of praise, both by myself and by those menswho have greatly assisted me with their memories in the writing of this Scottish history. The principal one of these is John Leslie, that most distinguished and well-read gentleman, the Bishop-Designate of Ross. Lately, while serving as the representative of the Queen of Scots, he was cast in an English prison because of the slanders of her enemies, but now (as he himself testifies), thanks to the singular kindness of Lady Elizabeth, the queen of that nation, he has been freed and returned to his old friends at Paris. But to return to the point where I digress, my best Maecenas, to you I dedicate these efforts of mine concerning your nation’s affairs, of whatever quality they me be, and I would have you receive them with an unfurrowed brow. Someday, if God allows and my life permits, you shall receive greater. Meanwhile, take care that you live, rightly and happily, as long as possible, always mindful of your Ferrerio. Farewell once more. Given at Paris, June 19, 1574.
FTER the criminal murder of James I, even though his assassins had received their punishment, everything was quickly thrown in an uproar. For when their sovereign’s insistence on moderation had been removed, those who surpassed the rest in power and were most conspicuous for their ambition, set no limit on their desires. Rather, disturbing everything with their license, they held sway as long as the king was in his minority and exercised a tyranny which they later had cause to regret. For King James had left behind a very young son, barely six years old. He was conveyed to Scone and received the royal title in the year 1436, but was kept wholly under the tutelage and protection of the lords. Therefore, since he was not yet fit to rule because of his youth, a general parliament of all the realm was assembled, and those who were thought to be preeminent for their prudence were entrusted with the government. The principal regent was Sir Alexander Livingston of Callendar, but by the vote of one and all it was allowed that Sir William Crichton, a man of surpassing prudence, who had been appointed chancellor of the realm by James I, should continue in office.
2. But the one man who surpassed all the rest in his power and wealth was Archibald Earl of Douglas, who, because of his great resources, scorned all the magistrates. Therefore frequent complaints were lodged with the magistrates, first concerning Annandale, because its inhabitants were filling neighboring regions, not even with their robbery, but even murder. When Archibald was commanded to make reparations, he was so far from complying with those instructions that he went so far as to openly obstruct those who attempted to mend the situation. For he issued a proclamation that no royal administrator or servant should summon any man to his trial, and that no man so summoned should make his appearance, either in Annandale or in any other district under his control, on pain of death. His claim was that this was his royal privilege. The result was that virtually all justice was suspended in various districts of the realm. The saner members of the nobility took Archibald’s actions amiss, but their opposition was in vain, since they were struggling against a greater power, and they feared lest the create greater upheavals, to the endangerment of both themselves and their king. For these reasons, the young men of Scotland grew wild, since nobody existed to chastise ravagers of the countryside, murderers of peasants and townsmen, and the bestiality of nobles raging against each other. The clash of arms was heard everywhere, and thefts, robberies, and other felonies of the kind were practiced so openly that they conferred supreme honor on their practitioners. The fact that this evil daily increased was held against those to whom the public government had been entrusted.
3. At this time private grudges arose: their occasion or root cause is not known. For the chancellor, doing his duty as best he could, very punctually governed the boy-king entrusted to his good faith, together with Edinburgh Castle and its stronghold. Some of the nobility, possessed of no mean authority, were adherents of his party. An opposing faction was fostered at Sterling by the queen and Alexander, who was, as I have said, the regent, and they were supported by many nobles. Both factions sent around heralds and representatives through the towns, markets, and principal villages of the realm publishing edicts that no man should obey their opponents, on pain of capital punishment. The result of these things was that a great evil threatened the kingdom, since nobody was guaranteeing safety to townsmen, priests, or the peasantry (who were being sorely afflicted by the intrusions of unclean men) when they sought to protect their rights, or to conduct any public or private business. For if a man would go to Edinburgh to complain to the chancellor about wrongs done by mischiefmakers, it would often happen that, before he returned home, robbers claiming to be members of the opposing faction would rob them of their entire fortunes, sometimes burning down his house to boot. And those who went to the regent to deplore their woes had a similar experience. Some men, moved by their outstanding piety and the present calamity of their fellow Scotsmen, regarded these things as intolerable, but kept themselves at home in gloomy silence.
4. Amidst this chaos, when things were thrown into turmoil in nearly all respects, in order to strengthen her faction and weaken her opposition, the queen hatched a plan for taking the king from the chancellor, if this could somehow be achieved. She went to Edinburgh with a small escort. On her arrival there, the chancellor gave her a friendly reception and admitted her to the stronghold so she might visit her son. And she was granted permission to go to the king in that place whenever she wished. Artfully concealing the reason why she had come to Edinburgh, in her frequent conversations with nobles the queen kept saying that she detested nothing so much as internal discord, and was not unaware of how much evil it visited on rulers and commonwealths. She wholeheartedly wished to avoid any more such squabbling, and her greatest wish was that her son, in whom alone resided the glory and all hope of calming those present storms, punishing so many great crimes, and restoring the kingdom of Scotland to its erstwhile peace, would receive an honest and pious education. She would then discourse in great detail about how the divisions that had arisen within the nobility would thus be resolved, so that not even a trace of them would remain. By these and similar words and gestures, which offered a show of good faith and piety, the queen removed every suspicion that had been harbored by the chancellor and his adherents. Matters came to the point that the queen spent her time with the king in the stronghold nights and days, whenever she wished.
5. At length, the queen found an opportunity to put her plan into action. She gave out that she was going to make a dawn visit to a shrine of the Blessed Virgin (our countrymen call it Whitechapel), and she commanded that two chests of clothing be loaded on a packhorse prepared for her use, as if she were using them to take her womanly finery along with herself. During the night she deceived his guardians and shut up the little king in one of these. Soon a trusty servant, a party to the trick, led the horse to the nearby harbor of Leith, busily loaded the chests on a boat, and when the queen had hastily boarded it, she quickly sailed out of the harbor and steered for Sterling. She had crossed a goodly part of the estuary before the guards in the stronghold realized they had been cheated. The following evening, the regent joyfully welcomed the arriving king with open arms, and escorted him into the stronghold with an escorting throng. He greatly approved the queen’s cleverness because she had brought a difficult matter to a happy conclusion, not without risk to her life, on behalf (as he said) of the security of the realm, and of her son.
6. Three days later, he called a meeting of his friends and supporters and addressed them. “I do not imagine that a one of you is unaware how greatly, to our disgrace, we have been mocked by William Chrichton’s intolerable arrogance, after, by your great kindness, he was again appointed chancellor and gained control of the young king and Edinburgh Castle. For, besides the fact that he has made the tenants of royal lands his personal vassals, he has abused us, together with our friends and familiars, noble and commoner alike, and our children, with his insupportable tyranny as if all grace, all authority, honor and wealth resided in himself or wherever he wished them to be located, while leaving us exposed to impotence, shame, and even poverty, obedient to him and paying him our taxes as if he were a supreme magistrate, as long as he has his way. He has sought by his endeavor to be the single man who would handle all matters both domestic and foreign. And, all these things to the side, things would have gone far more harshly for us than anybody would have ever thought possible, had not the queen, a woman of singular prudence, with the special help of God Almighty, quickly come to our aid. For she understood the situation with better insight than mine, so that, over my objections because I was not unaware of William’s sly ways and harbored suspicions of his deception, capable of manifesting itself in any possible way, she went to Edinburgh. By her miraculous cleverness she took the young king away from William, and brought him to us, as you are aware. So you may see that prudence is not always safe, nor boldness always unlucky. To his disgrace, William, a man of keen sagacity in the opinion of all men, has lost the king, on the authority of whose name his tyranny primarily depended as it monstrously raged against all man. For whatever he did, he claimed to be doing by royal authority, so as to cow the helpless common people with greater fear. His wretched, dishonorable fate is a laughingstock to all men, and our glory is scarcely ignoble, for we possess that for which we most hoped. So continue, and make the things that William impiously devised for us, confinements, exiles, and proscriptions, rebound against himself. Muster soldiers for an expedition, so that the day after tomorrow at dawn they might gather at Edinburgh. Send secret messengers to arrange that its castle should not be aware we are in motion before it sees itself to be besieged. Come now, let him who so greatly craved to lord it over you be your servant. You will not be lacking in strength, as long as your minds are a little more determined. Your advantage, this time, the dangers your face, your liberty, the glory you can attain — these things urge you onward more than my words could. There is only need for a manly spirit and a bold beginning, the good fortune we are experiencing will supply the rest.”
7. When the entire meeting had absorbed these things with a happy mind, there was no little discussion about what strength each man was to supply, and whether their combined forces would suffice to fight not only William, but also Douglas, should he come to aid the castle. Then the queen volunteered to supply a great supply of grain from her barns (these were in the district of Fife, not far distant from Edinburgh), and to share it out, together with money, among the soldiers for their use during the siege. She also claimed to know for a fact that Earl Archibald and all his clan cherished an implacable hatred against William Crichton, and wanted nothing more than the downfall of that man and his entire race. Her words encouraged their minds all the more, and each of the vowed he would do his utmost, and so the meeting was dismissed. Meanwhile the chancellor, sorely vexed at having been cheated, and understanding that there was no further room for reconciliation with his enemy, so that everything threatened him with ruin, communicated with Archibald Earl of Douglas by a messenger, asking him to furnish help against the queen and the regent, promising that henceforth he would remain loyal to him with all his might. In response to this message, Archibald scarcely gave his requests a hearing, and, like a man enraged, replied that a good man had no business allying himself with rascals and men dripping with ingrained vices, such as were William Crichton and Alexander the regent, or to help one of them against the other, since they were not taking up arms against each other for the sake of virtue or honor, but rather for that of villainy. He would never hear anything more gladly than that one of them had employed fire and steel to bring the other to a hideous end, together with his entire clan: the insatiable ambition, vanity, and innate perfidy of the both of them deserved such an end. An avenging God should inflict a shameful loss on both of them, devoted as they were to crimes and caring not a fig for innocent folk in anything they said or did: let them someday suffer memorable punishments.
8. The chancellor received this reply at a time when he was tightly besieged in Edinburgh Castle, with the regent and his army encamped outside it. Lest he be obliged to suffer something worse if he continued to defend the castle, he began to negotiate with his enemy concerning a surrender. He therefore sent a herald to the regent, praying that he be granted a two days’ truce, and stating he would not object to hold a conference with him in the plain lying below the castle: he took his oath that he would tell him things touching on the safety of them both. The regent did not reject his plea, and, in accordance with their agreement, went to the conference with a few few men. Then William began by telling him about reply he had lately received from the Earl of Douglas, filled with sharp rebukes, when he had in an amicable way requested his help. He informed him with very certain proofs how the earl was setting traps against them both, and what great and irreparable harm they would undoubtedly bring down on themselves if they persisted in their quarrelsome fight. They therefore needed to consult for the common welfare of both themselves and their clans, lest by quarreling they do far more damage to themselves than their enemies’ power ever could inflict. He wholeheartedly desired peace and was loyal to the king, as a faithful subject should be. The castle belonged to the king, and should be handed over to the king on conditions of the regent’s choice. Henceforth, both as a public and a private citizen, he would act according to the dictation of the man at the king’s side, as long as this was in their interest of their mutual security, and this was to be his constant policy regarding his sovereign, the regent, and their commonwealth. The chancellor’s words filled Alexander with good hope that, with the current arguments between them having been resolved, and the commonwealth pacified (if such could be done), the harm being inflicted by those who supported robbers could easily be avoided. This would also have the effect of restraining the hubris of many very arrogant men. But the situation demanded that William have the same thing his heart that he spoke with his mouth, and not go back on his word: if he would keep his faith, it would come to pass that the enemies of peace and tranquility would be swept aside, and the kingdom could be kept happy and prosperous for the benefit of its king and the entire Scottish nation. Thereupon William, wholeheartedly submitting to the royal will, handed over to the regent the castle keys as a token of surrender, to be conveyed to the king. The result was that William wonderfully gained the good will of the lords present there, and was regarded, not as an an enemy, but as one of the principal friends of the public safety. After this, the king was received into the castle with great rejoicing and very honorable estate, and by public authority William was allowed to continue as chancellor and governor of the Edinburgh garrison. So at this time a friendship arose between the regent and the chancellor, and also between their kinsmen, not likely to perish, as it appeared to everyone at that time.
9. While this tug-of-war over the person of the king was being waged with varying success, the southeastern parts of the realm were vexed with much murder and rapine. For Sir Thomas Boyd cruelly murdered Sir Alan Stewart of Darnley, reputedly because of an old rivalry. This occurred at Polmaise Thorn, at about the third milestone from the village of Ware’s Chapel. But his brother Alexander Stewart did not let his murder go long unavenged. For he joined battle with Thomas Boyd, with no few men killed on either side, and in the end, having inflicted many wounds on his enemy, he soundly punished him. Nor was the end of the killings, but rather it signaled the start of a number of encounters, to the mutual harm of both sides. Nearly all the southern and western parts of the realm split into two factions, until they seemed to obtain a breathing-space thanks to the death of Archibald Earl of Douglas. He died at Restalrig of that raging fever which physicians call caustic, in the year of Christ 1439. After he had married Matilda, the daughter of the Earl of Crawford, in a ceremony at Dundee celebrated with great estate such as our age has scarcely heard of, he had a son, William, who was now barely fourteen years old. As the pursuits of his early years went to show, he was by no means a youth of bad character. But his impressionable youth took a turn for the worse, being easily corrupted by court-flatterers, the worst of all plagues, although all men agree that, had he enjoyed the company of upright men and tutors, he would have turned out an excellent man. But at the instigation of his courtiers, (as they say) he created knights and parliamentarians as if he were the king, and used them as an indecently large retinue not without a display of contempt for the royal majesty. Wherever he needed to go, sometimes he would gather a train of two thousand or more horsemen in his service, including a great number of robbers, and parade them in the king’s sight at Edinburgh, or take them to some other city so as to display the greatness of his power.
10. He fancied he would be immune from his enemies’ harm, if he imitated his father’s example in using the power he had wielded during his lifetime. And so, enlarging his retinue at the flatterers’ urging, so as to intimidate one and all, he displayed the same arrogance as his father, scarcely diminished, but rather to an exaggerated degree, so that everyone could readily see he acknowledged no superior in all the realm, as his importunate courtiers kept drumming into his young head. A supporter of this insolence was thought to be Sir James Stewart, because of the hatred he had recently conceived against the chancellor and the regent, although nobody knows why. James was the brother of the Lord of Lorn who had a little while previously married the previous queen, and because of this honor he was of the opinion that he could claim no little authority in the commonwealth. For this reason, Alexander the regent unexpectedly imprisoned both James and his brother William, out of fear that, with their support, William Douglas’ tyranny would become intolerable. The queen took amiss the imprisonment of her husband, so Alexander, suspecting she was party to their plans, consigned her to Sterling Castle, of which he himself was the governor by command of the lords, and did not release her until a parliament of the lords of the realm was held at Sterling, and the parliament had granted him immunity, should her husband happen to accuse him of treason. Her husband James Stewart and his brother were freed thanks to the intervention of the chancellor and Alexander Seton of Gordon, who stood surety that they would henceforth do nothing against the royal authority. A bail of four thousand pounds was set, to be forfeited if they should do anything against the governor, or arrogate to themselves any power of his public administration.
11. He also imposed unreasonably harsh sentences on some other men conspicuous for their wealth and nobility who fell under even the lightest suspicion of harboring rebellious tendencies, without consulting the chancellor or his noble adherents, as if the entire power of government was his alone. He bestowed immunity on others who were manifestly guilty of a crime, in accordance with his own whim. The chancellor took this very much amiss, thinking that himself and his authority was being held in contempt by this manner of government, and also that little account would be taken of the public safety. He suppressed his sense of indignation and decided to go elsewhere until he could devise some means of healing this growing wound. Therefore he left Sterling, abandoning the king, together with his mother and the regent, and, with a large military escort (as is our countrymen’s habit during times of turmoil), returned to Edinburgh, where he shut himself up in the castle, as if it were his private home. Even though the regent was well aware that William, a high-spirited man, would not suffer any insult he had received to go long unpunished, as long as he had strength to match his disposition, nevertheless reckoned that man’s power to be inconsequential in comparison to his personal strength, as supplemented by his public authority and the young king and whatever royal power he might possess. So he took an even freer hand in managing everything than he had before, not even troubling to consult the lords of the realm. Meanwhile William Earl of Douglas sent Malcolm Fleming of Cumbernauld and Alan Lauder to King Charles VII of France. The king had created his grandfather Archibald, who had died for the cause of French liberty, the dukedom of Tours for his good service at the Battle of Verneuil, and for all of his life his father Archibald had enjoyed possession of that dukedom. So he requested that, as its lawful heir, it be granted himself, and promised to do to the best of his ability all the things stipulated by the royal deed of grant, as had his forebears. Out of his good disposition towards the king and nation of Scotland (for nothing was dearer to him), the king gave a friendly hearing to the ambassador’s response and issued a favorable replay, When his representatives had sworn fealty in his name, with the assent of the lords of France, he named William Duc de Tours.
12. Rendered imprudent by that happy success, the young man took the advantage of an opportunity to grow yet more swollen-headed, to his own destruction, and likewise his courtiers and hangers-on used the occasion to egg him on to yet greater insolence, a thing to which men of his age easily fall prone. So his license grew all the worse, and he extended his power yet further. For his mad lust to destroy everything by throwing it into confusion did not just affect those dwelling in the south and west of Scotland, but touched the islanders as well. For at this time some Hebridians had made a foray to the mainland, and in the midst of their ravaging they encountered the noble man John Colquhoun of Luss, come with his forces to ward off their hostile violence. They fought near Inchmure (the name of a village) and cruelly killed Colquhoun and many others, although the islanders lost very few men. The leaders of these thieves were Lachlan Maclean and a certain Murdach Gibson, men notorious for their robbing ways. Emboldened by this new victory, they soon befouled everything with their murders. Neither holy places nor private homes provided shelter for any man. Altars of the saints were spattered with blood, doors were broken down, and men sleeping in their bedrooms, together with their wives and children, were promiscuously butchered. There was no shame, no respect shown for old age. These murders were committed all over, but by the responsibility of different men, in the exposed parts of Scotland, both in the west and in the south. No human remedy could be found to prevent them from holding God’s divinity wholly in contempt.
13. In the year of the Saving Birth 1439 commenced a great shortage of grain, partly because the upheavals prevented farmers from sowing their crops, and partially because divine wrath created a murrain. Then there was a very great plague, in which men died the same day they took ill, and it raged for a year and half. Yet men did not grow weary and refrain from their old outrages. Indeed, while God held His avenging rod in abeyance, more frequent and serious quarrels than ever were reported to the king and those who were of a sufficiently mature age to manage the kingdom. A number of men of no common esteem muttered that the blame for these evils fell on Alexander the regent: for, as soon as he staked his claim to the realm and its government, he showed unreasonable favor to the criminals and their champions out of hatred for the chancellor. And it appeared that, thanks to an alliance of the Earl of Douglas with the regent (for these were said to have been conniving at this time), something monstrous was being hatched against the life of William. First whispers about this thing began to buzz about his court, and then his friends openly discussed it, sp the chancellor carefully weighed everything in his mind, and then decided to dare a deed by which he would either rescue the public safety from its all too present danger or quickly expose himself and his entire clan to the utmost danger. When he had discovered, by means of a very trusty spy, what places the king liked to haunt for his recreation, and what men were assigned for his protection, he hastened there by night with a choice band of followers, although he kept his plan to himself. He had previously commanded his friends to collect all the horsemen under his control they could recruit in the short time at their disposal: at dawn on the following day they should appear in armor at the place not far from Sterling that he had chosen for this business. The friends to whom this task was entrusted carried out their assignment with industry, and in the deep of night they hastened to the appointed place in small groups, so as not to arouse suspicion.
14. Meanwhile, while William was awaiting the daybreak in a grove near to Sterling, chance offered him an unexpected opportunity. For as it grew light the king came out of the castle with a few horsemen for the sake of hunting, as was his habit, and rode right into the glade, where he came across William’s riders before anyone could detect the trap. After the king had come into sight and William had paid his dutiful greetings, and his followers had done the same, he earnestly urged the king to escape the prison in which he had so long been kept by the regent’s tyranny, to the harm of the kingdom, and quickly ride off to Edinburgh or wherever else he wanted go. He would not be subject to his own hateful rule, but could mildly rule others thanks to his own protection and benevolent custody, and henceforth would live in royal style. He swore that not far away here men who would convey him wherever he wished to go, even though some men might wish otherwise, relieved of all danger and fear of enemies, should any man pose a threat. This was very much required for the public safety, and all friends of the king’s happiness greatly hoped for it. The king quickly showed his approval by his expression, and William seized his bridle and started to lead him towards Edinburgh. At that time there were some royal servants who began to resort to violence to obstruct William’s endeavors. This was prevented by Alexander Livingston, the regent’s elder son, who said it would be extreme folly for unarmed men to fight it out with armed ones who were far superior in numbers, at a time when the king’s life was in no danger. For the moment, the must swallow the insult, whatever it might turn out to be, and yield to necessity, and to an enemy who was in every respect most strong, such as no force, no art, no human effort or device could defeat. The laws of Fortune were such that often the man at whom she smiles runs the greatest risk, whereas the man she seems to have cast aside as worthless she suddenly lifts up, makings him all the more illustrious when he least expects it. As the king continued on his way, he was met by nearly four thousand armed men, kinsmen and followers fetched by William against enemy attack, should any such occur, whom, as I have said, had assembled and halted at dawn not far from Sterling. The met them with happy cheers, and, to the great joy of one and all, finished their journey with no trouble and escorted the king and the chancellor to Edinburgh Castle before their movement could be reported to the regent, who happened to be far away.
15. When these things were announced at Sterling, they had the effect of swiftly recalling him to the town, and there his mind was more wrathful than any previous insult had ever made it. For he was troubled by the spiritedness of the clever chancellorm and his own negligence in guarding the king, so that his enemy and the queen had the opportunity to laugh at him: for her was still indignant that she had been remanded to public custody like a common criminal. His chagrin was made all the worse by the reflection that by his own fault he had put himself in a position where he had no completely no idea to whom he might entrust a plan (for he was gripped by the suspicion he had been deceived by his own followers), at a time when everything seemed to be combining to bring him to an unhappy end. Alexander made these and similar complaints to himself, and considered various ways of avoiding his evils. But he could find no better plan more suitable to his circumstances than to forgive the offense, end his quarrels, and return to his erstwhile concord with the chancellor, and henceforth to abide by it faithfully. For he considered it neither safe nor honorable to entrust his welfare to the Earl of Douglas, regarded by patriots as all but a national enemy, and who because of his age was immune to prudence and could be counted to do everything according to the will of his courtiers, and, rashly deserting his friends and acting contrary to his forebears’ well-tried policy, join that man’s party. Were he to persist in his rivalry with the chancellor, he feared lest sooner or later he might be brought to book, be deprived of his office to his great shame and mockery, and be compelled to go into exile, to the irreparable harm of his children and kinsmen. And so, having discussed this matter for several days with his own friends and those of the commonwealth, in accordance with their opinion (although contrary to the expectation of many) the regent set out for Edinburgh with only a small retinue.
16. At that time there were two very sincere clergymen of Christ at Edinburgh, grave in the lives, and conspicuous for their piety, and prudence, and learning, John Innes and Henry Lichton, the one the Bishop of Aberdeen, and the other the Bishop of Moray, and they had no small authority among the nobility. Thanks to their effort and intervention the chancellor and the regent, to whom they were most dear, met for a conference in St. Giles’ Cathedral, disarmed and with only a few friends. Then, as had been agreed, the regent spoke first: “I have often heard very learned men who are assiduous readers of histories both ancient and modern, such as I not infrequently converse with, remark the same thing which some highly respected authors write: that, thanks to concord, small things have grown into great ones, by because of discord men more wealthy than Croesus have come to a pitiful end. If we have any concern for our public or private security, examples of these principles both foreign and domestic, which are unfamiliar to nobody, ought to move us to end our rivalries and very earnestly cultivate friendship. We must do our utmost to achieve this. And thereafter we must remain steadfast, so that we manage our business with a single mind and a shared counsel. For, as I see it, no man can easily tell how much great loss we have suffered, together with our kinsmen and friends, and indeed with every good Scotsman, since our quarrel first began. We lack the strength we once had, and also the wealth. We are not held in the same affection, esteem, and honor with the nobility and the helpless commons. This internal dissension has deprived us every good thing we had that was almost dearer than life itself, and his brought us much indignity.
17. “So we have no need of other men’s examples to perceive what we must avoid amidst our evils. By heavens, I am troubled and sorely vexed that we, to whom the nobility in its good will entrusted the public government and supreme power, are being spoken of, because of that ambition of ours which everybody hates, as if we were responsible for all the rapine, murder, destruction, and other such woes by which our kingdom is nowadays being foully wounded. By our rivalry we are harming ourselves and our commonwealth, and we are providing our enemies with the main chance they so desperately desire. They laugh at us as we hurt each other, they happily await our utter destruction. If, thanks to some unlucky star, such a great evil should come to pass, that affairs will be thrown into every kind of disorder. With our power of pronouncing justice taken away, they will either usurp majesty or abuse it as they please, to the destruction of the kingdom. Remember, I beg you, that we were summoned to our public responsibilities by the nobility so that we would preserve the kingdom safe and sound until the young king comes of age, suffering no harm that we could prevent. But when we indulge in internal sedition we do more to abandon and betray it than to preserve it. So I ask you, I beg and beseech you, in the name of whatever has any power with you, in the name of your love of your nation and your sovereign, let these domestic rivalries be ended. Let these pernicious seditions in which we are engaged, to the detriment of the public safety, be extinguished. Let us renew our friendship, that delightful bond of good minds and likewise the surest help for the realm, without which no private or public man can live a profitable life for himself or his nation. Pray let yourself be persuaded for the sake of your nation’s security, so that all men may rightfully regard you as the most loyal champion of your nation and of the royal family. And so that you will agree with me all the more readily when I am urging things that are once honorable and necessary, I forgive you all the harm I have suffered, honestly and without deception. And I shall make restitution for whatever harm I have done to you, as you wish and without any hesitation. And let the king remain under your care and guidance. For he was entrusted to you by his father’s authority. It will be enough for me if henceforth we are in such agreement concerning the management of the realm that nobles and commoners alike egard us as just administrators, punishers of wrongdoings, and champions of justice. For if we were to turn our backs on sound policy and continue with our implacable hatred, placing ambition ahead of public security, it would undoubtedly be our fault that the kingdom, the royal family, our own fortunes, children, lives, and everything we hold dear, would be exposed to the utmost damage.”
18. The chancellor’s response was that he had always detested civil war and every form of sedition, and so had always done his best to avoid it. His wholehearted desire was that their present quarrel be put to rest, and indeed be ended to the point that no traces of it remained, for nobody was unaware that its cause was ambition. For if any such traces remained, they might seem capable at some time of blazing forth with their same old flames, and creating a blaze of even greater dissent. He was well aware that, should their rivalry continue and the clash of arms be heard on every side, no account would be taken of the welfare either of their sovereign or of the Scottish nation. It would scarcely be right for him to refuse such an honorable and welcome proposal, so necessary for the public safety, when it freely offered itself. So he was very much of the opinion that he should seek to gain the friendship of one and all, and particularly of those to whom the supreme government had been entrusted. But it was no business of his, nor of the opposing faction, to dictate the way in which their quarrel should be ended. So, for the sake of ending their dispute, umpires acceptable to both parties should be appointed, men who wished the best for their sovereign and the commonwealth of Scotland. He would not refuse to abide by their verdict, as long as they did nothing to the detriment of the king or the public welfare, for whose safety each man owed all his fortunes, his life and soul. Men should expect nothing else from himself, for he had been faithful to his sovereign and commonwealth throughout his life, and would always remain such. The gentlemen of high dignity who were present on this occasion praised both of them, and thanked them for having valued the public safety so highly and so greatly preferred it to any men, even those dearest to themselves.
19. By the vote of both leaders, umpires were imported, and, thanks to their efforts, they came to an agreement about peace, which was soon thereafter cemented by a formal agreement. And so these two factions and their leaders came to a consensus, henceforth (as all men thought at the time) destined to coexist in great friendship. A little later, by decree of the nobles, a public parliament of all orders of the realm was held at Edinburgh, to deliberate about the better prosperity of the kingdom. At this, far more complaints lodged by the helpless common folk were heard than ever before. There was scarcely a man present who did not feel pity at the sight of widows unhappily bewailing the losses of their husbands, who had been killed by the evildoing of ravagers, parents mourning their murdered children, and men lamenting their lost fortunes. Reverence for majesty had degenerated into depredations and murders committed almost everywhere, to the point that no man could find a place of safety unless he swore his loyalty to some robber-chieftain or purchased his life for a great some. After a lengthy debate about righting these wrongs, when no scheme for punishing these outrages could be devised other than killing these leaders and supporters of robbers by deceit (since they could not easily do so by a show of strength), they wrote a friendly letter to the Earl Douglas and his brother David, inviting them to take a share in governing the realm: for without him and his friends, it could not be properly administered, and indeed was incomplete in their absence. Since this young man was greedy enough for glory and honor in his own right, and was encouraged by his false-friend courtiers, who were on the lookout for their personal advantage no less than for his glory, he suspected no fraud to be lurking in these kindly words, and so he took his brother, whom he never let go from his side, and went to the king at Edinburgh. For a little while earlier the king had come from Sterling to participate in the parliament.
20. As he was on his way, the chancellor deliberately met him, and by his earnest entreaties, at length and with difficulty persuaded him to join himself in going to Crichton Castle and enjoy his hospitality, swearing a great oath that henceforth he would regard the earl as his great master, second only to the king. Thus the earl and all his gang of courtiers were hospitably received in great estate, given almost royal banquets, and addressed by the chancellor with more friendly words than true affection is wont to speak. He stayed at the castle for a full two days, and as he and his great train were preparing to depart, William urged him to be obedient to King James, inasmuch as God Almighty had given him to the Scottish nation to be their master and ruler. He should heed his mandates, abide in his duty, and bear in mind that his excellent fortune, his ample dominion, and all his strength and power over men, had been granted him as a royal favor, so he might be a lawful servant, not for the sake of his insolence, so he should always hold the royal title in reverence and protect the public safety with all the strength at his disposal. He should of his best to make amends for crimes committed in his dominion to the detriment of the king and the harm of the people. Henceforth he should not permit the helpless common folk to be oppressed by the intolerable wrongdoing of mischiefmakers. And he should not obstruct public authority in bringing malefactors to book and pronouncing fair justice. Otherwise the glory which his right noble forebears had accumulated by their brave deeds on behalf of the nation, together with the very ample gifts of Fortune, would soon vanish, not without irreparable damage to his clan.
21. The young man heard these words of advice with a very grateful mind, and vowed that in all his action he would acquiesce to his sovereign’s will. They say that the chancellor displayed this feigned friendliness towards the earl so that he could remove any suspicion of deceit (if the earl harbored any such thing) and lead him into the snare that had been set: thus, with him and his brother removed, henceforth Scotland would be in a more settled state, for the benefit of his sovereign. So, accompanied by his brother David, the foolish young men hastened on towards Edinburgh, as if driven forward by his doom, for he was unaware what cruel hidden deceits awaited him at its castle. Some of his followers had their doubts about this expedition, for, because of the frequent communications between the chancellor and the regent, they had a foreboding of evil. They urged him either to abandon his project of going to Edinburgh, or to send home his brother David, lest, contrary to his father’s dying injunction, he had his brother be exposed to some evil device at the same time, if they suspected any to be afoot, so that they could be attacked together, to the detriment of their clan. The earl replied that he knew the regent’s and the chancellor’s loyalty well enough, for he had just been entertained by the chancellor in almost royal style, and so no harm at all need be anticipated. Among the nobility there existed some pestilential sycophants, men who had no means of supporting themselves when they were living amidst peace and quiet, and in their great impudent wickedness they stirred up quarrels among the nobles, to the inexpiable disgrace and ruin of their masters. That kind of man should at all costs be shunned by any man who wished to be loyal to his commonwealth and beloved to his sovereign.
22. He then spurred his horse forward, and rode at such a fast pace to complete his journey that his followers could barely keep up. For, thanks to I know not what unlucky star, it is so arranged that, the closer mortals are to danger, they lest they heed good advice. For the Earl of Douglas, otherwise shrewd beyond his years, sent around his loudest followers to forbid whispers of a trap sent for them, with which the entire column was buzzing. With unreasonable harshness he rebuked his only brother David because he had been listening to men hissing about impending danger. And so many of the knights and noblemen in his retinue maintained a glum silence and reflected a thought not unlike that saying of Terence, that Safety herself could not save this family, should she so desire. And so, since the Fates were luring this unwary young man to his downfall, he quickly finished his journey and entered Edinburgh Castle. There, after he had been given a hospitable reception, the king and his entire court celebrated their joy, and, so that there would be the least suspicion, a very honorable banquet was given. At last, with the chancellor’s agreement (for by this time he had come to Edinburgh), the regent seized his chance. While the earl, his brother, and many members of his faction were sitting at the king’s table, in violation of the rules of hospitality an armed multitude surrounded the unarmed guests, the table was cleared, and the regent ordered a bull’s head to be placed on it. Among our countrymen, this is a symbol of capital punishment. Seeing this and becoming troubled, the earl sprang to his feet and tried to escape, if in any way he could. David and the other members of the earl’s party did the same. But the king’s henchmen dashed forward and arrested them all, and brought them out to the field adjoining the castle, where the earl, his brother, Malcolm Fleming and others were beheaded, in the year after the Virgin Birth 1440.
23. They say that the boy-king (he had barely celebrated his tenth birthday) burst into tears when he saw the hands and legs of the earl and his brother David being bound with leather straps, and humbly begged they be spared their punishment. For this reason he was harshly reprimanded by the chancellor, who openly said that it was not for the sake of his own safety, but that of the realm and the royal family, that the trap had been set for a self-confessed traitor. For, should he live, any man who sought to defend the public prosperity could hope for no peace. But when he was dead, all would go well for those who supported majesty. Thus they were dragged to their punishment. Then Scotland’s condition was somewhat more peaceful. William was succeeded as Earl of Douglas by Archibald’s brother James, Baron of Abercorn and Earl of Avondale, nicknamed The Fat for his large girth (for William had no sons), and he was the seventh after the first Earl of Douglas. Even if he did not support robbers, he did not suppress them (for his physical size prevented him from giving them chase). This made him just as unloved by the administrators of the realm as were his predecessors, and it cost the commonwealth dearly. For it was principally in his territories that murders and acts of robbery took place. But it was highly advantageous that he removed himself from this unpopularity as soon as he did: he did not survive more than three years when the Fates took him off while he was staying at Abercorn. That William whom I have described as having been beheaded at Edinburgh Castle was survived by a single sister, whereas James the Fat had recently fathered seven sons. And so, in accordance with the so-called hereditary law entailment, the earldom of Douglas devolved on this James and his heirs, whereas the rest of the inheritance passed to Earl William’s sister. These included Galloway (hence the girl was called The Fair Maid of Galloway), Wigton, Bothwell, Annandale, and Ormund. But James, inspired by an excessive craving for power (something by which many of us are gripped), thought it would be criminal to have a man’s original heritage torn apart, but prudent to increase what he had inherited from his ancestors in any way possible, obtained papal permission to marry his brother’s daughter to his own eldest son, whose name was William, so that eventually all this wealth would be handed down to a single man. Some of his friends, however, urged that not only was this marriage an unlawful one, but also that such boundless wealth was a thing to be avoided, because someday they would be the downfall of himself and his entire clan.
24. Among these were [here I found a lacuna of four lines in the holography] Earl of Angus and a knight of Dalkeith, both members of Clan Douglas. For excessive wealth, besides the fact that it often inflates the mind to dare and do unsuitable things, unless they fall to a man moderate and prudent in all respects, because it is so great it always held in suspicion by kings, and bring them down for the most trifling of reasons, or sometimes for no reason at all. James did hnt heed their advice. Hearing that the king was making some attempt to forbid the marriage, to forestall his intervention, he did not fear to hasten on the marriage on the holy day of Good Friday, although many men regarded that as inauspicious. Nor were they wrong. For at this time many murders were committed because of seditions created by him or his supporters. The first one of these was Sir William Rowan, Sheriff of Perth, who had arrested and decided to punish a certain man of Athol. John Cormach of Athol, a ringleader and architect of crimes, and a sworn follower of the Earl of Douglas, made a sudden attackon him with his gang of robbers, and at his first onslaught killed some of his deputies with arrows. Seeing the present danger, William urged and begged his followers not to allow themselves to be shamefully surrounded by those robbers. The worm turned and he unhorsed that scoffing robber Cormach, killing him and thirty of his accomplices. This was done at Perth, on St. John the Baptist’s day in the year 1443.
25. Another act of no less audacity followed soon thereafter at Dunbritton. For by royal order — by this time, he was fourteen years old and had been released from his tutelage and taken on administration of the realm — Robert Semphill and Patrick Galbraith were in charge of the castle, and they were contending with each other about which should govern the castle. Matters finally came to the point that, since they could not settle their dispute by words, they resorted to swords. After Robert had been killed in the fight, Patrick (a close kinsman of Earl William) and his soldiers took possession of the castle. But the Earl of Douglas saw no good coming to himself from these things (for at the royal court he was being held responsible for these killings as well as many others) and decided, since the king had come to his maturity, to change his ways, if he could obtain any pardon from the king, and henceforth lead a praiseworthy life. Therefore, with a large train of followers, he humbly went to the king, who was staying at Sterling at that time, submitting himself and all his fortune to him, and begging, that, having been forgiven for his past life, he be permitted to remain at court as the least of his courtiers. If the royal mercy would grant him this, in order to gain his grace he would henceforth be a friend of the royal dignity like none other, and the king would find no more severe prosecutor of banditry, and for these things he swore his oath. Moved by the man’s humility, the king not only forgave him for all his fault, but also took him into the company of his most intimate friends and lived with him on most familiar terms for a number of years, entrusting him with all his deepest secrets.
26. Meanwhile Earl William showed himself as a great friend of everybody, and did nothing which did not seem done for the sake of the public welfare. and wormed his way into the king’s good graces. Meanwhile he awaited a chance to wreak revenge on his enemies, and particularly on William Crichton, because he he thought that his cousin William Earl of Douglas and his brother David had died by his machinations. Meanwhile he exerted himself to control his anger, destined to burst forth all the more seriously when the opportunity arose. The chancellor, having a presentiment that the earl’s mind was ill-disposed towards himself, voluntarily abdicated his office and went to Edinburgh and retired into the castle, which (as I have recorded above) had been entrusted to him by royal mandate. For there he could more advantageously escape violate hands. He fortified his stronghold with provisions and the strongest garrison he could arrange. Nor was he alone avoiding the earl’s anger. The regent Alexander Livingston likewise resigned, as did those who belonged either to his party or that of William Crichton. When the earl thought that the time was ripe for avenging the injury he had received (for at this time the king’s business was managed at his guidance), he sent a herald summoning to the king William Crichton, who had abdicated the chancellorship a little earlier, together with George Chrichton, Alexander Livingston and his two sons Alexander and James, knights all, to answer the accusations he said he was leveling against them. Should they refuse (which it was well-agreed they would), then he could wage open war against them for holding the royal majesty in contempt. Or if they did make their appearance, then they would be falling into his nets.
27. When they received the message, they responded with letters saying that nothing was dearer to them than the public peace, and nothing more obedient to the king than themselves. Nonetheless, since they were aware that they had enemies who were hot for their destruction, who were not only all-powerful with the king, but were prepared to decide their quarrel with arms, for the moment they had retired to avoid their fury, so they might save themselves for better times and come to the aid of their suffering commonwealth. Now, inasmuch as it was neither safe to go there nor to be there, they were not inclined to place themselves in imminent jeopardy. As far as those mandates went, since those who had once been appointed to administer the realm by public authority had been driven out, and their places had been taken by their enemies, who were robber-chieftains, their commands were not to be obeyed. For they were striving might and main to deprive the king of all men who loved the common safety and promote to the highest honors villains who filled one and all with terror of their destruction. When the Earl of Douglas discovered that they had shown this contempt towards his government, he immediately convened a parliament of all the nobility at Sterling. There, before declaring them to be enemies of the commonwealth, he confiscated all their fortunes, and proclaimed that war must be declared on them. He assigned the task of prosecuting it to John Froster of Christorphin. So John gathered an army and first of all he made an attack on Barrington Castle, a castle in Lothian belonging to William Crichton As soon as he displayed the royal standard, he immediately received its surrender, with its garrison given free leave to depart with their fortune, and once it had been yielded he leveled it to the ground. William Crichton was not behindhand in responding to this insult. For, assembling an army of considerab111le size, albeit a lightly-equipped one, from his dependents, he quickly went through John Froster’s lands, burning its buildings, and destroying all the wealth it contained. Then he attacked the territory of the Earl of Douglas, wreaking far greater havoc by firing all its grain, its barns, and villages. Whatever homes the earl had near Abercorn and Strabock were consumed by his flames, and likewise the town of Blackness, which had been defended by no mean castle. From the places he drove off great numbers of horses and other livestock.
28. The Earl of Douglas realized that William Crichton had inflicted these disasters on him with the secret help of his friends, particularly James Kennedy Bishop of St. Andrews, the nephew of James I by his sister. He wrote a letter to the Earl of Crawford, with whom he was in league, and Alexander Ogilvy of Inverquharity (both of whom were numbered among the king’s particular favorites at that time) that they should ravage the estates of the Bishop of St. Andrews as foully as ever they could, and if they could take him alive, to hold him in bondage. They immediately carried out his command with a vengeance, destroying not only what belonged to the bishop, but to his neighbors as well, so that they plundered and drove a great amount of spoils out of Fife into Angus. The bishop did not think he should take up arms, but first appealed to the Earl of Crawford that restitution should be made. And when he displayed his contempt of the authority of the Church, he attacked him with curses and the lightning-bolt of excommunication. But the Earl of Crawford, thinking that his skin had not even been singed, did care one iota, displaying no reverence for God or Man. In that same year, however, when he was trying to reconcile his quarreling son Alexander Lindesay to Alexander Ogilvy, he gave his life that praiseworthy cause, and to no small degree erased the blot of his preceding life. This happened in the following way. Alexander Lindesay, the elder son of the Earl of Crawford, was the justiciary or bailiff of Arbroath Abbey. Either out of ambition or because this this was the pleasure of the abbot and his monks, Alexander Ogilvy laid hands on this office and turned out Alexander Lindesay. In order to defend his rights, Alexander collected a company of soldiers from his dependents and friends, of whom the greater part belonged to the Hamilton family, and occupied the monastery, determined to protect by arms that which he could not by law. Alexander Ogilvy for his part, employing his own strength and more especially that of the Earl of Huntly, came to Arbroath in battle array in the attempt to recover his lost prize.
29. When these things were reported to the Earl of Crawford (who was staying at Dundee at that time), so that he might avert the impending slaughter, no matter who might suffer it, since his kinsmen would be fighting on both sides, he hurried to Arbroath. Arriving there, he saw both armies drawn up in battle array and on the point of joining battle. By his presence, he was easily able to restrain his son. Then he went out between the two armies and called Alexander Ogilvy to a conference. But while waiting for him, a spear was thrust in his mouth by some common soldier who had no idea who he was or why he was there, and fell, moribund with a lethal wound. When this was seen by the followers of Alexander and the Earl of Huntly, they rushed against their enemy. For a time those men did fine work in fending off their onslaught. But when they say their leader gravely wounded and many of their more excellent men killed while fighting in the forefront, they all turned tail. More than five hundred fell on the losing side, including John Forbes of Pitsligo, Alexander Barclay of Gartley, Robert Maxwell of Tilling, Duncan Connell of Connelsith, and William Gordon of Borrowfield, together with many men distinguished for their wealth and nobility. Nor did their deaths go unavenged. No less than a hundred of the victors were killed. When his forces were scattered, the Earl of Huntly sought safety in fight. Alexander Ogilvy was still alive, but fell into his enemies’ power and brought to Finleven Castle where he quickly died of the pain of his wound. On the following day, by command of the victor, the dead noblemen was performed with great pomp in the very august chapel at Arbroath, and they were given Christian burial in the nearby graveyard. This massacre occurred in the year of our Savior’s birth 1445.
30. After that, many murders were committed throughout Scotland in the same year because of feuds, as men hunted each other down. Thus Robert Boyd of Duchal, then the principal warden of Dunbritton Castle, kept James Stewart of Ardgowan under observation as he was riding along with no more than sixteen companions, and, attacking him with some light-armed soldiers, cut him down not far from Kirkpatrick. Then he rode straight to James’ pregnant wife and, partly by force and partly by the wiles of a certain priest, he promised to protect her from all harm, abducted her from her home, and brought her captive to his castle. When she realized she had been tricked, she fell victim to great sorrow and miscarried, joined her child in death three days later, and was buried alongside her husband at Dunbritton. Then too, in Lothian Archibald Dunbar made a night attack on Hailes Castle and took it at his first onrush, killing its entire garrison. But he was besieged by James Douglas and yielded at the first assault, surrendering both himself and the castle to James to do with as he pleased. That year almost countless murders were committed in Anandale (for that race has from its very beginning been much addicted to robbery, and even these days are regarded as professed ravagers). Nothing was safe anywhere, and many nobles, seeing no protection either in the king or in the Earl of Douglas, maintained a gloomy silence within their fortifications, leaving their fortunes in the land to be ravished by robbers, satisfied at being able to remove themselves from danger.
31. In the following year, at the advice of the Earl of Douglas, Edinburgh Castle, guarded by William Crichton, was besieged. But those within put up a stout defense, and after the siege had been drawn out for nine months, William Crichton surrendered and went away unharmed, together with the entire garrison, on condition that he be absolved of his guilt and reconciled with the king. At that time, it had been announced that a public parliament would be held at Perth concerning matters pertaining to the commonwealth, but after that surrender, it was moved to Edinburgh. In that parliament William Crichton was received into the royal grace, and by the agreement of them all was once more declared to be the chancellor. And yet he refrained from the conduct of public business, waiting for better times, until he could be cleared of all suspicion of treason at a later parliament. In that same year, Sir James Stewart was forced into exile because (as the story goes) he had said something critical of the government which seemed derogatory to the Earl of Douglas. Not long thereafter, he and his companions, partly English and partly Scottish, was taken on the high seas by Flemish pirates and killed. Nor did his wife long survive him, the former wife of James I, whom I have said to have married after that king’s death. She was buried in the Carthusian abbey at Perth, in the tomb of her first husband, having borne eight children, two of whom were boys, James (who succeeded his dead father) and Alexander. But the latter succumbed to fate while still a babe. She also bore six daughters, all of whom married preeminent princes, although between them they had few children. The first as Margaret, who married Louis the Dauphin of France. Next, Eleanor married the Duke of Brittany. The third, ***, was the wife of the Lord de l’Isle. Then the fourth, ***, married the Duke of Austria. Remaining in Scotland, the fifth, ***, married George Earl of Huntly, and the youngest, ***, was wed to the Earl of Morton.
32. After the death of King James, as already indicated, she took this James Stewart as her husband. Nor did she prove barren to him. For she gave birth to three sons, John Earl of Athol, James Earl of Buchan, and the third, Andrew, came to be the Bishop of Moray. At a time not much different than this, in the year 1448, William the chancellor, John Bishop of Dunkled, and Nicholas Otterburn Canon of Glasgow, were sent to Geldern, to ask for the hand of Mary, the daughter of the right illustrious Duke of Gelrand and Count of Zutphen, and niece of Duke Philippe of Burgundy,, Brabant, &c., as representatives of James II King of Scots in the twelfth year of his reign. This marriage was arranged by King Charles II of France. After they had obtained this over no objection, the bride was most honorably escorted to Scotland, by the Lord de l’Isle, the Earl of Bergen, the Count of Nassau, and the Bishop of Cambrai and Lille, accompanied by Prince Ravenstein and a bevy of knights. The wedding was celebrated with all possible festivity. Then another parliament of the nobility was held at Edinburgh, at which those who had the king’s ear arranged that, although they had previously been reconciled with the king, Alexander Livingston of Callendar, his firstborn son, James Dundass, Robert Bruce of Clathymore, Robert Livingston, the royal treasurer, and David, another member of that same family, all of them knights, were placed under arrest and imprisoned at various places. Although all the nobles there present pled on their behalf, the old grudge of the nobles who they held sway at court counted for more than reason or justice. For they were arrested on January 18 and taken to Edinburgh on the same day. Alexander Livingston, James Dundass, and Robert Bruce were mulcted of their fortunes and bound over to Dunbritton, and the rest were beheaded.
33. They say that, when he had been led to the block, James Livingston turned to the crowd and delivered himself of a lengthy speech deploring how uncertain are the goods of Fortune. He said that Alexander Livingston, a man of notable prudence, whose commands he had obeyed as a good man should, had been appointed to govern the kingdom a number of years ago, and had power equal to that of the king. A little later, although he had not deviated from his duty, but because Fortune was blowing against him and thanks to his enemy’s jealousy, he had been virtually driven into exile, living in his own castles and obliged to defend himself by his arms, not his innocence. Then he was restored, but could not long enjoy his happiness. Thanks to his enemies’ power, even though he had been taken back into his king’s good graces and had been pronounced to have done nothing amiss, and although the entire nobility had spoken up on his behalf, he was not able to avoid seeing himself despoiled of all his fortune, and reserved for whatever form of punishment his professed enemies cared to name. He was also obliged to see himself, always his dearest son, suffering capital punishment (a sad sight for anybody). Then he turned to those who were present and warned them not to think that the things at court which at first sight appeared fine were very much worth having. For whatever good things they allowed good men to do were soon overturned by rascals, while their own heads were endangered. Having said these things, while the people groaned, he offered his neck to the sword.
34. In the next year, Queen Mary miscarried for no visible reason. She escaped without harm, but her infant only lived a few hours. At about this same time, an old wall in Dumfermline Cathedral was demolished, and the linen-wrapped body of a young man was discovered in a lead coffin, with a lifelike color and in no way decayed. Antiquarians said this was the son of St. Margaret, who died in early adolescence, and it should not seem strange if, walking in his mother’s footsteps, he too had deserved divine honors. During that same year, the truce expired, and the Scots took the lead in making inroads into English territory and doing indescribable damage with fire and sword. The English were aroused by their mischief, and inflicted equal damage on Scottish land. During these mutual raids, the town of Dumfries was sacked and burned by the Earl of Salisbury. The well-known town of Dunbar, commanded by James Douglas, the brother of the Earl of Douglas, suffered the same misfortune when it was sacked and burned, with a great plunder of men and moveable property driven away. But an exchange of prisoners was held, and those on body sides were freed. When these incursions had been made back and forth, not without a great deal of harm being suffered by both sides, at the urging of noblemen of wiser minds, a seven years’ truce was arranged.
35. A little before these events, the Earl of Douglas, who at this time was all-powerful with the king, as a means of making his kinsmen as great and powerful as possible, obtained that his brother James should marry the younger daughter of James Dunbar Earl of Moray, the last of his line (for James had died a little earlier, leaving behind no male issue), and be declared Earl of Moray. Very many men possessed of prudence and authority, even within the royal court, disapproved of that marriage, because, according to the ancient law of the realm, elder children should be give preference over younger ones when it comes to the receipt of inheritances. William did not rest content with having acquired such great wealth for his family’s benefit. At a public parliament of all the orders, and with the king’s approval, he arranged that his brothers George and John Douglas be created Baron of Balvenie and Earl of Ormonde respectively, and be numbered among the king’s counselors, a position of supreme dignity. There was no lack of men who held these enhancements of his burgeoning fortunes in suspicion, whispering their forebodings that, if human Fortune followed her customary rules, he could not long endure in such a fortunate condition: it would come to pass that Earl William’s boundless greed for increasing his wealth, while not caring a whit whether this was done by fair means or foul, would make him unpopular with very man, so that an unhappy end awaited him.
36. Since my discourse has touched on the transfer of the earldom of Moray from the Dunbars to Clan Douglas, I believe it is worthwhile briefly to sketch how many members of that family had governed that earldom, and with what adventures and varying degrees they had done so since the time that the kingdom of Scotland had been freed from English tyranny by Robert I. Thus mortals will be able to learn, thanks to more than a single example, how fragile human affairs are, and how prone they are to suffer a downfall when we least expect it. In the reign of Robert I, Moray extended from the river Spey, watering its land on the southeast, to both the Irish Sea and the German Sea, up to the river Oykel, which divided it from Ross. Robert bestowed this earldom on Thomas Randolph of Strathdon, his nephew by his sister, chief of Clan Allen, on condition that only his male heirs should succeed to the earldom. I have abundantly shown in its proper place the prudence Randolph displayed in public administration, his martial virtue in wartime, and also his patriotism, while English tyranny raged through nearly all of Scotland. By his wife (I do not know who she was) he had two sons, his successor Thomas, who died at Dublin fighting excellently on behalf of his nation, and John, who suffered the same fate at Durham in defense of liberty. Both of these men refrained from fathering sons, and remained bachelors for life. He had the same number of daughters, one called Black Anne because of her dark complexion, and the other Egidia. The latter was more spirited than most women, and married Patrick Dunbar Earl of Merch, with whom she lived for a number of years, but she died childless at Dunbar Castle.
37. The other was married to Earl Patrick’s brother John, and gave birth to George, the rightful heir of his uncle as Earl of Merch, and John, a wonderfully handsome man who displayed conspicuous virtue in his every deed. Because of his excellent endowments of mind, King Robert II made him his son-in-law and (inasmuch as the earldom had reverted to himself when the male line had become extinct) created him Earl of Moray, conferring on him the greater part of the land that had originally comprised the earldom. He was the first member of the Dunbar family to possess the earldom of Moray. John fathered Alexander, who when he had grown to maturity married Matilda Frazer, the heiress of the manor of Frendraught, and an elder son, Alexander, who became Earl of Moray upon the death of his father. And he in turn sired Thomas, the fifth to hold the position in Moray which had been possessed by his father. And when he deceased without issue, the right to the earldom devolved upon James Dunbar, the son of the aforesaid Alexander and Matilda Frazer, thus being rightfully entitled the sixth Earl of Moray and Baron Frendraught. James was betrothed to Isabella, the daughter of the Baron of Innes, and before being able to marry her in a Christian ceremony she died, after having given birth to Alexander Dunbar, a man most noble for his gifts of mind, adjudged by one and all to be fit not only to occupy an earldom, but for far greater things, had heaven so allowed. But municipal law debarred him from the inheritance, being as his parents’ marriage had not been celebrated. This same James had fathered two daughters by Catharine, the daughter of Sir Alexander Seton (for James had married her after the demise of Isabella), the elder of whom married Sir James Crichton, the heir of the William Crichton of whom I have written so much above, and received the manor of Frendraught as his dowry, taking her into his marriage-bed. Archibald Douglas, mentioned a little earlier, married her when he came to be substituted as Earl of Moray. His conviction for treason some years later, which entailed the loss of his earldom as well as his life, was the reason why Moray returned to the royal fisc, after seven men distinguished for their ancient noble lineage, had enjoyed that title. But, since my discourse has been a trifle over-long, it is best that my narrative now return to the place whence it digressed.
38. Well then, as the story goes, William Earl of Douglas) used excessive insolence in enriching his brothers and kinsmen, which he thought would redound to his family’s advantage and undying glory, and this finally dragged down his entire house, with its outstanding nobility, to its fatal doom. For often, when some grandee strives to make himself his sovereign’s equal in wealth and glory, he discovers that kings do not tolerate equals in their realms, and that they make themselves unloved by the people and disliked by the king, and he becomes destined to suffer such an eventual downfall that neither he nor his family can ever retrieve their fortunes. William and his adherents were not the only ones to display this insolence: so did their flatterers and agents, for, as is often the case, Fortune had elevated such men from humble beginnings to opulence and great dignity. Although these things struck men as unworthy and intolerable, even if they bore them in silence, they nonetheless thought it would be wrong to give their approval, and so, among their close intimates, they never ceased criticizing and cursing the earl’s actions. But when such words were reported to the earl, they were stripped of their fortunes and paid the penalty for their free speech. Even some who had not offended by using hard words suffered the same punishment. Furthermore, acting as both judge and jury, he haled into court some men against whom he bore an ancient grudge, and put to death those who could not save themselves by flight. And he forbade his followers to make their appearance in court, if they had done anything amiss, and when they did receive a summons because they had been accused of some great or manifest felony by the royal prosecutors, he legt them return to their loved ones safe and sound. And so such folk became swollen-headed with licence, feeling free to murder, debauch, steal from, and commit sacrilege against anybody they wished wherever they wished, paying no heed to right and wrong. For they were all protected by the name of Douglas.
39. For if a man were caught committing a crime and had the boldness to say he had done it by command of the earl, he was immediately let go, since all men shuddered at the earl’s unlimited power and cruelty. He preened himself on how much other men dreaded him, not how much he was loved, and he was a friend to robbers and pillagers, but an object of hate to good men who disapproved of his actions, since it was both his pleasure and his source of profit to rob them of their fortunes, and indeed sometimes of their lives. He did not only befoul noblemen’s castles and peasants’ fields with his depredations: he did not keep his sacrilegious hands off the Church. He likewise issued certificates of pardon for murder or any other crime you care to name, even the greatest, to his followers and adherents. So good men maintained a gloomy silence everywhere, scarcely daring to lament their woes. At this time James Kennedy Bishop of St. Andrews, always reverend for his singular virtues, kept himself hidden and biding his time, lest he bang his head against a wall for no good reason, and uselessly blunt the keen edge of his virtue. For, like an abscess, these evils need to ripen before then can be lanced, otherwise everything is thrown into confusion without being healed.
40. It was at about this time, they say, that a horrible example was set for mankind by John Cameron of Glasgow. For he had provoked the king and governors of the realm, in whose hands lay supreme power, to the unjust killing of certain innocent men, and to steal from and impose unjust exactions on both noblemen and commoners of the kingdom, just as as he himself had often done to the peasantry living on the estates of Glasgow Cathedral. And so, when it seemed to God Almighty that he had mocked men long enough, when he was sleeping in his castle on Christmas Eve, a fearful voice from heaven sounded in his ears, the voice of someone summoning him to the bar of the supreme Judge, so that he might give an accounting of the felonies he had committed. He awoke from his dream, frightened by its strangeness, and yet he was confident that what had been told him was not true. As men waking from dreams often do, he immediately summoned the servants of his bedchamber, bidding them bring light. Then, recovering his wits a little, he commanded his servants to sit in attendance, and picked up a book. Not long thereafter, the same voice was heard, as all fell silent from fear and expected some imminent evil. Then, when a little time had passed, the same thing was said again, but in a much more hair-raising way than before. Suddenly, in a most disgusting way, he stuck out his tongue to a great length and gave up his ghost, so that it might attend its heavenly trial. This was indeed a fearful sight for evildoing grandees. But, because of their ingrained evil, men’s stubborn minds to not dread God’s terrible wrath (as they should) in the same way that pious folk embrace His boundless kindness with expressions of gratitude.
41. While Scotland was suffering from these evils and the ones I have previously mentioned during the reigns of James I, and, after his death, James II, England was faring no better. For at the time when the boy-king Henry VI had been hailed as king of France and England, a quarrel arose between the Burgundians and the English oppressors of occupied France, and the Earl of Salisbury was killed by a stray cannon ball. Thus England’s misfortunes began. Thanks to this accident the French took heart, and, under the leadership of a woman (the French call this virgin girl the Maid), they not only stoutly repelled the English, but even began to emerge the victors in all there well, something that appears to have occurred not without divine intervention. And so the English, thinking they need to strengthen themselves by new friendships and alliances, arranged a betrothal of the daughter of the Duc de Lorraine to the young Henry VI, in despite of his earlier betrothal to the daughter of the right noble Duc d’ Armagnac. Thus, while they were intent on making new friends, they lost their old loyal ones. For the Duc d’Armagnac, together with many of nobles, friends, and kinsmen, indignantly broke off their English alliance. Human affairs being what they are, evil became piled on evil. For many of the nobility could no longer tolerate the domination of the Duke of Gloucester, to whom by public agreement the government had been entrusted until the king came to his maturity, relying on their wealth and that of their friends, convened a parliament, at which he was remanded to public custody and hanged the following day. The principal leaders of this opposing faction were the Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Beaumont, and the constable of the realm. But as soon as word of his death spread abroad, his kinsmen and friends assembled their forces and wreaked havoc on the kingdom with a very terrible war.
42. And so the commanders left in Normandy, Bedford, Sommerset, and Shrewsbury, strove to defend the province, even though abandoned by their French allies. They lost the famous city of Rouen together with other important towns, and in end were forced to abandon Normandy altogether. When these things were announced in England, the common people, who had already been driven frantic, were not far from a revolution, since they were egged on by I know not what evil genius and brought in some Irishman named Harry to preside over their affairs. So they formed a great army and marched on London, bent on punishing the nobility (as they threatened), whom they deeply loathed. Thrown into consternation by his great danger, the king scraped together an improvised army and sent certain commanders to counter this uprising. But the humble common folk, driven to a frenzy, routed and completely scattered the royal forces. Arriving at London, they sent demanded that some men of the royal court be handed over for punishment, particularly Baron Saye, the treasurer, the Bishop of Salisbury and William Crowmer Sheriff of Kent. So that everyone else might avoid the destruction that would otherwise face them by the punishment of a few, they were surrendered as a sacrifice to the people’s wrath. But Lord Saye’s death satisfied their thirst for blood, and the others were remanded to the Tower and saved their skins. When these men had received their punishments, a very piteous sack of the city directly ensued, and the sad murder of a number of townsmen attempting to protect their property against the violence of thieves.
43. Those who had management of the government, imagining a similar doom for themselves, devised a shrewd and clever scheme by which they attempted to avert the impending threat, not only from themselves, but from all the realm. The Lord Chancellor sent a letter to London in the king’s name to the Irishman Harry and his army promising a grant of pardon and immunity for their deeds, if they were willing to retire and promise to end their disturbance, exhorting the common folk to live in peace and harmony. He also in a very friendly way invited Harry himself to assume the most lavish honors, such as every good man was eager to obtain. No more suitable device could have been hit upon for easing the turmoil at that time. For (as had happened before), when their enthusiasm for a fight cooled off, most of them came to dislike the military life and began to suffer from homesickness. Sheepish over what they had done, they wanted no more of those things, and vied with each other in deserting their leader and melting away. So, abandoned by the very men for whom he had begun his revolution and defenseless, the Irishman was captured a little later and paid for his bold counsel with his head. His captors received a bounty of a thousand pounds sterling.
44. While England was suffering from internal discords, certain of the lords of the realm and men of high dignity, desiring to put an end to these for the sake of the public safety, held a lengthy deliberation and could find no better way to remove them than to weary the people by a foreign war, now that it had grown insolent because of its wealth. And so by means of the citizens of Northumbria and Cumbria they provoked the Scottish to take up arms. For all the inhabitants of Albion have ever been endowed with such warlike vigor that domestic wars put an end to foreign ones, and foreign ones to domestic. And so the commanders set over their army were the Earl of Northumbria and Sir Magnus Redman (mockingly called Redmane). This man had been so well schooled in the French wars from his youth that he was deservedly hailed by the English as the Father of the Camp and the Second Mars. They say that he burned with such implacable hatred against the Scots that he obtained permission from King Henry that he and his kinsmen might take possession of whatever Scots territory he could win by arms, having driven out or killed its inhabitants.
45. Meanwhile the Scots were no slower in readying the things needful for war. They moved against their enemy under the leadership of George Douglas Earl of Ormonde, whom the king had set over his forces, and marched into Annandale, because their spies had informed them that was where the enemy would first come. Having crossed two rivers, the Solway and the Annan, the English encamped alongside the river Sark. When the following day dawned, they filled the entire district with their depredations and murders. But when they learned the Scots were not far away they became alarmed, and their buglers signaled their comrades scattered about the country side to come back as quickly as they could. Then the two sides drew themselves up in proper order and stood at the ready in harness. Magnus Redman commanded the right wing. John Pennington, a very experienced soldier, commanded the left, which was composed of that old British race the Welsh. The van was held by the Earl of Northumbria and the rest of the host. Ormonde stationed his men opposite the Earl, Sir Wallace of Cragie, a man noble for his breeding and virtue, and his excellent company faced Magnus, and against the Welsh stood Maxwell and Johnston with a choice band of young Scotsmen. Since the enemy were already pressing (for their bugles had blown), Ormonde only admonished his men to bear in mind that they would not have taken up arms had they not been provoked, and God Almighty is often disposed to give the victory to those who have a just cause for fighting. They must have as much spirit as they did strength so that might fight bravely and free their nation of the harm of the arrogant enemy now threatening its destruction.
46. His words were ended by an English artillery barrage, which terrified our men to the point that they came close to thinking of flight. Then Wallace, in command of the left wing, berated his men so loudly that his enemy could hear him, and urged them to join battle with a will, and persevere: it was not the part of brave man to quail at the mere sight of their enemy before coming to grips with them. They must imitate their commander, who, as they were about to see, had vowed his life for the sake of his nation and his honor. “Avenge your just hatred, exercise your just anger, be quick to free your nation, which has suffered truly undeserved things.” At these words, his soldiers rushed at Magnus and his forces with their claymores and spears, such as our countrymen use, and inflicted such killing that the enemy broke ranks and fled. Seeing them, Magnus was more angry than downcast, and, more rashly than befitted a brave man, he made an assault on Wallace. While desiring to strike the man, he was cut off by the companies of his enemies and, together with a few friends who clung to his side, he was cruelly slain. Nor did the rest of the English have any better luck. For when the Scots attacked, the loss of Magnus (upon whom the safety of their army seemed to depend) they became so frightened that they could no longer withstand the Scottish onslaught and all turned tail. Our leaders pressed the attack home, and gave a murderous chase to the routed and scattered Englishman. Many died in the collision of armies, but far more in the rout. For it was high tide and the river had overflowed its banks, holding back the fugitives. In their panic, some hurled themselves into the water and drowned. Others hesitated on the riverbank, uncertain whether to flee or fight, and were overwhelmed by their pursuers.
47. This battle cost the English about three thousand, including Magnus, the commander of their right wing, and eleven noble knights. On the Scottish side, there were a little more than six hundred dead. Sir John Pennington and Sir Robert Harrington fell into English hands. The elder son of the Earl of Northumberland piously set his father on a horse, so that he was rescued by flight, as were a large multitude spared by the sword and the river. A greater amount of gold, silver, and moveable property than anyone could remember, was captured and shared out among the soldiers in accordance with our national custom. Wallace of Cragie was wounded and carried home, where the Fates took him off three months later. After honorably gaining the day, Ormonde sent the most important captives to Lochmaben Castle, very well fortified both by nature and human art, to be kept in public custody. Then he hastened to the king and was received by him with many congratulations and was magnificently and lavishly rewarded with gifts and banquets for a number of day. Before being dismissed, he was issued a friendly warning by the king, as was Earl William Douglas, that he should understand how well good counsels turn out, and how badly do bad ones. Those who loved the public safety should earn themselves friends at home, support them with all possible kindliness, and when on campaign strive with their utmost power bravely and honorably to destroy their enemy when he pressed. By this counsel government is best managedn and injury best warded off. He himself regarded nothing as more important or dearer than the name of Douglas, as long as they defended the cause of the helpless common people and those men who were tightly conjoined to them by sharing the same nation, the same blood, and the same government, against ravaging robbers and other suchlike violence inflicted by the most depraved of men with the same spirit as they had recently protected the cause of all the realm.
48. The earls thanked the king, promising they would be precise in adhering to their duty and loyalty, and that henceforth they would not suffer robberies, murders, or any manner of wrongdoing to be committed against either the nobility or the common people. Thus they were dismissed and went home, to the great joy of their followers, like a pair of Roman generals celebrating their happy triumphs. The Scottish borderlands were more peaceful thereafter. While these things were a-doing in Scotland, news of the disaster arrived at London, and filled all men with sadness, and the nobles with fearful concern. And yet, lest the innate vigor of their nation seem in any way to have faltered, in a parliament they decided to avenge themselves on the Scots by force of arms for the affront they had suffered. When they were on the verge of sending a numerous army under very outstanding commanders against Scotland, it was announced that King Henry was faced with the prospect of civil war on a scale previously unheard-of in England, being promoted by a conspiracy involving the Duke of York, the Earls of March, Warwick, and Salisbury, as well as very many other English grandees. Therefore they dissimulated their anger against Scotland for another time, in order for it to erupt all the more bitterly, should the opportunity rise. And, just as a little earlier they had sought war during peacetime, so now they sought peace during a time of war, and sent ambassadors to Scotland to deal for peace. The King of Scots and his nobility were not averse to the requests of the delegates sent to them, knowing full well that those who had provoked the war had paid a heavy enough forfeit at in the Battle of Sark. So they agreed on a three years’ truce and the delegation went home. These things occurred in the year of the Virgin Birth 1450o. In that same year, Sir Richard Colville attacked John Auchinleck, a kinsman of William Earl of Douglas, who had committed a number of injuries to him and, when repeatedly asked to pay reparations, had refused, killing him and some of his servants. Earl William was so indignant over this thing that he swore a great public oath that he would not rest until he had made the murderer atone for his kinsman’s slaughter with his own death. So he collected a company of soldiers and first of all laid waste to Richard’s estates. Then he quickly besieged the castle in which he was keeping himself and took it by storm. Having stripped Richard and everybody else he could find therein of their fortunes, he beheaded them all.
49. There were those who remarked that Earl William’s great diligence in avenging these wrongs would be praiseworthy, had he been equally energetic in defending the common people against robbers and ravagers as in punishing the violence committed against Auchinleck, and that it was impossible that that tyranny of his, by which the people were being so arrogantly afflicted, would never come to an end. By now, he so greatly abounded in wealth, partly accumulated by robberies, and partly by the appropriation of other men’s goods, that, as if it were not enough to have witnesses to it in the kingdom of Scotland, he wished to show it off to foreign nations. He appointed his brother John Douglas of Balvenie, a man who fully copied his master’s character and manners, the caretaker of his affairs at home. When he had assembled the things needful for his departure, he took along James, his brother, a man who had received an excellent education at Paris, being originally destined for the bishopric of Dunkeld. Then, because William had no more hope of fathering sons, by royal authority he was appointed heir to the earldom of Douglas. He also was accompanied by a great train of knights. Their surnames were Hamilton, Gray, Salton, Seton, Oliphant, men of high dignity at court, and likewise Calder, Urquhard, Campbell, Froster, and Lauder.
50. Preening himself so much on his earldom, he crossed over to Flanders and headed straight for France, and then went on to Italy, traveling with nothing short of royal magnificence. And when he came to Rome, since advance notice had been given of his arrival, he was accorded a very splendid reception. Nevertheless, no more than two months after his departure, either out of loathing for the earl’s domineering ways, or because they had personally suffered from his tyranny, no few noblemen gradually worked up the courage to complain to the king about the insults they had endured over the previous years. When they saw they were being given a hearing, they daily lodged greater and greater allegations. But the king did not rashly accept the truth of their complaints before sending a herald to the earl’s caretaker to hale him into court, so he might hear his response to these accusations. But when the man did not give a satisfactory reply to the herald and seemed indisposed to obey the royal authority, because, having thrice received a summons he failed to make his appearance, bailiffs were sent with a large number of soldiers who forcibly brought him to the king. Some men at court advised the king that he could not be behindhand in pursuing this matter once it had been undertaken, and that it should be brought to a rapid conclusion, if for no other reason than that in his indignation he should not accept any delay: otherwise his royal authority would be held in contempt by the most abandoned criminals. But the king did not think he should indulge his anger. Rather, the matter should be concluded gently, and he preferred to see reparations made for wrongs rather than invite the greatest of calamities while attempting to protect the people from harm.
51. And so the earl’s caretaker was given his liberty and commanded to confront his accusors concerning whatever wrongs had been committed against any man, either by the Earl of Douglas or those acting according to his instructions. And he should feel no fear in answering or refuting any of them. But when many such accusations had been manifestly proven, the king did no more than command the caretaker to make good the damages. But when he had escaped the king’s clutches, not acting according to the dictates of is own nature but according to the advice of criminal men, for whom internal strive is always welcome and all justice which tends to check their cruelty is an object of hatred, he forgot his promises and his royal instructions. With the secret support of the Earls of Moray and Ormonde, he flatly refused to make any restitutions before the Earl of Douglas had returned to his homeland. When this was reported to the king, he sent the Earl of Orkney, who at this time was chancellor of the realm, first to Galloway and then to Douglasdale, who appointed clerks who in the name of the king were to make an inquiry into Douglas’ wealth, arrange restitutions for damage, and advised Douglas henceforth not to inflict any more. But since he undertook this task with the aid of only a few men, he not only achieved nothing, but was sent packing with mockery, sometimes having been abused by Douglas’ kinsmen. Stung by this insult, the king sent a herald haling all Douglas’ noble adherents into court, and declared those who refused to comply enemies, and sent an army to compel those who disdained his government to appear. First he entered Galloway, and by his arrival compelled its frightened robbers to retreat to their strongholds. When he ordered a part of his army to give chase, they were driven off, not without disgrace. So the furious king attempted to besiege castles forcibly, including Lochmaban and Douglas Castles. The took the one without any great trouble, but the second proved a little more difficult because of its strong garrison, for which reason he leveled it to the gorund. And he instructed all the inhabitants who came under his government not to pay any tax on their incomes beyond what was required by royal mandate or levied in his name, until such time as the earl’s caretaker had made good the wrongdoings of which he had been convicted in their full amount. In this, the king did not exceed his original moderation and gentleness.
52. When the Earl of Douglas had heard of these things at Rome, they threw him into no little panic. As soon as he could, he hastened back to Scotland, having lost no small amount of his former magnificence. For as soon as the news broke, many of his companions scattered to the four winds. After arriving in England, as he was approaching the kingdom, he sent his brother James ahead to the king, to procure his access to the king’s good graces. For he could readily divine the king’s attitude from the treatment accorded James. When James arrived and humbly sued on behalf of his brother, the king gave him a friendly reception, and gave the earl no further instructions that he should subdue and banish thieves, robbers, and ravagers from the territories under his control, and most particularly that he should do so in Annandale. The king forgave him for all his transgressions, and received him and his brothers back into royal favor. And so, coming to the king, the earl was required to take an oath that he would be punctual in managing all things entrusted to his loyalty, and received back from the king all his strongholds and castles. He was held in no less authority and honor than before, and was entitled the king’s lieutenant. But (for Fortune takes slippery turns and twists, and she has her ups and downs) he did not long endure in this honorable condition. For not long thereafter, without the king’s knowledge, he went to England to visit the king, so that Henry might make reparations for injuries inflicted by the English invasion a little earlier. The king of Scotland was very irate over this, not only for having been held in scorn by the earl, but because he had his suspicions that some other hidden evil was afoot. When the Earl of Douglas came to realize this, he acted according to a plan devised a few days later and once more humbly came to the king begging his pardon for his deeds, and took a very solemn vow never to do even the smallest thing in defiance of his royal majesty.
53. These requests were supported by the emotional pleas of the queen and the grandees who had assembled there who deprecated his guilt. In his great kindness, the king allowed himself to be swayed and took the earl back into his good graces, but he did strip him of all his administrative responsibilities. The Earl of Orkney and William Crichton, who had always abided in their loyalty to the king, where given authority over public affairs, second only to the king. Just as if he had always abided in his good faith, the earl took it very much amiss that he had been turned out of office. For this reason he conceived a profound loathing for those men who were at the king’s side, as if they were hostile towards himself, and most particularly for William Crichton, against whom he cherished an old grudge. This hatred was increased when one of his rascally courtiers maintained he had clearly heard William, in a conversation with his friends, state that King James had not comported himself like a just sovereign when he had so readily reconciled with the Earl of Douglas, who more than once had deserved death for his rash and very detestable crimes. If the king desired to adopt the policy most useful for the commonwealth of Scotland, he ought to exterminate Douglas and his entire clan: otherwise the king would never govern a quiet people, nor would the people be as obedient to their sovereign’s authority as they should be in a well-regulated commonwealth. But, more quickly than any man would have thought possible, the king had believed this man possessed of a most depraved life and tongue, a man who made his livelihood by fostering dissent to the detriment of the nobility. The earl stored this utterance away deep in his heart, and discussed the matter with his friends. Then he thought about murdering William Crichton, for he thought that, if this one man were removed, everything would belong to him because of his Douglas name. And thus, a fire kindled by the operations of a single villainous man gave birth to a conflagration that will never be quenched in men’s memories.
54. When Earl William learned by his spies that William Crichton was on the point of traveling to Edinburgh, so that he might put his thoughts into action all the quicker, on the night before Crichton was to make his departure, in the darkness he stationed hired murderers in a building on the road he would pass. On the following day, William, unaware of the trap, left his town at dawn, and when he was unexpectedly attacked by the hirelings bursting from their hiding-place, a great public shout arose, and at first he was terrified. But he was urged by his son and the other men at his side not to fail himself amidst these urgent dangers, but rather to remember that Fortune favors the brave but that nothing ever goes well for the coward, he luckily regained his courage. And when one of the assassins had been killed and the other seriously wounded, he, having received no slight wound himself, got away to an open field thanks to his horse. Not long thereafter, he assembled a force of his kinsmen and followers, and returned to Edinburgh, and there, had not the Earl of Douglas, who had been expecting nothing of the kind, made a speedy escape, he would no doubt have been crushed under the weight of his misfortune.
55. These constant mutual injuries so incited the minds of both contenders to damage the other, that the hatred of either party seemed on the verge of bringing about the utter downfall of the other by his hatred and malice, so it appeared that the kingdom was about to be split into two factions. Furthermore, the Earl of Douglas, sorely affronted that he had been so disgracefully driven out of Edinburgh by the wiles of his enemies, and also fearing the king would be mindful of his previous guilt and would incline towards the opposing faction, felt the need to become their equal in riches (since they now had the royal wealth at their disposal), or even their superior, if such were possible. So he sent secret messages to the Earls of Crawford and Ross inviting them to side with himself in the coming civil war. He easily obtained this (for they had a deep hatred of William Crichton and the other governors at court), and they came to an agreement, affirmed by a great oath of loyalty, that each of them would take up arms in support the cause of the other members of the faction against any professed enemy, sparing neither life nor fortune in defending it to the bitter end. This filled the Earl of Douglas and his kinsmen with such hubris and insolence, that they went about very arrogantly boasting in many men’s hearing that, their enemies destroyed, they would soon be lording it over everyone else in the realm, second only to the king.
56. They say that this was the reason for the king’s newly-conceived wrath against the Earl of Douglas. Another was this: certain petty robbers invaded the estate of John Harris, a nobleman who steadfastly abided in his loyalty to the king, and carried off a great plunder of all his things. When John had repeatedly complained to the Earl of Douglas, in whose territory those robbers lived, and had got no satisfaction, he attempted to drive plunder out of Annandale, and thus gain recompense for his losses, since he could not do so by going to law. But he failed in the attempt. For as soon as he entered the valley, he was arrested as a robber and imprisoned together with his followers, and not long thereafter was hanged by order of the Earl of Douglas, although the king had sent a herald forbidding this. The king was sorely affronted by this show of contempt, and henceforth kept it stored deep in his mind. Meanwhile the common people, weighed down by these insupportable burden, did not dare even whisper or complain about their woes, as, thanks to this courtroom-holiday, iniquity was growing daily worse and continuing, to the great damage of the commonwealth. Those nobler and wealthier men of sounder mind were wearid with the mounting evils of civil strife, but, since it was not within their power to change the wretched calamity of the times, they maintained a glum silence and kept their complaints to themselves. The evil daily worsened, and finally grew to the point that very many observers harbored the suspicion that the Earls of Douglas, Crawford, Ross, and Moray and the rest of their faction were dealing for the king’s removal from the throne.
57. When this was reported to the king, it filled him with no little fear. For he was aware that they were his equals, if not his betters, when it came to wealth and power. And so, as if he were not yet aware of these things, the king addressed the Earl of Douglas in a very friendly way and invited him to Sterling Castle, to see if he could effect a reconciliation and dissuade him from his enterprise by any show of kindness or good will. After dinner, the king drew him aside into his private study, having removed everybody save those privy to his secret councils and his perpetual bodyguards, and spoke to him pleasantly and with all the kindness he could summon. When he had heard of their confederation (he used this euphemism lest he irritate the earl and the man would be less acquiescent to his requests), and he begged and beseeched him to put an end to that strange association, and not to provide even the least suspicion that he intended any mischief. He knew that this entailed no threat against himself, but it was nevertheless unseemly that anything be done in despite of custom and the royal will. Nor was it lacking in scandal in the eyes of the common folk, and set a bad example by obstructing his superior. He added many other things which are easier to conjecture than to express in words. The earl was unmoved by the king’s kindly words nor by any piety, and is said to have given an arrogant enough answer. He neither would nor could dissolve the association, and he railed at the king for the great insult he claimed to have suffered when he was debarred from the administration of public affairs. Nevertheless the king used many words in urging the man that he do nothing unworthy of his ancestors. His undertaking was criminal, there very thought of which could be regarded as a capital offense against his king.
58.When the king saw that his many pleas were achieving nothing, and from the earl’s arrogant reply gathered that he had to fear not only the things he had imagined, but even greater ones, he blazed with anger and seized the opportunity of doing something that would cause the commonwealth less harm rather than suffer himself, he drew the sword at his side and said, “Since my prayers cannot move you to desist from your criminal plans, this will put an end to your impious conspiracies.” Say this, he planted the sword in his chest, and at the commotion the henchmen standing at his door ran in and killed the earl. His death occurred in the year of the Virgin Birth 1452, on about the twentieth of February. In the town were a number of the Earl of Douglas’ kinsmen, his brother James, the Earls of Moray and Ormonde, the Lord of Balvanie, and a knight of the Hamilton family who was a powerful lord of the realm, as well as a number of others preeminent for their fortunes and authority. When the killing of the earl had been announced, they rioted in the town. Biding their time for that night, on the follow day a great crowd assembled and set up James as Earl of Douglas in his brother’s place, as had been prearranged by the king. He delivered himself of a lengthy speech, inveighing against the king and the lords who had taken his side, and urged them to besiege the castle and attempt to storm it, thus avenging his brother’s murder with the blood of the king and his adherents. But when they discovered that this would be impossible, since they lacked the wherewithal for such an attempt and the castle was strong enough to withstand a number of assaults, they hurled imprecations at the king, bawling that they would never obey him again, and foully sacked and fired the town of Sterling.
59. After this they returned to their own homes and pillaged and foully laid waste to all the king’s estates and those of the members of his party. Having ruined the estates in its neighborhood and burned their crops, they very tightly besieged Dalkeith Castle, and swore a great oath not to depart before leveling it to the ground. For James Earl Douglas was gripped with implacable hatred of John Douglas, the master of that place, because, although they belonged to the same clan and shared the same surname, he had not only declined to join their association for a war, but had sided with the king against the Douglases and defended it with all his might. The siege continued longer than they expected, but without good result, since the castle garrison stoutly defended itself. Its commander was Patrick Cockburne, who haled from Cockburne Langton in Merch. When the besiegers realized this, wearied as they were by lack of sleep and food, and having had some of their number killed and considerably more wounded, they departed from the stronghold, looking very much like fugitives. So that he might put down such great and numerous uprisings, the king enlisted an army. But when he saw he was not their equal, so that there was no chance he might emerge victorious, he put off his plan. He sent a herald to call on Alexander Earl of Huntly, and waited for him to arrive after recruiting an army in the north of Scotland. When he was marching through Angus on his way to join the king, in his turn the Earl of Crawford (who had been thrice summoned by a herald to appear in court to reply to a charge of treason and scorned to make his appearance, and so had already been declared an enemy of the king) had collected no mean force of his kinsmen and dependents in Angus, and met them in battle order at Brechin.
60. A savage battle was joined without delay, and both sides were thrown into disarray by the great killing. But as the contest went on, Huntley’s men fighting in the front ranks, where the nobles men of the north were stationed, could not with stand the vehement onslaught of the men of Augus, and fell back. When the men of Angus once saw those men were being budged, they pressed their attack, and undoubtedly would have soon victorious, had not John Collasse of Balnamoon, whom, in recognition of his proven virtue and the loyalty and dutifulness he had thus far displayed, Crawford had placed in charge of his left wing, had not fled with his men, leaving their van exposed on its flank. And so, abandoned by the very men by whose handiwork the earl had most hoped to gain the day, some took their heels, and they undoubtedly handed the victory to the royal standard borne by Huntly. The earl’s two brothers, William and [***], together with a goodly part of his nobles and ordinary soldiers, fell in the fight. On the Angus side, John, the Earl of Crawford’s brother [at this point I found a lacuna of four lines in the holograph] and many other men of no common esteem. Although the Earl of Crawford was defeated in battle, even if he yielded to his fortune, he did not do so without indignation, for he cherished a great anger and did not lay down his arms until he had given very hot pursuit to those deserters and carried off all their fortines, having demolished their castles by fire and steel. This battle was fought on Ascension Day in the year of Christ’s Incarnation 1452.
61. Meanwhile the Earl of Moray attacked Huntly’s lands, wasting Bogewall and its environs, driving off its cattle, burning its villages, and ruining its grain. But, having gained his victory Huntley did not allow that damage to go long unavenged. For he attacked Moray with his conquering army and harried it with far greater catastrophe, murder, and arson, and drove the Earl of Moray very far away. At little later, by the advice of James Kennedy Bishop of St. Andrews, the king convened a parliament of all the orders to discuss the general state of affairs. At this, by the judgment of one and all the Earl of Crawford was once more convicted of treason, all his fortunes were confiscated, and he was declared an enemy of the realm. James Earl of Douglas, James Hamilton, the Earls of Moray and Ormonde, and the Lord of Balvaniae, together with other noblemen of his faction, were summoned by a herald to stand at the bar on a specified day and answer the charges laid against them. But this was in vain, for on the night after men had been sent in search of Douglas at Edinburgh, a letter was nailed up on the church door bearing James’ seal, written to the effect that henceforth the earl would obey no citations or commands. He also spewed forth some peevish libels against the king, namely that he was a parricide, a violator of the most sacred law of hospitality, and likewise treacherous and thirsty for the blood of a just man unjustly shed. Therefore once more the king assembled an army and went against him. But since it was the end of the year, he achieved nothing more memorable than to spoil his crops and drive off his cattle, doing no small damage to his estates. Then he put off his expedition until the following spring.
62. His adversaries were so unmoved by these losses that, just as if they were taking their ease amidst very secure peace, they applied themselves to increasing their limitless wealth and advancing their cause by means of a criminal marriage. For, after his brother hand been killed by the king, lest his estate be dissipated, Earl James married his widow in despite of all law and right, sending representatives to Rome to obtain papal sanction. But he could not have his way, for the king sent his own ambassadors to the pope, who vehemently objected. In the following spring, and for nearly two years thereafter, the civil war continued, with the Douglas faction foully ravaged the king’s estates and those of his followers, while the ill-disposed king did the same in Annandale and Forfar, and harassed the opposing faction in any way that seemed likely to wear down his enemy. Meanwhile Douglas was urged by his friends and those he had always told most dear that he should abandon his recalcitrance and humbly beg the king’s pardon for what he had done, and sincerely throw himself on the royal clemency (for if a king forgets his clemency, then all his subjects rightly regard him as excessively dreadful). Necessity urged this, Fortunewilled it, his friends’ affairs demanded it, and each and every man in the nation desired it. His response is said to have been that he would never entrust himself to the good faith of a man who had amicably invited his two cousins to Edinburgh Castle, and his brother the Earl of Douglas (and Albion had no better than he) to Sterling, received them with his hospitality, and then, in violation of mankind’s law, had treacherously murdered them. And so he must either try the fortune of war or voluntarily submit to the utmost of evils, exiles, proscriptions, shameful murders, and anything worse that could be devised for him to suffer, not without constant disgrace. There was no third way so effective that could retrieve his affairs, plunged as they were into such great evils.
63. Plenty of men approved the earl’s opinion, and praised to high heaven his spirit, unbroken amidst so many adversities. Others strongly disapproved, suspecting (as proved to be the case) that not all of the adherents of his party would remain steadfast in their loyalty and duty to the bitter end: for it would be the case that an unhappy end would be earned by all those rash enterprises aimed at the destruction of the sovereign and the public peace, as could readily be understood by many similar examples recorded in the history books. When this dawned on the Earl of Crawford, he began to fear lest, if he continued as a member of this conspiracy against the royal majesty any longer, this would not just do great harm to himself at the present moment, but also to all those men of Angus who followed him and to their posterity It would also drag down to its doom the noble family of the Lindesays, which thus far had deserved well of Scotland’s kings and commonwealth, and had gained its dominance by its pious efforts on behalf of nation and sovereign over many a year. So he privately decided to turn his back on his alliance with the Douglases, and to go to the king in the manner of the most sordid of men, to have his fault wiped clean. Thus the earl presented himself to the king as he was making his way through Angus to the north country, with his head and feet bared, and dressed so as to provoke sympathy, as accused men and their friends are wont to do in courtrooms, accompanied by only a few men, with them all maintaining a sorry silence. When he had groveled on the ground in his sovereign’s sight, as everyone wept copious tears, and the bystanders had informed the king who he was and who his companions were, he summoned up more reliance on the royal clemency, his sole remaining hope, to which he had committed himself in his terror of punishment. He was bidden to set aside his fear and speak his piece to the king. Then the earl, wiping the tears from his drenched face, picked up a bit of his courage and is said to have spoken in this manner:
64. “I see, most merciful king, that today I would have no ability to clear myself of my guilt in your eyes, if nothing other else could be expected of those who exercise rule and judgment over than others than what the laws and the traditions of our nation and ancestors command. But right reason persuades me have good hope for obtaining your clemency, which is like a sacred anchor, for you have supreme power of life and death. I imagine that because of your knowledge of history you know that clemency claims first place among royal virtues, and if any king of the Stoic stripe were to abolish it, he would appear to be removing the possibility of those wavering in their right reason repenting, and indeed to be shutting the door on all royal virtues and opening the door for mischiefmaking. I indeed admit that men should never deviate from right reason by even the breadth of a fingernail. But who is there, I ask, who flourishes because of his industry even in civil dealings with the common folk, who can claim that he has never deviated from equity, either because of hatred, or favor, or fear, or envy? Nobody, by heavens, nobody. For even the severest of men accepts that it is human nature to err, to make mistakes, and to be misled. But to return to onesself, to admit and condemn one’s wrongdoing, this is something not granted us save by God’s singular favor. And the confession of crime (something to which every mortal is prone) is God’s way of inviting us to have hope for a better life, being inspired by our repentance. And so, most merciful king, being a man, in your presence today I condemn myself by my own testimony and admit that I do not deserve to live, unless you are moved by my will to make amends for my previous life and your piety towards the family of the Lindesays, now doomed to take a fall unless you protect it,. By these considerations, as by a passport back to my native country, I am invited to live: for your clemency, which has never issued a rebuff to a man moved by his right conscience, emboldens me to beg for your pardon. I beg and beseech you not to allow myself and my guilt to weigh more in your balance than the noble deeds of my ancestors, and their loyalty and dutiful zeal towards their nation and its security.
65. “I shall rehearse these in a few words, for they are very much to the point. Once upon a time, Lindesay gave our clan its name (this was his personal name, but is now our family surname), on whom Kenneth Macalpine bestowed many very rich lands in this district, in recognition of his singular virtue and profound counsel in fighting the Picts. From him issued a long line of descendants, producing Alexander who died by English arms at Sterling Bridge, while ardently defending the cause of Robert I. His son Alexander suffered a similar fate at Dupplin Moor, when, having served King David II to a ripe old age, he bravely fell in a battle against the English. Soon thereafter David, Alexander’s son and heir, died in the fight between the English and the Scots at Hallidon Hill. In a single combat, James, that man’s nephew by his brother, tilted against the Lord Welles, the noblest Englishman of his day after his king and the most vigorous, when they were competing for praise and reputation, and came away the victor, not without the admiration of one and all. Later, in exchange for his fine services for our commonwealth, he was granted Castle Crawford, the source of our title, by King Robert II. And the reins of government were most wisely and adroitly wielded by this James, by whose guidance and advice all King Robert’s business was managed. From him was born my father David, who gained particular praise from this, that not without great effort he sought ought those who were conspiring against your father, and did not desist until he saw each of them receive his due punishment.
66. “And so, nobody doubts that you, being familiar with the history of the Scots, are well acquainted with their bravery, gravity, steadfastness, and knowledge of the military art, and know that nearly all of them died honorable deaths on behalf of the realm. But poor me, wholly forgetful of them! What lack of self-control inspired me when I was so foolish as to ally myself with your opponents, and when by my doing, degenerate as I was, the men of Angus were rallied against the adherents of your party? Oh the bold crime! Oh the most sly and and counsel! Oh the supreme folly! Oh the wretched misfortune! I did not only endanger myself and my kinsmen, but also exposed the lords and noblemen of Angus to the extreme jeopardy of their lives and families. So what shall I do? Where shall I hide? How can I rescue myself from my danger? Human law forbids me to live, the laws take that away from me, and the customs of our ancestors and our nation demand my punishment. At a stroke all is over for myself and also for the men of Angus, who out of human error, not to mention fear for my downfall, joined my party, unless your royal majesty, in whose hand lie the life and death of your subjects, pities and us and receives us wretches back into its good graces, something the laws forbid. For this is within your power, since kings are above the laws. For it is a wretched thing for our most famous family, gained by so many and such great efforts, to be overthrown by the fault of a single one of its members, and for the name of Lindesay to be wholly obliterated. I beg and beseech you, that I not be the one man excluded from the enjoyment of your clemency, or be debarred from your sop generous kindness. For, if it is a fine thing to conquer one’s enemy, it is no less laudable to know how to feel pity for an unfortunate man, since power is considered safe when it sets a limit on your self. I am quite unconcerned about my one poor body: come, I shall suffer whatever punishment you care to pronounce, whether it be to be delivered to the gallows, or set out for wild beasts, or be sewn in a sack and be dropped on a rock, or to be banished from water or fire, or to be imprisoned for life. I am not so moved by wretched plaints of my dearest wife, the tears of my sons, the lamentable wails of my friends, the loss of my goods, or the depopulation of my estates, so much as the sad downfalls of my family and my dying house, and the miserable loss of life and fortune of the men of Angus, who are all but innocent. So have pity, most merciful king, on my failing family. Have mercy on the very ancient name of the Lindesays, and have pity on the nobles of Angus, lest they be deprived of their fortunes, heritages, and families for the sake of a guilt with is mine alone.”
67. When the earl had said these words, the noblemen of Angus who had joined him in his effort to gain pardon tearfully stretched forth their hands to the king (for they could not speak for sobbing), and this created such sympathy in the bystanders that scarcely a dry eye was to be seen. And so the sacred magistrates and most noble men present, especially James Kennedy Bishop of St. Andrews and William Crichton, who had encouraged Lindesay to come there in search of pardon, urged the king (who himself did not refrain from shedding tears) to show clemency for the earl and those he had induced to rebel, his followers and his kinsmen, and, forgetting their trespasses, mercifully to spare them. Were they to gain this, since they had learned what woes a man brings down on himself by undertaking rash crimes against royal majesty, they would behave towards their incredibly forgiving king with greater loyalty, reverence, and piety than ever before. In consideration of the times, such pious requests of such a great man were not to be scorned. If any faith existed on this earth, his words, carriage, and tears, which attested a loyal mind, could allow no man to believe that any deceit was afoot. The king was moved in part by the tears of the earl and the noblemen of Angus, and part by the pleas of the men standing at his side, so he consoled the earl and those who had come with him, and and urged that they be better disposed towards the commonwealth than they had been previously. He was not seeking to gain noblemen’s heads or fortunes, but rather their minds. He was indeed wrathful against conspirators, but with an anger capable of overlooking men who repented. Insults against their sovereign required punishment, but with such moderation that he might deal mildly with his subjects, and without their endangerment, when this was possible. He was satisfied, and required no more revenge than to see a man who had always been over-proud and recently had been daring something beyond his powers, willingly abase himself to the point that he placed his hope for life, and had no other refuge from his evils, in n thing other than than his king’s clemency, and to see a man whom he had lately pursued as an ally of enemies of the realm lay down his weapons, swallow his pride, and humbly beg for his pardon and mercy.
68. When the pious king had shown by these or scarcely dissimilar signs that his mind was swayed by pity, he received the earl back into his favor, restored all his fortunes, and forgave his adherents for their crime of treason, to the great applause of the bystanders. Overjoyed by this happy result, the Earl of Crawford and a select band of young men of Angus accompanied their sovereign as he made his way to the north of his kingdom. And a month later, when he was returning, the earl received him hospitality and treated him with the utmost honor at Finevin Castle, vowing to be at the king’s service with a strong band of followers to fight the conspirators wherever the king should command. Thus reconciled with his prince, he wholly stopped playing the tyrant and acted the part of a loyal defender of majesty, holding nothing in greater reverence than his sovereign. But when he seemed to himself and to his friends and kinsmen to be living in the greatest happiness, Fortune, who allows nothing in human affairs to be enduring, showed herself to be unstable and that all things lean on a fragile prop, and did not allow his man’s happiness long to endure. For in sixth month after being taken back into the king’s good graces, he was taken with a burning fever and died, in the Christian year 1454. He was borne from Finevin Castle in great estate with nearly the same pomp that had been employed in the funerals of his ancestors, and was buried at the Minorite abbey near Dundee. In the previous year Mahomet, the King of the Turks, took Constantinople by storm, killing a great number of Christians, during the papacy of Nicholas V at Rome. It was his will that henceforth this be the Turkish royal capital.
69. At the beginning of the following year, which was the year of the Virgin Birth 1454, at a parliament of all the nobility held at Edinburgh, by the common consent of them all, King James deprived James Earl of Douglas and Beatrice, his brother’s wife with whom he had been joined in a spurious marriage after his death, Archibald Earl of Moray, George Earl of Ormunde, and John Baron of Balvanie of whatever rights they still had to private landed estates, declared them enemies of the realm, and condemned them to death in absentia. And, inasmuch as William Douglas had unlawfully stolen it from James Crichton, to whom it rightfully belonged, and then given it to his brother Archibald, he restored it to James Crichton. But since James could not possess that earldom without incurring the dislike of many, not much later he arranged that the earldom, together with all its lands and estates, should revert to the crown, and created George Crichton Earl of Caithness. And he furthermore bade William Hay, the constable of the realm, to be Earl of Errol. And many knights were added to the nobility of the supreme assembly, whom they call lords of the parliament. Their surnames were Darley, Hailes, Boyd, Lyle, and Lorne.
70. When the parliament was dissolved, an expedition at full strength was readied against the men who had been named enemies of the realm. The king first entered into Galloway, where with next to no trouble he took control of all its castles. Then he turned aside into Douglasdale, since its inhabitants had refused to obey their king, and gave it to his soldiers for the plundering. They used no slight cruelness against their captives. While his enemies were being oppressed by these necessities, James Hamilton, one of Douglas’ most important kinsmen, went to England seeking aid against the king. Failing in this attempt, he returned to the Earl of Douglas and urged him to gather all his forces and try his fortunes once for all in a battle against the king, and not to allow himself and his followers to be forever oppressed. For, should he emerge the victor, he would possess everything in abundance, and would gain the kingdom in exchange for a single hour of fighting. But if he should be defeated (heaven forbid), he would make an end of his labors and miseries. For, besides the fact that their future prospects were no better, there was a danger lest they be brought to an extremity of evil, since the king’s strength was daily increasing, and their own gradually was being worn down. Goaded by these words, James gathered all his friends and dependents from all quarters and formed them into any army, which was indeed larger than that of the king, but in respect to its spirits and strength not even its equal. Therefore, when the armies were led out to battle, James Earl of Douglas saw that his own men were as white as sheets and fearful, so he put off fighting until the following day and led them back to camp, over the strong objections of his friends who disapproved of his plan and predicted this would cost him dearly, as never again would he have the opportunity to fight.
71. For this reason, their enemies’ spirits lifted and their own dropped. James Hamilton in particular found this displeasing, and so on the following night he reflect that, since up to then he had been blind with affection and had never applied his judgment to this matter, now that he was offended by the way the enterprise had been bungled and lost that affection, he was able to evaluate it with reason. And when he had thought it over carefully, he concluded that it was an illegal and criminal venture, and something not worth pursuing with such great effort, suffering and danger. He gathered his followers and went over to the king. Falling to his knees, he humbly begged the king for pardon for his deeds. When this became common knowledge, all of Douglas’ followers gradually melted away, and on the next day the field was revealed to be free of enemies. The king, at first not having much trust in Hamilton’s split from Douglas, remanded him to Roslin, which was in the power of the Earl of Orkney. But when he reflected that it was thanks to Hamilton that he had gained a bloodless victory without even drawing a sword, he freed him and soon counted him as one of his especial friends, and bestowed on him the hand of his eldest daughter. These things were done near Abercorn Castle, which the king was besieging at the moment, and in this siege some royal soldiers were killed and more wounded. But in the end he captured its strongest tower, and not long thereafter took it entirely.
72. When James Douglas appreciated that he was abandoned by his followers, on whom he had relied in his rebellion against the king, and that there was no hope left in them, he fled to England with his brothers, with the idea of renewing his strength, if he could But not much later, he gathered a small band and invaded Annandale, which was then guarded by a royal garrison. The king’s forces came to meet him, and in a pitched battle he was put to rout, having lost one of his brothers, Archibald and with a badly wounded Earl of Ormonde taken prison. The fourth of his brothers, John of Balvanie, made his escape into a nearby glade without difficulty and was rescued. When a messenger brought news of this victory, and also Archibalds’ head, he was given a joyful reception. The Earl of Ormunde was kept in Annandale until his wounds had healed, and then was brought to the king in chains, and eventually beheaded. Even though James Earl of Douglas had lost his brothers and all his friends, and had no forces left, he still refused to lose faith in his destiny. He went to Donald Earl of Ross, the Lord of the Isles, at Stephen’s Castle, (otherwise known as Dunstaffnage), because he knew that this man was prone to evildoing and was confident could be provoked to rebel with no difficult. Nor was he wrong in his expectation. For he immediately took a gang of villains and cruelly wasted the nearby royal estates, sparing neither age nor sex, committing piteous murder against infants and children, and also doddering old men in a way that would move a heart of stone. He also fired manors and villages, drove off cattle, and arranged for some grain to be taken away, but the rest, which could not readily be transported, he consigned to the fire.
73. He continued on to the Orkneys and created no less a scene of destruction. Soon thereafter, he wreaked the same kind of havoc in the island of Arran, taking its castle by a ruse and pulling it down. He attacked George Bishop of Lismore while making a progress through his diocese, killed some of his servants, and chased him into asylum. Then he raged his way through Lochaber and intered into Moray, where he sacked and fired the town of Inversness, having deceitfully gained control of its castle and then destroying it. He commited many other evil acts against the entire kingdom, not so much to gratify James Douglas, as because in his depravity he delighted in feeding his mind on felonies. On the other side, the English (who they are prone to break even the most binding of treaties to suit the opportunity of the moment) saw that the kingdom was suffering internal woes, and took advantage of the situation to obtain some plunder by invading the Scottish borderland and carrying off great spoils, killing some men of no little noblity in the marches. For the present, the king chose to ignore these insults, because he could barely repress Scotland’s internal evils. Although he realized it was scarcely in the realm’s interest to let them go unpunished, he nevertheless dissimulated until a time when it would be opportune to do this. At abaout this time Beatrice Countess of Douglas, seeling that no hope remained for James Douglas, fled to the king and begged for his mercy. She cast all the blame on James: he had forced her into a criminal marriage, he had compelled her to cooperate with his other ventures, and she, devoid of any counsel, had been compelled by force and could not resist his great power. In his absence, she had taken her earliest oppunity to escape that impious life and had given herself into the king’s hands, asking his pardon if she had done anything amiss, and begging for protection. The king gave her a kindly reception and not only forgave her her guilt, but also took her into his good graces, bestowed on her the barony of Balvanie, and married her to his brother the Earl of Athol.
74. At a time not much different from this, the Countess of Ross, the wife of Donald of the Islands, being afraid of his savagery, something with which she was all too familiar, fled to the king with the intention of escaping his brutal clutches by seeking royal protection. Since it had been by his doing that she had been married to Donald, he bestowed estates on her which allowed her to live in magnificent style. At this time, in the vicinity of Dunbritton, Patrick Thornton, a royal courtier but a member of the Douglas party, murdered John Sandelands of Calder, a kinsman of the king, and the nobleman Alan Stewart, since they belonged to the king’s faction. But the king and his companions hunted them down, and extracted a fine revenge by killing him. In those same days, William Turnbull Bishop of Glasgow founded a general academy at Glasgow, destined soon to assume no mean position among the universities of Scotland, in the year of the Christian Nativity 1454. The year following its foundation was marked by many noblemen’s deaths. The most conspicuous of which were theose of William Errol, the constable of the realm, and George Crichton Earl of Caithness. When he understood he was about to die childless, he restored his earldom to royal possession, since not long ago he had received it from the king with the stipulation that only his male issue should succeed him. Also died William Crichton of the same family, easily the chief defender of royal majesty in those times, and Alexander Lindesay Earl of Crawford, of whom I have written copiously above. In his place was immediately set his firstborn son David, who, as will be told in its proper place, rightfully deserves to be remembered as one of the best princes our age has seen. Many other died, but it would be superfluous to name them all.
75. Not long thereafter, under the leadership of Henry Percy Earl of Northumbria and James Douglas, who had recently been deprived of his earldom by royal authority, a strong force composed of Englishmen and Scotsmen still loyal to James invaded Merch, and laid everything low with steel and fire. But an angry Scottish army commanded by Douglas Earl of Angus meet them in great force, and turned and routed them with much slaughter. For while they were engaged in a hot fight and the victory hung in the balance, in their greed for plunder a number of Englishmen of no small note forgot their decorum and busied themselves in driving away captives and cattle, abandoning their comrades in the battle, which paved the way for a Scottish victory. About seven hundred Englishmen were taken prisoner, and even more were killed, whereas the Scots lost more or less eighty, and very few of them were captured. When these things were reported to the king, he was greatly grieved that he was caught up in civil evils and was so often being harmed by the English with impunity. But he saw no way to take vengeance on them, or even hold them in scorn, without incurring great harm, because of internal seditions. Therefore his enemies were daily growing more insolent. Then friends of Donald of the Isles were set to the king humbly begging pardon for his offences, although not in fact surrendering everything into his hands. But, inasmuch as he knew how well the Earl of Crawford’s suit to the king had turned out for him, he thought he would also test the king’s mind by comporting himself submissively and sending those men to him asking for the same things. Thanks to his humility and the intervention of some grandees of the realm, he gained them.
76. The king took shrewd advantage of this opportunity, hitting on a plan by which he could not entirely pardon this villain’s evil deeds with impunity, and yet lure him on by hope and hold him to his duty. He therefore responded that Donald had never done anything meritorious enough to warrant pardon for his grave offenses against himself and get off unpunished. Nevertheless, since it was a very fine thing for all men, and a king most of all, to imitate divine virtue as much as they could, and the most excellent quality in God is His willingness, out of His great goodness, to forgive men of offenses against Himself thanks to no merit of their own, but only if they repent and beg His pardon, he too wished to appear merciful. But inasmuch it belongs to God alone to see into men’s hearts, whereas Man can only judge someone’s mind on the basis of signs and conjectures, Donald must do something to show his sincere repentance for his deeds before receiving immunity from punishment. He needed to make reparations for all losses caused by his forays, and rebuild the castles he had demolished. In the meantime, until something had been reported about his actions, he and whatever associates he had had in his activities should enjoy their freedom and immunity. And so, now that these domestic disturbances had been settled, the king turned all his attention to an English expedition, so that at long length he could either end or repay the insults he had so often suffered.
77. To do this advantageously, he commanded all the nobles of the realm to assemble on a stated day. When they met on that day to consider the administration of things and the best way to conduct the war, behold, ambassadors arrived from England, sent by Richard Duke of York, Edward Earl of March, the Earl of Warwick, and their confederates, asking for help against King Henry, whom they had decided to depose. For although Henry, thanks to his slothful nature and depraved counsel, had lost France and Normandy and yet did not despair of his prospects, called the lords of his realm for consultation, yet nevertheless gave preference to certain base-born flatters over everyone else, and entrusted the management of all his affairs to them. All the peerage took this amiss, and those who had previously been preeminent for their glory and skill at war entered into a conspiracy, and adopted the plan of deposing him. The Duke of York, born of royal stock (for he could trace his lineage to Lionel, the third son of Edward III, from whom had descended Richard II, forcibly deposed and murdered by Henry IV and had died childless, leaving York the rightful heir), thought that he had a better chance of seizing the throne than did the aforesaid Henry in usurping the right from Richard and Lionel. So he associated himself with this faction, deciding to use them to seize the throne and recover his kingdom.
78. But inasmuch as their strength was no match to the king’s, they sent certain men of their number to the king of Scots requesting his aid, and promising great rewards when their project had been executed. And so, when the legates had been admitted to the parliament, the foremost among them for his dignity and eloquence spoke in words such as these: “I am certain that none of you doubts what a dangerous thing its, most illustrious and wise prince, for a depraved man of no experience to preside over a government (for how is possible for a man to rule others with skill and wisdom, if he cannot govern himself?), and on the other hand how useful and necessary a thing it is to have a wise and good man wielding the reins of state. In this age of the world, in different ways we have both learned this by experience. For, best of kings, kings and nations admire your prudence, for you, who lately were but a lad, inherited a kingdom troubled by the factions of very powerful seditious men, and by the divine and singular wisdom of your mind you have rendered it tranquil and pacified, with no great shedding of blood, so, before doing anything else, we must congratulate you on your felicity. And we pray God Almighty that this be enduring and perpetual. But I do not think that by any way it escapes your nation how different our Henry is from yourself, and how he fails to comport himself in a way useful to our realm. For by the sluggish mind of one single man, corrupted by the bad counsels of flatters, the name of England, lately so flourishing, is a laughing-stock to all the world. For at a single stroke he has entirely lost by far the greater part of his empire, I mean that in France which he inherited from his forebears, which is in no way inferior to the kingdom of England.
79. “Although this is the case, nevertheless we are oppressed by the tyranny of base-born men, whom he, in disdain of the lords of the realm, has raised above all others, and made them our all-powerful masters. We can scarcely breathe in safety, let alone exercise our free speech in complaint, or give our advice about what should be done. But the peers of the realm are no longer tolerating this, since they see it would be not only inexpedient for our commonwealth, but, should they reconcile their minds to tolerating it any longer, would be bound to bright down extreme ruin on the nation, and so they have decided to embark on an enterprise which is neither unrighteous nor unusual. For our ancestors rejected Henry III’s son nicknamed Edmund Crouchback, for not being not possessed of a handsome or sound body, although they did acknowledge that he was possessed of a prudent mind and the rightful heir to the throne, inasmuch as, engaged in the French war, they said they had need of a man who was not only prudent, but also physically fit and handy. So they passed over him and preferred his younger brother Edward, who was, perhaps, of no less intellect than he, but also possessed a comely and strong physique, and chose him as their king. But our peers do not just think they have a similar reason for transferring the crown once again, but also a far greater and necessary one. For, just as it is better for commonwealths to be governed by men possessed of excellent mental equipment than physical ability, so it is worse to be governed by princes whose minds and characters are depraved than those who have feeble bodies. For what use is a commander’s physical strength in battle, where everything should be managed by his prudence, when he is a man of sluggish nature, torpid with sloth, and a man who has no idea what ought to be done, both concerning striking at his enemy and preserving his own army? Or what use is physical strength in peacetime, when there is no counsel or prudence (things without which all authority is enfeebled) for ordering the people aright or governing for the security of the commonwealth? Let the unhappy loss of France serve to warn us what a useless and ruinous thing it is to have sluggard without an idea in his head as a leader in wartime. And in peacetime it is not only ourselves who have learned by experience that it is pestilential to have an unwise king of bad judgment, or corrupted by bad advice. For he also realized that, while you were caught up in your domestic war, you could have less concern about foreign things, so more than once he ruined your lands with his inroads. So it is not only for our own sake that we urge you to fight against him, but for yours as well, I mean by taking revenge on the man responsible for it.
80. “And so I think that, on the basis of my discourse, the reason for our enterprises can be seen to be not only honorable, but also necessary. Now let us see how easy and bloodless they will be, and after that, what rewards will be your after our business is finished, should you decide to help us, as we hope you will. Having shown these things, I shall conclude my speech. In the first place, I think you need to know what strength the king possessed, and then what forces are at our disposal. When I have set these facts forth, than I think you will have no remaining uncertainty. Lately, when our kingdom flourished and was in no respect diminished, English powers were second to no neighboring king or nation (and pray do not begrudge my saying so), and I do not imagine there is any man so unfamiliar with the facts or of such silly judgment that he would not agree. But now that we have lost France, who cannot see how greatly our powers have diminished? Not only for this reason, but also because the flower of our bravest youth, which might have been able to recover it, died at the same time, and (the most deplorable thing of all) those young men cannot easily be replaced. But thus far these were setbacks shared by all Englishmen, and there was no loss which did not affect us all alike. But what happened afterwards, and whatever adversity came our king’s way, worked to our advantage. For all the most powerful lords, who could not tolerate the idea of enduring his tyranny any longer, adopted the plan of setting up Richard of York as king, and of deposing that man, in order to remove the yoke of servitude from off their necks.
81. “For this reason, because of the number of very brave noblemen who have joined our saner party, we surpass the king. And, even if the common people appear to support their king, they are undecided and hesitant, and are hungry for a revolution. They are waiting for nothing so much as for someone to sound the bugle and give them the signal to revolt. Is this not clear enough from what some Irishman lately said, that he intended to chastise the insolence and cruelty against the people of certain men at court, I mean those who love rashness and ambition, and that the people should bring the king and his adherents to book? If our Lord Chancellor’s astute and clever device had not chilled their enthusiasm, this state of affairs would not have lasted until the present day. And, best of princes, to guarantee the success of our mission in search of your health, we come bringing gifts not to be turned down. For, by the advice of the peerage, the Duke of York and the Earl of Warwick have authorized us to make this statement, if you choose to come to our aid. As a reward for your assistance, on their good faith they promise you will receive all the territory which your ancestors possessed in Norfolk as far south as the so-called Recross, together with Berwick and lands adjacent, and, when a treaty has been made, they are prepared to enter into a treaty guaranteeing perpetual peace and friendship.”
82. When the ambassador had delivered himself of this speech, after he had consulted the lords of the realm, in accordance with their view the king made his reply. He had already heard of the Duke of York’s claim to the throne. But, just as scepters should not imprudently be bestowed, so, once given, should they not taken away for a light reason. He would leave that for them to decide. But as far as war went, he had already decided to wage war on Henry. for the very bothersome incursions with which he had troubled him while he was preoccupied with domestic strife. Nor had Henry deigned to make any sort of restitution when asked. If the Duke of York, the Earls of Warwick and March, and their associated lords were prepared to stand by their promises, he was ready to attack Henry in full force and strive might and main to defeat him so that the Duke of York could recover his ancestral throne. With pledges of good faith given on both sides, the ambassadors carried back the king’s response to York and Warwick. The king commanded that everything be readied for war. But when he entered into English territory, a certain fellow suborned by Henry’s supporters, an Englishman, to be sure, but one who was well-versed in the Italian language and who had long ago grown accustomed to robbery and bold deeds, and who was now well-equipped with documents and bulls and accompanied by a monk, feigned the great piety of life and sanctity that kind of man practiced. He met the king and claimed to bear a mandate from the pope forbidding him to march any farther, threatening to call down dire curses on his head if he failed to heed this warning. For since the pope was becoming daily more vexed by those very cruel enemies of Christianity, the Turks, he had decided to resolve all the warfare between the kings of Christian Europe and have them join forces against their common foe. Papal legates would soon arise to deal with the damages inflicted on the Scots by the English and resolve the quarrel between the Duke of York and King Henry.
83. James, not imagining any deceit was contained in his words, complied with the mandate, and immediately disbanded his army. But he had scarcely gotten home when he realized this was a scheme devised by his enemies, and, inspired by chagrin over what he had done, he organized new forces. But York’s followers, no small part of whom was led by Warwick, went forth to do battle against King Henry, without waiting for the Scots. Nor were the king’s adherents behindhand in coming to meet them: their most conspicuous leaders were the Earls of Northumbria and Clifford, together with Somerset and Buckingham. In a battle fought at St. Albans, the first of three of these, together with a great host of noblemen, fell in the fight, and Henry was captured and taken to London. There, at a parliament of the entire English nobility, nearly all of them came to the conclusion that Henry should not be entirely deprived of his crown. Rather, those most criminal flatterers, counterfeiters of good character as they were, should either be banished from his side or punished, and he himself should be kept in custody. For most of them thought it sinful to lay hands on a living sovereign, or even to take sacrosanct rule away from an anointed king to whom they had sworn their allegiance. They also decided that the Duke of York should be appointed regent of the kingdom with royal power, that Warwick should go to Calais and govern it with the dignity and authority of a captain, that the Earl of Salisbury should be made Lord Chancellor of the realm, and that they should rest content with these arrangements until more mature deliberations had been made about the entire situation.
84. Meanwhile King James invaded England, and took and entirely sacked Roxburgh, and set a very tight siege on its castle. While he was singlemindedly intent on this, delegates arrived from the Duke of York and Warwick announcing their victory. When they had thanked the king for his eagerness to bring this about, they requested him to cease his siege of the castle, nor to commit any more harm against England. For this was greatly annoying their nobility, who could scarcely be restrained from launching an immediate attack on the Scots, had not the Duke of York sharply opposed them. King James replied that he congratulated the Duke, but had no idea what this business of him annoying the nobility was all about. And when he asked about them abiding by their promises, and the ambassadors had answered that they had nothing about that matter in their instructions, James blazed forth in anger, since the English were never faithful, that they deceitfully used fair speech, and that they smiled while speaking false words, saying, “Even if the Duke of York and his followers think they scarcely need abide by their word now that they have gained their victory, even before giving a hearing to his ambassadors or perceiving that there was any deceit in England, I had made up my mind to avenge all the insults I had received at English hands. Now I shall have an even larger helping of revenge, since the insult of their breaking their sworn oaths is yet greater.” And so, having dismissed the ambassadors, he ordered his soldiers to apply all their strength to taking the castle. But when the English put up a fine defense, it seemed as if the siege would have to be dragged out until those within were obliged to make a voluntary surrender. Meanwhile the aforementioned Donald of the Isles, together with an excellent company well-armed in their traditional way, came to the king at Roxburgh, and promised that, should he wish to take his army further in to England, he and his men would march a mile ahead of the army, already to receive the brunt of an enemy counterattack. After receiving Donald with great kindness, James replied that he would use him as his nobles thought best, and that Donald’s readiness to defend the public welfare was welcome. Obedient to his command, Donald encamped nearby and sent out some bands to ravage the surrounding countryside.
85. After the siege had gone longer than expected and, even though the English in the middle of the castle had now fallen and the rest were suffering from the extremities of siege, and particularly from hunger, nevertheless they had not failed, and were creating tedium among the besiegers. Still, the king was overjoyed by the arrival of Alexander Earl of Huntley bringing reinforcements, and to make an end of the siege he ordered all his artillery to bombard the castle once more. But when in his excessive curiosity he came near to where his cannons were stationed, of them not far away burst (as often happens) and sprang apart in many pieces. He chanced to be hit in the groin by a shard, suddenly fell to the ground, and quickly died from the wound. Even though his kinsmen and lords standing nearby were thrown into great consternation by such a great calamity, they reasonably suppressed their emotions and kept quiet about the matter, and forbade those bystanders who were aware of what had happened to speak of it, lest the distraught soldiers break off the siege. When she heard the news of her husband’s death, the queen hastily took her little son (he was seven years old at the time) and hurried to the camp. When she arrives, this woman displayed an all but masculine mind (showing the spirit of her Flemish origins) and, although the others expected that while in the camp she could not refrain from womanly tears and lamentation, she surprised them all with her manly strength, as she encouraged the commanders to bring the siege to completion.
86. “You energetic commanders, you must not allow all this effort that has cost you so much time and effort, and has almost come to its end, to go to waste. For it will be a quick thing, if you continue it with the same steadfastness you displayed in undertaking it. God forbid that the death of one man should make your noble spirits downcast, should make your minds despondent, or rob you of your hope. This throng of common soldiers did not know about it, so, as much as we can, we must make every effort lest they discover it from the expressions of our faces. If you continue the siege with the same eagerness as you recently felt, nothing will be visible to them. So come now, avenge the death of your beloved king, and do not be seen playing a female part in this drama. Leave that to the feeble throng of women. Leave it them to be troubled by the accidents of human frailty. It is not I who should be consoling you, but rather you should be doing that for me. I beg and beseech you, do not abandon this siege before your care has finished what it started.” Thus each of the commanders, inspired not only by the queen’s manly words, but also by a sense of shame for their own sex, applied themselves to besieging the castle with all their strength. Then the queen made sure that her little son was crowned and anointed in the customary way. Nor could the English withstand the siege for many more days, for they saw no hope for receiving aid. And so, with their lives and fortunes spared, they surrendered. And lest it henceforth be available to the English, the Scots leveled the castle to its foundations, and then went home. These things happened in the year of human salvation 1463, on August 5. James died in the twenty-ninth year of his age, having reigned for twenty-three of them.
87. Tradition has it that some portents occurred before the king’s death. The day before he was killed, a very bright comet was seen, as if heralding the untimely death of such a great king. In the year before the siege, at Lithquho (the name of an ancient town), a handmaid living the household of a certain townsman, had the organs of both sexes, and, although the masculine one was hidden, she could use it when she wished. She shared the same bed with the daughter of the family, and, ade her pregnant. The matter came to light and she was taken by some matrons who were indignant that the naive girl had been deceived. They brought her before a judge, and, since she displayed her female organs but nevertheless had used her male one, she was buried alive. At about this same time there a certain robber in Angus, who lived in Finian’s Cave (we call it Fenisden) with his evil family, apart from all human society, who was arrested and imprisoned for an unspeakable crime, together with his entire household. He was in the habit of bringing home the bodies of those he had managed to rob or kill in the absence of witnesses, and eating them. The younger and plumper they were, the tastier he found them. For which horrible offense he and all his family, with the exception of a girl baby who was scarcely one year old, were burned alive. The girl was brought up at Dundee, and before reaching the age of twelve she was caught committing her father’s crime and sentenced to be buried alive. When she was being led to her punishment and a large crowd, largely composed of women, poured out to curse her for having dared such an inhuman deed, she turned to those following her, wearing a cruel expression on her face, and said, “Why do you rebuke me as if I have committed a crime unworthy of a human being? Trust me, if you knew how delightful the taste of human flesh is, nobody at all could be found who refrained from the eating of babies.” And so, stubbornly showing no remorse, she suffered the appointed punishment for her crime, in the sight of many witnesses.
88. In the time of James II, or at least at a not much different one, lived men distinguished for their erudition, thanks to whose happy work learning, which had perished along with the Roman Empire thanks to Gothic barbarity, revived through nearly all the world: the Roman patrician Lorenzo Valla, who did well by the Latin language, as can be seen from his works; Francesco Filelfo and Petrarch, both very famous rhetoriticians; Niccolo Perotto Bishop of Siponto, who took great pains that ancient ways of teaching be discarded and young men receive a proper education in the goodly arts and be taught how to use elegant diction; Theodore Gaza, deeply learned in Greek and Latin literature; Poggio of Florence; Bartolomeo de Platina Sacchi, who wrote the lives of the popes with great grace; Johannes Regiomontanus, a noble young German who had attained perfection in humane letters by the age of twenty-eight, the year of his death. Let lovers of learning attest how much splendor he imparted to all branches of mathematics, and especially to astronomy, to the advantage of posterity; and many more, whom it might seem superfluous to enumerate. Out of our countrymen were men most learned in theology: Nicholas of Dundee, a member of the Augustinian Order of Preachers, who for many years served as professor of theology at Cologne, where he died, and John Mair, a man fetched from the University of Paris by James Kennedy Bishop of St. Andrews to provide instruction in both sacred and secular literature at the College of St. Salvator, which he had very magnificently founded at great expense, and lavishly endowed for the benefit of its students.