To see a commentary note, click on a blue square. To see the Latin text, click on a green square. To see a textual note, click on a red square.


HE Queen, after her delivery, receiv’d all other visitants with kindness suitable to the occasion of a publick joy, but when her husband came she and her attendants did so comport themselves both in speech and countenance as if they were afraid of nothing more than that he should not understand that his presence was disdainful, and his company unacceptable to them all. But, on the contrary, Bothwel alone was the man, he managed all affairs. The Queen was so inclined to him that she would have it understood no suit would be obtained from her but by his mediation. And, as if she were afraid her favours to him were but mean and not sufficiently known, on a certain day she took one or two with her and went down to the haven called New-Haven, and her attendants, not knowing whither she intended, she went aboard a small vessel prepared there for her. William and Edmond Blacater, Edward Robertson, and Thomas Dickson, all Bothwels creatures and pirates of known rapacity, had fitted the ship before. With this guard of robbers, to the great admiration of all good men, she ventur’d to sea, taking none of her honest servants along with her. She landed at Alloway, a Castle of the Earl of Marrs, where she so demeaned her self for some time as if she had forgot not only the dignity of a Queen, but even the modesty of a matron. The King, when heard of the Queen’s sudden departure, followed her as fast as he could by land. His designs and hopes were to be with her and to injoy mutual society as man and wife. But he, as an importunate disturber of her pleasures, was bid go back whence he came, and had hardly time allow’d him for his servants to refresh themselves. A few days after, the Queen return’d to Edinburgh, and because, it seems, she would avoid the croud of people, she went not to her own Palace, but to the house of a private man in the vicinage. From thence she went to another, where the annual convention call’d the Exchequer-Court was then held, not so much for the largeness of the house or the pleasure of the gardens, as that one David Chalmers, a creature of Bothwel’s, had an house near it whose back-door was contiguous to the Queen’s garden, by which Bothwel might pass in and out to her as often as he would lie with her.
2. In the mean time, the King, finding no place of favour with his wife, is sent away with injuries and chidings, and having often tried her spirit, yet by no offices of observance could he obtain to be admitted to conjugal familiarity as heretofore. Whereupon he retired in discontent to Sterlin. A while after, the Queen appointed to go to Jedburgh to hold a convention. About the beginning of October Bothwel prepared an expedition into Liddisdale, and carrying himself there neither according to the place which he held, nor the dignity of his family, nor the expectation of any man, he was wounded by a mean padder [bandit] whom he had taken, and unawares almost dispatch’d with a leaden bullet, and so he was carried to Hermitage Castle in great danger of his life. When the news was brought to the Queen at Borthwick, though the winter was very sharp she flew in haste, first to Mulross, then to Jedburgh. There, though she receiv’d certain intelligence that Bothwel was alive, yet, being impatient of delay and not able to forbear, though in such a bad time of the year, notwithstanding the difficulty of the way and the danger of robbers, she put her self on her journy with such an attendance [escort] as hardly any honest man, though he were but of a mean condition, would trust his life and fortune to. From thence she return’d again to Jedburgh, and there made great and diligent preparation that Bothwel should be brought thither, whither when he came their conversation together was little for the credit of either of them. There the Queen, either by reason of her continual toil day and night, or else by the secret providence of God, fell into such a sore and dangerous disease that no body almost thought she could have lived. When the King heard of it he went in great haste to Jedburgh, both to give her a visit and to testify his observance by all the good offices he could, and also to incline her to a better course of life, hoping she might repent of what she has done, as in great dangers persons are wont to do. She, on the contrary, gave not the least evidence of a reconcil’d mind, but charged that no body should rise up or salute him as he came in, or give him entertainment so much as one night.
3. But she, suspecting the disposition of Murray as courteous and civil, dealt with his wife to make haste now to fain her self sick and go immediately to bed, that so by the pretence of sickness the King might be excluded from thence; yea, she made it her business to inforce him to be gone for want of lodging. Which he had done, unless one of the family of the Humes for very shame had pretended a sudden cause for his departure, and so left his lodging free for the King. The next day in the morning, she returned again to Sterlin. Her return was the more reflected on because at the very same time Bothwel was carried out of the place where he lodg’d to the Queen’s lodgings in the face of all the people, and though neither of them were well recovered, she from her disease, he from his wounds, yet they journey’d first to Kelso, then to Coldingham, next to Cragmiller (a castle two miles from Edinburgh), not caring for the reports that were spred of them on the way. The Queen in all her discourse profess’d that she could never live unless she were divorc’d from the King, and if she might not be so, she would lay violent hands on her self. She would ever and anon speak of a divorce, and would say it might easily be done if the Popes Bull were recall’d whereby leave was given to contract marriages against the Papal laws. But, seeing this matters was not like to go as she expected (for these things were acted in the presence of many of the Nobility), she left off other methods and applied her mind only to his murder.
4. A little before winter, when the embassadors from France and England came to be witnesses at the baptism of the Prince, the Queen strove both by pecuniary and all other industrious ways that Bothwel should appear the most magnificent amongst all her subjects and guests at the entertainment, whereas her lawful husband at the baptism was not allowed necessaries; yea, was forbid to come in sight of the embassadors, his servants also, appointed for his daily attendants, were taken from him and the Nobility forbid to observe him. But this carriage and her comportment in former times, the more implacable she was towards him, made them more to pity him in seeing a young and harmless person reproachfully used, and yet not only to bear it patiently but even to endeavour to appease her rage by the servilest offices he could perform, that so he might win some degree of her favour. As for his apparel and dress, she put the fault upon the embroiderers, goldsmiths, and other tradesmen, though ’twas but a false shameless pretence, for every body knew it was her occasion, whereas for Bothwel’s ornaments she wrought many of them with her own hands. Besides, foreign embassadors were advised not to enter into discourse with the King, though were in the same Castle together the most part of the day. The young gentleman, being thus uncourteously treated, exposed to the contempt of all, and his rival honoured before his face, resolved to go to his father to Glasgow, who, as some thought, had sent for him. The Queen shew’d her accustomed hatred at his departure. She took away all the silver which he had used ever since he was married and put pewter in their stead; besides, she gave him poison before his departure, that so the evil might be more secret if he died when absent from Court.
5. But the poison wrought sooner than those gave it supposed it would. For before he was gone a mile from Sterlin he had such a grievous pain all over his body that ’twas very apparent his disease was not casual, but fraudulently design’d. But as soon as he came to Glasgow the mischief did manifestly discover it self. Blew pustules arose all over his body with so much pain and torment that there was little hope of his life. James Abernethy, an able, faithful, and experienc’d physician, being consulted about his disease, answered presently that he had taken poison. He sent for the Queen’s domestick physician, but the Queen would not suffer him to go, fearing lest his skill might cure him, and also she was not willing that many should know of his being poison’d. When the ceremonies of the baptism were over and the company by degrees gone home, the Queen was private with Bothwel, scarce any body besides at Drummond and Tillibardin, a Noble-man’s house, where she spent two days about the beginning of January, and so return’d to Sterlin, and pretended daily to go to Glascow, but expecting to hear every day of the King’s death. To prevent the worst, she resolved to have her son in her own power. And, that her design might occasion no suspicion, they began to find fault that the house wherein he was kept was inconvenient; that in such a moist and cold place he might be subject to rheums. But the true cause was far otherwise of his removal, for ’twas very plain that the place whither he was carried was far more obnoxious upon the foresaid accounts, in being scituate in a low marish soil, having a mountain betwixt it and the sun-rising. Whereupon the child, being scarce seven months old, was brought in a very sharp winter to Edinburgh, where she there heard that the King was recovered, as having overcome the poison by the vigour of his youth and the strength of his natural constitution. She renew’d her plot to destroy him, acquainting also some of the Nobility therewith.
6. In the mean time, news was brought her that the King design’d to fly to France or Spain, and that he had spoke about it with the master of an English ship which was then in the Firth of Clyde. Hereupon, some thought that an occasion was offered her to send for him and, if he refused to come, to kill him out of the way; yea, some offered to be agents in the thing. All of them advised that the fact should be privately committed, and that it should be hastned before he was perfectly recovered. The Queen, having already gotten her son, that she might also have her husband in her power, though not as yet agreed in the design how he should be dispatch’d, resolv’d to go to Glasgow, having, as she thought, sufficiently clear’d her self from his former suspicions by many kind letters she had lately sent him. But her words and deeds did not agree, for she took almost none with her in her retinue but the Hamiltons and other hereditary enemies of the King. In the mean time, she intrusts Bothwel with doing what was contributory to the design at Edinburgh, for that place seem’d most convenient to them both to commit and also to conceal so great a wickedness. For, there being a great assembly of the Nobles, the suspicion might be put off from one to the other, and so divided between many. When the Queen had tried all the ways she could to dissemble her hatred, at last, by many chidings, complaints, and lamentations past betwixt them, she could yet scarce make him believe that she was reconciled to him. The King, hardly yet recover’d from his disease, was brought in a litter to Edinburgh to the place design’d for his murder, which Bothwel in the Queen’s absence had undertook to provide, and that was an house, uninhabited for some years before, near the walls of the city in a lonesome solitary place between the ruins of two churches, where no noise or outcry could be heard.
7. Thither he was thrust with a few attendants only, for the most of them (being such as the Queen had put upon him rather as spies than servants) were departed, as foreknowing the danger at hand. And those that remained could not get the keys of the door from the harbingers that provided the lodgings. The Queen was most intent on this one thing, to avert all suspicion from her self. And her dissimulation had proceded so far that the King was fully persuaded there was a firm reconcilement betwixt him, so that he wrote letters to his father, who staid behind sick at Glasgow, giving him great hopes and assurance that the Queen was now sincerely his, and commemorating her many good offices towards him. Now he promised to himself that there would be a change of all things for the better. As he was writing these letters, the Queen came in on a sudden, and, reading them, she gave him many embraces and kisses, telling him that sight mightily pleased her, that now she saw there was no cloud of suspicion hovering over his mind. Things being thus well secured on that side, her next care was to contrive, as much as possible, to cast the guilt upon another, and therefore she sent for her brother Murray, who had lately obtained leave and was going to St. Andrews to visit his wife, who lay there (as he heard) dangerously sick. For, besides the danger of child-bearing, she had pustles that rose all over her body with a violent feaver. The cause of her detaining him she pretended to be that she might honourably dismiss the Duke of Savoy’s embassador, who came too late to the Prince’s baptism. Though this seem’d a mean pretence to take him off from so just and necessary a duty, yet he obeyed.
8. In the interim, the Queen every day made her visits to the King and reconciled him to Bothwel, whom she by all means desired to be out of gun-shot of any suspicion. She made him large promises of her affection for the time to come, which over-officious carriage though suspected by all, yet no man was so bold as to advise the King of his danger, in regard he was wont to tell the Queen whatever he heard to insinuate the more into her favour. Only Robert, the Queen’s brother, mov’d either with the horridness of the fact or with pity to the young man, took his confidence to acquaint him of his wives plot against him, but on this condition, that he would keep it to himself and provide for his safety as best he could. The King, notwithstanding, reveal’d it to the Queen according to his custom, whereupon Robert was call’d for, and he stoutly deny’d it, so that they gave one another the lie and were laying their hands on their swords. The Queen was glad to see that her designs were likely to have so good a conclusion, and that so near at hand, without her trouble, and therefore she calls for her other brother, James, as if he were to decide the controversy, but the truth was that he also might on that occasion be cut off. There was no body present but Bothwel, who was so far from keeping them from fighting that he would rather have kill’d him that had the worst of the combate himself, as plainly appeared when he said there was no reason James should be sent for in such haste to keep those from duelling, who, whatever they pretended, had no such maw [enthusiasm] to it. This stir being quieted, the Queen and Bothwel were wholly intent how the perpetrate the murder, and how to do it with all imaginable privacy, too.
9. The Queen, to dissemble both love to her husband and an amnesty of old offences, causes her bed to be brought from the Palace into a chamber below the King’s, where she lay after she had sat late up with him in discourse for some nights. In the mean time, she devises all manner of ways to cast the odium of the fact, when committed, upon her brother James and the Earl of Morton. For she thought if these two, whose authority and esteem was much fear’d and hated by her, were taken out of the way, all things else would fall in of themselves. She was also incited thereunto by letters from the Pope and from Charles Cardinal of Lorrain. For the summer before having, by her uncle, desir’d a sum of mony from the Pope for levying an army to disturb the state of religion in Britain, and the Pope more cunningly, but the Cardinal plainly had advis’d her to destroy those who were the greatest hindrances to the restitution of Popery, and especially those two Earls by name, if they were once taken off, they promised a mass of mony for the war. Some inckling hereof the Queen thought was come to the ears of the Nobility, and therefore, to clear her self from any suspicion or the least inclination to such a thing, she shewed them the letters. But these designs, so subtilly laid, as they thought, were somewhat disturbed by often messages from Murray’s wife, how that she had miscarried and that there was small hopes of her life. This message was brought him on the Lords Day as he was going to sermon, whereupon he returned back to the Queen and desired leave of her to be gone. She very much urg’d him that if he made never so much haste his coming would do her no good, but if her disease did abate to morrow would be time enough. But he was fully bent on his journy and went his way.
10. The Queen had deferr’d the murder till that night, and would seem to be so jocund and dissolute as to celebrate the marriage of Sebastian, one of her musick, in the very place. And when the evening was past in mirth and jollity, then she went with a numerous attendance to see her husband. She spent some hours with him and was merrier than formerly, often kissing him and giving him a ring as a token of her love. After the Queen’s departure, the King with a few servants that were about him, recollecting the proceedings of the day past, amongst some comfortable speeches given him by the Queen, he was much troubled at the remembrance of a few words. For she, whether not being able to contain her joy arising from the hope that the murder would now be acted, or whether it fell from her by chance, cast out a word that David Rize was slain the last year just about that time. This unseasonable mention of his death tho none of them lik’d it, yet because much of the night was past and the next morning was design’d for sports and pastimes, they went speedily to bed. In the mean time, gunpowder was plac’d in the room below to blow up the house. Other things were cautiously and craftily enough transacted, yet in a small matter they left a track whereby to be discovered. For the bed in which the Queen us’d sometimes to lie was taken from thence and a worse put in its place, as if, though they were prodigal enough of their credit, yet the would spare a little mony. In the mean time, one Paris, a French man, a partisan in the conspiracy, entred into the King’s bed-chamber and there stood still, yet so that the Queen might see him. that was the sign agreed on betwixt them that all things were in a readiness.
11. As soon as she saw Paris, as if Sebastian’s message came into her mind, she began to blame her self that she had bin so negligent as not to dance that night at the wedding (as ’twas agreed) and to put the bride to bed, as the manner is. Whereupon she presently started up and went home. Being returned to the Palace, she had a pretty deal of discourse with Bothwel, who, being at length dismiss’d, went to his chamber, chang’d his apparel, put on a souldier’s coat, and with a few in his company pass’d through the guards into the town. Two other parties of the conspirators came several ways to the appointed place, and a few of them entered into the King’s bed-chamber, of which they had the keys (as I said before), and whilst he was fast asleep they took him by the throat and strangled him and one also of his servants who lay near him. When they were slain, they carried their bodies through a little gate, which they had made on purpose in the walls of the city, into a garden near at hand. Then they set fire to the gunpowder, which blew up the house from the very foundation and made such a noise that it shook some of the neighbouring houses; yea, those that were sound asleep in the furthest parts of the city were awakened and frightned at the noise. When the deed was done, Bothwel was let out by the ruins of the city-walls and so return’d to the Palace through the guard another way than that he came.
12. This was the common report about the King’s death, which held some days. The Queen had sat up that night to wait for the event, and, hearing of the tumult, called together those of the Nobility who were at Court, and amongst the rest Bothwel, and by their advice sent out to know what was the matter, as if she had been ignorant of all that was done. Some went to inspect the body. The King had only a linen shirt on the upper part of his body, the rest of it lay naked. His other apparel and his shoes lay near him. The common people came in great multitudes to see him, and many conjectures there were. Yet they all agreed (sorely against Bothwel’s mind) that he could never be thrown out of the house by the force of the gunpowder, for there was no part broken, bruis’d, or black and blew about his body, which in a ruin by gunpowder would have been; besides, his apparel lying near him was no sing’d with the flame or covered with any ashes, so that it could not be thrown thither by any casualty, but plac’d there on purpose by some bodies hand. Bothwel returned home and, as if he had been in great admiration, brought the news to the Queen, whereupon she went to bed and lay secure, soundly asleep, a great part of the next day. In the mean time, reports were spread abroad by the parricides, and carried into the Borders of England before day, that the King was murdered by the design of Murray and Morton, yet every body thought privately within himself that the Queen must needs be the author of the murder. Neither was the Bishop of St. Andrews free from suspicion. There were shrewd conjectures against him, as the high and cruel enmities betwixt the families, neither was the Bishop ever well reconciled to the Queen before she design’d that wickedness in her mind, and of late, when he accompanied her to Glasgow, he was made acquainted with the utmost of her projects. It increast mens suspicions of him because, at that time, he had retir’d to the house of his brother the Earl of Arran, which was near to the house where the King was slain, whereas before he always us’d to live in some eminent part of the city where he might conveniently receive visits and curry favour with the people by feasting them; and besides, lights were seen in his house, and a watch all the night, from the upper part of the city. And when the design’d powder-clap was, then the lights were put out and his vassals, many of whom watch’d in their arms, were forbidden to go out of doors.
13. But the true story of the matter of fact which broke out after some months gave occasion to people to look upon those things as certain indications which before were but suspicions only. When the murder was committed, presently messengers were sent into England who were to report that the King of Scots was cruelly murdered by his subjects by the contrivance especially of Murray and Morton. The news was presently brought to Court, which so inflam’d all the English to the hatred of the whole nation that for some days no Scots man durst walk abroad without danger to his life. And, tho many letters past to and fro discovering the secret contrivances of the design, yet they could hardly be appeas’d. The King’s body, having been left a while as a spectacle to be gaz’d upon, and a great concourse of people continually flockt thither, the Queen order’d that it should be laid on a form or bier turn’d upside down and brought by porters into the Palace. There she her self viewed the body, the fairest of that age, and yet her countenance discover’d not the secrets of her mind neither one way or other. The Nobles there present decreed that a royal and magnificent funeral should be made for him, but the Queen caus’d him to be carry’d forth by bearers in the night to be buried in no manner of state. And that which increas’d the indignity the more was that his grave was made near David Rizes, as if she design’d to sacrifice the life of her husband to the ghost of that filthy varlet.
14. There were two prodigies hapning at that time which are worth the while to relate. One of them a little preceded the murder, it was this. One James Londin, a gentleman of Fife, having been long sick of a feaver, the day before the King was kill’d, about noon, lifted up himself a little out of his bed and, as if he had been astonish’d, cry’d out to those that stood by him with a loud voice to go help the King, for the parricides was just now murdering him. And a while after he call’d out with a mournful tone “Now ’tis too late to help, he is already slain,” and he himself lived not long after he had utter’d those words. The other did accompany the murder it self. Three of the familiar friends of the Earl of Athol’s, the King’s cousin, men of reputation for valour and estate, had their lodgings not far from the King’s. When they were asleep about midnight there was a certain man seem’d to come to Dugal Stuart, who lay next the wall, and to draw his hand gently over his beard and cheek so to awaken him, saying, “Arise, they are off’ring violence to us.” He presently awak’d, and, considering the apparition within himself, another of them cries out presently in the same bed, “Who kicks me?” Dugal answer’d perhaps ’tis a cat which us’d to walk about in the night, whereupon the 3
d, which was not yet awake, rose presently out of his bed and was going to run away, demanding who it was that had given him a box on the ear. As soon as he had spoken it, one seem’d to go out of the house by the door, not without some noise. Whilst they were descanting on what they had heard and seen, the noise of the King’s house that was blown up drove them all into a great fright.
15. When the deed had been done, men were variously affected according to their love or hatred of the King. All good men unanimously abhorred the wicked crime. But he that took the murder most heinously was John Stuart, Earl of Athol, as for other reasons, so because he was the chief maker of the match between the Queen and him. The night after the murder, arm’d guards watch’d the Palace at night, as in such sudden consternations is usual, and they hearing the outside wall of the the Earl of Athols lodging make a noise or crack, as if some were gently digging at the foundation, they rais’d the family, which went no more to bed that night. The day after the Earl left the town, and a little after that went home for fear of his life. The Earl of Murray at his return to Court from St. Andrews was not without danger neither, for arm’d men walkt about his house at night. But he, not being well, and his servants thereupon using to watch with him all night, the villains could not attempt any thing privately against him, and openly they durst not. At length Bothwel (who would willingly have been freed from such a trouble) resolved to perform the wicked fact with his own hands. And therefore about midnight he askt his domesticks how Murray did. They told him he was grievously troubled with the gout. “What (said he) if we should go see him?” And presently he rose up and was hastening to his house. As he was going he was inform’d by his domesticks that he was gone to his brother Roberts to be at more freedom and ease out of the noise of the Court, whereupon he held his peace, stood still, grieving that he had lost so fair an opportunity, and so return’d home. The Queen, mean while, look’d very demurely and, dissembling great sorrow, thought that way to reconcile the people to her. But that speeded as ill with her as the rest of the conspiracy. For whereas it was the custom, time out of mind, for Queens after their husbands death to abstain several days not only from the sight of men, but even from seeing the light, she indeed personated a fain’d grief, but her joy did so exceed it that, tho the doors were shut, yet the windows were open, and, casting off her mourning weeds, in 4 days she could well enough bear the sight of the sun and air. And before 12 days were over her mind was harden’d against the talks of the people and she went to Seton, about 7 miles from the town, Bothwel never departing from her side. There her carriage was such that she seemed somewhat chang’d in the apparel of her body, but nothing at all in the habit of her mind.
16. The place was full of the Nobility, and she went daily abroad to the accustom’d sport, tho’ some of them were not so fit for the female sex. But the coming of Mr. D’Crocke, a French-man (who had often before been embassador in Scotland) did somewhat disturb their measures. for, he telling them how infamous the matter was amongst strangers, they returned to Edinburgh. But Seton (I perceive) had so many conveniencies that, tho’ with the further hazard of her credit, she must needs return thither again. There the main head of the consultation was how Bothwel might be acquitted of the King’s murder. There was a design before to try and acquit him. For presently upon the King’s death, Bothwel and some of his complices came to the Marquess of Argyle, who was the hereditary capital judge in criminal causes. First they pretended they were wholly ignorant of what was one, and wondred at it as a new, unheard of, and incredible thing. Then they proceeded to the examination of it. They summon in some poor women out of the neighbourhood, but they stuck between hope and fear, being uncertain whether they should speak or hold their peace. But, tho they were very cautious in their words, yet, uttering more than was expected, they were sent away as having spoken nothing upon any certain ground. And as for their testimony, it was easy enough to despise it. Whereupon some of the King’s servants were sent for whom the fire had not destroyed. They, being ask’d concerning the ingress of the assassinates, reply’d that the keys were not being in their power. It being urg’d upon them again, in whose, then?, they answered the Queens. Whereupon the further examination was put off, as they pretended, but, indeed, was quite supprest, for they were afraid if they went any further the Court-secrets would have been all publickly known. And yet, to set a gloss on the matter, a proclamation was publish’d and a pecuniary reward offer’d to the discoverers of the King’s murder. But who dar’d be so bold as to impeach Bothwel, seeing he was to be the impleaded [accused], the judge, the examiner, and the exactor of the punishment too? Yet this fear, which stopt the mouths of divers single persons, could not bridle the multitude. For libels were publish’d, pictures made, and night-haukings and cries were uttered whereby the parricides might easily understand that their whole design was discover’d, who design’d the wickedness, and who assisted in the execution thereof.
17. And the commonalty, the more they were forbidden, the more did their grief make them speak. Though the conspirators seem’d to despise these things, yet they were so inwardly prickt and grip’d that they could not dissemble their sorrow. And therefore, omitting the examination about the King’s death, they fell upon another quest, more severe, and that was against the authors of libels, or (as they worded it) the calumniators of Bothwel, and this was so severely prosecuted that no pains nor cost were spar’d therein. All the painters and writing-masters were call’d in that so they might discover the pictures and libels by those that drew or wrote them. They further added a clause suitable enough to the edict, which made it capital not only to sell, but even to read them when they were sold. But they who endeavour’d to bridle the discourse of the people by threatning capital punishment to them were not satisfy’d with the King’s death, but retain’d their hatred against him though in his grave. The Queen gave her husband’s goods, his arms, horses, apparel and other housholdstuff either to his father’s enemies or to the murderers themselves, as if they had been forfeited into her exchequer. As these matters were acted openly, so many did as publickly inveigh against them. So that one taylor who was about to fit some of the King’s clothes for Bothwel’s body was so bold as to say now he saw the old country-custom verified, that the executioner had the apparel of those that suffer’d by his hand There was also another care troubled them, how they might get the Castle of Edinburgh into the Queen’s hands. John Earl of Marr was Governour of it, upon condition that he should render it to none but by order of the Estates. And though such a Convention was to be in the month after, yet the Queen was so earnest that every small delay seem’d very tedious to her. And therefore she dealt with the Earl’s friends and kindred (for he himself lay then very sick at Sterlin) to surrender the Castle to her, pretending this as the chief cause, that the commons of Edinburgh were so tumultuous (there being then a commotion amongst them) that she could not keep them within the bounds of their duty unless she had that fort in her hands, and that therefore, as an earnest of her great affection to John, she would put her only son, the heir of the kingdom, into his hands to be educated by him, which office of Guardianship his ancestors had discharg’d to their great commendation, as in so many other princes of late times, in her mothers and grandmothers education.
18. Tho the Earl understood whither her promises and flatteries did tend, yet he complied with her request. The Queen, finding him more facile than she hoped, essays next to be possest of the Castle as soon as it was convenient, and yet to keep her son too. When he would not hearken to that, she sets upon him by another wile, propounding to him to come to Linlithgo (in the mid-way between Edinburgh and Sterlin), and there on an appointed day to receive the Prince and to surrender the Castle. But this project being suspected of fraud, at last it was agreed that he should be deliver’d to Erskin at Sterlin and that he, in the interim, should give the chief of his family as hostage for the rendring of the Castle. These things were some trouble to the parricides, but they were most of all troubled with the daily complaints of the Earl of Lennox. He would not adventure to come to Court by reason of Bothwel’s power, accompanied with the highest luxury. But he earnestly solicited the Queen by letters that she would commit Bothwel to prison, who without doubt was the author of the King’s murder, till a day might be appointed to bring him to his trial. She, though eluding his desire by many stratagems, yet, seeing the examination of so heinous a fact could not be avoided, design’d to have it carried on thus. The Assembly of the Estates, on the Ides of April, was near at hand. Before that time she was willing to have the matter tried, that so Bothwel, being absolv’d by the votes of the judges, might be further clear’d by the suffrages of the whole Parliament. This haste was the cause that nothing was carried on orderly or according to ancient custom in that judiciary process. For the accusers (as is usual) ought to have been cited with their kindred, as wife, father, mother, son, either to appear personally or by proxy within 40 days, for that is the time limited by the law. Here the father was the only summon’d to appear, April 13th, without summoning any of his friends, only his own family, which at that time was in a low estate and reduc’d but to few, whereas in the mean time Bothwel flew up and down the town with a great many troops at his heels. The Earl of Lennox thought it best for him not to come into a city full of his enemies, where he had no friends nor vassals to secure him; and besides, if there were no danger of life, yet there could be no freedom of debate.
19. Bothwel appears at the day appointed, and comes into the Town-Hall, being both plaintiff and defendant too. The judges of the Nobility were call’d over, most of them his friends, none daring to appear on the other side to except against any one of them. Only Robert Cunningham, one of Lennox’ family, gave a small stop to the proceedings. He, having liberty to speak openly, declar’d that the process was not according to law nor custom, where the accus’d person was so powerful that he could not be brought to punishment, and the accuser was absent for fear of his life. And therefore whatsoever should be determin’d there, as being against law and right, was null and void. Yet they persisted in their design notwithstanding. Moreover, Gilbert Earl of Cassils, being chosen one of the judges, rather for forms sake than that he thought he should do any good, desir’d to be excused and offered also to pay the forfeiture usually taken of those who decline sitting, when presently a messenger brought him a ring from the Queen with a command that he should sit as one of the judges, or else she threatned to commit him to prison. When that did not prevail, she sent another messenger who told him he should be punish’d as a traitor of he refus’d, so that by such kind of terrors they were inforc’d to sit, and the issue was, they declar’d, they saw no reason to find Bothwel guilty. Yet if any man hereafter could lawfully accuse him, they gave a caution that this judgment should be no hindrance to him. Some thought the issue was wisely given in by them. For the indictment was conceived in such words that the severest judges could never have found Bothwel guilty, for it was laid against a murder committed on the 9th of February, whereas the King was slain the tenth.
20. Thus Bothwel was acquitted of the fact, but not of the infamy of it. Suspicions did increase upon him and his punishment seemed only to be deferred, but any pretence whatsoever, though a shameless one, seem’d good enough for the Queen, who made haste to marry him. As a surplusage to his absolvance, there was a chartel or challenge posted on the eminentest part of the Court, declaring that, though Bothwel was lawfully acquitted of the King’s murder, yet, to make his innocency more appear, he was ready to decide the matter in a duel against any gentleman or person of honour that should dare lay it to his charge. The morrow after, there was one which did as manfully post up an answer to his challenge, provided the place of combate were appointed wherein, without danger, he might declare his name. Though these things succeeded reasonably well, yet the Queen in that Parliament was more rugged than formerly. For whereas before she pretended civility in her carriage, now she plainly discovered a desire of tyranny. For what she promised at Sterin in matters of religion she now flatly deny’d, and that was that the laws establish’d under Popish tyranny should be abrogated in the first Parliament and the Reformed religion should be strengthned by new laws. And when, besides her promise, two edicts signed with her own hand were produc’d, being catch’d here she boggled and commanded the Commissioners of the Kirk to attend her another time, and after that she never gave them opportunity to appear before her again. And those Acts of the Estates which were published before her coming into the Scotland by the consent of Francis her husband, those, she alleg’d, did fall under the Act of Oblivion. That speech seemed to all a manifest profession of tyranny. For, whereas the Scots had no law besides Acts of Parliament, they entertained such privat thoughts in their breasts, what kind of life were they like to live under a prince whose will was a law, and whose word and promise were not to be believed.
21. This was done about the end of the Convention. At the same time, the Queen was very earnest to hasten her marriage, and yet withal she desired by any means to procure the publick consent that she might seem to act nothing but by the suffrage of the Nobles. And Bothwel too, to credit the marriage with the pretence of publick authority, devised this stratagem. He invited all the Nobility of the highest rank which were then in town (as there were many) to supper, and when they were jocund and merry he desired them to shew that respect to him for the future which they had always done heretofore. At present he only desired that, whereas he was suiter to the Queen, they would subscribe to a schedule which he had made about that matter, and that would be a means to procure him favour with the Queen and honour with all the people. They were amazed at so sudden an unexpected a proposal, and could not dissemble their sorrow, neither yet durst they refuse or deny him. Whereupon a few that knew the Queen’s mind began first, and the rest, not foreseeing that there was so great a number of flatterers present, suspected one another, and at last all subscribed. The day after, when they recollected what they had done, some of them as ingenuously profess’d they would never have given their consent unless they thought the thing had been acceptable to the Queen. For, besides that it carried no great shew of honesty, and was prejudicial to the publick too, so there was danger, if any discord should arise (as it happen’d between her and her former husband) between her and Bothwel also, and he were rejected, it might be laid in their dishes that they had betrayed the Queen to a dishonourable marriage. And therefore, before they had gone too far, they resolved to try her mind and to procure a writing under her hand to this sense, that she did approve what they had done in reference to her marriage. This scrole was easily obtained, and, by the consent of them all, given to the Earl of Argyle to keep. The next day, all the bishops in town were called to Court that they also might subscribe.
22. This care being over, there succeeded another, which was how the Queen should get her son into her power, for Bothwel did not think it safe for him to have a young child brought up which in time might revenge his father’s murder; neither was he willing that any other should come between his children and the crown. Whereupon the Queen, who could now deny him nothing, undertook the task her self to bring the child to Edinburgh She had also another presence to visit Sterlin, of which I shall speak anon. When she came thither, the Earl of Marr suspected what was a-brewing, and therefore shewed her the Prince but would not let him be in her power. The Queen, seeing her fraud detected, and not able to cope with him by force, pretended another cause for her journy and prepared to return. In her journy, either by reason of her overmuch toil, or for anger that her designs, which the authors thought craftily laid, were unsuccessful, she was taken with a sudden illness and was forced to retire into a poor house about four miles from Sterlin, where, her pain something abating, she proceeded in her journy and came that night to Linlithgo. From thence she wrote to Bothwel by Paris what she would have him to do about her surprize. For before she departed from Edinburgh she had agreed with him that at the bridg of Almon he should surprize her in her return and carry her whither he would, as ’twere against her will. The common people put this interpretation on the matter, that she could not altogether conceal her familiarity with Bothwel, nor yet could well want it, nor could she openly injoy it as she desired without the loss of her reputation. It was too tedious to expect his divorce from his former wife, and she was willing to consult her honour, which she pretended to have a great regard to, yet she would provide for her lust too, of which she was very impatient, and therefore the device was thought to be very pretty that Bothwel should redeem the Queen’s infamy with his own great crime, the punishment whereof yet he did not at all fear.
23. But there was a deeper reach in the project, as was after understood. For whereas the people did every where point at and curse the King’s murderers, they to provide for their own security, by the persuasion, as ’tis thought, of John Lesly, Bishop of Ross, devised this attempt upon the Queen. ’Tis the manner in Scotland when the King grants a pardon for offences, he that sues it out expresseth his great offence by name, and the rest of his crimes are added in general words. Accordingly, the King’s murderers determined to ask pardon for this surprize of the Queen by name, and then to add in their pardons by way of overplus, all other wicked facts, in which clause they persuaded themselves that the King’s murder would be included, because ’twas not safe for them to name themselves the authors of it in the pardon, nor was it creditable for the Queen so to grant it; neither could it well be added in the grant of pardon as an appendix to a lesser crime. Another offence, less invidious but liable to the same punishment, was to be devised, under the shadow whereof the Kings murder might be disguised and pardoned, and no other way did occur to them but this simulated force put upon the Queen, whereby her pleasure might be satisfied and Bothwel’s security provided for too. And therefore, accompanied with 600 horse, waited her coming at Almon Bridg and took her by her own consent to Dunbar. There they had free converse one with another, and a divorce was made betwixt Bothwel and his former wife, and that in two courts. first, she was cited before judges publickly appointed to decide such kind of controversies, and next before the Officials or Bishop’s Courts, though they were forbid by a publick statute to exercise any part of magistracy or to meddle with any publick business. Madam Gordon, Bothwel’s wife, was compelled to commence a suit of divorce in a double court before the Queen’s judges. She accuses him of adultery, which was the only just cause of a divorce among them. And before the Papal judges, who, though forbidden by the law, yet were impowered by the Arch-Bishop of St. Andrews to determine the controversy, she alleged against him that before their marriage he had had too much unlawful or incestuous familiarity with her own kinswoman. The witnesses and judges made no delay in the case. The suit was commenc’d, prosecuted, adjudg’d, and ended in ten days.
24. On these emergencies a great many of the honest Nobles met at Sterlin and sent to the Queen desiring to know of her whether she were kept where she was willingly or against her will. If this later, they would levy an army for her deliverance. she received the message, not without smiling, and answered them that ’twas true she was brought thither against her will, but was so kindly treated since that she had little cause to complain of the former injury. Thus was the messenger eluded [mocked]. But though they made haste to take off the reflection of the force by a lawful marriage, there were two remora’s [obstacles] yet in the way. One was that if she married whilst a prisoner, the marriage might not be accounted good, and so easily dissolved. The other, how to have the usual ceremonies observed, that the bans should be publish’d three Lord’s Days in the publick congregations of a marriage intended between James Hepburn and Mary Stuart, so that if any one knew a lawful impediment why they might not be joined together in matrimony, they should declare it, that so it might be decided by the Church. To accomplish this, Bothwel gathers his friends and dependents together, resolving to bring back the Queen to Edinburgh, that so under a vain shew of her liberty he might determine of their marriage at his pleasure. H
is companions were all arm’d, and, as they were on their journy, a fear seiz’d on some of them lest one time or another it might turn to their prejudice to hold the Queen as yet a prisoner. And if there were no other ground for it, yet this was enough, that they accompanied her in an arm’d posture when things were otherwise in peace and quietness. Upon this scruple they threw away their arms, and so, in a seeming more peaceable posture they brought her to the city of Edinburgh, which was then in Bothwel’s power. The next day they accompanied her into the city and into the Courts of :Justice, where she affirm’d before the judges that she was wholly free and under no restraint at all.
25. But as to publishing the marriage in the Church, the Reader whose office it was did wholly refuse it. Whereupon the elder Deacons and ecclesiasticks assembled, as not daring to resist, and commanded the Reader to publish the bans according to custom. He so far was obedient as to tell them that he himself knew a lawful impediment, and was ready to declare it to the Queen or to Bothwel when they pleas’d to command him. Whereupon he was sent for to the Castle, and the Queen remitted him to Bothwel, who neither by fear nor favour could make him alter his purpose, nor yet durst he commit the matter to a dispute, yet he went on to hasten the marriage. There was none found besides the Bishop of Orkney to celebrate the marriage; he alone preffer’d Court-favour before truth, the rest being utterly against it and producing reasons why it could be no lawful marriage with one who had two wives yet living and had lately confess’d his own adultery, and had been also divorced from a third. Yet, though all good men did loth it, the commonalty curs’d it, his kindred by letters dissuaded from it whilst prosecuted and abhorr’d it when done. There were some publick ceremonies dissemblingly performed, and married they were. Those of the Nobility there present (being very few, and those Bothwel’s friends and creatures too, the rest being gone to their homes) were invited to supper, and so was Crocke, the French embassador. But he, though he were of the Guisian faction, and besides, dwelt near the place, yet peremptorily refus’d to come. He thought it suited not with the dignity of that person which he represented to countenance that marriage by his presence, which, he heard, the common people did abominate and curse; and besides, the Queen’s kindred did by no means approve it, neither whilst ’twas prosecuting nor yet when finish’d. And the King of France and Queen of England did by their embassadors declare against the turpitude of the thing.
26. Though that was troublesom to her, yet the silent sadness of the people did so much the more increase the fierce disposition of the Queen, as things seen do pierce deeper than things only heard. As they both went through the city, none saluted them with wonted acclamations, only one said, and that once, “God save the Queen,” whereupon another woman near her spoke aloud once or twice so that the standers-by might hear her, “Let every one have what his desert is.” The matter mightily inflam’d her mind against the Edinburghers, with whom she was angry before. When she saw how disaffected people were to her both at home and abroad, she took advice with her cabal how she might establish her power and quell any insurrection for the future. First of all, she determined to send an embassador into France to reconcile those princes and the Guises to her, who, she knew, were offended with her precipitate marriage. William Bishop of Dunblane was chosen for that service. His instructions were given him almost in these very words: “First, you shall excuse me to those princes and to my uncle that they heard of the consummation of the marriage by vulgar report before ever I had acquainted them with my purpose therein by messengers of my own. This excuse is built, as upon a foundation, on the true narration of his life, and especially of the good offices which the Duke of the Orcades hath done to me even to that very day wherein I thought good to make him my husband. You shall begin the declaration of the story as the truth is, taking your rise from his very youth. Assoon as ever he came to be of age after the death of his father, one of the prime Noblemen of the kingdom, he wholly addicted himself to the service of the princes of this land, being otherwise of a very noble family both by reason of its antiquity and also the high offices it held in the kingdom, as by hereditary right. At that time, he principally addicted himself to the service of my mother, who then held the scepter, and was so constant an adherent to her that, though in a very short time a great many of the Nobility, and many towns also, had revolted from her on the account of religion, yet he never faultred in his loyalty; neither could he be induc’d by any proffers, promises, or threats, nor by any loss of his particular estate, to make a defection in the least from her authority; nay, rather than neglect her service, he suffer’d his house the mansion-house of the family, and all his goods, which were many and precious, to be plundered, and his estate made a prey to his enemies.
27. “At last, being destitute of my aid and of all others besides, an English army was brought in by domestick enemies into the very bowels of the kingdom on purpose to inforce my husband (then Earl of Bothwel) to leave his estate and country and to retire into France, where he observed me with all respect till my return to Scotland. Neither must his military exploits against the English be forgotten, a little before my return, wherein he gave such proofs of his manly valour, and great prudence too, that he was thought worthy, though a young man, to command his superiours in age, so that he was chosen chief General of the army of his country-men and my Lieutenant, which office he discharged so well that by many valiant performances he left a noble memorial of his fortitude both amongst his enemies and also his own country-men. After my return, he imployed all his endeavours for the enlargement of my authority; he spar’d no danger in subduing the rebels upon the Borders of England, where having reduc’d things to great tranquillity, he resolv’d to do the same in other parts of the kingdom. But, as envy is always the companion of virtue, the Scotish, still desiring innovations, and some of them willing to lessen my favour towards him, did so ill interpret his good services that they caused me to commit him to prison, which I did, partly to gratify some who envied the growth of his increasing greatness, and partly to allay the seditious commotions which were then ready to break out, to the destruction of the whole kingdom. He made his escape out of prison, and, that he might yield to the power of his emulators, he retir’d into France and there abode almost two years, in which time the authors of the former seditions, forgetting my lenity towards them and their duty towards me, took up arms and led an army against me. Thereupon I commanded him to return. I restor’d him to his honour and estate, and made him General over all my forces, by whose conduct my authority was again so restor’d that all the rebels were quickly inforc’d to seek shelter in England until a great part of them upon their own request were again receiv’d by me into favour.
28. “How perfidiously I was treated by those exiles which returned, and by those whom I had oblig’d with greater courtesies than they deserved, my uncle is not ignorant of, and therefore I need say little of it. Yet I must not pretermit in silence with how great diligence he freed me from the hands of those who held me prisoner, and how speedily by his singular conduct I escap’d out of prison, and, the whole faction of conspirators being dissipated, I recovered my former authority. On this head I must acknowledg that his services were so grateful that I could never suffer them to slip out of my memory. These things are great in themselves, yet he hath made such an accession to them by his anxious sedulity and diligence that I could never expect greater observance or faithfulness in any man than I have found in him, even until after the decease of my late husband. Since that time, as his thoughts seemed to aim higher, so his actions were a little more insolent, and though the matter was come to that pass that I must take all things in the best part, yet I was much offended with his arrogance in thinking I had the ability to requite his services no otherwise than by giving up my self to him as their guerdon and reward; besides, I did dislike his secret designs against, and, at length, his open contempt of me, and the force used to get me into his power, lest otherwise he might be frustrated in his purpose.
29. “In the mean time, the whole course of his life was so order’d that it may be an example how men that undertake great designs can craftily conceal their purposes till they obtain their ends. For I thought that his his sedulity and diligence in his speedy obedience to all my commands proceeded from no other fountain than his loyal desire to please me; neither did I imagine that he had any higher wish or design; neither did I think those most gracious countenances which I sometimes shew towards my Nobles to ingage them more readily to obey my commands would have exalted his mind to promise to himself the hope of a more extraordinary courtesy from me. Yet he, turing even fortuitous things to his own advantage, maintained designs unknown to me, and by his wonted observance nourish’d his ancient love, as also by currying favour with the Nobility he was privily ambitious of a new favour, and he was so sedulous therein that, though I knew nothing of it, yet when the Convention of the Estates was celebrated, he obtain’d a chart from all the Nobility, subscrib’d with their hands to make it more authentick, wherein they declared their assent to the marriage betwixt me and him, and promis’d to expose their lives and fortunes to bring it to pass, and to be enemies to all that should oppose it. And more easily to obtain the assent of the Nobles, he persuaded each of them that all these things were manag’d by my consent. This writing being once obtain’d, next by degrees he most humbly sought for my consent, but, my answer not suiting with his desire, he began to propound such things to himself which are wont to occur in such great undertakings, as the outward demonstrations of my good will, the ways by which my friends or his enemies might hider his design, and lest any of those who had subscrib’d should withdraw their assent, and many things which were cast in or came freely to hinder his purpose.
30. “At length, he determined with himself to pursue the favour of his present fortune and to cast the whole business, with his life and hope, on the hazard of one moment, so that, being resolved to execute his design to purpose, after he had waited 4 days as I was returning from visiting my dear son, he watch’d a convenient place and time, and on the way seized me with a strong party of men and carried me speedily to Dunbar. How I took the fact, especially from him, of whom, amongst all my subjects, I expected no such thing, every one may easily judg There I upbraided him with my favours towards him, and how honourably I had always spoken before of his manners and behaviour, and how ungratefully he had carried it towards me. Other things I spake to free my self out of his hands. His usage, indeed, was somewhat course, but his words were fair and smooth, as that he would use me with all honour and observance, and would do his utmost not to offend me in any thing. But for carrying me against my will into one of my own castles, for so bold an attempt he crav’d my pardon, alleging he was forc’d by the power of love so to do, forgetting the reverence and allegiance which as a subject he ow’d to me. He said further that he was compell’d to go thither for fear of his life. Then he began to rehearse to me the whole course of his life, and lamented his fortune, that those whom he had never offended were his bitter enemies, and whose malice had devised all unjust ways to do him a mischief; what envious reflections were made upon him for the King’s death, and how unable he was to bear up against the hidden conspiracy of those of his enemies whom he knew not, because they pretended good-will towards him both in speech and behaviour; neither was he able to prevent those treacheries which he did not know. Their malice against him was so great that at no time or place he could live a quiet life unless he was assur’d of my unchangeable favour towards him. And to assure that, he knew but one way, and that was that I would vouchsafe to make him my husband.
31. “Withal, he solemnly swore that he did not seek preheminence therein, or the top and height of dignity, but this one thing, that he might be able to serve and obey me, as hitherto he had done, all the days of his life. This his oration he deck’d with that eloquence as his cause required. But when he saw I could not be wrought upon, neither by prayers nor promises, at length he shewed me the transactions of the Nobility and all the Estates, and what they had promised under their hands. This being produced before me on a sudden and beyond my expectation, I leave it to the King, Queen, my uncle, and the rest of my friends whether it might not administer a just cause of amazement to me. Whereupon, when I saw my self in another man’s power, separate from those who were wont to give me counsel; yea, when I saw those persons on whose faithfulness and prudence I had cast my self, whose power must confirm my authority, that otherwise would be little or none at all; I say, when I saw such men to have devoted themselves to gratify his will and desire, and I left alone as his prey, I ponder’d many things in my mind but could not find a way how to extricate my self. Neither did he give me any long time to consider of the matter, but did press his purpose with great eagerness. At last, when I saw I had no hope to escape, and there was not a man in the kingdom that would stir for my deliverance, for I easily perceived by the roll he shewed me and by the great silence of the time that all were drawn to his party. When my anger was a little abated, I applied my mind to consider his request. Then I began to set before my eyes his services in former times and the great hopes I had he would constantly persist in the same for the future.
32. “And again, how hardly my subjects would endure a foreign prince, who was unacquainted with their laws; that they would not suffer me to be a widow long; that a people prone to tumults could not be kept within the bounds of their duty unless my authority was upheld and exercis’d by a man who was able to undergo the toil of governing the commonwealth, and so to bridle the insolence of the rebellious; that my strength was weakned with the weight of those things ever since I came into Scotland, and almost broke to nothing, insomuch that I could no longer bear the daily tumults and rebellions that arose. Furthermore, by reason of these seditions I was forc’d to create four or more Lieutenants in divers parts of the kingdom, most of which, under colour of the authority granted by me, caus’d my subject to take arms against me. For these reasons, when I saw that, if I would support the imperial state, I must incline my heart to marriage, and that my subjects would not bear a foreign King, and that amongst my subjects there was none for splendour of family, for prudence and valour, and other endowments of body and mind could exceed, or so much as bear a comparison with him whom I have now married, I prevail’d with my self to comply with the universal decree of my Estates of which I spake before. After my constancy was battered by these reasons, partly by force, partly by flattery, he obtain’d a promise from me to marry him, which having done, I could not obtain from him (who fear’d lest my mind should change) to put off the celebration of it, that so I might have time to communicate the matter to the King and Queen of France and to my other friends beyond sea.
33. “But as he audaciously began, so that he might arrive at the top of his desires he never gave over to solicite me by arguments and earnest entreaties, until at last he compell’d me, not without force, to put and end to the matter begun, and that at such a time and way as seem’d to him most convenient to his purpose. And upon this head I cannot dissemble, but must needs say that I was treated by him otherwise than I would, or than I had deserv’d of him. For he was more solicitous to satisfy them by whose consent, tho extorted from them at the beginning, he judges himself to have accomplish’d his desires (he having deceiv’d them as well as my self), than to gratify me by considering what was fit and creditable for me to do, who had been always brought up in the rites and institutions of our religion, from which he nor no man living shall ever divert me. In this point, I confess, tho I acknowledg my error, yet I much desire that the King, the Queen, his mother, my uncle, nor other friends of mine would not expostulate with him or rub up old sores. For now, matters being so compleated that they cannot be undone, I take all things in the best part. And, as he is indeed my husband, I resolve now to look upon him as one that hereafter I will love and reverence. And they who profess themselves my friends must needs carry the same respects to him, since now we are join’d in the indissoluble bond of matrimony. Tho in some things he hath carried himself something negligently and almost rashly, yet I impute it to his immoderate love towards me, and do therefore intreat the King, Queen, my uncle, and other friends to respect him as much as if all had been manag’d by their advice even to this very day, and, on the other side, we promise in his behalf that he will gratify them in all things which they shall desire.”
34. This was the remedy provided against the bad reports of the world abroad. But against domestick tumults they provided, after they had fixed those, by gifts at present and promises for the future, who were either perpetrators or partizans in the King’s murder, to make a combination of the greater part of the Nobility. If that were done, they might undervalue the rest, or, if they remained obstinate, cut them off. Whereupon they assembled many of the Nobility and propounded to them the heads of the capitulations they were to swear. The sum was that they should maintain the Queen and Bothwel and all their actings. And, on the other side, they were to favour and countenance the concerns of those of the confederates there present. A great many were persuaded before, and so subscribed. The rest, perceiving it was bad to conspire, and as dangerous to refuse, they subscribed too. Murray was sent for, that his authority (which was great for his virtue) might give some countenance to the thing. As he was on his journy, he was advis’d by his friends to consult his own safety and not to lie in Seton House were the Queen and the chief conspirators were, but rather to lodge in some friends house in a village hard by. He answer’d that was not in his power, but, come what would, he would never assent to any flagitious act. The rest he left to God. To the courtiers who were appointed by the Queen to debate with him about subscribing the league he answered that he could not justly nor honestly make this league with the Queen (whom in all things else ’twas his duty to obey), that he was reconcil’d to Bothwel by the Queens mediation. Whatever he had then promis’d, he would observe to a tittle. Neither was it equitable or good for the commonwealth that he should make another league or a combination with him or any other man. The Queen accosted him more kindly than ordinary for some days, and promis’d to tell him her mind in all things, yet she could not speak out for shame, and therefore try’d his mind by her friends. They also, perceiving his constancy in that which was right, openly confest what ’twas they desired. And seeing they did no good by their underhand ways, at length Bothwel set upon him, and after much discourse told him that he did that fact not willingly, nor for himself alone. His countenance frown’d at that word, whereupon Bothwel, having sometimes by serious discourse, sometimes by terms near to railing driven the nail as far as it would go, at last endeavour’d to cast in seeds of discord, and to urge him to a quarrel. He, on the contrary, answer’d moderately, gave no just occasion for a combate, yet kept himself upright and did not depart in the least from his resolution.
35. When Murray was versant in these straits for some days, he ask’d leave of the Queen that, seeing there was no great need of him at Court, he might have liberty to retire to St. Andrews or into Murray. For he was willing to go out of the way that he might not be suspected to be the author of the tumults which he foresaw would arise. When he could not obtain that, nor yet remain at Court without great and apparent danger, he at last got leave to travel, but upon condition not to stay in England, but to pass either through Flanders into Germany or whither else he pleas’d. To go to Flanders was all one as to cast himself into evident danger, and therefore which much adoe he obtain’d leave to pass thro England into France, and from thence whither he pleas’d himself. The Queen, being thus freed of a free-hearted and popular person, endeavours to remove the other obstacles to her tyranny, and those were such as would not willingly subscribe to her wickedness, or were not like easily to acquiesce in her designs. But she had a special hatred against those who, perceiving her to be no better affected towards her son than towards her former husband, made an association at Sterlin for no wicked design, but only to defend the young Prince, which his mother desir’d to have under the power of his father-in-law. As for him, every body knew that he would make away with the child as soon as ever he had opportunity so to do, that so he might not live to be a revenger of his fathers death, nor to prevent his children from the crown. The chief of that combination were the Earls of Argyle, Morton, Marr, Athol, and Glenclarn; besides others of the same order, but inferior and next in degree, as Patrick Linsey and Robert Boyd with their friends and partners who had adjoin’d themselves to them. But Argyle, with the same levity that he came in to them, in a day or two discover’d their designs to the Queen, and Boyd was by large promises wrought over to the contrary party.
36. Next to these, she suspected families of the Humes, the Carrs, and the Scots, living by the Borders of England, whose power she sought by all means to lessen, and for that there seem’d a just occasion to be offer’d. For when Bothwel was preparing an expedition into Liddisdale to make amends for the disgrace he had receiv’d there the autumn before, and also to get some credit by his arms to take off the envy of the King’s death, all the chief of the families in Teviotdale were commanded by the Queen to come into the Castle of Edinburgh, that there for some short time they might not be led into an expedition which did not seem likely to be successfully accomplish’d against their wills, and they also, if at liberty, might disturb the design out of envy, and in their absence she might inure the clans to the government of other and so, by degrees, wear off the love of their old patrons and masters. But they, imagining that there was some deeper project hid under that command, went home in the night, all except Andrew Carr, who was commonly thought not ignorant of the parricide, and Walter Car of Sesfor, a man that by reason of his innocent life suspected nothing. Hume, being often summon’d by Bothwel to come to Court, refus’d so to do, as knowing the King’s thoughts towards him. Yet notwithstanding, the design for the expedition proceeds, and the Queen staid at Borthwick Castle, about 8 miles from Edinburgh. In the mean time, they who had united to defend the King, being not ignorant of Bothwels intention towards him, thought it necessary to proceed to action, not only for their own security, but also that, by demanding justice upon the author of the King’s murder, they might acquit the Scotish name from the infamy under which it lay amongst foreign nations. And therefore, supposing the common people would follow their motions, they privately levy’d about 2000 horse, so that the Queen knew nothing of what was acted till Hume came to Bothwick Castle with part of the army and besieg’d her and Bothwel together. But the other part of the conspirators, not coming in at the time appointed, and he having not force enough to stop all passage, and was so active neither as he might have been because the rest had neglected their parts, first, Bothwel made his escape, and after him the Queen in mans apparel, and went directly to Dunbar. Athol was the occasion why his associates came not in seasonably enough. for he, either amaz’d at the greatness of the undertaking or detain’d by his own sluggish temper, kept the rest at Sterlin until the opportunity of the service was lost. Yet, that they might seem to have done something, a great part of them were sent to besiege Edinburgh. James Balfure was Governor of the Castle there, put in by Bothwel as being a partner in the parricide and author of, or else privy to, all this designs. But when he saw he had no pay for his service and was not so well respected by the tyrants as he expected, for they had endeavour’d to take away the command from him, he drove out those of the contrary faction and brought the Castle under his sole power. He then promis’d the publick vindicators of the parricide that he would do them no hurt, and was treating of conditions how to deliver it up. There were then in the town the principal of the Queen’s faction, John Hamilton, the Arch-Bishop of St. Andrews, George Gordon, Earl of Huntly, and John Lesly, Bishop of Ross. They, understanding that their enemies were receiv’d into the town, flew to the Town-House and there offer’d themselves captains to the multitude to drive them out. But, very few coming in to them, they were driven back to the Castle. They were received into it by Balfure, and a few days after were sent away safe a by-ways. For Balfure, having not yet fully agreed with the other side, would not then cut off all his hopes of pardon from those of this party. The town easily came into the combination, for it had been burden’d a little before with new taxes from the Queen, and in the publick necessity they expected no moderation from her party, and were unanimously offended with her tyranny; yea, as oft as they had liberty to express their sentiments they cursed the Court-wickedness with most grievous execrations.
37. Matters being thus slowly carried by the faction of the Nobles at Borthwick, the Queen and Bothwel, by the neglect of the guards, escaped by night, and with a small retinue came to Dunbar, where they had a well-fortify’d castle to secure themselves in. Thereupon there followed so great a change of things that they who were lately in great despair now, by the flocking in of those to them who either were partners in their evils or else followed the shadow of the royal name, grew strong enough, as they thought, to cope with and subdue their adversaries. On the other side, the vindicators of liberty were driven to great straits. For, to their great disappointment, there were but a few came in to so renown’d an undertaking, the heat of the vulgar, as is usual, quickly abating, and a great part of the Nobility being very averse, or at least standing aloof off, expecting the issue of other danger; besides though they were superior in number, yet they wanted artillery to take in castles. Seeing then no issue of their counsels at present, necessity in a manner compelling them, they thought to return without effecting any thing. But the Queen decided their doubts. For she, taking courage from the numbers she had, resolv’d with them to march for Leith to try her fortune near at hand, imagining also that at her coming greater concourse would have been made to her, and that her boldness would strike terror into her enemies. Besides, the success of former times had so elated her spirit that she thought now hardly any man would stand to look her in the face. This her confidence was much heighten’d by her flatterers, and especially by Edmond Hayes, a lawyer. He told her that all things were pervious to her valour, that her enemies wanted force and were at their wits end, and at the very noise of her coming would be packing away. Whereas, indeed, the matter was far otherwise, and in the present circumstances nothing had been better for her than delay.
38. For if she had kept her self in the Castle of Dunbar but three days longer, the vindicators of liberty, being destitute of all preparation for war, as having attempted their liberty in vain, must have been forc’d to depart every one to his own house. However, she march’d from Dunbar, being excited by bad counsel and by vain hopes. Yet she march’d slowly because she distributed arms to the country-men that she gathered up by the way. At length, a little before night, they came to Seton, and because they could not be quarter’d there they divided their number into two neighbouring villages, both called Preston. from thence a fearful alarm was brought to Edinburgh before midnight, and presently the word was given to your arms. They rose out of their beds and made all the haste they could into the fields adjoining, and there having gathered a good body together by sun-rising, they set them in battel-array. Thence they march’d to Musselburgh to pass the River Esk before the bridg and ford were possess’d by the enemy (that village is but two miles from Preston), but meeting no body and perceiving no noise at all, they placed guards and sentinels and went to refresh themselves with food. In the mean time, the scouts which were sent for espial, seeing a few horse-men, drove them into the village, but did not dare to follow them further for fear of ambush, so that they brought back no certain news of the army, only that the enemy was a-marching. Whereupon the vindicators of liberty, marching out of Musselburgh, saw the enemy standing in battel-array upon the brow of an hill over against them, and that they kept their ground. The hill being so steep that they could not come at them without prejudice, they drew a little to the right, both to have the sun on their backs as also to gain an easier ascent and to fight upon a more advantagious ground. That design of theirs deceived the Queen, for she thought they had fled and were marching to Dalkeith, a neighbour-town of the Earl of Morton’s. She was fully persuaded that the terror of her royal name was so great that they durst not stand.
39. But she quickly found that authority, as ’tis gotten by good arts, so may be quickly lost by bad, and that majesty destitute of virtue is soon brought to nothing. In their march, the Dalkeithians brought them forth all manner of provisions in abundance. when they had refresh’d themselves and quench’d their thirst, which much annoy’d them before, as soon as ever they got a convenient place they divided their army into two bodies. Morton commanded the first, assisted by Alexander Hume and his vassals. The second was led on by the Earls of Glencarn, Marr, and Athol, When they were thus ready to charge, Crock the French embassador came to them. He prefaced to them, by an interpreter, how he had always studied the good and tranquillity of the Scots, and that he was now of the same mind, and therefore he earnestly desired, if possible, that the controversy might be decided to the satisfaction of both parties without force or bloodshed, wherein he offered his services, alleging that the Queen also was not averse from peace. And to incline them to believe it, he told them she would give give a present pardon and oblivion of what was done, and she faithfully promised that they should all be indemnified for taking up arms against the supream magistrate. When Mr. Crock’s interpreter had thus spoken, Morton answered they had not took up arms against the Queen, but against the murderer of the late King, whom if she would deliver up to punishment or sever her self from him, then she should understand they and their fellow-subjects desired nothing more than to persist in their duty to her. Otherwise no agreement could be made. Glencarn added that they came not thither to receive pardon for taking up arms, but to give it. Crock, seeing their resolution and knowing well that what they spake was true and what they desired was just, crav’d leave to depart, and so went to Edinburgh. In the mean time, the Queen’s army kept it self within the ancient camp-bounds of the English. It was a place naturally higher than the rest; and besides, fortified with a work and ditch, from whence Bothwel shewed himself mounted on a brave steed, and proclaim’d by an herald that he was ready to fight a duel with any one of the adverse party. James Murray, a noble young man, offer’d himself from the other army. He had done the same before by a chartel [document], but supressed his name (as I said before). Bothwel refus’d him, alleging that he was not a fit match for him neither in dignity nor estate.
40. Then came forth William Murray, James’s elder brother, affirming that if mony-matters were subducted, he was as powerful as Bothwel, but in antiquity of family and integrity of repute his superior. He also was refused as being but lately made a knight and of the second rank. Many of the first rank offered themselves, especially Patrick LIndsy. He desired it as the only reward of all his labours which he had undergone to maintain the honour of Scotland, that he might be permitted to fight with Bothwel. Bothwel excepted against him too, and, not knowing how creditably to come off, the Queen interposed her authority and, forbidding him to fight, ended the controversy. Then, marching through the army on horse-back, she tried how they all stood affected. Bothwel’s kindred and friends desired to fight, but the rest told her that there were many brave souldiers in the adverse army, who being well exercised in arms, the hazard of a fight was dangerous. As for themselves, they were ready, but the commonality, of which they had a great many, were adverse from the cause, and therefore ’twas much fitter that Bothwel should maintain his own cause in a duel than that he should expose so many brave men, and especially the Queen her self, to so great hazard. But if she were fully resolved to fight, yet ’twas best to defer it till the to morrow. For ’twas said that the Hamiltons were a-coming with 500 horse, and that they were not far off. With the conjunction of their forces they might then more safely advise about the main. For at that time the Earl of Huntly and John Hamilton, Arch-Bishop of St. Andrews had gather’d their clans together to Hamilton, and they day after were coming to the Queen. Whereupon she gnash’d her teeth and fell a-weeping, casting out many reproaches against the Nobles, and by a messenger desires of the contrary army that the would send William Kircade of Grange to her that she would speak with him about conditions of peace.
41. In the interim the army should not advance. Neither did the army of the vindicators proceed, but they stood near and in a low place so that the enemies ordnance might not annoy them. Whilst the Queen was conferring with Kircade, Bothwel was bid to shift for himself (for that was it which she aim’d at by pretending a conference), who made such fearful haste to Dunbar that he commanded two horse-men that accompanied him to return back again. Such a load of guilt lay upon his mind that he could hardly trust his own friends. The Queen, when she thought he was out of danger, articled with Kircade that the rest of her army should pass quietly home, and so she came with him to the Nobles cloth’d only with a tunicle [small tunic], and that a mean and thread-bare one too, reaching but a little below her knees. Of the van of the army she was receiv’d not without demonstration of their former reverence. But when she desir’d that they would dismiss her to meet the Hamiltons, who were said to be coming on, promising to return again, and commanded Morton to undertake for her (for she hoped by fair promises to do what she would), when she could not obtain it she brake forth into bitterness of language and upbraided the commanders with what she had done for them. They also heard her with silence. But when she came to the second body, there was an unanimous cry from them all, “Burn the whore, burn the parricide.” King Henry was painted in one of the banners, dead, and his little son by him craving vengeance of God for the murder. That banner two souldiers stretch’d out betwixt two pikes and set before her eyes whithersoever she went. At this sight she swooned and could scarce be kept upon her horse. But, recovering her self, she remitted nothing of her former fierceness, uttering threats and reproaches, shedding tears, and manifesting other appendexes to women’s griefs.
42. In her march she made what delay she could, expecting if any aid might come from elsewhere. But one of the company cry’d out there was no reason she should expect the Hamiltons, for there was not an arm’d man in many miles of the place. At last, a little before night, she entred Edinburgh, her face being covered with dust and tears, as if dirt had been cast upon it, all the people running out to see the spectacle. She past through a great part of the city in great silence, the multitude leaving her so narrow a passage that scarce one could go a-breast. When she was going up to her lodging, one woman of the company prayed for her. But she, turning to the people, told them, besides other threatning words, that she would burn the city and quench the fire with the blood of the perfidious citizens. When she shewed her self weeping out of the window and a great concourse of people was made, amongst whom some did commiserate her sudden change of fortune, the former banner was held out to her, whereupon she shut the window and flung in. When she had staid there two days, she was sent prisoner by the order of the Nobles to a castle scituated in Lough-Levin. For Edinburgh Castle was yet held by Balfour, who, though he favour’d the vindicators, yet he had not made any condition for the surrender of the Castle.
43. In the mean time, the Bishop of Dunblane, who was sent embassador into France to excuse the Queen’s marriage, being ignorant of all that was done in Scotland after his departure, came to that Court at that time whilst these last transactions were on foot and obtain’d a day for audience. The very same day there came 2 letters to the King and his mother, one from Chock, his embassador, another from Ninian Cockerburn, a Scot who had serv’d as Captain of Horse some years in France. Both of them discover’d the present posture of affairs in Scotland. The Scots embassador, being admitted to the King’s presence, made a long and accurate speech, partly to excuse the Queen’s marriage without the advice of her friends, partly to commend Bothwel to the skies beyond all right and reason. The Queen of France interrupted the vain man and shew’d him the letters she had receiv’d from Scotland, how that the Queen was a prisoner and Bothwel was fled, whereupon he was astonish’d at the sudden ill news and held his peace. They who were present did partly jeer and partly smile at this unlook’d-for accident. There were none of them all but thought she suffer’d deservedly. About the same time, Bothwel sent one of his faithfullest servants into the Castle of Edinburgh to bring him a silver cabinet which had been sometime Francis’s, King of France, as appear’d by the cyphres on the outside wherein were letters writ, almost all with the Queen’s own hand, in which the King’s murder and the things which followed were clearly discover’d, and ’twas written in almost all of them that as soon as he had read them he should burn them. But Bothwel, knowing the Queen’s inconstancy, as having had many evident example of it in a few years, had preserv’d the letters that so, if any difference should arise betwixt him and her, he might use them as a testimony for himself, and thereby declare that he was not the author, but only a party, in the King’s murder. Balfure deliver’d this cabinet to Bothwel’s servant, but withal he inform’d the chiefs of the adverse party what he has sent, whither, and by whom.
44. Whereupon they took him and found in the letters great and mighty matters contain’d which, though before shrewdly suspected, yet could never so clearly be made forth. But here the whole wicked plot was visibly exposed to view. Bothwel, not speeding in any of his affairs, and being destitute of all help or hope to recover the kingdom, fled first to the Orcades, then to the Scheltand Isles. And there, being driven to great want, he exercis’d piracy. In the interim many dealt with and desir’d the Queen to separate her cause from Bothwel’s (for if he was punished she might easily be restor’d with the good-will of all her subjects). But the fierce woman, bearing as yet the spirit of her former fortune and inrag’d with her present troubles, answer’d that she would rather live with him in the utmost adversity than without him in the royalest condition. But amongst the Nobles there were great thoughts of heart. The revengers of the parricide hoped that at the noise of so famous a business the approbation of the better part, if not all, would have concurr’d with them. But it fell out far otherwise. For popular envy, being abated partly by space of time and partly by the consideration of the uncertainty of human affairs, was turn’d into commiseration; yea, some of the Nobility did then no less bewail the Queen’s calamity than heretofore they had execrated her cruelty. Both which they did rather by inconstancy of mind than by any propense affection to either side, so that it evidently appear’d that in such waters they did not seek the publick peace, but rather fish for their own private advantages. Many also desir’d quietness, and they weighed within themselves which party was strongest, and so were inclin’d to side with the most powerful. Their faction was thought to be the strongest who either consented to the murder or, when the thing was done, in obsequiousness to the Queen subscrib’d to that sceleratious [criminal] fact.
45. The chief of them came in to Hamilton, and, being very strong, would receive neither letters nor messengers from the contrary party in order to a settlement. Neither did they spare to reproach them with all kind of calumniating language, and they were so much the more inrag’d because the greatest part of the Nobles, who respected rather the blasts of fortune than the equity of the cause, did not come in to the vindicators, for they that were not against them, they concluded were for them. Moreover, they esteem’d it a piece of vain-glory that the vindicators should enter before them into the metropolis of the kingdom, and from thence send for them, who were the greater number and more powerful. The other party, though they had not imperiously commanded them, but only humbly desir’d, yet, to prescinde [preclude] any shew of imputable arrogance, they prevail’d with the ministers of the churches to write jointly to them all, and severally to each in particular, that in so dangerous a time they should not be wanting to the publick peace, but, setting aside private animosities, they should consult what was most expedient for the publick good. These letters did no more good with the contrary faction than those of the Nobles before, they all making the same excuses as if it had been so agreed purposely between them. Afterwards, the Queen’s faction met together in diverse places, and, finding no means to accomplish their designs, they all slipp’d off and dispers’d several ways. In the interim, the vindicators of the publick parricide dealt with the Queen (whom they could not separate from the concerns of the murderers) to resign up her government upon pretence of sickness or any other specious allegation, and to commit the care of her son and the administration of publick affairs to which of the Nobles she pleas’d. At last, with much ado, she appointed as Governours to the child James Earl of Murray, if upon his return he did not refuse the charge; James Duke of Castle-Herault; Matthew Earl of Lennox, Gilespy Earl of Argyle; John Earl of Athol; James Earl of Morton; Alexander Earl of Glencarn; and John Earl of Marr. Moreover, they sent proxies to see the King plac’d in his royal throne, and so to enter on the government, either at Sterlin or any other place, if they thought fit.
46. These things were acted July the 25th in the year of our Lord 1567. A little before, James Earl of Murray, hearing how matters went at home, returned through France and was pretty nobly entertain’d at Court, yet so that Hamilton (whose faction, the Guises knew, were more intimately affected towards them) was far better receiv’d, which was occasion’d chiefly by the Guises, who were averse to all Murray’s designs. After he was dismiss’d the Archbishop of Glasgow, who called himself the Queen of Scots embassador, told the Court that James, though absent, yet was the chief of the faction, and as in former times all things were acted by his influence, so now he was sent for as an head to the body of them. Hereupon some were sent after to bring him back, but he, being forewarned by his friends, had set sail from the haven of Diep, where he was, before the King’s lieutenants came, and, arriving in England, was honourably entertain’d by all orders of men and so sent home. There he was receiv’d with high gratulation and joy of all the people, especially of the vindicators, and they all earnestly desir’d him to undertake the government whilst the King, his sister’s son, was yet a child. For he alone was able to manage that great trust with the least envy, because of his propinquity in blood, his known valour in many dangers, his great popularity grounded on his deserts; and moreover the Queen desir’d it too. He, tho knowing what they had spoke was true, yet desir’d a few days of deliberation before he gave in his answer. In the mean time, he writes earnestly to the heads of the other faction, and chiefly to Argyle, as being his kinsman one whom by reason of ancient acquaintance he was loth to offend. He told him in what posture things were, and what the infant-King’s party did desire of him, and therefore he intreated him, by their nearness of blood, by their ancient friendship, and by the common safety of their country, that he would give him opportunity to speak with him, that so by his assistance himself and their country might be deliver’d out of the present difficulties. He also wrote to the rest according to every ones place and interest, and in general he desir’d of them all that, seeing matters were in such confusion, there was no likelihood of a settlement without a chief magistrate; that they should all agree to meet together as soon as might be in a place they should judg most convenient, and so by common consent to settle matters. At length, not being able to obtain a meeting from the one faction, nor any longer delay of a Convention from the other, with the unanimous consent of all there present he was elected Regent.


On the 29th of July, after an excellent sermon made by John Knox, James the sixth of that name began his reign. James Earl of Morton and Alexander Hume took the oath for him that he would observe the laws. They also promised in his name that he would observe that doctrine and those rites of religion which were then publickly taught and practised, and oppose the contrary. A few days after, Hamilton’s partisans murmured that a few persons, and those none of the powerfullest neither, had, without their consent and contrary to their expectation, grasp’d all things into their own hands. When they had tried all the Nobility one by one, they found few of their opinion besides those who first came in to them, for many were rather spectators than actors of what was done. At length, they wrote to the royalists that Argyle was ready to give a meeting to confer with the Earl of Murray. These letters being directed to the Earl of Murray without any title of honour were, by the Council’s advice, rejected, and the messenger dismissed, in effect, without an answer. But Argyle, knowing what had offended in subscribing his letters and trusting to the faithfulness of the Regent, with a few of the chief of his faction came to Edinburgh, where, having received satisfaction that ’twas not out of any slighting of those Nobles that were absent, but mere necessity so requiring, that had caused them to make such haste in setling a chief magistrate, a few days after he came to the publick Convention of the Estates.

Go to Book XIX