Page images

bishops be admitted with the assent of the barons of the diocese, and parish priests with the assent of the parishioners; third, that they who are unfit for the pastoral charge, be removed from their benefices, and such others placed in their room as are able and willing to instruct the people by constant preaching; fourth, that in future, immoral and ignorant persons be excluded from the administration of the sacraments, and the other ecclesiastical functions."

Instead of soothing the Protestants by prudent concessions, the Convocation evaded or rejected their demands; and the Queen Regent, who had hitherto temporized between the parties, now proceeded with rigour against the Reformers, in obedience to commands she had recently received from her brothers. She publicly expressed her approbation of the decrees by which their principles were condemned; and summoned the most eminent Protestant preachers to appear before her council at Stirling.

The members of the Congregation, alarmed but not overawed by this menace, assembled in great numbers, according to the cus tom of Scotland at that time, to attend their pastors to the place of trial, to countenance and protect them. Dreading the ap proach of so formidable a party, the Regent deputed Erskine of Dun, a person of great authority among the Reformers, to assure them that she would put a stop to the present proceedings, if they would advance no farther. They listened with pleasure to a proposition so pacific: But the Regent forfeited her word, and proceeded to the trial of the persons formerly cited; against whom sentence of outlawry was passed, on account of their not appearing.

An artifice so mean and contemptible, excited the indignation of the whole body of the Protestants. Erskine himself, enraged at the Queen's deceitful conduct, instantly repaired to Perth, whither the leaders of the Protestants had retired, and where they boldly prepared for their defence. At that crisis, John Knox arrived from the Continent. That indefatigable preacher lost no time in confirming the resolution of the wavering, and stimulating their indignation against Popery. After Erskine had communicated to the Congregation the news of the impending danger, Knox mounted the pulpit, and declaimed with great vehemence against the

idolatry of the mass and image worship. The Congregation then quietly dismissed, except a few idle persons, who loitered in the church.

A priest was so imprudent as to uncover a rich altar-piece decorated with images, for the purpose of saying mass. A boy having uttered some reproachful epithets, was struck by the priest. The juvenile aggressor retaliated by throwing a stone; which broke one of the images. This served as a signal for a general assault. In the course of a few minutes, the images, the altar, and the ornaments of the church, were demolished, and trampled una der foot.

* With augmented rage and additional numbers, the assailants proceeded to the monasteries of the Gray and the Black Friars; which they instantly pillaged and laid in ruins. The costly edifice of the Carthusians underwent the same fate, notwithstanding the remonstrances of the Protestant leaders and the authority of the Magistrates, who interposed without effect. The inhabitants of Cupar in Fife soon after imitated this fury of devastation. Provoked at these outrages, the Queen Regent assembled an army, composed chiefly of French troops, and advanced towards Perth, to chastise the insurgents. The latter vigorously prepared to defend themselves; and, being joined by the Earl of Glencairn, with many of the nobility and gentry, they appeared formidable from their num bers and zeal.

They would gladly have soothed the Queen by the most duti ful addresses. Indeed, neither party seemed inclined to unsheath the sword. A treaty was concluded through the mediation of the young Earl of Argyll and the Prior of St Andrew's; in which it was stipulated, that an indemnity should be granted to all persons concerned in the late disturbances, and that the Parliament should be immediately convoked to compose religious differences. Both these stipulations were violated by the Regent. She removed the Magistrates of Perth from their office; some of the inhabitants of that town were fined; others were banished; and she left a garrison in the place, with orders not to allow the exercise of any religion except the Roman Catholic.


Mary of Guise superseded. Military operations. Queen Elizabeth aids the Congregation. Death of the Queen dowager-her character. Peace Ecclesiastical affairs. Death of Francis. Queen Mary returns to Scotland.


HESE unexpected infractions of the treaty disappointed and per plexed the Reformers: But a sense of their imminent danger stimulated them to activity. They renewed the league, and collect ed their followers for defensive operations. The Regent marched against them with her army; but finding their forces greatly augmented, she was induced to conclude a truce for a few days, and to pass over with her troops to the Lothians. The gates of Perth and Stirling were immediately opened to the Congregation; who were soon afterwards gladly received in Edinburgh.

The Queen took shelter in Dunbar; which she fortified, in expectation of a reinforcement from France. The dispute between the Regent and the Congregation had hitherto been purely religious: "It now assumed a more complex character. Being joined by the Earl of Argyll and the Prior of St Andrew's, the Reformers aimed at the redress of civil as well as religious grievances; and required, as a preliminary towards settling the peace of the kingdom, the immediate dismissal of the French forces from Scotland. The Queen amused them for a time with pretended negotiations and fair promises; which were finally terminated by the arrival of one thousand men from France. A numerous reinforcement was soon after disembarked, under the command of Monsieur La Brosse ; who was accompanied by the Bishop of Amiens and three doctors of the Sorbonne. These zealous ecclesiastics were supplied with stores of syllogisms, authorities, citations, and scholastic arguments, which they intended to oppose to the Scottish preachers, and which they presumed would acquire force and produce conviction by the influence of the French arms and artillery.

Assured by the court of France that she might expect the speedy arrival of so powerful an army that the Reformers could not dåre to encounter it, the Queen Regent immediately broke off all negotiations with her opponents. "She was not answerable to them," she said, "for any part of her conduct. She would retain in her service the number of troops she judged necessary; and com

manded the Reformers, as they valued her favour and the repose of the kingdom, to disband their forces."

This haughty and imperious conduct determined the associated lords to adopt a violent and decisive measure. They assembled all the peers, barons, and representatives of barons that adhered to them; and that convocation, after discussing the most delicate and important question that can fall under the consideration of subjects, boldly and unanimously gave their suffrages for depriving Mary of Guise of the office and authority of Regent.

The Queen had already retired into Leith; which she had fortified and garrisoned with French troops. That town was immediately invested by the forces of the Congregation; but they soon found that their zeal had engaged them in an enterprise which exceeded their ability to execute. The French, despising the tumultuary efforts of raw and undisciplined troops, refused to surrender; and their besiegers were not sufficiently skilful in the art of war, nor possessed of the artillery and magazines necessary, for the purposes of a siege.

Nor was that their only misfortune. Accustomed to decide every quarrel by immediate action, the assailants were strangers to the fatigues of a protracted campaign, and soon became impatient of the severe and constant duty that a siege requires. They first murmured, then mutinied. The garrison, apprized of their discontent, made a bold sally, and cut many of them in pieces; which so dispirited the remainder, that they abandoned the siege, and retreated to Stirling.

Having received from France a reinforcement of one thousand veteran infantry and some troops of horse, the Queen Regent detached a strong party to scour and lay waste the adjacent country, and to pillage the castles and estates of the Protestants. In this pressing extremity, the Lords of the Congregation turned their eyes towards England, whence they had already been supplied with money. Maitland of Lethington, formerly the Regent's principal secretary, and Robert Melville, already acquainted with the intrigues of courts, were secretly despatched to solicit suc cours from the Queen of England. Sympathy in religion, and hatred to the Catholics and their foreign auxiliaries, had now abated the animosities of the English and the Scottish Protestants. Elizabeth's sagacious ministers did not hesitate to grant a request so consonant to the wishes and interests of their mistress.

The counsels of the Queen were prudent, but decisive. No sooner did she determine to afford assistance to the Protestant Lords, than they experienced the activity as well as extent of her power. The advanced season prevented her troops from taking the field; but, lest the French army in Leith should receive an accession of strength during the winter, she instantly despatched a squadron to cruise in the Frith of Forth.

After the flight of the Congregation to Stirling, the Queen dowager took possession of Edinburgh with her French troops; and the church of St Giles was again hallowed by the Bishop of Amiens. But her scheme to conquer Scotland, was rendered abortive by the alliance of her enemies with the English Queen. To annihilate, if possible, the Protestant forces, before English succour could arrive, the French were despatched into Fife, with orders to ravage the estates of the malecontent lords; but the Prior of St Andrew's S, with six hundred troops, annoyed four thousand French, and prevented them from reaching St Andrew's for twenty days.

The appearance of the English fleet in the Frith of Forth, obliged the French troops to make a precipitate and circuitous retreat by Stirling Bridge to Leith, where they prepared to defend themselves. Early in the spring, Elizabeth sent six thousand foot and two thousand horse into Scotland, under Lord Grey of Wilton. To meet their new allies, the forces of the Reformers assembled from all parts of the kingdom; and the combined army, amounting to thirteen thousand men, besieged Leith. The French gar rison was speedily reduced to great difficulties. A French fleet, having on board a powerful reinforcement, was dispersed by a


Upon the approach of the English, the Queen dowager retired to the castle of Edinburgh; where she died soon after. A few days before her death, she sent a message desiring a conference with the Prior of St Andrew's, and the Earls of Argyll, Glencairn, and Marischal. She expressed to these noblemen her sorrow for the violent measures she had adopted in pursuance of the counsels of her family; she requested their forgiveness for the offences she had committed against them and the nation; and entreated A.D. 1560.

them to render a dutiful obedience to her daughter, their queen and sovereign: She then bade them a last adieu. Mary of Guise was endowed with great capacity: Her judgment was acute; she could readily comprehend a system, and pursue it

« PreviousContinue »