Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 04.djvu/22

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Beaton
Beaton
18

he had special instructions to seize the cardinal and raze his castle of St. Andrews, which Beaton had meanwhile been busily fortifying, and had made so strong that he feared neither English nor French. When the English fleet was seen in the Firth of Forth, both the cardinal and the governor hastened out of reach of the invaders, 1544.

As a persecutor the cardinal was even more zealous than his uncle. His memory has been held up to execration for his cruelties to the reformers, especially for the burning of Wishart. But as the reformers were in secret treaty with England, their political as well as their religious creed made it impossible to let the preaching of their doctrines pass unnoticed; and it has now been ascertained that Wishart was a willing agent in the plots laid by Henry against the cardinal. George Wishart was the most popular of the preachers, and had many powerful supporters among the nobles who upheld them. In 1546 the cardinal called a provincial assembly of the clergy at the Blackfriars, Edinburgh. George Wishart was at Ormiston, a laird's house in the neighbourhood. There he was arrested by the Earl of Bothwell, acting for the cardinal, and brought to St. Andrews, where he was tried on a charge of spreading heretical doctrines, condemned, and burnt on 2 March 1546. At this time the cardinal was at the height of his power. Most of the nobles were bound to him by bonds of manrent or promises of friendship, and he had just married his natural daughter Margaret to David Lindsay, afterwards ninth earl of Crawford. But the friends of Wishart, the lairds of Fife, were determined to avenge his death and secure their own safety by getting the cardinal out of the way before he could carry out a scheme he had in hand for their destruction. John Leslie, brother to the Earl of Rothes, had sworn on the day of Wishart's death that his whinger and hand should be 'priests to the cardinal.' This bloody threat he fulfilled. Entering the castle by stealth in company with his nephew Norman, and Kircaldy of Grange, they surprised the cardinal in his bedroom, murdered him, and took possession of the fortress, 29 May 1546.

Beaton's greatest gift was the power he had of gaining ascendency over the minds of others. He ruled in turn the councils of James V, of the governor and the queen dowager, and had great influence with Francis I. He left several natural children, and the immorality of his private life, as well as his pride and cruelty, has been much enlarged upon by his religious opponents. After his body had lain nine months in the sea tower of the castle, it was obscurely buried in the convent of the Blackfriars at St. Andrews.

[Knox's History, ed. Laing; Sir David Lyndesay's poem of The Cardinal; Keith's Catalogue of Bishops; Spottiswood's History of the Church of Scotland; Sir James Balfour's Manuscript Account of the Bishops of St. Andrews; Register of the Diocese of Glasgow, edited by Cosmo Innes; Sadler's State Papers; Chambers's Biographies of Eminent Scotchmen.]

M. M'A.


BEATON or BETHUNE, JAMES (d. 1539), archbishop of Glasgow and St. Andrews, was the sixth son of James Bethune of Balfour in Fife. He was educated at St. Andrews, where he took his master's degree in 1493. His first preferment was the chantry of Caithness, to which he was presented in 1497. He rose by rapid strides to the highest honours in the church and state. He was made provost of the collegiate church of Bothwell in 1503, prior of Whithorn, and abbot of Dunfermline in 1504. He also held the two rich abbacies of Kilwinning and Arbroath. He was elected bishop of Galloway, but was translated to the archbishopric of Glasgow in 1509, and became archbishop of St. Andrews and primate in 1522. He then resigned Arbroath to his nephew David, reserving half the Revenue for his own use for life. He also held the offices of lord treasurer from 1505, and chancellor from 1513; but he resigned the treasury on his advancement to the see of Glasgow, and was nominally deprived of the chancellorship in 1526, though his successor was not appointed till some years later. During the minority of James V, Beaton is one of the most prominent figures in Scottish history. Albany, the regent, withdrew to France whenever he could; and though the government was nominally in the hands of a commission of regency, the country was distracted by the feuds of the factions of the Douglases and the Hamiltons. Beaton, who was one of the regents, was more apt to stir the strife than to stay it. When appealed to by Bishop Douglas of Dunkeld to avert a fray that seemed imminent, Beaton swore on his conscience he could not help it; but as he laid his hand on his heart to give weight to his words, the ring of the coat of mail he wore beneath his vestments betrayed that he had come ready armed for the fray, and provoked the retort: 'Methinks, my lord, your conscience clatters.' In the tumult which followed, known as 'Clear-the-causeway,' the Douglases won the day. Beaton sought sanctuary at the altar of the church of the Greyfriars, and would have been torn from it and slain but for the timely interference of Bishop Douglas. At this period the nation