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    First James


    Історичні особистості

    The First James of Scotland
    By Rballoch.

    James1 of Scotland

    =============================================< br>On 20 February, 1437 King James I of Scotland was assasinated. In memory ofthis King, I have written a small biography of his life and his reign. Thisby no means is a full account of the events in the Kings life - or theevents that took place in Scotland at the time, but the major events arecovered to give an idea who this man was.
    JAMES I of Scotland


    King of Scots (1424 - 37), born in Dunfermline, Fife, the second son of
    Robert III. After his elder brother David was murdered at Falkland (1402),allegedly by his uncle, the Duke of Albany, James was sent for safety to
    France, but was captured by the English, and remained a prisoner for 18years. Albany meanwhile ruled Scotland as governor until his death in 1420,when his son, Murdoch, assumed the regency,

    and the country rapidly fell into disorder.
    The Regents

    ===================< br>James Stewart of the Royal house of Stuart spent most of his childhood lifein exile as a prisoner of the English. The Scots who ruled in his absenceas regents would not pay his high ransom the English demanded for hisreturn to Scotland. Finally, after 18 years in exile, his countrymen agreedto his ransom and James returned to Scotland.
    Scotland was in a near state of armed insurrection when James returned. Theprevious regent, Murdoch, had been a poor and corrupt regent and the clanfeuds in the Highlands continued unabated. In the Lowlands and Borders, the
    Border Barons rode their raids, terrorized the burghs, and pursued the
    Crowns revenues by theiving the crown taxes for themselves. Less that 4% ofrevenues were actually reaching Edinburgh when James took over.
    Murdoch, the regent soon regretted paying for James's return. "If God givesme but a dog's life, "said James when he saw and heard what had befallenhis country, "I will make the key keep the castle and the bracken bush keepthe cow through all Scotland ". In a week after his coronation a parliamentat Perth declared that peace would be enforced throughout the realm, and of
    "any man presume to make war against another he shall suffer the fullpenalties of the law. "
    Once released (1424), James dealt ruthlessly with potential rivals to hisauthority, executing Murdoch and his family.
    Within a year, James had broken the power of his cousins the Albany
    Stewarts and seized their estates. Upon some real or contrived charge oftreason, the former regent of Scotland who had let James remain a prisonerin England so long, Murdoch and his two sons, with the aged father-in-lawof one of them, were first imprisoned and then taken to the heading-blockat Stirling.
    There were men who mourned their death, despite all the corruption,believing them friends of the poor and the victims of James's tyranny. Theromantic and frequently misguided attachment to the unsuccessful members ofthe House of Stewart has deep roots in Scotland's history.

    James Takes Control of Scotland


    He was 32 when he came back to Scotland, of medium height but large-bonedand thickset, quick in his movements like a fox. He was an athlete, riderand wrestler, skilled with bow and spear, and proud of the strength in hisbroad chest and muscled arms. His darting and inquisitive mind wasfascinated by the machinery of war, gunnery in particular, as it intriguedmost men of the day. He was also a poet and

    muscian, and almost unique in the contradictory powers of tranquilreflection and uncompromising action. Beyond firm government perhaps, thegreatest gift he brought to a bleak Scotland was some of the first of itslyrical verse.
    Idle as a prisoner, albiet well kept prisoner, in England he had read allhe could, and his long poem "The Kingis Quair", inspired by Chaucer'stranslation of a French allegory, is a soft voice speaking with a love ofevocative words.
    James was the first of many Stewart kings to act as a patron of the arts,and almost certainly wrote the tender, passionate collection of poems,
    ( "The King's Quire" or book), c.1423--4.
    It was not a woeful wretch who came home to Scotland, but the first realking the country had had since the death of Robert Bruce in 1329.
    His bride was Joan Beaufort, a niece of English king Henry IV, and a sixthof his ransom had been obligingly remitted as her dowry. It was not only amarriage of dynastic arrangement, and many believe the tender poem referredto above, was about her as he viewed her from his prison tower, and fellin love with as she walked among the court.
    From James I, perhaps comes that legendary Stewart charm, more disasterousto Scotland than an Albany's corrupt rule. But, the man who had sighed andwritten for and about love at a garden window in London, was merciless andresolute on a throne. His concern for law and order, while it was needed tosecure his crown, also had roots in a poet's sense of justice, but he didnot respond like a poet. When he had exterminated his cousins, he turnedupon the Highlands. He was the first

    of his family to treat the clans like cattle, showing that contempt most ofthem had for the Gaelic people, and making the Highlander's ultimate self -sacrifice for the House of Stewart as pointless as it was herioc.
    He summoned over 40 Highland Chiefs in 1428 before him and his parliamentat Inverness. Among the Highlanders were Alexander of the Isles, (thecurrent Lord of the Isles), the son of Donald of Harlaw. They were greetedas thugs upon arrival, as each appeared before the throne he was seized bymen-at-arms and thrown into the dungeon pit. One by one, the Chiefs of Clan
    Donald, MacKay, MacKenzie, Campbell and all the tribes and leaders of thenorth, while the poet king entertained the

    parliament with a witty Latin squib on their certain hempen departure. Infact, three were hanged and the rest released after a brutal, but shortimprisonment. Clemency was granted for any offences they might havecommited, but it was wasted on Alexander of the Isles. He and his wild
    Islanders, remembered the treachery that had preceded it, and when King andparliament were gone, came back by ship over rivers, and burnt the burgh of
    Inverness to the ground, one of seven bonfires which

    the MacDonald's lit upon that ground in their clan's riotous history.
    James marched to Lochaber, isolated Alexander from his allies, and forcedhim to come to Edinburgh in submission. Wearing shirt and drawers only,holding his 2 handed claymore by the blade, he knelt before the high altarof Holyrood and humbly offered the hilt of the weapon to the king. Jameswould have hanged him, it is said, but for the intercession of the Queen,and was instead sent to a Lothian castle in the keeping of a Douglas earl.
    In the 13 years he strengthened the machinery of government and justice,replacing the baron's law with the king's law, and restoring the crown to arespect it had not received since Bruce's heart was taken from his ribcage. Copies of law were distributed among all sheriffs so that no manmight claim ignorance of the law. Of course this really only worked in the
    Lowlands, as the Highlands and Isles were still ruled by the clan systemand the supreme authority there, was the individual Chief of the clan --with the King coming in a distant second.
    Justice was attempted to be available to all, but since this principle waseasier to enact through parliament than to put into actual practise, theking himself chose a special court from the Three Estates to considercomplaints and abuses. He also set up a commitee of wise and discreet mento examine the laws at intervals, and to advise upon their admendment ifneccessary. The power of the civil justice and criminal courts werestrengthened under James I's reign. He clearly wished to

    establish a parliament such as he had seen at work in England.
    For more information of his mammoth changes to Scottish courts andparliaments, see the book "Scotland from the Earliest Times to 1603" - by
    William Croft Dickinson. (Although it may be difficult to obtain a copy).
    Though orthodox in faith and sincere in piety, he was a rough opponent of
    Rome when he felt it threatened his own countries independence. He deniedthe Pope's power of provision, the right to appoint bishops to vacant seeson Scotland, and thus have influence over one of the estates in itsparliament.It had become the kings right to approve a bishop-elect beforeconsecration and papal promotion, and he stopped his churchmen frombargaining with Rome for these benefices, arguing with some justice thatthe traffic was impoverishing his kingdom. With his parliament, he declaredthis "barratry" illegal, taxed the export of gold and silver, and forbadethe clerics to travel abroad without royal license, the Pope demanded therepeal of the acts. The king's response was to acknowledge the authority ofthe Counsil of Basle, which had attempted to reform such papal powers ofprovision.
    He was hard and exacting on the true duties of his churchmen, and orderedthem to set their house in order, lest the crown's past generousity be cut.
    But, Scotlands detestment of so called "heretics", which resulted in thefirst heretical buring, during the regent before James 'reign, was startedagain in 1433. A second was burnt, Paul

    Crawar, a reasonable fellow by the sound of him, a Bohemian graduate ofmedicine and the arts who had come to St. Andrews University as an emissaryof the Hussites. He was said to have preached free love and socialism (or aform of it) by his detractors, that enduring combination of human desires.
    The smoldering flames that would spread from his burning, burnt longer thanhis judges could have imagined.
    Law, administration, and political and church reform were all done orattempted during James I's reign. No king had done so much for Scotland,outside of war and independence, since Alexander II, and few had so manyenemies. The work he set off was too great for any one man, and in hisefforts to break the powers of the barons he was often careless andfoolish. He alienated the Douglases (one of the most powerful Lowland
    Scottish families) by imprisoning their earl, and deprived the Earl of
    March of his title and estates because of his father's desertion to the
    English 30 years before. Four-fifths of his ransom was yet to be paid andmany of the lords had kinsman still held hostage in England, and bitterlyresented the kings indifference to them. His custom of appropriatingestates to the crown when there was doubt about an heir may have been goodhousekeeping or feudal custom, but most men considered it robbery. Hislarge family of first and distant cousins was full of jealousy, spite, envyand greed, and it was perhaps inevitable that this Stewart king should dieby a Stewart plot.
    He himself made it possible by weaking his prestige with a half-hearted warwith England. On her way to marry the Dauphin his daughter Margaretnarrowly escaped a piratical attack by an English ship, and what seems onthe surface to be a good excuse, James besieged the castle of Roxburgh,which had been in English hands now, for 100 years. He abandoned it withoutassualt, the reason is unclear, but it is said that his wife warned him ofplots against him if he pressd on. And there was

    a plot, within his own family and his own household, and the unpopularityof the king's withdrawl from a chivalrous field (the castle) gave theplotters courage. At it's veiled centre was the Earl of Atholl, "that oldservant of many evil days ", a son of Robert II's second marriage and by hisown reckoning the rightful king of Scotland.

    His son, Sir Robert Stewart, was the King's Chamberlain, and it was he whofound a willing assassin in Sir Robert Graham, a man with his own festeringgrudge and a scarred memory of the imprisonment and banishment.
    At the end of 1436 James went to keep Christmas with the Dominican friarsat Perth. As he crossed the Forth a Highland woman warned him that he wouldnever return alive, a common warning in Scots history and just as commonlyignored. She followed him to Perth, it is said, repeating her tediouswarnings, and she was present on the night of February 20 when Robert
    Stewart opened the door of the convent where the King was staying, andadmitted the Graham.
    James was in his wife's chamber, talking to her and her ladies, relaxed inhis dressing-gown, amused by the Highland's woman's last warning andtelling stories of omens and premonitions. When he heard the noise of heavyfeet, clanking armour, his quick mind sensed what they meant. He wrenchedup the planking of the floor and dropped into a vault or drain below,hoping to escape into a court beyond but forgetting that its mouth hadrecently been sealed to prevent his tennis-balls from rolling into it.
    Graham and his eight confederates broke into the room, dragged

    out the fighting King, and butchered him with twenty-eight dagger-strokes.
    The Queen was wounded in her efforts to save her husband, and it might havebeen better for Graham had he killed her too since he had gone this far.
    This "freshest and fairest flower" of the King's youth became a tigress inrevenge. Atholl and Robert Stewart, Graham and his hired cutthroats weresoon taken, and suffered long and appalling torture until the Queen's griefwas satisfied and they were sent to the merciful headsman.
    And so ended the life of James I of Scotland on 20 February, 1437 .... 560years ago this year.

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