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CAMEOS FROM ENGLISH HISTORY.
THE STEWART AND THE BLACK DOUGLAS.
THERE was some peculiar element of unpopularity in the House of Beaufort. For three generations they were the bane of Henry the Sixth's popularity in England; and the Beaufort Queen of James I. of Scotland seems to have been hated by his subjects both as his wife and widow. Her barbarous revenge upon his murderers, all gentlemen of high rank and widely connected, had been such as to excite the dislike and distrust of the nobility, who had always chafed against King James's measures of repression, while he was heartily beloved by those of lower rank.
The new king, James, a boy of six years old, spirited and handsome, save for a broad red mark on one cheek, whence his nickname of Fiery-face, was crowned a few days after his father's burial, in the Lent of 1437. It was the first coronation at Holyrood Abbey, instead of at Scone, because the neighbourhood of the Highlands was not deemed safe. Queen Joan was made guardian of his person and of those of his five sisters ; but the government was placed in the hands of Archibald, Earl of Douglas, son of the old Earl Tyneman, who had been slain at the Battle of Verneuil; and Lord Crichton, the governor of Edinburgh Castle, where the young king had been lodged in the first panic on his father's death, kept him in jealous custody, and seemed to be intending to seclude bim from all other influences, and become absolute governor in his name.
Queen Joan obtained, with difficulty, permission to visit her son before going on pilgrimage by sea to our Lady at Whitekirk, in East Lothian. Amongst the luggage that was carried out of the castle to be embarked in the Queen's ship, was a large carved chest, and within this lay the little king, who was thus conveyed to her jointure castle at Stirling. This was then commanded by Sir Alexander Livingstone of Callender; and a fierce rivalry between these two, Crichton and Livingstone, commenced : Douglas did not interfere, he was probably failing in health, for he died of a malignant fever on the 26th of June, 1439; and his son, being only seventeen, did not come forward into the arena where the struggle was going on. Livingstone bad for a time the advantage; he then, making friends with Crichton, obtained from him the keys of Edinburgh Castle, making him Chancellor in return, and the Queen found herself again powerless.
Hoping to obtain a protector, she followed the example of Catherine and Jaquetta, the two royal widows of England, and privately married another James Stewart, third son of Lord Lorn, and commonly called the Black Knight of Lorn. When this wedding was discovered, in 1439, Livingstone is said, by an old Scots history, to have seized the bridegroom and his brother, and put 'thaim in pittis and bollit them,' an operation which could not have been so fatal as it sounds, since they do not seem to have been the worse for it. Queen Joan berself was a second time beset in her own chamber by armed men, one of her gentlemen wounded, and herself imprisoned.
However, at a convention held shortly after, Joan was released, and seems to have obtained her husband's freedom, by surrendering the charge of her son and of Stirling Castle to Livingstone; but before this strange wild year was out, the royal boy, while hunting, was surrounded by Crichton and his attendants, and stolen away again to Edinburgh.
Crichton again reconciled himself to Livingstone, and then became supreme for the time ; but his chief anxiety was respecting the Douglas family. Ever since the time of Good Lord James, this mighty house had grown in numbers and in possessions; the necessities of Border warfare had kept them constantly armed, and the long period of anarchy-only broken by the thirteen years of James the First's reign-had only added to their power and insolence. Nor had James I. attempted to put them down as he had his own dangerous kindred. In his reign the chiefs of the name were fighting in France; and though, no doubt, if he had lived longer, their turn would have come, his having crushed so many other dangerous nobles had only made them tower above all the rest; and the great dukedom of Touraine, in France, had added to their wealth and dignity. Moreover, the brother of Bruce's friend, Lord James, had been married to the sister of John Balliol, and the Balliol family having become extinct, her descendant, the present Earl, actually represented the Balliol claim, which was really preferable to that of Bruce, from whom the Stewarts inherited. The mother of the young earl was descended from Euphemia Ross, the second wife of Robert II., a marriage which had been conducted with so much more legality than his first marriage, with the mother of his elder sons, that one motive of the murder of James I. had been his half-uncle Athole's belief in a superior claim to the throne. The execution of the Stewarts of Athole brought this second claim to Malise of Strathern, young Douglas's uncle; and it would seem that young Earl William and his brother behaved themselves like hot-headed lads, rode about with more than royal pomp, often with a thousand horse, talked imprudently of their power of overawing the kingdom, and of their superior rights, and allowed all sorts of violence to be committed, as men not only superior to the laws themselves, but able to make their following superior.
Whether they intended any treason or not, Crichton resolved they should have no time to practise any. He invited them with the utmost politeness to visit the King at Edinburgh Castle, and they complied. The King received them, and seems to have taken the delight of a tenyear-old boy in the attention of two youths of eighteen and seventeen, though at the last their old friend and guardian, Malcolm Fleming of Cumbernauld, scenting danger, tried to induce the Earl to send back his brother, lest both should be taken in one trap; but this was refused, as injurious to their trust in the King's guardians; but in the midst of the feast-so says tradition—the head of a black bull was placed upon the table, and this was well known to be the sign of death and deadly feud. The youths sprang up, and hastened to the door, but it was beset by armed men, and they were seized, the young king clinging to Crichton's knees and imploring him to spare them. But in vain ; the boy was forced to sit on his throne, a mock trial of them was gone through in the castle, and they were dragged out and beheaded in the court, where Fleming suffered three days later, in 1440.
The great French dukedom of Touraine lapsed by their death to the King of France; part of their lands went to their sister Margaret, a mere child, and called the Fair Maid of Galloway; and the earldom was inherited by their uncle, a man formerly of much spirit and enterprise, but who had lately become fat and inert, and surprised everyone by making no attempt to call Crichton and Livingstone to account for his nephews' murder. 'James the Fat,' as Douglas genealogists call him, died two years later; and his son William, young and ambitious, winning and able, was resolved to raise the power of the bleeding heart to the highest pitch. He had already been contracted in marriage, but he obtained a dispensation for breaking this treaty, and for marrying his young cousin, the Fair Maid of Galloway, though she was only eleven years old, and thus again uniting all the power of the mighty house. He obtained the consent of government through a family connection with Livingstone, and by an interview with the young king, in which James, now about fourteen, was gained by his charm of manner and professions of loyalty.
Crichton lost much power by this coalition; and the chief adviser of the monarch became Kennedy, Bishop of St. Andrew's, his first cousin, and the wisest and best man then in Scotland. He had spent four years at Rome, and had much cultivation, and understanding how matters went beyond the Border; he did much to regulate the Church, and he deserved the eternal gratitude of Scotland by founding her first university, that of St. Andrew's, so that her scholars could at length learn at home, instead of wandering to Paris, from which, however, they brought all their forms, terms, and habits.
Queen Joan died in 1445; she had apparently been neglected by everyone since her second marriage; and her second James Stewart was in exile on the continent. She died in Dunbar Castle, then held by a noted Border thief, named Patrick Hepburn, an adherent of the Douglases, but whether she were his prisoner or had sought his protection, does not appear. It was a sad conclusion to the romantic history of the fair nightingale, wooed twenty years before by the royal captive minstrel on the slopes of Windsor. She seems, however, to have had the custody of her daughters, for on her death James sent off his young sisters, Joan and Eleanor, to their eldest sister Margaret. It would seem that on their finding that she had just been done to death by slanderous tongues,' they were kindly treated by Charles VII., and joined their other fair dull elder sister, Isabel Duchess of Brittany. Eleanor, who, like Margaret, inherited her father's love of poetry, married Sigismund Archduke of Austria, and amused him by translations from French poems into German. Annabel, another sister, was betrothed to the son of the Duke of Savoy; and Joan seems to have returned home in 1449, on occasion of her brother's marriage.
This took place when James was eighteen, and had shewn himself strong, brave, and ready, fully able to cope with the many difficulties of his position. He had sent Crichton and two other statesmen to find him a wife among the French princesses, and by Charles the Seventh's advice, they chose the daughter of the Duke of Gueldres; her mother, being a sister of Duke Philippe of Burgundy, was closely related to the French court. The marriage was highly approved by the great Duke, and the bride was brought to Scotland in a fleet consisting of thirteen vessels, in which came also James's three brothers-in-law, the Duke of Brittany, the Archduke of Austria, and Lord Campvere, who had married his sister Mary.
When, on the 18th of June, 1449, the ships arrived in the Forth, Mary of Gueldres, the young bride, was seated on horseback behind Lord Campvere, and thus conveyed to Holyrood, where the marriage took place, and splendid feasts celebrated it, at which Earl Douglas appeared with full five thousand men. There was a great tournament, in which three Burgundian knights were the challengers, and two James Douglases, and Sir John Ross, their opponents. The challenge was à l'outrance, but on the fall of the first Douglas, the King threw down his gauntlet, that no death might mar the joyful occasion.
James took up his father's work, which had been standing still for fourteen years, and did his utmost to raise the condition of the citizens and peasants, to repress the outrageous power of the nobility, and to put down wrong and violence. No one stood so much in his way as Douglas ; but the Earl was at this time bent on making a foreign journey, to endeavour to recover the Dukedom of Touraine, and to visit Rome during the jubilee of 1450. His brother James, who was studying for the priesthood at Paris, joined him, and they proceeded to Rome with a train of six knights, fourteen gentlemen, and eighty horse, all so "splendidly equipped as to be greatly admired at Rome.
While he was absent his followers committed great atrocities; but on his return, in 1451, he disowned them all, so as for a time to blind the King; but he was in the mean time closely leagued with the two Earls of Crawford and Ross, and likewise with the Duke of York. James the Second's Beaufort blood had rendered him a warm friend to Henry VI., and the House of York therefore were ready to encourage that rebel spirit in Scotland, that secretly intended to put forward Douglas's Balliol blood, as an excuse for overthrowing the Stewart king and all his plans for reducing lawlessness to order.
The league was discovered, and disclosed to the King by Bishop Kennedy. In return, Lord Crawford sent a party to harry the Bishop's lands, and if possible to imprison himself. The harrying took place; but the Bishop was safe in his castle, and answered with excommunications, at which the Earl laughed.
However, less than a year later, the Earl was killed in a fight, near Arbroath Abbey, with the Ogilvies, and with Seton, Earl of Huntley, who had joined them, because the attack was made while he was their guest, and it was part of the code of Scotch manners, that any man must fight on his host's side in a fray that began ere he had time to digest his meat. Huntley lost his son in this fight; and the old Lord C vford was killed ; but his son, David Lyndsay, called Earl Beardie, or the Tiger Earl, kept up the band in full force.
The King's discovery of the league led Douglas to open measures of violence. He attacked and nearly murdered the Chancellor Crichton in the streets of Edinburgh; and soon after he, with Ross and Crawford, summoned their vassals to take up arms against the King. But one Maclellan, a nephew of Sir Patrick Gray, captain of the king's guard, and called Tutor of Bomby, as being guardian to the heir of that estate, refused to join the muster, upon which he was thrown into a dungeon in Thrieve Castle. His uncle immediately obtained letters from the King, commanding his release, and galloped with them to Thrieve Castle. The Earl received him courteously, and declined to hear his business till he should have dined, quoting the saying, 'It's ill talking between a fu' man and a fasting.'
Dinner over, he read the letter, thanked Sir Patrick, and said he would at once grant what it requested. He then took Gray by the hand and led him to the castle court. There, close beside the block, lay a headless corpse, freshly bleeding. "There,' said the Earl, there lies your sister's son; unfortunately he wants the head, but his body is at your service.'
The execution had taken place while the uncle was at dinner! He was completely in the power of the ferocious Douglas, and therefore restrained himself so as only to answer, ‘My Lord, if you have taken the head, you may do as you list with the body.'
He then mounted his horse; but when he was beyond the gate, he turned, shook his gauntlet at Douglas, and called out, “ My Lord, you shall bitterly pay for this day's work ;' also calling him a coward and disgrace to knighthood. Douglas bade that he should be instantly followed and slain, but his horse was fleet, and bore him safely away, though he was chased up to the very gates of Edinburgh.
In the winter of 1451, soon after this outrage, King James sent an