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JAMES II, THE HUNDRED AND THIRD KING
FTER the punishment of the parricides, James, the only son of the deceased King, as yet scarce arriv’d at the seventh year of his age, entred upon the kingdom the sixth of the Calends of April in the Abby of Holy-Rood-House at Edinburgh. The King being as yet not fit for government, there was a dispute among the Nobles who should be elected Vice King or Regent. Archibald Earl of Douglas did exceed all the Scots at that time in wealth and power, but Alexander Levingston and William Creighton, both of them of worthy families, did bear away the bell in point of authority and opinion of prudence in the managing of many affairs under the former King. To them therefore the consent of the Nobles did most incline, because they had some suspicion of Douglas’s power (which even a King could hardly bear). Whereupon Alexander Levingston was made Regent, and William Creighton Chancellor, which office he had born under the former King. The Nobility was scarce gone from the Assembly, but presently factions arose. For the Chancellor kept himself with the King in the Castle of Edinburgh, and the Regent with the Queen at Sterlin. And Douglas, fretting that he was put by in the last Assembly, not knowing which faction he hated most, was well pleas’d to see all things in disorder, so that rather by his connivance than consent the men of Annandale, who were always accustom’d to theiveries and rapin, did infest all the neighbouring parts, and drove preys out of them as if it had been an enemies country. When complaint hereof was made to the Governors, they sent letters to Douglas to suppress them (knowing that the Annandians were under his regulation and power), but these not prevailing, they wrote others in a sharper style to put him in mind of his duty. But he was so far from punishing past offences that, through his neglect, by impunity the growing mischief was increased. For he likewise gave forth a command that none of them should obey the Kings officers if they summoned them into the courts of justice or perform’d any other act of magistracy, in regard (as he alleged) that was a priviledge granted to him (they commonly call it a regale or royalty) by former Kings, and that he should to about to infringe it, it should cost him his life.
2. The Regent and the Chancellor did bewail this state of things, but they could not rectifie it, so that this gangreen spread further and further till it had soon infected all those parts of Scotland which lay within the Forth. The other two factions did also disagree amongst themselves, inasmuch that proclamations were publickly made in market towns and villages by Alexander that no man should yield obedience to the Chancellor, and by the Chancellor that none should obey Alexander. And if a man addrest himself to either of them to complain of his wrongs, at his return he was sure to be evil intreated by the men of the contrary faction; yea, sometimes his mansion houses and farms would be burnt and he utterly undone, so that both parties, with a more than hostile enmity, destroyed one another by mutual slaughters. But the good men who had join’d themselves to neither faction, not well knowing what to do, kept themselves at home privately, bewailing the deplorable state of their country. Thus whilst every party sought to strengthen it self, the publick was neglected and stood, as ’twere, in the midst, forsaken of them all. The Queen, who was with the Regent at Sterlin, that she might seem to make a considerable accession to her party, perform’d an attempt both bold and manly. For she undertook a journey to Edinburgh on pretence to visit her son, and so was admitted into the Castle by the Chancellor. There she was courteously entertained, and after some complements had past she turn’d her discourse to bewail the present state of the kingdom, making a long oration how many and great mischiefs would flow from this publick discord, as from a fountain. For her part, she had always endeavoured that the differences might be composed, that so they might have at least some tolerable, if not a fully peaceable, state of a kingdom. But seeing she could not prevail either by her authority or counsel to do any good abroad, she was now come to try what she could do privately, for she was resolved to do her utmost that her son might be liberally and piously educated in hopes of the kingdom, that so in time he might be able to apply some remedy to these spreading evils. And seeing this her motherly care was given her by Nature, she hop’d that no man would envy her therein. As for other parts of the government, let them take it who thought themselves fit to manage and undergo so great a burden. Yet they should manage it so as to remember that they were to give an account to the King when he came of age.
3. This harangue she made with a countenance so compos’d that the Chancellor was easily persuaded of her sincerity. Neither did he discover any thing in her train of followers which gave him the least hint to suspect either fraud or force, so that hereupon he gave her free admission to her son when she pleased, and they were often alone together, and sometimes she staid with him all night in the Castle. In the mean time, the crafty woman did oft entertain the Governor with discourse concerning peicing up matters between the parties, and she also called some of the contrary faction to the conferences, and thus she insinuated her self so far into the man that he made her acquainted with almost all his designs. When she had thus chous’d [tricked] and gull’d the Chancellor, she easily persuades the young King to follow her as the author of his liberty out of the prison, and so to deliver himself out of the hands of a person who pretended the Kings name for all his wickedness, and who had drawn all publick offices to himself, and, thus neglecting the good of the publick, had highly advanced his own particular fortune. To effect this, there only wanted a will in him to hearken to the good counsel of his friends. For other matters, let him leave them to her care. By such kind of glozing speeches she, being his mother and crafty too, easily persuaded him, who was her son and but a youth, to cast himself wholly upon her, especially seeing a freer condition of life was proposed to him. Whereupon she prepared all things for their flight, and then goes to the Chancellor and told him that she would stay that night in the Castle, but early in the morning she was to go to White Kirk (that was the name of the place) to perform a vow which she had made for the safety of her son, and she commended him to his care until she return’d. He suspected no deceit in her words, but wisht her a good journy and a safe return, and so parted from her. Hereupon (as was agreed before) the King was put into a chest wherein she was wont to put her womans furniture, and the day after carried by faithful servants out of the Castle to the sea-side at Leith. The Queen followed after only with a few attendants, to prevent all suspicion. There was a ship there ready to receive them, into which they entered and, with a fair gale, made for Sterlin. The Kings servants waited late in the morning, expecting still when he would awake and arise out of his bed, so that before the fraud was detected the ship was quite out of danger and the wind was so favourable that before the evening they landed at Sterlin. There the King and Queen were received with great joy and mighty acclamations of the Regent and of all the promiscuous multitude. The craft of the Queen was commended by all, and the old opinion of wisdom which the Chancellor had obtained became now to be a ridicule even to the vulgar.
4. This joviality and immoderate joy of the Commons lasted (as usual) two days, and was celebrated by them all. The third day, those of Alexanders faction came in, some out of new hopes, others invited by the authority of the Kings name, to whom, when the series of the project was declared in order, the courage of the Queen in undertaking the matter, her wisdom in carrying it on, and in her happiness in effecting it were extolled to the skies. The avarice and universal cruelty of the Chancellor, and especially his ingratitude to the Queen and the Regent, were highly inveighed against. He was accused as the only author of all the disorders, and consequently of all the mischiefs arising therefrom. Moreover, that he had diverted the publick revenue to his own use; that he had violently seized on the estates of private persons, and what he could not carry away he spoil’d; that he alone had all the wealth, honour and riches, when others were pining in ignominy, solitude, and want. Those grievances, though great, yet were like to be seconded with more oppressive ones, unless by Gods aid and counsel the Queen had no less valiantly than happily freed the King out of prison, and so deliver’d others from the Chancellor’s tyranny. For if he kept his own King in prison, it was evident what private men might fear and expect from him. What hope could there ever be that he would be reconciled to his adversaries, who had so perfidiously circumvented his friends? And how could the inferior sort expect relief from him, whose unsatiable avarice all their estates were not able to satisfie and fill up? And therefore, seeing by Gods help in the first place, and then by the Queens sagacity, they were freed from his tyranny, all courses were to be taken that this joy might be perpetual. And so to make it so, there was but one way, which was to pull the man, as it were, by the ears out of his Castle, that nest of tyranny, and either to kill him or so to disarm him that for the future he might do them no more mischief; though (said they) his disarming was not very safe, in regard such a beast as he, who had been accustomed to blood and rapin, would never be at quiet so long as the breath was in his body.
5. This was Alexander’s discourse in council, to whom all did assent, so that an order was made that every one should go home and levy what force they could to besiege the Castle of Edinburgh, from which they were not to depart till they had taken it. And that this might be done with greater facility, the Queen promised to send thither a great quantity of provision which she had in her store-houses in Fife. But haste was to be used whiles their counsels were yet private and the enemy had no warning to provide things fit and necessary for a siege. And in the interim they need not fear Douglas, who, they knew, was a mortal enemy to the Chancellor, so that now, seeing they had all the power, treasure enough, and withal the authority of the Kings name, that being now taken from him, he could have no hope but to fly to their mercy. Thus, the assembly being dissolved, all things were speedily provided for the expedition and a close siege laid to the Castle. The Chancellor was acquainted well enough with their designs, but he placed the greatest hope of his safety and of maintaining his dignity in Douglas his concurrence with him. Whereupon he sent humble suppliants to him to acquaint him that he would always be at his devotion, if he would aid him in his present extremity; urging that he was deceiv’d if he thought that their cruelty would rest in the destruction of himself alone, but that they would make his overthrow as a step to destroy Douglas too. Douglas answered his message with more freedom than advantage, viz., that both Alexander and William were equally guilty of perfidiousness and avarice, and that their falling out was not for any point of virtue or for the good of the publick, but for their own private advantages, animosities, and feuds, and that it was no great matter which of them had the better in the dispute; yea, if they fell both in the contest the publick would be a great gainer thereby, and that no good man would desire to see an happier sight than two such fencers to hack and hew one another. This answer, being noised abroad in both armies (for the Castle was already besieged) was the occasion that a peace was sooner clapt up than any one thought it would. There was a truce made for two days, wherein Alexander and William had a meeting where they discours’d one with another how dangerous it would be both for their publick and their private estates too, if they should persist in their hatred even to a battel, seeing Douglas did but watch the event of the combate that he might come fresh and fall upon the conqueror, and so attract all the power of the kingdom to himself when either one of them was slain or both weakn’d and broken. And therefore the hopes of both their safeties were plac’d in their common and mutual agreement, so that the present dangers easily reconciled those two, who were upon other accounts otherwise prudent enough. William, according to agreement, gave up the keys of the Castle to the King, professing that both himself and it were at his service, and that he never entertain’d any other thought than to be obedient to the Kings will. Hereupon he was received into favour with the universal assent of all that were present. The King supped that night in the Castle thus surrendred to him, and the next day the government of the Castle was bestowed on William, and the Regency on Alexander. Thus, after a deadly hatred between them, it was hoped that for ever after the foresight of their mutual advantage, and the fear of their common enemy, had tied a firm and indissoluble knot of friendship betwixt them.
6. After these civil broils between the factions were composed, besides robberies and murders of some of the commoner sort which were committed in many placed without punishment, there were some remaining feuds which broke out between some noble families. The year after the Kings death, in the third of the Calends of October, Thomas Boyd of Kilmarnock had treacherously slain Alan Stuart of Darnly in a truce, as he met him between Linlithgoe and Falkirk. The next year after, on the 7th of the Ides of July, Alexander, Alan’s brother, with his party, fought Thomas, where many were slain on both sides, their numbers being almost equal, and among the rest Thomas himself fell. The death of Archibald Douglas fell out opportunely at this time, because in his life time his power was formidable to all. He died of a fever the next year after the death of James the First. His son William succeeded him, being the sixth Earl of that family. He was then fourteen years of age, a young man of great hopes, if his education had been answerable to his ingenuity. But flattery, which is the perpetual pest of great families, did corrupt his tender age, which grew a little more insolent by the premature liberty in entring on his estate. For such men as were accustomed to idleness, and who made a gain on the folly and indiscretion of the rich, did magnifie his fathers magnificence, power, and almost more than royal retinue, and by this mean they easily persuaded a plain, simple disposition and unarmed against such temptations, to maintain a great family and to ride abroad with a train beyond the state of any other Nobleman, so that he kept his old vassals about him in their former offices by his respects to them, and obtained also new clans by his profuse largesses. He also made knights and senators, and so distinguisht the order and degrees of his attendants as to imitate the publick conventions of the kingdom. In fine, he omitted nothing which might equal the majesty of the King himself. Such carriages were enough to create suspicions of themselves, but good men were also much troubled for him upon another account, that he would often go abroad with 2000 horse in his train, amongst whom some were notorious theives, and many of them worthy of death for the murders they had committed. Yet with these he would come to Court and even to the Kings presence, not only to shew his power, but even to strike terrour to the hearts of others. This his insolence was farther heightned by his sending some eminent persons as his ambassadors into France, viz., Malcolm Fleming and John Lauder, who were to declare the merits of his ancestors from the Crown of France, and to desire that the title of Duke of Tours might be bestow’d upon him. Which he easily obtained, for his grandfather had that honour conferr’d upon him by Charles the Seventh for his great service performed in the wars, and his father also had enjoy’d it after him.
7. Being lifted up with this accession of honour, he undervalued the Regent and the Chancellor too, being, as he alledged, his fathers enemies, neither did he much fear the King himself. For these causes, the power of the Duglasses seem’d too excessive, yet a further cause of suspicion was added. William Stuart had a large patrimony in Lorne. His brother James, after the Kings death, had marry’d the Queen and had children by her, but disdaining and repining that he was admitted to no part of the publick government, to the end he might more easily obtain what he desired and revenge his concealed grief, he seemed not much adverse from Douglas his faction, and it was thought that the Queen was not ignorant of his design, for she also took it amiss that the Regent had not rewarded her services as she expected. By reason of these suspicions, the Queen, her husband, and her husbands brother were committed to prison the fourth of the Nones of August in the year of our Lord [as the translator appreciated, some words are missing from the Latin text] the Queen was shut up in a chamber narrow enough of it self, yet she was diligently and watchfully guarded, for the rest were laid in irons in the common prison and they were not freed before, in an Assembly of the Nobles held the day before the Calends of September, the Queen had clear’d her self from being any way privy to these new plots, and James and his brother had given in sureties that they would act nothing against the Regent, neither would they undertake any office in the government without his consent.
8. In this uncertainty of affairs, the Aebudians made a descent upon the continent and wasted all with fire and sword, without distinction of age or sex, so that their avarice and cruelty was not to be parallell’d by any examples. Neither were they contented to prey only upon the sea-coast, but they also slew John Colchon, a noble person in Lennox, having call’d him out from Inch-Merin in the Loch-Lomond to a conference and given them their faith of his security. This was done the 23rd of September. Many foul offences of this nature were committed, so that partly on account of want of tillage, and partly of unseasonable weather, provision came to be very dear; and moreover, there was a pestilence for two years, so dreadful and fierce that they who were visited with it died within the space of a day. The vulgar ascribed the cause of all these calamities to the Regent. For, matters succeeding prosperously with him, he despised the Chancellor and the Nobles of that faction, and drew the administration of all things into his own power. Complaints were made against him that he cast noble and eminent persons into prison upon light and ungrounded suspicions and afterward most grievously punished them, and that he gave indemnity to those who were really guilty merely by his own arbitrary will and pleasure, and that he held secret correspondence with Douglas. The Chancellor could not bear these things in silence, neither was he able to prevent them by force, and therefore he supprest his anger for the present and resolved to depart from the Court. And accordingly upon the first opportunity he left the King and the Regent at Sterlin, and with a great train of followers came to Edinburgh, and there fixt himself in that strong Castle, being intent and vigilant in all occasions of change which might evene [occur]. When this matter was noised abroad, it rais’d up envy on the Regent because of his power, and procur’d favour to the Chancellor because of his retirement. Neither did William neglect his opportunity amongst their feuds, for he resolved by some bold attempt to curb the insolence of his adversary and to remove the undervalue he had set upon him. And therefore, having understood by his spys that the King went every day a-hunting and was but slightly guarded, watching the season when Alexander was absent, and having made sufficient enquiry into the conveniency of the country, the fitness of the time, and the due number of the undertakers, he chose out a place not far from Sterlin where the faithfullest of his friends, with what force they could make, should meet and wait for his coming.
9. And he with a few horse lodg’d himself in a wood near the Castle of Sterlin before day, and there waited for the Kings coming, neither did Providence deceive him in this bold attempt. The King came forth into the wood early in the morning with a smal train, and those unarm’d too, and so fell amongst the arm’d troops of the Chancellor. They saluted him as King according to custom, and bid him to be of good cheer and take courage. The Chancellor, in a few words as the time would permit, advis’d him to provide for himself and the kingdom, and to deliver himself out of Alexanders prison, that so he might live hereafter at liberty and as a King, and might not accustom himself to fulfil the lusts and dictates of other men, but might himself lay those commands which were just and equal upon others, and so might free all his subjects from their present misery, which they had been plung’d into by the ambition and lust of their subordinate Governors, and that so deeply that there could be no remedy found for them unless the King himself would undertake the government, and this he might easily do without peril or pain, for he himself had provided a good body of horse near at hand, who would attend him to what fit place soever he would go. The King seem’d by his countenance to approve of what he had said, either that he really thought so or else that he dissembled his fear. Whereupon the Chancellor took his horses bridle in’s hand and led him to his own men. They which were with him, being few and unarm’d, not able to encounter so many men, return’d back in great sadness. Thus the King came to Edinburgh guarded with 4000 horse well accoutred, where he was received by the commonalty with great demonstrations of joy. After the Regent heard of what was done, his mind was confounded betwixt anger and shame, insomuch that he return’d to Sterlin to consider of what was most advisable in the case. His great spirit was mightily troubled to see himself so childishly deluded by his own negligence. He suspected it was done by the fraud and connivance of his own followers, and thus he stood long wavering whom to trust and whom to fear, shame, anger and suspicion bustling together in his mind. At length, he took a little heart and began to think with himself what remedy to apply to his present malady. He knew that his own strength was not sufficient against the Chancellor, a man politick in counsel and strong in force; and besides, he had the favour of the people and the authority of the Kings name as buttresses to support him. As for the Queen, he had so offended her by her close imprisonment that she was hardly ever like to be reconciled to him, and if she were, he had no great confidence in her assistance. And for Douglas, ’tis true he had strength enough, but no prudence; his age was tender, his mind infirm; he was corrupted by flatteries and carried about by the persuasions of others; and (as in such circumstances it usually falls out) the worst of men could do most with him; and therefore he thought it below his dignity to have any thing to do with such a raskality of men. But the Chancellor, tho’ he were of a contrary faction to him, yet was a wise man, and his age and disposition might more safely be trusted. Neither was the cause of offence between them so great but that it was superable by their ancient offices of respect one to another. But the greatest likelihood of their reconciliation was grounded upon the similitude of their danger and their joynt consent to maintain the safety of the commonwealth. And besides, the enmity of the Chancellor was most of all to be fear’d by him, for if he joyn’d himself to other factions he had power in his hands either to reduce or banish him.
10. Having pondered upon these things for some days in his mind, and communicated them to some of his most familiar friends, good men and lovers of their country, by their advice he took a smal ordinary train of attendants and went to Edinburgh. It happn’d that the Bishops of Aberdene and Murray were then there, men (according to the rate of those times) of learning and virtue. By their means and intercession the Regent and Chancellor had a meeting in St. Giles’s Church, with some few of their friends on each side. The Regent first began to speak. “I think it not necessary (says he) to make a long discourse in bewailing those things which are too well known to all, or in reckoning up the mischiefs arising from intestine discords, and the good issuable from concord. I wish we might experience those miseries rather by foreign than domestick examples. I will then come to those things which concern the publick safety of all the people and, next to theirs, our own most of all. This disagreement betwixt us ariseth neither from covetousness nor from ambition to rule, but because in the administration of publick affairs, which both of us wish well to, we are not of one mind, but take different measures. Yet we are to take great care lest this dissension should be publickly prejudicial to the kingdom or privately injurious to our selves. The eyes of all men are upon us two. Wicked persons propose to themselves a licentiouness to do any thing when we are destroy’d, and ambitious ones think then also to obtain an opportunity to get wealth and power. And besides, we have a great many maligners an envyers, as usually men raised up from a low estate to the highest dignity are wont to have. All these, as they grieve at our successes and calumniate our prosperity, so they willingly receive the news of our adversity, as thereby hoping and wishing for our ruin. And therefore it will be worth both our labours to consult our own safety, which is conjoyn’d and twisted with that of the publick, and so to revenge our selves on our enemies and detractors, to our great glory and praise. And the only way to accomplish those ends is this, that we forget our private injuries and contribute all our thoughts and counsels for the good of the publick. Let us remember that the Kings safety is committed to our cares and so is the safety of the kingdom, yet so that we are both lyable to an account. And therefore, as heretofore we have been to blame in contending which of us should be the greater in honour and authority, so for the future let our contest be which shall exceed other in moderation and justice. And by this means we shall bring it to pass that the commonalty, which now hate us and impute all their calamities to us, will be reconciled to and revere us again; and the Nobility, who upon our disunion have broke forth into unbridled licentiousness, may be reduc’d to moderation; and the great men who slight us as weakened by division may fear us when united and reconciled, and so carry themselves with greater sobriety toward us than ever. As for me, I willingly give up the tender age of the King to be modell’d and govern’d by you, as his father in his life time appointed. For as often as I seriously think of that function and service, I judge my self rather to be eas’d of a burden than despoil’d of an honour thereby. If I have received any private injury from you, I freely forgive it for the sake of the publick; and if I have done you any wrong, let honest arbitrators adjust the damage, and I will make you satisfaction to the full. And hereafter I will so carry it that neither my losses nor my advantages shall be the least stop to the publick prosperity. And if you also be of the same mind, we may both of us rest secure for the present and also leave our memorys more grateful to posterity. But if you think otherwise, I call all men to witness both present and to come, that ’tis not my fault that the evils under which we now labour are not either fully cur’d or at least in some sort reliev’d and mitigated.”
11. To this the Chancellor replied, “As I unwillingly entr’d upon this stage of contention, so I am very willing to hear any mention made of an honest agreement. for as I did not take up arms before the injuries I suffr’d provoked me thereunto, so your modesty hath urg’d me not to suffer the publick to be indamg’d by my pertinaciousness. For I see as well as you by this our discord that good men are expos’d to the injuries of the bad. The minds of the seditious are excited to hopes of innovation. Our country is left for a prey; the kingly dignity is lessn’d; publick safety betray’d; authority bearded and ridicul’d, even by the mean’st of the people. And whilst we thus betray the safety of the publick our private affairs are in no better a posture. In the mean time, men who are given to sedition make advantage of our discords, and our enemies behold them as a pleasant sight (for they hate us both alike), and if the loss fall on either of us, yet they count themselves to gain what either of us doth lose. And therefore I shall not repeat the causes of our feuds, lest I make old sores to bleed afresh, but, in short, I declare that I forgive all my private wrongs and injuries upon the score of my country, for there never was nor shall be any thing more preferable with me before the safety of the people and the good of the common-wealth.” Those who were present did highly commend both their resolutions. And so by joynt consent arbiters were chosen to compose differences, and, to the great joy of all, old discords were pluckt up by the roots and new foundations of amity laid. And thus they by joynt counsel again undertake the management of the kingdom. After this concord an Assembly of the Estates was held at Edinburgh. Thither came not a few persons, as is usual, but even whole clans and tenantrys (as if they had remov’d their habitations) to complain of the wrongs they had sustain’d. And indeed, the sight of such a miserable company could not be entertain’d without deep affliction of spirit, every one making his woful moan according to his substance, that robbers had despoiled fathers of their children; children of their fathers; widows of their husbands; and all in general of their estates. Whereupon after commiseration of the sufferers, the envy (as is usual) and reflection was carry’d to and fix’t upon the captains of those thieves, whose offences were so impudent that they could in no wise be suffer’d, and their faction was so far diffus’d that no man was able to defend his life or fortune unless he were of their party; yea, their power was so great that the authority of the magistrate could afford little help to the poorer and weaker sort against their violence and force. Whereupon the wiser sort of counsellors were of opinion that, seeing their power was insuperable by plain force, ’twas best to undermine it by degrees.
12. They all knew well enough that the Earl of Douglas was the fountain of all those calamities, yet no man durst name him publickly. Whereupon the Regent, dissembling his anger for the present, persuaded the whole Assembly that it was more adviseable for them to cajole Douglas by flatteries than to irritate him by suspicions, for he was of so great power that he alone, if he remain’d refractary, was able to hinder the execution of the decrees of all the Estates, but if he joyn’d himself with the Assembly, then he might easily heal the present mischiefs. Sembable to this advice, a decree was made that letters of complement in the name of the Estates should be sent to him to put him in mind of the place which he held, and of the great and illustrious merits of his ancestors, for the advantage of their country, and withal to desire him to come to the publick Assembly of the Estates, which could not be well celebrated without the presence of him and his friends. If he had any complaint to make in the Assembly, they would give him all the satisfaction they were able to do; and if he or his friends had done any thing prejudicial to the publick, in respect to his noble family, which had so often well deserv’d of their country, they were ready to remit many things upon the account of his age, of the time, of himself, and the great hopes conceiv’d of him. And therefore they desired he would come and undertake what part of the publick government he pleas’d. For, seeing Scotland had often been deliver’d from great dangers by the arms of the Douglas’s, they hop’d that by his presence he would now strengthen and relieve his country, which labour’d under intestine evils. The young man, who by his age and disposition was desirous of glory, was taken with the bait, and his friends also persuaded him, for they were all blinded by their particular hopes so that their minds were turn’d from all apprehension of danger to the sole consideration of their particular advantages. When the Chancellor heard that he was on his journey, he went out several miles to meet him and give him a friendly invitation to his Castle, which was near the road (it was called Creighton), were he was magnificently entertain’d for the space of two days, in which time the Chancellor shew’d him all imaginable respect, that he might the more easily intrap the unwary young man. For to shew that his mind was no way alienated from him, he began in a familiar manner to persuade him to be mindful of the Kings dignity and of his own duty; that he should own him for his leidge lord, whom his birth, the laws of the country, and the decree of the Estates had advanc’d to be King’ that he should transmit the great estate which his ancestors had got by their blood and valour to his posterity in like manner as he had receiv’d it, that so the name of the Douglasses, which was illustrious for their loyalty and atchievements, might be freed from the foul blot of treason, yea, and from all suspicion of the same; that he and his tenants should forbear oppressing the poor Commons; that he should so addict himself to the maintenance of justice that if he had offended heretofore, it might be thought attributable to the ill counsel of bad men and not to the wickedness of his own nature. For in that tender and infirm age his repentance would pass for innocence.
13. By these and the like speeches he persuaded the young man that he was his entire friend, and so drew him on to Edinburgh with David his brother, who was privy to all his projects and designs. But his followers smelt out some suspicion of deceit by reason of the frequent messages that past betwixt Alexander and the Regent. For almost every moment post ran betwixt them; and besides, the Chancellors speech seem’d to be more glozing and kind than was usual for one of his place and dignity. His train did secretly mutter this, and some freely told him that if he were resolv’d to go on, yet he should send back David his brother and (according to his fathers advice to him on his death bed) not give up his whole family to one stroke of fortune. But the improvident youth was angry with his friends that had thus advis’d him, and caus’d a word to be given forth to all his followers to surcease all such private whisperings. And to his friends he made answer that he knew well enough that ’twas the common plague of great families to be troubled with men who loved not to be quiet, and who made a gain of the dangers and miseries of their patrons. And that such men, because in time of peace they were bound up by laws, were the authors and advisors to sedition, that they might fish the better in troubled waters. But for his part, he had rather cast himself on the known prudence of the Regent and Chancellor than give ear to the temerity and madness of seditious persons. Having spoken these words, to cut off any occasion of further advice in the case, he set spurs to his horse, and with his brother and a few more of his confidents hastned to the Castle with more speed than at the rate of an ordinary march. And so, fate drawing him on, he precipitated himself into the snares of his enemies. In that very moment of time the Regent came in too, for so it was agreed that the whole weight of so great envy might not lye on one mans shoulders only. Douglas was kindly received and admitted to the Kings table, but in the midst of the feast some armed men beset him, being weaponless, and put a bulls head upon him, which in those times was a messenger and sign of death. When the young man saw that, he was troubled and sought to arise, but the armed men laid hold on and carry’d him to a court near the Castle where by the loss of his head he paid for the intemperance of his youth. David his brother and Malcolm Fleming, whom next to his brother he trusted most of all, were also put to death with him. ’Tis said that the King, who was now fully entring on his being of age, wept for his death, and that the Chancellor did greatly rebuke him for his unseasonable tears at the destruction of an enemy, whereas the publick peace was never like to be settled as long as he was alive.
14. William dying thus without children, James (sirnamed Crassus or The Gross from his disposition) succeeded him in the earldom (for ’twas a male-feo, as lawyers speak). The rest of his patrimony, which was very great, fell to his only sister Beatrix, a very beautiful person in her days. This James the Gross, though he were no bad man, was no less suspected by the King and hated by the Commons than the former Earl, because, though he did not maintain robbers as the former Earl had done, yet he was not very zealous in subduing them, but he was subtracted from this envy by his death, which happn’d two years after. William, the eldest of his seven sons, succeeded him. He being emulous of the ancient power of the family, that he might restore it unto its pristine splendour, resolv’d to many his uncles daughter, who was the heiress of many countries. Many of his kindred did not approve of the match, partly because ’twas an unusual, and by consequence an unlawful, thing, and partly because by the accession of so much wealth he would be envy’d by the people, and also formidable to the King. For a rumour was spread abroad, and that not without ground, that the King himself would do his utmost to hinder the match. This made William to hasten the consummation of the marriage, even in the time when marriages were forbidden, that he might prevent the Kings endeavours to the contrary. Thus, having obtained great wealth, he grew insolent, and envy follow’d his insolence in regard troops of robbers did swarm every where, whose captains were thought to be no strangers to Douglas his design. Amongst them there was one George Gorm of Athole, who pillag’d all the country about him and set upon William Ruthven, Sheriff of Perth, because he was leading a thief of Athole to the gallows, and fought with him, as it were, in a set battel. At last, Gorm the captain and 30 of his followers were slain, and the rest fled to the mountains. This bustling fight was in the year of Christ 1443. A few years after, the Castle of Dunbarton, impregnable by force, was twice taken in a little time. Robert Semple was commander of the lower Castle, and Patrick Galbreth of the higher, and their government was so divided that each had a peculiar entrance into his own part. These two were not free from factions amongst themselves. For Patrick was thought secretly to favour the Douglasses, whereupon Semple, perceiving that his part was negligently guarded, seiz’d upon him and commanded him to remove his goods. The day after, Patrick entred with four companions attending him, without arms, to fetch out his goods, where, first, he light upon the porter alone, and then, catching up arms, drave him and the rest out of the upper Castle, and thus, sending for aid out of the neighbouring town, he beat them out of the lower Castle also, and so reduc’d the whole fort into his own hands.
15. About that time, there were very many murders committed upon the inferior sort, which were partly perpetrated by the Douglassians and partly charg’d upon them by their enemies. The King was now of age and manag’d the government himself, so that Douglas, being unable to stand against the envy of the Nobles and the complaints of the Commons too, resolves to become a new man to satisfie the people, and by all means possible to atone the heart of the king, which was alienated from him. And in order thereunto he came with a great train to Sterlin. And when he had intelligence by some couriers, whom he had greas’d in the fist and made his own, that the Kings anger was appeas’d towards him, then and not before he came into his presence and threw down his life and fortune, and all his concerns, at his feet and to his dispose. He partly excused the crimes of his former life and partly (because that seemed the readier way to reconciliation) he ingenuously confest them, withal affirming that whatever fortune he should have hereafter, he would ascribe it solely to the clemency of the King, not to his own innocency; but if the King were pleas’d to receive satisfaction from him, by his services and obsequiousness he would do his utmost endeavour for the future that no man should be more loyal and observant of his duty than himself, and that in restraining and punishing all those exorbitant offences which his enemies cast upon him, none should be more sharp and severe than he, in regard he was descended from that family which was not raised by oppressing the poor, but by defending the Commons of Scotland by their arms. By this oration of the Earls and the secret commendation of the courtiers, the King was so chang’d that he forgave him all the crimes of his former life and received him into the number of his privadoes [intimates], and communicated all his secret designs to him. And indeed the Earl, in a very little time, had so obliged the King to him by his obsequious carriage, and had won so much on his ministers by liberality, yea, had so ingratiated himself into all men by his modest and courteous condescension, that the ordinary sort of people conceiv’d great hope of his gentle and pliable deportment. But the wiser were somewhat afraid whither so sudden a change of manners would tend. And especially Alexander Levingston and William Creighton, imagining that all his counsels would tend to their destruction, having laid down their publick offices in the government, went away severally, Alexander to his own estate and William into the Castle of Edinburgh, there to watch and observe where all the simulation of Douglas would terminate and end. Neither did their preconceiv’d opinion deceive such wise men as they were. For Douglas, having gotten the King alone and destitute of graver counsel, and who was somewhat unwary too by reason of the greennness of his years, thought now that he had a fit opportunity to revenge the deaths of his kinsmen, and so easily persuaded the King to send for William Creighton and Alexander Levingston with his two sons Alexander and James, to give him a legal account of the administration of their former offices. His design here was that, if they came to the Court he might either destroy them or else bring them under by the power of his faction; but if they refused to come, then to declare them publick enemies, and so, having the authority of the Kings name as a pretence for his power, to despoil and out them of all their estates. Hereupon they were summoned to appear, but return’d answer by letters that they had never any thing more prevalent and superior in their thoughts than the good of the King and kingdom, and that they had so managed their offices that they desired nothing more than to give up a full account, provided it were before equal [impartial] judges, but for the present they desir’d to be excus’d, in regard they perceiv’d that the minds of those who were to be their judges were prepossess’d in favour and by the largesses of their enemies; and besides, all passages were beset by armed men, not that they shunn’d a legal hearing, but only withdrew from the violence of their mortal enemies at the present and reserv’d their lives for better times, till, the commanders of thieves being driven from the Kings presence, as they had often done in doubtful times before, they might then justify and assert their innocency to the King and all good men.
16. When this answer was receiv’d, an Assembly was indicted to be held at Sterlin the fourth day of November, wherein Douglas so carry’d the matter that they were declared publick enemies and their goods confiscate. And then he sends out John Froster of Gostorphin, his confident, with forces to spoil their country and bring their goods into the Kings exchequer. He took in their Castles by surrender; part of them he demolisht, and part he put new garisons into, and, thus making a vast spoil without any resistance, he carried off a great booty. The Douglassians had scarce retired before Creighton had gathered an army of his friends and vassals, sooner than men thought, and with them he ran over the lands of the Foresters and of the Douglasses. Even as far as Corstorphin, Strabrock, Abercorn and Blackness he burnt their houses, spoil’d their corn, and brought away as much prey as he was able, and amongst the rest a stately breed of mares, and thus he did his enemy much more mischief than he receiv’d. Douglas, knowing that Creighton had done this by the assistance of others rather than his own force, turns his anger upon his friends, who (he was inform’d) had sent him aid privately (for few durst do it openly). The chief of them were James Kennedy, Archbishop of St. Andrews, George Earl of Angus, John Earl of Morton, both the later of Douglas’s his own family, but one born of the King’s aunt, the mother of James Kennedy; the other had marry’d the King’s sister. These persons did always prefer the publick safety and their duty for conservation thereof, before the private respect to their own family. But Kennedy exceeded the rest in age, counsel, and consequently in authority, and therefore his wrath was principally incensed against him. Whereupon the Earl of Craford and Alexander Ogilby gather’d a reasonable army together and spoil’d his lands in Fife, and, following the prey rather than the cause, they plunder’d the neighbor farms also with great devastation, and then, without any opposition, return’d into Angus laden with spoil. In this case, Kennedy betook himself to his proper Church-arms of defence, and in regard Craford avoided the decision of these disputed by law, he prosecuted him with ecclesiastical censures; which when he despis’d according to his wonted contumacity a little while after, he was justly punish’d for his contempt of all divine and human laws.
17. For the same year wherein these things were acted the Colledge of the Benedictins at Aberbrothok (in regard monks might not intermeddle to judge in civil causes) had made Alexander Lindsy, eldest son of the Earl of Craford, their Chief Judge in Civils, or, as they call him, Sheriff or Bayliff. He with his huge train of followers became burdensome to the monastery; and besides, he carried himself as their master rather than their servant, so that they dispossest him of his offices and put Alexander Ogilby in his place. Lindsy lookt upon this as a wrong to him in his opinion, so that each of them gather’d together what force they could, as if a war had been denounc’d between them. When both armies stood in readiness to fight, the Earl of Craford, having notice of it, made all the haste he could and rode in betwixt them both, thinking that the sole authority of his name had been armour of proof to him. And whilst he was hindring his son from ingaging and calling out Ogilby to a conference, a soldier darted a spear into his mouth (it was not known who he was nor what he aim’d at) and struck him down dead from his horse. His death was as an alarm to both armies, and after a sharp conflict, many being wounded on both sides, the victory fell to the Lindsys. They say the cause thereof was that whilst both armies stood with their spears upright, representing the fashion of a wood, a certain man cry’d out, “Why do you bring those goads with you as if you had to do with oxen? Pray cast them away, and let us fight it out with our swords hand to hand by true valour, as becomes men.” Upon which words they all cast away their pikes on both sides, except 100 Clydesdale men whom Douglas had sent in to aid the Lindsys. These held the tops or points of their pikes in their hands, and drew the rest of them behind their backs. But when they came to handy-blows, then they held them out as a thick fence before them, and their enemies, being terrified with the sudden spectacle, had their ranks broken thereby. The conquering side lost 100, the conquer’d 500, and amongst them some men of note. Alexander Ogilby was taken prisoner and dyed a few days after, either of his wounds or for grief. Gordon Earl of Huntly was put upon a horse by a friend of his own, and so escap’d. The slaughter had been much greater if the night had not cover’d the flyers away, for the battel began a few hours before night on the 9th of the Calends of February. The Lindsys manag’d their victory with great cruelty, they pillaged and demolisht houses and utterly spoil’d the country. The war was as hotly carried on between the factions in other parts. Douglas had besieg’d William Creighton some months in the Castle of Edinburgh, and to make a more close siege he remov’d the Assembly of the Estates, which was summoned to be held on the Ides of July and was already begun at Perth, to Edinburgh. When the siege had lasted 9 months, both the besiegers and the besieged grew equally weary, and so a surrender was made on these conditions, that William should be indemnify’d for whatsoever he had done against the King, and he and his should march safely off. Thus in every dispute he who is most powerful would seem to be most innocent. And, not long after, Creighton was received into the King’s favour and was made Chancellor again by the general consent of all, but he refrain’d the Court and all publick business as much as ever his office would suffer him to do. Douglas, having thus rather terrified than overthrown Creighton, turn’d the rest of his fury upon the Levingstons.
18. But before I come to that part of my history, I will touch upon the slaughter of some of these noble persons (for ’twould be infinite to name the deaths of all) who were put to death in those days. James Stuart, a noble knight, was slain by Alexander Lisle and Robert Boyd at Kirk-Patrick, about two miles from Dunbarton. Neither was their cruelty satisfy’d with his death, but they endeavour’d to get his wife also, who was then great with child and almost ready to lye down, into their power. In order whereto, they sent a priest to her, as in great hast, to tell her that all the roads were full of horse and foot, and that there was no way for her to escape the present danger but to go a-shipboard and fly to Robert Boyd at Dunbarton, who had solemnly promis’d to return her safe home. The credulous woman, who did not know that Robert was present at the perpetration of the murder, being carried from Cardros into the Castle, perceiving that she was circumvented by the fraud of her enemies, being overcome by the greatness of grief, fear and indignation, brought forth an abortive birth, which with the mother dyed a few hours after. About the same time, Patrick Hepburn, Earl of Hales, kept the Castle of Dunbar and had with him Joan, the wife of James the I, who in those tumultuous times had fled thither for refuge. Archibald Dunbar, thinking this to be a just cause for a quarrel, set upon Hales, Hepburn’s Castle, in the night, kill’d the garison soldiers on the first onset, and took it. Yet in a few hours, for fear, he gave it up to the Earl of Douglas upon condition that he and his should march safely off. Not long after, Queen Joan dyed, leaving these children by her later husband: John Earl of Athole, James Earl of Buchan, and Andrew, afterwards Bishop of Murray. After she was dead, Hepburn deliver’d up the Castle of Dunbar, un-garison’d and empty, to the King. In Angus, Alexander, Earl of Craford, put John Lyons to death in the market-place at Dundee, because he had been rais’d up to great wealth and honour, even to a match in the royal family, by his father, yet he prov’d ungrateful and forgot the courtesies he had received. Amidst these discords the men of Annandale did vex the adjoyning countries with all sorts of calamities. The cause of all these mischiefs was cast upon the Earl of Douglas, who yet did all he could to conceal these facts of his clans, for he openly studied nothing more than to afflict the men of different parties, in regard he was grown to that height of power that ’twas a capital offence to question any of his doings. He caus’d James Stuart the King’s uncle to fly the land because he spoke something freely concerning the state of the kingdom, but, his ship being taken by the Flemings, he liv’d not long after. Now, he thought it was high time to attempt the Levingstons, whereupon he caus’d Alexander, the head of the family, and his son James, and also Robert the King’s Treasurer, and David to be summon’d to an Assembly at Edinburgh, and of his friends Robert Bruce, James and Robert Dundass.
19. Of these, Alexander and the two Dundasses were sent back to prison to Dunbarton. The rest were put to death: of what crime they were guilty, meriting so great a punishment, the historians of those times do not mention, neither will I interpose my own conjectures in a business so remote from our own memory. Only I will relate what I have heard, that James Levingston, when he came to the place of execution, complain’d heavily and expressly of the inconstancy of fortune, that his father, who was honour’d with a power next to the Kings, did yet freely give up the invidious title of Regent and went to his own estate far from Court, and out of his enemies sight, whose cruelty was never satiated by his miseries, and therefore he was forc’d to take arms to preserve his life, which he again laid down at the Kings command. If there were any fault in that, he had long ago obtain’d his pardon, and since that time he had liv’d remote and free from all suspicion of any crime, of which this was an evident token, that the Nobility thought them innocent and did solicitously deprecate their punishments, and yet not withstanding, the severe cruelty of their enemies prevailed more than the former demerits [merits] and good offices of their family, or than the Kings pardon obtain’d, or than the interceding supplications of the Nobility. And therefore he intreated all who were there present to look upon those lofty titles of empire and dominion to be nothing else but the glosing complements of Fortune, who then intended to most mischief, and that they were rather flowry embelishments for ones funeral than safeguards for a man’s life, especially since bad men can always do more to destroy the good than the consent of the good can do to save them. And, having thus spoken, to the great grief of all the spectators, he submitted his neck to the executioner. Amidst these combustions, Creighton was sent into France, partly to renew the ancient league, and partly to obtain from thence a royal bride. Douglas took his absence very well, tho’ in an honourable employment, because, tho’ he was a prudent and potent person, yet out of the relicks of their former discords he was not over-fond of him.
20. In this troublesome state of the kingdom, the same disease which vext others did also infect the ecclesiastical order. James Cameron, Bishop of Glasco, had himself committed many acts of cruelty and avarice upon the husbandmen of his diocese (which was very large), and he had also given encouragement to those who were in power to do the like, that so when the owners were unjustly condemn’d, their estates might be confiscated to him, so that he was believ’d to be the author or the favourer of all the mischiefs which were acted abroad. ’Tis reported that the man came to an end worthy of his wicked life. The day before the Nativity of Christ, as he was asleep in a farm of his own about 7 miles from Glasco, he seem’d to hear a loud voice calling him to the tribunal of Christ to plead his cause. That sudden fright wakened him out of his sleep, he call’d up his servants to bring a candle and sit down by him. He took a book in his hand and began to read, but presently the same voice was heard louder than before, which struck all there present into a great horror. Afterwards, when it sounded again more terribly and frightfully than before, the Bishop gave a great groan, put out his tongue, and was found dead in his bed. This so evident an example of God’s vengeance, as I shall not rashly credit, so I have no mind to refute; yet, it being deliver’d by others and constantly affirmed to be true, I thought good not to omit it. At the same time, James Kennedy, one of a far different life and manners, as referring all his counsels to the good of the publick, when neither by his authority nor counsel he could resist the daily new-springing evils of his country, and seeing likewise that the Kings power was not able to oppose the conspiracies of wicked men, he left all his estate for a prey and shifted for himself. Neither in these domestick miseries were matters much quieter abroad. When the truce made with the English was expir’d, the Scots made an inrode into England, and the English into Scotland, and where-ever they went they wasted all with fire and sword. In England Alnwick was taken and burnt by James, brother to the Earl of Douglas. In Scotland the Earl of Salisbury did the like to Dumfriez and the Earl of Northumberland to Dunbar. Great booties of men and cattel were driven away on both sides. But the commanders agreed amongst themselves that the prisoners should be exchang’d, for they were in a manner equal both for number and degree. By these incursions the country was depopulated, and yet the main chance of the war not concerned, so that a truce was again accorded for 7 years.
21. In this state of affairs, James Dunbar, Earl of Murray, departed this life. He left two daughters his heiresses. The eldest of them was marry’d by her father before his death to James Creighton. The younger, after her fathers decease, marry’d Archibald, brother to the Earl of Douglas. He, against the laws and the customs of his ancestors, was called Earl of Murray, so superlative was Douglas’s power then at Court. Neither was he contented with this accession of honour, but that he might further propagate the dignity of his family he caus’d his brother George to be made of Earl of Ormond. His brother John had many fair and fruitful farms and lands bestowed upon him, and was also made Baron of Balvany against the mind of many of his friends, who had in suspicion the power of that family, too great before, that it would be at last formidable even to the King himself; yea, they imagined that these immoderate accessions and frolicks of Fortune would not be long-lived. But his enemies did as invidiously as they could inveigh against this insatiable ambition. “For who (say they) could safely live under the exorbitant rule of such a tyrant, for whose avarice nothing was enough, and against whose power there was no safeguard; who, right or wrong, invaded the patrimony of the Nobles an expos’d the countrymen to be a prey to his tenants?” And those who oppos’d his lust he caus’d them to be by thieves and cut-throats either to lose all they had or else be put to death; that he advanced upstarts to high honours, whom he grafted on the ruin of noble families, so that all the power of the Kingdom was now brought into one house. Besides many knights and Barons there were five opulent Earls of the family, insomuch that the King himself did but reign precariously, and men were like to suffer all extremities under the cruel bondage of the Douglas’s, and he that utter’d the least word tending to liberty must pay his life for his boldness. These and other discourses of this kind, some true, others to create greater envy stretcht beyond the limits of truth, were spread abroad amongst the vulgar, which made those who were of neither faction to sit loose from the care of the publick and every one to mind his own private concerns. The wiser sort of his enemies were glad to hear that a man of such power, against which there was no making head, should thus voluntarily run headlong to his own destruction. Neither did they presage amiss, for his mind was grown so proud and insolent by reason of his great successes that he shut his ears against the free advices of his friends; yea, they could not with any safety dissemble and cover by their silence what they did dislike, because he had parasites which did not only lie at catch for words, but observ’d mens very countenances. As for his old enemies, many of them were hal’d to judgment before him who was both their adversary and judge too, so that some of them were outed of their estates, some depriv’d of their lives, and others, to avoid his unrighteous and partial judgment, fled out of their country. The men also of Douglas’s faction lived in no fear at all of the law (for no man durst implead them), but, letting the reins loose to all licentiousness, they invaded and made havock of things sacred as well as profane. Those which were obnoxious to them they slew and kill’d out of the way, neither was there any end of their wickedness. Sometimes, when they had no sufficient cause to do a man a mischief they then did it unprovok’d and gratuitously, as it were, lest thro’ disuse of offending any honest and tender thoughts should arise in their minds, so as to allay their brutish cruelty. Every one thought himself the noblest and bravest fellow that could cast the greatest contumely on the Commons.
22. When such great miseries were diffus’d into so many parts of the kingdom, Scotland had certainly sunk under the burden, unless England at the same time had been as much embarrassed with civil combustions. Which at last being somewhat allay’d, the English violated their truce and invaded Scotland. When they had run over a great circuit of ground and pillaged many villages, they drove away a vast number of cattle and return’d home. Neither was it long before the Scots cry’d quits with them, for they also entred England with a good force and did the enemy more damage than they receiv’d. Thus the minds of both were irritated by these alternate plunderings, so that a mighty desolation was made in the territories of either kingdom. But the greatest share of the calamity fell upon Cumberland, which had been the rise of the injury and wrong, for that province was so harassed by the war that it was almost quite destroy’d. When this was related at London, it occasion’d the English to levy a far greater army against the Scots, for thereby they thought easily to reduce that country into their power, they being poor and also weakened by civil discords. Hereupon an army was rais’d of the better sort of people, and the Earl of Northumberland made their General, in regard he knew the country well; and besides, his name and power was great in those parts. To him they joyn’d one Main, of a knightly family but who had long serv’d in France and was commended for his industry and valour. ’Tis said that he, out of his mortal hatred against the Scots, had bargain’d with the King of England that what lands he took from the Scots, either by killing or driving away the inhabitants, he and his posterity after him should enjoy. On the other side, the Scots, hearing of the preparation of their enemies, were not negligent in gathering forces on their part. George Dunbar, Earl of Ormond, was made Captain General, who presently marcht into Annendale, whither his intelligence inform’d him that the enemy would come. And indeed, the English had prevented him and entred Scotland before. They had past over the Rivers Solway and Annand and pitch’d their tents by the River Sarc, from whence they sent out parties on every side to pillage. But, hearing of the coming of the Scots, they recall’d them all by sound of trumpet and contracted all their force into one body. As soon as ever they came in to fight one of another, they fell to it without delay. Main commanded the left wing of the English, and John Penington the right, he had the Welsh, the relicks of the ancient Britains, for his assistants. The Earl himself commanded the main battel.
23. George Douglas appointed Wallace Laird of Craig to fight Main, and Maxwel and Johnston, each with their troops, to attack Penington. He himself took care of the main body. He gave them a short exhortation to conceive a good hope of victory because they had taken up arms in their own defence, as provoked by the injuries of their enemies; and that a prosperous issue must needs attend so just a cause; and if they could abate the pride of their enemy by some notable overthrow they would reap a lasting fruit of their short labour. The English, who abounded in the number of archers, wounded many of the Scots with their darts at a distance. Whereupon Wallace, who commanded the left wing, cryed out aloud so as to heard by most of his men, why they trifled so and skirmish’d at a distance? They should follow him and rush in upon the enemy hand to hand, and then their valour would truly appear, for that was the fighting fit for men. Having thus spoken, he drew the whole wing after him. And presently with their long spears, wherewith the Scots both foot and horse were furnish’d, they drove the enemy back, routed and put them to flight. Main, perceiving his wing to give back, being more mindful of the just glory of his former life than of his present danger, rushes with great violence upon Wallace, that so by his boldness he might either renew the fight or else breath out his last in the glory of some illustrious attempt. But unwarily charging, he was intercepted from his own men, and with those few that follow’d him was slain. When both armies heard that he was slain, the Scots prest on more chearfully, so that the English army did not stand long. As they fled home stragglingly and in great haste, more were slain in the pursuit than fight, but the chiefest slaughter was upon the banks of the Solway. For there the tide had swollen up the river, so that they could not pass. About 3000 of the English were slain in this fight and 600 of the Scots. There were many prisoners taken, the chief were John Penington and Robert Harrington. The Earl of Northumberland’s son might have escap’d, but whilst he was helping his father to horse he himself was taken prisoner. The booty was greater than had been ever known in any battel betwixt the Scots and English before. For the English, trusting to the number and goodness of their soldiers, and depending also on the discord of the Scots, came on so securely as if it had been to a shew, not to a fight, so great was their confidence and undervaluing of their enemy. Wallace was wounded, carried home in a litter, and in 3 months after died of his wounds.
24. Ormond, being thus a conqueror, took a view of the prisoners. The chief commanders he sent prisoners to the Castle in Loch Maban. He himself return’d to Court, where every body went out to meet him and he was received with all kind of honour. The King did highly extol his military services, but withal advis’d him and his brother that, as they had often given a proof of their courage abroad and had defended the state of Scotland by their labour and valour even in perillous times, so at home that they would accustom themselves to a modest deportment, and that they themselves should refrain from injuring the poorer sort, and also inhibit their clans from doing it; and that they should shew their puissance and grandeur, which their ancestors had obtain’d by their many merits both of King and subjects, rather in restraining of robbers than in cherishing them; that this was the only thing which was wanting to compleat their praise and make it absolute; and if they would do this thing, they should certainly find that he would esteem the honour of the Douglas’s and their family before any thing else whatsoever. They answer’d the King submissively, and so took their leave and went joyfully home. After this fight at Sarc, as the Borders of Scotland were quieter from the wrongs of their enemies, so, when the matter was reported at London, it did rather irritate the English than deject them. For, a Council being call’d about a war with Scotland, a new army was order’d to be rais’d to blot out the former ignominy. Whilst they were all intent hereupon, presently civil wars arose amongst themselves, and a strong conspiracy of the Commons made against the King took their thoughts from a foreign war, so that embassadors were sent into Scotland to treat of a peace, which were so much the more welcome because their own affairs were not well settled at home. Yet they could not well agree on terms of peace, but only made a truce for three years and so returned home. These things were acted in the year of our Lord one thousand four hundred forty eight.
25. This publick joy was soon after increast by a message sent out of Flanders from the Chancellor, who went ambassador to Charles the Seventh about contracting a marriage. By his endeavours Mary, the daughter of Arnold Duke of Gelderland, was betroth’d to James. She was of the kingly race by her mothers side, who was a sister to the Duke of Burgundy. The year after, she came with a great train of noble persons into Scotland, and in July was crowned in the Abby of Holy-Rood-House near Edinburgh. This universal joy for the victory, for the peace, and for the marriage, was soon disturbed by the death of Richard Colvill, a man of note, which, though perhaps in it self not undeserv’d, yet was of very bad example to the common-wealth. This Colvil, having received many and great wrongs from one John Afflech, a friend of Douglas’s, and after many complaints could get no remedy in law nor equity, he fought with and slew him and some of his followers. Douglas took the fact so hainously that he made a solemn oath never to rest till he had expiated the murder by Colvil’s death. Neither were his threatnings in vain, for he storm’d his Castle, took and plunder’d it, and killed all therein that were able to bear arms. This fact, though ’twas performed against law and custom, yet some did excuse and, in effect, commend, as proceeding from indignation, a passion not unbeseeming a generous mind. Thus, as it commonly happens in degenerate times, flattery, the perpetual companion of greatness, did clothe the highest offences with honest and plausible names. Moreover, Douglas was so lifted up with the flatteries of fortune, which did now incline to his destruction, that he had a great ambition to make an ostentation of his power even to foreign nations, as if the splendor of so great a family ought not to be straitned within the narrow theatre of one island only, so that he had a mind to go to Rome. He pretended religion, but the principal design of is journy was ambition. The Church of Rome had adopted the old rites of the Jewish. For as the Jewish Church every fiftieth year was to forgive all the debts of what kind soever to their country men, and to restore all pledges gratis, and also to set their Hebrew servants at liberty, so the Pope, taking an example therefrom, as Gods vicar on earth did arrogate the power of forgiving all offences. For whereas at other times he trucked out his pardons by peice-meal, every fiftieth year he open’d his full garners thereof and pour’d out whole bushels full of them publickly to all, yet I will not say gratis.
26. Douglas with a great train of Nobles, who were desirous partly to see novelties and partly allur’d by hopes of reward, sail’d over into Flanders. From thence he travelled by land to Paris and took with him his brother, appointed Bishop of Caledonia, who afterwards, seeing Douglas had no children, was by the Kings permission put in hopes to be his heir. In France he was highly caressed, partly upon the account of the publick league with the Scots, and partly in memory of his ancestors demerits from that Crown. Hereupon all Rome was filled with the expectation of his coming. About two months after his departure from Scotland, his enemies and rivals began to lift up their heads. They durst not for fear complain of him when he was present, but now they laid open all the injuries that had received from him. And when it was once noised abroad that the access to the King was easie and that his ear was open to all just complaints, the troop of complainants lamenting their sufferings did daily increase, so that all the ways to the palace were almost stopt by them. The King could not well either reject the petitions of the sufferers nor yet condemn the Earl in his absence without hearing of him, so that he gave a middle answer which satisfi’d their importunity for the present, viz., that he could command the Earls Proctor or attorney to appear, that so in his own presence a fair tryal might be had. Whereupon the Proctor was summon’d, but did not appear, so that the Kings officers were sent out to bring him in by force. When he was brought to Court, some alledged that he ought to be immediately punisht for disobeying the Kings command, in regard that by too much patience the Kings authority would be despis’d and run low even amongst the meaner sort: for under the pretence of lenity the audaciousness of the bad would increase and the impunity of offendors would open the way for more crimes. The King was not mov’d by those instigations, but remain’d constant to his resolution, which was rather to satisfie his greatest accusers by the compensation of their losses than to satiate their vindictive minds with the spilling of his blood. Hereupon he caus’d the Earls Proctor to be brought out of prison and to plead in his masters behalf, telling him that if he had any thing to allege in purgation of the crimes objected, he should freely declare it without any fear at all. When he was cast in many suits and the King commanded him immediately to pay the damages, the Proctor answer’d he would defer the whole matter till the return of the Earl, who was expected in a few months. This he spake, as ’twas thought, by the advice of Ormond and Murray, the Earl’s brothers. When the King was inform’d of his resolution he sent William Sinclare, Earl of the Orcades, who was then Chancellor, first into Galway, and then into Douglasdale. He appointed sequestrators to gather up the rents of Douglas’s estate and so to pay the damages adjudg’d by law. But in regard Sinclare had not power enough to inforce his order, some eluded, others contumeliously abus’d him, so that he return’d without effecting his business.
27. The King, being provokt by this contempt of his authority, commands all the favourers of Douglas his faction to be summon’d to appear, which they refusing to do were declared publick enemies. An army was levy’d against them, which marcht into Galway. At their first coming the commanders were driven into their castles, but a small party of the Kings forces, pursuing after the rest through craggy places, were repuls’d, and not without ignominy driven back to the King. The King, taking it in great indignation that a few vagabond thieves should dare to make such attempts, resolv’d to redeem their slighting of him by attempting their strong holds. He took the Castle of Maban with no great difficulty, but his soldiers were so much tir’d and weary’d in the taking of Douglas Castle that therefore he wholly demolisht it. As for the vassals and tenants who had submitted themselves and their fortunes to him, he commanded them to pay the rents to his treasurers till Douglas’ estate had fully satisfi’d what was awarded against him by law. And when this was almost done he dismist his army, having obtain’d a good report for his lenity and moderation even amongst his very enemies. When these matters were related to the Earl at Rome, his great spirit was mightily mov’d; yea, his esteem did then abate amongst his own attendants, so that a great part of them deserted him and he enter’d upon his journy homewards with but a few followers. He came through England and, drawing near to the Borders of Scotland, he sent his brother James to feel the Kings pulse how he stood affected towards him. And when the King was appeasable, he return’d home and was kindly receiv’d, only he was admonisht to abandon and subdue all robbers, especially those of Annandale, who had plaid many cruel and avaritious pranks in his absence. Douglas undertook to do so, and confirm’d his promise by an oath. Whereupon he was not only restor’d into his former grace and favour, but also made Regent over all Scotland, so that every one was injoin’d to obey his commands. But his vast mind, which was always hankering after supremacy and height, was not content with this honour, which was the greatest he could be advanced to under the King, but by his temerity he gave the state new occasion of suspicion. For he undertook a journy very privately into England, and after his address to that King he told him that the cause of his coming was that his estate, though claimed by him, was not yet restor’d. But this seem’d to James a light and no way probable cause of his journey, and therefore the King conceiv’d a greater suspicion in his mind, which before was not well reconcil’d against him; neither did he conceal his anger, as supposing that there was a deeper design hid under that his discourse with the English King. Douglas, having now an offended King to deal with, fled presently to his wonted refuge, the Kings known clemency, and cast himself at his feet. The Queen also and many of the Nobles interceded for him, and after a solemn oath that for the future he would never act any thing which might justly offend the King, his fault was forgiven; only he was deprived of his office. Whereupon the Earl of the Orcades and William Creighton, who had always remained loyal, were advanc’d again to sit at the helm.
28. Douglas was very angry with all the courtiers for this disgrace (for so he interpreted it), but he was most of all incens’d against William Creighton. For he though that ’twas by his prudence that all his projects were disappointed, and therefore he was resolv’d to dispatch him out of the world either by some treachery, or, if that succeeded not, by any other way whatsoever. And that he might do it with the less odium, he suborn’d one of his friends to witness that he heard Creighton say that Scotland would never be at quiet so long as any of the family of the Douglas’s were left alive, and that the safety of the King and kingdom, the concord of the Estates, and the publick peace did depend upon the death of that one man. For he, being of a turbulent nature and supported by many and great affinities, and irreconcileable by any offices of respect and advancements to honour, ’twere better to have him taken out of the way that so the publick peace might be confirm’d and settled. This tale, when nois’d abroad and believed by many by reason of the probability thereof, rais’d up a great deal of ill-will against Creighton. Douglas, being informed by his spies when he was to depart from Edinburgh, lays an ambush for him late in the night as secretly as he could, and when he and his train came to it the liers in wait set upon them with a great shout. They who were first assaulted were so astonisht at the suddenness of the danger that they could not lift up an hand to defend themselves. But William, being a man of great courage and conduct, assoon as he had a little recover’d himself from his flight, slew the first man that assaulted him and wounded another, and so he and his attendants brake through the midst of their enemies, having only received some wounds. He fled to Creighton Castle and there staid some days to cure his wounds, and soon after he got a great number of his friends and tenants about him, and in great silence came to Edinburgh. HIs speed did so prevent the noise of his coming that he had almost surpriz’d his enemy unawares. Douglas, being thus freed from an unlook’d for danger, either out of fear, shame, or both, when he saw the power of the adverse faction to increase with the good liking of the people, endeavour’d also to strengthen his own party as much as ever he could, and therefore he joins himself in league with the Earls of Craford and Ross, which were the most noted and potent families in Scotland next to the Douglas’s; a mutual oath was entred into betwixt them that each of them should be aiding and assisting to his friends and confederates one of another. And in confidence of this combination they slighted the forces of their opposite faction; yea, and the Kings too.
29. The King took this in great indignation; and besides, he had other fresh causes of provocation against him which hastned his destruction. John Herris, a knight of a noble family in Galway, being averse from the ill practices of the Douglas’s, ordinarily kept himself within the walls of his own house, but the Annandians were sent in upon him, which did him much mischief. He often complain’d hereof to Douglas, but in vain, so that at length he determin’d to revenge himself and to repel force by force. And accordingly he gather’d a company of his friends together, and, entring Annandale, he and all his followers were there taken prisoners by those bandity [banditti], and being brought to Douglas, he hang’d him up as a thief, though the King had earnestly interceded for him by his letters. That matter seem’d very hainous, as indeed it was, so that speeches were given out that Douglas by evil practices did endeavour, and that not obscurely, to make his way to the crown, for now there was nothing else remaining which could satisfie his vast and aspiring mind. Which suspicion was soon after increast by another fact which he committed, as foul as the former. There was a certain family of the Macklan’s in Galway, one of the best and chiefest there. The prime person of that family had slain one of Douglas his attendants from whom he had received continual wrongs and affronts, whereupon he and his brother were by Douglas cast into prison. The King, being made acquainted with it, was very much importun’d by the friends of the prisoners no to suffer so noble and otherwise a very honest man to be hal’d forth, not to a legal tryal, but to an undoubted destruction, the same man being both his capital enemy and his judge too; and that it was not his present crimes which did prejudice him so much as that he had always been of the honest or royal party. Hereupon the King sent Patrick Gray, Macklan’s uncle, a worthy knight and kin also to Douglas, to command him to send the pris’ner to Court that the matter might be tryed there in due course of law. The Earl receiv’d Gray very courteously, but in the mean time he caused execution to be done upon the prisn’er, and intreated Gray to excuse him to the King as if it had been done by his officers without his knowledge. But he, perceiving how manifestly he was deluded, was in such a rage that he told Douglas that from that day forward he would renounce all alliance, friendship, or any other obligation to him, and was resolv’d to be his perpetual enemy and do him all the mischief he could. When the news hereof was brought to Court, the fact seem’d so unworthy to all that heard it that speeches were openly scatter’d, that now Douglas did exceed the bounds of a subject, and plainly carry’d himself as a King. For to what other purpose else did his combinations with the Earls of Craford, Ross, Murray, and Ormond tend? And moreover, his private discourse with the King of England, his putting good men to death, and his allow’d licentiousness in pillaging the people were indications of the same design. Now innocency was accounted cowardize, and loyalty to the King punish’d as perfidiousness; that the enemys of the common-wealth grew insolent by the overmuch indulgence of the King; that ’twas time for him now to take the reins of government into his own hand and to act as a King himself, and then it would appear who were his friends and who were his enemies; or, if he did not dare to do it openly by reason of the powerfulness of some men, yet by some private way or other he should punish treachery; but if he were so fearful as not to do so neither, what remain’d but that they who had hitherto been constant in their loyalty to him should now at length provide for themselves?
30. These discourses, tho the life of the Douglas’s and the credulity of the King (prone to suspicion) did confirm to be true, yet the King, out of his innate clemency, or else having before laid his design, sends for Douglas to Court. He, being conscious of so many mischievous pranks he had plaid, and calling to remembrance how often he had been pardon’d, and withal understanding how distastful his new league with Craford was to the King, tho’ he put great confidence in the King’s clemency, yet, being more inclin’d to fear, refus’d to come, alleging that he had many powerful enemies at Court, and some of them had lately lain in wait to take away his life. Hereupon, to remove this his fear, many of the Nobles about the King sent him a schedule with their hands and seals to it, promising upon oath that if the King himself should meditate any thing against his life, yet they would dismiss him in safety, so that Douglas, encourag’d by the King’s clemency and by the publick faith testify’d by the subscriptions of so many noble persons, with a train of followers came to Sterlin, where he was courteously treated by the King and invited into the Castle. After supper with great hilarity was ended, the King took him aside into his bed-chamber with but a few of his confidents. He did not so much as admit those to whom he was wont to communicate his most secret counsels. There he ript up from the very beginning the loyalty and valour of his ancestors, and his own indulge towards their family and especially towards himself, who, having committed many hainous offences either by the greenness of his years or by the persuasions of wicked men, he had freely pardon’d, always hoping that either by his courteous clemency toward him or else by the maturity of his age he would be reform’d, “And as yet (says he) I despair not but it may be so. And if you repent of what you have impiously committed, the door of my clemency shall never be shut against you. This last league (proceeded he) with Craford and Ross, as it is not creditable for you, so it is ignominious to me, and therefore, tho’ I take it much amiss that you entred into it, yet I put it into your power, and as yet give you liberty to cancel and break it off; which tho’ by my prerogative I may command, yet I had rather by fair means persuade you so to do, that, seeing all mens eyes are upon you, you may avert all cause of suspicion with greater diligence.” Douglas answer’d submissively enough to all other points, but when he came to the mention of the league he was somewhat perplext and did not clearly declare what he would do, but that he would advise with his associats, neither did he see any cause why the King at present should tye him to a breach of it, seeing there was nothing contain’d therein which might justly offend him.
31. The King, either having resolv’d upon the fact before or else provok’d by his contumacious answer (as the courtiers say), replyed, “If thou wilt not break it, I will,” and immediately struck his dagger into his breast. Those who stood at the door, hearing the noise, rusht in and destroy’d him quite with many wounds. Some say that next after the King Patrick Grey, of whom mention was made before, struck him into the head with a bill, and that the rest that came in, to shew their duty to the King, every one gave him a blow. He was slain in the month of February in the year 1452 according to the Roman account. He had then 4 brothers in Sterlin, whom a great number of the Nobility had accompany’d thither. They, as soon as ever they heard of what was done, ran in great amazement to their arms (as in such suddain hurly-burlies it uses to happen) and filled the town with noise and clamour. But when the tumult was appeas’d by the Nobles, they were commanded to go each man to his respective lodging. The next day they met to consult, and first of all James was call’d Earl in the room of his brother who was slain. He mightily inveigh’d against the perfidiousness of the King and the courtiers, and advises to besiege the Castle with what force they then had, and with all speed to levy more, and so to pull out those men out of their lurking holes, who were valiant only to commit perfidious mischiefs whilst they were yet in some fear and trepidation of the guilt of their offence. The company commended the piety of James and the courageousness of his spirit, but were averse from his advice to a siege because they were not prepar’d with any materials for so great an enterprize, so that they all departed home, and after consultation with the chief of their friends, the 6th of the Calends of April they return’d again and tyed a cord to an horse tail on which they fastned the schedule of the King and Nobles promising the publick faith to Douglas for his security. This they drew through the streets, abstaining from no manner of reproach either against the King or council. When they came to the market-place, they proclaim’d the King and those that were with him truce-breakers, perjur’d persons, and enemies to all good men. Moreover, they were angry with the town, tho’ that had committed no offence, and after they had pillaged it they sent James Hamilton back to burn it; yea, their fury continued for some days, so that they rang’d all over the country and made havock of the lands of all those who were loyal to the King. They besieg’d the Castle of Dalkeith and took an oath not to depart from it till they had taken it, for they were very angry with John, the owner of it, because he and the Earl of Angus had separated themselves from the counsels of the rest of the Douglasses. The siege lasted longer than they expected, for Patrick Cockburn, commander of the garison, made a strenuous resistance against all the efforts of the enemy, so that after they had lost a great many men they were worn out with toils and watchings and so broke up the siege.
32. In the mean time, the King levied an army to relieve his distressed friends, but seeing he had not strength enough to encounter the Douglasses, he resolv’d to wait the coming in of Alexander Gordon to his assistance, who had levy’d a good force in the northern parts and was marching towards him. But as he was coming thro Angus, Craford with a considerable body met and oppos’d him at Brechin, where a sharp battel was fought between them. When the King’s main battel was giving ground, as not able to indure the shock of the Angusians, John Colace, who commanded the left wing, forsook Craford, having born him a grudge, and so left the main body of the army naked. Hereupon those who were almost conquerors, being struck with terrour, turn’d their backs and fled away. Thus Gordon unexpectedly got the victory, yet with much loss on his side, his two brothers and a great number of his friends and followers being slain. Of the Angusians also there fell several men of note, and amongst the rest the Earl’s own brother. As for the Earl himself, he turn’d his wrath from the enemy to those who had deserted him, he storm’d their castles, and spoil’d their lands with fire and sword; and he had the better opportunity so to do because that Gordon made a speedy return into his own country when he heard that the Earl of Murray was exercising all manner of cruelty against his own territories, so that he was forced to march back with his victorious army, where he not only revenged his loss upon his enemy but also quite expell’d him out of his country of Murray. These things were acted toward the end of the spring. In the interim, the King, by the advice chiefly of James Kennedy, caus’d an Assembly of the Estates to meet at Edinburgh, to which he summon’d by an herald the Earl of Douglas and the Nobles of his party to come. But he was so far from obeying him that the next night he caus’d a libel to be hung on the church doors, that he would not trust the King with his life, nor yield obedience to him for the future anymore, who had sent for his kinsmen to Edinburgh and his brothers to Sterlin under the protection of the publick faith, and there had perfidiously slain them without hearing their cause. In this Assembly, the four brothers of the late Earl which was slain, James, Archibald, George, and John, with Beatrix the Earls late wife and Alexander Earl of Craford, were declar’d publick enemies to the common wealth. Many persons were advanc’d to be noble men, and rewards were assign’d them out of the rebels estates. An army was levy’d to pursue the enemy, which after some devastation of the country, driving of bootys, and burning corn in the granarys, was again dismist in winter because the soldiers could not then keep the field, and an expedition was appointed against the spring. In the mean time, James Douglas, lest the wealth of his family, which was mightily increas’d by rich matches, should pass away to others, took Beatrix, the relict of his brother, to wife, and treats with the Pope to confirm the marriage. But the King by his letters interpos’d and hindred him from giving his ratification to it.
33. This year and the next following there was bandying between the parties, lands were pillag’d, some castles overthrown, but they came not to decide the main controversy in a set battel. The greatest part of the damage fell on the countys of Annandale, Foress, and the neighbouring countys of the Douglasses. After this devastation of the lands there follow’d a famine, and after the famine a pestilence, yet the wisest of Douglas’s his friends sought many times to persuade him to endeavour a reconciliation with the the King, and so to lay himself and all his concerns at his feet, whom his ancestors had before found very merciful, especially since he had a King who was easily exorable [moved to mercy] in his own nature, and moreover, might be made more reconcilable by the mediation of his friends, and that he would not suffer so noble a family as his was to be extirpated by his obstinacy, nor betray the lives of so many brave men who follow’d his party, neither yet bring them to that point of necessity that, after having suffer’d so many calamities, they should be forc’d to make terms for themselves. Whilst he was in a good condition he might make an easy pacification, but if once his friends deserted him there would then be no hope for him to obtain his pardon. The man, being in his youthful age and of a fierce disposition too, made answer that he would never submit himself to their power, who were restrain’d by no bonds of modesty nor by any divine or human law; who under fair promises had inticed his cosins and his brother to come to them, and then, perfidiously and cruelly, slew them. In a word, he would suffer the height of all extremities before he would ever put himself into their hands. This his answer was either approv’d or dislik’d according to every man’s humour. Those who were violent or who made a gain of the publick miseries commended the greatness of his courage, but the wiser sort persuaded him to take opportunity by the forelock, lest after his friends had forsaken him he might complain that he had neglected the time for a pacification when ’twas not to be redeem’d, which is usually the end of headlong counsels. But the Earl of Craford, being weary’d out with so long a war, and withal considering with himself the very unjustness of his cause together with the common mutations of human life, as also knowing that pardon might easily obtain’d if he did preoccupy the Kings favour, but very difficultly if he stood it out; and besides, being forsaken by some of his friends and suspecting the fidelity of the rest, put himself into such an habit as might most move pity, and thus bare-headed and bare-footed, in most humble manner he came to the King as he was passing thro’ Angus. He ingeniously confest the offences of his former life; he cast himself and all his concerns upon the King’s mercy, having first prefaced something concerning the fidelity and good services which his ancestors had performed to their Kings. He was conscious that his fault had deserv’d the extremity of punishment, but whatsoever hereafter he had either of life or fortune, it would be a debt wholly due to the Kings clemency.
34. Having spoken these and other words of the same import, not without fear, all the spectators were much moved and affected, especially some of the Nobility of Angus, and tho’ they themselves had in former times followed the Kings party, yet they were unwilling that so eminent and ancient a family should be destroy’d. James Kennedy carry’d himself at the same like a good bishop and a friendly patriot, for he not only forgave the Earl the many grievous injuries he had done him, but further commended his suit and spake in his favour to the King, for he foresaw, as it after hapned, that by his accession the Kings party would be strengthen’d and his enemies weaken’d daily for the future, in regard many were likely to follow the example of this great man. And besides, the King thinking that his former fierceness was tam’d and that he was really penitent for what he had done, was not hard to be intreated, but gave him his pardon, restor’d him to his former estate and honour, only advis’d him for the future to keep within the bounds of his duty. And indeed, Craford, being thus ingag’d by the lenity and facileness of the King, did afterwards endeavour to perform him all the service he possibly could. He followed him with his forces in his march to the furthest parts of the kingdom, and, having setled things there for the present, he entertained him nobly at his house in his return, and when he march’d to make a full end of the civil war, he thus promis’d him all the force he could make. And indeed, the whole course of his life was so chang’d that, laying down his former savageness, he liv’d courteously and in complaisance with his neighbouring Nobility, so that his death, which followed soon after, brought the greater grief to the King and to all the people. The King thus weakening Douglas’s party by degrees, his remaining hopes were from England, if possibly he might obtain aid from thence. Hereupon he sent Hamilton to London, who brought him back word that the King of England would undertake a war against Scotland on no other terms but that Douglas must submit himself and all his concerns to that King, and acknowledge himself a subject of England, so that his hopes thence were cut off. And, on the other side, the King of Scotland prest hard upon him by his edicts, proscriptions, and arms; yea, by all the miseries which accompany rebellious insurrections, so that Hamilton advis’d the Earl not to suffer the King to nim [steal] away his forces by piece-meal, and by catching a part to weaken, and in time overthrow, the whole. He should rather march out with his army, trust fortune, and put it to a battle, there to dye valiantly or conquer honourably. “This resolution (said he) is worthy of the name of the Douglasses and the only way to end the present miseries.” Being alarum’d with this speech, he gather’d as great an army as he could of his friends and dependants and marched out to raise the siege of the Castle of Abercorn. For the King, after he had demolish’d many castles of the Douglasses, had at last besieged that. It was a very strong hold, scituate almost in the mid-way between Sterlin and Edinburgh.
35. When Douglas came so near that he saw and was seen by the enemy, his friends advis’d him to push at all, and either to make himself renown’d by some eminent victory, or by a noble death to free himself from reproach and misery. But when all his party were ready for the onset, he daunted all their spirits by his own delay, for he retreated with his army again into his camp and determin’d to draw and eke out the war at length. His commanders dislik’d his design, and Hamilton, not enduring his cowardize and despairing of the success of his arms, that very night revolted to the Kings party. Upon this his defection the King gave him his pardon, but, not putting any great confidence in him because of his subtilty, he sent him prisoner to Rosseline, a Castle belonging to the Earl of the Orcades; but afterwards by the mediation of his friends he was releas’d and received into favour, and that unbloody victory ascribed to him as the main occasion thereof. The rest of the Douglassians follow’d Hamilton’s example and slipt away from him, every one whither he thought most convenient for himself, so that at length the Castle, after much loss on both sides, was taken, the garison put to the sword, and after ’twas half demolished it was left as a monument of the victory. Douglas, being thus deserted by almost all his friends, with a few of his familiars fled into England. From thence, not long after, he made an inrode with a smal party into Annandale, which was then possest by the Kings garisons, but, being worsted in a skirmish, he and his brother John escaped. Archibald Earl of Murray was slain. George was much wounded and taken prisoner, and after his wounds were cur’d he was brought to the King and put to death. In an Assembly of the Estates held at Edinburgh in the Nones of June in the year 1455, James, John and Beatrix, all Douglasses, were again proscrib’d. The publick acts do make Beatrix their mother, which seems not very probable to me unless, perhaps, they might be called her sons by adoption. Earl James, having thus lost his brothers, being deserted by his friends and distrusting the English, that he might leave no stone unturn’d apply’d himself to Donald King of the Aebudae, where he easily persuaded him to joyn with him in the war, whereupon they committed great outrages on the Kings provinces near adjoyning, without distinction either of age or sex; there was nothing spar’d which could be violated by fire or sword. The like cruelty was us’d in Argyle and Arran, and then, being laden with booty, he return’d home, and afterward, having wasted Loch-Abyr and Murray, he turn’d to Innerness, he took the Castle, and pillaged and burnt the town. Neither were the English quiet all this while, but, watching their opportunity, they made incursions into Merch, where they slew some men of note who endeavoured to oppose their furious ravaging, and so returned without loss, but full of plunder, from that opulent country.
36. The next year after, Beatrix, wife to the former Earl of Douglas, and also living for some years with James his brother as his wife, came in to the King. She laid all the fault of her former miscarriages upon James, that being a woman and helpless, was inforc’d to that wicked marriage, but at the first opportunity, as soon as James was absent, she was fled from that servitude; that now she laid her self and all her concerns at the Kings feet, and whatever order he should please to make concerning her or her estate, she would willingly obey it. The King receiv’d her into his protection, gave her an estate in Balvany, and married her to his brother, the Earl of Athole, by the same mother. The wife of Donald the Islander followed her example. She was the daughter of James Levingston and was married to Donald by her grandfather the Regent, by the persuasion also of the King, that so he might a little soften the rugged disposition of the man and keep him firm to the Kings party. But then, her kinsmen being restor’d to the favours and graces they formerly had, and her husband having joyned himself to the Douglassian faction, she was every day more and more slighted and despis’d by him, so that she implor’d the Kings assistance against his barbarous cruelty. There was no need of her making such an apology, in regard the King himself had been the author of the match, so that she was nobly treated and had a large revenue setled upon her for her life. About the same time, Patrick Thornton, who had followed the Court a great while yet was secretly of Douglas’s faction, slew John Sanderland of Caldar, a young man of about 20 years of age, and Alan Stuart, of noble families both, and of eminent faithfulness to the King, having got a convenient opportunity so to do at Dunbarton, and soon after he himself was taken by the clans of the adverse party and executed for the same. This year was remarkable for the death of many noble personages, but especially of William Creighton. He, tho’ born of an equestrian [middle-class] family, yet by reason of his great prudence, fortitude, and his singular loyal to to the King, even to the last day of his life, left a great loss behind him to all good men.
37. The next year, the English, being incouraged by their impunity for former injuries, made great spoil in Merch under the command of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and James Douglas the exile. To hinder their devastations, George Douglas, Earl of Angus, gathered a party of his countrymen together and made an assault on the plunderers, and drave that part of them which he assaulted in great confusion back to their own standards. The English, being mov’d at this indignity, marched on their army before the rest had recover’d their colours, and the Scots were as ready to receive them. The fight was manag’d on both sides with greater courage than force a great while, neither did any odds appear till the English, who were scatter’d up and down the county, by the noise and tumult perceiving that the enemy was come, for fear of losing the rich booty they had gotten hasted directly home. Their departure gave an easier, but yet not unbloody, victory to the Scots, there being almost an equal number slain on both sides, but many of the English taken in the pursuit. The news of this victory, being brought to the King, did something to relieve his mind, which was opprest with thoughtfulness between the arms of his own subjects and of the English. Afterwards, Donald the Islander, perceiving the ill success of his affairs, was inforc’d to send agents to the King to intercede for a peace. They in an humble oration commemorated the King’s clemency shew’d to Craford and the rest of his partisans in the same cause; as for their own crimes, they laid them on the fatality of the times, but for the future they made large promises how loyal and obsequious Donald would be. The King seem’d to be somewhat affected with their speech, yet gave them but a middle answer, neither quite pardoning Donald nor utterly excluding all hopes of his pardon. He told them that his many crimes were very evident, but he had discover’d no specimen of a chang’d mind in him; if they would have the penitence which they pretended in words to be believ’d as really true and hearty, he should make restitution for the loss he had formerly caus’d, and restore their estates to such as he had outed of them, and thus to cancel the memory of his former mischiefs by some eminent and loyal service. ’Tis true (said he) no virtue becomes a King more than clemency, but care must be had lest the reins of government be not let loose by too much lenity, and so evil men rather made more insolent than good men excited to their duty thereby; that he would give time to Donald and his party to manifest by some tokens that they repented of their miscarriages; and that they should always find him towards them such as their actions and their words did declare them to be. In the mean time, they need not fear, for now it was put into their own power whether they would every man be happy or miserable for the future.
38. By this means intestine discords were either compos’d or else laid asleep, so that the King now bends all his care against England. Whilst he was consulting concerning a war with them and concerning their frequent violations of truces, behold! embassadors came from the English Nobility to desire aid against Henry their King. For Henry had slighted the Nobles and advanc’d upstarts, by whose advice his wife, a woman of a manly spirit and courage, ruled the roast. And besides, the King had incurr’d the displeasure and contempt of his friends because things had not succeeded well in Aquitane and Normandy; for they, having lost so many provinces and being now pent up within the ancient bounds of their own island, did mutter and grumble that the Kings sluggishness and the Queens pride were no longer to be endur’d. The heads of the conspiracy were Richard Duke of York with the Earls of Salisbury and Warwick. When the English embassadors had discours’d much concerning the justness of their cause to begin a war, and also concerning their own power and the cowardly temper of their King, they crav’d aid against him, as against a common enemy who was fearful in war, sordid in peace, and who had nourish’d civil discords among the Scots and had assisted their exiles; withal, they promis’d, if they got the victory, to restore the castles and countries which were taken in former wars from the Scots. The King, by advice of his Council, made answer that he, before, knew the state of the English affairs, and that he was not ignorant of the right or demands of either side, but that he would not interpose himself an arbiter in another mans kingdom unless he were chosen by both parties to that office. As to the war, he had long since determin’d to revenge the injuries of the former times, and if he could not otherwise obtain the places he had lost, on the occasion of those discords he would recover them by force. But if the Duke of York and his party would promise to restore them, then he would assist him against Henry. The embassadors agreed to the terms and so return’d home. The King prepar’d his forces and was about to enter England, when behold! an English impostor sent by Henry met him. He had been a long time at Rome and was well acquainted with the speech and the customs of the Italians, his habit and train was all outlandish, and he had counterfeit letters as from the Pope, whereby he was easily believ’d by men suspecting nothing but to be a Legate sent from him. And to gain the greater credit to his impostures he had a monk with him whose fained sanctity made the fraud less suspected. They were brought to the King, and in the Popes name commanded him to proceed no further with his army: if he did, they threatned to excommunicate him with bell, book, and candle. For the Pope (said they) is wholly intent upon a war against the common enemy of Christendom, and so would have the differences compos’d all over Europe that they might be free for that war; and that they were sent before to give him notice hereof, but there was a more solemn embassy which would shortly arrive, and which, they believ’d, was already come as far as France to decide the civil discords of England, and to give satisfaction to the Scots for the wrongs they had sustain’d. The King did not imagine any fraud in the case, and, desiring nothing more than an honourable peace, in regard things at home were not quite setled to his mind, obey’d the Legate and disbanded his army.
39. He had scarce dismist it but he was advis’d from England that this suppos’d embassador was a cheat, so that he gather’d again some forces, and because he could not joyn the Duke of York, that he might keep off some of the King’s force from him and also revenge his own wrongs, he march’d directly to Roxburgh. The town he took and destroy’d it at his own coming, but whilst he was laying siege to the Castle, embassadors came from York and his associats, informing him that their King was overcome and the war ended in England. They gave him thanks for his good-will and his desire to assist them in the maintenance of their lives and honours, and that they would, in time, be mindful to requite the courtesie; but at present they desir’d him to raise the siege and draw off from the Castle and likewise to forbear any other act of hostility against England. For otherwise they should be laden with great envy [unpopularity] amongst the people, who could hardly be contain’d or satisfy’d but that an army must presently march against the Scots. James congratulated their victory, but ask’d the embassadors whether the Duke of York and his allies had given them nothing in command concerning restoring the places promis’d. He answer’d, nothing. “Then (said he) before your last embassy came to me, I was determin’d to pull down that Castle, which is built upon my land. Neither since that time am I so much obliged by the courtesies of that faction as to give over an enterprize which is begun and almost finisht. As for the threatnings made, either by the people or by them, let them look to it. Go you and tell them that I will not be remov’d hence by words, but blows.” Thus the embassadors were dismist without their errand, and whilst he did press upon the besieg’d by all the hardships of war, Donald the Islander came into his camp with a great band of his country-men. He, to obtain the easier pardon for his past offences, and fully to atone and reconcile the King, promis’d him that if he would march forward into the enemies countries, as long as he was there, he would march a mile before his army and endure the sharpest and first of all brunts and hazards. But he was commanded to be near the King, yet some of his troops was sent out to prey upon the country. It happen’d also that, at the same time, Alexander Gordon, Earl of Huntly, brought in new forces to the King. This accession of strength made the King more resolute to continue the siege, tho’ a strong defence was made by those within, so that whereas before it was a blockade only, a well-laid and close siege was now made. When he had soldiers enough, some presently succeeded in the places of others, insomuch that the garison soldiers (of whom many were slain, many wounded and unfit for service, the rest tired out with continual toil and labour) were not so eager to run into the places of most danger, as before. And to strike the more terror into them, the King gave command to batter part of the wall with iron pieces of ordnance, which were then much us’d and were very terrible.
40. And whilst the King was busie about one of them to press on the work, the fire catcht within it, and with its force drove out a wooden wedg or plug, which immediately fell’d the King to the earth and slew him without hurting any body else. Those courtiers who stood next to him, tho’ they were terrify’d at this sudden accident, yet they cover’d his body lest, if his death were divulg’d, the common soldiers should run away. The Queen, who that very day came into the camp, did not give up her mind to womanish lamentations, but call’d the Nobles together and exhorted them to be of good courage, and that so many valiant men should not be so dismayed at the loss of one, as counting it dishonourable to desert a business that was almost ended. She told him she her self would speedily bring them another King in the place of him that was slain; in the mean time, they should press with might and main upon the enemy, lest he might grow more resolute upon news of their Generals death, and so imagin that all the courage of so many valiant men was extinguisht in the fate of one person only. The officers were asham’d to be exceeded in courage by a woman, whereupon they assaulted the Castle with such violence that neither party was sensible that the King was lost. In the mean time James, the King’s son, being about 7 years of age, was brought into the camp and saluted King. And ’twas not long after before the English, being tired out with watching and continued service, surrendred up the Castle to the new King upon condition to march away with bag and baggage. The Castle, that it might be the occasion of no new war, was levell’d to the ground. This end had James the 2nd in the year of Christ 1460, a few days before the Autumnal Equinox, in the 29th year of his age and the 23rd of his reign. He had been exercis’d always, even from his youth, with domestick or foreign wars. He bore both estates of life, the prosperous and adverse, with great moderation of mind; he shew’d such valour against his enemies, and such clemency to those that submitted themselves, that all Estates were much afflicted for his loss, and his death was the more lamented because ’twas sudden, and that in the flower of his youth, too, after he had escap’d so many dangers, and when the expectation of his virtues was at the highest. And he was the more miss’d because his son was yet immature for the government, whilst men consider’d what miseries they had suffer’d for the last 20 years, the ashes of which fire were hardly yet rak’d up, so that from a reflective remembrance of what was past they seemed to divine the estate of future things.
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