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THE THIRTEENTH BOOK
AMES the Third being thus slain near Sterlin, in or about the month of June […], they who were his contrariants, being as yet uncertain what was become of him, retreated to Linlithgo. There word was brought them that some boats had passed to and fro from the ships to the land, and that they had carried off the wounded men. Whereupon a suspicion arose amongst them that the King himself also was gone a-shipboard, which occasioned them to remove their camp to Leith. From thence the Prince (for that's the title of the King of Scot's eldest son) sent some agents to require the Admiral of the fleet to come ashore to him. His name was Andrew Wood, he was a knight, and, being mindful of the King's kindness towards him, remained constant in his affection to him even after he was dead. But he refused to come ashore unless hostages were given for his safe return. Seaton and Flemming, two Noblemen, were appointed as hostages. When he landed, the King's Council asked if him if he knew where the King was. As for the King, he told them, he knew nothing of him, but that he and his brothers had landed out of their boats so that they might assist the King and all his good subjects; but, having endeavoured in vain to preserve him, they were ready to revenge his death. He uttered also many reproachful speeches against the rebels, yet nevertheless they sent him away in safety to his ship, that so their hostages might not suffer. When the hostages were returned, the inhabitants of Leith were called up to the Council and pressed by promises of great reward to rig out their ships and subdue Andrew Wood. They all in general made answer that he had two ships so fitted with all things for a fight, and so well furnished with valiant seamen, and withal that he himself was so skilful in naval affairs, that no ten ships in all Scotland were able to cope with his two, so that that consultation was put off and they went to Edinburgh. There they were fully informed of the King's death and appointed a magnificent funeral to be made for him at Kambus-Kenneth, a monastery near Sterlin, on the 25th day of the month of June.
2. JAMES THE IVth, THE CVth KING
In the interim, an Assembly was summoned about creating a new King. There were few which came together to perform this service, an those were mostly of the party that had conspired against the former King. The new King at his first entrance sent an herauld to the Governour of Edinburgh Castle for him to surrender it, which he did, and then he passed over to Sterlin and that Castle was also delivered up to him by the garison-souldiers. When the vogue [rumor] was up in England how troublesom matters were in Scotland, five ships were chosen out of that King's fleet, who entered into the Firth of Forth and there made havock of the goods of all merchants, making many descents on both shores, they mightily infesting the maritime parts. For they expected greater disturbances on land by the sidings of the Scots one against another. For, seeing the adverse party were rather shattered than broken in the late fight, in regard thy were not all there, and of those that ere there were but few slain, they thought a feircer tempest would have arisen from minds which yet continued to be inflamed with hatred and envy, and which were elevated by confidence in their own strength. And it increased the indignation that now the power over so many noble and eminent persons was so easily fallen, not into the King's, but to a few particular mens hands; for tho the King might retain the name and title of a King, yet, being but a youth of 15 years old, he did not govern, but was himself governed by those that killed his father. For the whole management of matters would reside in Douglas, Hepburne, and Hume, and their confidence was the more encreased because all the shores were infested with the two fleets, the Scotish and the English. To obviate this difficulty, first of all, the new King endeavoured to reconcile the naval forces to himself, lest when he was absent in the furthest parts of his kingdom to settle matters there, they should make some stir, or at least should make an entrance for the English to penetrate far into the land, and so spoil the mid-land countries. Whereupon, when the old King's death was now publickly divulged abroad, the new one thought that Andrew Wood would now be more flexible, and therefore he sent for him, giving him the publick faith for his security. When he was ashoar he told him what a great dishonour, loss, and publick shame it was to the whole nation that a few English ships should, in despite of them, ride under their very noses. And thereupon he drew over Andrew to his party, and set him forth in good equipage against the English. Many did advise him that he would sail an equal number of ships, at least, against the enemy, whose vessels were more and bigger than his. “No (says he), I'le have only my own two.” And as soon as the wind served, he made directly toward the English, who rode before Dunbar. He fought them bravely, took, and brought them all into Leith, and presented their commanders to the King. Andrew was liberally rewarded by the King, and his skill in sea-fight, with the singular valour of his souldiers and seamen, was highly magnified. And yet there were not wanting some of those sort of creatures who do always admire the atchievements of Kings, whatsoever they be; and if they be great, yet they view them in a multiplying glass, who foretold that this victory did but presage a greater.
3. Meanwhile the adverse part of the Nobility sent messages into all parts of the kingdom to persuade the countrey to rise, and not to endure the present state of things, nor to suffer so many valiant men to be illuded [mocked] by such publick parricides, who had murdered one King and held another in bondage; yea, who accused the defenders of the King's life as traitors, whereas they, who were indeed violaters of all divine and human laws, gave out themselves to be the only assertors of the rights of their country and maintainers of its liberty, amongst whom the King himself was not a freeman, in regard he was enforced by them to take arms against his father, and his King too, and after he was impiously slain, then to prosecute by a nefarious war those who were his father's friends and defenders of his life. Many such discourses they spread abroad amongst the vulgar, and to excite a greater flame of indignation and hate Alexander Forbes, chief of a noble family, carried the King's shirt upon a spear (all over bloody and torn with the marks of the wounds he received) through Aberdeen and all the chief towns of the adjacent country, and, as if it had been by a publick proclamation, he excited all men, by the voice of an herauld, to rise in arms to revenge so nefarious a fact. And Matthew Stuart, Earl of Lennox, a man of great wealth and power, and who by an honest kind of popularity was equally dear to high and low, was as active in the countries on this side the Forth. For he raised up the Earls that were his neighbours, and with a good force endeavoured to pass over the bridge at Sterlin to join his associates, but, that bridg being possessed by the King's forces, he sought to pass over at a ford not far from the rise of the river at the foot of Mount Grampias. His design was discovered to John Drummond, by Alexander Mac-alpin his vassal, who had joined himself to the enemy, by whom also information was given that all things were secure [careless] and ill-guarded in the enemies camp; that every one stragled up and down as they pleased; that they had no watch set in convenient places, nor used any military discipline at all. Hereupon Drummond, with some courtiers and a few volunteers who purposely came in to assist him, set upon them as they were asleep. Many were killed in their sleep, the rest ran headlong away without their arms, and so returned from whence they came. Many were taken prisoners, but by their friends that knew them a great part of them were dismissed. They only were severely dealt with who had either written or spoke more contumeliously than others.
4. The joy for this victory was encreased by the news of another at the same time, wherein Andrew Wood had prevailed in a sea-fight against Stephen Bull. For Henry King of England, hearing that five of his ships were taken by two of the Scots, and those much lesser also than his, was willing to blot out the infamy of the thing, and yet could find out no just pretence for a war. Yet he called his ablest sea-commanders together, he offered them what ships and warlike furniture they pleased, and so he persuaded them to revenge the ignominy cast on the English name, promising them great rewards if they could bring Wood to him alive or dead. But when those that knew the valour of the man and his prosperous successes made some delay in the case, Stephen Bull, a knight of known courage, undertook the expedition. And opportunity seemed to favour his design, because he knew that Wood was shortly to return out of Flanders, and he thought it would be a matter of no great difficulty to attaque him unawares in his passage. Thereupon he chose out three ships of the Royal Navy and equipped them well in all points, and so stood for the Isle of May, an island uninhabited in the Bay of Firth, choosing that place for the convenience of it because in every side of the island there is safe riding and harbour for ships, and there the sea also grows so narrow that no little vessel could pass by without being discovered. Whilst he rode there he continually kept some of his skilfullest mariners abroad in fisher-boats to watch and to discover to him his enemies ships. He had not rode at anchor there many days when lo! Wood's ships appeared with full sail making towards him. Bull knew them and presently weighed anchor, and as victor already in his mind, he prepared himself for the fight. Wood staid no longer but till his men had armed themselves, and so made up to him. Thus did these two valiant commanders engage as if they had the courage of mighty armies, and they fought so obstinately till the night parted the fray, the victory inclining to neither side. The next morning each of them incouraged their party, and with renewed strength went to it again. They cast iron hooks (called grapling irons) into one another ships, and so fought hand to hand as if they had been at a land fight, and that with so great eagerness that neither of them took notice of the falling back of the tide till they came to the heaps of sand at the mouth of the River Tay. There, the water being shallower, the great ships of the English could not be so easily managed, but were forced to a surrender, and so they were tow'd up against the stream of the Tay to Dundee, where they staid till the dead were buried and the wounded were distributed abroad to chirurgeons for their cure.
5. This battel was fought on the 10th day of August in the year of our redemption 1490. A few days after, Wood went to the King and carried with him Stephen Bull with the other commanders of the ships and the notedst of his souldiers, which he presented to him. Wood was highly commended by the King for this exploit, and honouraby rewarded. The King freely dismissed the prisoners and their ships, and sent them back to their King with an high commendation of their valour. For in regard they fought for honour, not for booty, he therefore would shew that valour was to be honoured even in an enemy. King Henry, tho he was much aggrieved for the loss of his men in this unhappy fight, yet he gave the King of Scots thanks and told him that he gratefully accepted his kindness and the greatness of his mind. About this time a new kind of monster was born in Scotland. In the lowest parts of its body it resembled a male child not much differing from the ordinary shape of an humane body newly born, but above the navel the trunk of the body and all the other members were double, representing both sexes male and female. The King gave special order for its careful education, especially in musick, wherein it arrived to admirable skill. And moreover it learned several tongues, and sometimes the two bodies did discover [reveal] several appetites disagreeing one with another, and so they would quarrel, one liking this, another that. And yet sometimes again they would agree and consult (as it were) in common for the good of both. This was also memorable in it, that when the legs and loins were hurt below both bodies were sensible of the pain in common; but when it was pricked or otherwise hurt above, the sense of the pain did affect one body only. Which difference was also more perspicuous in its death, for one of the bodies died many days before the other, and that which survived, being half putrified, pined away by degrees. This monster lived twenty eight years and then died, when John was Regent of Scotland. I am the more confident in relating this story because there are many honest and creditable persons yet alive who saw this prodigy with their eyes.
6. When the people of the North of Scotland heard of this naval victory they gave over all thoughts of war and return'd each to his own home. This tumult and broil being so easily quieted, the King applied his mind not only to quell all seditions for the present, but also to prevent all occasions of them for the future. He summoned his first Parliament to be held at Edinburgh the 6th day of November. There many wholesome laws were made for the establishing of publick concord. And to the end that peoples minds might the better agree in the general, the fault was cast upon a few particular persons, and the punishments were either very easy or else wholly remitted. When a dispute arose concerning the lawfulness of the war, John Lyon Lord Glames rose up and shewed several heads of articles which the Nobles had formerly sent to the King in order to a pacification, to which James the Third had often both assented and subscribed, and that indeed he had struck up a peace with his Nobles upon those terms unless some evil Counsellors had drawn away his mind therefrom, and so perswaded him to call in the old enemy to fight against his own subjects. And by reason of this his inconstancy, the Earls of Huntly, Arrol, Earl of Marshal, and Lyons himself, with many other noble persons, had forsaken him at that time and had set up James the 4th his son, as being a great lover of the publick peace and welfare. After a long dispute, at last they all consented to a decree wherein those that were slain in the Battel of Sterlin were affirmed to have been cut off by their own default, and that their slaughter was just, and that they who had took up arms against the enemies of the public, though covering their hidden fraud under honest pretences, were guilty of no crime, nor consequently liable to any punishment. All who had votes in the Assembly subscribed to this decree, that so they might give a better account of the fact to foreign embassadors, who they heard were a-coming., Many other statutes were then also made, to restore to the poor what had been taken violently from them, to inflict light mulcts on the rich, and to indemnify both parties that their taking up of arms at that time might never turn to the prejudice of them or their posterity.
7. This moderation of spirit was highly commended in a young King of but fifteen years old, and who was also a conqueror, and had the command of all. But it was further heightned by his benignity and faithfulness in performing his promises, to which may be added (which the vulgar do most admire) that he was of a graceful well-set body, and also of a vivid and quick apprehension, so that by his using this victory neither with avarice nor cruelty, and by his real pardoning of offendors, in a short time there grew up a great concord amongst both factions, both of them equally striving to shew their love and duty to the King. A few only, who were most obstinate, were mulct with a small fine or with the loss of part of their estates, but none at all were deprived of their whole patrimony, neither were the fines brought into the King's fisc, but expended on the charges of the war. This his royal clemency was the more grateful because men did yet retain fresh in their memories upon what slight occasions in the former King's reign many eminent men were outed of all, and how much inferior to them those were who came in their places. Moreover, to engage the chief leaders of the contrary faction to a greater fidelity, he joyned them in bonds of affinity to himself. For whereas his aunt had two daughters, begot by several husbands, he married Gracina Boyd to Alexander Forbes and Margaret Hamilton to Matthew Stuart. Thus in a short time the minds of all were reconciled, and a pleasant peace and tranquillity did ensue; yea, as if Fortune had submitted her self to be an handmaid to the King's virtues, there was so great an encrease of grain and fruits in the earth, as if a golden spring had suddenly started up out of a more than iron age. Thus, after the King had suppressed robberies by arms, and other vices by the severity of the laws, lest he might seem a sharp avenger of others but indulgent to himself, and withal to make it appear that his father was slain against his will, he wore an iron chain about his waste as long as he lived, and every year he added one link thereunto, and tho this practice might seem formidable to those that were the causers of his father's death, yet they had such confidence either in the gentleness of the King's disposition or in their own power that it occasioned no insurrection at all.
8. Amidst this publick jubilee, and also the private rejoycings of particular persons, about the seventh year of the King's reign, Peter Warbeck came into Scotland. But before I declare the cause of his coming, I must fetch things something further back. Margaret, the sister of Edward the Fourth, King of England, having married Charles Duke of Burgundy, she endeavoured all the ways she could, if not to overthrow, yet at least to vex Henry the Seventh, the leader of the contrary faction. In order whereunto, she raised up one Peter Warbeck as a competitor for the kingdom. He was a youth born of mean parentage at Tornay, a city of the Nervii, but of such beauty, ingenuity, stature of body, and manliness of countenance that he might easily be believed to have been descended of a royal stock. And by reason of his poverty he had travelled up and down in several countries (so that he was known but by very few of his own relations), and there he had learned several languages, and had hardened himself to all kind of bold and impudent carriage. When Margarite (who was intent on all occasions to disturb the peace of England) had got this youth, she kept him a while privately by her till she had informed him with what factions England laboured at that time, what friends and what enemies she had there; in a word, she made him acquainted with the whole genealogy of the royal progeny, and what happinesses or misfortunes had attended each of them. When things seemed thus to be somewhat ripe, she was resolved to try fortune and took private order that he should be sent in a decent equipage, first into Portugal, then into Ireland. There he had a great concourse of people flock'd about him, and was received with huge applause as the son of King Edward of England, either because his own disposition, assisted also by art, was inclined to dissimulation, or because, there being amongst wild Kerns, he was soon likely to raise great stirs and tumults. When a war brake forth suddenly betwixt the French and the English, he was called for our of Ireland by Charles the Eighth, and had great promises made him, so that, coming to Paris, he was there honourably received in the garb and equipage of a Prince, and had a guard appointed him; yea, the English exiles, who were numerous at that Court, put him in a sure hope of the kingdom. But, that tumult being quieted upon terms, he departed privately out of the Court of France, for fear lest he should have been delivered up, and so retired to Flanders. There he was highly caressed by Margaret, as if it were the first time that ever she had seen him, and was diligently shewed to all the courtiers, and several times in the hearing of many of them he was desired to relate the story of all his adventure. Margarite, as if this were the first time she had ever heard it, did so accommodate her dissembled affections in compliance with each part of his discourse, both when he related his successes and also his misfortunes, that every body thought she believed what he had spoken to be certainly true.
9. After a day or two, Peter was desired to go abroad in the habit of a Prince, and had thirty men to be his guard, wearing a white rose (which is the badg of the York-faction amongst the English), and so was every where declared as the undoubted heir of the crown of England. When these things were divulged, first in Flanders, afterward in England, the minds of men were so stirred up that a great concourse of people flock'd in to him, not only of those who lurked in holes and sanctuaries for fear of the laws, but even of some noble -men whom their present state did not please, or who desired innovations. But when a longer delay, which Peter hoped would bring in more force to him, was likely to abate his present strength, if he were discovered to be a counterfeit, therefore he determined to try his fortune in a fight, so that, having gotten a pretty great party together, he landed some few of them in Kent to try the affections of the Kentish-men, but all in vain. All those who landed were taken, so that he was forced to set his course for Ireland. And there also he met not with the entertainment he hoped for, so that he sailed over into Scotland, well knowing that peace betwixt Scotland and England never used to continue very long. He, being admitted into the King's presence, made a lamentable complaint of the ruin of the York-family, and what miserable calamities he himself had suffered, and therefore he earnestly besought him to vindicate royal blood from such contumely and shame. The King bid him be of good chear, and promised he should shortly find that he had not desired his help, in his distresses, in vain. A few days after, a council was called, where Peter made a sad story of his misfortunes: that he, being born of a King, the most flourishing of his time, and that of the highest hopes too, was left destitute by the untimely death of his father, and so was like to have fallen into the tyrannical hands of his uncle Richard before he was sensible almost what misery was. That his elder brother was cruelly murdered by him, but that he himself was stolen away by his father's friends, so that now he durst not live, no not a poor and precarious life, even in that kingdom of which he was the lawful heir. That he had so miserably lived amongst foreign nations that he preferred the condition of his deceased brother before his own, in regard he was snatch'd away from all further calamity by a suddain and violent death. That he himself was reserved as the ridicule of Fortune, and that his sorrow had not that alleviation that he durst bewail his miserable state amongst strangers to incline them to pity him, for after he had begun openly to profess was he was, Fortune had assaulted him with all her darts, and to his former miseries had added a daily fear of treachery. For his crafty enemy had sometimes tampered with those who entertained him to take away his life, and sometimes he had privily suborned his subjects, under the name of friends, to discover his secret designs, to corrupt his true friends, and to find out his secret ones, and to calumniate his stock and pedigree by false accusations amongst the vulgar, to reproach his aunt Margeret and those English Nobles that owned him; and yet not withstanding that she, being supported by a good conscience against the revilings of enemies, and also out of compassion to her own blood, had supported him in his low estate with her assistance. But at last, when he perceived that he could not have aid enough from her to recover his kingdom (being a widow, and old too), he had solicited neighbour-Kings and nations, desiring them to respect the common chances of Man's life, and not to suffer royal blood to be oppressed by tyrannical violence, and so himself to pine way with grief, fear, and misery. And that he, though at the present afflicted with great evils, yet was not so dejected of mind but that he hoped the time would come that, being restored to his kingdom by the aid of his friends (of whom he had many both in England and Scotland), he should be able to consider every particular man's service and reward him accordingly, especially if the Scots would join their forces with his. And if ever he was restored to his kingdom by their arms, they should soon understand that they had won a fast friend, and that at such a time too, when the trial of true friendship is wont to be made. For he had his posterity would be so gratefully mindful of the obligation that they would ever acknowledg that the accession of his better fortune was due to them alone. Besides, he added many things in praise of the King, part of them true, and part accommodated to their present condition.
10. Having thus said, he held his peace. But the King called him up to him and bid him take heart, for he would refer his demands to the Council, whose advice in grand affairs he must needs have. Yet, however they did determine, he promised him faithfully that he should not repent that he made his Court his sanctuary. Upon this, Peter quitted the Assembly, and, the matter being put to a debate, the wiser sort, who had most experience in state-affairs, thought it best to reject the whole business, either because they judg'd he was a counterfeit or else that they foresaw there would be more danger by the war than advantage by the victory, tho' they were sure of it. But the major part, either through unskilfulness in affairs or inconstancy of spirit, or else to gratify the King, argued that Peter's cause was most just, and matters were in some confusion in England, and mens minds were yet fluctuating after the civil war, and therefore it was good to lay hold of this opportunity. And that which the English were wont to do to them they themselves ought to try for once, to make use of the enemies distractions for their own advantage; yea, they foretold a victory, preconceived in their minds before they had put on their armour, especially if great forces of the English came in to join them; nay, if they should not come in in such numbers as they hoped, yet one of these two things must necessarily follow, that either they should conquer Henry, and so settle this new King on this throne, who, in recompence for so great a benefit, must needs grant them all that they desired; or if they could end the matter without blows, yet Henry, upon the quelling, domestic tumults not being yet fully settled in his throne, would submit to what conditions they pleased. But if he refused so to do, when war was once begun many advantages might offer themselves which now were unforeseen. This was the opinion of the major part, and the King himself inclined to them and his vote drew in the rest. And after this he treated Peter more honourably than before, gave him the title of Duke of York, and as such shewed him to the people. And not contented herewith, he gave him Katharine Gordon, daughter to the Earl of Huntly, to wife, a woman of as great beauty as nobility of stock, by this affinity erecting him to hopes of thriving and bettering his condition.
11. And therefore by advice of his Council he levied an army and marched for England, first of all carrying it warily and having his troops ready to engage if any suddain assault should be made upon him. But afterwards, when he understood by his spies that the enemy had no army in the field, he sent out parties to plunder, and in a short time wasted almost all Northumberland and the countries thereabout. He staid some days in those parts, and not an English-man stirred in behalf of Peter. And it being told him that any army was levying against him in the adjacent countries, he thought it dangerous to venture his souldiers, who were laden with booty, against the new and fresh forces of the English, and therefore he resolved to return into Scotland, and there to leave their booty, and as soon as the time of the year would permit to undertake a new expedition. Neither did he fear that the English would follow him in his retreat, for he knew that new-raised souldiers would not be long kept together, neither would they make after him if the could through a country so lately harassed and desolated by the wars, especially having no provisions prepared before-hand. And besides, Peter was afraid that, in regard none of the English came in to him as he hoped, that if he staid any longer in his enemies country his cheat would be discovered, so that he himself seemed to approve of the King's resolution, came cunningly to him and, composing his speech and countenance so as might best move compassion, he humbly besought him that he would not make such havock in a kingdom that was his won by right, and that he would not so cruelly shed so much blood of his subjects. For no kingdom in the world was of so much worth to him as for its sake to have his peoples blood so largely spilt, and his country so wasted with fire and sword, to procure it. The King began now to smell out and understand whither this unseasonable clemency did tend, and therefore told him that he feared he would preserve that kingdom in which not a man did own him as a subject, much less as a King, not for himself but for his capital enemy, and so by common consent they returned home and the army was disbanded. Henry, being made acquainted with the invasion and also the retreat of the Scots, appointed an expedition against them the year after, and in the mean time levied a great army. And that he might not be idle in the winter-time, he summons a Parliament, who approved of his design to make war on Scotland, and granted a small subsidy upon the people for that end. That tax raised up a greater flame of war upon him at home than that which he designed to quench abroad. For the commonalty complained that their youth and souldiery were exhausted by so many wars and impressments, which had been made within these few years; that their estates were impared and ran very low. But the Nobles and Counsellors to the King were so far from being moved with these calamities that they sought to create new wars in a time of peace that so they might impose new taxes on them, who were already in great want and necessity, and thus, whom the sword had not consumed, famine and poverty would.
12. These were the publick complaints of all the Commons, but the Cornish were more enraged than all the rest, for they, inhabiting a country which is in great part barren, are wont rather to gain than lose by wars. And therefore that warlike people, having been accustomed rather to encrease their estates by military spoils than to lessen them by paying taxes and rates, first of all rose against the King's officers and collectors and slew them; and then, being conscious that they had engaged themselves in so bold an attempt that there was no retreat nor hopes of mercy, the multitude flocking in daily more and more to them with arms in their hands, they began their march towards London. But 'tis not my business to prosecute the story of this insurrection; it is enough for my purpose to tell you that the King was so busied this whole year by the Cornish that the army which he had designed against Scotland he was enforced to employ against them. In the mean time, James, foreseeing that Henry would not let the injuries of the former year pass unrevenged, and being also informed by his intelligencers that he was raising an army to the intent that, if the English invaded him first, he might be in a posture to defend himself; if not, then he himself would make an inroad into his enemies country, and there so waste and destroy the bordering counties that the soil (poor enough of it self) should not afford sufficient necessaries even for the very husbandman. And, hearing of the Cornish insurrection, he presently began his march and entered England with a great army, dividing his forces into two parts. On went towards Durham to ravage that country, and with the rest he besieged Norham, a strong castle scituated on a very high hill by the River Tweed. But neither here nor there was there any thing considerable done. For Richard Fox, Bishop of Durham, a very prudent person, foreseeing that the Scots would not omit the opportunity of attempting somewhat during the civil broils in England, had fortified some castles with strong garisons, and had taken care that the cattle and all other driveable and portable things should be conveyed unto places either safe by nature or made so by the vicinity of moors and rivers. And moreover he sent for the Earl of Surry, who had great forces in Yorkshire, to assist him, and therefore the Scots only burnt the country, and, not being able to take Norham, which was stoutly defended by those within, raised the siege and without any considerable action returned home. The English followed them not long after, and demolished Aytown, a small castle seated almost in the very Borders, and he returned out of their enemies country without any memorable performance also.
13. Amidst these commotions both foreign and domestick, Peter Hialas, a man of great wisdom and, as those time went, not unlearned, arrived in England. He was sent by Ferdinand and Isabel, King and Queen of Spain. The purport of his embassy was that Katharine their daughter might marry Arthur, King Henry's son, and so a new affinity and friendship might be contracted betwixt them. The English did willingly embrace the affinity, and therefore were desirous to finish the war with Scotland. And because Henry thought it was below his dignity to seek peace at the Scots hands, he was willing to use him as a mediator. Peter willingly undertook the business and come into Scotland. There he plied James with several arguments, and at last made him inclinable to a peace, and then he wrote to Henry that he hoped a good peace would be agreed without any great difficulty, if he pleased to send down some eminent person of his Council to accord the conditions. Henry, as one that had often tried the inconstancy of these late tumults, as being rather irritated than wholly suppressed, commanded Richard Fox, who resided in his Castle at Norham, to join counsels with Hialas. These two had many disputes about the matter with the embassadors of Scotland at Jedburgh, and after many conditions had been mutually proposed they could agree upon nothing. The chiefest impediment was the demand of Henry that Peter Warbeck should be given up to him, for he judged it to be a very reasonable proposition in regard he was but a counterfeit and had been already the occasion of so much mischief. James peremptorily refused so to do, alledging that it was not honourable in him to surrender up a man of the royal progeny, who came to him as a suppliant, whom he had also made his kinsman by marriage against the faith given to him, to be made a laughing-stock by his enemies. And thus the conference broke off, yet the hopes of an agreement were not altogether cast off, for a truce was made for some months till James could dismiss Warbeck upon honourable terms according to his promise.
14. Warbeck was mightily troubled at his unexpected dismission, yet he remitted nothing of his dissimulated height of sprit, but in a few days sailed over into Ireland with his wife and family. From whence soon after he passed into England, and there joined himself with the reliques of the Cornish rebels. But after many attempts, being able to do no good, he was taken, and, having confessed all the pageantry of his former life, he ended his days in an halter. The seminary [cause] of war between England and Scotland being almost extinguished, and a great likelihood of peace appearing, behold, there arose a great ebullition of spirit upon a very light occasion, which had almost broken out into a fierce war. Some Scottish youths went over to the town of Norham, which was near to the Castle (as they were oft wont to do in times of peace), there to recreate themselves in sports and pastimes, and to junket together with their neighbours as if they had been at home, for there was but a small river which divided them. The garison in the Castle, out of the rancour yet lodging in their breasts since the former war, and being also provoked by some passionate words, accused those Scots as spies, and so from words they came to blows. Many were wounded on both sides, and the Scots, being fewer in number, were forced to return home with the loss of some of their company. This business was often canvassed in the meetings between the Lords of the Marches, and at last James was very angry and sent an herald to Henry to complain of breach of truce, and how unconstant the English were in keeping covenant; and unless satisfaction was given according to the just laws which were made by general consent about restitution betwixt the Borderers, he commanded him to denounce war against him. Henry had been exercised by the violence of fortune even from his cradle, and therefore was more inclined to peace. His answer was that whatever was done of that kind was against his will and without his knowledg, and if the garison-souldiers had offended in the case by their temerity, he would take order that examination should be made and that, the leagues being kept inviolate, the guilty should be punished. But this was slowly done and James looked upon the answer as dilatory, so that punishment might be deferred and the sentiment thereof worn out with time, and therefore it rather provoked than satisfied James. But Richard Fox, Bishop of Durham, who was owner of the Castle, being much troubled that an occasion of breaking the league should be administered by any of his tenants, to prevent it sent several letters to James full of great submission, modesty, and civility, which so inclined the mind of James that he wrote him word back that he would willingly speak with him, not only about the late wrongs done, but also about other matters which might be advantageous to both kingdoms.
15. Fox acquainted his King herewith, and, by his consent, he waited upon James at Mulross, where he then was. There James made a grievous complaint of the injury acted at Norham, yet by the prudent and grave discourse of Fox he was so pacified that for peace-sake, of which he shewed himself very desirous, he remitted the offence. Other things were acted privately betwixt them, but it appeared afterward that the sum of them was this, that James did not only desire a peace, but (both before and also now) an affinity with Henry and stricter bond of union, and if Henry would bestow his daughter Margaret upon him in marriage, he hoped that the thing would be for the benefit of both kingdoms. And if Fox, whose authority he knew to be great at home, would but do his endeavour to accomplish the affinity, he did not doubt but it would be soon effected. He freely promised his endeavour, and, coming to the Court of England, acquainted the King with the proposition, and thereupon gave hopes to the Scots embassadors that a peace would easily be accorded betwixt the two Kings. Thus at length, three years after, which was anno 1500, even about one and the same time Margaret, Henry's eldest daughter, was betrothed to James the IVth, and also Katharine, daughter to Ferdinand of Spain, to Arthur, Henry's eldest son, and their marriages were celebrated with great pomp the next year. After the marriage all things were quiet, and the Court turned from the study of arms to sports and pastimes, so that there was nothing but masks, shews, feastings, dancings, and balls. It was as a continued jubilee, and upon that account every day was as an holy-day. There were also horse-tiltings frequently made, mostly according to the French mode, betwixt which (as tragical acts) there intervened the challenges of moss-troopers one of another, who were wont to live upon spoil. Which sport the King was well pleased to behold, because he judged that the killing of them was a gain to him. When the noise of the tourneaments came to foreign nations, many strangers, and especially from France, came daily over to shew their prowess, who were all liberally entertained by the King and as bountifully dismissed.
16. Neither did he rest in these ludicrous exercises, but he laid out a great deal of mony upon building, at Sterlin, Falkland, and sundry other places, and especially in building of monasteries. But his cost about ships was greatest of all, for he built three stately ones of a great bulk, and many also of a middle rate. One of his great ones was to admiration the biggest that ever any man had seen sail on the ocean, it was also furnished with all manner of costly accommodations. Our writers have given a description of it (which I pass over), and the measure of it is kept in some places, but the greatness of it appeared by this, that the news thereof stirred up Francis King of France and Henry the 8th King of England each of them to build a ship in imitation thereof, and, each endeavouring to out-vie the other, when their ships were finished and fitted with all the necessaries for sailing and brought to sea, they were so big that they stood there like unmoveable rocks, unfit for any use. These works, being very expensive, did exhaust James his treasure, so that he was forced to devise some new ways to get mony, and amongst the rest he pitched upon by the perswasion, as it was thought, of William Elphinstone, Bishop of Aberdeen, which was very displeasing to all the Nobility. Amongst the tenures of land in Scotland, this is one kind, by which the owner holds what he buys, or else is given him, on these terms, that if he dye and leave his son and heir under age, the wardship of him should belong to the King or to some other superior lord; yea, and all the revenue so to be received by him till the heir come to the age of 21 years. There is also another badg of slavery annexed to this hold, that if an owner do sell above half his estate without the consent of his chief lord, then he is to forfeit the whole to him. This law was introduced by Court-parasites to advance the King's exchequer, but being looked upon as unjust, had laid dormant a long time. But the King, being informed that money might be got out to the violators of it, commanded it to be put in execution.
17. That process they call recognition. This way of raising money by the King, tho it outed no man of his whole estate, yet was a greater grievance to the country than his father's covetousness had been, for the wrong redounded to very many, and to the worthiest people most, because under the two last Kings, by reason of their forreign, and also of their civil wars, the memory of that law was almost quite abolished, and thereupon, by reason of this new project, they were enforced either to redeem their lands from the officers of the King's exchequer or else to relinquish part of them. And yet the love of the subjects towards their King was so great that, tho they suffered great inconvenience thereby, his other vertues gave him such a reverence amongst them that their indignation did not proceed to an actual rising in arms. But when the King set no bounds to his expences, neither were there some flatterers (a perpetual mischief to Courts) wanting who covered this vitious excess under the plausible names of splendour and magnificence. Hereupon he determined to undertake a voyage into Syria, that so he might put an end to his vast expence (which he could not continue without ruin, nor yet give over without shame), and so by his absence to abridg it. He made an honest pretence for his journey, that it was to expiate the fault he had committed in bearing arms against his father. And indeed he had given some evidence of his penitence (whether true or pretended) upon this account from the very beginning of his reign (as I said before), and he would often speak of it in his common discourse. He had rigged a navy for this voyage and had nominated the chief of his retinue, and had acquainted his neighbour-Kings by his ambassadours of his intent, and many of his followers, as if they had obliged themselves by the same vow, suffered the hairs of their heads and beards to grow at length. And it was thought he would immediately have taken ship, if some hinderances had not intervened even whilst he was most intent on his journey. For at that time there arose a vehement suspicion of a war like to ensue betwixt France and England, for Henry did not like the successes of the French in Italy, and besides, he was solicited by Julius the 2nd, then Pope, and by Ferdinand of Spain, his father-in-law, to join with them, and with the Venetians, Swiss, and Maximilian too (tho he did regulate his councils ordinarily according to events). For it was likely that the conjunctions of so many nations against France would almost swallow it up. The King of England, being in the prime of his age and elevated much in the sense of the power of his kingdoms, and also being very willing to be in action, was desirous to enter into this confederacy, but wanted a fair pretence to fall out with France. But both of them knew one anothers designs by their spies, and when France could not be persuaded to desist from warring against the Pope, who was Henry's friend, at length an herauld was sent into France to demand Normandy, Aquitain, and Anjou (as the old possessions of the English) in France.
18. But in regard France was not moved by these threats neither to intermit the war in Italy, hereupon Henry denounced war against him, and sent an army into Biscay to join his father-in-law Ferdinand, and he himself prepared for an expedition into France. Now James of Scotland, tho he resolved to side with neither of them, yet, as more inclinable to the French, he sent his navy aforementioned as a present to Ann Queen of France, that so it might seem rather as a mark of his friendship than any real assistance for military action. And moreover, the Scots clergy, who were used to French largesses, were willing to shew themselves in behalf of Lewis of France. And, seeing they durst not openly do it, they sought out occasions to alienate the King's mind from the English. In order hereto, Andrew Forman, then Bishop of Murray, one of their faction and a friend to Lewis, was sent into England to demand a vast sum of gold and silver, the greatest part thereof consisted in womens jewels and ornaments which were reported to be given by will by Arthur, Henry the 8ths eldest brother, to his sister Margaret, now married to James, as I related above. Henry (as 'tis probable) looked upon this demand only as a pretence for a quarrel, and therefore he answered James very mildly, that if any thing were due to him, he would not only pay it, but, if he wanted a greater sum or any other assistance, he would not fail to supply him. When James received this answer, he resolved to assist Lewis in any other way, but by no means to invade England, and he sent over the same Forman into France to acquaint Lewis therewith. Meanwhile, because he had heard that great naval preparations were making on both sides, he resolved to send the fleet aforementioned to Ann immediately that so it might arrive there before the war did actually break forth. He made James Hamiliton, Earl of Arran, Admiral of it, and caused him to set sail with the first opportunity. But Hamilton, tho a man good enough, yet was more skilled in the arts of peace than war, and therefore either out of fear of danger, or else out of his habitual backwardness, left his voyage for France and turned to Knockfergus, a town in Ireland scituate over against Galway in Scotland, which place he pillaged and burnt. And afterward, as if he had been a mighty conqueror, he hoisted sail for Air (in Scotland), a port-town in Kyle, When the King heard of his return, he was very outragious against him, and could not forbear to express his menacing reproaches against the man. And he was the more inraged against him because he had received a letter from Queen Ann out of France, which did endeavour to flatter him into a war against England, and he had also other letters from Andrew Forman which informed him that he was generally upbraided with the promise of sending the fleet, which they now looked upon as vain in regard no such thing was done.
19. The King was willing to obviate this mischief as well as he could, and therefore, seeing Hamilton had broke off the course he was commanded to run, and had destroyed a town that had never been an enemy to the Scots, and was then also in alliance with them, and so had made war upon his friends without denouncing it before hand, therefore he cashiered him the Admiralship and caused him to be summoned to appear before him. Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, was designed to succeed him in that command, and Andrew Wood was sent with him to take the fleet into his charge. But Hamilton had notice by his friends, before their coming, of the King's displeasure against him, and therefore presently hoisted sail, resolving rather to commit himself to the wide sea than to an enraged King. He was a long time sailing for France, his ship being tossed by contrary winds and sore storms in the way, so that he arrived not there till the French had laid aside the thoughts of any naval preparations, and then he landed in Base-Britaine, where the ship, which cost so much money and labour to build, had her tackle taken out, and so rotted in the harbour of Brest. In the interim, other causes of discord arose at home which wholly alienated James from Henry. In the reign of Henry the 7th there was one Robert Carr, a worthy knight, so much beloved of James for his excellent virtues that he made him his Chief Cup-bearer, Master of his Ordinance, and Lord-Warden of the Middle-Borders or Marches. He was a severe punisher of all robbers, which procured him great favour with the King, but increased the hatred of the Borderers against him, so that both English and Scots, whose licentiousness he restrained by putting the laws in execution against them, jointly sought all occasions to take way his life. And at length, at a solemn meeting of Scots and English, which used to be kept to adjust and recompense damages received, a quarrel arose, and three English-men, bold fellows, John Hern, Lilburn, and one Starhed, set upon him. One came behind and ran him through the back with a lance, and when he was wounded the other two dispatched him quite. This business was likely to create a war, but Henry, as he was just in other things, so in this was as angry as James at the foulness of the fact, and therefore he caused John Hern, the brother of th' other John, Lord of Foord and Governor of the English Borders, to be delivered up to the Scots with Lilburne, for the other two had made their escape. They were shut up in prison in Fast-Castle, and there Lilburne died. And for the expiation of so manifest a crime it was decreed that in future assemblings of that kind, the English should first the publick faith for their security, and so enter Scotland and have their meetings there, and the ambassadors of England by many solemn protestations and ceremony of words should declare that the publick was not concerned as guilty of that particular murder.
20. The other two murderers lurked in the inland parts of England till the reign of Henry the 8th, and yet they went not unpunished, for when they had got a young King, fierce, potent, and saw that he was willing to shew the greatness of his strength, they crept out of their dens. Hern, by the mediation of his kindred, lived openly at his own house, and privately sent in robbers to Scotland to disturb the publick peace, hoping that if a war were once begun he should obtain indemnity for his old offences, and impunity even with freedom to commit new. But Starhed got a place to live in about 90 miles from the Borders, thinking to be safe by reason of the remoteness of his habitation. But Andrew Carr, the son of Robert, who saw that the seeds of hatred, which would soon break out into a war, were then sown, and fearing that if once they entred into arms he should lose the avengement of his father's blood, persuades two of his tenants, of the family of the Tates, to disguise themselves and to kill Starhed. They undertook to do it, and so entred his house securely in the night (for, living so far from the Borders, he thought he needed no watch), where they killed him, cut off his head, and brought it to Andrew. He, in testimony of his desired revenge, sends it to Edinburgh and sets it up there upon a high and conspicuous place. Of Hern I shall speak in due time. A new fact trod on the heels of this old injury, which awakened the anger of the King of Scots, that was rather asleep than extinguished before. At that time, there was one Andrew Breton, a Scots merchant. His father had a ship rifled by the Portugals and himself cruelly slain. Andrew had the cause heard in Flanders (because there the murder was committed), where the Portugals were cast. But they not paying what was adjudged, neither did their King, tho' James sent an herald to him for that end, compel them so to do. Andrew hereupon obtained letters of mart [marque] from James to satisfy himself for the damages and murder, and it was directed to all princes and cities lying near the sea, that they should not account him as a pirate or robber if by open force he revenged himself on the Portugals, who were such violaters of common right and equity, so that in a few months he did much mischief to the Portugals. Their ambassadors, in the height of the war the French made against Pope Julius the Second, and which was soon like to break out against the English, as siding with Julius, came to Henry and told him that this bold and impudent fellow Andrew, which had done them so much mischief who were the ancient allies of the English, would assuredly be his enemy when he warred against France. But now he was secure and might easily be subdued and cut off, and if the fact were evil spoken of, it might be excused under a pretence of his exercising piracy. This if he would do, he might prevent the losses of his own subjects, and also gratify their King, his friend and ally, very much.
21. Henry was thus easily persuaded by the Portugals to entrap Andrew. In order whereto, he sent his Admiral, Thomas Howard, with two strong ships of the Navy Royal, well-appointed, to way-lay him in the Downs (so they call the heaps of sand which appear aloft when the tide is out) in his return from Flanders. It was not long before they espied him coming in a small vessel, with a lesser one in his company, and set upon him. Howard himself attaqued Andrew, between whom there was a sharp fight, and altho' Howard had all the advantage imaginable against him, yet he had much ado to take the ship, neither could he do that till Andrew and many of his men were slain. This is certain, that Andrew was a man of that courage, even when his case was desperate, that, tho' he had several wounds and one of his legs was broken with a cannon bullet, yet he took a drum and beat an alarm and a charge to his men to incourage them to fight valiantly. This he did till his breath and life failed him together. The lesser ship, seeing that she was no way able to cope with the enemy, endeavoured to save her self by flight, but was taken with a great deal less opposition. They which were not killed in the flight were cast into prison at London, from whence they were brought to the King, and, humbly begging their lives of him as they were instructed to do by the English, he in a proud ostentation of his mercifulness dismissed and sent the poor innocent souls away. Hereupon embassadors were sent into England by James to complain that his subjects ships were taken in a time of peace, and the passengers slain. They were answered that the killing of pirats was no violation of leagues, neither was it a justifiable cause for a war. This answer shewed the spight of one, who was willing to excuse a plain murder, and seemed as if he had sought an occasion for a war. Whereupon the English which inhabited the Borders, by that which was acted above-board guessed at their King's mind, and being also accustomed to sow the seeds of dissention in the times of the firmest peace, and besides, being much given to innovation, began to prey upon the adjacent countries of the Scots. At that time, there was one Alexander Hume, who had the sole command of all the Scots Borders, which were wont to be distributed into three mens hands. He was mightily beloved by James, but his disposition was more fierce than was expedient for the good of those times. The King was intent upon war, and very solicitous how to blot out the ignominy received by those incursions, and Hume promised him that he and some of his kindred and vassals would in a little time make the English repent of the loss and damage they had done, as being resolved to turn their mirth into sadness.
22. To make good his word, he gathered together about 3000 horse, entred England, and spoiled the neighbouring villages before any relief could come in. But as he was returning, his men, being accustomed to pillaging and then also laden with a great deal of booty, being impatient to stay there any longer, divided their spoil, even in their enemy's country, and went their ways severally home. Alexander with a few brought up the rear to see that no assault might be made upon them in their retreat, but, perceiving none to follow, he was the more careless and so fell into an ambush of 300 English, who, taking the opportunity, set upon them and struck such a suddain terror into them that they routed and put them to flight. In this conflict a great many of the Scots were slain and 200 taken prisoner, amongst who was George Hume, Alexander's brother, who was exchanged for the Lord Hern of Foord, who had been kept prisoner many years in Scotland for the murder of Robert Carr. But all the booty came safe into Scotland, because they who drove it were marched on before. This new offence coming upon the King's mind, which was not easy before upon the account of what I formerly related, made him unruly and headstrong, and thereupon he called a Convention to consult concerning the war. The wiser sort were against it, but L'Amot, the embassador of France, earnestly pressed it by entreaties and promises. And also frequent letters from Andrew Forman urged the same thing; yea, the King himself inclined thereto, so that many, to gratify him, fell in with his opinion; the rest, being the minor part, lest by a fruitless opposition they might incur the King's displeasure, gave also their assent, so that a war was voted to be made against England both by land and sea ('tis doubtful whether the counsel or the event was the worst). A set day was appointed for the army to meet together. An herald was sent into France to Henry who was then besieging Tournay, to denounce war upon him. The causes of it were rendred to be that satisfaction for losses had been required but not given; that John Hume, the murderer of Robert Carr, did openly shew himself; that Andrew Breton, in violation of the leagues betwixt the two crowns, had been pillaged and slain by the King's own command. And, though he did not mention any of these wrongs, yet he should never endure that the territories of Lewis King of France, his ancient ally, nor of Charles Duke of Gelderland, his kinsman, should be so miserably harassed with all the calamities of war, and therefore, unless he desisted therefrom, he bid him defiance.
23. Henry, being young and having a flourishing and puissant kingdom, and besides, a general combination of almost all Europe against France alone, these things kindled a desire in his mind, which was otherwise ambitious enough of glory, to continue his arms. And therefore he gave the herald an answer more fierce than suited with his youthful age, that he heard nothing from him but what he long before had expected from such a violator of all divine and human laws, and therefore he should do as he thought fit. For his part, he was resolved not to be threatned out of his procedure in a war wherein he had so well prospered hitherto; and besides, he did not value his friendship, as having already had sufficient proof of his levity. This denunciation of war being brought into Scotland, as the King was going to his army at Linlithgo, whilst he was at Vespers in the church (as the manner they was) there entred an old man, the hair of his head being red inclining to yellow and hanging down on his shoulders, his forehead sleek thro' baldness, bare-headed, in a long coat of a russet colour, girt with a linen girdle about his loins. In the rest of his aspect he was very venerable. He pressed thro' the crowd to come to the King. When he came to him, he leaned upon the chair on which the king sat with a kind of rustick simplicity, and bespoke him thus; “O King (said he), I am sent to warn thee not to proceed in thy intended design, which monition if thou neglect, neither thou nor thy followers shall prosper. I am also commanded to tell thee that thou shouldest not use the familiarity, intimacy, and counsel of women, which if thou dost, it will redound to thy ignominy and loss.” Having thus spoken, he withdrew himself into the crowd, and when the King enquired for him after prayers were ended, he could not be found. Which matter seemed more strange because none of those who stood next and observed him, as being desirous to put many questions to him, were sensible how he disappeared. Amongst them, there was David Lindsy of Mont, a man of approved worth and honesty (and a great scholar too). For in the whole course of his life he abhorred lying, and if I had not received this story from him as a certain truth, I had omitted it as a romance of the vulgar.
24. But the King, notwithstanding, went forward in his march and near Edinburgh mustered his army, and a while after entred England, took the Castles of Norham, Werk, Etel, Foord, and some others near to the Borders of Scotland, by storm and demolished them, and spoiled all the adjoining part of Northumberland. Meanwhile, the King falls in love with one of the ladies he had taken prisoner (she was Hern's wife of Foord) and neglected his present business, insomuch that, provision beginning to grow scarce in a not very plentiful country, and it being very difficult to fetch it from afar, the greatest part of his army stole away and left their colours very thin. Only the Nobles with a few of their friends, clients, and vassals, and those not very well pleased neither, abode in the camp. The major part advised him that he should no longer punish himself and his men by abiding in a country that was wasted by war, and if it had not been so, yet was poor of it self, but rather that he would retreat and attempt Berwick, the taking of which one place would turn more to account than of all the towns and castles thereabouts. Neither, said they, would it be very difficult to take it in, because both town and Castle were unprovided for defence. But the King thought that nothing was too hard for his arms, especially since the English were intangled in the war with France, so that, some Court-parasites soothing him up in his vanity, he judg'd that he might easily reduce that town in his retreat. Whilst he thus lay encamped at Foord there came heraulds from the English, desiring him to appoint a place and time for the battel. Hereupon he called a council of war, wherein the major part were of opinion that it was best to return home and not to hazard the state of the whole kingdom with so small a force, especially since he had abundantly satisfied his credit, his renown, and the laws of friendship; neither was there any just cause why he should venture his small army, and which had been also wearied out in the taking of so many castles, against more numerous forces of the English, who had also newly received an addition of fresh men. For it was reported that at that very time Thomas Howard arrived in the camp with 6000 men sent back out of France. Besides, if he retreated the English army must of necessity disband, and then they could not bring together another, to be levied so far off, till the next year. But if he would needs fight, it were better so to do in his own country, where place, time, and provision were more at his command. But the French embassador and some courtiers whom French largesses had wrought over to him, were of another mind, and easily persuaded James, who longed to fight, to abide the enemy in that place. In the mean time, the English came not at the day appointed by the herauld, and then the Scots Nobles took that opportunity to go again to the King, and told him that it was the craft of the enemy to protract the time from one day to another whilst their own force encreased and the Scots were diminished, and that therefore he should use the same art against them. That it was now no dishonour for the Scots (since the English had not kept the designed time) without fighting, or else not to fight but when they themselves thought fit.
25. The first of these advices was in many respects the more safe. But if that did not please him, he had a fair opportunity offered him to comply with the other. For, seeing the Till had very high banks and was almost no where fordable, there was no passing an army over it within many miles but by one bridg, where a few men might keep back a great multitude; yea, if part of the English should get over, he might so place his ordnance as to cut off the bridg, and so they who had passed over might be destroyed before they could be relieved by those on the contrary side. The King approved of neither advice, but answered resolutely that if the English were 100000 strong he would fight them. All the Nobility were offended at this temerarious [rash] answer, and Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, who was far superior to all the rest in age and authority, endeavoured to appease the King's fury by a mild oration “You have (said he) sufficiently satisfied your alliance with France, in that you have called off a great part of their enemy's army from them. For by this means they cannot run over all France, as by the multitude of their forces they hoped to do. Neither can they do any great damage to Scotland, because they cannot keep their army together in a cold country already wasted by war, and otherwise not very fruitful, and moreover, the winter now approaching, which in the northern parts useth to begin betimes [early]. As for the French embassador (said he), I do not wonder that he is so earnest to press us to a battel, for he, being a stranger, studies not the common good of our whole party, but the private advantage of their own nation, and therefore it is no news if he push us on to fight, and so be prodigal of other mens blood. Besides, his demand is shameless, for he requires that of us which his own King, tho highly wise and prudent, doth not think fit to do for the maintenance of his whole kingdom and dignity. Neither ought the loss of this army to be accounted small because we are but few in number. For that which is any ways eminent for valour, authority, or counsel in the whole kingdom of Scotland is here summ'd up in a body. If these are lost, the rest of the commonalty will be but an easy prey to the conqueror. Besides, to lengthen out the war is at present more safe and more conducive to the main chance. For if L’Amot's opinion be that the English are to be either exhausted by expences or wearied out by delays, what can be more adviseable in the present posture of affairs than to compel the enemy to divide his force, so that part of them must attend us, as if we were continually likely to invade them? And the fear thereof would take off a great stress of the war from the French, tho with no small toil of ours. Besides, we have consulted sufficiently for the glory and splendor of our arms, which these men (who, I am afraid, are more forward in words than actions) pretend as a disguise and vail for their temerity. For what can be more splendid than for the King to demolish so many castles, to destroy the country with fire and sword, and from so large devastation to bring home so much booty, that many years space will not restore a country so desolated to its former hue? And what greater advantage can we expect in a war than that in so mighty an hurry of arms, to our great honour and renown, but to the shame and disgrace of our enemies, we give our souldiers leave to refresh themselves, having gotten estates and glory to boot? And this kind of victory, which is obtained rather by wisdom than by arms, is most proper for a man, especially for a General, in regard the common souldiers can challeng no part thereof.”
26. All that were present assented to what he spoke, as appeared by their countenances. But the King had taken a solemn oath that he would fight the English, and therefore he entertained his whole discourse with great disgust, and bid him get home again, if he were afraid. He therefore fell a-weeping, as foreseeing the ruin of affairs and of the King himself by his rashness, but as soon as he was able to speak he uttered these few words. “If my former life have not sufficiently vindicated me from any suspicion of cowardize and fear, I know not what will. As long as my body was able to undergo hardship I never spared it for the good of my country and to maintain the honour of my King. But seeing now I am useful only for advice, and the Kings ears are shut against it, I will leave my two sons, which, next to my country, are most dear to me, with my other kinsmen and friends as sure pledges of my fidelity to you and my country. And I pray God that my fears do prove vain and that I be rather accounted a false prophet than what I dread, and do as it were foresee in my mind, should come to pass.” Having thus spoken, he took his convoy and retinue, and so departed. The rest of the Nobles, because they could not work over the King to their opinion, endeavoured to secure things the best they could, and that was, in regard they were inferior in number (for they had intelligence by their spies that the English were 26000 fighting men) to advantage themselves by the opportunity of the ground and place, and so to encamp upon an hill that was near them. It was where Cheviot-Hills do gently decline into a plain, a small spot with a narrow entrance into it, gradually sloping downwards. This passage they defended with their brass-guns. Behind them were the mountains, at the foot of them there was a moorish piece of ground which secured their left wing; on the right ran the River Till, whose banks were very high, over which there was a bridg for passage not far from the camp. When the English had intelligence by their scouts that they could not attaque the Scots camp without great damage, or rather certain ruin, they marched off from the river and made a shew as if they intended to leave the enemy and retire towards Berwick, and so directly into the neighbouring parts of Scotland, which was the best part of the country, there to damage the Scots more than they had done the English before. And James was most inclinable to believe they would do so, because there was a rumour spread abroad, either by uncertain report or else devised on purpose by the English, that their design lay that way, that so they might draw the enemy down into the plain and champion [flat] country. James would not endure that, and therefore set fire to the straw and huts, and removed his camp too. The smoke occasion'd by the fire covered all the river, so that the Scots by means thereof could not see the English.
27. They marched farther from the river, thro' places more unpassable, but the Scots had a level and open march thereunto, till they both came at last to Fluidon or Floddon, a very high hill, almost unknown one to another. There the ground was more level, and stretched it self out into a campagn, and the river was also passable by a bridg at Tuisil, and there was a ford also at Milford. The English commanded their forlorn [advance guard] first to draw their brass-pieces over the bridg, the rest marched thro' the ford, and by the opportunity of the place they set themselves in battel array to stop the enemy in their passage. Their numbers were so great that they divided themselves, as it were, into two armies distinct from one another, either of which did well-nigh equal the whole army of the Scots. In the first brigade Admiral Thomas Howard, who a little before was come in with some of his sea-forces, commanded the main battel. Edmund Howard led on the right wing, and Marmaduke Constable the left. Behind them, the rest were placed as reserves, being divided into three bodies. Dacres commanded the wing in the right, Edward Stanly that on the left, and the Earl of Surry, General of the whole army, the main body. The Scots had not men enow to divide their army into so many parties unless they would extreamly weaken their front, and therefore they divided their army into four bodies at a moderate distance one from another, of which three were to charge first, and the fourth was for a reserve. The King led on the main body. Alexander Gordon commanded the right wing, to whom Alexander Hume and the Merch-men were joined. Matthew Stewart, Earl of Lennox, and Gillespy Cambel, Earl of Argyle, led on the third body. Adam Hepburne with his clans and the rest of the Nobility of Lothian were in the reserves. The Gordons began a very sharp fight and soon routed the left wing of the English. But when they returned from the pursuit they found almost all the rest of their brigades defeated. For one of them, in which was Lennox and Argyle, being encouraged by the success of their fellows, brake their ranks and fell upon the enemy in very great disorder, leaving their colours far in their rear, tho' L'Amot, the French resident, cried out much against it and told them they would run head-long to their own destruction. For they were charged, not only by the English standing in array before them, but were also set upon by another party in the rear, and so almost all cut off. The King's body and Hepburn's brigade with the Lothianers fought it out stoutly. There was a great slaughter on both sides, and the dispute continued till night, by which time both sides were weary. There were a great many slain of the King's main body. They who reckon'd the full number of the slain as their names were taken according to the several parish-registers out of which they were pressed say that there were slain above 5000 of the Scots. The loss was mostly of the Nobility, and of the forwardest of them too, who chose rather to die upon the spot than to supervive the slaughter of their men. 'Tis reported that the English lost as many, but that they were most common souldiers.
28. This is the famous fight of Floddon, amongst the few overthrows which the Scots have received from the English one of the most memorable, not so much for the number of the slain (for they had lost more than double that number in former battels), but for the quality of the persons, the King and prime of the Nobility falling there, so that few were left to govern the rabble, who were fierce by nature and lawless also in hope of impunity. And yet there were two sorts of men that gained advantage by this calamity of others. For the richer sort of Church-men grew so insolent thereby that, not contented with their own function, they sought to draw all the offices of the kingdom into their own hands. And the Mendicant Fryars (for that sort of monks were then counted most superstitiously religious) had received much mony of those that were slain to keep for them. But, it being delivered without witness, they were mightily enriched by this booty, and thereupon omitted the severity of their ancient discipline; yea, there were some amongst them who counted that gain as a pious and holy fraud, alleging that the mony could never be better bestowed than to be given to be devout persons, that they might pray (forsooth) for the redemption of their souls out of Purgatory. The fight was carried on so obstinately that, towards night, both parties were weary and withdrew, almost ignorant of one anothers condition, so that Alexander Hume and his souldiers, who remained untouched, gathered up a great part of the spoil at their pleasure. But the next day in the morning, Dacres being sent out with a party of horse to make discovery, when he came to the place of fight and saw the Scots brass-guns without a guard and also a great part of the dead unstripp'd, he sent for Howard, and so gathered up the spoil at leasure, and celebrated the victory with great mirth. Concerning the King of Scotland, there goes a double report. The English say he was slain in the battel. But the Scots affirm that in the day of battel there were several others cloathed in the like coat of armour and the habit of the King, which was done on purpose on a double account, partly that the enemy might not principally aim at one man as their chief opponent, on whose life the safeguard of the army and total ruin of the enemy did depend; and partly also, if the King hapned to be slain, that the souldiers might not be so discouraged nor sensible of his loss as long as they saw any man armed and clothed like him in the field and riding up and down as a witness of their cowardise or valour. And that one of these was Alexander Elphinston, who in countenance and statue was very like the King; and, many of the Nobility, perceiving him armed in kingly habiliments, followed him in a mistake, and so died resolutely with him. But that the King himself repassed the Tweed and was slain by some of Humes his men near the town of Kelsoe, but it is uncertain whether it were done by his command or else by the forwardness of his souldiers, who were willing to gratify their commander. For they, being desirous of innovation, thought that they should escape punishment if he were taken off, but if he were alive they should be punished for their cowardise in the fight.
29. Some conjectures are also added, as that the same night after this unhappy fight the monastery of Kelsoe was seized upon by Carr, an intimate of Hume's, and the Abbat thereof ejected, which it was not likely he would dare to have done unless the King were slain. And moreover, David Galbreth, one of the family of the Hume's, some years after, when John the Regent questioned the Humes and was troublesome to their family, is said to have blamed the sluggish cowardise of his allys, who would suffer that stranger to rule so arbitrarily and imperiously over them, whereas he himself had been one of the six that had put an end to the like insolency of the King at Kelsoe. But these things were so uncertain that when Hume was afterwards tried for his life by James Earl of Murray, the King's natural son, they did not much prejudice his cause. However the truth of this matter stands, yet I shall not conceal what I have heard Lawrence Talifer, and honest and a learned man, to report more than once. He was then one of the King's servants and was a spectator of the fight. He saw the King, when the day was lost, set upon an horse and pass the Tweed, and many others affirmed the same thing, so that the report went current for many years after that the King was alive and was gone to Jerusalem to perform a religious vow he had made, but would return again in due time. But that rumor was found as vain, as another of the same batch which was heretofore spread abroad the Brittons concerning their Arthur and, but a few years since, by the Burgundians concerning Charles. This is certain, that the English found the body of the King, or of Alexander Elphinston, and carried it into England, and, retaining an inexpiable hatred against the dead, they left it unburied in a lead coffin (I know not whether their cruelty therein were more foolish or more barbarous), because he had born sacrilegious arms against Pope Julius the Second, whom the English then sought to curry favour with, or else, as some say, because he was perjured, as having, contrary to the oath and league between them, taken up arms against Henry the Eighth. Neither of which exprobations ought to have been laid to his charge, especially by such a King who during his lie was not constant or tight in any one religion, nor by such a people who had took up arms so often against the Bishops of Rome. Not to speak of many of the Kings of England whom their own writers accuse as guilty of perjury, as William Rufus, who is charged with that crime by Polydore and Grafton; Henry the First, by Thomas Walsingham and the Description of Normandy. King Stephen hath the like brand inured upon him by Neobrigensis, Grafton, and Polydore. Henry the Second by the same Newberry, Grafton, and Polydore. Richard the First by Grafton and Walsingham and the Description of Normandy, Edward the First, by Walsingham, and Henry the Third by the Description of Normandy, Grafton, and Thomas Walsingham.
30. I cull out these few for example-sake, not of the first Kings of the Saxon race, of which I might instance in a great many, but in those of the Norman family, whose posterity enjoy the kingdom to this day, and who lived in the most flourishing times of England's glory, to put them in mind not to be so bitter against strangers, who with so much indulgence bore the perjuries of their own Kings, especially since the guilt of the crime objected lies principally on those who were the first violaters of the truce. But to return to the matter. Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, had gone off with great renown for that victory over the Scots, if he had used his success with moderation, but being a man almost drunk with the happiness of his prosperous success and little mindful of the instability of human affairs, he made his houshold servants (as the English custom is) to wear a badg on their left arms, which was a white lyon (his own arms) on the top of a red one and rending him with his paws. God Almighty did seem to punish this in his insolent ambition, for there were, in a manner, none of his posterity of either side but dyed in great disgrace and ignominy. But King James, as he was dear to all whilst living, so he was mightily lamented at his death, and the remembrance of him stuck so fast in the minds of men as the like was not known of any other King that we have heard or read of. 'This probable that it hapned by making a comparison with the bad Kings who preceded his reign, or else were likely speedily to follow after it, considering also his eminent virtues, yea, his popular vices did easily deceive vulgar minds under a specious resemblance and affinity to virtue. For he was of a quick body, just stature, a majestick countenance, of a quick wit but, by the default of the times, not cultivated by learning. He did greedily imbibe one ancient custom of the nation, for he was skilful in curing of wounds. For in old times that kind of knowledg was common to all the Nobility, as men continually accustomed to arms. The access to his presence was easy, his answers were mild, he was just in judgment and moderate in punishment, so that he seemed to be drawn to it against his will. He bore the malevolent speeches of his enemies and the monitions of his friends with a greatness of mind, which arose in him from the tranquillity of a good conscience and the confidence of his own innocency, insomuch that he was so far from being angry that he never returned them an harsh word. There were also some vices which crept in among these virtues by reason of his too great affectation of popularity. For by endeavouring to avoid the name of a covetous prince which his father had incurred, he laboured to insinuate himself into the good will of the vulgar by sumptuous buildings, by costly pageants, and immoderate largesses, so that his exchequer was very low and his want of money such that, if he had lived longer, the merits of his former reign would have been extinguished, or at least out-ballanced by his imposition of new taxes, so that his death seemed to have hapned rather commodiously, than immaturely, to him.
JAMES THE Vth, THE CVIth KING
31. When James the Fourth was slain he let his wife Margaret and two sons behind him, the eldest of which was not yet full two ears old. The Parliament assembled at Sterlin proclaimed him King according to the custom of the country, on the 14th day of February, and then they addressed themselves to settle the publick affairs, in doing whereof they first perceived the greatness of their loss. For, those of the Nobility who bore any thing of authority and wisdom before them being slain, the major part of those who survived by reason of their youthful age or incapacity of mind were unfit to meddle with matters of state, especially in so troublesom a time, and they who were left alive of the better sort, who had anything of prudence in them, by reason of their ambitious and covetousness abhorred all counsels tending to peace. Alexander Hume, Lord Warden of the Marches, had got a great name and a large estate in the King's life-time, but when he was dead he obtained an (almost) regal authority in the countries bordering upon England. He, out of a wicked ambition, did not restrain robbers, that so he might more engage those bold and lewd persons to him, thinking thereby to make way for his greater puissance. But that design was unhappy to him, and in the end pernicious. The command of the country on this side the Forth was committed to him, the parts beyond to Alexander Gordon, to keep those seditious provinces within the bounds of their duty. But the name of Regent was in the Queen her self. For the King had left in his will, which he made before he went to fight, that, if he miscarried, as long as she remained a widow she should have the supream power. This was contrary to the law of the land, and the first example of any woman who ever had the supream rule in Scotland, yet the want of men made it seem tolerable, especially to them who were desirous of peace and quietness. But her office continued not long, for before the end of the spring she married Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, one of the prime young men of Scotland for lineage, beauty, and accomplishments in all good arts.
32. And before the end of that year, the discords were sown. They took their rise from the ecclesiastical order, for, after all the Nobles were slain, in all publick assemblies a great part were of that sort of men, and many of them did their own business amidst the publick calamity, and got such estates that nothing did more hasten their ruin than that inordinate power which they afterwards as arrogantly used. Alexander Stuart, Archbishop of St. Andrews, was slain at Flodden, and there were three which strove for that preferment, but upon different interests. Gawin Douglas, upon the account of the splendor of his family and his own personal worth and learning, was nominated to the place by the Queen, and accordingly took possession of the Castle of St. Andrews. Andrew Hepburn, Abbat of St. Andrews, before any Archbishop was nominated, gathered up the revenues of the place as a sequestrator, and he, being a potent, factious, and subtile man, was chosen by his monks to the vacancy (for he alleged that the power of electing an Archbishop by ancient custom was in them), so that he drove out the officers of Gawin and placed a strong garison in the Castle. Andrew Forman had obtained great favour in the Courts both of Rome and France by his former services, so that, besides the Bishoprick of Murray in Scotland which he held from the beginning, Lewis the 12th of France gave him the Archbishoprick of Bourges, and Pope Julius had also dismissed him loaden with many rich preferments, for he bestowed on him the Archbishoprick of St. Andrews, the two rich Abbies of Dumfermling and Aberbrothock, and made him is Legate (a latere, as they call him) besides. But so great was the power of the Hepburns at that time that, the Hume's being yet at concord with them, no man could be found that durst proclaim the Popes Bull for the election of Forman to that dignity, until at last Alexander Hume was induced by great promises and, besides other gifts, with the actual donation of the Abby of Coldingham to David's younger brother, to undertake the cause, which seemed to be honest and just, and especially because the family of the Formans was in the clanship or protection of the Hume's, so that he caused the Popes Bull to be published at Edinburgh. And that was the original of many mischiefs which ensued. For Hepburn, being a man of a lofty spirit, from that day forward studied day and night how to destroy the family of the Hume's.
33. The Queen, whilst she sat at helm, did this one thing worthy to be remembered, that she wrote to her brother that he would not make war upon Scotland, in respect to her and her young children, and that he would not infest the dominions of his cousin by foreign arms, which of its own accord was divided into so many domestick factions, but that he would rather defend them against the wrongs of others upon the account of his age and the affinity betwixt them. Henry answered very nobly and prince-like, that if the Scots desired peace they should have it; if war, he would make it upon them. When the Queen, by reason of her marriage, fell from her Regency, the Nobility was manifestly divided into factions. The Douglassian party endeavoured that the chief power might reside in the Queen, and that this was the way to have peace with England, which was not only advantagious but even necessary for them. The other party, headed by Humes, pretended an umbrage of the publick good, and that it was against the old laws of the land to choose a woman to be Regent. As for the Queen, they would be studious of her honour as far as they might so do by the law, and as far as the publick safety would permit, and that a sufficient proof had been given thereof in regard that they hitherto submitted to her government (tho it were against the law of their fore-fathers), not by any legal compulsion, but of mere good will, and that they were ready to endure it longer of any honest and equitable pretence could be alleged for it. But seeing she by her marriage had voluntarily deposed her self from that dignity, she ought not to take it amiss if they substituted another to enjoy that office which she had left, and which, indeed, by the law she could not hold. “For the laws of Scotland do not permit women to have the supream power, no not in times of peace, much more in such troublesome times as ours, wherein the powerfullest and the prudentest man alive could hardly find remedies for the many growing evils of the times.” Thus whilst each faction strove pertinaciously about the choice of a Regent, either out of wicked ambition or occult envy, they passed over all there present and inclined to choose John Duke of Albany, then living with good repute in France. Whereupon William Elphinston, Bishop of Aberdeen, is reported to have burst forth into tears in bewailing the publick misfortune, and his speech affected many, especially when he came to that point of reckoning up what men were slain in the last fight, and how few like them were left behind, of whom none was thought fit to sit at the helm of government. He also told them how empty the exchequer was, and how it had been exhausted by the late King, and how great a portion thereof was the Queen's joynture, and how much necessarily must be expended on the education of the King, and then how little part would remain to maintain publick charges; and that, tho none were more fit for the place of Regency than the Queen, yet, seeing concord could not he had on other terms, she was forced to yield to that party who were for calling John Duke of Albany out of France to take the Regency upon him, tho he thought that the publick misery would be rather deferred than fully healed thereby.
34. Alexander Hume was so violently for Albany that he professed openly in the Assembly that, if they all refused, yet he himself would go alone and bring him over into Scotland to undertake the government. It is thought he did this, not for love of his country or for any private advantage to himself, but merely out of this respect, that, being an ambitious man and knowing that his interest in the people [his popularity] was more upon the account of his power than out of any real love, therefore, he himself despairing of the place, he was afraid, if the Queen should have it, the Douglasses his neighbours would grow too great and his power would abate. For the men of Liddisdale and Annandale had already withdrawn themselves, and had, by little and little, betook themselves to the clanship of the Douglasses. And besides, he considered that the Queen, by assistance from England, was easily able to obviate all his designs, so that most carried it for John and an embassy was appointed, the chief whereof was Andrew Wood of the Largs (a famous cavaleer in those days), to call him into Scotland for the government, both upon the account of his virtue and also by reason of his near consanguinity with the King, for he was the son of Alexander, brother to James the Third. He being thus called to the supream government by the Scots, Francis King of France did not think that office unsutable to his interest, and therefore he furnished him with mony and a retinue at his departure. Before his arrival, in regard there was no one person to administer the publick government, there were many murders and rapines committed, and whilst the richer sort made up their private clans and factions, the poor desolate vulgar were afflicted with all kind of miseries. The chief robber of those times was Mac-Robert Stran, who committed outrages all over Athol and the neighbouring parts at his pleasure, having 800 men and sometimes more under his command. At length, when he was at his uncle John Creigton's, he was way-laid, apprehended, and put to death. But there was more mischief like to arise from the fewd between Andrew Forman and John Hepburn, yet the nature of them both and the discord, rather of their manners than minds, deferred the mischief for a season, which then was just a-breaking out. John was profoundly covetous, and Andrew was as great a despiser of mony and profuse in his largesses. The designs and purposes of Andrew were open and manifest to the view of all; neither was there any need that he should conceal them, because his vices were accounted virtues by the vulgar, and the simplicity of his nature did him as much kindness among them as the occult craft of Hepburn, together with his malicious dissimulation, his implacable remembrance of injuries, and his desire of revenge did him. And therefore Forman, hearing as yet no certainty of the coming of the Duke of Albany, neither could he be put into possession by Hume, seeing Hepburn resided at his castle and monastery, which he had strongly garison'd, which were at a great distance from those places in which the power of the Humes might be formidable, he determined, by his friends, to try whether he could with mony either satisfy, or at least in some degree abate, the avarice of the man, so that at last they came to an agreement upon these terms, that Forman should remit and forgive the revenues of the last year, which John had gathered in as a sequestrator; that he should surrender up to him the Bishoprick of Murray; and that he should pay him yearly 3000 French crowns out of his ecclesiastical revenues, to be divided amongst his friends. And thus the man's implacable hate was a little abated, and matters settled on that side.
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