« AnteriorContinuar »
of Archibald Bell-the-Cat for the rest of his days. At this moment there was a loud knock at the church-door, and Cochran entered, in sumptuous apparel, with an imposing retinue, to deliver a message from the King. 'Then the Earle of Angus,'.. . says Pitscottie, 'pulled the golden chaine from his neck, and said to him, "a rop would sett him better." Sir Robert Douglas seeing this, pulled the blowing home from him, and said to him, "he had been over long ane hunter of mischeife." Then Cochran said, " My lordis, is it jest or earnest?" . . . The lordis held him quiet quhill they caused certane armed men pass to the King's pavilion, and two or three wise men with them, and gave the King fair and pleasant wordis, till they had laid handis on all his servandis, and tuik them and hanged them over the bridge of Lauder befoir the King's eyes. . . . Thairefter, incontinent they brought out Cochran, and his handis bound with ane tow, behind his back, who desired them to tak ane of his awin pavilion towis, quhilk war of silk, and bind his handis, for he thought shame to be bund with ane hemp tow like ane theife; the lordis answeired and said, "He was wors than a theife, he was ane tratour, and deserved no better ;" and for despite they tuk ane hair tadder and hanged him over the bridge of Laudor, above his complices.'1 This business performed, the lords led the King and the army back to Edinburgh. Every year after these tragic affairs the party with whom James was specially unpopular increased in strength. The Earl of Angus, at the head of the Douglases, the Border families,
1 Pitscottie, vol. i. pp. 191, 192.
4 The King saved but one favourite, a youth named Ramsay, who was created Lord of Bothwell. In the reign of James IV. an Act of forfeiture was passed against him for treason. He was afterwards pardoned, and received the estate of Balmain, the Hepburns having obtained his lordship of Bothwell.
the Homes, and Hepburns, whose special grievance was that the revenues of the Priory of Coldingham, which they desired to divide between them, were appropriated by the King for the maintenance of his choir at Stirling, and many other lords, gathered together a large army, and employed the Duke of Rothesay as an instrument in their quarrel with his father. James also surrounded himself by a host of his still faithful subjects, and the forces met on the 18th of June 1488, at the stream called Sauchie Burn, between Bannockburn and Stirling.
The first showers of arrows had barely whirred through the air, and the long spears of Annandale had just begun their bloody work on the royal army, when the King lost heart. He was mounted on a fiery steed, which he could not manage; the clamour of war dismayed his unaccustomed ears; he saw his own banner unfurled against him; he knew that his own boy was in the enemy's camp; and the remembrance that a lion should be devoured by its own whelps gnawed his heart. It was too much for James 1II., and, turning his horse's head, he galloped from the field. As he was about to pass the Bannock Burn, a woman who had come for water suddenly dropped her pitcher, and his startled horse flinging him to the ground, he fainted away. A miller and his wife carried him into a corner of their mill, and with returning consciousness he asked for a confessor, murmuring in the bitterness of his soul, ' I was your king this morning.' The woman immediately ran out to the road, and cried loudly for a priest to the King. The cry was soon heard, and a man hurrying up announced, ' I am a priest: where is the King?' She led him into the mill, and kneeling down by his sovereign, the man inquired, with a concerned face, if he thought he might survive by the help of surgery. 'I believe that I might; but,' added the dying man, who was weary of his life, 'let me have a
priest to hear my confession, and to bring to me the Eucharist.' The stranger bowed down, and gave earnest attention to the gasping story of sin and suffering. When he had heard all he cared to know, he bent yet closer to the King, and drawing a dagger from the folds of his dress, he stabbed him to death.1
A year before, Queen Margaret had died. The three sons she bore the King survived him, but there remained no daughters ' to represent the graces, or mild virtues, of their mother.'2 The first part of the reign of James IV., who succeeded in his seventeenth year, was occupied in investigating the cause of the late rebellion, and endeavouring to restore peace among the ruffled political parties. James proved an excellent governor. He strove to win his nobility, not to crush or neglect them. His 'poor unlanded folk' were protected, and his Parliamentary statutes exhibit a sincere desire for the impartial administration of justice. He encouraged literature, commerce, and agriculture, and was a great patron of naval affairs.3 A strange visitor appeared at the Court of Scotland in the year 1495. This was Perkin Warbeck, who said he was Richard, Duke of York, second son of Edward IV., supposed to have been murdered in the Tower, and as such claimed the throne of Henry VII. He received an honourable welcome from King James, and with much ceremony he espoused the Lady Catherine Gordon, daughter of the Earl of Huntly, and grand-daughter to James I. From the badge of the house of York, of which her husband declared himself the head, she was called the White Rose of Scotland. James
1 The King was in his thirty-fifth year. He was buried beside his queen at Cambuskenneth.
a Pinkerton, vol. i. p. 337.
* He built a great ship, called the 'Michael.' Pitscottie says— 'She cumbered all Scotland to get her to the sea.'
led an army into England in behalf of Warbeck's pretensions. Nothing however seems to have come of the expedition, and in 1497 the adventurer left the country. On the 8th of August 1502 an important event took place in the chapel of Holyrood. James IV. married Margaret, daughter of Henry vII. of England. The King's affections may have been wandering elsewhere, for he was in the prime of early manhood, experienced and accomplished, and the English Princess was a child in her twelfth year, with scarcely any education. But the union was the manifestation of a desire to prepare the way for the union of the kingdoms, which, after the accession of the Tudors to the English throne, had grown up in the princes and ministers of the new dynasty,1 and which was fulfilled when, one hundred and one years later, it sent the great-grandson of James IV. to be King of England. 'As more roads were opened, and intercourse between place and place became more easy, the geographical position of the two countries was more sensitively felt. Two nations in one small island must either be friends, or they would eventually destroy each other. . . .' By this marriage 'a commencement was . . . happily formed, and a better feeling began to work its way. But the fair weather was of brief duration.'2 While it lasted James exerted himself in finally and effectually putting down the Lord of the Isles, and in establishing unity and order throughout the wild Highland regions. In 1513, a variety of causes combined to stir up disagreements with England. England and France were at war, certain Scottish mercantile ships had got into trouble with the English in the narrow seas, and last, but not least, for James IV. dearly loved a knight-errant-like exploit, Anne of Bretagne, the Queen of France, had sent to the King of Scots a ring from
1 See Froude's Hist. of England, vol. iv. p. 5. 2 Ibid.
her own fair finger (in addition to fifteen thousand crowns), daring him to march for her sake three miles upon English ground.
King James summoned a hundred thousand men to meet on the Boroughmuir of Edinburgh preparatory to the invasion of England. Just before the fatal march to the Borders began, it was believed that there appeared at the Market Cross of Edinburgh, at dead of night, an unearthly herald, who summoned by name a muster-roll of the Scottish gentry to appear before his Master in the other world ; the names so called over being all the names of persons who fell in the battle that followed, save one, who heard the proclamation, and refused on the spot to give obedience to it.1 James IV. marched at the head of his troops into England. It is recorded, to his shame, that he lingered at the Border castle of Ford, and, forgetful of his duty to his country, squandered days in dalliance with the Lady Ford.
The English army, headed by the Earl of Surrey, awaited the Scotch on the plain of Brankstone, not far from Flodden Hill, in Northumberland. The fighting began at four o'clock in the afternoon of the 9th of September, and ended in the total rout of the northern army. The slaughter was bloody, and the King, with the flower of his nobility, lay dead. His body was buried in the monastery of Sheen, near Richmond. In youth his life had been like that of many another in that generation,—a self-deceiving endeavour to make superstitious and irksome devotions supply the place of Christian mortification and the observance of the seventh commandment; but the devotional element latterly prevailed, and, in deep contrition for the part he had taken in the rebellion against his father, he wore an iron girdle of penance round his waist. The sun never rose on a more sorrow-pros
"SeePitscottie, vol. i. pp. 266, 267; Burton, vol. iii. pp. 241, 242.