Reign of Henry the Eighth - (Concluded). page 19
The Romanist party in Scotland were better pleased with a hostile than a pacific position, for they greatly dreaded that Henry might at length warp the king's mind towards his own views. The leaders on both sides were, in fact, never at peace. On the one side, the exiled Douglases were always on the watch to recover their estates by their swords, and the fugitives in Scotland, on account of the Pilgrimage of Grace, were equally ready to fight their way back to their homes and fortunes. In the August of 1542, accordingly, there were sharp forays, first from one side of the borders, and then from the other. Sir James Bowes, the warden of the east marches, accompanied by Sir George Douglas, the Earl of Angus, and other Scottish exiles, and 3,000 horsemen, rushed into Teviotdale, when they were met at Haddenrig by the Earl of Huntly and Lord Home, who defeated them, and took 600 prisoners.
Henry, having issued a proclamation declaring the Scots the aggressors, ordered a levy of 40,000 men, and appointed the Duke of Norfolk the commander of this army. He was attended by the Earls of Shrewsbury, Derby, Cumberland, Surrey, Hertford, Rutland, with many others of the nobility. This imposing force was joined by the Earl of Angus and the rest of the banished Douglases who had escaped the slaughter at Haddenrig, After some delay at York the royal army, issuing a fresh proclamation, in which Henry claimed the crown of Scotland, advanced to Berwick, where it crossed into Scotland, and, advancing along the northern bank of the Tweed as far as Kelso, burned two towns and twenty villages. Norfolk did not venture to advance farther into the country, as he heard that James had assembled a powerful force, whilst Huntly, Home, and Seaton were hovering on his flanks. He therefore contented himself with ravaging the neighbourhood, and then crossed again at Kelso into England.
James, indignant at the invasion and the injuries inflicted on his subjects, and encamped on the Burrow Muir, at the head of 30,000 men marched thence in pursuit of the English. But he soon found that different causes paralysed his intended chastisement. Many of the nobles were in favour of the Reformation, and held this martial movement as a direct attempt to maintain the Papal power and the influence of Beaton and his party. Others were in secret league with the banished Douglases, who were on the English side; and there were not wanting those who sincerely advised a merely defensive warfare, and pointed out the evils which had always followed the pursuit of the English into their own country. They represented the truth, that Norfolk and his army, destitute of provisions, and suffering from the inclemency of the weather, were already in full retreat homewards. But James would not listen to these arguments; he burned to take vengeance on the English, and after halting on Fala Muir, and reviewing his troops, he gave the order to march in pursuit of Norfolk; but, to his great consternation, he found that nearly every nobleman refused to cross the borders. They pleaded the lateness of the season, the want of provisions for the army, and the rashness of following the English into the midst of their own country, where another Flodden Field might await them.
James was highly exasperated at this defection, and denounced the leaders as traitors and cowards, pointing out to them their unpatriotic conduct, when they saw all around them the towns and villages burnt, the farms ravaged, and the people expelled or exterminated along the line of Norfolk's march. It was in vain that he exhorted or reproved them; they stole away from his standard, and the indignant king found himself abandoned by the chief body of his army. For himself, however, he disdained to give up the enterprise. He dispatched a force of 10,000 men under Lord Maxwell, to burst into the western marches, ordering him to remain in England laying waste the country as long as Norfolk had remained in Scotland. James himself awaited the event at Caerlaverock Castle; but, discontented with the movements of Lord Maxwell, whom he suspected of being infected by the spirit of the other insubordinate nobles, he dispatched his favourite, Oliver Sinclair, to supersede Lord Maxwell in the command.
This was an imprudent measure, calculated to excite fresh discontent, and it did do it effectually. The proud nobles who surrounded Maxwell threw down their arms, swearing that they would not serve under any such royal minion; the troops broke out into open mutiny; and in the midst of this confusion, a body of 500 English horse riding up under the Lords Dacre and Musgrave, the Scots believed it to be the vanguard of Norfolk's army, and fled in precipitate confusion. The English, charging furiously at this unexpected advantage, surrounded great numbers of the fugitives, and took 1,000 of them prisoners. Amongst them were the greater portion of the nobles. Maxwell himself was one of the number; the Earls of Cassilis and Glencairn; the Lords Somerville, Fleming, Oliphant, and Gray; the masters of Erskine and Rothes, Home of Ayton. All these were sent prisoners to London, and given into the custody of different English noblemen. Many of the prisoners were believed to give themselves up willingly, as disaffected men who were ready to sell their country to England; and others are said to have been seized by border freebooters, and sold to the enemy.
The king was so overwhelmed with grief and resentment at this disgraceful defeat, through the disloyalty of his nobility, that he returned to Edinburgh in deep dejection. From Edinburgh he proceeded to the palace of Falkirk, where he shut himself up, brooding on his misfortunes; and such hold did this take upon him, that he began to sink rapidly in health. He was in the prime of his life, being only in his thirty-first year; of a constitution hitherto vigorous, having scarcely known any sickness; but his agonised mind producing fever of body, he seemed hastening rapidly to the grave. At this crisis his wife was confined. She had already born him two sons, who had died in their infancy, and an heir might now have given a check to his melancholy; but it proved a daughter - the afterwards celebrated and unfortunate Queen of Scots. On hearing that it was a daughter, he turned himself in his bed, saying, "The crown came with a woman, and it will go with one. Many miseries await this poor kingdom. Henry will make it his own, either by force of arms or by marriage." On the seventh day after the birth of Mary, he expired, December 14th, 1542.
James V. of Scotland may be said to have died the victim of Henry's machinations. He was a monarch of many virtues and much talent. His carriage was lofty, and his sense of justice eminent; but he was led to support the Church against the nobility by what he satf going on in England, and from his suspicions of Henry's designs on his kingdom. In this persuasion he was led to support the Papal party even to persecution, and his death naturally hastened the very catastrophe which ho feared. The relentless King of England, who might now be said to have destroyed by his ambition two successive Scottish kings - his brother-in-law and his nephew - so far from feeling any compunction, only set himself immediately to profit by the latter event. He called together the large body of captive nobles of Scotland, as well as Angus and Sir George Douglas, who had long been in his interest and service, and pretending to upbraid those who had been taken at the route of Solway Frith with their breach of treaty, he then altered his tone, and intimated that it was in their power to make up for the past, and to render the most essential service to both countries, by promoting a marriage betwixt his son, the heir of England, and Mary, the infant Queen of Scotland.
The Scottish nobles had, no doubt, been previously schooled for the purpose. They professed themselves anxious to assist in putting an end to the troubles of their native country, and entered into a treaty, not merely to promote this desirable marriage,, but, what was more traitorous and inexcusable, to acknowledge Henry as the sovereign lord of Scotland, and do all in their power to deliver the kingdom, with all its fortresses and the infant queen, into his hand. Sir George Douglas, the brother of Angus, was made the chief agent in this notable scheme; and all the lords bound themselves to return to their captivity if they failed to effect this great object, leaving hostages for their good faith. The union of the kingdoms was now within the range of a fair possibility; but the impetuous and overbearing disposition of Henry was certain to ruin the project.
No sooner did Cardinal Beaton and his party learn that the king had expired than, guessing all that Henry and his party in Scotland would attempt, they took, measures to secure the young queen and the sovereign power. Beaton produced a will as that of James, appointing him regent and guardian of the young queen, assisted by a council of the Earls of Argyll, Huntly, and Murray. The Earl of Arian, James Hamilton, on the other hand, declared this will to be a forgery, and being himself the next heir to the throne, after the infant queen, he assumed the right to make himself her guardian, and to order the kingdom for her. By means of the Protestant nobles, as well as the vassals of his own house, and the prevailing opinion that Beaton had forged the will, Arran succeeded in establishing himself as regent on the 22nd of December, 1542, and the Protestant influence was in the ascendant. It was now conceded that Angus and the Douglases should be recalled from their exile, and they quitted England in the following January, the Earl of Arran giving them a safe conduct.
It was a deadly warfare betwixt the Protestant and Papal parties. A list of 360 of the nobles and gentry was produced by Arran, which was said to have been found on the person of the king, all of whom were-proscribed as heretics, and doomed to confiscation of their estates and other punishments. This list, which the Romanists in their turn denounced as forged, was vehemently charged on Beaton, who was said to have drawn it up when the heads of the army refused to march into England. The Earl of Arran himself stood at the head of the list. The cardinal, who saw the imminent danger of his cause and party, dispatched trusty agents to France to solicit instant aid in money and troops, to defend the interests and guard the persons of the queen dowager, Mary of Guise, and the royal infant. To hasten the movements of the house of Guise, he represented the certain dependence of Scotland on England if the King of England succeeded in accomplishing the marriage of the infant queen with his son.
To silence the cardinal, he was seized and incarcerated in the castle of Blackness, under the care of Lord Seaton; and a negotiation was actively carried on through Sir Ralph Sadler for the marriage of the infant queen and the Prince of "Wales. It was agreed that Mary should remain Scotland till she was ten years of age; that she should then be sent to England to be educated; that six Scottish noblemen should be at once delivered to Henry as hostages for the fulfilment of the contract; and when the union of the two kingdoms should take place, Scotland should retain ail its own laws and privileges.
But though Beaton was in prison, his spirit was abroad. The clergy had the highest faith in the talents and influence of the cardinal. They considered his liberation as necessary to avert the ruin of their party, and they put In motion all their machinery for rousing the people. They shut up the churches, and refused to administer the sacraments or bury the dead; and the priests and monks were thus set at liberty from all other duties to harangue and influence the passions of the people. Everywhere it was declared that Arran, the regent, had formed a league with Angus and the Douglases, who had been so long in England, to sell the country and the queen to England under the pretence of a marriage; that this was what the English monarchs had long been seeking; and that not only the Douglases but Arran himself, were pensioned by Henry for the purpose. That this was but too true, the "State Papers," which have now been published by Government, relative to Scotland, amply prove. Henry and his successors spared no money for this end; and the traitorous bargaining of a great number of the Scottish nobles with the English monarchs, stands too well evidenced under their own hands.
Henry, with his characteristic impatience, insisted that Cardinal Beaton should be delivered at once into his own hands, and that the Scottish fortresses should be made over to English garrisons. The traitor nobles entreated him to be patient, or he would ruin all; that if he waited awhile all would succeed to his wishes; but that if he precipitated such important measures, the spirit of the Scotch would be roused by their ancient jealousy of England, and the whole plan would be defeated. But they might just as well have talked to the winds as to Henry. He had long ceased to be politic, to use caution, or to regard anything but the immediate gratification of his pampered will. He insisted on immediate fulfilment of their pledges: would only grant till June for the accomplishment of these startling measures, and to enforce them he began to collect great numbers of troops in the northern counties. What the Earl of Angus and his associates had assured Henry directly took place. The alarm of the Scottish people at the threatened betrayal of their country became universal. The patriotic noblemen and clergy at once fanned the name of apprehension, and used it to their advantage. The Earls of Huntly, Bothwell, and Murray demanded the release of the cardinal, offering to give bail for him in their own persons, and to answer the charges advanced against him. The Earl of Argyll joined them - an example quickly followed by a great concourse of bishops and abbots, barons and knights, who proceeded to Perth, where they drew up certain articles, demanding the liberation of the cardinal and the prohibition of the circulation of the New Testament in the national tongue.
These they sent to Arran and the council by the Bishop of Orkney and Sir John Campbell, of Caldour, uncle to the Earl of Argyll. There were other articles, demanding a share in the council, and that the ambassadors selected to proceed to England should be changed, and men of more certain patriotism should be substituted. Arran and the council refused to comply with these demands; and, on the return of the emissaries, the regent dispatched his herald-at-arms to the assembly at Perth, commanding them, under pain of treason, to break up their meeting, and proceed to Edinburgh to attend in Parliament. The assembled prelates, lords, and gentlemen obeyed without opposition, and went almost wholly to take their places in Parliament, which was summoned for the 12th of March, 1543. They felt their strength, for they had had an opportunity of corning to a perfect understanding with each other, and such was the state of the popular mind that they had little fear of any dangerous concessions from Parliament; in fact, such was the ferment of the people everywhere, that Sir George Douglas told Sadler, the English agent, that, for Henry to obtain the government of Scotland in the summary way that he sought to, and at this crisis, was utterly impossible ; "for," said he, "there is not so little a boy but he will hurl stones against it; and the wives will handle their distaffs; and the commons universally will rather die in it; yea, and many noblemen, and all the clergy be fully against it." Sadler added in his despatch: - "The whole realm murmureth that they would rather die than break their old league with France."
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