Matthew Stuart: Life Story

Chapter 4 : A New Master

By mid-July, Lennox and Argyll in the west, Beaton and Huntly in the north, and Bothwell, Hume and Buccleuch in the East Marches, had assembled men with a view to wresting control of the government from Arran, and moving the nine-month old queen to Stirling. Arran, despite advice from Sadleir, still refused to move Mary to Edinburgh Castle – perhaps worried that wresting her from Queen Marie at Linlithgow would arouse further animosity against him, or perhaps certain that Linlithgow, which was in the heart of his own territory, and staffed by his men, would resist any attempt to remove the queen.

Lennox, Beaton and their adherents, with several thousand men, encamped outside Linlithgow, with Arran and a slightly larger force, facing them. Ambassadors passed between the two groups – both sides reluctant to force an open battle. Lennox’ party had four demands – that the queen should be removed from the control of the Governor, and guarded by the lords of the realm, as the Estates had originally ordered; that Arran should rule together with a formal Council, rather than at whim; that if Arran failed to rule in accordance with what the Council decreed, he would be deposed; and finally, that Angus and Sir George Douglas should leave the court, until Lennox, the Cardinal and Arran had agreed matters.

A compromise was agreed – the Lords Livingstone, Erskine, Graham and Lindsay were to take charge of Queen Mary’s person, and the treaty with England was to be approved, with Mary to go to England when she was ten.  With the exception of Lennox and Bothwell, the lords on both sides met and embraced. Lennox absented himself – presumably still unable to stomach Arran as Governor.

The English had not despaired of persuading Lennox to change sides, and a safe-conduct for him to visit the English court and meet Henry VIII in person arrived, at which he ‘seemed very joyous.’  Nevertheless, Lennox was still expecting French ships and men.

The Treaty of Greenwich was signed by Arran on 1st July 1543. It seemed that Henry VIII had gained all he could desire – but Sadleir reported that nearly everyone in Scotland was now inclining to France. Henry VIII warned Arran to either win Beaton and Lennox over, or, if he could not, arrest them, take Dumbarton from Lennox and remove the queen from the lords attending her. Arran signally failed to manage the Cardinal, who turned the tables on Henry by undermining Arran’s faith in the English treaty. The result was the coronation of Queen Mary at Stirling Castle, on 9th September, in the presence of both Arran and the Cardinal.

Whilst Beaton was bringing Arran round to a pro-French policy, nothing could bring Lennox around to accepting Arran as Governor. Shortly after the coronation, he withdrew to Dumbarton, where the French ships were expected to land. Queen Marie was warned that Lennox’ loyalty was questionable but was unable to either persuade him to remain in Stirling or find out his true intentions – perhaps he was not sure of them himself.

At the end of October, the French gold and guns arrived, and the unsuspecting French envoy, the Sieur de Brosse, handed them over to Lennox for safe-keeping. The treasure disappeared swiftly into the fastness of Dumbarton Castle, with Lennox poised to obtain the best bargain he could from either Henry VIII or the other Scots lords.

Sadleir, informed by Sir George Douglas, was of the opinion that, if Lennox came over to the pro-English party, he would prove a stronger ally than Arran had been. Douglas believed that all that was required, given Lennox’ core position of being part of any party opposed to Arran, was an assurance of marriage to Lady Margaret Douglas and ‘a convenient living’ to replace and lands and money that he would naturally forfeit in France for betraying François I.

Cardinal Beaton, having gained Arran, now lost other allies – the pro-English party that formed around Lennox and Angus was broader-based than previously, based on a variety of motives – anti-Hamilton sentiment; some genuine desire for religious reform; concerns that Beaton was now acting high-handedly; and the formation of yet a third party, surrounding Queen Marie, which sought not just an alliance with France, but the marriage of Mary to the French Dauphin – something Beaton did not support.

Nevertheless, by the end of 1543, the Scots seemed largely united in their opposition to England. The Estates had refused to ratify the Treaty of Greenwich, and had, instead, reconfirmed alliance with France.  The following month, January 1544, commissioners for Arran on the one side, and Angus and Lennox on the other, agreed various terms for reconciliation, amongst which was that Lennox was to be bound in the sum of £10,000 to obey Arran. The English king was furious at the loss of the Treaty of Greenwich and prepared for war – the campaign became known as the War of the Rough Wooing.

Angus, Maxwell and some of the other pro-English lords now defected to Arran – allowing themselves to be arrested as a rather unconvincing way to suggest to Henry that they had had no choice. Angus married Maxwell’s daughter, and disinherited Lady Margaret Douglas, settling his earldom (previously heritable by women) on his brother, should he have no sons from this new marriage. Only Lennox and Lord Glencairn were still willing to work with Henry VIII.

Lennox sent envoys to Henry VIII, and, leaving Dumbarton in the hands of Lord Glencairn, proceeded to England.

Matthew Stuart, 4th Earl of Lennox

Matthew Stuart, 4th Earl of Lennox

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