Scottish political parties 1573-1603
Young, John Graeme Bennett
The period 1573 to 1603 offers a unique opportunity for the study of power politics in Scotland and an assessment of the place of these politics in the lives of those who mattered most politically, the nobility. When the forces of the government of Scotland, under the leadership of Regent Morton on behalf of the infant king', James, succeeded in capturing the castle of Edinburgh from the remnant of Queen Mary's party in Scotland, the long struggle between kingsmen and queensmen was over. It was, indeed, more than the kingsrnen/queensmen struggle which was thus ended, for Edinburgh Castle had been captured only with English aid, so that the split from France and the turning towards England which had both been occasioned by and had helped to occasion the Reformation in Scotland, were confirmed. Despite English fears, Scotland never fell under French influence to any great extent hereafter and the likelihood of her so doing was diminished by the union of the crowns in 1603. With the drawn-out struggle of the civil war years behind them, those who governed Scotland, essentially kingsmen, had to illustrate whether or not they were able for the task of restoring peace to the divided country. It also remained to be seen whether their government would be impartial or whether the; would use their position of authority to prosecute the more effectively, quarrels, both private and public which had their origins in the divisions of the civil war years. This situation lands itself to an investigation of how the nobility, in particular, had aligned themselves in the events of these past civil war years. In assessing the impartiality of the new government it will be necessary to investigate how far such disputes as inevitably came into being arose from the earlier divisions and how far from actions undertaken after peace had been restored. The starting point of this study, then, is taken to be the fall of Edinburgh Gastlo in May 1573> which completed the process of establishing peace which the pacification of Perth of February in the same year had more than adequately began. This pacification had ended the immediate allegiance to Queen Mary of many of her most powerful supporters, others of whom drifted over to the government in the months before the fall of the castle. The oastle indeed held only a handful of important men by the time of its surrender. Of these men, Maitland of Lethington soon died, perhaps by his own hand, Kirkcaldy of Grange and others were executed while such as Lord Hume were warded. This meant that the hard core of the Marian party formed a section of the nobility with grievances against the government but it remained to be seen whether the irreconcilables would be limited to this small number, who consequently would be unable to do anything about the grievances, or would be enlarged to include more of those who had been in the queen's party. Clearly, then, the continuation or otherwise of the strife and divisions of the civil war years would have a fundamental bearing on the success and continence of the new government. The reason;for the selection of the closing date for this study are obvious, of course, for with the union of the crowns and the establishment of the king in London, Scotland was without a resident monarch and court, at least on any permanent basis. Consequently this period of thirty years provides the last possible opportunity for a study of the actions and motives of the Scots nobility on their soil with reference to almost purely Scottish problems and in company with, if occasionally in opposition to, their resident monarch. The period is thus uniquely wedged between a civil war and the ending of the residence of the monarchy in Scotland.