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Regencies Of Mar, Lennox and Morton

Randolph was now sent to Edinburgh to make peace between Mary’s party and her foes impossible. He succeeded; the parties took up arms, and Sussex ravaged the Border in revenge of a raid by Buccleuch. On May 14, Lennox, with an English force, was sent north: he devastated the Hamilton country; was made Regent in July; and, in April 1571, had his revenge on Archbishop Hamilton, who was taken at the capture, by Crawford, of Dumbarton Castle, held by Lord Fleming, a post of vital moment to the Marians; and was hanged at Stirling for complicity in the slaying of Murray. George Buchanan, Mary’s old tutor, took advantage of these facts to publish quite a fresh account of Darnley’s murder: the guilt of the Hamiltons now made that of Bothwell almost invisible!

Edinburgh Castle, under Kirkcaldy with Lethington, held out; Knox reluctantly retired from Edinburgh to St Andrews, where he was unpopular; but many of Mary’s Lords deserted her, and though Lennox was shot (September 4) in an attack by Buccleuch and Ker of Ferniehirst on Stirling Castle, where he was holding a Parliament, he was succeeded by Mar, who was inspired by Morton, a far stronger man. Presently the discovery of a plot between Mary, Norfolk, the English Catholics, and Spain, caused the Duke’s execution, and more severe incarceration for Mary.

In Scotland there was no chance of peace. Morton and his associates would not resign the lands of the Hamiltons, Lethington, and Kirkcaldy; Lethington knew that no amnesty would cover his guilt, though he had been nominally cleared, in the slaying of Darnley. One after the other of Mary’s adherents made their peace; but Kirkcaldy and Lethington, in Edinburgh Castle, seemed safe while money and supplies held out. Knox had prophesied that Kirkcaldy would be hanged, but did not live to see his desire on his enemy, or on Mary, whom Elizabeth was about to hand over to Mar for instant execution. Knox died on November 24, 1572; Mar, the Regent, had predeceased him by a month, leaving Morton in power. On May 28, 1573, the castle, attacked by guns and engineers from England, and cut off from water, struck its flag. The brave Kirkcaldy was hanged; Lethington, who had long been moribund, escaped by an opportune death. The best soldier in Scotland and the most modern of her wits thus perished together. Concerning Knox, the opinions of his contemporaries differed. By his own account the leaders of his party deemed him “too extreme,” and David Hume finds his ferocious delight in chronicling the murders of his foes “rather amusing,” though sad! Quarrels of religion apart, Knox was a very good-hearted man; but where religion was concerned, his temper was remote from the Christian. He was a perfect agitator; he knew no tolerance, he spared no violence of language, and in diplomacy, when he diplomatised, he was no more scrupulous than another. Admirably vigorous and personal as literature, his History needs constant correction from documents. While to his secretary, Bannatyne, Knox seemed “a man of God, the light of Scotland, the mirror of godliness”; many silent, douce folk among whom he laboured probably agreed in the allegation quoted by a diarist of the day, that Knox “had, as was alleged, the most part of the blame of all the sorrows of Scotland since the slaughter of the late Cardinal.”

In these years of violence, of “the Douglas wars” as they were called, two new tendencies may be observed. In January 1572, Morton induced an assembly of preachers at Leith to accept one of his clan, John Douglas, as Archbishop of St Andrews: other bishops were appointed, called Tulchan bishops, from the tulchan or effigy of a calf employed to induce cows to yield their milk. The Church revenues were drawn through these unapostolic prelates, and came into the hands of the State, or at least of Morton. With these bishops, superintendents co-existed, but not for long. “The horns of the mitre” already began to peer above Presbyterian parity, and Morton is said to have remarked that there would never be peace in Scotland till some preachers were hanged. In fact, there never was peace between Kirk and State till a deplorable number of preachers were hanged by the Governments of Charles II. and James II.

A meeting of preachers in Edinburgh, after the Bartholomew massacre, in the autumn of 1572, demanded that “it shall be lawful to all the subjects in this realm to invade them and every one of them to the death.” The persons to be “invaded to the death” are recalcitrant Catholics, “grit or small,” persisting in remaining in Scotland.

The alarmed demands of the preachers were merely disregarded by the Privy Council. The ruling nobles, as Bishop Lesley says, would never gratify the preachers by carrying out the bloody penal Acts to their full extent against Catholics. There was no expulsion of all Catholics who dared to stay; no popular massacre of all who declined to go. While Morton was in power he kept the preachers well in hand. He did worse: he starved the ministers, and thrust into the best livings wanton young gentlemen, of whom his kinsman, Archibald Douglas, an accomplice in Darnley’s death and a trebly-dyed traitor, was the worst. But in 1575, the great Andrew Melville, an erudite scholar and a most determined person, began to protest against the very name of bishop in the Kirk; and in Adamson, made by Morton successor of John Douglas at St Andrews, Melville found a mark and a victim. In economics, as an English diplomatist wrote to Cecil in November 1572, the country, despite the civil war, was thriving; “the noblemen’s great credit decaying, . . . the ministry and religion increaseth, and the desire in them to prevent the practice of the Papists.” The Englishman, in November, may refer to the petition for persecution of October 20, 1572.

The death of old Châtelherault now left the headship of the Hamiltons in more resolute hands; Morton was confronted by opposition from Argyll, Atholl, Buchan, and Mar; and Morton, in 1576-1577, made approaches to Mary. When the young James VI. came to his majority Morton’s enemies would charge him with his guilty foreknowledge, through Both well, of Darnley’s murder, so he made advances to Mary in hope of an amnesty. She suspected a trap and held aloof.

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