Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/James V of Scotland
JAMES V (1512–1542), king of Scotland, the only son who survived infancy of James IV [q. v.] and Margaret (Tudor) [q. v.], was born at Linlithgow on Easter eve, 10 April 1512, and christened on Easter day by the name of ‘Prince of Scotland and the Isles.’ The title had been borne by two elder brothers, James and Arthur. The date is fixed by letters from James IV to his uncle, Hans of Denmark, and his queen announcing the happy event. David Lindsay, the poet, an usher at court, who seems at first to have been attached to the person of Prince Arthur, was appointed to discharge similar duties for James, and he has described in attractive verse the prince's playfulness in infancy (Complaynt to the King, ll. 87–98).
Leslie dates the coronation of James at Stirling on 21 Sept. 1513, and Buchanan at the same place on 22 Feb. 1514, but it probably took place at Scone in presence of the general council which met at Perth before 19 Oct. and sat till at least 26 Nov. 1513, when the French ambassadors, De la Bastie, and James Ogilvy presented letters from Louis XII. The alliance with France was renewed, and John Stewart, duke of Albany (d. 1536) [q. v.], requested to return to Scotland ‘to serve the king, the queen, and the realm’ against England. The queen-mother had been appointed regent under the will of James IV while she remained a widow, but a council, consisting of James Beaton [q. v.], archbishop of Glasgow and chancellor, Alexander Gordon, third earl of Huntly [q. v.], Archibald Douglas, sixth earl of Angus [q. v.], and James Hamilton, first earl of Arran [q. v.], was appointed, without whose consent she was not to act. After the council she removed to Stirling, taking with her the young king, and there, in April 1514, she gave birth to a posthumous son by James IV, Alexander, duke of Ross. Her rash marriage in August to Archibald Douglas, sixth earl of Angus, lost her the regency. Albany landed in Scotland on 18 May 1515, and at a parliament in Edinburgh on 12 July was proclaimed protector and governor of Scotland till James attained his eighteenth year. Eight lords were chosen, from whom Albany selected four, who went to Edinburgh, or more probably Stirling, with an offer that the queen might reject one. The remaining three were to be the guardians of James and his brother. Margaret declined the offer, and, still keeping James with her, was besieged in Stirling Castle. On 4 Aug. Albany himself appeared with seven thousand men and artillery. After trying a theatrical coup, by placing James on the ramparts with crown and sceptre, she surrendered, and was confined in Edinburgh. James and his brother were detained in Stirling under the guardianship of Borthwick, Fleming, and Erroll, and the young king was soon brought to Edinburgh. His education, though often interrupted, was fairly good. His tutors were Gavin Dunbar [q. v.], John Bellenden [q. v.], David Lindsay [q. v.], and James Inglis [q. v.], also a poet.
When Albany returned to France, Scotland was distracted by the contest between two of the council of regency, Angus, head of the Douglases, and Arran, head of the Hamiltons, for possession of the young king's person. His guardians deemed the castle of Edinburgh the best place for his safe keeping, but in the summer or autumn of 1517 he was sent to Craigmillar on the suspicion of a plot, and his mother, who had quarrelled with Angus and her brother Henry VIII, was allowed to visit him, until a rumour that she intended to convey him away to England led to his being brought back to Edinburgh. In September 1519 he was for a similar reason taken to Dalkeith. Meanwhile the rival parties of Arran and Angus struggled for the possession of Edinburgh [see under Douglas, Archibald, (1489?–1557)], and on 30 April 1520 Angus gained the town. Next year Albany returned to Scotland. The queen joined him, and on 4 Dec. they visited the young king in Edinburgh Castle. The parliament which met in Edinburgh on 18 July 1522 agreed, by the desire of the regent and the queen, that the king should be removed to Stirling and Lord Erskine made his sole guardian. In September Albany again went to France. Thereupon the queen wrote to Surrey, the English lieutenant in the north, suggesting that he might aid her in obtaining James's emancipation from his guardians and his establishment as king with a council in which she herself would be paramount. She assured Surrey of James's competence. Albany on his return in September 1523 resumed the personal rule. To protect the young king from the nobles, Scottish archers of the French king's bodyguard were sent to attend on James, and he is the first Scottish king who had such a guard. Albany held at Edinburgh, on 17 Nov., a parliament which entrusted the guardianship of James to Lords Borthwick, Cassilis, and Fleming, in turns of three months, with the Earl of Moray, a bastard of his father, as his constant companion. At the request of the queen Lord Erskine was added, and she herself was allowed to visit her son with her ladies but without troops. On 20 May 1524 Albany once more returned to France, under the condition that if he did not come back before 1 Sept. his office should terminate and the young king receive the sceptre of his kingdom. But the queen-mother and the nobles in the English interest, on 26 July 1524, carried off James from Stirling to Edinburgh, where he was received with acclamations by the people as well as the nobles. A bond, still extant, was signed by the Bishops of Galloway and Ross, the Earl of Arran, and others, who undertook to be loyal subjects of the king, and annulled their engagements to Albany. On 22 Aug. the queen proposed at a meeting in the Tolbooth to abrogate the regency of Albany, and when Beaton, the chancellor, refused to affix the great seal to the necessary document, she obtained forcible possession of the seal, and put Beaton and the Bishop of Aberdeen in ward. James was now surrounded by a guard commanded by Arran, by Henry Stuart, his mother's favourite, and by his brothers, and these men attempted to gain his favour by indulging his youthful passions. Sir David Lindsay and Bellenden were dismissed from their posts as his tutors. Soon after Thomas Magnus [q. v.] arrived on an embassy from England, and presented James with a coat of cloth of gold and a dagger, with which he was greatly pleased.
On 16 Nov. a parliament met at Edinburgh, by which Albany's governorship was at last terminated, because of his failure to return, according to his promise, before 1 Sept.; the king was declared to have full authority to govern in his own person, with the advice of his mother and a privy council appointed to assist her. The Archbishop of St. Andrews, the Bishop of Aberdeen, and the Earls of Arran and Argyll were named as members of this select council, without whose advice nothing was to be done. The next parliament of 15 Feb. 1525 added Angus and three others, but declared that the queen should be principal councillor. James apparently was not present at either of these parliaments, but he went with his mother to Perth, attended the northern justice ayres in spring, and was again joined by her at Dundee in April. At this time she actually used James as an agent to try to persuade her husband Angus to submit to a divorce. He attended in state the parliament at Edinburgh on 17 July, and in it new keepers of his person, who were to hold office in turn, were appointed, and the queen-mother was practically deprived of any share in the regency. From this time Angus was the custodian of James, and exercised sole power in the state.
In March, having obtained a divorce from Angus, the queen-mother married Henry Stuart, losing thereby all political influence. James disliked his mother's remarriage. Lord Erskine in his name seized her new husband at Stirling, and he was kept for some time in ward. The parliament of June 1526, on the ground that James was now fourteen, declared the royal prerogatives were to be exercised by himself; it was really an assembly of the party of Angus who effected for a time a reconciliation with Arran. Two unsuccessful attempts, with both of which the king secretly sympathised, were made to rescue him from Angus, one by Walter Scot of Buccleuch on 25 July, near Melrose, and the other by Lennox, who assembled an army for the purpose in the beginning of September, but was defeated and slain. On 12 Nov. a parliament at Edinburgh passed acts approving of Angus's conduct, and forfeited many of his opponents. Although some sort of reconciliation was effected, and the queen visited her son at Christmas, all the offices of state were in the hands of Angus and his adherents. Angus himself assumed the office of chancellor, and in June accompanied James to the borders, where the Armstrongs, an unruly clan, were forced to give pledges for good behaviour. The queen-mother and Beaton the archbishop now made terms with Angus, and at Christmas 1527 met at the king's table at Holyrood. At Easter Beaton entertained the king and the Douglases at St. Andrews. But these were hollow reconciliations. Margaret and her husband were forcibly expelled from Edinburgh Castle in the end of March 1528 by Angus, and her ambitious husband again put in ward. Beaton now prompted James to escape from the control of Angus. In July 1528, on the pretext of a hunt from Falkland during the absence of Angus and of his brother and uncle, the young king, disguised as a groom, rode to Stirling Castle, which his mother had given him in exchange for Methven. When Angus and his kinsmen went in pursuit of the king, they were met by a herald forbidding them to come within six miles of court, under the pains of treason, and Angus fled to Tantallon. On 2 Sept. a parliament, from which Angus and his friends were absent, forfeited the estates of the Douglases, and revoked all gifts made during the domination of Angus. Henry Stuart was created Lord Methven and master of the artillery. James came at once to Edinburgh, where a council was held, and Gavin Dunbar [q. v.], archbishop of Glasgow, his old tutor, was created chancellor. Dunbar retained a strong influence over him throughout his reign. Sir David Lindsay, who had been removed by Angus, re-entered the royal service. Lord Maxwell, provost of Edinburgh, and Patrick Sinclair, a favourite of James, were sent on an embassy to England. Summonses were also issued to all the lieges to attend the king and proceed against Angus.
James was still under eighteen, but the turbulent scenes through which he had passed had brought on an early manhood. He at once raised a force to besiege Douglas Castle. But his own party among the nobles forced him to delay the siege till after harvest. James passionately swore that no Douglas should remain in Scotland so long as he lived. Having summoned to his aid Argyll and his highland forces, as well as Lord Home and the borderers, he succeeded in reducing Angus's castle of Tantallon before the end of the year. Angus fled to England. On 14 Dec. a truce for five years was concluded at Berwick between James and Henry VIII, Angus being allowed to live in England, and the sentence of death alone of the penalties for treason being remitted. The next year James was occupied with reducing the borders, which had relapsed, owing to the change of government, into a state of lawlessness. Lords Maxwell, Home, Scot of Buccleuch, Ker of Fernihurst, Polwarth, Johnston, and other border chiefs were put in ward, and James in person, having summoned the highland chiefs to come as if to a hunting match, rode through the border dales, when he seized and executed Cockburn of Henderland, Scott of Tushielaw, and Johnnie Armstrong of Gilnockie [q. v.] A rising in the Orkneys, headed by the Earl of Caithness, was put down by the islanders themselves, and a revolt of the Western Isles, under Hector McLean of Duart, against the authority of the Earl of Argyll as royal lieutenant, was checked by the prudent course of accepting the personal submission of the chiefs to James himself. James, like his forefathers, found many enemies among the nobles, and had to follow the hereditary policy of crushing their power. In the west Argyll was imprisoned. In the north Crawford was deprived of a great part of his estates. Bothwell, who intrigued with the English king, was thrown into Edinburgh Castle. Archibald Douglas of Kilspindie (1480?–1540?) [q. v.], the friend of James's youth, was banished. The king relied chiefly on the clergy, whose support he gained by repressing heresy, and on the commons, whom he protected, and with whom he mingled freely, sometimes openly, sometimes under the incognito of the ‘Gudeman of Ballinbreich.’ To him specially was given the title of the ‘king of the commons,’ though at least two of his ancestors had as good a title to the name. In 1531 he entertained an English embassy under Lord William Howard [q. v.] at St. Andrews, when his mother was with him, but he declined the proposal that he should wed the Princess Mary of England. The relations of James to his mother seem to have been friendly, for he gave his consent soon after this to her recovery of the Forest of Ettrick, which had been part of her dower.
In 1532 James took a step, aimed at by successive kings since James I, for centralising justice and reducing the arbitrary power of the baronial courts. Albany had already obtained leave of the pope to assign a portion of the revenues of the Scottish bishops for the payment of royal judges; but it was not carried into effect until 13 May 1532, when the parliament passed an act concerning ‘the order of justice and the institution of ane college of prudent and wise men for the administration of justice.’ Gavin Dunbar, archbishop of Glasgow, has the credit of being the chief promoter of this measure. The opposition of the bishops was overcome by giving the clerical estate, to which almost all the lawyers belonged, half the places, as well as the presidency in the new court of fifteen. This court, called the College of Justice, was to hold its sittings constantly in Edinburgh. In Leslie's opinion the institution gave eternal glory to James, but Buchanan pronounces a less favourable judgment, and complains that it placed too much power in the hands of fifteen men in a country where ‘there are almost no laws, but decrees of the estates.’
From 1532 to 1534 Henry VIII, taking advantage of the unpopularity of James with many of his own nobles, and urged by refugees in England, encouraged border hostilities, and James retaliated by counter-raids and by allowing some of the western islanders to support the Irish rebels. Peace was made on 11 May 1534, for the joint lives of Henry and James and one year longer. Henry was eager to secure the support of his nephew in his new ecclesiastical policy. James did not much favour the policy of separation from Rome, though he for a time wavered in appearance, and seems to have been really disposed to reform the abuses of the church. He recognised the validity of his uncle's divorce and marriage to Anne Boleyn, and on 4 March 1535 he was invested by Lord William Howard with the Garter as a reward for this concession. Henry still offered James the hand of his daughter in marriage. But the emperor sent him the order of the Golden Fleece, and gave him the choice of three Marys: his sister Mary, widow of Louis in Hungary, his niece, Mary of Portugal, and his cousin, Mary of England. The French king also conferred on him the order of St. Michael, and offered him either of his two daughters. James, proud of these honours, carved the arms of the emperor and French king along with his own on the gate of Linlithgow Palace. Henry thereupon sent Sir Ralph Sadler with a proposal to meet his nephew at York, but James declined to go further than Newcastle. Though conscious of the value of the English alliance, his personal inclination was more favourable to that with France, and this view was seconded by Pope Paul III, who sent, in 1537, Campeggio to Scotland to present the cap and sword annually blessed at Christmas and presented to the most favoured son of the church among the monarchs of Europe. The title of ‘defender of the faith,’ which Henry had forfeited, was offered him, and more was promised, if James would take up arms against the heretic king. The leading Scottish bishops gave the same advice.
The turning-point of James's life and reign was his French marriage. On 29 March 1536 a treaty was concluded by which James was to marry Marie de Bourbon, daughter of the Duke of Vendôme. Eager to see his betrothed, James started with five ships on a voyage to France without the knowledge of the nobles, but was driven back by a storm to St. Ninians in Galloway. He then returned to Stirling, from which he made a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Loretto, near Musselburgh, and, having held a council, obtained its consent to his going to France, after naming a regency. He again set sail from Kirkcaldy, with a larger suite, on 1 Sept. 1536, and landed at Dieppe on the 10th. He then paid an incognito visit, in the dress of John Tennant, one of his servants, to Marie de Bourbon, but that lady did not please him, and he proceeded to the court of Francis I at Lyons. In October, James fell in love with Madeleine, elder daughter of Francis, and their marriage was agreed to by a treaty signed at Blois on 25 Nov. Francis is said to have pressed the hand of his second daughter as of stronger constitution, but yielded to the urgency of James. He was received on his entry into Paris on 31 Dec. with the honours usually reserved for the dauphin. The marriage was celebrated in Notre Dame on 1 Jan. 1537. Stories have been told of his munificence; he is said to have presented his guests at a banquet with cups of gold filled with bonnet pieces, saying these were the fruits of his country. But the whole of his expenses in France were in the end paid by the French king. James remained in France with his young bride till the following May, and an observer, not altogether trustworthy, for he was a retainer of Angus, may probably be credited when he relates how James escaped from the ceremonials of the court to run about the streets of Paris and make purchases as if unknown, though the boys in the street pointed to him as ‘the king of the Scots.’ His bad French probably betrayed him. At Rouen on 3 April 1537, when he attained his legal majority, he made the usual revocation of previous grants. He landed at Leith on 19 May, having received a visit when off Scarborough from some Yorkshire catholics, who informed him of the oppression of Henry VIII. He promised them that he would ‘bend spears with England if he lived a year.’ Madeleine was received with great rejoicing in Scotland, her fragile beauty attracting both the nobility and the commons. According to Buchanan, there was even hope that she might have favoured the reformers' movement through her education by her aunt, the queen of Navarre. Her premature death, at the age of sixteen, in July was the cause of great mourning, and led, it is said, to the introduction of mourning dress into Scotland. James spent some time in retirement, but at once sought a successor. David Beaton [q. v.], nephew of the archbishop, then abbot of Arbroath, the future cardinal, was sent to France, and concluded a treaty of marriage with Mary of Guise, widow of the Duc de Longueville, early in 1538. She landed at Crail on 14 June, and the marriage was celebrated at St. Andrews. Sir David Lindsay wrote and prepared the masque in which an angel, descending from a cloud, presented Mary with the keys of Scotland as a token that all hearts were open to her.
Between his first and second marriage the attention of James had been occupied with two conspiracies. On 15 July John, master of Forbes, was found guilty of having plotted at some earlier date ‘the slaurghter of our Lords most noble person by a warlike machine called a bombard, and also of treasonable sedition;’ he was hanged and quartered at Edinburgh. Three days later Lady Glamis was condemned for taking part in a treasonable conspiracy to poison James, and was burnt on the Castle Hill. Forbes was brother-in-law, and Lady Glamis was sister, of Angus [see under Douglas, Janet]. At the same period James encouraged the bishops to proceed against heretics. Patrick Hamilton [q. v.] had been burnt at St. Andrews in 1528, and similar auto-da-fés followed at Edinburgh in 1534 and Glasgow in 1539. Heretical books were strictly prohibited, and those who owned them punished. James himself was highly commended by the clergy for refusing to look at some heretical books which Henry VIII sent him. He was, says Leslie, ‘a hydra for the destruction of pestilent heresy.’ The young queen, Mary of Guise, was ‘all papist,’ and the old queen, who always exercised some influence on her son, ‘not much less,’ according to Norfolk's report to the English council. In the personal character of James V there was little either of the piety or the superstition of his father. He and his queen seem to have had, however, their favourite pilgrimage to Our Lady of Loretto, near Musselburgh, and they were duped, not only by Thomas Doughty, the alleged miracle-working hermit of Loretto, but also by the fasting impostor, John Scot. The language which James V addressed the clergy, even the bishops, has something of the brutal frankness of his Tudor kin. There was undoubtedly something ambiguous in the attitude of James V towards the Roman church. He saw the necessity for reform of corruptions in the church, and on a few points carried it out, but probably allowed himself to be guided by Beaton, on condition of receiving pecuniary aid for himself and the state from the overgrown revenues of the church. He made a communication to the provincial council in Edinburgh in 1536, urging the abolition of the ‘corpse presents,’ the ‘church cow,’ and the ‘upmost cloth,’ three of the most hated exactions of the clergy, and threatened that if this was not done he would force them to feu their lands at the old rents. He obtained a contribution from the revenues of the prelates of 1,400l. a year to pay the judges of the new court of session. In 1540 James is said to have threatened the bishops that if they did not take heed, he ‘would send half a dozen of the proudest to be dealt with by his uncle of England.’ George Buchanan, who was tutor to one of his bastards, wrote by James's desire his ironical ‘Palinodia,’ and his more outspoken ‘Franciscanus’ against the friars [see under Buchanan, George]. In January 1540 Sir William Eure, an English envoy, met on the borders Thomas Bellenden and Henry Balnavis, when the former requested that a copy of the English statutes against the pope should be sent for James's private study, and represented him as prepared to aid the Reformation. But James never pursued that policy. In February Sir Ralph Sadler was sent on a fruitless mission to Edinburgh with a present of some horses, and vainly endeavoured to induce James, by a promise of the succession to the English crown in the event of Prince Edward's death, to openly support Henry and the Reformation. To Sadler's proposal that he should seize the estates of the church, as Henry had done in England, he replied that ‘his clergy were always ready to supply his wants,’ and that ‘abuses could easily be reformed.’ He seemed especially to favour Beaton, and Sadler himself confesses that the Scottish nobles who were opposed to an English alliance were men of small capacity, a circumstance which forced James to use the counsel of the clergy. Sadler mentions the rumour which Knox refers to in his ‘History,’ that Beaton had given James a list of 360 barons and gentlemen whose estates might be forfeited for heresy, with the name of Arran at the head.
On 22 May Mary of Guise bore her first child, and soon afterwards James set out on a voyage round the north and west coasts. Alexander Lindsay, who had been selected as his pilot, has left a narrative of the expedition, which was published in Paris in 1718 by Nicolas d'Arville, the royal cosmographer. The fleet of twelve ships, well furnished with artillery, set sail from the Forth in the beginning of June, coasted the east and north of Scotland, visited the Orkneys, Skye, the coast of Ross and Kintail, and the more southern islands, Coll, Tiree, Mull, Iona, and finally reached Dumbarton by way of Arran and Bute. The royal forces were strong enough to extort the submission of the clans, but the stay was too short for permanent effect. In August Sir James Hamilton of Finnart (d. 1540) [q. v.] was suddenly arrested in his lodging in Edinburgh, on the information of his kinsman James, the brother of the martyr, Patrick Hamilton; he was tried, condemned, and executed as a traitor on 16 Aug. The historians all report a dramatic scene of the informer meeting the king as he passed over the Forth, when James, giving the ring off his finger to him, told him he was to present it to the master of the household and treasurer in Edinburgh, who effected the arrest of Hamilton. The king, perhaps, did not wish to appear prominent in the arrest of his old councillor. A weird story relates that James thought he saw in a dream ‘Sir James Hamilton of Finnart coming upon him with a naked sword, and first cut his right arme and next his left from him; and efter he had threatened efter schort space also to tak his lyf he evanished.’ The prophecy was supposed to be half fulfilled when the news came in the following year of the deaths of his two infant sons within a few days of each other, one, an infant five days old, on 29 April, and his elder brother, James, before 25 May. The king's mother, too, died in October 1541. On 3 Dec. 1540 James held an important parliament at Edinburgh. Besides passing many acts, chiefly relating to the administration of justice and preparation for war, there occur among its proceedings the king's general revocation, by which he confirmed the revocation of all grants made before 3 April 1537. But by an act of annexation he added to the crown ‘the Lands and Lordships of all the Isles North and South, the two Kintyres with the Castles, the Lands and Lordships of Douglas, the Lands and Lordships of Crawford Lindsay, and Crawford John, the Superiority of all Lands of the Earldom of Angus and all other lands, rents, and possessions of the Earl of Angus, the Lands and Lordships of Glamis, “that are not halden of the Kirk,” the Orkney and Shetland Isles, the Lands and Lordships of Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, and the Lands and Lordships of Liddesdale and Bothwell.’ A general amnesty was granted, but from it Angus, his brother, Sir George, and the whole adherents of the Douglases were excepted. So sweeping and unparalleled a confiscation, which, so far as time allowed, was acted on, involved in a common ruin not only the hated name of Douglas, but also the Earl of Crawford and the chiefs and landowners of the isles. It was a sign of the complete breach between James and his nobles. On 14 March 1541 James held his last parliament, which passed severe statutes against heresy, ratified the institution of the College of Justice, and made several useful laws with regard to criminal justice and the administration of burghs, and prohibited the passage of clerks to Rome without the king's leave, or the reception in Scotland of a papal legate. The last act was perhaps aimed at Beaton, who had gone to Rome with the view of obtaining legatine powers.
In the summer of 1541 James and the queen made a progress to the north, in the course of which they visited the college of Aberdeen, where they were entertained by plays and speeches and deputations of the students. In the autumn of 1541 Sir Ralph Sadler came on another embassy from England to invite James once more to meet Henry at York, but James, though he signed articles promising to do so in December 1541, after consulting his council and Beaton, who had now returned and was his chief adviser, sent Sir James Learmonth to decline the invitation. It is stated by Pitscottie that the clergy about this time granted him an aid of 3,000l. a year, which gave force to their advice. Henry, who had waited a week at York to meet his nephew, expostulated warmly on James's failure to keep his promise, and is reported to have said that he had the same ‘rod in store for him as that with which he beat his father,’ a reference to Surrey, the victor of Flodden, who was still living.
A border raid in August 1542 by Sir Robert Bowes [q. v.], the English warden, led to his defeat and death at Halidon Rig, when Angus, who was with him, narrowly escaped capture. War was then made inevitable, and Henry, in a long proclamation, declared it. On 21 Oct. Norfolk invaded the Lothians with twenty thousand men, and, after burning villages and destroying the harvest, returned to Berwick, Huntly, James's general, not venturing to attack him, as his force was inferior. James had meantime collected an army of thirty thousand strong, with his artillery, on the Borough Muir of Edinburgh, and marched to Fala Muir, on the western extremity of the Lammermuir Hills, where he received the news of Norfolk's invasion. The Scottish barons, averse to war beyond the borders, refused to proceed further. They ‘concluded,’ says Knox, that ‘they would make some new remembrance of Lauder brig,’ where their ancestors had hanged Cochrane and other favourites of James III before his eyes, but they could not agree among themselves who were to be their victims, and only went the length of silently withdrawing their forces. James was obliged to return to Edinburgh on 3 Nov. He disguised his anger, but determined, even without the consent of the nobles, to renew the war, and passed to the west borders, where his exhortations induced Lord Maxwell, the warden, and the Earls of Cassilis, Glencairn, and Lord Fleming to invade England. Oliver Sinclair, one of the royal household, a member of the Roslin family, who had always been favourites at court, and himself a special favourite of James, was the king's military counsellor. James did not take the command in person, but stayed either at Lochmaben or Caerlaverock. He appears already to have been suffering from the illness of which he died. A brief letter to Mary of Guise is extant, without date, but evidently written about this time, and bears witness by its incoherent and broken sense to weakness of mind as well as body. It concludes: ‘I have been very ill these three days past as I never was in my life; but, God be thanked, I am well.’ His forces, to the number of about ten thousand, crossed the Solway, and marched in the direction of Carlisle, wasting the country after the usual manner of a raid. The Cumberland farmers began to collect to defend their crops and their houses. Sir Thomas Wharton, the English warden, Lord Dacres, and Lord Musgrave, with a small force, not more than three hundred, it was said, came to their aid, and harassed the Scots. With singular imprudence James had entrusted Sinclair with a private order conferring upon him the post of general, which naturally belonged to Maxwell as warden. Sinclair, now producing the royal mandate, was proclaimed general. Maxwell, whose office gave him claim to the command, and the other nobles, whose rank was disparaged by a commoner being set over them, were indignant, and though they fought, fought without heart, and suffered a total discomfiture. On their attempt to retreat, many were lost in the Solway Moss, from which the battle took its name. The Earls of Cassilis and Glencairn, Lords Maxwell, Fleming, Somerville, Oliphant, and Gray, and two hundred gentlemen were taken prisoners. Sinclair fled, according to Knox, without a blow, but was afterwards captured. It was a rout more disgraceful than Flodden. When the news reached James at Lochmaben, the melancholy which had been growing overwhelmed him, and though he went to bed, he could not rest, and kept exclaiming in reference to Sinclair, ‘Oh, fled Oliver! Is Oliver tane? Oh, fled Oliver!’ Next day, 25 Nov., he returned to Edinburgh, where he remained till the 30th, then, crossing to Fife, went to Halyards, one of the seats of Sir William Kirkcaldy, the treasurer. Sir William's wife, in her husband's absence, tried in vain to comfort him, and after a short stay at Cairny, another castle in Fife, he repaired to Falkland, and took to his bed. On 8 Dec. Mary of Guise gave birth to Mary Stuart at Linlithgow. This news he treated as the last blow of adverse fate, and exclaimed, ‘The Devil go with it. It will end as it began. It came with a lass, and will go with a lass.’ He spoke few sensible words after, and died on 16 Dec., and was buried at Holyrood. After his death a will was produced by Beaton, under which the cardinal, Huntly, Argyll, and Moray were named regents, but the condition in which James had been since he came to Falkland gave rise to the suspicion reported by Knox and Buchanan that he had signed a blank paper put into his hands by Beaton. The original document, dated 14 Dec. 1542, was discovered by Sir William Fraser among the Duke of Hamilton's manuscripts at Hamilton Palace (cf. Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. pt. vi. pp. 205–6; Herkless, Cardinal Beaton, 1891; Athenæum, June and July 1891).
Besides his only lawful surviving child, Mary Stuart, he left seven known bastards: by Elizabeth Shaw of Sauchie, James, the pupil of Buchanan, who became abbot of Kelso and Melrose and died in 1558; by Margaret Erskine, daughter of the fifth Lord Erskine, who afterwards married Sir James Douglas of Lochleven, James Stewart, earl of Moray (1533–1570) [q. v.], well known as the Regent Moray; by Euphemia, daughter of Lord Elphinstone, Robert, sometimes called Lord Robert Stewart, afterwards prior of Holyrood and Earl of Orkney; by Elizabeth, daughter of Lord Carmichael, John, prior of Coldingham, who was father of Francis Stewart Hepburn, fifth earl of Bothwell [q. v.], and Janet, who married the Earl of Argyll; by Elizabeth Stewart, daughter of John, earl of Lennox, Adam, who became prior of the Carthusian house at Perth; and by Elizabeth Beaton, a child whose name is not known (Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. pt. viii. p. 92). The bishops, according to Knox, encouraged his amours, and the pope certainly legitimated his natural children, and promoted some of them while still minors to church benefices.
James's face was oval, his quick eyes a bluish grey, his nose aquiline, his hair red, his mouth small, his chin weak for a man, his figure good, his height about the middle size. Both Leslie and Buchanan note his good looks, and from him, rather than Mary of Guise, Mary Stuart inherited her fatal beauty. Portraits are at Windsor Castle and Castle Fraser, and two others belong to the Marquis of Hartington. Buchanan also credits him with great activity and a sharp wit, insufficiently cultivated by learning, and notes that he seldom drank wine, that he was covetous from the parsimony of his early life, and licentious from the bad guidance of his guardians, who tolerated his vices that they might keep him under their own control. His licentiousness hastened the coming, and gave a tone to the character, of the Scottish reformation. A great number of his letters and speeches have been preserved. He had some of his ancestors' literary tastes, but the ascription to him of ‘Christis Kirk on the Green’ and a few songs cannot be accepted. His character had two sides: one shows him as the promoter of justice, the protector of the poor, the reformer of ecclesiastical abuses, the vigorous administrator who first saw the whole of his dominions, and brought them under the royal sceptre; the other exhibits him as the vindictive monarch, the oppressor of the nobles, the tool of the priests, the licentious and passionate man whose life broke down in the hour of trial. John Knox, with all his prejudices, describes him in language which comes nearest the facts. ‘Hie was called of some a good poore mans king; of otheris hie was termed a murtherare of the nobilitie, and one that had decreed thair hole destructioun. Some praised him for the repressing of thyft and oppressioun; otheris dispraised him for the defoulling of menis wiffis and virgines. And thus men spak evin as affectionis led thame. And yitt none spack all together besydis the treuth: for a parte of all these foresaidis war so manifest that as the verteuis could nott be denyed, so could nott the vices by any craft be clocked.’[Buchanan, James's senior by six years, and Bishop Leslie, his junior by fifteen, give contemporary views of his life and reign as seen from opposite points. Their Histories, and the publication of the State Papers, both Domestic and Foreign, afford more complete materials for his life than exist for any prior Scottish king. Buchanan, Leslie, and Knox's Histories are the primary authorities, and require to be compared and tested by the Record sources, the Acts of Parliament, Exchequer Rolls, and the Epistolæ Regum Scotorum published by Ruddiman. The Poems of Sir David Lindsay are also of great importance, from Lindsay's close intimacy with James and the historical character of several of his works. Of modern historians Pinkerton is the fullest and best. Brewer's Henry VIII and vol. i. of Froude's History represent the English view of James's political position. Michel's Les Écossais en France and the documents in Teulet's Relations de la France avec l'Écosse, vol. i., give the most detailed account of his French marriages, as to which Miss Strickland's Lives of Queens of Scotland deserves also to be consulted. His relations with the Vatican are partially shown by the documents in Theiner, Monumenta Historica; but independent search of the papal records with reference to Scottish history is still urgently required.]