Page images
PDF
EPUB

earthly career on the fatal field of Flodden, on the 9th September, 1513, in the thirty-ninth year of his age, and the twenty-fourth of his reign ; leaving two infant sons, Jaines prince of Scotland, and Alexander duke of Ross who died soon after his father.

At his accession to the throne, James V. was only seventeen months old. The first effects of the terror occasioned by their defeat at Flodden, was to constitute the dowager queen Margaret regent of the kingdom, in order to propitiate the wrath of Henry VIII. Margaret, however, was young and beautiful, and surrounded by the iinpetuous young nobility let loose from paternal restraint by the slaughter of their fathers at the last fatal battle. Archibald Douglas, now earl of Angus, persuaded Margaret to become his wife, without consulting the estates of the kingdom, or her brother Henry. This rash step naturally excited the jealousy of the nobility, who viewed with anxious jealousy, the sudden elevation of one of their own equals to the supreme power. The party who favoured the interests of France, proposed the recall of the son of the late duke of Albany from France, and to commit the regency of the kingdom, and the tuition of its infant sovereign to his care. He arrived, and governed with a stern impartiality; but insurrections and conspiracies drove him out of the kingdom, when Margaret and her husband again acquired the reins of government; the enemies of Angus and his royal wife soon concurred in again inviting Albany to return and assume the regency. Among Angus's most implacable enemies was now his own wife, stimulated by jealousy; and besides, she herself had formed a new attachment in the person of Stewart, brother of the lord Ochiltree. On the return of Albany, she induced him to solicit for her, at the venal court of Rome, a divorce from her husband, whom she now most cordially hated. At the age of twelve years, James assumed the administration of the government, and Albany finally took his departure for France. Angus seized the person of the king, and usurped the government, from whose custody at Falkland the young king escaped, some years afterwards, and being instantly attended by those of the nobility who were to his person, again assumed the government. He created his mother's husband Henry Stewart, lord of Methven. James sailed round the whole coast of his kingdom, and was the only prince who ever set foot on the Shetland islands. He went to France in quest of a bride, and there espoused Magdalene of France, daughter of Francis I., who died on the fortieth day after her arrival at Holyrood house. He married again Mary of Lorraine, daughter of Claudius of Lorraine, duke of Guise, and widow of the duke of Longueville, in the year 1530,—a lady in the prime of her years and of distinguished beauty, whom James had himself seen and admired when he visited France. Of this marriage was born prince James in 1538, and prince Arthur, born in 1540 ; both of whom died in one day: also Mary, born in 1542. During this king's reign the Reforination cominenced, and

!

many horrid cruelties were practised on those who caine out of the spiritual Sodom of the Romish communion. James the V. died on the 13th December, 1542, and left his kingdom to a long minority, and an infant daughter of a week old, of whose birth when he was informed on his death bed, he said, “Alas! the kingdom came with a maiden, and it will go with one;" he turned himself in his bed and never spoke again.

Mary Stewart succeeded to the throne on the seventh day of her birth, and after much intrigue the earl of Arran was chosen regent ; but cardinal Beaton gaining the ascendency in the kingdom, he induced Arran to resign in favour of the dowager, queen Mary. She had the address to gain the consent of her parliament to send her daughter Mary to France, to be educated with the view of marrying the Dauphin of France,-to the great disappointment of the court of London and the English party in Scotland, who were anxious to have espoused her to Edward VI. She married the dauphin, afterwards Francis II. ; who dying without issue, she returned a widow to Scotland in the year 1561, and afterward married her own cousin, Henry Darnley. To account for their consanguinity, it will be necessary to return to the widow of James IV., the daughter of Henry VII. After king James's death she married Archibald Douglas, earl of Angus, to whom she had a daughter, lady Margaret Douglas. This lady, the niece of Henry VIII., was educated at his court, and was by him at an early, age given in marriage to the earl of Lennox. This nobleman was in the next degree after the Hamiltons allied to the crown of Scotland, and at that time was an exile on account of his unsuccessful exertions to promote the interest of England. In consequence of this marriage, the children of Lennox and lady Margaret Douglas, were next after the house of Hamilton, the collateral heirs of the crown of Scotland, and next after Mary herself collateral heirs of the crown of England. The eldest son of Lennox and lady Margaret Douglas was Henry lord Darnley. He was the queen's cousin, and they were married in the chapel royal, Holyrood house, by the dean of Restalrig, on the 29th July, 1565, and the name of Henry was by proclamation associated with the queen in all the written deeds of the government. The issue of this marriage was an only son, James duke of Rothsay, who was born in Edinburgh castle on the 19th June, 1566; and in consequence of the rebellion of her subjects, was even in infancy exalted to sit upon her throne. The earls of Moray, Morton, and Both well, entered into a conspiracy to destroy the king consort, which they accomplished by blowing him up in the Kirko-field with gunpowder, on the 9th February, 1567. By the confession of all the conspirators as recorded in history, Mary is entirely and triumphantly acquitted of having had any previous knowledge, or participation in this atrocious deed. Afterwards Bothwell seized Mary's person and carried ber off to his castle of Dunbar, where he first committed a rape upon her person, and next compelled her to accept himself in marriage, all the while

S

keeping her a close prisoner. No sooner had Bothwell's guilt been crowned with the desired success, than those very nobles who had recommended him to Mary as a proper husband, combined to overthrow his power, and having treacherously seized Mary near Musselburgh, they confined her in-Lochleven castle, with the ill disguised intention of taking away her life. From thence she escaped, and her friends drawing together, fought a pitched battle with the rebels, at Langside hill, near Glasgow, under the command of the regent Moray, her bastard brother. Her forces were defeated and she herself escaped to Dundrinnan Abbey in Galloway, from whence she unhappily put herself into the power of her remorseless enemy Elizabeth, who, against all the laws of nations and humanity, kept her a close prisoner for more than eighteen years, and then cruelly murdered her by a judicial sentence and decapitation in the year 1587, in the forty-fifth year of her age, and also of her reign.

At the age of one year, James, duke of Rothsay was elevated by the rebel barons to the throne of his mother, not yet vacant, by the title of James VI. The kingdom was miserably governed by four regents till the year 1578, when Morton was disgraced, and James assumed the reins of government, and soon after Morton terminated his guilty career on the scaffold. James was chaste in his conduct, and had not disgraced his youth by any of those vices which had characterized many of his predecessors, and his people became exceedingly anxious that he should form a matrimonial alliance. A splendid embassy was accordingly despatched to the court of Denmark, and Anne the Danish monarch's second daughter was granted to his wishes. Storms however delayed the arrival of his expected bride, but impatient of delay he sailed to Denmark, and consummated his marriage. In one of his letters to chancellor Maitland he good humouredly says, “we spend our time here drinking and driving ower, just as we do at hame.” After spending some months there in festivity, he returned in safety and was joyfully received by his affectionate people.

Queen Elizabeth of England died on the 24th March, 1603, in the seventieth year of her age, and forty-fifth of her reign. A little before her death, the lord keeper inquired who she willed to be her successor : her answer was,

“ None but my cousin, the king of Scots.” accordingly proclaimed king, first at the palace of Whitehall, and afterwards at the cross in Cheapside. On the third day after, the news was brought by Sir Robert Cary. The privy council of England, in their letter to James, acknowledged that “ to his right the lineal and lawful succession of all our late sovereign's dominions doth justly and only appertain : wherein we presume to profess this much, as well for the honour, which will thereby remain to our posterity; as for your majesty's security of a peaceable possession of your kingdoms, that we had never found, either of those of the nobility, or of any other of the estates of this realm, any divid

James was

ed humour about the receiving and acknowledging your majesty to be the only head, that must give life to the present maimed body of this kingdom, which is so happy as with an universal consent to have received one sole, uniform, and constant impression of bright blood, as next of kin to our sovereign deceased, and consequently by the laws of this realm, true and next heir to her kingdoms and dominions. And rest assured, that our tender and loyal affections towards you our gracious sovereign, shall be ever hereafter seconded with all faith, obedience, and humble service, which shall be in our power to perform, for maintaining that which we have begun with the sacrifice of our lives, lands, and goods, which we with all our other means do here humbly present at your majesty's feet.”

His daughter Elizabeth, born 19th August, 1596, married at London on the 14th February, 1613, Frederick, elector palatine, and king of Bohemia, by whom he had a numerous family. Her youngest daughter Sophia married Earnest Augustus, duke of Brunswick and Hanover, of whom are descended the present royal family of Great Britain.

THE KING'S DUTIES AND PREROGATIVES.

“The king's name is a tower of strength ;” and an apostle who wrote by inspiration, informs us, not only of the obedience due by subjects to their princes, but of the duties incumbent on princes towards their subjects ; so that protection and allegiance are reciprocal duties incumbent on both the governors and the governed. “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damna. tion. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power ? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.

For he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore, ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For, for this cause-pay ye tribute also ; for they are God's ministers, attending continually on this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues ; tribute to whom tribute is due ; custom to whom custom ; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour." (Romans xiji.)

It is a maxim in law that protection and subjection are reciprocal. The subject owes the duties of obedience “ for conscience sake :” and the king's principal duty in return is to govern the people whom God has committed to his charge, according to the known laws of the land, and to

[ocr errors]

the utmost of his power to cause law and justice to be executed in mercy. In the claim of Right, the coronation oath was ordained to be taken by the king or queen in the presence of all the people, who on their part, reciprocally take the oath of allegiance to the sovereign. The following is the oath as taken at the king's coronation.

The archbishop or bishop shall say : Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the people of this kingdom of England, and the dominions thereunto belonging, according to the statutes in parliament agreed on and the laws and customs of the same? The king or queen shall

say: I solemnly promise so to do.

Archbishop or bishop : Will you to your power cause law and justice, in

mercy, to be executed in all your judgments ? King or queen : I will

Archbishop or bishop. Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the gospel, and the protestant reformed religion established by the law? And will you preserve unto the bishops and clergy of this realm, and to the churches committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges as by law do, or shall appertain unto them or any of them? King or queen : All this I promise to do.

After this the king or queen, laying his or her hand on the holy gospels shall say: The things which I have here before promised I will perform and keep : SO HELP ME GOD, and then shall kiss the book.

At his coronation the king does not swear to protect the establishment of Scotland, because he had done so as his very first act after his accession. The twenty-fifth article of the union expressly provides “ that the sovereign in the royal government of Great Britain, shall in all time coming, at his or her accession to the throne, swear and subscribe that they shall inviolably maintain and preserve the aforesaid settlement of the true protestant religion, with the government, worship, discipline, rights, and privileges of this church of Scotland, as above established by the laws of this kingdom in prosecution of the claim of right.”

The king of England is very highly exalted above his subjects; and the constitution regards his person as só sacred, that no jurisprudence upon earth has power to coerce him. No suit even in civil matters can be brought against the king, for no court can have authority over him. The king being above the law, is not the effect of mere visionary theory or of idle superstition and folly, as many absurdly imagine. For, as already mentioned, it is the king's fiat that makes the laws by the advice of the great council of the nation, and consequently the creator must be superior to the thing created; besides, the liberty and safety of the meanest subject is better secured by the free agency of the executive, than if the king was a mere public servant, like the president of the United States of America,

The king is declared to be the supreme head of the realm in matters both civil and ecclesiastical, and of consequence inferior to no man upon

« EelmineJätka »