James IV. (1488-1513), King of Scotland, Updated, pp.214-238.


PRINCE James, about the 16th year of his age, his father being killed, as formerly [shown], was solemnly crowned at Kelso or Calcow abbey, in [the year] 1488.

Immediately after the King’s coronation, this same year, a conspiracy of some malcontents bursts forth against the King’s person; the ring leaders whereof [were] the Earl of Lennox [Matthew Stewart] and [Robert] Lord Lyle, who betook them to arms, but were overthrown in a conflict, near Touch, in Stirlingshire; many being killed, and many of such that were taken prisoners, were presently hanged; amongst which was the Laird of Culcreuch, chief of the Galbraiths.

The King calls a parliament, this same year, at Edinburgh, the 6th of October, wherein the King pardons all [those] that partied [with] his father, and grants the wards to the minors of [those] that were killed at that unhappy battle of Bannockburn; as also his general revocation, bearing date at Scone, this same year, is by the 3 estates ratified and confirmed; that new gold be coined of the fines of the Ross noble, and that silver be coined of the fines of the old English groat; as also, that whatsoever clerk purchases any benefice at the Court of Rome, the presentation whereof belongs to the King, commits [treason] against the King’s person, and that proscription, rebellion and treason, be executed upon them.



In the beginning of this year, 1489, the King calls a parliament of his estates at Perth, wherein, by an act, the slaughter of the King’s father, King James III., is laid on himself and his civil counsellors, and the present King and his adherents liberated of the same; of which particular act all foreign princes, allies of this crown, by ambassadors are advertised of, namely, the Pope, Emperor, Kings of France, Spain and Denmark, for clearing the aspersion fame had blundered both King and kingdom with, of patricide and killing of their King.

In this same parliament of the 15th of February, likewise, it was enacted, that the King and his counsel, by his authority, should make all persons and parties within his realm, to be at friendship and concord; [about] new money to be coined, and the price of the ounce of the same, diverse statutes were enacted; as also, that the free tenants that hold of [James Stewart] the Prince, Duke of Rothesay, and Steward of Scotland, shall be [held] to [appear] in the parliament and justice aires, with their suites and presences, aye, and while the King [has] a son that should be immediately between the King and them, to answer for them in the said parliament; and likewise it was statute, that the King’s majesty, once a year, (health serving) should visit each part of his realm; and all noblemen, and others bearing public office, gave a solemn oath, each of them, to administer justice duly within his own jurisdiction, see the King’s peace kept, and malefactors put to trial and execution.

Immediately after the parliament, this same year, the King, by his proclamation, recalls all pensions given to whatsoever person by his father, to the diminution of his revenue.

The King, this same year, likewise, takes especial care for the good education of his two young brothers, Alexander, Duke of Ross, and John, Earl of Mar, and that the [surplus] of their revenue might yearly [increase] to them; for their father, before his death, had endowed with rich patrimonies.



In the beginning of this year, 1490, King James, by advice of his counsel, sends diverse noblemen [as] ambassadors to France, Spain and Denmark, for [the] renewing [of] the ancient leagues and alliances between these crowns and this. The Archbishop of Glasgow [Robert Blackadder] was sent to France; [Adam Hepburn] the Earl of Bothwell to Spain; and Sir James Ogilvie of Airlie, knight, to Denmark; who did so bravely carry himself there, and with such dexterity and wisdom performed his business, to the King’s high contentment; so that for his good service, at his return, he was created Lord Ogilvie.



This year the King, in the beginning of May, 1491, makes choice of a select number of the nobility and gentry to be of his privy council, and did solemnly promise to do nothing in the government without their counsel and advice.

A great controversy arose in June this year, between the Archbishops of St. Andrews [William Scheves] and Glasgow [Robert Blackadder], [about] the [authority] and exercise of their functions, which made a great rent; each of them drawing a great many of the nobility to party [with] them: but the King wisely did repress their insolency, and commanded them, under the pain of treason, to submit all their controversies to the decision of the canon law; so was the business between these ambitious prelates, for this time, packed up.

This same year the King calls a parliament at Edinburgh, the 18th day of May; the first act of which was, the confirmation of the alliance and confederation with France, concluded in the former year; with diverse other acts and statutes of less consequence, being for administration of justice especially.



The King all this year, 1492, busies himself, nobility, gentry, and commons, for rigging out of ships and bushes to fish, (which proved a great good to this common wealth;) the King himself, and most of the nobility, to encourage others, became themselves adventurers. So that all this King’s reign, and his son’s likewise, the fishing so increased, that by that piece of industry, accompanied with peace, the stock of the kingdom  was tripled, and all degrees of people [greatly] enriched; till the cormorant [Dutch], learning from us in the reign of Queen Mary to feed on our bread, [has] so dexterously handled the business, and grown to such perfection in this trade, that now-a-days, by this only means, they [have] become mighty, rich, and opulent, yea formidable to the whole world, and no good neighbour to Scotland, [where] they first had the sinews of all their greatness.



This year, 1493, the King calls a parliament, to be [held] at Edinburgh, the 26th day of June, wherein, amongst other [wholesome] laws, the eldest sons of barons and gentlemen are, under a great penalty, ordained to study the laws of the land.



This year, Pope Alexander VI, sent his Legate, Formaules, to Scotland, who arrived at Edinburgh [on the] 6th of June, 1494, to comfort the King, who [had] become very melancholy and pensive, in that he had countenanced [those who] had killed his father. But the nuncio, by the power given [to] him by the Pope, [instructed] him [in] a penance, which was to wear a chain of iron about his middle all the days of his life, which he did; and by his apostolic power absolved him.



This year, 1495, King James IV., makes his progress through all the north parts of Scotland; and without respect of persons, executes justice on all offenders, to the great quiet of the realm, and ease of the subject[s]; he causes [the] re-edifi[cation of] such ruins as war had formerly made in [burghs], and his own castles; which he caused to be well furnished with all necessary provisions and ammunition for defence.



In the beginning of this year, 1496, the French King, Louis XII., seeing the English ready to [make] war [against] him, by his ambassadors [appeals] to King James for aid, and discovers to him a (notable piece of apocrypha,) called [Richard], Duke of York, the son of King Edward IV., who now is said to have escaped the butcheries of King Richard III. This masked comedian proved a notable counterfeit, and wrought much trouble to King Henry VII. He was forged, and so set out on the public stage, by Margaret [of York], Duchess of Burgundy, sister to King Edward IV., a subtle and politic woman; and so is this mushroom Duke of York sent by Louis, the French King, to Scotland; he craves aid against King Henry VII., and calls him an usurper, a traitor and intruder.



This year, 1497, the counterfeit Duke of York, Richard, is married to [George Gordon] the Earl of Huntly’s daughter [Catherine], and gets a good army of Scots for his aid; they invade the English border.

King Henry prepares a great army to invade Scotland, this year, under the command of the Earls of Surrey and Northumberland, but no blood was spilt one either side. Ferdinand [II.], King of Spain, by his ambassador, Don [Pedro de Ayala], mediates a peace between the Scottish and English Kings; and how soon he found the Scots King’s pulse, with possible diligence he advertises King Henry to [hurry] an ambassador of his own to the Scottish King, who might really enter in[to] a treaty on some solid grounds.



In the beginning of this year, 1498, King Henry VII., of England sent Richard Foxe, Bishop of [Durham], to join with the Spanish ambassador, instructed with very ample commission to treat of peace, and in his name to conclude it. They were met by the Scots commissioners at Melrose abbey, on the border. Their first demand is, that the counterfeit Duke of York, by them named Perkin Warbeck, that had so troubled the quiet of England, should be delivered in[to] King Henry’s hands; which King James [altogether] refuses to do such an act, so dishonourable and prejudicial to his honour: always, by the wisdom of Foxe, the peace is concluded; and the King promises fairly to dismiss him, and hereafter hold him for what indeed he was. At last, this year, he departed Scotland to Flanders, (which was his sanctuary) there to be better instructed by Margaret, the Duchess of Burgundy, and learn how to act [out] the next scheme; from whence she sends him over to Wales, to try their credulity; but finding the Welsh faith like their leeks and toasted cheese, by them he is delivered to be a sacrifice in King Henry’s hands; who, after he had exposed him to pubic scorn, being led with a halter about his neck, and a paper hat on his head, through London, he was at last condemned to turn the spits in King Henry’s kitchen.

The Lady Catherine Gordon, who was married to Richard, the counterfeit Duke of York, was, after her husband’s apprehension and disgrace, sent by King Henry to his Queen; who, for her excellent beauty, much esteemed her, and for her birth honoured her. She was, by the Queen and court, named the White Rose. She lived in England all her days, well and plentifully, by the munificence of King Henry and his Queen.



This year, 1499, some broils did arise in the borders between the Scots and English, [about] the siege formerly laid to Norham castle; but by the wisdom of Richard, Bishop of [Durham], who [wrote] to King James, and showed the castle was his, and what wrong was done to any of his subjects, it should be repaired at his majesties own [settlement]; desiring the King not to esteem any thing was done a breach of peace, or by the knowledge or approbation of King Henry, but only a foolish insolence of the [mercenary] soldiers which quartered on the border.



In the latter end of February, this year, King James comes to Melrose abbey; and with 8 days thereafter, there comes likewise Richard, Bishop of [Durham], in [the year] 1500, between whom all business [was] amicably composed; and at the Bishop’s departure, King James whispers him softly in the ear, that the only way to England to have a perpetual and lasting peace with Scotland, was to move King Henry to give his eldest daughter, the Lady Margaret, to him in marriage. The wise prelate desires the King to keep himself close, and he would with all speed try King Henry’s mind; which with all convenient diligence he did. Finding King Henry to relish that motion extremely well, directs a privy post to King James, and entreats him without any delay, to [hurry] his ambassadors to King Henry, for the iron was hot, and best it was to strike the same.



King James, advertised by the Bishop’s secret posts, sends Robert Blackadder, Archbishop of Glasgow, and Adam Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, Lord Hailes, his ambassadors to England, to treat of the marriage between him and the Lady Margaret, eldest daughter to King Henry VII.; and to that effect, a safe conduct, under the broad seal of England, is presently sent to the Wardens of the Borders, to be delivered to the Scottish ambassadors, in August, 1501.



The 25th day of January this year, 1502, King James’ ambassadors finish the treaty of marriage, and solemnly marry the Lady Margaret of England, as the King’s procurators, in Paul’s church of London, which thereafter was solemnly published, with great joy and triumph at Paul’s cross this same day, to the great joy and contentment of King Henry and the Lady his daughter.



The King calls a parliament to meet at Edinburgh, the 11th day of March this year, 1503; wherein it is ordained, that there should be a daily council or judicature, to sit at Edinburgh, to decide civil matters and complaints, and shall have the same power as the Lords of Session. That justices and sheriffs be made for the Isles. That Duart, Glentower, and the lordship of Lorne, answer and underlay the law at the justice aire of Perth; Mamore, Lochaber come to the aire of Inverness; and Argyll (when the King pleases) shall answer at the justice aire of Perth; and that that part of Cowal that is not within the bounds nor lordship of Argyll, and all the inhabitants thereof, come to the aire of Dumbarton; as also that the aire of Bute, Arran, Knapdale, Kintyre, and [Great] Cumbrae, be [held] at the burgh of Ayr or Rothesay, and the inhabitants thereof come there at the King’s pleasure.

It was also statute in this parliament, that sheriffs be made in Ross and Caithness for [the] administration of justice; that yearly musters be kept in each burgh and shire; that all the King’s [subjects] be [ruled] by his laws; that all officers within [the] burgh[s] be changed yearly; that Scottish merchants pursue one another beyond [the] sea before any judge but the conservator, and that the said conservator come home yearly, or send a procurator; that all measures and weights be of one quantity; and to conclude this parliament, the King solemnly revokes all done by him in parliament, council, or otherwise in prejudice of the church or crown.

Queen Margaret is conveyed by the Earls of Surrey and Northumberland, then Wardens of the English Marches, attended by many of the English nobility and ladies to Berwick, and from [there] to Lambert church, in Lammermuir, where the King met her, and received her with great joy from the two Earls. From [there] they went the first night to Dalkeith, and next to Edinburgh, where, with great triumph, the marriage was solemnly accomplished; and the Scottish and English nobility feasted together, with mutual shows of love and amity, for the space of 14 days. From the first proposition of this marriage, to the now accomplishment thereof, [was] almost 3 whole years.



These marriage triumphs ended, the most part of the English lords, ladies, and knights, returned home, with great commendation of their royal and magnificent usage and entertainment in Scotland; King James suffering none of them to depart without some token of his favour and love. This happy marriage brought with it a continual peace between Scotland and England all King Henry VII.’s days.



That act called the Act of Recognition, bred a great [stir] and hatred this year, 1505, in the hearts of all sorts of people against the King; which he wisely perceiving, made the execution of the same to cease and take no effect during the remainder of his reign. But the conceived fury and spleen was vented against these councillors quo had advised the King to the making and executing so unjust and rigid a law, as these times named it.



This year, 1506, the King in person holds justice courts in diverse parts of the kingdom; wherein, to the great joy and contentment of his people, he shows many acts of a prudent King and a wise justiciar, without partiality: among which, the Laird of Thornton, for murdering his wife, had his head struck from his body, by the stroke of an axe, at Edinburgh cross.

This year, also, the King builds a great ship [the Lion], and Andrew Barton is made captain of her, and employed against the Flemish pirates, that had spoiled many Scottish merchants; against whom he so prevailed, that he not only made the coasts clear of them, but sent the King 3 barrels full of their heads.

The 10th of August this same year, a fearful comet appeared in Scotland. Its course was observed to be from the north to the south, with a swift and violent motion.

Sir Anthony Darcy (thereafter named monsieur de la Beauté) came this year from France, through England, to Scotland, to try his valour in arms, whereof he much boasted of. Between him and [James] the Lord Hamilton, (a most gallant man at arms as any these times had,) were diverse notable [engagements], without any certain victory to either; only the Lord Hamilton, one day, at Falkland, was judged to have the honour; which La Beauté did impute to his own indisposition of body that day.



The 21st of February, 1507, the Queen is brought to bed of a son, who was christened James. The [godfathers] were Robert [Blackadder], Archbishop of Glasgow, and [Adam Hepburn], Earl of Bothwell, Lord Hailes; and the Countess of Huntly [Jean Stewart] was godmother to this young Prince.

The Queen, after her delivery, was dangerously sick; and the King, for her recovery, went this year in pilgrimage, on his foot, to St. Ninians, in Galloway: and she being recovered, both King and Queen went there in July, on pilgrimage, this same year.

Pope Julius II. sends his Legate to Scotland, this year, with a hallowed sword and cape to the King, and a bull of the title, Defender of the Faith.

This same year, likewise, the King goes in pilgrimage to St. Duthus, in Ross; such a hold had superstition got over him.

In September this year, also, the Archbishop of St. Andrews [Alexander Stewart], and the Earl of Arran [James Hamilton], were sent [as] ambassadors to France.

This year the King makes [Giovanni Damiano de Falcucci] an Italian [charlatan], a professed buffon and alchemist, Abbot of Tongland. Lesley, in his History, does record some of his cheatings and tricks.



This year, 1508, Prince James, the King’s only son, dies, the 27th day of February; and after him [George Vaus] the holy Bishop of Galloway, his tutor and governor.

This year, [Robert] Cockburn, Bishop of Ross, and Monsieur de la Beauté, [came] this year to Scotland, from France.

This year, also, Bernard Stewart, [Lord of Aubigny] Viceroy of Naples, and the President of Toulouse, come [as] ambassadors from Louis [XII.] the French King. The sum of their embassy was, to consult with King James, as with one of the chief allies of the French crown, whether or not he should marry his daughter [to] Francis of Valois, the Dauphin of Vienna, Duke of Angoulême, or [to] Charles, King of Castile; but in the month of June, this same year, the Lord Bernard Stewart, one of the French King’s ambassadors, departed this life at Corstorphine, near Edinburgh, in his return from Stirling to France. He command[ed], on his death bed, [the] embalm[ing of] his heart after his death, and [to] send it to St. Ninians, in Galloway, in performance of a vow which he had made while he was Viceroy of Naples.

This year, the King, in May, sends the Archdea[co]n of St. Andrews [Gavin Dunbar], and Sir Anthony Darcy, his ambassadors, to  France.

This year, likewise, the Bishop of Moray [Andrew Forman] is sent ambassador to England for renewing of the peace and league between the kingdoms, which had begun to stagger, and wear weak; which he ratified and assured to the great contentment of both Kings.

The 15th day of July, this year, the Queen was brought to bed of a daughter, which died immediately after she was christened.

About this time, Robert Blackadder, that wise, learned, and religious Bishop of Glasgow, departs this life, which stopped his vowed pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

This year, at Dumfries, there was a great fight between the Lords Maxwell [John] and Sanquhar [Robert Crichton], and their friends and followers; wherein the Lord Sanquhar was overthrown, and many of his friends killed.

The 10th of September, this same year, a dreadful earthquake in Scotland and England, which lasted the 10th part of an hour, to the great terror and astonishment of all the inhabitants.

About this time, King Henry VII., of England, sends goodly horses, with very rich [harness coverings] and saddles, to his son-in-law, King James, and his daughter; with many other rich [items] and gifts.

The Archdea[co]n of St. Andrews, who was ambassador in France, [on] his return home, suffers [a] shipwreck on the coast of England; he was detained there, but [as] soon [as] King Henry heard of it, he was sent home.

The 17th day of October, this year, Adam Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, Lord Hailes, departs this life at Edinburgh; and to him succeeded, in the earldom, his son Patrick.



The 22nd day of April, 1509, dies King Henry VII., at Richmond; to him succeeded his son, Henry VIII.: to congratulate the beginning of whose reign, King James sends a solemn embassy.

John and Andrew Bartons, this year, had letters of [redress] given [to] them by the King against the Portuguese, for spoiling their father and diverse other merchants, his partners, of their ships and goods; takes [from] many of them [seizures].

The 8th of May, this year, a parliament [held] at Edinburgh, wherein the King and his estates grant the ward and marriage of [those who] die in the army to their heirs.

This year in the garden of Craigmillar castle, in Lothian, there [were] two scorpions found, one of them dead, and the other alive.

In Scotland, this same year, there raged an epidemic sickness, that killed only brave and able men; this the commons (being untouched themselves) named it [Stoop] Gallant.

This year, the King entertained one Robert Borthwick [Master Gunner], who founded and cast many pieces of brass ordnance of all sizes, in Edinburgh castle, all of them having this inscription:

Scottish machine built by Robert Borthwick.

The 20th of October, this same year, the Queen was brought to bed of a son, christened Arthur; about which time the French King sends in a [gift] to King James, two goodly ships full of all kinds of ammunition for war.



This year, 1510, the Archbishopric of St. Andrews being vacant, is by the King given to his [bastard] son, Alexander Stewart, who then was a student in the Netherlands, with [Desiderius] Erasmus of Rotterdam.

The Laird of Fast Castle [Alexander Home], a great traveller, returns home this year, being in great credit with Sultan [Selim I.], Emperor of the Turks, and one who attended his person at the battle of Cairo. Eight nearest [in succession] to the house being all dead since his departure, the inheritance fell to him as nearest of blood, whereof he being advertised, [chose] to leave all the pleasures of the east, and return home to live and die a good christian. At his departure from the tyrant [Selim], he received many rich rewards; so that he returned home with great riches, more than triple the heritage he succeeded to.

This same year, also, the King’s eldest son, Prince Arthur, departs this life, [on] the 14th day of July, at Edinburgh castle, and was interred at Holyroodhouse.



The King, this year, 1511, applies himself wholly to the suppressing of rebels, and the administration of justice on robbers, outlaws, and such like.

Andrew Barton, this year, in his return home from taking order with the Portuguese, is overthrown and spoiled in the road of Downs, by the admiral of England; being betrayed under the colour of amity and friendship, notwithstanding of the peace between the kingdoms.


This year, 1512, King Henry VIII., of England, denounces war to the French King; and the King of France, by his ambassador, sues for aid at King James’ hands.

This year, a general synod was held in the abbey of the Dominicans, at Edinburgh, of all the bishops, priors, and abbots of the kingdom. Of this synod, the Pope’s Legate, [(Benemundus de Vicei) Bagimont], was president. In this synod, all ecclesiastical benefices, exceeding 40 [pounds] per [year], were taxed in the payment, of 10 [pounds] to the Pope, in name of pension; and to the King such a tax as he should be constrained to impose. Of all the ecclesiastical benefices of Scotland, there was a roll at this time made, to this day called [Bagimont’s] Roll.

Andrew Forman, Bishop of Moray, arrives this year from Rome, with the recommendatory letters of diverse princes to the King.

The 5th day of April, this same year, the Queen is brought to bed of a son, christened James, who, after his father’s death, was King of Scotland.

The 5th day of May, this same year, the Lord Dacre [Thomas Fiennes], and Doctor [Hugh] Weston, ambassadors from King Henry VIII., came to Scotland and deceived the King with false flourishes of [the] repairing of damages.

The Lord de la Motte arrives in Scotland this year, ambassador from the French King, inviting the King to invade England; and in his voyage here, he sinks 3 English ships, and takes 7, and brings them to Leith.

James Ogilvie, Abbot of Dryburgh, comes from France, with earnest letters to solicit the King to war against the English.

Robert Barton, this year, brings to Leith 13 English [seizures], some whereof were laden with rich commodities.

The Laird of Drumwich [Thomas Dinwoodie], this year, [was] killed at Edinburgh by the Jardines, who escaped by taking sanctuary at the Abbey of Holyroodhouse.

The 29th of November, this same year, the ancient league and amity renewed and confirmed between the crowns of Scotland and France; at which time, the Lord ambassador de la Motte, from his master the French King, presents King James with a great ship of 35 pieces of ordnance, laden with wine and ammunition of all sorts, for war.

This same year, likewise, King James sends [the] Unicorn Pursuivant to France, and a Herald to England, who returned from the English King without audience, or delivery of his message.



The year 1513, King James sends a navy of 47 ships to the French King’s aid, against the English; whereof James Gordon, son to the Earl of Huntly, was made admiral.

King James, this year, sends Lyon King of Arms into France, to King Henry VIII., then besieging Tournai, with letters, and a solemn message, either to desist from troubling and molesting his allies of France and Guelders, and to repair such wrongs his subjects had sustained by the English on the seas and borders, otherwise to denounce war to King Henry. [The Lord] Lyon gets audience of the English King, and his answer, and is dismissed; and from Tournai goes to Flanders, to seek passage home: but [before] he could come by it and return, the battle of Flodden was fought, and the King killed.

The Earl of Surrey, declared general against the Scots, with all possible diligence levies an army; King James commands the Lord Home, his Chamberlain and Warden of the Borders, to arm and stand to the defence of the borders, which he does. The borders break loose, and the war begins.

King James levies a strong army, and on [the] 22nd of August, this same year, marches to the border, lays siege to Norham castle, and takes it; staying some 18 days in England, using all acts of hostility there, sparing none save the Lady [Heron], with whom it was rumoured he was too familiar; against the will of all his nobility, and most of the army, provokes the Earl of Surrey to battle, and appoints him a day, and sends a Herald to Surrey with a letter, wherein he purges himself from breach of faith in keeping the peace, and accuses his master King Henry. Both armies meet at Flodden hill, the 9th day of September, where the Scots lose the field, and the King is killed, in the 39th year of his age, and 25th complete of his reign, in [the year] 1513.

In this battle of Flodden hill, although the English had the victory, yet had they no great reason to want of it, in respect of the great slaughter of their men; which made Scotland have a peaceable winter. It was no [marvel] the Scots had the loss, for of 48,000 men, not above 12,000 stayed with the King; but all of them went home 4 or 5 days before the battle, and would not stay, because the King would not follow the counsel and advice of his nobility and best captains, but scorned and mocked them with idle reproaches, which was his ruin.

27 thoughts on “James IV. (1488-1513), King of Scotland, Updated, pp.214-238.

    1. I find it an ironic end, as we’re told previously, “This year the King, in the beginning of May, 1491, makes choice of a select number of the nobility and gentry to be of his privy council, and did solemnly promise to do nothing in the government without their counsel and advice.” Yet it was on going against this promise that got him killed.

      Folk have the option of ignoring the updated text entirely if they choose 😉☺️

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