ScotWars - Scottish Military History and Re-enactment
King James V
After James IV died at Flodden, his son, James V, was just 17 months old when he was crowned. By the Will of James IV, his wife, Margaret Tudor was to be the Regent so long as she remained unwed. Margaret had remarried in 1514 to Archibald Douglas, the 6th Earl of Angus. Angus took control over the boy king and the realm until James V was old enough to run him out of Scotland. He was an oppressive man and not loved by James V. The Scottish nobles gave the governorship to John Stuart, the Duke of Albany who had traveled from France. He was very much opposed by Margaret Tudor. However, to his credit he made no effort to supplant young James V and tried to preserve order. He expelled Margaret Tudor who could no longer be considered Regent since she had remarried. When he returned to France in 1522, Henry VIII sent troops to burn and plunder the Borders. Albany returned with French troops and drove the English out but returned again to France and fighting broke out among the Scottish nobles.
James IV's mother, his step-father, the Duke of Albany, and finally a group of nobles ruled Scotland for him. He was virtually a prisoner of his step-father until he was 14 years old. The Douglases used their power for personal profit for themselves and their friends and kept James V at Falkland Palace until he finally escaped and rode all night, disguised as a groom, to Stirling Castle. Thus, at age 17 he began his rule. King James V

The first thing he did as king was to avenge himself against the Douglases for his confinement. He confiscated their lands, took away all their powers, and declared them to be outlaws. He executed the Master of Forbes, a brother-in-law of Angus, and burned his sister, Lady Glamis, on the Castle Hill of Edinburgh on a charge of witchcraft. He was then ready to gain control over his kingdom.

As a note of interest, his mother and the Earl of Angus had a child, named Margaret. Lord Darnley was the son of this Margaret. James V's mother, Margaret, divorced Angus in 1526 and married Henry Stuart (Lord Methven).

James started with the Borders, where once again there was conflict, along with the Highlands and the Western Isles. The Armstrongs were a powerful Border clan who had burned many (52) churches in Scotland and plundered wealth from English nobles who lived south of the Borders. James V was determined to make an example of the Armstrongs and their lawlessness and led an army of men to conquer them. He put to death all the Armstrongs who had rebelled against him. He executed reivers whose fates are immortalized in the Border Ballads and imprisoned, although only for a time, Bothwell, Home, Maxwell and Johnston.

Next came the Highlands where he executed more troublesome clan leaders. He restored order by doing this and by befriending the rest of the chiefs, but he had alienated some of his best fighting men.

The Court of Sessions in Edinburgh was established by James V. This has endured as the seat of Scottish law to the present day. The Council and Session had already existed, but he reorganized the court. He made it more effective by using professional judges, who were properly paid.

James V was suspicious of the nobility but had much sympathy for his subjects. Sometimes he went about among the people incognito, which his daughter adopted but with less success. He was sometimes called the poor man's king because he would travel the countryside disguised as a poor farmer. The people were grateful for his restoring peace to the land.

He had ability and personal charm but he was fortunate. He had the unhesitating support of the Church. The Church, fearful that James would follow the example of his uncle, Henry, for Reformation, denied him nothing. His was fortunate in foreign affairs also. England and France were allied for a while because France needed English help and Henry needed French support for his divorce of Catherine of Aragon. Thus, because of Scotland's alliance with France, James V was courted by both countries (for a time).

He was sought after for marriage alliances. He almost married Catherine de Medici by arrangements obtained through Albany but this didn't come about. He went to France to marry Marie de Bourbon, but found after he arrived that he preferred Madeleine, the third daughter of the French King. They were married at Notre Dame with great ceremony. Unfortunately, she died within six months of the marriage of what could possibly have been tuberculosis. She was well like in Scotland, having knelt upon her arrival and kissed Scottish soil, and upon her death, public mourning was worn in Scotland for the first time. I take this means some sort of armband or such to commemorate her death. A year after her death, he married his second wife, Mary of Guise, the mother of Mary Queen of Scots. This was a second marriage for Mary of Guise, and by choosing her, James declared his alliance to France and not to England. Henry the VIII was furious because Mary had been on his list of women. Lucky for her that she married James first before Henry VIII could command a marriage to him. A story is told that Henry VIII declared that he was big in person and needed a big wife. Mary cannily replied that through her stature was large, her neck was little. James and Mary of Guise had two sons but they died in infancy before Mary, Queen of Scot's birth at Linlithgow Palace.

He supported France against Henry VIII. Protestant England and Catholic Scotland fought at the battle of Solway Moss in 1542. The news that his army had been defeated destroyed the health of the king. His daughter, Mary, was born a week before his death. The king said, "It came with a lass (Marjorie Bruce), it will pass with a lass." James was gifted in many ways, but he lacked persistence and calculation to be a great King. When he was on a prosperous course, he did well, but when things turned against him, he did not hold up. His death presented Henry VIII with an opportunity which he had long sought. The baby girl who was now the ruler of Scotland had for her nearest male kinsman the King of England (her great-uncle). He had a son of marriageable age and the little Queen was betrothed to the Prince of Wales. History had repeated itself. On the death of Alexander III, the nearest male kinsman of the Maid of Norway had been Edward I, Longshanks, who had a marriageable son and who knew how to exploit such a situation. Henry overplayed his hand acting as if he were already king of Scotland. The Scottish reaction was prompt. The Scottish Parliament denounced a treaty with England (the Greenwich Treaties). Henry then loosed his troops upon Scotland with instructions to kill, burn and spoil. English aggression thus drove Scotland to ally with France once again.

Article Submitted By Neil Ritchie

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