Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Douglas, Archibald (1489?-1557)
DOUGLAS, ARCHIBALD, sixth Earl of Angus (1489?–1557), was grandson of Archibald, fifth earl [q. v.], by his eldest son, George, master of Douglas. He married in 1509, during his father's life, when not yet of age, Margaret, daughter of Patrick Hepburn, first earl of Bothwell. His wife died in 1513 without children. The same year he lost his father at Flodden, and his grandfather, old ‘Bell-the-Cat,’ dying before the end of January 1514, he succeeded to the earldom. The handsome person and agreeable manners of the young earl gained him the hand of the queen dowager, Margaret Tudor, who, though she had been married eleven years before, was still only about his own age, possibly a few years older. Rejecting the idea of a more brilliant alliance with the Emperor Maximilian, which Wolsey favoured, or with Louis XII, which her brother, Henry VIII, is believed to have desired, Margaret determined to choose her own spouse. On 6 Aug. 1514, within four months of the birth of her posthumous son, Alexander, duke of Ross, she married Douglas at the church of Kinnoul. The ceremony was performed privately by Walter Drummond, dean of Dunblane, nephew of Lord Drummond, justiciar of Scotland, the maternal grandfather of Angus, who had promoted the match. Such a secret could not be long kept. Margaret had already shown her inclination by the eagerness with which she pressed the claims of Gavin Douglas [q. v.], the uncle of Angus, to preferment, until he ultimately became bishop of Dunkeld. She induced Henry VIII to write in his favour to the pope. Henry accepted the marriage after the fact, as Angus was in the English interest, but he did not consent beforehand. The queen by her rash marriage with Angus alienated the other nobles, and the well-founded suspicion that she and her new husband would support the influence of England, strengthened the party led by Beaton, the archbishop of Glasgow, and Forman, the new archbishop of St. Andrews, who regarded France as the natural ally of Scotland. The privy council met and declared Margaret had forfeited the regency by marrying Angus. Lyon king-at-arms was sent to Stirling, where the queen was, to announce the forfeiture and summon Angus before the council for marrying without their consent. The Lyon's request for an audience with ‘my lady the queen, the mother of his grace our king,’ was deemed an insult, and Lord Drummond struck him in the presence of the queen and Angus. Instead of obeying the summons of the council, Angus forcibly deprived Beaton of the great seal. Gavin Douglas had taken possession of the castle of St. Andrews, where he was besieged by Hepburn, the prior, one of his rivals for the see, and Angus went to his relief, but was compelled suddenly to return to the queen, who had been forced by the Earl of Arran and Hume, the chamberlain, to attend the council in Edinburgh. Although Angus maintained a nominal friendship with Arran and Hume, and even signed along with them on 15 May 1515 the new treaty of peace with England and France which Francis I had effected, the nobles were in reality as bitter rivals as the churchmen. It is reported as certain, says Hume of Godscroft, that Arran rejected the proposal of Angus that they should divide the government of Scotland between them, and urged him not to recall Albany [see STEWART, JOHN, fourth Duke of Albany]. Albany landed at Dumbarton on 18 May 1515, and was installed as regent in Edinburgh in the following July. Angus and Argyll placed the ducal coronet on his head. He was declared protector of the kingdom till the king attained his eighteenth year, and invested with the sceptre and the sword. The new regent at once used his power to curb the influence of the Douglases. He threatened to deprive the queen of her children, and Margaret wrote indignantly to her brother that ‘all her party had deserted her except her husband Angus and Lord Hume.’ Both Albany and the French party, and Henry VIII and the Scottish nobles inclined to him, were intent at this time to obtain possession of the young king. Albany sent four lords for this purpose to Stirling, where the queen was, but Margaret, attended by Angus and leading her children, came to the gate and refused them admission until they told their message, and when they asked for the children dropped the portcullis. According to Albany, Angus had desired her to surrender them, fearing to lose his life and lands, and even signed a written protest affirming this. The queen herself offered that their custody should be committed to four guardians of her own choice, of whom Angus and Lord Hume were to be two, but this offer was declined, and Albany laid siege to Stirling. It seems improbable that the rupture between Margaret and her husband had yet reached the point of divided counsels as to the guardianship of the king, though it is not unlikely that Angus made a formal protest to preserve his freedom of action should events be adverse to the queen. His conduct at this juncture was ambiguous. Instead of sharing his wife's fortunes he withdrew to his estates in Forfarshire. He declined when summoned by Albany to aid him in the siege, but his brother George and Lord Hume went to Stirling and had an interview with the queen. She had been advised, it was said, by Angus to show the young king on the walls of the castle with the crown and sceptre, in hopes of moving the besiegers. The force of Albany was too great to be resisted by the queen, unaided either by her husband or her brother, and Stirling surrendered. Strict watch was kept, especially over the person of the king. Margaret was removed from Stirling to Edinburgh, but, on the ground that her time of childbearing was near, was allowed to go to Linlithgow, from which she escaped with Angus and a few servants, protected by Hume with a small guard of ‘hardy, well-striking fellows,’ to her husband's castle of Tantallon, and afterwards to Blackadder. Thence she fled to Harbottle in Northumberland, which she reached on Sunday 30 Sept., and gave birth on the following Sunday to Margaret Douglas, afterwards Countess of Lennox, and mother of Darnley. According to Lesley, Angus was not allowed to be with his wife at Harbottle, for Dacre, the English warden, when he admitted the queen refused to admit any man or woman of Scots blood. At Morpeth, however, to which she removed, she was joined by Angus and Hume. In April she went to London, but Angus and Hume returned to Scotland. Although for a short time put in ward at Inchgarvie, Angus now entered into friendly relations with the regent. He also corresponded with his wife, but her absence and the attractions of a lady in Douglasdale had begun to cool any affection there had been on his side. In March 1517 she pressed the regent to allow Angus to come to her in England, and Albany replied he had given leave but did not think Angus willing to go. Yet, on her return from England, Angus at last met her at Lamberton Kirk, near Berwick, on 15 June 1517. It cannot have been a happy meeting. ‘The Englishmen,’ says Hall the chronicler, ‘smally him regarded.’ His wife, one of whose objects in coming to Scotland was to secure payment of the income settled on her at their marriage, extorted from him, by the aid of Lord Dacre and Dr. Magnus, a writing by which he promised not to put away any of the lands settled on her. She had waited for Albany's departure to France before setting foot in Scotland, but her hopes of being restored to the regency were disappointed. Albany had procured the appointment of the archbishops of St. Andrews and Glasgow, Huntly, Argyll, Arran, and Angus, as a council of regency before he left, and the custody of the young king was given to four other nobles. The queen was not even allowed to see her son. Meanwhile the absence of Albany left the jealousy of the leading Scottish nobles free play, and the attempt to reconcile them by sharing the regency failed. De la Bastie, the French knight to whom Albany had left the custody of Dunbar, with the office of warden of the east marches, as a representative of his own and the French interest, was murdered by Hume of Wedderburn in revenge for the execution of the chief of his house, Lord Hume, the chamberlain of Albany. Dacre, the English warden, and Angus himself were suspected of complicity in his death. George, the brother of Angus, was arrested on the charge, and Arran received the vacant office of warden, which would have naturally fallen to Angus. The queen, though she had at an earlier period expressed herself to Dacre as willing that Angus should have the chief power, had now entirely changed her views. Angus had broken his promise, instigated, as she thought, by Gavin Douglas as to his jointure lands. His connection with the lady in Douglasdale, a daughter of the Laird of Traquair, was no longer secret. Though within the same kingdom, Angus and the queen had not met as man and wife for six months. She wrote to Henry stating, though she did not use the word, that she desired a divorce. Henry knew his sister too well to trust her. He set his face resolutely against the divorce, and both Wolsey and Dacre on his behalf wrote to her in uncompromising terms. Chadworth, a friar observant, was sent to remonstrate with her, and her own ‘reported suspicious living’ was thrown in her teeth. A brief and insincere reconciliation was effected between her and Angus, who rode in her company into Edinburgh in October 1519, when she went to visit her son. The dissension between Angus and Arran was now hastening to a crisis, and Angus thought it politic to use his wife as a sign of his dignity. Margaret, on the other hand, was already scheming for the divorce on which she had set her heart, but deemed it prudent, till the train was well laid, not to hasten the explosion. Thwarted by her brother, she turned in her extremity to her old adversary Albany. He went to Rome in June 1520, and his great influence with the pope was employed in her service. His agents prosecuted her cause, and his purse supplied the funds necessary for its success. When he returned to Scotland on 18 Nov. 1521, the queen openly sided with him against her husband. The enmity between Angus and Arran had really reached the point of a civil war, all the more injurious that it never came to a decisive battle. There were minor feuds, but the central one was a contest for supreme power between the two earls. Each had his party among the bishops and the nobles, and a certain local connection, as in the civil war of England, may be traced. The east and north favoured Angus, who held Edinburgh, of which he was at one time provost, an office he resigned in favour of his uncle, Douglas of Kilspindie. His other uncle, Gavin, was provost of St. Giles. Arran, with Glasgow as his stronghold, dominated in the west. Of the bishops, St. Andrews, Dunkeld, Orkney, Dunblane, Aberdeen, and Moray; of the earls, Huntly, Morton, Errol, Crawford, the Earl Marshal Glencosse, and Argyll, as well as the great barons of Forfar, Ruthven, Glamis, Hay, and Gray, were for Angus, whose own strength lay now in the midland district of Scotland more than the borders, the older seat of his ancestors. Arran had on his side Beaton, the archbishop of Glasgow and chancellor, and the bishops of Argyll and Galloway, the Earls of Cassilis and Lennox, Lords Maxwell, Fleming, Ross, and Semple. In 1518 Arran had tried to force an entrance into Edinburgh to secure the office of provost, and was repulsed with bloodshed on both sides. The capital itself was not free from partisan fights, in which the killed were generally men of birth, whose deaths made blood feuds. On the last of April 1520 Arran determined to expel Angus and his partisans from Edinburgh. Angus offered to leave if unmolested, and his uncle Gavin tried to secure the mediation of Beaton. That prelate, protesting on his conscience he knew nothing of the matter, struck his hand on his breast. The rattling of his armour under his cassock gave Douglas the retort which became a proverb, ‘My lord, I perceive your conscience clatters.’ Sir Patrick Hamilton, Arran's brother, would have effected a truce, but the bastard James Hamilton upbraided him with cowardice. The retainers of the rival earls then poured out of the narrow wynds in which they lodged into the broadest part of the High Street, and a fierce fight followed. Arran lost the day. Sir Patrick fell, it was said by the hand of Angus, for which he was never forgiven by the Hamiltons. The earl and the bastard with difficulty escaped across the north loch. Seventy-two corpses were left in the street, and the name of ‘Cleanse the Causeway’ preserves the memory of the combat. William Douglas, prior of Coldingham and brother of Angus, and Hume of Wedderburn came with eight hundred horse to Edinburgh before the struggle was ended, and the whole of Arran's party were expelled. Though Arran still had supporters in the country, Angus had now the control of the capital, and, as a mark of triumph, buried Lord Hume and his brother, whose heads had remained in the Tolbooth since their execution. But he failed to surprise his rival at Stirling in August.
The arrival of Albany on 21 Nov. changed the aspect of affairs. He called a parliament, deposed the officials Angus had appointed, and summoned Angus and the prior to answer for their conduct. The Bishop of Dunkeld was sent to the court of Henry VIII to protest against the intimacy of Albany with the queen, which was so close as to give colour to the probably groundless charge of a guilty connection. Another unexpected change followed in the shifting scenes of the Scottish drama. Angus in March went to France, or, as Pitscottie states with more probability, was seized and sent thither by Albany. He would scarcely have selected France as an asylum, but one of the rumours which make too much of the history of this time points to some ostensible reconciliation between him and Albany brought about by the queen, who was glad to be quit of his presence in Scotland on any terms. Angus was hospitably received in France, although, it is noted, he could not speak a word of French. But he was treated as a prisoner on parole, allowed freedom of movement, but not to cross the borders. He chafed at this restraint, and, after an unsuccessful attempt to pass through Picardy to Calais, succeeded in effecting his escape, probably by the Low Countries, and from Antwerp to Berwick, where, however, he did not stay, but went straight to the court of Henry VIII. He reached London on 28 June 1524. In the preceding month Albany, who had lost what popularity he had by the failure of the siege of Wark, left Scotland and returned to France. The queen obtained the recognition or erection of her son, now a boy of twelve, as sovereign in the end of July, and for a short time herself governed under the influence of Arran and Henry Stuart, a young lieutenant of the guard, son of Lord Avondale, to whom she openly showed her affection in a manner that alienated the nobles and disgusted her brother and his councillors. The Scots commons, with whom Angus had always been a favourite, also reproached her for her ‘ungodly living.’ The time was ripe for Angus to return to Scotland, and, after making an agreement with Wolsey for an offensive and defensive alliance with England, and promising to do his utmost to avoid open quarrel with the queen and Arran, but with the assurance that if they quarrelled with him he should have the assistance of England, he left London on 5 Oct. 1524. He was detained for some weeks on the English side of the border by the Duke of Norfolk, but Wolsey having urged that he should be allowed to proceed, and his brother George, who had gone before him, remonstrating against further delay, he passed to Boncle, his brother's home in Berwickshire, on 1 Nov. From it he wrote a letter to the queen, professing amity and asking an interview. Margaret returned it sealed as if unread, while she had in fact perused and resealed it. Its contents had been communicated to Dr. Magnus, the English ambassador at the Scotch court, who praised it in a letter to Angus ‘as singularly well composed and couched for the purpose.’ Magnus had been sent by Wolsey to win her to the English interest, and with a proposal that the young king should marry the Princess Mary. But he made little speed. At every interview she returned to the point that her husband, whom she nicknamed ‘Anguish,’ should not be suffered to come to or to stay in Scotland. For a time Angus, who showed, doubtless under instructions from the English court, great forbearance, remained in Berwickshire, but on 23 Nov., with Lennox, the master of Glencairn, and the laird of Buccleuch, he rode to the gates of Edinburgh at the head of four hundred horsemen. They scaled the wall and burst the gate, and Angus proclaimed from the cross his peaceable intentions and desire to serve the king. Margaret, surrounded by a guard at Holyrood, replied by firing cannon, which killed some too-curious spectators, and by a proclamation in the king's name ordering her husband to leave Edinburgh. Unwilling or afraid to use extreme measures, he retired to Tantallon, while the queen and her son removed from Holyrood to the castle. From Tantallon Angus wrote for the aid Henry VIII had promised. It was now due, as the queen had commenced hostilities. He then passed to the west to visit his ally Lennox, afterwards, in the beginning of the new year 1525, to Melrose, and thence to St. Andrews. He there succeeded in effecting a coalition with Beaton the archbishop, Gavin Dunbar, bishop of Aberdeen, and John Prior of St. Andrews, who, although usually of the French party, with the view of preserving peace, united at this juncture with Angus, Lennox, and Argyll. They declined, at the queen's summons, to attend a council at Edinburgh unless mutual securities were given that Arran and Eglinton, the chief nobles of the queen's party, and Angus and Lennox would keep the peace for two months, and imposed other conditions which the queen declined. They then issued a proclamation at St. Andrews on 25 Jan. 1525 declaring that the king should be set at liberty, and summoned a convention to meet at Stirling on 6 Feb. They also informed Henry VIII of what they had done. The convention of Stirling adjourned to Dalkeith, and endeavoured through Margaret to make terms with the queen, but failing in this Angus and Lennox made a forcible entry into Edinburgh and called a parliament. Before this parliament commenced business, on 23 Feb., the queen had found it prudent to agree to an accommodation with her husband and his friends. Angus was admitted in the council of regency, made a lord of the articles, and promised a place among the guardians of the king, as well as on the committee for disposing of benefices. The edifying spectacle was exhibited to the people of the young king opening parliament in person, Angus bearing the crown, Arran the sceptre, and Argyll the sword. But the queen was at this very time corresponding with Albany, urging him to press on the divorce. One of the terms of her agreement with Angus stipulated that he was not to meddle ‘with her person, lands, and goods even gif he is her husband until Whitsunday next.’ She never seems to have lost a lingering hope that Angus would consent to dissolve their marriage, which would free him as well as herself, and pressed this upon him at several interviews. She even used her son as an agent to persuade him. Angus told Magnus that James had promised him boundless favours if he would consent to be divorced. Although the queen and Arran, as well as other nobles, were on the council of regency, the chief authority centred in Angus and Beaton, as chancellor. In March Angus was appointed lieutenant of the east and middle marches, and did good work in putting down the thieves of the dales, whose lawlessness revived with the dissensions in the central government. But the jealousy between him and Arran had been only concealed for a time. Angus, Lennox, and Argyll entered into a bond to defend each other against all enemies. Angus continued in close correspondence with Henry VIII, whose chief aim then was to win over the young king to his own and the English interest, and deliver him from his mother's influence. Both his mother and Angus spoiled instead of educating the future sovereign.
Parliament again met on 1 July and sat till 3 Aug.; the queen refused to attend, alleging fear of Angus, but he replied by a protest that he never harmed her, and that he was ready to submit their matrimonial disputes to the spiritual lords. Arran came to this parliament, and a curious device was tried to share the power between the competitors. The king was to be placed under the guardianship of Angus and the Archbishop of Glasgow till 1 Nov., of Arran and the Bishop of Aberdeen till 2 Feb., of Argyll and Beaton, the chancellor, till 1 May, and of Lennox and the Bishop of Dunblane till 1 Aug. But Angus got the first turn, and when the turn came for Arran, declined to part with the custody of the king. A formidable force assembled to compel him, under Arran, Eglinton, Cassilis, and other nobles, at Linlithgow, where they were joined by the queen, the Earl of Moray, and the Bishop of Ross. Angus advanced with the king in his train to Linlithgow, and his opponents dreading a charge of treason declined to fight. Arran with the queen fled to Hamilton. The Earl of Moray and the northern contingent made terms, and returned with Angus to Edinburgh. On 12 June another parliament met, in which Angus, in the absence of his opponents, had his own way. The king had now reached his fourteenth year, and advantage was taken of this to declare null all offices granted in his name, and to assert that he was of age to exercise the royal authority. This put an end to the existing privy council, and a new one was nominated of Angus and his confederates, Argyll, Morton, Lennox, and Lord Maxwell, with the Archbishop of Glasgow and the bishops of Aberdeen and Galloway. Angus and the archbishop still retained the guardianship, and while, with a prudent policy, Arran, Lord Hume, and the Kers were gained by the abandonment of processes of treason, the chief offices of state were filled by the Douglases and their friends. Archibald of Kilspindie was made treasurer, Crichton, abbot of Holyrood, privy seal, Erskine of Halton secretary. Beaton was ordered to deliver up the great seal, and Angus became either in this or the next year chancellor in his room. Though these changes were carried through in the king's name, they were really against his will. He was guarded with great strictness, but succeeded in making a secret bond with Lennox, his favourite among the nobles, who from this time separated from Angus, to do nothing without his advice. The king was taken by Angus to the south to suppress the border thieves, but when at Melrose, Scott of Branxton appeared with two thousand men, and, asserting that he knew the king's mind better than Angus, made a daring attempt to carry him off. But Angus, supported by the Kers and Lord Hume, defeated him on 18 July. Lennox, who was with the king, sat still on his horse, it is related, as an indifferent spectator. He had probably been privy to the attempt, and he now withdrew from court and joined the queen and Beaton at Dunfermline, where further measures were concerted with the same object. In pursuance of these Lennox, with a small band of horse, came to the borough muir of Edinburgh in August, and sent eight horsemen with eight spare horses to the town for the king, but the arrival of the master of Kilmorris, who was sent with the news, was discovered. The king contrived Kilmorris's escape through the coining-house, but was unable to accompany him. James was now placed in stricter ward, under a guard headed by George Douglas of Pittendreoch and the abbot of Holyrood. Lennox, whose party was on the increase, assembled a force of upwards of ten thousand men, and advanced by Linlithgow towards Edinburgh. He was met at the ford of Manuel by Arran, who almost alone of the great nobles now sided with Angus, and before the engagement ended Angus himself came up. Though their numbers were little more than half those of their opponents, they won a complete victory. Lennox himself fell, lamented by the king, and even, it is said, by Arran his uncle. The king, who was in the rear, under the charge of George Douglas, showed signs of favouring the party of Lennox, when Douglas said to him, ‘Bide where you are, sir; for if they get hold of you, be it by one of your arms, we will seize hold of you and pull you in pieces rather than part with you.’ Angus at once advanced on Stirling, which surrendered. Beaton fled in the dress of a shepherd, and the queen was forced to submit to part with her favourite, Henry Stuart, as a condition of being allowed to remain at Stirling. On 20 Nov. she came to the opening of a new parliament. Angus and the king met her at Corstorphine, and conducted her to Holyrood, where she remained over the new year.
At this time Beaton, a subtle diplomatist, feeling he could not oppose Angus with success, made terms. This pacification was against the advice of some of his own kin and his English allies, who distrusted Beaton. Magnus, after relating it to Wolsey, reports his opinion of Angus, ‘He is gentill and hardy, but wanteth skill in conveyance of grete causes, unless the same be done by some other than by himself.’ The queen having insisted that Henry Stuart should be allowed to return to court, which was refused, went back to Stirling, and Beaton followed her. Angus was now free to make several expeditions to the remoter parts of the kingdom, with the view of asserting the law and restoring order. He seems always in these to have taken the king as a symbol of authority and the best means of keeping him under his own eye. We hear of them first in the north, where he put an end to a feud between the Leslies and the Forbes, and then, more than once, in 1527 and 1528 in Liddesdale and the borders, hunting the freebooters from their mountain lairs. On one occasion he hung fourteen and carried twelve as hostages besides those slain in the field. Extermination was the only remedy for this disease. On 11 March 1528 the queen at last obtained, through the help of Albany, a divorce from the Cardinal of Ancona, appointed judge by Clement VII. The decree does not state on what grounds it proceeded, probably because none could be stated. The assertion of Lesley that a prior divorce to which Angus consented had been granted by Beaton as archbishop of St. Andrews is extremely improbable. Though Angus seems to have been willing to make great concessions to the queen, there was one point on which he would never yield, the validity of their marriage. His infidelity if pleaded would have been met by recrimination, but it is forgotten that this was no ground of divorce by the canon law. His alleged pre-contract to a daughter of Lord Hume is not proved. He gave the strongest practical evidence that he never consented to a divorce by not marrying again till after the queen's death.
Towards the end of March or beginning of April the queen, who had been some time before secretly married to Henry Stuart, and was living with him at Stirling, was besieged by her son. She was compelled to surrender and ask pardon for her new husband on her knees. Lesley relates this as having occurred at Edinburgh, not Stirling, but it is difficult to believe the queen was there in possession of the castle of the capital, while she had always maintained a hold on Stirling as part of her dower lands. Nor does he mention the presence of Angus, but it seems almost certain that Angus and not James was the chief author of the siege; for within a few weeks James took refuge with his mother at Stirling, condoned her marriage by creating her new spouse Lord Methven, and actively engaged in asserting his own power by the proscription of Angus and the Douglases. From Stirling he wrote to Henry VIII that a projected expedition by him and Angus to the borders was put off, and that the dissatisfaction of part of the realm and the council with Angus was the cause. On 19 June a proclamation was issued in the king's name, with the advice of his brother, Beaton, and the Earls of Arran, Eglinton, Moray, and others, forbidding Angus or any Douglas to come within seven miles of the royal person, because ‘they had spoilt the realm for their own profit.’ The nobles were summoned to meet the king at Stirling on 29 June and accompany him to Edinburgh. On 9 July a proclamation was issued at Edinburgh forbidding any one to converse with Angus, his brother, or his uncle on pain of death. Dunbar, the king's tutor, and now archbishop of Glasgow, was appointed chancellor instead of Angus, and Lord Maxwell provost of Edinburgh in place of Douglas of Kilspindie. Angus was ordered by the council to live north of the Spey, and send his brother George and his uncle Kilspindie as hostages to Edinburgh. Instead of complying he fortified himself at Tantallon. At a meeting of parliament in September, Angus, his brother and uncle, and his kinsman, Alexander Drummond, were tried and forfeited for treason. They declined, though offered a safe-conduct, to appear, but Angus sent his secretary, Ballantyne, to protest against the trial. The lands of Angus and his adherents were divided among the chief nobles. Thus, with hardly any opposition, the young monarch accomplished a coup d'état which at last made him master of his kingdom. He was less successful in reducing the strongholds of Angus. Tantallon twice resisted a siege headed by the king in person, who at the second siege lost his artillery and the chief commander of that arm, David Falconer, by a surprise. Angus chivalrously returned the king most of the guns and the master of the artillery. Coldingham Priory, which had been taken in the interval between the two sieges, was recovered by Angus. For several months the conflict went on without decisive result, and hostilities were interrupted by more than one attempt at reconciliation. At last, on a renewal of the truce with England for five years, it was made a condition that Tantallon should be surrendered, but that Henry's receiving Angus in England should not be deemed a violation of the truce, and that if the forfeiture was remitted it was to be after submission, and at the request of Henry. Angus now returned, towards the end of May 1539, to Berwick, and though he went so far as to trust himself alone on a visit to James, and confirmed the surrender of Tantallon, the king would not carry out his part of the treaty, and Angus returned to England. Further efforts of Henry to procure his pardon were equally unavailing, for James demanded not only the removal of Angus from the borders, but also the restitution of Berwick. Henry treated this as a declaration of war. Angus was summoned to the English court, given a pension first of a thousand merks, afterwards 1,000l. a year, in return for which he took the oath of allegiance to Henry as supreme lord of Scotland, and promised the services of himself and his friends. Henry on his side engaged not to make peace unless Angus was restored. From 1529 till 1542 Angus lived in England, sometimes on the borders, when preparing for or engaged in raids upon Scotland, but for a longer period in or near London, where he was hospitably treated by Henry VIII. One interesting episode in his exile was the romantic fate of his daughter, Margaret Douglas [see Douglas, Lady Margaret]. Henry VIII was able to do nothing towards the restoration of Angus. He was too much engrossed with his own personal and political aims to press the war with Scotland. His object after the fall of Wolsey was to tempt his nephew to break with the church of Rome and become his ally in the struggle with the pope. Angus took part in several border raids between 1529 and August 1533, when a truce for a year was concluded. In May 1534 peace was made for the lives of the two sovereigns and one year longer. By a separate agreement Cawmills, a small fort in Berwick, which had been held by the Douglases in the English interest, was given up to the Scots, and Angus's residence in England was sanctioned. Henry after this renewed attempts to procure the restoration of Angus, and his efforts were backed by the French king. But James would listen to no petitioners however powerful on behalf of the Douglases. He had sworn that they should never return while he lived. The past history of the family justified his suspicion, but the conduct of Angus himself might perhaps have allowed an exception in his favour. Instead of mitigating, the Scotch king increased his severity to all that bore the hated name, or were in any way connected with it. The uncle of Angus, Archibald Douglas of Kilspindie [q. v.], was dismissed when he presented himself to the king. On 14 July the master of Forbes, husband of a sister of Angus, was tried, condemned, and executed for attempting the king's life with a culverin at Aberdeen, and also for aiding and abetting Angus. Three days later Lady Jane Glammis [q. v.], another sister of Angus, was burnt at the stake. James Hamilton, the bastard of Arran, was beheaded on a similar charge of conspiring with Angus. ‘Few escape,’ wrote Norfolk to Cromwell, ‘that may be known to be friends to the Earl of Angus or near kinsmen. They be daily taken and put in prison. It is said that such as have lands of any good value shall suffer at the next parliament, and such as have little shall refuse the name of Douglas, and be called Stuarts.’ In the parliament of December 1540 the forfeiture of Angus and his friends was sealed with the great seal and the seals of the three estates, because, as the record expressed it, ‘the manor of tratories suld remain to the schame and sclander of them that ar comyn of tham, and to the terrour of all uthers.’ The principal baronies of Angus were by the same parliament annexed to the crown. But the two chief enemies of Angus soon died. Queen Margaret died after a short illness at Methven. It was reported that on her deathbed she begged her confessor to beseech the king ‘that he wold be good and gracious to the Earl of Angus,’ and asked God's mercy that she had ‘afendit with the said earl as she had.’ Two years later James himself died, distracted with grief at the defeat of Solway Moss. He too was said when dying to have declared, ‘I shall bring him [Angus] home that shall take order with them all.’ But this story, which we owe to Calderwood, after Angus had redeemed his character for patriotism, is not to be implicitly credited.
The death of James led almost immediately to the return of Angus on terms which his brother George negotiated with the regent Arran and Cardinal Beaton. On 16 Jan. 1543 a proclamation was issued, restoring their estates to both brothers, and in March their forfeiture was rescinded by parliament. On his return Angus was made a privy councillor, and took an active part in the treaty of peace with England, as well as that for the marriage of the infant Mary Stuart to Edward, prince of Wales. On 9 April 1543 Angus himself married, for the third time, Margaret, daughter of Robert, lord Maxwell. Of this marriage he had more than one child. Their birth alienated his daughter, the Lady Margaret, who in the next year married Matthew, earl of Lennox, with the consent of his father and Henry VIII, on the condition of Lennox promising to be faithful to the English interest. Lady Lennox had counted upon inheriting her father's title and estates, but on the death of his own children, who all died young, he passed her by in an entail which settled them on his heirs male. The marriage of Lennox to the Lady Margaret had important political consequences. Lennox, bred in France, was summoned to Scotland by Mary of Guise, the queen-dowager, and Cardinal Beaton to support the French connection, but from this time he became the most devoted, indeed, with the exception of Glencairn, the only steadfast adherent of the English interest among the Scotch nobles. Angus and the Douglases played a part which, although it has found advocates, cannot be altogether defended. Their restoration was due to Henry VIII, and their original disposition, grounded upon sound policy, was to favour the English alliance; but when Henry VIII began to treat the Scottish nation as enemies, they gradually turned round and joined, at first doubtingly but in the end firmly, the patriotic side. In June 1543 Angus attended a general council of the nobles at Stirling, where Arran the regent was deposed in favour of the queen-dowager, and a privy council appointed of three earls, of whom he was one, three lords, three bishops, and three abbots. Shortly after Angus was appointed lieutenant-general. This change in the government did not last, indeed Arran never surrendered his authority. When Angus marched to the borders as if to oppose the English, he did nothing effectual, and was distrusted by the Scots borderers as still in the English interest. On 9 Sept. the infant Mary Stuart was crowned by Cardinal Beaton at Stirling, and in November the queen-dowager held a parliament at that town, while Arran held another in Edinburgh. Cardinal Beaton succeeded in reconciling the queen and the regent. Angus continued to oppose Arran, and entered into a bond for mutual aid with his kin and friends at Douglas. The regent now took up arms against the Douglases. He issued a warrant commanding Angus to send away Sadler, the English envoy, who was then at Tantallon, but was saved from expulsion by his recall. Angus also prepared for war. In January 1544 he took possession of Leith, while his brother George lay at Musselburgh threatening the capital with a considerable force, but George was driven off by the Earl of Bothwell, and Angus was forced to submit. At a conference at Greenside Chapel, near Edinburgh, it was agreed that Angus should assist the regent against the English, and give sureties for his conduct. Notwithstanding, Angus wrote shortly after this to Henry VIII assuring him he was still faithful to his interests, and begging for an army. In April Arran reduced Glasgow, which had been fortified by Lennox, and Angus having gone thither to intercede for his brother George, whose life as one of the hostages was in danger, was seized and sent as a prisoner first to Hamilton and afterwards to Blackness Castle. He was released on the approach of Hertford's first expedition in spring along with his brother and Lord Maxwell on a promise to raise them followers against the English. The savageness of this expedition, which burnt Leith and part of Edinburgh, and on its return wasted the coast of Fife and the Lothians, Merse, and Teviotdale, not excepting the lands of Angus, which Henry VIII is said to have specially desired to be laid waste, was the turning-point in the shifting conduct of Angus. He now embraced heartily the patriotic cause, and on 13 July 1544 was appointed lieutenant of Scotland south of the Forth. In this capacity he proved himself a valiant commander, more than once inciting by his example and stirring up by his words the faint-hearted regent. When besieging Coldingham Priory, Arran, alarmed at the approach of an English army, was ready to abandon his siege guns. Angus saved them at great personal risk, declaring that his honour and life should go together. When Arran hesitated to revenge the incursion of Sir Ralph Evers and Sir Bryan Latoun in the Merse, complaining of want of support from the nobles, Angus told him it was his own fault, and exhorted him to wipe out the accusation of cowardice as he himself would that of treachery, not by words but by deeds. This was not a mere boast, and when the English knights, after desecrating Melrose Abbey, came with their forces to Ancrum Moor they were met and signally defeated by the regent. The honours of the field were by all awarded to Angus. He had commenced the battle gaily by wishing he had his goshawk on his wrist when a heron flew across the field. After the victory it was reported that Henry reproached him for deserting his benefactor, when he exclaimed, ‘What! is our brother-in-law offended because I am a good Scottish man, because I have revenged the defacing of the limbs of my ancestors at Melrose upon Ralph Evers? Little knows King Henry the skirts of Kirnstable [a mountain in Douglasdale]. I can keep myself there from all his English host.’
Francis I sent him in acknowledgment of his bravery the order of St. Michael, a gold collar, and four thousand crowns. At a parliament held in Stirling in the following June, Angus and his brother, along with other nobles, signed a bond pledging themselves to invade England. A raid was made across the border in July, but without any important action. Strange as it may seem, Angus and the Douglases were still corresponding with Henry VIII, assuring him of their desire for the marriage of Mary to Edward and for peace; but as little heed was given to their assurances as they deserved. Angus, now an active member of the Scottish privy council, signed in 1546 the act of parliament which dissolved the treaty of peace and marriage with England. It does not appear that he took any part in the religious conflict, the prelude of the Scottish reformation. Perhaps residence in England may have inclined him towards the reformers' side, but he did not attempt to protect them. On the other hand, he had no love for the Scottish hierarchy. Beaton had never been his friend, and he probably regarded his assassination with equanimity, obtaining one of his benefices, the rich abbey of Arbroath, for his natural son George, usually called the Postulant.
After the death of Henry VIII the protector Somerset renewed the Scotch war with a larger force, and Angus commanded the van in the battle of Pinkie on 10 Sept. 1547, when the Scotch suffered a defeat almost as signal as at Flodden. The only exception to the general discomfiture was due to Angus, whose pikemen, forming in line at the beginning of the engagement, drove back the English horse; but the archers broke his ranks while executing a flank movement, and the regent and his troops, who were in the centre of the Scottish army, were seized with panic. Angus complained bitterly that he had not been supported by them. Their flight lost the day; but Somerset did not follow up his victory, and Angus escaped to Calder. Next year he made some amends for the loss of Pinkie by defeating Lord Wharton, who had invaded the western marches, and driving him back to Carlisle. In June he was present at the parliament which agreed to the marriage of Mary Stuart with the dauphin, and sanctioned her being sent to France. In the desultory warfare, which continued till the peace of 1550, Angus took no prominent part, though he is mentioned in a French despatch as engaging in a skirmish on 13 Dec. 1548 at the head of fifty lancers and two hundred light horse against Luttrel, the English captain of Broughty Castle. On the accession of the queen dowager to the regency, which Arran reluctantly yielded in 1554, Angus obtained a writing under the hand both of the queen dowager and the young queen that her general revocation was not to affect the re-grant of his estates on his return from England in 1547. With the new regent he was not on good terms. He joined the barons in remonstrating against the proposal to impose a tax for the payment of mercenaries. When he came to Edinburgh to attend the council in 1554, he was accompanied by a band of a thousand men, though such retinues had been expressly prohibited. On the keeper of the gate requesting him to check his disorderly followers, his reply was a jest: ‘I must put up with much more myself from the Douglas lads who enter my bedchamber, whether I will or no,’ while as he passed his men he muttered the significant hint, ‘Sharp whingers are good in a crowd.’ Mary of Guise having reproached him with coming in armour, he said, with the same mixture of jest and earnest, ‘It's only my old dad Lord Drummond's coat, a very kindly coat to me; I cannot part with it.’ When ordered to place himself in ward in the castle, he came, but still attended by his followers. The constable remonstrated, saying his orders were to receive only three or four attendants, and Angus replied, ‘So I told my lads, but they would not go home to my wife Meg without me.’ He accordingly rode off home with them to Douglas, taking a protest that he had presented himself according to order at the castle.
On the way home he remarked, ‘The Douglas lads are nice lads; they think it is good to be “loose and lievand”’ (i.e. free and living), which became a proverb on the borders. With the same humour, when the queen dowager proposed to create Huntly a duke, Angus told her, ‘If he is to be a duke [duck], I will be a drake;’ and when she urged that he should give her the custody of Tantallon he vouchsafed no reply, but, speaking to the hawk he was feeding, said, ‘Confound the greedy gled, she can never have enough.’ The queen refusing to understand, and still pressing her request, he burst out at last, ‘Yes, madam, why not? All is yours now. But I will be captain of it, and shall keep it for you as well as any man you can put in it.’
He survived till the middle of January 1557, when he died at Tantallon, and was buried at Abernethy. On his deathbed, Hume of Godscroft relates, one of his servants said: ‘My lord, I thought to have seen you die leading the van with many fighting under your standard,’ to which the earl replied by kissing the crucifix and saying, ‘Lo, here is the standard under which I shall die.’ The character of Angus has been very differently drawn by English and Scottish historians, and among the latter by adversaries and partisans of the house of Douglas. These describe him as treacherous and ambitious, intent, like his predecessors, on maintaining the interest of his family, which he preferred to his country. Those praise his courtesy, good temper, bravery, and patriotism. When the narrative of his life is impartially followed, what is most conspicuous is that his talents were improved by experience, and that his character was strengthened by adversity. The young and handsome courtier, who showed little capacity for business and timidity, if not lack of courage, in action, acquired skill in the management of men and affairs, and became an able and brave commander. By nature mild, he learnt the art of pointed speech, yet retained the power of keeping and making friends. A turn of dry humour, derived from his grandfather ‘Bell-the-Cat,’ came out prominently in old age. He was conscious of some of his defects, and in passing the tomb of James, the seventh earl, at Douglas, was wont to say, ‘Shame for thee, we took all our fairness [of complexion] and feebleness from thee.’ But he had inherited also qualities of his more vigorous ancestors, their courage and adroitness. It is not possible to deny that he played a double part towards Henry VIII, and did not decide to aid his countrymen until their cause was gaining, but his conduct when he became a patriot did much to restore the popularity his house had lost. It required rare ability and wisdom to preserve the fortunes, and indeed the life, of a leading noble in the age of Henry VIII and James V; and Angus stands, not indeed in the first, but high in the second rank of the men of his time and country.[Besides the family histories, which became more trustworthy in the life of this earl, Godscroft for characteristic anecdotes, Sir W. Fraser for documents, the contemporary histories of England and Scotland throw much light on the life of Angus. Of modern historians, Miss Strickland's Lives of Mary Tudor and Lady Margaret Douglas, and Brewer's Henry VIII are specially valuable.]