Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus

Douglas, Archibald, 6th Earl of Angus
In 1509, Douglas married Margaret, daughter of the Earl of Bothwell. After her death in 1513 he married, on August 6 1514, the queen dowager and regent, Margaret Tudor, widow of James IV and elder sister of Henry VIII. The marriage stirred up the jealousy of the nobles and the opposition of the faction supporting French influence in Scotland. Civil war broke out and Margaret lost the regency to John Stuart, Duke of Albany.

Angus withdrew to his estates in Forfarshire, while Albany besieged the queen at Stirling and got possession of the royal children; then he joined Margaret after her flight at Morpeth and on her departure for London returned and made his peace with Albany in 1516. He met her once more at Berwick in June 1517, when Margaret returned to Scotland on Albany's departure in vain hopes of regaining the regency.

Meanwhile, during Margaret's absence, Angus had become involved with a daughter of the Laird of Traquair. Margaret avenged his neglect of her by refusing to support his claims for power and by secretly trying through Albany to get a divorce. In Edinburgh Angus held his own against the attempts of James Hamilton to dislodge him. But the return of Albany in 1521, with whom Margaret now sided against her husband, deprived him of power. The regent took the government into his own hands, Angus was charged with high treason in December and in March 1522 was sent practically a prisoner to France, whence he succeeded in escaping to London in 1524.

He returned to Scotland in November with promises of support from Henry VIII, with whom he made a close alliance. Margaret, however, refused to have anything to do with her husband. On the 23rd, therefore, Angus forced his way into Edinburgh, but was fired upon by Margaret and retreated to Tantallon Castle.
He now organized a large party of nobles against Margaret with the support of Henry VIII and in February 1525 they entered Edinburgh and called a parliament. Angus was made a Lord of the Articles, was included in the Council of regency, bore the king's crown on the opening of the session and with Archbishop Beaton held the chief power. In March he was appointed Lord Warden of the Marches and suppressed the disorder and anarchy on the border. In July the guardianship of the King was entrusted to him for a fixed period (until the 1st of November) but he refused at its close to retire and advancing to Linlithgow put to flight Margaret and his opponents.

He now, with his followers, engrossed all the power, succeeded in gaining over some of his antagonists, including Arran and the Hamiltons, and filled the public offices with Douglases, he himself becoming Chancellor. 'None that time durst strive against a Douglas nor Douglas's man'.
The young king, James V, now fourteen, was far from content under the tutelage of Angus but he was closely guarded and several attempts to free him were foiled. Angus defeated John Stuart (qv), 3rd Earl of Lennox, who had advanced towards Edinburgh with 10,000 men in August and subsequently took Stirling. After his military successes, he reconciled with Beaton, and in 1527 and 1528 was busy in restoring order through the country.

On 11 March 1528 Margaret succeeded in obtaining her divorce from Angus and about the end of the month she and her lover, Henry Stewart, were besieged at Stirling. A few weeks later, however, James escaped from Angus's custody, took refuge with Margaret and Arran at Stirling and immediately proscribed Angus and all the Douglases, forbidding them to come within seven miles of his person.

Angus, having fortified himself in Tantallon, was attainted and his lands confiscated. Repeated attempts by James to subdue the fortress failed and on one occasion Angus captured the royal artillery. At length, Tantallon was given up as a condition of a truce between England and Scotland, and in May 1529 Angus sought refuge with Henry VIII, obtained a pension and took an oath of allegiance, Henry promising to make his restoration a condition of peace.


tantallon castle

tantallon castle1
Angus had been largely guided in his intrigues with England by his brother, Sir George Douglas of Pittendriech, Master of Angus (died 1552), a far more clever diplomat than himself. George's life and lands were also declared forfeit, as were those of his uncle, Archibald Douglas of Kilspindie (died 1535), known by the nickname of Greysteel, who had been a friend of James. These men fled into exile.

James avenged himself on such Douglases as he could. Angus's third sister Janet, Lady Glamis, was summoned to answer a charge of communicating with her brothers and when she failed to appear, her estates were forfeited. In 1537 she was tried for conspiring against the king's life. She was found guilty and burnt on the Castle Hill, Edinburgh on 17th July 1537. Her innocence has been generally assumed but Tytler (History of Scotland, iv. pp. 433, 434) considered her guilty.

Angus remained in England until 1542, joining in the attacks upon his countrymen on the border, while James refused all demands from Henry VIII for his restoration and kept firm to his policy of suppressing the Douglas faction.

On James V's death in 1542 Angus returned to Scotland, with instructions from Henry to negotiate a marriage between Mary Stuart and Edward VI. His forfeiture was rescinded, his estates restored and he was made a privy councillor and lieutenant-general.

In 1543, he successfully negotiated a peace treaty and the marriage, and the same year he married Margaret, daughter of Robert, Lord Maxwell. Shortly afterwards a struggle between Angus and the regent Arran broke out and in April 1544 Angus was captured.

The same year Lord Hertford's marauding expedition, which did not spare the lands of Angus, made him join the anti-English party. He entered into a bond with Arran and others to maintain their allegiance to Mary and gave his support to the mission sent to France to offer the latter's hand. In July 1544 he was appointed lieutenant of the south of Scotland and distinguished himself on 27th February 1545 in the victory over the English at Ancrum Moor.

He still corresponded with Henry VIII but nevertheless signed, in 1546, the act cancelling the marriage and peace treaty, and on 10th September commanded the van in the great defeat of Pinkie, when he again won fame. In 1548 the attempt by Lennox and Wharton to capture him and punish him for his duplicity failed, Angus escaping after his defeat to Edinburgh by sea, and Wharton being driven back to Carlisle.

Under the regency of Mary of Lorraine his restless and ambitious character, and the number of his retainers, gave cause for frequent alarms to the government. On 31st August 1547 he resigned his earldom, obtaining a regrant sibi et suis haeredibus masculis et suis assignatis quibuscumque.

His career was a long struggle for power and for the interests of his family, to which national considerations were completely subordinate. He died in January 1557. By Margaret Tudor he had Margaret, his only surviving legitimate child, who married the Earl of Lennox, and was mother of Lord Darnley. He was succeeded by his nephew David, son of Sir George Douglas of Pittendriech.

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