Chapter XI; James IV., 1488-1513, 25 Years, pp.86-96.

[History of Scotland Contents]

Accession of James IV.,                                                   1488 
Aberdeen University founded,                                      1494 
Perkin Warbeck comes to Scotland,                              1495 
The king marries Margaret, daughter of Henry VII.,  1502 
Printing introduced into Scotland,                                1505 
Lord Howard defeats Sir Andrew Barton,                     1512 
Battle of Flodden,                                                              1513

    1.  For some time after the battle of Sauchieburn it was not known what had become of James III. It was supposed that he had taken refuge with Sir Andrew Wood, a brave sea captain, whose ships were in the Forth; but, on inquiry, this was found not to be the case. The king’s body, however, was afterwards found and interred with royal honours in the Abbey of Cambuskenneth. 

    2.  The confederate barons used their victory with moderation. The great offices of state were transferred to the leaders, but a general amnesty was passed forgiving those that had taken arms against “the king that now is.” Ramsay, the one favourite whose life had been spared at Lander Bridge, and who had risen to be Earl of Bothwell, was charged with having gone on three separate embassies to treat with the King of England, for an attempt on the liberties of Scotland. For this, an act of forfeiture was passed against him, and he was stripped of his lands and power. 

    3.  James IV., was crowned at Scone on the 26th of June, 1488, after which he proceeded to the palace of Stirling, where he took up his residence. 

    4.  There was for a time great dissatisfaction among the people, because nothing had been done to discover and punish the murderer or murderers of the late king. The king himself had fits of remorse for the part he had been forced to take in the rebellion against his father, and as a sort of penance he is said to have worn a belt of iron, the weight of which he increased by adding a link to it every year. In 1489 the Earl of Lennox raised a force in the west to avenge the death of James III., and were easily put down. In 1491 the Estates, to satisfy public feeling, offered a reward of 1000 merks’ worth of land to anyone who should reveal “the committers of the deed with their hands.” This cautious language was doubtless used, lest the act of the Estates might come to be employed against those who had fought against the king. “The committers of the deed with their hands,” however, were never found. 

    5.  There was much dissatisfaction with a practice, that had long prevailed, of churchmen going to Rome and purchasing benefices at the papal court, and also of their taking disputes to be settled there, which should have been settled in the Scottish courts of law. The Archbishop of St. Andrews did not co-operate with the civil power in trying to get these abuses remedied. To counteract his influence, King James, after many entreaties, induced the pope in 1492 to make Glasgow Cathedral a metropolitan church, and its bishop, Blackadder, an archbishop. The rival archbishops at once began a clerical war against each other so bitter that the Estates in 1493 passed a statute for the purpose of putting them both to silence. In 1494, Blackadder, the new archbishop, sent up thirty persons from Kyle in Ayrshire, convicted of Lollardism, to be punished by the civil power. The civil power, however, does not seem to have seconded the persecuting zeal of the archbishop, for it is not recorded that the thirty heretics were punished. 

    6.  It is pleasant to turn from the bitter feuds and persecuting zeal of the archbishops to notice the exertions made by Elphinstone, Bishop of Aberdeen, to erect and establish a college in that city. He procured a papal bull for the foundation of King’s College in 1494, and completed the buildings in 1500. Encouragement was also given to education by the government, for in 1496 the Parliament passed an act requiring all barons and freeholders, under a penalty of twenty pounds, to send their sons at the age of nine to schools,  where they were to be taught Latin, and afterwards to remain three years at the schools of “Art and Jury.” 

    7.  In 1495 there came to Scotland a person called Perkin Warbeck, who pretended that he was Richard, Duke of York, one of the sons of Edward IV. of England, whom their uncle Richard III. had caused to be murderer in the Tower of London. When Richard was slain at Bosworth in 1485, Henry, the head of the House of Lancaster, became king, and was now reigning as Henry VII. He had married Elizabeth, the sister of the murdered princes. She was the heiress of the House of York. But if either of the princes had not been murdered and was alive, he was the rightful heir to the crown of England. 

    8.  Margaret, the widow of the Duke of Burgundy, the aunt of the two princes, caused a report to be spread that she knew that the ruffians sent to kill the princes had despatched the elder, but that, seized with remorse, they had spared the younger, carried him off, and kept him in concealment. She at length declared she had discovered him, and managed to persuade the King of France and other princes, as well as the King of Scotland, that Perkin Warbeck, the son of a Flemish Jew, was Richard, Duke of York. He was hospitably received by James IV., who treated him as a prince and gave him in marriage Lady Catherine Gordon, daughter of the Earl of Huntly, and granddaughter of James I. 

    9.  In 1495 James invaded Northumberland in his behalf; but Ramsay, the favourite who had been spared at Lander Bridge, and who, though his estates had been forfeited at the beginning of this reign, had been allowed to remain in Scotland, kept Henry informed of what was going on, and dissuaded the Earl of Ross, the king’s brother, and others, from taking part in the expedition; and, as it was not joined by any of the northern Lords of England, it was a failure. The expedition against England was renewed in 1497, but with no better success. James is said to have discovered that Warbeck was an imposter, but would not disown the man who had married his kinswoman. Perkin was sent away from Scotland with a splendid escort, and his wife, who was called the White Rose of Scotland, accompanied him. He landed in Cornwall, left his wife at St. Michael’s Mount, failed in an attack on Exeter, was taken captive, committed to the Tower, and hanged at Tyburn in 1499

    10.  During the Wars of the Roses in England, Scotland had enjoyed a breathing time of peace and had become comparatively rich and powerful. Its alliance was consequently more than ever courted by the great continental powers. Ferdinand of Spain wished to make his country the leading Catholic power in Europe, and sought to form what was called a Holy Alliance against France. Into this alliance or league he desired to bring both England and Scotland. As a step in this direction Ferdinand’s daughter, the Princess Catherine, was married to Arthur, the eldest son of the King of England, and when he died, to Prince Henry, afterwards Henry VIII. Catherine’s sister-in-law, the Princess Margaret of England, Henry VII.’s daughter, was next married to James IV. of Scotland, and thus a firm foundation was thought to be laid for a family compact or league against France. Scotland joined England in a treaty with Spain, but Henry VII. could not be persuaded to make war on France, and when difficulties arose King James preferred to abide by France, the old and trusty ally of Scotland. 

    11.  The marriage of the King of Scots to the Princess Margaret of England in 1502 was an event of great importance to both England and Scotland, for, 101 years afterwards, the great grandson of the royal pair became King of England, and thus the crowns of the two countries were united. The marriage was celebrated with great pomp at Holyrood, and Dunbar, a great Scottish poet of that time, sang of it as “the union of the Thistle and the Rose.” 

    12.  The marriage rejoicings were scarcely over when a rebellion in the north demanded the attention of the king. The whole array of the kingdom was called forth and the outbreak was suppressed. A parliament held at Edinburgh in 1503 passed vigorous resolutions for the civilization of the Highlands. The northern and western districts were divided into sheriffdoms, and permanent judges were appointed to administer justice. In 1504 the king led a force to the Borders, and by a judicious mixture of severity and kindness produced tranquillity there. This expedition is known as the Raid of Eskdale. 

    13.  The art of printing, which had been introduced into England by Caxton in 1474, found its way to Scotland in 1505. Walter Chapman, a servant of the king’s household, established a press at Edinburgh. He was patronized by the king, who purchased books from him and granted him a royal patent for the exercise of his art. 

    14.  King James IV. was a highly accomplished monarch, and was greatly beloved by both the nobility and the common people. He was an expert linguist and fond of study, but not a recluse like his father. He could speak Latin, German, French, Flemish, Italian, Spanish, and the two languages of his own country, Scotch and Gaelic. He was skilled in all feats of strength and in arms. He kept up much royal state and magnificence at his court, and pleased his warlike nobles by tilts and tournaments at Edinburgh and Stirling. Knights from all parts of Europe were attracted to these warlike sports, and liberal rewards were impartially bestowed on the victors. He often went about in disguise among the common people, and thus learned the opinions that were entertained of himself and the measures of his government. 

    15.  He gave great encouragement to seamanship and ship-building, and soon made the Scottish navy powerful and respected in all seas. He took into favour Sir Andrew Wood of Largo, who had been a famous sea captain in the latter years of his father’s reign. In 1490 five English ships came into the Scottish seas and plundered the Scottish merchantmen. Wood attacked them with his two ships, the Flower and Yellow Carvel, took the whole of them, and carried them into Leith. This roused the indignation of the English, and Stephen Bull, a renowned commander, was sent with three strong ships to bring him to England dead or alive. They met off St. Abb’s Head on a May morning. A terrible fight began at once, and so intent were the mariners on the battle that, during its progress, they permitted the ships to be drifted into the mouth of the Tay. Wood’s superior tactics enabled him to gain the victory. The three English ships were captured and carried into Dundee. Wood presented Bull to the king, who magnanimously sent him back to England without a ransom. 

    16.  Another great sea captain of that time was Sir Andrew Barton, who, with his brother Robert, had obtained letters of reprisal against the Portuguese, because they had captured and refused to give up their brother, John Barton. The Bartons cruised the English Channel, and not only attacked the Portuguese ships, but English vessels bound for Portugal. An expedition was fitted out against them under Lord Thomas and Sir Edward Howard. In 1512 they fought in the Downs. The Howards gained the victory. Andrew Barton’s ship, the Lion, was carried into the Thames, and became the second man-of-war in the English navy, the Great Henry, built by the king himself, being the first. 

    17.  In 1511 James had caused a great ship to be built called the Michael, which was at that time the largest afloat. It was 240 feet long. The hull was 10 feet thick of solid oak, and invulnerable by the artillery of that age. This great war-ship and thirteen others formed a fleet of which any country might have been proud. 

    18.  When James sought redress from the English government for the capture of Barton’s ships, it was refused on the ground that they were pirate ships, which it was the duty of every civilized government to capture or destroy. This refusal was a cause of unfriendliness between James and his brother-in-law Henry VIII. The refusal of the English king to give to James money and jewels which his wife inherited from her father, Henry VII., still further embittered the relations between the two monarchs. Ferdinand of Spain and the King of England were going to war with France. France wanted the aid of Scotland, and the Scots were inclined to stand by their old allies, though they would fain have supported the French by diplomacy rather than by active hostilities. James, however, was eager to avenge the refusal of the English king to give redress for the ships, and to pay the queen’s dowry, and when a letter came to him from the Queen of France appointing him her chosen knight, and enjoining him as her champion to march, for her sake, three feet into English ground, he resolved on war. James rushed into this was with great precipitancy and rashness. He sent out his fleet under the command of the Earl of Arran, but it accomplished nothing of importance. 

    19.  The feudal array of the kingdom was summoned to meet on the Boroughmuir of Edinburgh, and soon 100,000 men were there assembled. Many influences were used to turn the king from his purpose of leading this host to battle, but he would not be dissuaded. In August, 1513, the army entered England. The Castles of Norham and Wark were attacked and easily taken. Provisions ran short, and numbers of the Scots were sent home for supplies. But 50,000 remained on the crest of Flodden – a gentle rising ground flanked on the east by the high and broken banks of the Till, a deep and sluggish river. There they waited the approach of Surrey, who came against them with 32,000 men. Surrey led his army across the Till by the Bridge of Twisel. Had James here employed the tactics of Wallace at Stirling Bridge he might have destroyed the English army; but he allowed his foes to cross in single file unmolested, and form in order of battle on the plain of Brankstone. Thither he led down his army to meet them. 

   20.  The battle began on the afternoon of Friday, the 9th Huntly and Home on the Scottish left broke the right wing of the English, but their men began to plunder instead of following up their advantage. The onward rush of the clansmen of Lennox and Argyle was beaten back by the heavy columns of the English. The Highlanders in their retreat threw the Scottish army into confusion. The commander of the Scottish artillery was killed at the beginning of the fight, and the cannon though fine, were not worked effectively. In the centre, the king, instead of doing duty as a general and directing the movements of his army, fought with his own hand like a common soldier. The leaders of the Scottish army, following his example, gathered around him. Their followers, left to themselves, were soon broken and dispersed. The nobles and gentry of Scotland were thus gathered, as it were, for destruction in a cluster, round their king, and –

“One by one they fell around him, 
As the archers laid them low, 
Grimly dying, still unconquered, 
With their faces to the foe.” 

The king himself fell not far from the English commander, to whom he seems to have been fighting forward in the hopes of a personal engagement. 

Blackie's History of Scotland (1881) p93

    21.  When darkness fell that night on Flodden Field, 10,000 Scots, the flower of the nation, lay dead around their fallen king. The news of this disaster filled Scotland with woe and lamentation, but not with despair. Edinburgh was hastily fortified to meet the expected invasion, and measures were taken for the defence of the country. 

     22.  No Battle was ever so disastrous to the Scots as this. There was scarcely a Scottish family of note that did not mourn the loss of a relative on Flodden Field, and we still bewail the disaster when we sing “The Flowers of the Forest are a’ wede away.” 

   Summary. – James IV. was crowned at Scone in 1488. There was some dissatisfaction that so little was done to discover the murderer of the late king. The young king had fits of remorse for having allowed himself to be set up in arms against his father, and wore and iron belt as a penance for his want of filial duty. Risings in the west and north to avenge the death of the late king were easily put down. As the Archbishop of St. Andrews was not favourable to the king’s policy with respect to the church, Glasgow as made a Metropolitan See, and its bishop, Blackadder, an archbishop. The quarrels between these churchmen became so violent that the Estates had to put them to silence. King’s College at Aberdeen was founded in 1494. Perkin Warbreck came to Scotland in 1495, pretending to be the Duke of York, and heir to the English crown. James received him favourably, and invaded England in his behalf, but without success. Warbreck after various adventures was hanged at Tyburn in 1499. In 1502 the King of Scots married Margaret, the daughter of Henry VII. The art of printing was introduced into Scotland in 1505. The Wars of the Roses gave a time of peace and prosperity to the northern kingdom. James encouraged warlike sports to such a degree that knights from all parts of Europe came to take part in them. He paid great attention to his navy, and his captains, Sir Andrew Wood and Sir Andrew Barton, became famous for their exploits at sea. Lord Howard, however, defeated Barton in the Downs and carried his ships into the Thames. Henry VIII., on the ground that Barton was a pirate, would not return the ships, nor would he give up to James certain jewels which his queen inherited from Henry VII. as part of her dowry. This so embittered the Scottish king that, when the Queen of France sent him a letter asking him to invade England, he resolved on war. The result was the battle of Flodden, in which the king and the flower of his nobility were slain.

   Questions:- Describe the uncertainty that existed regarding James III. after the battle of Sauchieburn, and the manner in which the barons used their victory. What dissatisfaction existed among the people? What attempts were made to avenge the late king’s death? What led to Glasgow being made an archbishopric? Give a brief account of the career of Perkin Warbreck. Why was the alliance of Scotland much desired by other nations in this reign? Relate what you know of the marriage of James IV. What did the king do to settle the Highlands and the Borders? When was printing introduced? Describe the character and accomplishments of James IV. What do you know of the king’s sea-captains? Describe the ship Michael. Mention three causes that induced James to go to war with England. Give an account of the events preceding the battle of Flodden. Describe the battle and its results.
in-terred, buried.  re-pri’-sal, seizure by way of revenge or retaliation. 
am’-nes-ty, pardon of political offences.  cruised, sailed up and down. 
re-morse, pain from feeling of guilt.  me-tro-pol’-it-an church, a mother church having authority over other churches in a district. 
pen’-ance, self-imposed suffering for sin or fault.  cler’-i-cal, belonging to the clergy. 
ben’-e-fic-es, church livings.  stat’-ute, law. 
rem’-e-died, removed, cured.  Lol’-lard-ism, believing in the doctrines of the early reformers. 
counter-act’, to work against, to defeat.  im-post’-or, a cheat. 
court-ed, sought, desired.  es’-cort, guard, body of attendants. 
sup-pressed’, put down.  in-vul’-ner-a-ble, incapable of being injured. 
per’-ma-nent, lasting, not changing.  ar-til’-ler-y, cannon. 
ju-di’-cious, wise, well considered.  em-bit’-tered, made unfriendly or angry. 
tranquil’-li-ty, quiet, peace.  dip-lom’-a-cy, the skill of envoys or ambassadors. 
press, printing machine.  cham’-pi-on, defender, protector. 
pa’-tent, exclusive right.  pre-cip’-i-tan-cy, headlong hurry. 
lin’-guist,, speaker of foreign languages.  slug’-gish, slow. 
mar’-in-ers, sailors.  un-mo-lest’-ed, untroubled, not attacked. 
re-cludse, one fond of being alone.  dis-ast’-rous, calamitous, full of harm. 
en-ter-tained’, held.  rel’-a-tive, blood relation, kinsman. 
tac’-tics, methods of managing ships or armies in battle.  clus’-ter, group. 
mag-nan’-imous-ly, nobly, with greatness of mind.  la-men-ta’-tion, bewailing, cries of grief. 

Cambusken’neth Abbey, on a loop of the Forth, one mile north-east of Stirling. 

Bos’worth, a small town in Leicestershire. 

Ty’burn, at the corner of Edgeware Road, London. 

Esk’dale, valley of the Esk in Dumfriesshire. 

Lar’go, in Fife on the Firth of Forth. 

St. Abb’s Head, a promontory in Berwickshire. 

Wark, a castle on the south bank of the Tweed, near Coldstream. 

Till, a tributary of the Tweed in Northumberland. 

Flod’den, in Northumberland on the west bank of the river Till.

2 thoughts on “Chapter XI; James IV., 1488-1513, 25 Years, pp.86-96.

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