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Mary's Marriage Personal Appearance And Popularity

Mary The Queen Dauphiness The Queen And The Queen Dowager Of France

A Tangle

An Examination Of The Letters Sonnets And Other Writings Adduced In Evidence Against Mary Queen Of Scots

Occurrences Immediately Preceding Darnley's Death

The Little Waif

Paul's Walk



Mary's Birth And Subsequent Residence At The French Court

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Return To Scotland

The Bewitched Whistle

My Lady's Remorse

Hunting Down The Deer

Mary's Eighteen Years' Captivity

Queen Mary's Presence Chamber

Mary's Reception In England And The Conferences At York And Westminster

The Love Token

Before The Commissioners

Loch Leven Castle

Scotland And The Scottish Reformers Under The Regency Of The Queen-dowager

It was in the year 1517, that Luther first stated his objections to the
validity of the indulgences granted so liberally by Pope Leo X. From this
year, those who love to trace causes to their origin, date the epoch of
the Reformation. It was not, however, till a considerably later period,
that the new doctrines took any deep root in Scotland. In 1552, the Duke
of Chatelherault, wearied with the fatigues of Government, and provoked at
the opposition he was continually meeting with, resigned the regency in
favour of the Queen-mother. Mary of Guise, by a visit she had shortly
before paid to the French Court, had paved the way for this accession of
power. Her brothers, the Duke of Guise and Cardinal of Lorraine, were far
from being satisfied with the state of parties in Scotland. Chatelherault,
they knew to be of a weak and fluctuating disposition; and it seemed to
them necessary, both for the preservation of the ancient religion, and to
secure the allegiance of the country to their niece, the young Queen, that
a stronger hand, guided by a sounder head, should hold the reigns of the
State. Upon their sister's fidelity they knew they could depend; and it
was principally through the influence of French gold and French intrigue,
that she was placed in the regency.

The inhabitants of Scotland were at this time divided into two great
classes,--those who were still staunch to the Church of Rome, and those
who were determined on effecting a reformation. At the head of the former
was John Hamilton, Archbishop of St Andrews, who, upon the murder of
Cardinal Beaton, had obtained that appointment through the Duke of
Chatelherault, whose natural brother he was. He was greatly the Duke's
superior in courage and sagacity, and was deeply imbued with the
prelatical spirit of ambition then so prevalent. The resignation of the
regency provoked him exceedingly, the more especially as Mary, to
strengthen her own authority, found it necessary at first to treat the
Reformers mildly. He was consoled, however, by the death of Edward VI. in
1553, and the accession of the young King's eldest sister Mary to the
English throne,--as bigoted and determined a Catholic as ever lived.

The man who had placed himself at the head of the Reformers, and who,
although young, had already given Hamilton and his party good cause to
tremble at his increasing authority, was James Stuart, the eldest of
Mary's three illegitimate brothers,--and one who occupies a most important
station in the history of his country. His father made him, when only
seven years old, Prior or Commendator of St Andrews, an office which
entitled him, though a layman, to the full income arising from that rich
benefice. It was soon discovered, however, that he had views far beyond so
comparatively humble a rank. Even when a boy, it was his ambition to
collect around him associates who were devoted to his service and desires.
He went over with Mary to France in 1548, but remained there only a very
short time; and, at the age of twenty-one, he was already looked up to by
the Scottish Reformers as their chief. His knowledge was extensive, and
considerably in advance of the times in which he lived. His personal
bravery was undoubted, and his skill in arms so great, that few of his
military enterprises were unsuccessful. His passions, if they were strong,
seem also to have been deep, and entirely under his own command. Whatever
may be thought of the secret motives which actuated him, he was seldom
betrayed into any symptoms of apparent violence. He thus contrived to hold
a steady course, amidst all the turbulence and convulsions of the age in
which he lived; whilst the external decorum and propriety of his manners,
so different from the ill-concealed dissoluteness of many of his
cotemporaries, endeared him the more to the stern followers of Luther. It
is curious to observe the very opposite views which different historians
have taken of his character, more especially when they come to speak of
him as the Earl of Murray and the Regent of Scotland. It would be improper
and unnecessary to anticipate these discussions at present, since it is
hoped the reader will be able to form his own estimate upon this subject,
from the facts he will find recorded in these Memoirs.

It must be evident, that with two such men, each at the head of his own
party, the country was not likely to continue long in a state of
quietness. The Queen Regent soon found it necessary, at the instigation of
the French Court, to associate herself with the Archbishop of St
Andrews,--in opposition to which coalition, a bond was drawn up in 1557,
by some of the principal Reformers, in which they announced their
resolution to form an independent congregation of their own, and to
separate themselves entirely from the "congregation of Satan, with all the
superstitious abomination and idolatry thereof." Articles, or Heads of a
Reformation, were soon afterwards published, in which it was principally
insisted, that on Sunday and other festival days, the Common-Prayer should
be read openly in the parish churches, along with the lessons of the Old
and New Testaments; and that preaching and interpretation of the
Scriptures in private houses should be allowed.

In the following year, one of the first outrages which the Reformers
committed in Scotland, took place in Edinburgh. On occasion of the annual
procession through the city, in honour of the tutelar Saint--St Giles, the
image of that illustrious personage, which ought to have been carried by
some of the priests, was amissing,--the godly having, beforehand,
according to John Knox, first drowned the idol in the North Loch, and then
burned it. It was therefore necessary to borrow a smaller saint from the
Gray-Friars, in order that this "great solemnity and manifest abomination"
might proceed. Upon the day appointed, priests, friars, canons, and
"rotten Papists," assembled, with tabors, trumpets, banners, and bagpipes.
At this sight, the hearts of the brethren were wondrously inflamed; and
they resolved, that this second dragon should suffer the fate of the
first. They broke in upon the procession; and though the Catholics made
some slight resistance at first, they were soon obliged to surrender the
image into the hands of the Philistines, who, taking it by the heels, and
knocking, or, as the reformed historian says, dadding its head upon the
pavement, soon reduced it to fragments, only regretting, that "the young
St Giles" had not been so difficult to kill as his father. The priests,
alarmed for their personal safety, sought shelter as quickly as possible,
and gave Knox an opportunity of indulging in some of that austere mirth
which is peculiarly remarkable, because so foreign to his general style.
"Then might have been seen," says he, "so sudden a fray as seldom has been
seen among that sort of men within this realm; for down goes the cross,
off go the surplices, round caps, and cornets with the crowns. The
Gray-Friars gaped, the Black-Friars blew, and the priests panted and fled,
and happy was he that first got the house; for such a sudden fray came
never among the generation of Antichrist within this realm before." The
magistrates had some difficulty in prevailing upon the mob to disperse,
after they had kept possession of the streets for several hours; and the
rioters escaped without punishment; for "the brethren assembled themselves
in such sort in companies, singing psalms, and praising God, that the
proudest of the enemies were astounded."

The Commissioners who, about this time, were sent into France, and the
motives of their embassy, will be spoken of afterwards. But the remarkable
circumstance, that four of them died when about to return home,--one at
Paris, and three at Dieppe,--had a considerable influence in exciting the
populace to still greater hatred against the French party,--it being
commonly suspected that they had come by their death unfairly. The
Congregation now rose in their demands; and among other things, insisted
that "the wicked and scandalous lives" of churchmen should be reformed,
according to the rules contained in the New Testament, the writings of the
ancient fathers, and the laws of Justinian the Emperor. For a while, the
Queen Regent temporized; but finding it impossible to preserve the favour
of both parties, she yielded at length to the solicitations of the
Archbishop of St Andrews, and determined to resist the Reformers
vigorously. In 1559, she summoned all the ministers of the Congregation,
to appear before her at Stirling. This citation was complied with, but not
exactly in the manner that the Queen wished; for the ministers came not as
culprits, but as men proud of their principles, and accompanied by a vast
multitude of those who were of the same mode of thinking. The Queen, who
was at Stirling, did not venture to proceed to Perth; and the request she
made, that the numbers there assembled should depart, leaving their
ministers to be examined by the Government, having been refused, she
proceeded to the harsh and decisive measure of declaring them all rebels.

The consternation which this direct announcement of hostilities
occasioned among them, was still at its height, when the great champion of
the Scottish Reformation, John Knox, arrived at Perth. This celebrated
divine had already suffered much for "the good cause;" and though his zeal
and devotion to it were well known, it was not till latterly that he had
entertained much hope of its final triumph in his native country. He had
spent the greater part of his life in imprisonment or exile; he had
undergone many privations, and submitted to many trials. But these were
the daily food of the Reformers; and, whilst they only served to
strengthen them in the obduracy of their belief, they had the additional
effect of infusing a morose acerbity into dispositions not naturally of
the softest kind. Knox had returned only a few days before from Geneva,
where he had been solacing his solitude by writing and publishing that
celebrated work, which he was pleased to entitle, "The first blast of the
trumpet against the monstrous regiment of women." This treatise, directed
principally against Mary of England, not forgetting Mary Queen of Scots
and her mother of Guise, rather overshot its own purpose, by bringing the
Reformer into disrepute with Elizabeth, who came to the crown soon after
its appearance. To pacify that Queen, for it appears even Knox could
temporize occasionally, he gave up his original intention of blowing his
trumpet thrice, and his first blast was his last.

The day after the ministers and their friends, had been declared rebels,
Knox delivered at Perth what Keith terms "that thundering Sermon against
Idolatry." The tumult which ensued at the conclusion of this discourse,
has been attributed by some historians to accident; but Keith's suspicion,
that Knox had a direct intention to excite it, seems well founded, when we
consider the ferment in which the minds of his audience were at the time,
and the peculiar style in which he addressed them. Buchanan is of the same
opinion, though he would naturally have leant to the other conclusion. He
says that Knox, "in that ticklish posture of affairs, made such a pathetic
sermon to the multitude who were gathered together, that he set their
minds, which were already fired, all in a flame." If, in addition to this,
the usual manner of Knox's eloquence be considered, it will hardly be
questioned but that the outrage of that day was of his doing. His
vehemence in the pulpit was at all times tremendous; indeed, in so far as
the effect he produced upon his hearers was concerned, he seems to have
trusted almost as much to the display of his physical as of his mental
energies. Many years after the period now alluded to, when he was in his
old age, and very weak, Melville tells us, that he saw him every Sunday go
slowly and feebly, with fur about his neck, a staff in his hand, and a
servant supporting him, from his own house, to the parish church in St
Andrews. There, after being lifted into the pulpit, his limbs for some
time were so feeble, that they could hardly support him; but ere he had
done with his sermon, he became so active and vigorous, that he was like
"to ding the pulpit in blads, and flie out of it." What he must have
been, therefore, in his best days, may be more easily imagined than

On the present occasion, after Knox had preached, and some of the
congregation had retired, it appears that some "godly men" remained in the
church. A priest had the imprudence to venture in among them, and to
commence saying mass. A young man called out that such idolatry was
intolerable, upon which it is said that the priest struck him. The young
man retorted, by throwing a stone, which injured one of the pictures. The
affair soon became general. The enraged people fell upon the altars and
images, and in a short time nothing was left undemolished but the bare
walls of the church. The Reformers throughout the city, hearing of these
proceedings, speedily collected, and attacking the monasteries of the Gray
and Black Friars, along with the costly edifice of the Carthusian Monks,
left not a vestige of what they considered idolatrous and profane worship
in any of them. The example thus set at Perth was speedily followed almost
everywhere throughout the country.

These outrages greatly incensed the Queen Regent, and were looked upon
with horror by the Catholics in general. To this day, the loss of many a
fine building, through the zeal of the early Reformers, is a common
subject of regret and complaint. It is to be remembered, however, that no
revolution can be effected without paying a price for it. If the
Reformation was a benefit, how could the Catholic superstition be more
successfully attacked, than by knocking down those gorgeous temples, which
were of themselves sufficient to render invincible the pride and
inveterate bigotry of its votaries? The saying of John Knox, though a
homely, was a true one,--"Pull down their nests, and the rooks will fly
away." It is not improbable, as M'Crie conjectures, that had these
buildings been allowed to remain in their former splendour, the Popish
clergy might have long continued to indulge hopes, and to make efforts, to
be restored to them. Victories over an enemy are celebrated with public
rejoicings, notwithstanding the thousands of our fellow-countrymen who may
have fallen in the contest. Why should the far more important victory,
over those who had so long held in thraldom the human mind, be robbed of
its due praise, because some statues were mangled, some pictures torn, and
some venerable towers overthrown?

With as little delay as possible, the Queen Regent appeared with an army
before Perth, and made herself mistress of the town. The Reformers,
however, were not to be intimidated; and their strength having, by this
time, much increased, it was deemed prudent by the Regent not to push
matters to an extremity. Both parties agreed to disband their forces, and
to refer the controversy to the next Parliament. As was to be expected,
this temporary truce was not of long duration. Incessant mutual
recrimination and aggression, soon induced both sides to concentrate
their forces once more. Perth was re-taken by the Reformers, who shortly
afterwards marched into Edinburgh. After remaining there for some time,
they were surprised by a sudden march which the Queen made upon them from
Dunbar, and were compelled to fall back upon Stirling.

A belief was at this time prevalent at the court of France, that the Prior
of St Andrews, who was the principal military leader of the Congregation,
had views of a treasonable nature even upon the crown itself, and that he
hoped the flaw in his legitimacy might be forgotten, in consideration of
his godly exertions in support of the true faith. A new reinforcement of
French soldiers arrived at Leith, which they fortified; and the French
ambassador was commanded to inform the Prior, that the King, his master,
would rather spend the crown of France, than not be revenged of the
seditious persons in Scotland.

The civil war now raged with increased bitterness, and with various
success, but without any decisive advantage on either side for some time.
The Reformers applied for assistance to Queen Elizabeth, who favoured
their cause for various reasons, and would, no doubt, much rather have
seen Murray in possession of the Scottish crown, than her own personal
rival, Mary. The Congregation having found it impossible, by their own
efforts, to drive the French out of Leith, Elizabeth, in the beginning of
the year 1560, fitted out a powerful fleet, which, to the astonishment of
the Queen Regent and her French allies, sailed up the Firth of Forth, and
anchored in the Roads, before even the purpose for which it had come was
known. A treaty was soon afterwards concluded at Berwick between the Lords
of the Congregation and Elizabeth's Commissioner, the Duke of Norfolk, by
which it was agreed, on the part of the former, that no alliance should
ever be entered into by them with France; and on that of the latter, that
an English army should march into Scotland early in spring, for the
purpose of aiding in the expulsion of the French troops.

This army came at the time appointed, and was soon joined by the forces of
the Reformers. The allies marched directly for Leith, which they invested
without loss of time. The siege was conducted with great spirit, but the
town was very resolutely defended by the French. So much determination was
displayed upon both sides, that it is difficult to say how the matter
might have ended, had not the death of the Queen Regent, which took place
at this juncture, changed materially the whole aspect of affairs. She had
been ill for some time, and during her sickness resided in the Castle of
Edinburgh. Perceiving that her end was approaching, she requested an
interview with some of the leaders of the Congregation. The Duke of
Chatelherault, the Prior of St Andrews, or the Lord James, as he was
commonly called, and others, waited upon her in her sick-chamber. She
expressed to them her sincere grief for the troubles which existed in the
country, and advised that both the English and French troops should be
sent home. She entreated that they would reverence and obey their native
and lawful sovereign, her daughter Mary. She told them how deeply attached
she was to Scotland and its interests, although by birth a Frenchwoman;
and at the conclusion, she burst into tears, kissing the nobles one by
one, and asking pardon of all whom she had in any way offended. The day
after this interview, Mary of Guise died. Her many excellent qualities
were long remembered in Scotland; for even those who could not love,
respected her. In private life, if this term can be used with propriety
when speaking of a Queen, she appears to have been most deservedly
esteemed. She set an example to all her maids of honour, of piety,
modesty, and becoming gravity of deportment; she was exceedingly
charitable to the poor; and had she fallen upon better days, her life
would have been a happier one for herself, and her memory more generally
prized by posterity. Her body was carried over to France, and buried in
the Benedictine Monastery at Rheims.

Very soon after the death of the Queen Regent, Commissioners arrived both
from France and England, with full powers to conclude a treaty of peace
between the three countries. By the loss of their sister, the Princes of
Lorraine had been deprived of their chief support in Scotland, and, being
actively engaged in schemes of ambition nearer home, they found it
necessary to conciliate, as they best could, the predominating party
there. The important treaty of Edinburgh, which will be mentioned
frequently hereafter, was concluded on the 14th of June 1560. It was
signed on the part of France by the two plenipotentiaries, Monluc, Bishop
of Valence, and the Sieur Derandon, reckoned two of the best diplomatists
of the day; and, on the part of England, by Wotton, Dean of Canterbury,
and Elizabeth's prime minister, Cecil, one of the ablest men of that or
any age. The interests of the Congregation were intrusted principally to
the Lord James. In consequence of this treaty, the French troops were
immediately withdrawn. The fortifications of Leith and Dunbar were
destroyed, and a Parliament was held, whose acts were to be considered as
valid as if it had been called by the express commands of the Queen. In
that Parliament, the adherents of the Congregation were found greatly to
out-number their adversaries. An act of oblivion and indemnity was passed
for all that had taken place within the two preceding years; and, for the
first time, the Catholics, awed into silence, submitted to every thing
which the Reformers proposed. A new Confession of Faith was sanctioned;
the jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Courts was abolished; and the
exercise of worship, according to the rites of the Romish Church, was
prohibited under severe penalties--a third act of disobedience being
declared capital.

Thus, the Reformation finally triumphed in Scotland. Though as yet only in
its infancy, and still exposed to many perils, it was nevertheless
established on a comparatively firm and constitutional basis. The
Catholics, it is true, aware of the school in which Mary had been
educated, were far from having given up all hope of retrieving their
circumstances; and they waited for her return with the utmost impatience
and anxiety. But they ought to have known, that whatever might have been
Mary's wishes, their reign was over in Scotland. A Sovereign may coerce
the bodies, but he can never possess a despotic sway over the minds of his
subjects. The people had now begun to think for themselves; and a belief
in the mere mummeries of a fantastic system of Christianity, and of the
efficacy of miracles performed by blocks of wood and stone, was never
again to form a portion of their faith. A brief account of one of the
last, and not least ludicrous attempts which the Popish clergy made to
support their sinking cause, will form a not improper conclusion to this

There was a chapel in the neighbourhood of Musselburgh, dedicated to the
Lady of Loretto, which, from the character of superior sanctity it had
acquired, had long been the favourite resort of religious devotees. In
this chapel, a body of the Catholic priests undertook to put their
religion to the test, by performing a miracle. They fixed upon a young
man, who was well known as a common blind beggar, in the streets of
Edinburgh, and engaged to restore to him, in the presence of the assembled
people, the perfect use of his eyesight. A day was named, on which they
calculated they might depend on this wonderful interposition of divine
power in their behalf. From motives of curiosity, a great crowd was
attracted at the appointed time to the chapel. The blind man made his
appearance on a scaffold, erected for the occasion. The priests approached
the altar, and, after praying very devoutly, and performing other
religious ceremonies, he who had previously been stone blind, opened his
eyes, and declared he saw all things plainly. Having humbly and gratefully
thanked his benefactors, the priests, he was permitted to mingle among the
astonished people, and receive their charity.

Unfortunately, however, for the success of this deception, a gentleman
from Fife, of the name of Colville, determined to penetrate, if possible,
a little further into the mystery. He prevailed upon the subject of the
recent experiment to accompany him to his lodgings in Edinburgh. As soon
as they were alone, he locked the chamber-door, and either by bribes or
threats, contrived to win from him the whole secret. It turned out, that
in his boyhood, this tool, in the hands of the designing, had been
employed as a herd by the nuns of the Convent of Sciennes, then in the
neighbourhood of Edinburgh. It was remarked by the sisterhood, that he had
an extraordinary facility in "flyping up the lid of his eyes, and casting
up the white." Some of the neighbouring priests, hearing accidentally of
this talent, imagined that it might be applied to good account. They
accordingly took him from Sciennes to the monastery near Musselburgh,
where they kept him till he had made himself an adept in this mode of
counterfeiting blindness, and till his personal appearance was so much
changed, that the few who had been acquainted with him before, would not
be able to recognise him. They then sent him into Edinburgh to beg
publicly, and make himself familiarly known to the inhabitants, as a
common blind mendicant. So far every thing had gone smoothly, and the
scene at the Chapel of Loretto might have had effect on the minds of the
vulgar, had Colville's activity not discovered the gross imposture.
Colville, who belonged to the Congregation, instantly took the most
effectual means to make known the deceit. He insisted upon the blind man's
appearing with him next day, at the Cross of Edinburgh, where the latter
repeated all he had previously told Colville, and confessed the iniquity
of his own conduct, as well as that of the priests. To shelter him from
their revenge, Colville immediately afterwards carried him off to Fife;
and the story, with all its details, being speedily disseminated, exposed
the Catholic clergy to more contempt than ever.

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