Click a green square to see the Latin text. Click a blue square to see a commentary note.
GIOVANNI FERRERIO OF PIEMONTE GREETS THE EARNEST READER
FEW years, ago that very distinguished and illustrious Master Henry Sinclair, at a time when he was still Dean of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Glasgow, in the course of various conversations urged me to undertake a continuation of Hector Boece’s Scotorum Historia. But, although I was very eager to learn about the most noteworthy events of this nation in the preceding century, it seemed to me that, being a foreigner, I lacked many things very necessary for undertaking that task, so at that time I modestly declined to do as he requested. But he insisted and even promised to supply me with a memorandum setting forth in outline form the memorable things done and said throughout all that period, which I could use as accurate guide for writing my history. Nor did he cease pressing me until he brought me to the point where I made a kind of agreement, and said I would do my best, as long as he would keep his word and finally give me those notes that he repeatedly promised to supply. While he busied himself attempting to compile a record of the prior deeds of the realm, written under brief headings both in Scottish and Latin, meant to be of use to me in writing my projected history of the subject, such great and thorny problems of human actions arose, combined with deluded and fanatical controversies about our religion, that he was late and incomplete in doing what he had had in mind. And, besides these things, a more personal problem confronted him, after he had demitted his deanship and been appointed Bishop of Ross. For as he grew older he was so troubled by the agonies of the stone (something he had not experienced as a young man) that he was obliged to quit Scotland, sail to France, and go to Paris, so that, if possible, he could find some manner of help.
2. Arriving at Paris, he called in physicians of great reputation and learning, and also many surgeons and stone-cutters, so that they might provide some wholesome relief for the stone, from which he had terribly suffered for four full years. For several days the men he had called in deliberated, and finally came to the unanimous agreement that the only way he could be helped was by cutting out the stone. Since this was their decision, he agreed. They drew up a contract, and the operation was putting off until September 28, 1564. Meanwhile the physicians attempted to prepare him for surgery by dosing him with certain drugs to purge his body of bad and errant humors. When these things had duly been done, the bishop, who was then fifty-eight years old, was operated by Master Laurent, a man of great experience in this affair, and a large stone shaped like two eggs joined at their ends, but of unequal size, was removed, with four protuberances around its circumference. Why say more? While both the physicians and the man who had done the cutting hung in suspense between hope and fear, the business dragged on until January 1 of the following year, on which die that most distinguished and noble gentleman succumbed to his destiny, exchanging life for death.
3. After his death, his brother, Master John Sinclair the Deacon of Restalrig appeared, gathered up all his deceased brother’s moveable property, and carried it off with himself to Scotland. This consisted of books and many other things, and included the memorandum written for my use, by which I could have been helped in writing my continuation of his nation’s history. Thus cheated of my hope, for a while I hesitated about what was the best policy to follow in completing my task. Yet a glimmer of hope remained, that by the kindness of the man who had taken away the memorandum and that of his friends, it might be forwarded to myself. But a few months later he fell victim to an acute fever and was suddenly removed from the number of the living. And so I was deprived of nearly all helps for my writing, since nothing was available on which I could rely save for some obscure things. So more than once I was inclined to suppress what I had myself gathered out of various written sources. But when I had thought some more about the entire business, I thought it would be better to go ahead and publish what I had put together with great effort, of whatever quality it might be, and incomplete though it is. Thus, I imagine, I may furnish some assistance, not entirely without its utility, for the students of these things who follow after me. If it turns out in this way, it is well; if not (God forbid), I do not think anyone will blame because I was not reluctant to shed some light for posterity, as best I could, at least regarding the more important historical highlights. This is why, earnest reason, I have not allowed you to be unaware that these are very short and fragmentary notes on Scottish history, lest you perhaps be misled into thinking you have a full history. So, thanks to my account, now you understand why it has not been allowed me to write in greater detail, as was my original intention. I trust that this subject will find many students and amateurs of antiquity after myself, something for which I daily pray to God Almighty. Farewell.
- 1461 -
FTER fighting various battles against his enemies, King Henry VI of England was finally defeated at St. Albans, and afterwards routed at Towton near York, since there remained no safe place in England where he could repair his army, he fled and, constantly on the run so he would not be captured by his pursuers, on the second day after the battle, in the company of a few companions, he reached Berwick on the Scottish border safe and sound. From there he sent representatives to James III requesting that, for the sake of their old relationship, leave be granted to himself, together with his small company, consisting of his consort the queen, his eldest son, some English lords, and a choice company of a thousand horsemen, to enter his kingdom, and furthermore requested his royal assistance in the midst of his sudden great catastrophe.
2. At that time, because of the king’s young age, at court a number of leading and illustrious men managed the realm, of whom James Kennedy Bishop of St. Andrews, a kinsman of the king, was easily reckoned the foremost. After hearing Henry’s delegation deliver their message, King James took their unanimous advice and not only granted their request, but himself went to meet Henry on his arrival, gave him a royal kind reception, and escorted him to the palace in a very stately and regal style. And as long as Henry chose to live in Scotland, he lacked for nothing which a king driven from his realm by his subjects by a similar misfortune could or should be given by a friendly and liberal prince.
3. When Henry left Berwick and entered Scotland, he had for his companions his consort the queen, his eldest son Edward, Edward’s cousins, the Dukes of Somerset and Glocester, and likewise King Henry’s brother the Duke of Pembroke, the Earl of Warick, the Earl of Hungerford, the Lord Rossett, and the Lord Rivers, whose daughter the aforsaid Edward married after having gained the crown, as well as many other noblemen.
4. Having been showered by such favors by the king of Scots, so as at least in some part he might show his gratitude, and also to pave the way for obtaining more from them when the situation required, Henry very generously gave the Scots the very stoutly defended town of Berwick to have and to hold, at a time when it was occupied by English arms. There is no shortage of writers who tell us that Henry did not do this as an act of great generosity, but rather so as to seriously weaken his adversaries, at least by the loss of this fortified town. But I prefer to believe that he did this mostly to make the Scots well-disposed towards himself, with an eye to creating a proper army as soon as he could, so he might lead it into England and gain revenge for having been expelled from his kingdom. And this, as will soon appear, he did not fail to achieve, in accordance with King James’ will and with the consent of all his lords.
5. Leaving the king and his lords in Scotland, Queen Margaret crossed over to France, and went her father Duke René of Anjou in France and his friends, so that, relying on their help, she could assemble a new company of soldiers, which she could use to help restore her husband, when the opportunity arose.
6. At this time England was greatly troubled by partisan dissent, and soon thereafter this roused the exiled Henry to recruit a numerous army, thanks to the singular kindness of King James and the support of all his lords. With this he made a sudden descent on Durham, at a time when his adversaries were anticipating nothing of the kind. Henry’s plan for achieving these great things would have served him very well, had the sequel not been in such ill accord with its fair beginnings. For when his arrival in England had been announced, there was such a concourse of very sturdy soldiers and nobles to his aid that all those with him had high hopes for an easy and decisive victory, should he meet his enemy in a pitched battle. But by lingering in County Durham for a variety of reasons, he gave his enemy plenty of time to arm himself and devise many a shrewd plan for his destruction. And finally, when he made his disorganized way to a village called Hexham, roaming about with his army like a ravager, he came across his adversaries drawn up for battle. Fancying that victory lay in speed, before Edward of York could come up (for he was reported to be approaching with large reinforcements), he bravely attacked, first by making some forays, and then joining in a hot battle in which he enjoyed no better luck than ever, with the larger part of his army cut down. Then he was put to flight. Since he had no place to rebuild his pitifully reduced forces, with a small escort he ran back to Scotland, from which he had lately come, and there he stayed for a while.
7. A little later, a twenty year’s truce between King James and the newly-crowned King Edward IV of England was made at York, to start at the beginning of the month of May in 1462, with the Bishop of Glasgow, the Earl of Argyll, the Abbot of Holyrood, who was the Keeper of the Privy Seal, Sir Alexander Boyd,a nd Sir William Cranston representing the Scottish side. In Scotland, since because of his youth James himself could do nothing save in the name of his tutors, suddenly internal upheavals erupted in all quarters of the kingdom. First, those along the borderland infested everything with their robberies and depredations. And also the islanders in the west filled their longships with armed men so they might cross over the Scottish shore and work their mischief. And in the northern part of the realm men began to harry their neighbors, so that the king’s tutors could not easily devise any means whereby such great ills might be cured.
- 1463 -
8. On November 16 King James III’s mother the queen died at Edinburgh, and was buried at Queen’s College, which she herself had founded and endowed. It is said that after her husband’s death she did not behave herself in a chaste and self-controlled way. For she was over-familiar with a certain Adam Hepburn Lord of Hailes, who did not lack for his own proper wife. This was a thing which put no small blot on the queen’s name, although she was praiseworthy in other respects.
- 1464 -
9. In this year, the king’s brother Alexander Duke of Albany, while returning home to Scotland after paying a visit to his grandfather the Duke of Flanders, was captured on the high seas by the English in the month of June. James Kennedy Bishop of St. Andrews sent a delegation to England and arranged for his release, together with his ship and all its cargo, by threatening to declare war otherwise, even if the truce was in force.
- 1465 -
10. Because of these turmoils, and because he was discouraged by his own misfortune, King Henry of England quietly began to think of a device by which he could gently extract himself from his exile. For among such great upheavals in Scotland, he thought it would be very difficult to retrieve his situation by resort to arms, and in the course of conversations he discovered that no few Scottish lords who had recently fought for him in England were peeved over the very unhappy and bloody result. And, since in his private deliberations he could devise no better plan for advancing his cause than if he entrust himself to doubtful fortune by returning to England alone to rally his friends, during the night he took one or two of his trustiest followers, disguised himself, and entered England pretending to be merchant. But Fortune showed herself no more favorable in this venture than in all his earlier dealings. For he was recognized by the border guards, placed under arrest, and brought to Edward of York as a captive.
11. It is said that the opportunity for this unrest throughout nearly all parts of Scotland was supplied, among other things, because of the insufficient harmony between those lords to whom, as I have said, the administration of the realm was originally committed. For a number of those who kept their eyes on the public good found it most intolerable that the king’s discipline and manners where being wholly destroyed by the very empty-headed flattery of certain courtiers. So these lords to whom the care of the commonwealth had been entrusted quarreled amongst themselves, and no way was offered for those lords to return to the path from which they had strayed, since everything was full of rivalries and ancient family feuds, not to mention license in manner of living. For the king’s young age was more fit for games than serious matters, had he had a natural propensity to the seductions of the pleasures, so that he inclined to those who urged him to indulge in pleasurable things, and was rather more scornful to obey his more austere advisors who gave him proper advice.
12. The man chiefly responsible for this was discovered to be one of the royal administrators, a distinguished man, Lord Boyd of Kilmarnock. For he became so swollen-headed about the great authority he exerted among the rest that, in comparison with himself, he developed a disdain for his colleagues. And so he so ingratiated himself with the king, who was prone to every manner of softness, that, to the displeasure of all the others in the court who were vested with the same authority, he swayed the not unwilling king in whatever direction he himself decided. Nor did he ever abandon this policy until, with the connivance of the king, he achieved by force of arms the thing he most greatly desired. Over the vain objections of the other administrators in the court, he made himself the king’s sole guardian and governor.
13. Beginning at this time, throughout all the provinces of the realm such universal license obtained that each man could rob, commit murder, and rape virgins with impunity. And this man, now the sole tutor (and a violent one at that), although many noblemen at court roared their disapproval, by an act no less audacious he determined to marry the king’s sister. A year later, he had by her a son, who afterwards during the reign of James IV, after he had come to maturity, engaged in a fight with certain other noblemen, received a mortal wound, and died suddenly.
14. Thus for a number of years all Scottish affairs were seditiously managed by a single bold man. But after a few years had passed and the king had grown to maturity, he took the advice of some wise men and began to govern himself as well as everything else. He summoned all the orders of the realm, so he might rely, not only on their prudence, but also, of necessity, their on arms at this particular time to restrain the insolence and monstrous crimes of many men.
15. At this same parliament, where the king allowed everyone freedom of speech to expose the initial causes of such great evils in his realm, their progress, and the men responsible for them and who continued to foster them, so as to determine if in any way a remedy could found for restoring the commonwealth to a more settled condition, from which it had departed a few years previously, a number of very distinguished devotees of justice were found who uncovered the causes of all those evils, both by speaking and by proving each thing the said, so as give the king satisfaction in full. And so, by their common consent, the thing came to the point that the chief man responsible, the man thanks to whose arrogant tyranny the republic had been cast into so many difficulties, came under attack. With the king’s approval, a decree was drawn up that the same Lord Boyd, lawfully summoning him to the king’s tribunal, to defend himself against his accusers, just as if he were a prisoner at the bar. When he refused to comply and insolently held the royal authority in contempt, and daily went around accompanied by many armed soldiers (not just to protect himself and his property, but also to inflict injury on his neighbors, as had always been his habit), he brought the king to such necessity of waging war that he could no longer extricate himself from all his evils save by assembling an army. Realizing this and seeing he was unequal to the task of resisting such great royal forces, Boyd fled to England. When the king was informed by reliable reports that the Lord Boyd had made his escape, he sent around a herald proclaiming his perpetual exile, and confiscated all his goods.
16. The Scottish annals go on to say that when the exiled Thomas Boyd discovered he could not tolerate English ways, and had no hope of being taken back into the king’s good graces, he formed the plan of taking a long sojourn abroad. So he furtively crossed the sea to Denmark, where stayed for several years. Then he left Denmark, traveled down the Rhine through Germany, and made his way to Italy, first visiting Venice, then Rome, and finally Naples. When he had had his fill of Italian cities, he went to Tuscany, where it is written he stayed for a number of years (the annals do not record where he stayed, nor when or for how long). While there, being a man devoted to venery, his eyes and mind became attracted to a certain comely woman who already had a husband. Undeterred, he never swerved from his intention until, partly by gifts, and partly by seductive wheedling, he held his beloved in his arms. Lest such a stain on his household go unavenged, the woman’s husband pretended that he was departing on a lengthy journey, so as to catch the lover in his net unawares. Nor was the husband cheated of his hope. For as soon as the lover found he was gone, he came around to the woman’s house. And while he was handling the woman more forwardly than he should, suddenly the husband he imagined to be absent sprang forth from hiding with a sword, and mercilessly killed the wanton lover, since the unlucky man had no means of escape. Such was the death of the Lord Boyd, once a cruel tyrant in his own homeland. From this it is evident that a man’s immoderate life is not only ruinous to others by its dealings, but, with God’s blessing, in a thousand ways, everywhere and at all times, is fatal to the man who lives it. But these things about Thomas Boyd are said by way of anticipation, since they occurred later, so that all the facts about this man, committed at various times, can be read and understood at a single glance. Thus what is written about him hereafter can be seen not to disagree with what is said here.
- 1466 -
17. In this year, on May 10, 1466, died James Kennedy Bishop of St. Andrews. He was buried in a fine and magnificent tomb at the College of St. Salvator, which at great expense he himself had founded and provided with an elegant fabric. He was a man of inexpressible nobility, a prudent and pious bishop, and it was thanks to his counsel and good offices that James II had broken the power of the Earl of Douglas, so dangerous to his realm, and kept the peace with England. During his lifetime he had paid for the building of three things worth recording, the College of St. Salvator itself, his marble tomb of wonderful workmanship, and a wonderfully great ship called The Barge. It is commonly thought that each of these three cost him the same amount.
18. Not long thereafter, so that consultation could be had concerning the public tranquility and so that the king’s authority might be increased to match his age now that Boyd had been driven out, those responsible for the administration of all the realm saw fit to convene a parliament of all the orders of the realm at Edinburgh’s palace, where they could enter into mature deliberation considering the marriage of the young King James. For they remembered that some years ago they had been treated to a lengthy discourse by the Sieur de Verennes, Charles of Burgundy’s ambassador to Scotland, concerning the king’s marriage, and their unanimous response had been that it did not seem advantageous for their commonwealth to enter into any agreement concerning the king’s marriage until he had grown sufficiently old to understand what marriage meant, and to have a voice in the choice of his wife. For they had greatly feared lest, when the king grew to maturity, he would disapprove of his guardians’ untimely actions concerning this matter not only at home but also abroad, and, if any agreement they had entered into with Verennes were to be broken off, this would be grounds for new wars which would be very difficult to resolve. But now a time was at hand very opportune for the great business of wisely considering the arrangement of a marriage for their king that would bring no small advantage. For they told themselves that the king was now of an age at which he was capable of deciding, if presented with a choice between two illustrious maidens, which he would rather marry. After this had been deliberated more than once, and the representatives of the individual orders there present had given prudent consideration to how future peace could be firmly maintained and the long-neglected welfare of the entire realm taken into account, they finally came to the conclusion that, first, an honorable embassy should be sent to the Duke of Burgundy, and thank him for his offer of his granddaughter, whom a few years ago the Sieur de Verennes had promised to King Henry. And, continuing in the same tenor, they should tell that prince not to think they were holding him in disdain and therefore shunning his kinship, as many princes had always done in imitation of their ancestors, and so he need not seek new foreign alliances. Rather, they were moved by considerations of the public good not to go in search of a bride, but rather to take advantage of an opportunity offered them, by entering into an arrangement with the king of Denmark: for it was by this means in particular that the hoped a satisfactory ending of their lengthy and heated war with Denmark over the Western Isles and the Orkneys to the north could finally be found. After that embassy had been wisely instructed at home, when the delegation arrived at Flanders a little later and had made its way to the Duke of Flanders, it is said that they were given a very kindly reception and hearing. The Duke is reported to have taken no small pleasure in the Scots’ very prudent counsel for the welfare of their reign, and their king’s great good will towards himself. He gave friendly leave to the ambassadors to depart, after receiving gifts from himself.
19. Meanwhile, back home at Edinburgh in that parliament of all the orders, at the king’s command a second embassy was created, to be sent to the king of Denmark. For, in addition to some sons, King Christian had a daughter of excellent beauty and endowed with very sweet manners, named Margaret, and for many reason the king of Scots asked for her hand. And so on the July 28 of the year of Man’s Redemption 1468, the men chosen for that embassy were sent to Denmark to arrange that future marriage and a lasting peace, namely Alexander Bishop of Glasgow and William Bishop of the Orkneys, Andrew Lord Annandale the Chancellor of the Realm, Master Martin Wayne, the king’s almoner and confessor, Gilbert Rerik Archdeacon of Glasgow, David Creighton of Cranston, and John Shaw of Hailes. When everything was in readiness for their voyage, the ambassadors boarded some ships well furnished with provisions and armaments, and, set sail with a gentle westerly breeze at their backs. Leaving the Scottish shore, they were happily carried to Denmark, and there, by order and command of King Christian, they were received with great estate. It chanced that at that time the Danish king was at his royal town of Copenhagen in the dioceses of Roskilde. And there, as was customary and proper in such a great affair, when the ambassadors had paid their duties to the king, they decently set for the the reasons for their arrival, which the king found most welcome. And, lest the business be dragged out for a long time, four days later they were granted admission to the Danish privy council, and the matter was discussed back and forth, wisely and carefully, for a number of days. At length, on September 8 of the same year, all the points of dispute between the two kings were resolved and it was agreed that, in accordance with the ambassadors’ request, Lady Margaret, the daughter of the Danish king, was betrothed to their King James. When the contract had duly been drawn up (it is still preserved in Scotland), not much later Margaret, by this means created Queen of Scots, was escorted to her royal husband in Scotland, escorted by no few members of the Danish nobility, right distinguished and famous gentlemen. When they all the Scottish shore, they were all received by the king, each in accordance with his dignity, with great estate and singular kindness.
20. At the time the queen was brought to Scotland, in the same fleet there came from Denmark, where he had been living at the time, the Scotsman Lord Thomas Boyd, who had been sentenced to perpetual banishment. For he entertained the hope that, thanks to this marriage, he could return to the king’s good graces. But his hope was entirely in vain. For the king’s sister, whom (as I have previously said) he had married, went to the ships from Edinburgh, and told him that the king was very ill-disposed towards him, so much so that, should he disembark, he would be risking his head. And so the terrified man remained aboard ship, and went back to Denmark as quickly as possible, taking his wife with him. And this also incurred the royal wrath, so he proscribed him along with his father Alexander, and sent ambassadors to fetch back his sister to Scotland, for being unlawfully wed to Thomas. For he regarded theirs as a strange marriage and divorced them, and later married her to the Lord Hamilton. The result of his sister’s marriage was that the Hamiltons stand next to the Stewarts in succession to the crown.
21. Not many days after the queen’s arrival in Scotland, when all the wedding-arrangements had been made, in a traditional Christian manner, at St. Giles Cathedral at Edinburgh, or, as others would have it, at Holyrood Abbey in a suburb of that same city, with the Archbishop of St. Andrews, the Primate of all Scotland, presiding, the marriage between King James III and Queen Margaret was celebrated, at a time when the king was about twenty one years of age, and the queen sixteen. Scarce any man is eloquent enough to properly describe how festive were that day and the few that followed it, not only because of their royal pomp and circumstances, or their banquets and all manner of dainties, but also their shows and entertainments.
22. The islands to the west and northwest that lie in the Irish sea, and the Orkneys lying to the north of Scotland, of which twenty-eight are nowadays inhabited, and likewise the Shetlands, which are situated a hundred miles or more beyond the Orkneys in the direction of Norway, of which eighteen have human inhabitants at this time, had for centuries been an object of dispute between the Scots and the Danish, although the Danes had physical possession. In recognition of the new marriage, King Christian of Denmark gave them to King James along with his daughter Margeret to hold in pawn until the time that he and his posterity had paid the king of Scots and his successors 15,00 Rhenish florins, a debt they have not yet discharged. Thus I myself have seen and read in the marriage-contract of Lady Margaret of Denmark and James III of Scotland, duly sealed in the year 1468 &c.
23. And afterwards, when Lady Margaret the queen had given birth to her firstborn son James, Prince of Scotland (as I shall relate in its proper place), as his way of congratulating his daughter on her fruitfulness, the king of Denmark renounced all rights to the islands in the Irish sea, namely the Orkneys and Shetlands, and the others he had put in pawn at the time of his daughter’s marriage to the king of Scots. I hear that the certificates of his renunciation are preserved in the Scottish royal archives.
24. The place to which I have come appears to require that I digress and say a few words here concerning the virtues and singular beauty of Lady Margaret the queen. For (as I read in the annals of her own nation) she was possessed of the comeliest body of the ladies of her time, and had easily the most handsome countenance. She displayed great sweetness of manners and kindness towards one and all, to the point that she could have been, and deserved to be, numbered with the illustrious women of olden times who were said to have excelled on that score. Why need I devote a lengthy speech to praising her prudence? It was so great that her example greatly restrained women throughout the realm, and especially at court, who had lived a somewhat loose and indecorous life, and inspired them to a more seemly way of living. She was so compliant to her royal husband that I could easily suppose that nothing more sweet and delightful had ever befallen a married man in any nation. She was so modestly and wisely disposed towards her nation that she could be imagined willing to fail herself in any respect whatsoever rather than be found wanting to it. Her piety towards heaven and our Lord Jesus Christ was such that she left far behind her the virgins consecrated to God secluded in convents. And as for the rest, the doings of her life and her fertility will be recounted in the course of this history, when the subject appears to call for it.
- 1471 -
25. At about this time while the things I described a little earlier were transpiring in Britain, the Earl of Warwick, who had previously sided with Edward of York, for I know not what reasons took great offense against him, defected from Edward, and adopted the clever counsel of sailing off to France. While he was there, so that such a great man’s virtue could no longer remain obscure, he was summoned to the court of King Louis XI at Amboise. Arriving there, he found King Henry’s consort Margaret, together with his young son Edward, who were there to request the aid of the French king in obtaining her husband’s release from imprisonment, and against the party of Edward of York, for the restoration of the English government, now quite overthrown. Both to bind the Scots closer to himself and to retrieve the desperate situation in England, Louis prepared a large fleet at the mouth of the river Seine, and filled it with armed soldiers. Together with the soldiers and French nobles who were being transported from France to the English war together with Warwick was the distinguished seneschal of Normandy Pierre de Breze, who became a close intimate of King Henry after his release from imprisonment. Warwick enjoyed a fair voyage to England, and was greeted by a large army full of his own followers, so that Edward of York, who had been claiming himself to be king, lost all hope of defending himself and fled to Charles Duke of Burgundy in Flanders, the husband of his sister Margaret. When Warwick learned of this from messengers, he marched straight on London, freed Henry from prison, and, with the approval of the parliament and to great universal acclaim, set him in place from which he had been violently removed by Yorkist arms, in the year of Man’s Salvation 1470.
26. In that same year, James III King of Scots, in accordance with the counsel of all the orders of his realm, sent a Scottish embassy to Pope Sixtus IV at Rome, asking him to use his great and holy authority to entirely extirpate ancient quarrels between the churchmen of England and Scotland about the choice of a single primate to preside over the Scottish bishops in his realm, so as not always have to be waiting for the responses of their present primate, the Archbishop of York, concerning the very necessary matters that arose almost daily within God’s Church. Delays were very frequently caused in their receipt because of the near-constant disturbances state of affairs in Britain caused by the wars of its two kings, so that they were often subject to unreasonable delay, not without offense to the ears of the pious. When the ambassadors came to the pope at Rome and wisely set forth the reason for their visit, they were given a warm welcome by him and all the cardinals there present. The matter was referred to the Sacred Consistory, and discussed there for several days. George Neville, Archbishop of York and primate of Scotland until that time, managed to drag the matter out by raising various objections. In the course of their consideration, they remembered how many evils the Church of Scotland had endured for the past five hundred years, while the responses of their primate were drowned out by the clash of both nations’ arms. They weighed the matter carefully and piously, and the supreme pontiff of the Church of Rome decided to give satisfaction to the king of Scots’ petition on behalf of his church. Therefore a document was drawn up for this purpose in the Consistory and approved by the pope, whereby the Church of Scotland was released from the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of York in England, in whose place was set Patrick Graham, newly created Bishop of St. Andrews, but now promoted to archbishop and primate of all the realm, lest, because of the tumults both civil and foreign which (as I have said above) frequently arose between the two nations, in their deliberations about religious matters the Scottish bishops might be said to lack their own head and primate. To this same archbishop and new primate he granted plenary indulgences for the salvation of his people and the confirmation of his new title in the Church of Scotland, and he also made the other twelve bishops of the kingdom of Scotland subject to him. But the other Scottish bishops agreed in stoutly resisting this papal decision, and promised the king the sum of eleven thousand marks if he would give them his protection against the newly-created archbishop, and sent immediately some energetic patrons to Rome to defend their cause.
27. Not long thereafter in England, a bitter war was waged against Warwick and all the others who had taken up arms on behalf of King Henry by Edward of York, who had returned from France aided by forces and ships given him by his brother-in-law Charles Duke of Burgundy. All the royal forces were defeated and all those who had fought on behalf of the king were routed. Henry, who had been freed from bondage not long before, again came into the power of Edward of York and was once more dragged off to prison. The men survived the battle scattered in all directions to save their lives. And Pierre de Breze, the aforementioned seneschal of Normandy who had joined Warwick on his expedition from France to England in aid of King Henry, after having stormed and leveled some castles which had been held by Edward’s garrisons, namely Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh, and for this reason had become a favorite of Henry, by way of a reward, thanks to that sovereign’s liberality he received the gift of the town of Alnwick, which he had previously taken. After Henry’s fatal last battle, lest he join many others in being taken prisoner by Edward of York, he retired there. For he knew full well that there was no better way to consult for his safety than to go to a place controlled by his garrison on the border of England, I mean to Alnwick in Northumbria. He did so particular for the reason that, should he fare worse in the future, he had old Scottish friends nearby on whom he could call for aid. Subsequent events showed this was no mistake. For a few months later, when King Henry’s family had been entirely overthrown and Edward of York had crowned himself king of England, lest anything remain which would offer an opportunity for sedition in King Henry’s name, he sent his forces to all parts of the realm to extirpate his remaining adversaries entirely. When this had been thoroughly accomplished, there only remained one foreigner he needed to defeat, the man who held Alnwick, given him as a gift by King henry. So Edward of York King of England, relying on his recent victory, recruited new companies to be sent under their captains to besiege Alnwick in any way they could. Those chosen by the king immediately closed in on Alnwick, and when they arrived there, they stoutly besieged the town and its castle. But a little before the siege commenced, Pierre, who occupied the castle with his garrison, had anticipated something of the kind and sent trusty messengers into Scotland to his friend the king, calling on him for help.
28. When James King of Scots learned from de Breze’s messengers that an armed band of Englishmen had come to besiege Alnwick, he regarded nothing as more important than to take a hastily-assembled force and hurry to defend his friend. There were many other reasons which could have induced King James to do this. Above all, there was the very close proximity of the place to be considered, so he may have wished not to have been found wanting to himself and his subjects on that score. For he was very afraid, if he were negligent in sending reinforcements to a friend and allies, he would not only be gravely amiss on that score, but, once de Breze had been defeated, by his idle inaction he might soon invite the English to trouble his borderland. He therefore set George Earl of Angus, a very well-tried soldier, over a choice force numbering thirteen thousand, and urged that under his leaderership they make no delay in hurrying to the relief of besieged Alnwick. Meanwhile the English, who by their spies had learned the Scots intended to reinforce their enemy, sagely exerted themselves to see if they could by any means at all, be it force or an agreement, induce de Breze to surrender the castle before their arrival. But that brave fellow, who had no doubts about his friends the Scots, and regarded the great promises of the English as thoroughly meaningless, by defending himself very strenuously managed to hold off and baffle all his adversaries’ endeavors until the Scots arrived. Then, when he saw that their allied forces had arrived and were in battle array, he gave the signal for a sally, which his followers in the garrison made so energetically that, with the help of the Scots attacking the besiegers from the rear, he removed his enemies, killing many and putting the rest to rout. Then de Breze took counsel with the Scottish commander and the other grave men there present concerning the entire matter, deliberating how, once the English strength had been repaired (as does happen), his life would not be plunged into these difficulties once more. When all the good and bad points of this business had been carefully weighted, they all inclined to the opinion that de Breze should first demolish his castle fortifications, and then take his followers and retire into Scotland. This he was not unwilling to do, and in fact fell to it with a will. And so, quickly gathering up everything necessary for his departure, he joined the Scottish forces and their commander in making the journey. After Alnwick had thus been abandoned, on the third day after beginning his march he and his companions in the garrison came to James King of Scots safe and sound. He was given a very friendly reception by the king, and was congratulated by all the noblemen of the royal court. After de Breze had very pleasantly tarried a while with the king and his old friends, he was gripped with great homesickness for France and humbly petitioned the king’s leave to depart. Out of his kindness, the king granted this, and so he prepared to go home, enriched by no mean royal gifts. After some days, having said his adieus to all his friends, he boarded a ship furnished with the necessities for a voyage and well-armed and provisioned, and on this he enjoyed a fair crossing and safely returned to his countrymen.
29. My hasty remarks about the virtues of Margaret Queen of Scots made in passing a little earlier appear to demand that here I insert a little about the manners and appearance of King James III at that age, which, perhaps, will be of no less useful a footnote to this history. For thus my readers (if any such will be found to exist) may readily gather how his marriage would have turned out to be a happy one, had not his fortune afterwards taken a turn for the worse, but had continued to correspond to its happy beginnings. King James was not only marked by an elegance of face and body, and was a strong men in comparison with the princes of his time, but he was also equipped with a lively intellect in all respects. For he had singular esteem for the value of letters and all the goodly arts, and very warmly embraced the men who excelled in them. In particular, those who had made any name for themselves in higher learning were advanced to excellent Church livings by him. And he used large stipends to encourage those more meritorious than the rest in commonplace pursuits and the mechanical arts to do yet better. Among the number of the learned was the theologian John Ireland, a Scotsman by birth who, as I shall relate below, was preeminent among the doctors of the Sorbonne at Paris. When the king first heard of him, he did not rest until he had issued him an invitation to come back to his homeland on very honorable terms. When he had returned to Scotland, it turned out that he was not only as excellent for his learning as his reputation had proclaimed: he was also very outstanding for his piety, manners, and wonderful ability to preach to a congregation. The king gave him a very kind reception and a little later bestowed a very comfortable Church living on him. Thus the excellent king honored the learned with priesthoods and other rewards as his means of spurring them on to progress in virtue and all the goodly arts. And when King Edward IV of England sent William Rogers, an outstanding English musician of the time, as part of a delegation to Scotland to negotiate for a twenty year’s truce (as I have previously described), hearing his elegant singing and adroit performance on various musical instruments, he was so delighted that, after the embassy had done its work, he kept him at his court, not unwillingly, and a little later greatly enriched him and advanced him to the honor of a knighthood. Thanks to this man, so famed in his art, many men at the Scottish court became so well-schooled in music that even many years thereafter I heard men boasting that they were products of his school, and that was in the year of our Lord 1529.
30. But when, out of his singular humanity, King James greatly desired to please all men, he indiscriminately promoted some talented but base-born men to the highest honors in his court. By doing so, he earned the great ill will of many noble lords throughout his realm, when they saw the places with the king, for which they thought themselves alone to be worthy, being usurped by obscure men. This was the principal reason why conspiracies gradually sprang up among nobility, not just to call the king back to order, but also to do away with those upstarts brought to court, who were now arrogantly regarding themselves as equals to the leading men in the land. As is recorded in the annals of Scotland, the leading role in this split was played by two of the king’s brothers. namely Alexander Duke of Albany and his youngest brother John Earl of Mar. But when these two royal brothers conducted themselves too carelessly and openly in their rash undertaking, it came about (as will be told in a somewhat different way, following the opinion of some Scotsmen, when I come to describe his death) that John Earl of Mar was furtively assassinated by certain villains. It is not clearly stated who was responsible for this deed. Because it was alleged that some of his murderers belonged to the court, no little suspicion fell on the king himself. Whatever the truth may have been, since even today there are those who do not think the king to have been innocent of his brother’s assassination, I think this must have had a more solid basis than mere slander.
31. Nevertheless, this sedition against the king that had been formed a little earlier (as I have said) seemed to be temporarily weakened by the death of the Earl of Mar, but it was not entirely extinguished. For, since the king persisted in his familiarity with those new men, the leading lords of the realm, at the instigation of Alexander Duke of Albany, began to renew their prior enterprises, such as they may have been. But the king took vigorous measures to counter this renewed evil, and first of all he ordered that the unsuspecting leader of this present sedition, the Duke of Albany, to be removed from the court and imprisoned at Edinburgh Castle, where he was kept in close confinement, ill becoming his rank, for many months. When the duke brooded over many things for a long time, and especially about the death of his brother the earl, who had seemed to be his single hope for protection, he commenced to be mortally afraid of the angry king. And so, since he was imprisoned in a high tower of the castle, he began to think about making his escape in any way he could and seeking safety in flight. This seemed a very difficult thing, and fraught with terror. For the castle itself is built atop a steep crag, so that, when you have managed to let yourself down from a high tower, you still have to make your way down a steep cliff before reaching the valley below. But the danger to his his head, which the Duke had convinced himself would be removed by his irate royal brother, made all the other difficulties seem easier. And so, after a lengthy period of planning, on a certain night he tore his bedsheet into strips which he wove into a rope, to let himself down from the tower on to the cliff. But, since he feared lest the rope was too short to let him down to the cliff-top, in the dead of night he first let down a very trustworthy young fellow who served him in his cell to learn whether the rope was adequate or whether he needed to make it longer. The lad thus let down could neither reach the cliff, nor by any device climb back up, so, after hanging from it a long time, he grew exhausted and fell down onto the rock, breaking both legs. Gasping for breath, he warned his master that he should make the rope as long as he could, and then he could successfully get down it. And so he did. Taking the seriously injured boy with him, he let managed to get down the steep face of the cliff into valley. Then he carried the boy on his shoulders to the harbor of Leith, about two miles away, and set him in a skiff readied for his departure, and, enjoying a successful voyage, took him with himself to Castle Dunbar. When he got there, he ensured that the castle be outfitted with all necessaries. Then, leaving behind a garrison to protect it, he sailed to France to escape his angry brother the king of Scots, a northwestern wind blowing at his back.
32. A little later, at the beginning of May, King James assembled an army and set siege to Castle Dunbar. At the start of the siege, three knights who had not taken shelter were killed by the single shot of a cannon, namely the Lord Luss, Sir William Shaw of Sauchie, and Craigiewallace, and John Ramsay was crushed by a stone at the castle gate. Those holding the castle, terrified at the prospect of a protracted siege, secretly deserted the garrison and made their escape by see. And the Earl of Annandale, the commander of the siege, took possession of the undefended castle.
33. At the time, France was ruled by Louis XI, who in recognition of their kinship (for while he was still Dauphin of France, he had married James II’s sister Margaret) gave the Duke of Albany a most friendly welcome when he was arrived as a refugee from Scotland. But, since this was strictly forbidden by his ancient friendship and treaties with that nation, he could not by any means be persuaded to supply him with armed assistance against his brother the king of Scotland. And yet, so that he would not seem to utterly fail to help the duke amidst such a great calamity, he arranged for him a marriage with a extremely wealthy and distinguished wife, namely the daughter of a prince of Belgian Boulogne, and this marriage occurred in the nick of time for Duke Alexander, impoverished because all his goods had been confiscated by his royal brother ,with the single exception of Dunbar Castle, which, being situated on a crag overlooking the seashore, he had left well-defended when he quit Scotland. But not much, later after the duke’s departure, when the king’s army besieged it and was abandoned by its defenders, it returned into the royal power.
- 1471 -
34. In the year of our Redemption 1471, on the tenth day of May, a son was born to King James III, who received his father’s name at his baptism, and was later called James IV (as I shall tell in its place). After receiving the crown, he was an upright and just sovereign.
- 1473 -
35. From January 17 of the year of our Lord’s Incarnation 1473 (according to the Gregorian calendar), until February 18 a strange comet appeared in the midmost sky, shooting torches of light towards the south. It was located between the North Pole and the Pleiades, and the forensic astrologers pronounced this to be a sign of a change in times and affairs.
36. The great ship built by Bishop James Kennedy at great expense commonly known as The Barge, when laden down with the bishop’s wares, suffered shipwreck on the English coast not far from Bamburgh, on March 12, 1473 as reckoned by the Gregorian calendar. Many merchants aboard her, a number of learned men, and other passengers were drowned, with the exception of a very few who were saved by the intervention of a fishing smack. One of these, the Abbot of St. Columba, was captured by a certain Englishman named James Kerr, and set freefor a ransom of eighty pounds
37. Since Dumfermlinge Abbey at present had no ruler, a synod of its monks was convened, and they elected one of themselves, Alexander Thompson, as abbot. But there was no place here for election by monks, done in accordance with their ancient discipline and the institutions of their forefathers. For King James interceded with the pope, and Henry Crichton, currently the Abbot of Paisley, was promoted to that honor. Henceforth it became customary that appointments to senior vacancies in the Church were not made save by the pope, upon the recommendation of the king. By a similar method of promotion, Robert Shaw, the rector of Minto, was created Abbot of Paisley in accordance with the king’s recommendation. This marked the beginning of promotions of secular priests to high positions in monasteries, with the very pious monastic assemblies and elections which had been observed for so many centuries, relegated to neglect. It also marked the point that the petitions of Scottish kings in matters of this kind came acquired great authority and influence in the eyes of the pope at Rome. For the confirmation of heads of religious houses, previously a right of local bishops, gradually became subject to the will and gift of the king, with the connivance of the pope. Thus the Scottish bishops were compelled by their fear of the king, supported by the Roman Curia, and dared neither to confirm men elected nor, when elected themselves, to request their confirmation in office directly from the pope. Hence monasteries founded and endowed to serve the needs of pious and religious of poor men descended into being a source of profit for a crew of elected private men, even members of the court, who lived their lives amidst delights and pleasures, not without grave injury to those foundations. At this time, pious contributions and alms ceased being put to the traditional use of supporting the poor, and were diverted to the abusive purpose of purchasing delights by the very same lawful heads of monasteries to whom the care for divine worship and supervision of these religious houses had been entrusted. Hencef many injuries and offenses were inflicted on God’s Church by laymen, I mean by laymen who, inspired by the example set by men living disgraceful lives who were promoted bishoprics, have turned their backs on pious and divine works and striven to imitate them in leading an impious life marked by every kind of turpitude.
- 1475 -
38. In the year of Christ 1475 there arose in Scotland a grave plague which raged to the point that the king, who had appointed a parliament of nobles for September, delayed the entire thing until the following Day of Epiphany. Likewise the citizens of Leith abandoned their city until the date of the parliament, as thus postponed.
- 1476 -
39. In the month of January, A. D. 1476 (as reckoned by the Gregorian calendar) an assembly of the three orders of the realm, such as they call a parliament, was convened at Edinburgh, in which John Lord of the Isles and Earl of Ross was proscribed, both for his crimes, and also for the felonies and monstrous misdeeds of his father Donald.
40. In the month of May the king assembled an army of his stoutest men on the north side of the Firth of Forth, to be led against the Lord of the Isles both by land and sea. He appointed the Earl of Crawford the admiral of his fleet, and his uncle the Earl of Athol the commander of his land forces. But while these arrangements were being made, by the effort of the Earl of Athol it was brought about that the Lord of the Isles surrendered himself and all that he owned to the king, albeit with some stipulation. .For this reason the king bestowed on the Earl of Athol the lands and forests of Cluny. Afterwards the same Lord of the Islands came to the parliament at Edinburgh, and there he submitted himself and all that he owned to the king’s pleasure. He also renounced the claim to the earldom of Ross that he had previously claimed, which the king added to his own royal patrimony in perpetuity. But he conceded the districts of Knapdale and Cantyre to the same John, forgave him all his previous misdeeds, and permitted him to continue styling himself Lord of the Isles, so that when the parliament was dissolved he went home no less the Lord of the Isles than he had been before.
- 1478 -
40. Legates were sent to Scotland by Pope Sixtus IV to lay charges against Patrick Graham Archbishop of St. Andrews, whom the pope and cardinals later voted to condemn and deprive of all his dignity and holy orders and eject from his bishopric as being a simoniac, a schismatic, a heretic, and an excommunicate, and sentenced him to perpetual imprisonment. This was done, and in his room was substituted William Scheves Archdeacon of St. Andrews, to whose care was commited the same Patrick, so he might supervise his confinement. He was first taken to Inchcolm, then Dumfermline Abbey, and finally Loch Leven Castle, where he died. He was buried on St. Serf's Inch.
- 1479 -
41. A little after Lent, William Scheves was inauguarated as Archbishop of St. Andrews at Holyrood, in the presence of the king and many of his lords, where he received the pall of his office and was confirmed as primate and papal legate of the realm, notwithstanding the fact that Patrick Graham had previously been elected to that position by the other bishops.
- 1480 -
42. The aforementioned Doctor Ireland, a Scotsman birth and a Candidate of Theology and professor of that subject, was sent as an ambassador of the French king to urge the king to wage war against the English. He did so because he was afraid that the king of England would take the part of the duke of Burgundy against the French. In the same embassy, in addition to everything else, he greatly pressed the king to take the Duke of Albany back into his good graces. But a little later, having received an unfavorable response, he went back to France.
43. As those who were present have informed me in their memoranda, the king’s younger brother the Earl of Mar, whose name was John Stewart (whom I have mentioned above) was arrested during the night in December 1480 and brought to Craigmillar Castle, and held captive there by royal command. He was subsequently convicted of a conspiracy against the king, which he sought to accomplish by magical arts. He opened a vein and bled to death in the house of the Augustanian canons near Edinburgh. Then a number of men and women fell under suspicion of practicing magic, were later convicted of that accusation, and burned at Edinburgh.
44. The king of Scots sent ambassadors to King Edward of England requesting the hand of his daughter Cecily for his firstborn son James. King Edward gladly consented that he might marry her when he came of age. In anticipation of this marriage, Edward lent the king of Scots a certain sum of money, which was subsequently repaid to him.
45. The aforesaid Doctor Ireland was sent again to Scotland by the king of France with two companions, one a knight and the other a cleric, to persuade the king to declare war on King Edward of England. By his many arguments, at length he convinced the king and his lords that their peace treaty between with England should be broken. For this reason Thomas Spens Bishop of Aberdeen, a favorite of King Edward, who throughout his life had been devoted to maintaining the peace between the French, the English, and Burgundy, hearing that the peace had been violated, died of grief and chagrin at Edinburgh in the month of April.
- 1481 -
46. The king of Scots sent a pair of heralds to request King Edward not to agree to help the Burgundians or anyone else against the French: otherwise he would not fail to side with the French, to whom he had been joined in an alliance of many years’ standing. Edward denied the heralds an audience and detained them in England for a little while, until he had sent a great fleet into the Firth of Forth. After that, the heralds were sent back to Scotland. The fleet attacked all the shipping in the Firth, capturing eight of the best and taking them back to England along with itself. Since it was debarred from the entire coast of Scotland, it took the single town of Blackness, firing it and a cargo ship which chanced to be harbored there.
47. Furthermore, the king of Scots assembled a large army from all quarters of his kingdom together with the Lord of the Islands, who also brought along a large force. When he was now on the point of invading England, an English messenger came to him from a certain cardinal, a papal legate who chanced to be staying in England. By his apostolic authority, he commanded the king of Scots to desist from his planned war, so that peace might be made between Christian sovereigns everywhere, and they might create a combined army to lead against the Turks and infidels. The king of Scots obeyed him and sent his army back to Scotland. Nevertheless the English king sent another fleet to Leith, to see if he could harm the Scots. But they were prevented from making any landing because the Scots warded them off everywhere, and they went home having accomplished nothing.
48. And so the Scots of the borderland invaded England, ravaged its fields, sacked its cities, and gained much plunder. Then they returned to Scotland, having taken many captives. blue
- 1482 -
49. For the entire winter, the king of England attacked Berwick by land and sea, and pulled down its newly-built wall. But he failed to take the city, because the Scotsmen within stoutly defended themselves against the English.
50. After the passage of a few years (as some who were living then have told me), provoked by letters secretly sent by the Duke of Albany, the Scottish nobility once again took up arms in order to knock those obscure men who lorded it at court of their perch. Now that his French wife had died and he saw that he was being kept under less close observation than before, he went from France to King Edward IV in England. Being given a warm reception by him, he imparted much information about the newly-arisen dissension in Scotland between the king and his lords, and did his best to urge the English king, who was already casting about for an opportunity to wage war against the Scots, to take up arms. This he readily obtained from Edward, with the agreement of his lords, not so much to gratify the Scottish duke on this score, as because thus he could wrest Berwick from Scottish control with less difficulty. And so, when Edward had assembled great forces of armed men and set excellent commanders over them, namely King Edward’s brother Richard Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of Albany, Henry Earl of Northumberland, Thomas Stanley, and no few others, he sent them straight against Scotland. Nor, when he learned that the English were preparing for war, was the king of Scots behindhand in recruiting an army from all parts of Scotland, to offer brave opposition to the English when they arrived and to protect himself and his borders. And this thing would have gone well for him, had he ejected those obscure fellows from his court, who for some time had been the source of trouble between himself and his nobles, and effected a reconciliation with them. But since the king of Scots mulishly refused to do this, a goodly part of the nobility and their followers defected from the king, and refused to bear arms against the English at that time. The result was that the Scots suffered a great reversal then, losing the fortress town of Berwick to the east and the island of Man, once the very notorious home of the Druids, also a great bulwark for the kingdom of Scotland.
51. The lords who had defected from their king James III, who easily had the advantage over those whom the king had managed to keep loyal to himself when it came to numbers and strength, marched through the night, and at dawn they all met at the town of Lauder, where the king and a few of his familiars had been staying for some days. Their names were Archibald Earl of Angus, George and John Huntly, the one Earl of Lennox and the other Earl of Buchan, Andrew Gray, Robert de Lyle, the so-called milords, and a number of other illustrious nobles. The sudden and unexpected arrival of these men greatly disturbed not only the townsmen, but also the king and his courtiers (as sudden popular commotions are want to do), as each of them placed the worst possible interpretation on this development. The aristocratic leaders of the movement quickly dispelled any lingering doubt from the kings mind, by sending a delegation to him who candidly stated the reasons why nearly all the Scottish nobility had refused to fight the English, and promised in the names of them all that they would be obedient to all royal commands, but only if at this very moment he would not oppose two honorable requests of the nobility. The first and and foremost was that he must withdraw from circulation the copper coinage that he had been obliged to mint a little earlier, and do so in a way that would cause no loss for those who, in accordance with his command, had hitherto used it in their dealings. For the use of this money was very inconvenient for his subjects to use among themselves, and entirely useless for exchange and commerce, since a rumor had spread abroad that it would soon be withdrawn from circulation by royal decree, in contravention of the statute when it was originally introduced. This would be the ruin of many, who had agreed to accept it as payment for many contracts. And for this reason many who dealt in grain and other necessities of life refused to accept it as payment, lest they sell their goods in exchange for money soon to be useless for themselves and their families. This was the reason that throughout all parts of the kingdom the cost of living was higher than ever before. For throughout the kingdom a pitiful spectacle was presented by the great number who lacked better money to purchase what they needed to support themselves, and so were obliged to quit this life by starvation.
52. Their other demand was that the men whom he had raised from humble obscurity, the men by whose arrogance and pride the king’s brother the Earl of Mar might appear to have been brutally murdered, the Duke of Albany disgracefully ejected from the kingdom, and a number of innocent noblewomen piteously burned on the false charge of witchcraft, must be handed over to the entire nobility so that each one could suffer punishment for his crimes according to his individual deserts. Receiving this delegation of his noble adversaries, the king by no means dissimulated, but rather blazed up in anger, so much so that, if he had had it in mind to do anything concerning these matters with moderation, he wholly discarded the idea. For it struck him as entirely iniquitous and beneath his dignity, if at this time he obliged these lords of the realm when they were insulting him and demanding entirely unlawful things, just as if he had entirely despaired of his cause. And it would surely set a bad example for posterity, if those who most of all owed their sworn loyalty to their sovereign should, at a time when they should rather be defending their nation against an enemy who was at the door, for trifling causes they should not be ashamed to enter into the more than rash enterprise of taking up arms against their prince. For what good man could approve of this insolence of subjects who did not shrink from disturbing the public peace whenever they wished and for any old pretext, and indeed from madly proscribing harsh laws concerning how their king should live in his own court? As I have learned from men who witnessed these events, this struck the king as so unwelcome that he forthwith abandoned a scheme he had had in mind for withdrawing that copper coinage in ways calculated to harm the public as little as possible, and indeed, in view of the unworthy enterprise undertaken against himself, he abandoned all his projects.
53. Dismissed by the king, the representatives quickly returned to the lords and in grave tones (as I have heard from my elders) they reported what they had been told by their very irate sovereign, adding or subtracting nothing. Hearing these things, all the lords started to exclaim, as they reflected that what they had done would remain buried deep in the king’s mind and earn each of them a severe punishment when the occasion arose. So they swiftly formed a new plan of taking up arms and without delay bringing to conclusion what they had so inauspiciously begun. For they thought they could bring over the king to their way of thinking by their threats and intimidation, and henceforth hold him to his duty as they saw fit. So they seized their weapons and in a confused and disorganized way burst into the king’s household in any way they could. They violently smashed down all its barred doors and boldly rushed into its inner rooms and apartments. Therefore they violently seized the quaking upstarts and a number of the king’s familiars, bundled them outside, and immediately, without holding any trial, hanged them all, innocent and guilty alike. The first of these was Robert Cochrane, a stonemason of note and hence beloved to the king, who transformed him from a craftsman into the Earl of Mar, William Torphichen, a fencing-master, James Hommel, a tailor, some man named Leonard, a skilled blacksmith, and some others who busined themselves in that art. Included in their number, as I have heard, were two innocent men, the nobleman Thomas Preston and William Rogers, the very rare musician who, as I have written above, not long ago came to Scotland with the ambassadors of King Edward IV of England. Together with them was John Ramsay, a lad of eighteen years, easily the dearest of King James’s familiars, who could trace his origin to a noble Scottish family. He clung to the king’s side so tightly that he could not be wrenched away without harm to the king. It is said that the king pleaded for his life, and so that he was the only one to escape hanging. Then the king himself was restrained, as if by the hands of custodians, and brought to Edinburgh, where he was obliged to keep himself for a while by the band of conspirators, with the Earl of Athol made governor of the castle.
54. Meanwhile the English, who had been striving with their entire army to bring about the restoration of the Duke of Albany, heard of the reversal the king of Scots had suffered at the hands of his nobility, and they thought that in any event it would be advantageous to besiege Berwick. For their part, patriotic Scotsmen managed to scrape some companies together to form the semblance of an army. But when it became thoroughly clear that that they were quite unequal to the task they had undertaken, the decided that they must deal with the English about peace, for the good of the entire realm.
55. Thus on the second of August they sent a delegation to the Dukes of Gloucester and Albany, namely the Archbishop of St. Andrews, the Bishop of Dunkeld, Colin Earl of Argyll, and Andrew Stewart Baron Avondale the Chancellor of Scotland, who arranged a peace with them on certain conditions. They achieved a reconciliation with the Duke of Albany, on whom they bestowed Dunbar Castle and the earldoms of Mar and Merch, and appointed him Lieutenant-General of Scotland. Moreover, the city of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, was obliged to pay back money which the king of Scots had borrowed from King Edward when hope for existed for a marriage with the king’s daughter Cecily, as I have described above.
56. Inside the town of Berwick, besieged by the English, was the commander of the garrison, the Scotsman Patrick Hepburne Lord Hailes, a very doughty man, who omitted none of those things requisite for offering a defense. But, since he was hard-pressed by the English on all sides, and, since the Scots were at odds with each other, saw no hope of receiving any relief of the siege from his king, kept all but a prisoner at Edinburgh Castle, he arranged a surrender of the town while he was still conveniently able, on terms that he and the men of the garrison could depart in safety. Thus Scottish control over Berwick, which we read in old writers to have so often been an object of contention, and which twenty years previously (I mean in the year 1461) had been ceded to its rightful master by the kindness of the refugee King Henry VI of England, came once more into the hands of the English, thanks to the quarrel of the Scottish lords with their king, on August 24, 1482.
57. Having received the surrender of Berwick, the English commanders took their soldiers and escorted the Duke of Albany on his way to Edinburgh, passing through villages and hamlets without doing any mischief. While on the march, whenever they took anything for their use, they would generously and politely pay those from whom they took it. This can be seen to have been done on purpose, as in this way they could increasingly win over the fierce Scots to the Duke of Albany, and he might be promoted to royal dignity having on that score won the favor of all the orders of Scotland, after his brother the king had been deposed. And so with no difficulty the Duke of Albany, surrounded by so many of his own followers and the English army, entered the royal city of Scotland in arms, with no man opposing him. And a little later, when many Scotsmen came a-flocking to him, with whom he expended many words explaining his situation as quickly as possible, he dismissed the English army, and helped them return home by giving them a generous supply of provisions.
58. While the king was pent up in custody in Edinburgh Castle, (as I have described above), the kingdom of Scotland was administrated by the Duke of Albany, Andrew Stewart Lord Avondale, the Chancellor of Scotland, and other illustrious men.
59. After these things, when the Duke of Albany vehemently urged the Scottish lords to that which he most desired to obtain, and made no headway in this respect even by offering them great promises, he turned to new ways which would have been particularly salutary for himself and the commonwealth, had he persevered.
60. A few days later, this same Duke of Albany, together with the Archbishop of St. Andrews, the Chancellor of the realm, the Earl of Argyll, and others, went to Sterling to pay a visit to the queen and her son, the prince of the realm. After the duke had spoken much about the proper rearing of the prince and consulted with the queen, he went back to Edinburgh. Arriving there, he looked into every detail pertaining to what he had in mind to do. And so, having readied new forces of soldiers, he besieged and took the castle, ejected the Earl of Athol, freed the king, as well as all his servants who had been cruelly imprisoned there. When the Earl of Argyll, the Archbishop of St. Andrews, the Chancellor and all the others heard of this, they were panic-stricken and each one fled to his own estates. For this same reason, at the request of the king himself and the Duke of Albany was induced to resign his place in favor of Andrew Stewart Provost of Lincluden and henceforth rest content with the see of Moray. The Duke of Albany was so favorably regarded by the king because he realized that he had been freed by his kindness, so that henceforth they very frequently shared the same bedroom and dining table.
61. But this close friendship and sudden reconciliation did not long remain intact. For, since the duke was becoming daily more popular with the nobility, no few men of the leading nobility gathered around him, as if holding the king in contempt. This made the king more and more suspicious that he was aiming at the kingship, a feeling that greatly increased when he silently thought overrecent history. And there was no lack of courtiers who, as if they were adding wood to a stove, made many sinister insinuations about the Duke of Albany’s character and intentions. They kept urging that, if the king had a due care for himself and his majesty, he would by no means allow the man to stay long in Scotland. For they predicted that what the duke could not accomplish with the help of an English army, he could achieve with next to no effort by winning many of the Scottish nobility over to his side. The king was deeply disturbed by his courtiers’ remarks of this kind, and began to think what might be done about the duke. And since he could not hit on a satisfactory solution for such an important problem, he discussed it with those men he most greatly trusted. But when these consultations dragged out, and various advisors suggested different policies, the duke was secretly informed about all these things, quit Scotland, and sailed back to France. Before leaving, however, he handed over his Dunbar Castle to the king of England, as a device for retaining his loyalty and enduring friendship, so that someday, with his support, he might continue and even bring to completion his old projects. But all of these thoughts were in vain. For by no means could King Louis XI of France ever be induced to take up arms on behalf of his kinsman the duke against his royal brother. Quite to the contrary, at this time as a gift he furnished the king of Scots with cannon and much other weaponry of that kind for use in defending himself against his adversaries.
62. At this time the greater and powerful part of the Scottish nobility greatly supported the king, particularly because he and his excellent Danish wife Lady Margaret had produced three sons, James, Alexander, and John, boys of right royal character. Among these the most excellent was James, who later reigned as James IV King of Scots. Their high opinion of his manners and fine character won him nearly all men’s affections, noble and ignoble alike.
63. In the year of Christ’s Birth 1483 much thievery, robbery, and murder prevailed in various quarters of the realm. The principal cause of all these things was the civil discord between the king and his lords.
64. When the Duke of Albany was being entertained at the French court of King Louis in a style befitting his rank, and could see no way whereby it would be possible to achieve his erstwhile intentions about Scottish affair, since French help had twice been refused him, he began to comport himself somewhat more moderately than before. And so, having rejected any military solution (or at least feigning that and putting it off until a more opportune time), he began to adopt a polite French manner. In his conversations with King Louis and other leading men at court, he very spoke of Fortune’s variable nature and inconstancy. And daily he showed himself as amiable and agreeable towards all those with whom he existed on friendly terms. He often joined the king at the hunt, an art in which he was very expert, and he conducted himself so adroitly that he won great praise from everyone at court. And he far surpassed everyone else in feats of arms, whether he was riding up and down and wheeling horse while wearing full armor, or tilting with a lance. Thus for his singular virtue he was beloved to one and all, and especially to the king. But since nothing on this earth can be found that is happy in all respects, not long thereafter, in a tournament staged by the king at Paris in which the Duke of Albany and many others participated, he was wounded in the eye when his opponent’s lance shattered and a splinter pierced his helm, with the result that this combat brought about his sudden death. He left behind two sons, namely Alexander, born in Scotland by his first wife, the daughter of the Earl of Orkney, who subsequently became Bishop of Moray and Abbot of Scone in the same kingdom, and John Duke of Albany, born in France by his second wife, belonging to a family of Belgian Boulogne, whose excellent and vigorous deeds will be recorded in their properp lace. So such was the death of Alexander Stewart first Duke of Albany, the brother of King James III, after he had undergone countless adventures in times of both peace and war. He was buried among the Celestine monks at Paris, together with other great men in a common grave in front of the high altar. No inscription remains for posterity.
65. With the Duke of Albany thus dead, everything in Scotland became much more peaceful than before. For those lords who had abducted the captive king from the town of Lauder, having killed his familiars, were now fearing for their lives and had slunk away, each to his own hiding-hole, and were waiting there until they were offered some fit occasion for regaining the king’s favor, so that they could return without any danger. And, although the king feigned forgetfulness of all deeds that had been committed against himself anywhere and at any time, those who had offended against nevertheless did not dare trust him. This was a quarrel that subsequently brought great evil down on the entire realm, and (as often happens), from a small rupture there arose domestic dissensions, which daily accumulated strength both openly and secretly, soon destined to erupt to the great damage of all the realm.
66. And at this same time certain new barons were created to increase the size of their parliament, namely the Barons of Hume, Torphichen, Oliphant, Drummond, so-calle milords.
In that same year the king sent the Archbishop of St. Andrews to Rome to request certain privileges. These he was given.
67. At this time the nobleman John Ramsay held sway at court, he who in the previous sedition at the town of Lauder had been rescued by the king’s entreaties from being shamefully dragged to his doom in the company with other half-obscure courtiers. For now he was so dear to the king that nearly everything in the royal court of Scotland was done at his pleasure. For he had been enhanced by the king a little earlier, being given the earldom of Bothwell, and seemed to have become displeasingly insolent among the rest of the nobility and men of distinction, and it was forecast that this would bring down great evil on the kingdom. So this Ramsay was the master of the royal household, and Fortune was smiling on him. He was chosen by James III to head a delegation to King Edward IV of England to renew the peace, which for some time had been disrupted thanks to internal seditions in both kingdoms. Edward, furthermore, had a daughter of marriageable age named Cecily (I have already said a little about her before), whom King James wished to have bestowed in in marriage on his first born son, so that int his way, with the protracted evils on both sides now resolved, their peace might be cemented the better. Many noblemen served as Ramsay’s colleagues on this delegation, of whom the most conspicuous was the illustrious John Kennedy Earl of Cassilis.
68. I have heard from my elders that this was assuredly not displeasing to King Edward. He immediately convened his privy council and easily persuaded them all that he should betroth his daughter to the future King James IV. But while the marriage-contract was being drawn up, as had been promptly commanded, an entirely unexpected fight arose between Kings Louis XI of France and Edward IV of England, although I do not know who provoked it. When King Louis had notified James III of this by a secret message, he easily obtained that the intended marriage of his son with King Edward’s second daughter Cecily be broken off, just as he himself had cancelled the projected marriage of his son Charles the Dauphin with Edward’s eldest daughter Elizabeth. And certainly this would be no trifling reason if he were to recoil from the English king so that he might dutifully be of aid to the war-endangered king of France in any way he could, since King James was deeply indebted to the French, not only for the ancient and perpetual treaties entered into by his ancestors, but also for the favor King Louis had recently shown him.
69. With the overtures of the Scottish delegation in England thus terminated in order to gratify Louis XI, the men living on both sides of the borderland took arms and made mutual forays back and forth. And Richard III, who had violently seized power in England by murdering his nephews, in order not to have trouble created for him by these new disorganized commotions of his borderers, sent an embassy to the pope at Rome, humbly beseeching him to use his authority to restrain the king of Scots from harming himself and his subjects.
70. Wishing to give satisfaction to the English, in the year of Christ’s Birth 1484 chose Bishop Jacopo of Imola as his legate, who was to go to Britain and settle the quarrel between its two kings, namely Richard of England and James of Scotland. And, after commissioners of both nations had been given a hearing at the English city of Nottingham, thanks to the wisdom and moderation of the papal legate, this was accomplished.
71. But Scotland’s peace with King Richard of England was not enduring. For when Henry Earl of Richmond, who had been living as an exile in France for about fifteen years, was called back to his homeland by the lords of the realm who could not tolerate Richard’s tyranny. On August 1, accom[amoed by a company of Frenchmen, he set sail from the mouth of the Seine, and seven days landed at the Welsh port of Milfort. The leader of that French company fighting for Henry was the very energetic and illustrious Scotsman Bernard Stewart.
72. On about August 22, Henry and his commanders engaged King Richard’s very numerous forces with their small band noir Leicester and killed Richard, when he had been deserted by his own followers. On November 1 of that same year he assumed the royal crown at Westminster, to everybody’s applause.
73. Having gained control of England under the name of Henry VII, since he had been oppressed by evils since his early youth and served as Fortune’s plaything, Henry hoped for nothing other than henceforth to live at peace. And so at Newcastle, where he then was, he took the lead in sending an embassy to King James in Scotland., consisting of Richard Fox Bishop of Exeter and Sir Richard Edgecombe. His charge to the embassy was that they were to deal for a truce of many years: for Henry placed great value on enjoying peace with his royal neighbor, so that he could more easily put down those attempting to form conspiracies throughout England. The ambassadors were given a very warm reception by King James, who had privately greatly favored Henry, although this ran counter to the wish of his Scottish subjects, who by their very nature greatly hated England. So he requested the ambassadors to go away content with a seven years’ truce, promising them that this peace would in fact be a perpetual once, since it would be continually renewed for the same number of years. James did so because he was not unaware of his unpopularity at home, so his subjects would find any peace he had contracted to be intolerable. They returned to their King Henry and explained the situation to him. He was delighted that they had dealt so prudently with the Scottish king, and confirmed the arrangement by his own authority.
74. Having thus made truces, first with King Richard III and then with King Henry VII, James King of Scots slipped back into his old ways. For he excluded nearly all the members of the higher nobility and placed lowborn upstarts in charge of managing his affairs, while plunging himself into dishonorable pleasures. He also devoted a great deal of attention to reforming his money, which aroused great hatred against him, not only of the nobility, but of the common people as well. For this reason, seditious assemblies were held at many places, and all over the kingdom noblemen went around with large armed escorts. When Ramsay (who had lately returned from England after his failed embassy) became aware of this, he began a great deal of private thinking about it. Fearing lest arms be used to the endangerment of the king, and of himself as well, he urged King James issue an edict forbidding any man except himself to carry a weapon at court. Since nobody objected, he obtained this from the king.
75. But that measure failed so greatly to suppress the nascent seditions and upheavals, that the disease which he fancied he could cure in that way daily worsened. For since Ramsay went about with a numerous bodyguard and made an arrogant display of himself in public, striving to cow those went about armed with his threats and imprisonment, cast the commonwealth into so many difficulties involving weaponry that it appeared there was no more hope for the realm in any quarter, since so many grandees of the nobility (namely the Earls of Angus, Argyll, Lennox, and likewise the Barons Hailes, Hume, Drummond, Lisle, and Gray, and many others as well) took Ramsay’s great self-importance very much amiss.
76. For they were mindful of the violence they had recently offered the king at Lauder, and fearful lest the evils of that occasion come back to haunt them and fall on their necks, they agreed to commit a great crime, and entrust to Fortune their all risking their wealth, their dependents, and their very lives, if need must be.
77. When the members of the nobility, who for the most part had long nursed a grudge against the king, deliberated about this difficult and very dangerous matter for a long time, they found no more advantageous way of achieving it with honor than to provide the king with a lieutenant for the management of his government, who, even against the king’s will, might very firmly put an end to the strivings of certain courtiers whom the king had raised from low-down obscurity, and above all to Ramsay’s pride. But at this point they were confronted with the sensitive business of choosing one man out of the great number of the nobility who could achieve this most adroitly, who must not only be an intelligent man of action, but also equally acceptable to them all and a man of proven trustworthiness. For we often see that, when it comes to such an important position in a commonwealth, no man is happy to see anyone else given preference over himself. And, although they agreed well enough about everything else, this happened to them too. So, since they did not fare well in this, they unanimously agreed to cast their votes for the king’s son James, he who afterwards reigned as James IV.
78. But here too they were obliged to struggle for a long time about the way in which they might be able to win over the king’s son without any objection from his custodians. For Prince James was of an age which did not easily comprehend counsels about such important matters. Rather, because of the kindliness of his nature, if he were to be solicited with depraved and criminal counsels and managed to pass clear judgment on them, he would above all come down on the side of his most excellent father, rather than that of the conspirators. Therefore, since the conspiratorial gang saw that they would be attempting this thing in vain unless they could find a man among his guardians who could seduce him with fair words and golden promises and deliver him into their power, they fixed their attention on this. So certain men were secretly introduced most fit for accomplishing this business, and have no idea of the the means they used or the considerations they advanced to induce those to whose the care his father had entrusted him several years previously to go astray from their loyalty, but in any event it came about that his treacherous guardians managed to bring over Prince James from his father’s party to that of his adversaries. When this was reported to the king, the court was thrown into such confusion that those who lived with the king had no idea what counsel to take amidst these great impending evils.
79. The king gathered no small band of men, and silently asked himself what he should do first. He finally decided to try all courses before deciding the matter with war. And so he immediately sent a message to his son and the lords of the realm who sided with him, to see if by any means he could negotiate with them about resolving the war and establishing peace. He also sent representatives to Kings Charles of VIII of France and Henry VII of England, and at the time to Pope Innocent VIII, asking them to send representatives to Scotland to arrange a peace between himself and his subjects. For he was in high hopes that in this way the odium that his adversaries had conceived for himself thanks to the bad advice of certain men might be abated somewhat, especially if those pious and great princes were interceding. Nevertheless the hate with which his adversaries had for him was so deeply rooted that it could by no means be eradicated. The response given his representatives was that, if he would agree to abdicate his throne and hand it over to his son, they were willing to deal with him for peace and concord; otherwise, he should not entertain any hope. The same answer was received by the ambassadors sent by the kings of France and England, a fact which the kings regarded as an insult to them both, setting an impious, ruinous, and entirely intolerable example, that it should be permitted for subjects to lay hands on their sovereign and chase him off his throne at their whim.
80. Eventually some men around the king thought that, since he was under attack by the conspirators, it would be expedient for him to withdraw himself until some more opportune time, and retire to another part of the realm more friendly to himself. And, having no better plan, the king was not reluctant to do this. Therefore he abandoned the southern part of the kingdom, which was all but entirely against him and up in arms in support of the conspiracy, and went to the north country. There he received a very warm welcome from his subjects and immediately started thinking of enlisting a new army with which he could reduce the seditious rebels, willy nilly. For he feared that, if he let this business drag on by being too negligent in making his plans, the result would be that his adversaries, who had deceitfully drawn his firstborn son into their camp, would gradually be strengthened by the daily accession of new men joining their standards, so that he would be deposed from his royal dignity and they, together with his son, would irreparably cement their position.
81. But before quitting these parts for the north country, he left nothing undone which he thought might be useful for defending his cause. At that time the Earl of Douglas was imprisoned at Londores Abbey, whom the king had condemned to perpetual confinement, after confiscating all his goods, for his many misdeeds. He sent him a messenger to say, if he were willing to join himself in fighting the rebels, he would quickly use his great authority to rehabilitate him, and return not only the goods of Fortune which he had all lost by public sentence, but also each and every one of the honors and dignities he had previously enjoyed. Hearing out the royal messenger, he is said to have replied in this way, that he could not conveniently do as the king requested, because he was unfledged and lacked all resources with which he could perform any such service. He added that he was so broken by his previous subjects and decrepit with old age that he could not see how he could be of any user in a war. Some report that nobleman’s response otherwise, but this strikes me as more probable.
82. The king’s party was joined by illustrious noblemen who ruled far and wide in the north of Scotland. For they swiftly gathered their followers, and when they had assembled about forty thousand fighting men, they followed behind the king. His leading adherents were the Earls of Huntly, Errol, Athol, Crawford, Rothes, Sutherland, Caithness, and Mar, as well as barons of great note, Forbes, Ogilvie, Grant, Fraser, and many others who were of lesser importance but still noble. An army was thus mustered in this way for the king’s defense, and after collecting all the things necessary for an expedition, a few days later they took to the road, hastened on by I know not what Fates. The king with a few followers went towards Sterling a two days’ march in front of them. For he imagined his adversaries would fall back and melt away to their individual homes when first they heard of his arrival, especially because a very well equipped army of northerners was following behind him for his defense. So the king encamped at the village of Bannockburn, not far from Sterling town, waiting for them to arrive. But his adversaries, not desiring to be found wanting to their cause, armed themselves before the king’s reinforcements could come up and marched to confront him in battle array. There was no lack of good men who interposed between the two sides and tried to make a good and fair settlement to the quarrels, arisen from obscure beginnings, which had flared up so greatly between the king and his lords.
83. But when these peacemakers’ negotiations dragged on with no visible hope of success, and the king’s adversaries, protecting themselves by breaking off discussions before the arrival of the northern companies, attacked their king’s army with might and main. The king himself wore armor and the royal surcoat, and showed himself on horseback to encourage his men and strike fear into his adversaries. But since many men’s minds were enflamed, his display of royal majesty was of no avail in preventing both sides from colliding with equal bravery, albeit not with equal success. Trumpet calls first roused the soldiers’ spirits. Then, in the traditional Scottish way, the battle was begun by the archers. Since these were numerous, their arrows fell on the clustered men as thick as autumn nail, and many fell. When their supply of arrows ran out, both horse and foot contended furiously with their very long spears, then they drew their great swords and fought most bitterly at close quarters. For, although those defending their king were few in numbers, relying on the righteousness of their cause, they did not fail to put up a spirited fight. On the other side, their adversaries, contending for their lives and fortunes, stood in the forefront so stubbornly and unbendingly that they did not abandon their places save when they quit life itself. While the battle thus continued with much bloodshed, the captains of his royal companies humbly urged King James to save himself by sudden flight and preserve himself safe and sound for a better fortune. And this he did not fail to do, spurring the swift horse upon which he rode. But this attempt, although made in the nick of time, did not answer to the wishes of those good men, as King James was unluckily cut down. In the face of this change of fortune and deplorable situation, those illustrious noblemen who had joined battle for their king’s sake either melted away in various directions or stood fast and put up a brave fight, and nearly all of these were overwhelmed and slain. As I have heard, the principal ones of these were some men of the south who had always stood by their king, namely the Earl of Glencairn of Kilmaurs, the so-called milords Semphill, Erskine, Ruthven, and a number of other strenuous noblemen.
84. Some men relate that before the battle the king’s son the prince, who fought with his adversaries, issued an edict forbidding any man to lay violent hands on his father, so that he was not killed during the battle, but at a nearby place after he had left the camp and started to flee.
85. The story goes tha,t when some of the conspirators who fought against him observed the king to be leaving the field of battle, they spurred their horses and gave chase to the fugitive. When the king realized that his horse was exhausted and that he could no longer elude his pursuers’ clutches, to avoid immediate capture he sent the horse away and, running through an abandoned village, entered into an empty mill with the idea of remaining there until he could flee further under cover of darkness, and then find his way to safety. But he was discovered by his pursuers a little later, after they had found his horse and diligently scrutinized all the possible places of concealment the village had to offer, and was cruelly and criminally cut down without any reverence for his royal dignity. As I have often heard from my elders, there was no lack of men among his pursuers who wanted him to be spared, but they were terrified lest someday he, offended at their mutiny, might inflict very harsh punishment on the conspirators, and so thought it greatly to their advantage that the memory of all their past evildoing be forgotten when the king was dead. Thus it is said that James III King of Scots, a man who deserved a better fortune, died at the hands of those brutal and enraged rebels, whose names are not given. Had he put off the fight until the next day, on which the northern forces would have come up to his support, he would not have died in battle with equal misfortune, or perhaps the quarrel between himself and the lords of his realm, begun not long before, could have been resolved in a good and equitable way. But thus we find it to be the case in human affairs that men attempt many endeavors with rash hopes, all of which very often take a turn for the worse in a brief moment. Thus they act most wisely who do not allow themselves to become enmeshed in such difficulties, by first exercising good counsel in weighing impending evils with sound judgment, so as not idly, not to say imprudently to expose their commonwealth, by which I mean the shared security of the many peoples entrusted to themselves, to mutable Fortune.
86. On the day on which James III died in this defeat, his son Prince James, henceforth called James IV King of Scots, was (as I have recounted) tricked into siding with those who had taken up impious arms against his father. Hearing of the king’s death, he immediately erupted in tears and very sad lamentations. For, insomuch as his young mind was capable of forming judgments (for he was still in his fourteenth year), he thought that those who had laid violent hands on his best of fathers and had killed their king had dared commit a great felony. But what was he do do, who had been handed over by his guardians into the power of his enemies and was obliged to dissimulate many things, lest he endanger his own life along with that of his dearly beloved father? James III was killed in the year of the Virgin Birth 1488, in the course of the twenty-eighth of his reign. The day of the battle was St. Barnaby’s day, by which I mean June 11, at a time when Pope Innocent VIII was governing God’s Church, Charles VIII was ruling France, and in England Henry VII held sway in England. Meanwhile the king’s bloodless body (a sad and lamentable sight, to be sure) was left lying for a while as a spectacle for all to see. Afterwards, with the consent of the victors, it was brought in loyal estate to Cambuskenneth Abbey, a monastery of Augustinian Canons for burial, where the magnificent tomb in which he was buried with his wife the queen, is still to be seen.
87. As I have said above, as if in passing, King James was easily the foremost of the sovereigns of his day when it came to physical handsomeness, strength, and the symmetry of all his parts. He displayed such kindness in his dealings with all his subjects, and particularly those who flourished in learning or were adept at some art useful for their commonwealth, that he seemed almost too friendly with them and appeared to indulge them in many intolerable ways, in despite of his royal dignity. He so shrank from human bloodshed that, perhaps, he visited capital punishment on offenders less frequently than was expedient for his rule. Yet is true that wrongs were committed at many places in Scotland in his age which he could not have suppressed without great loss to the commonwealth and great risk to himself, because of the various quarrels that had arisen between his lords and himself. It was for this reason that many Scotsmen living alongside the English border, who who almost always made their living by acts of robbery, enjoyed great license to do their work of plundering, as if the king were conniving with them. But those whom James III in his time perhaps was negligent in meting out punishment, or rather was distracted by his great concerns about seditions and so could not advantageously do so, were wisely and forcefully suppressed by the two following monarchs, his son James IV and his nephew by his son James V. James III displayed many signs of piety, as was fitting for such a great prince. He frequently attended church, and was very intent on divine services. He took great pleasure in the hearing of sermons, and would stand, bareheaded, with his young firstborn son, most piously hearing the word of God. These manners, well in agreement with sincere piety for our Lord Jesus Christ, remained most religiously in his son James IV throughout his life.
88. It is also written that Pope Innocent VIII, when he had learned, partly from report and rumors, and partly from news sent by the king (too late, alas!), that internal and deadly seditions had recently been entered into against their king by the Scottish nobility, greatly desired these to be ended. So he chose a vigorous man endowed with great learning to be sent there as an apostolic nuntio to restore the peace. This was Adriano Castellesi, a man of Tuscany born at Corneto (called Castrum Novum by the Romans), who afterwards was created Cardinal St. Chrysogonus by the Pope. This is the man who left behind as monuments the well-known book De sermone Latino et modis Latine loquendi, a Venatio ad Ascanium Cardinalem written in hendecasyllabic verse, a Iulii pontificis maximi iter versibus heroici written in dactylic hexameters; and, among many other things, he wrote De vera philosophia libri quatuo, containing extracts from four great Doctors of the Church, namely Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory the Great. Chosen for this task, without dalay he hastened to England by means of a series of horses readied for his use. Arriving there, he immediately learned at the court of King Henry VII (concerning whom he also had received mandates from the pope) that he had come later than that great matter demanded. Resting there for two years, hanging between hope and fear he was asking himself what he could do concerning this very troubled business, when suddenly a messenger from the borderlands came running to King Henry from the borderland to inform him that the Scottish nobility had recently fought a bloody engagement with their king, in which battle, as he said, King James had been cruelly slain by his rebellious adversaries. Hearing this unhappy news, since he saw that nothing remained for him to accomplish in his legation to Scotland, Adriano remained at King Henry’s court among the lords of his realm for a number of months, to their great praise. Then he returned to Rome by way of France.
89. At the time when James III ruled Scotland, a great number of learned men flourished, both there and elsewhere. From the University of Paris came forth the very famous theologian and preacher of the Gospel John Ireland, a Scotsman whom I have mentioned above. Among the Germans Rudolph Agricola the Frisian was a writer of great repute for his deep learning in letters and language. In France, Philippe de Comines wrote vernacular histories of the reigns of Louis XI and Charles VIII with no less accuracy than elegance, and was regarded as outstanding. There were also nearly countless other writers on philosophy and theology whose names were held in great esteem at Paris. In Italy, too, there lived men exquisitely adept in every branch of learning, of whom the foremost are reckoned Ermolao Barbaro, Giovanni Gioviano Pontano, Angelo Poliziano, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, and Marsilio Ficino, as well others too numerous to mention.