Thursday, 16 March 2017

Scottish King: James I

James I (late July 1394 – 21 February 1437), King of Scotland from 1406, was the son of King Robert III and Annabella Drummond. He was the last of three sons.
Wedding of James I to Joan Beaufort
By the time he was eight, both of his elder brothers were dead—Robert had died in infancy but David, Duke of Rothesay died suspiciously in Falkland Castle while being detained by his uncle, Robert, Duke of Albany.

Although parliament exonerated Albany, fears for James's safety grew during the winter of 1405–1406 and plans were made to send him to France.

In February 1406, James was accompanying nobles close to his father when they clashed with supporters of Archibald, 4th Earl of Douglas, forcing the prince to take refuge in the castle of the Bass Rock, a small islet in the Firth of Forth.

He remained there until mid-March, when he boarded a vessel bound for France, but on 22 March while off the English coast, pirates captured the ship and delivered James to Henry IV of England. Two weeks later, on 4 April the ailing Robert III died, and the 12-year-old uncrowned King of Scots began his 18-year detention.

James was given a good education at the English Court, where he developed respect for English methods of governance and for Henry V to the extent that he served in the English army against the French during 1420–1421.

The Scottish King's cousin, Murdoch Stewart, Albany's son, a captive in England since 1402, was traded for Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland in 1416.
Annabella Drummond & Robert III
Eight more years passed before James was ransomed, by which time Murdoch had succeeded his father to the dukedom and the governorship of Scotland.

James married Joan Beaufort, daughter of the Earl of Somerset in February 1424 shortly before his release in April when they journeyed to Scotland.

This was not altogether a popular re-entry to Scottish affairs, since James had fought on behalf of Henry V and at times against Scottish forces in France.

Noble families would now not only have to pay increased taxes to cover the £40,000 ransom repayments but would also have to provide hostages as security. Despite this, James held qualities that were admired.

The contemporary Scotichronicon by Walter Bower described James as excelling at sport and appreciative of literature and music.

Unlike his father and grandfather he did not take mistresses, but had many children by his consort, Queen Joan. The King had a strong desire to impose law and order on his subjects, but applied it selectively at times.

To bolster his authority and secure the position of the crown, James launched pre-emptive attacks on some of his nobles beginning in 1425 with his close kinsmen the Albany Stewarts resulting in the execution of Duke Murdoch and his sons. In 1428 James detained Alexander, Lord of the Isles, while attending a parliament in Inverness. Archibald, 5th Earl of Douglas, was arrested in 1431, followed by George, Earl of March, in 1434.
Joan Beaufort
 The plight of the ransom hostages held in England was ignored and the repayment money was diverted into the construction of Linlithgow Palace and other grandiose schemes.

In August 1436, James failed humiliatingly in his siege of the English-held Roxburgh Castle and then faced an ineffective attempt by Sir Robert Graham to arrest him at a general council.

James was murdered at Perth on the night of 20/21 February 1437 in a failed coup by his uncle and former ally Walter Stewart, Earl of Atholl. Queen Joan, although wounded, managed to evade the attackers and was eventually reunited with her son James II in Edinburgh Castle.

James, now the uncrowned King of Scots, began what proved to be his 18-year period as a hostage while at the same time Albany transitioned from his position of lieutenant to that of governor.

Albany took James's lands under his own control depriving the king of income and any of the regalia of his position and was referred to in records as 'the son of the late king'. The king had a small household of Scots that included Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney, Alexander Seaton, the nephew of Sir David Fleming, and Orkney's brother John Sinclair following the earl's return to Scotland.

In time, James's household—now paid for by the English—changed from high ranking individuals to less notable men.
Henry V, while Prince of Wales, presenting Thomas Hoccleve's, Regement of Princes to the Duke of Norfolk, British Library, 1411–13 AD.
Henry IV treated the young James well, providing him with a good education. James was ideally placed to observe Henry's methods of kingship and political control having probably been admitted into the royal household on reaching adulthood.

James used personal visits from his nobles coupled with letters to individuals to maintain his visibility in his kingdom. Henry died in 1413 and his son, Henry V, immediately ended James's comparative freedom initially holding him in the Tower of London along with the other Scottish prisoners.
James I a prisoner in love (Tower of London)
 One of these prisoners was James's cousin, Murdoch Stewart, Albany's son, who had been captured in 1402 at the Battle of Homildon Hill. Initially held apart but from 1413 until Murdoch's release in 1415 they were together in the Tower and at Windsor Castle.

By 1420, James's standing at Henry V's court improved greatly; he ceased to be regarded as a hostage and more of a guest.[25] James's value to Henry became apparent in 1420 when he accompanied the English king to France where his presence was used against the Scots fighting on the Dauphinist side. Following the English success at the siege of Melun, a town southeast of Paris, the contingent of Scots were hanged for treason against their king. James attended Catherine of Valois's coronation on 23 February 1421 and was honoured by sitting immediately on the queen's left at the coronation banquet.

In March, Henry began a circuit of the important towns in England as a show of strength and it was during this tour that James was knighted on Saint George's day.
Henry VI & Margaret of Anjou
 By July, the two kings were back campaigning in France where James, evidently approving of Henry's methods of kingship, seemed content to endorse the English king's desire for the French crown.

Henry appointed the Duke of Bedford and James as the joint commanders of the siege of Dreux on 18 July 1421 and on 20 August they received the surrender of the garrison. Henry died of dysentery on 31 August 1422 and in September James was part of the escort taking the English king's body back to London. The regency council of the infant King Henry VI was inclined to have James released as soon as possible. In the early months of 1423 their attempts to resolve the issue met with little response from the Scots, clearly influenced by the Albany Stewarts and adherents.

Archibald, Earl of Douglas was an astute and adaptable power in Southern Scotland whose influence even eclipsed that of the Albany Stewarts. Despite his complicity in James's brother's death in Albany's castle in 1402 Douglas was still able to engage with the king. From 1421, Douglas had been in regular contact with James and they formed an alliance that was to prove pivotal in 1423.

Although Douglas was the pre-eminent Scottish magnate his position in the borders and Lothians was jeopardised—not only did he have to forcibly retake Edinburgh Castle from his own designated warden but was very likely under threat from the earls of Angus and March.
Henry Beaufort, Cardinal Bishop of Winchester.
 In return for James's endorsement of Douglas's position in the kingdom, the earl was able to deliver his affinity in the cause of the king's home-coming.

Also, the relationship between Murdoch—now Duke of Albany following his father's death in 1420—and his own appointee Bishop William Lauder seemed to be under strain perhaps evidence of an influential grouping at odds with Murdoch's stance.

Pressure from these advocates for the king almost certainly compelled Murdoch to agree to a general council in August 1423 when it was agreed that a mission should be sent to England to negotiate James's release.

James's relationship with the House of Lancaster changed in February 1423 when he married Joan Beaufort, a cousin of Henry VI and the niece of Thomas Beaufort, 1st Duke of Exeter, and Henry, Bishop of Winchester. A ransom treaty of £40,000 sterling (less a dowry remittance of 10,000 marks) was agreed at Durham on 28 March 1424 to which James attached his own seal. The king and queen escorted by English and Scottish nobles reached Melrose Abbey on 5 April and were met by Albany who relinquished his governor's seal of office.

James asserted his authority not only over the nobility but also upon the Church and lamented that King David I's benevolence towards the Church proved costly to his successors and that he was 'a sair sanct to the croun'.
James I a prisoner in love (Tower of London)
James also considered that the monastic institutions in particular needed improvement and that they should return to being strictly ordered communities.

Part of James's solution was to create an assembly of overseeing abbots and followed this up by establishing a Carthusian priory at Perth to provide other religious houses with an example of internal conduct.

He also sought to influence Church attitudes to his policies by having his own clerics appointed to the bishoprics of Dunblane, Dunkeld, Glasgow and Moray.

In March 1425, James's parliament directed that all bishops must instruct their clerics to offer up prayers for the king and his family; a year later, parliament toughened up this edict insisting that the prayers be given at every mass under sanction of a fine and severe rebuke. This same parliament legislated that every person in Scotland should 'be governed under the king's laws and statutes of this realm only'. From this, laws were enacted in 1426 to restrict the actions of prelates whether it was to regulate their need to travel to the Roman Curia or their ability to purchase additional ecclesiastical positions while there.

In James's parliament of July 1427, it is evident that statute being enacted had the purpose of reducing the powers of the church jurisdiction.On 25 July 1431, the general council of the Church convened in Basel but its initial full meeting did not take place until 14 December by which time Pope Eugenius and the council were in complete disagreement.
Pope Eugenius IV: Restitutional medal
by Girolamo Paladino on
Pope Eugene IV (1431-1447),
the reverse featuring the scales of justice
and the motto REDDE CVIQUE SVVM
("to each his own!"), HMB inv. 2016.6.

It was the council and not the pope who requested that James send representatives of the Scottish church and it is known that two delegates—Abbot Thomas Livingston of Dundrenanan and John de Winchester, canon of Moray and a servant of the king—were in attendance in November and December 1432.

In 1433 James, this time in response to a summons by the pope, appointed two bishops, two abbots and four dignatories to attend the council.

Twenty–eight Scottish ecclesiasts attended at intervals from 1434 to 1437 but the majority of the higher ranking churchmen sent proxy attendees but Bishops John Cameron of Glasgow and John de Crannach of Brechin attended in person as did Abbot Patrick Wotherspoon of Holyrood.

Even in the midst of the Basel general council, Pope Eugenius instructed his legate, Bishop Antonio Altan of Urbino, to meet with James to raise the issue of the king's controversial anti-barratry laws of 1426.

The Bishop of Urbino arrived in Scotland in December 1436 and apparently a reconciliation between James and the papal legate had taken place by the middle of February 1437 but the events of 21 February when James was assassinated prevented the legate from completing his commission.

Walter Stewart was the youngest of Robert II's sons and the only one not to have been provided with an earldom during his father's lifetime.
Robert II coin
Walter's brother, David, earl of Strathearn and Caithness had died before 5 March 1389 when his daughter Euphemia was first recorded as countess of Strathearn. Walter, now ward to his niece, administered Strathearn for the next decade and a half during which time he aided his brother Robert, Earl of Fife and Guardian of Scotland by enforcing law and order upon another brother Alexander, lord of Badenoch—he again supported Robert (now Duke of Albany) against their nephew, David, Duke of Rothesay in 1402.

Albany most likely engineered the marriage of Euphemia to one of his affinity, Patrick Graham and by doing so ended Walter's involvement in Strathearn. Duke Robert, possibly to make up for the loss of the fruits of Strathearn, made Walter earl of Atholl and Lord of Methven. In 1413, Graham was killed in a quarrel with his own principal servant in the earldom, John Drummond.
Robert III coin
The Drummond kindred were close to Atholl and the earl's renewed involvement in Strathearn as ward to Graham's son despite strong opposition from Albany hint at Atholl's possible party to the murder.

The bad blood now existing between Albany and Atholl led James on his return to Scotland in 1424 to ally himself with Earl Walter, his uncle. Atholl participated at the assize that sat over the 24/25 May 1425 that tried and found the prominent members of the Albany Stewarts guilty of rebellion—their executions followed swiftly.

James granted Atholl the positions of Sheriff of Perth and Justicier and also the earldom of Strathearn but this, significantly, in life-rent only—acts that confirmed Earl Walter's policing remit given by Albany and his already effective grip on Strathearn.
David II coin
Atholl's elder son, David had been one of the hostages sent to England as a condition of James's release and had died there in 1434—his younger son, Alan died in the king's service at the Battle of Inverlochy in 1431. David's son Robert was now Atholl's heir and both were now in line to the throne after the young Prince James.

James continued to show favour to Atholl and appointed his grandson Robert as his personal chamberlain but by 1437, after a series of setbacks at the hands of James, the earl and Robert probably viewed the king's actions as a prelude to further acquisitions at Atholl's expense.
Geoffrey Sherard, High Sheriff of Rutland
1468, 1480 and 1484
Atholl's hold on the rich earldom of Strathearn was weak and both he and Robert would have realised that after the earl's death Strathearn would have reverted to the crown.

This meant that Robert's holdings would have been the relatively impoverished earldoms of Caithness and Atholl and amounted to no more than what was in the Earl Walter's possession in the years between 1406 and 1416.

The retreat from Roxburgh exposed the king to questions regarding his control over his subjects, his military competence and his diplomatic abilities yet he remained determined to continue with the war against England.

Just two months after the Roxburgh fiasco, James called a general council in October 1436 to finance further hostilities through more taxation. The estates firmly resisted this and their opposition was articulated by their speaker Sir Robert Graham, a former Albany attendant but now a servant of Atholl.

The council then witnessed an unsuccessful attempt by Graham to arrest the king resulting in the knight's imprisonment followed by banishment but James did not see Graham's actions as part of any extended threat. In January 1437, Atholl received yet another rebuff in his own heartlands when James overturned the chapter of Dunkeld Cathedral whose nominee was replaced by the king's nephew and firm supporter, James Kennedy.

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