Reign of Henry the Eighth - (Concluded). page 20
Under these circumstances the Parliament assembled, and the traitors Angus and Sir George Douglas informed the English Court that it was "the most substantial Parliament that ever was seen in Scotland in any man's remembrance, and best furnished with all the three estates." When the Archbishop of Glasgow, as chancellor, introduced the English proposals of peace and marriage, not a voice was raised against the alliance; and could Henry have exercised ordinary patience and tact, never was there a fairer prospect of the union of the nations. But at the same time that the Scottish Parliament acceded to the marriage, it proposed that on no account should the young queen be allowed to go into England, and not a man dared to mention the additional demands which Henry made as indispensable to the contract.
On learning these facts Henry became transported with rage at the idea of any body of men presuming to have a will of their own. He upbraided Angus, Glencairn, and the rest of his late captives with the breach of their promises - as if they could work impossibilities, or work possibilities with so self-willed and impossible a person as himself destroying all their efforts. He assured them that he had no intention of waiving a single particle of his demands; that if the Scotch would not grant them freely he would force them from them by arms; and he told these nobles that if they did not accomplish his wishes for him, they must return to their imprisonment according to their contract. It was in vain that his experienced agent, Ralph Sadler, assured him, "In myn opinion, they had lever suffre extremytee than com to the obidiens and subjection of England. They wool have their own realm free, and live within themselves after their own laws and custumes."
At this juncture Cardinal Beaton managed to escape from his prison, from which he had never ceased to correspond with and inspirit his party. How he came to escape has been considered a mystery; but perhaps that mystery is not very deep when we reflect that the Lord Seaton, in whose custody he was, was a man, though related to the Hamiltons, yet of a most loyal temper, and a decided Romanist. Seaton negotiated with Beaton to give up his castle of St. Andrews; and, as if this could not be accomplished without the cardinal's presence on the spot, Seaton allowed him to accompany him, but with so small a force, that the moment the cardinal stood in his own castle, he declared himself at liberty, and Seaton had no power to say nay, had he wished it. As no punishment or even censure befell Lord Seaton on this account, it is most probable that Arran himself was cognisant of the scheme. What makes this more likely is that Hamilton, the abbot of Paisley, the natural brother of Arran, the regent, had returned just before from Prance; and that he was at the bottom of the plot it may not unreasonably be supposed, from the fact that he very soon exercised a powerful influence over the weaker mind of the regent. Through the means of the abbot, Beaton even attempted to accommodate matters with Henry. He declared that he was sincerely desirous of the union of the young queen and the Prince of Wales, so that there should be peace betwixt the countries, yet a peace preserving the independence of each. But this independence of Scotland was the very thing which Henry was determined to annihilate, and he pressed his desires for it with such violence, that all hopes of an amicable arrangement vanished.
The Scottish ambassadors - who, meantime, had arrived in London - found the king so impolitically and overbearingly determined on having his own way, regardless of the expressed sentiments of the Scotch, that the breach was only widened. Henry insisted on the immediate delivery of the infant queen; when he could not obtain that, he demanded that she should be given up to him on reaching two years of age, and told the ambassadors in a high and pompous strain that the realm of Scotland belonged of right to him, and that it ought to be resigned into his hands without question or delay. This absurd conduct excited a universal burst of indignation throughout Scotland, and completely levelled all the careful approaches to the same end which, the Douglas faction had raised. Even Arran, whom Sir George Douglas represented to Sadler as a very gentle creature, resented the indignity with which his ambassadors and his proposals had been treated, and Beaton gained from the folly and violence of Henry a new accession of popularity.
This popularity the cardinal did not neglect to exercise. The Earl of Lennox, who had been engaged in the Italian wars of Francis I., was invited by the cardinal to return to Scotland, and was set up by him as a rival to Arran. Lennox was nearly related to the royal family; and whilst Beaton and his party propagated a rumour that Arran, through some informality in the divorce of his father and his second wife - Arran being issue of the third marriage - had no legitimate right to the title or the paternal property which he held, and none, therefore, to the office of regent, based upon them, it was circulated with equal assiduity that the late king, in the event of his dying without children, had selected Lennox for his successor.
Lennox did not at once fall into the cardinal's plans, but that bold and able churchman did not on that account pause in them. He held him up as the true opponent of Arran, proposed to marry him to the Queen Dowager, and entered into successful negotiations with Francis L, who sent over Lennox, as requested, and empowered him to furnish assistance to the Romanist party, both of arms and money, to check the designs of Henry.
Arran, alienated from the English Government by the imperious demands of Henry, and alarmed at the progress of the Papist faction, took care to proclaim his resolute resolve to oppose the aims of Henry, even to the extremity of war, and he dismissed his Protestant chaplains, friar Williams and John Rough; and such was the spirit of the people that Glencairn and Cassilis, the most devoted partisans of England, declared that they would sooner die than agree to the surrender of the French alliance. Such, in fact, was the popular exasperation that Sadler dared not appear in the streets; and the peers in the interest of Henry were equally the objects of the public resentment.
To induce Henry to pause in his fatal career, Sir George Douglas hastened to London, and prevailed on him to abate the extravagance of his demands. The immediate delivery of the infant queen, the surrender of the fortresses and of the Government into the hands of Henry, were waived, and Douglas returned to Scotland, bearing proposals of marriage of a more reasonable kind. Henry, however, did not abandon his schemes in secret. In the State Paper Office there is a memorandum in the hand of Wriothesley, saying that "the articles be so reasonable, that if the ambassadors of Scotland will not agree to them, then it shall be mete the king's majesty follow out his purpose by force." Sir George Douglas renewed the offer formerly made by Henry to Arran, of marrying the Princess Elizabeth and his eldest son, and Sir George and Glencairn were sent to London to assist the ambassadors in bringing the negotiation to a close.
But Arran was assailed as vehemently on the other side by the cardinal, and the queen-dowager, who was the real head of the party. They sent Lennox to endeavour to win him over to their side, so that all Scotland might unite against Henry. Lennox delivered a very flattering message from Francis I. to the regent, offering him both men and money to resist any attempt of invasion by the English, but this failing, the queen-dowager and Beaton prosecuted the negotiation with France, and it was agreed that 2,000 men, under Montgomerie, Sieur de Lorges, should be sent to Scotland. The queen and cardinal called on their partisans to assemble their followers and garrison their castles, whilst Grimani, the Pope's legate, was entreated to hasten to Scotland with a formidable store of anathemas and excommunications. The clergy assembled in convention at St. Andrews, and so ardent were they in the cause which they believed to be that of the very existence of the Church, that they pledged themselves to raise the sum necessary for the war against England, and, if necessary, not only to melt down the church plate, and to sacrifice their private fortunes, but to fight in person.
Whilst these belligerent proceedings, which were zealously supported by the people, and by a large majority of the nobility, justified the warning voice of Sir George Douglas, that skilful diplomatist returned from England with the more rational resolutions of Henry. They were accepted by the governor and a majority of the nobles in a convention held in Edinburgh in the beginning of June, and the treaties of peace and marriage were finally ratified at Greenwich on the 1st of July. By these treaties the young queen was to remain in Scotland till the commencement of her eleventh year; but an English nobleman, his wife, and attendants were to form a part of her establishment, and two earls and four barons were to be sent forthwith to England as hostages for the fulfilment of this condition. Care was taken to stipulate on the part of Scotland, that even should the queen have issue by the Prince Edward, that country should still retain its own name and laws.
Once more all was secured that a wise and just monarch could desire, and had Henry VIII. been such a monarch the union of England and Scotland might have been effected ages before it was, and much trouble and bloodshed prevented. But nothing could prevail on Henry to yield his arbitrary and selfish temper to sound and moderate counsels. Whilst he outwardly conceded the obnoxious articles of the negotiations, he bound the Douglas faction - Angus, Maxwell, Glencairn, and the rest - to assist Mm on the first opportunity in obtaining "all the things thus granted and covenanted, or at least the dominion on this side the Forth." This appears from a paper in the State Paper Office, dated July 1st, 1543, entitled "Copy of the Secret Devise."
The "Secret Devise," however, does not appear to have remained undiscovered by Beaton and the queen-dowager's party, and on the return of the commissioners to Scotland, they found that party in arms against the treaty, which they asserted was to hand over Scotland to the domination of England, and the Church to destruction at the hands of Henry. Filled with uncontrollable rage on receiving the news of this, Henry demanded through his ambassador, Sadler, that Arran should seize the person of Cardinal Beaton, as the author of all the opposition to the English alliance. Beaton, however, took care to place this out of the regent's power. In conjunction with the Earl of Huntly, he concentrated his forces in the north, Argyll and Lennox showed themselves in the west, and Home, Bothwell, and Buccleuch drew forth their feudal array upon the borders. They announced that they were compelled to this demonstration by the treachery of Arran, who, they declared, had sold the independence of the realm and the faith of Holy Church to Henry. They stigmatised Arran not only as a traitor, but as an Englishman, and in this they had some ground of justice. Arran, according to the assertion of Sadler, boasted of his English descent, and it is certain that he eagerly received Henry's money. He listened to, though he did not acquiesce in Henry's scheme of becoming King of Scotland as far as the Forth; and he proposed, in case the cardinal should become too powerful for him, that Henry should send to assist him and his friends. During these proceedings the young queen was living under the care of her mother, the queen-dowager, in the palace of Linlithgow, where she was strictly guarded by the regent and the Hamiltons. Beaton resolved to make a bold effort to secure the person of the sovereign, and for this purpose Lennox, Huntly, and Argyll marched towards Edinburgh, at the head of 10,000 men. At Leith they were joined by Bothwell with the Hers and Scotts, and the united army was no\r so strong, that the timid governor was terrified into the surrender of his royal charge, who, together with her mother, were conducted in triumph to Stirling.
Though thus successful, and acquiring in the possession of the person of the sovereign a vast accession of political strength, Beaton deemed Arran too formidable to be treated as an enemy, and he sought rather to detach him from the English interest, and at the same time, by winning him, to weaken the Protestant party of which he was the head. He therefore held out secret proposals to him of marrying his son to the young Queen Mary. Arran saw through the bait, and proceeded to ratify the treaty with England in a convention of the nobles held in the abbey church of Holy rood, on the 25th of August, which was done with great state and ceremony, Arran swearing to its observance at the altar. Beaton and his party not only stood aloof from this transaction, but they declared that it was carried by a mere faction, and was, therefore, not binding on the nation.
Whilst public opinion was in this state of fermentation, Henry VIII., irritated at the conduct of the cardinal and a large body of the nobles, committed one of those rash and foolish acts, into which the wild fury of his temper often precipitated him. After the proclamation of peace, a fleet of Scottish merchant vessels, driven by a storm, took refuge in an English port, where, under the recent treaty, they deemed themselves safe. But Henry had just proclaimed war on France, and making that a pretence he accused them of carrying provisions to his enemies, and detained them. At this outrage the people of Edinburgh surrounded the house of Sadler, the English ambassador, and threatened to burn him in it, if the ship were not restored. Arran, the governor, came in for his share of the odium as the stanch ally of Henry; and the mutual friends of Arran and Henry, the traitorous faction of Angus, Cassilis, Glencairn, and the other barons under secret bond to England, proposed to call out their forces for immediate war. These base sons of a brave country asserted that the time was come for Henry to send a great army into Scotland, with which they would co-operate. "for the conquest of the realm."
Everything boded the immediate outbreak of a bloody war, when a new and surprising revolution took place. On the 3rd of September, Arran declared to Sir Ralph Sadler that he was most devotedly attached to the interests of Henry, and within a week afterwards he m^: the cardinal at Callender House, the seat of Lord Livingston, and entered into a complete reconciliation with him. Within a few days Beaton refused to hold any intercourse with him for fear of his life, and was seen riding amicably with him towards Stirling. This singular exhibition was quickly followed by Arran's renunciation of Protestantism; his return, with full absolution, into communion with the Roman Church; his surrender of the treaties with England, and the delivery of his son as a pledge of his sincerity. So marvellous a conversion must have had powerful causes, and they are only to be explained by the weakness of Arran's character, and the artful and alarming representations of his more able brother, the abbot of Paisley. This zealous partisan of both France and the cardinal is said to have persuaded him that by renouncing the Papal supremacy, and allying himself with the archenemy of Rome, Henry of England, he was running imminent danger of the total loss of his titles, estates, and claim to the regency, which could only be maintained by the Pope declaring valid the divorce of his father from his former wife.
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