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Regency in Sixteenth-Century Scotland

Regency in Sixteenth-Century Scotland

Amy Blakeway
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt7zst3p
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  • Book Info
    Regency in Sixteenth-Century Scotland
    Book Description:

    Three monarchs of Scotland (James V, Mary Queen of Scots, and James VI/I) were crowned during the sixteenth century; each came to the throne before their second birthday. Throughout all three royal minorities, the Scots remained remarkably consistent in their governmental preferences: that an individual should "bear the person" of the infant monarch, with all the power and risks that entailed. Regents could alienate crown lands, call parliament, raise taxes, and negotiate for the monarch's marriage, yet they also faced the potential of a shameful deposition from power and the assassin's gun.BR> In examining the careers of the six men and two women who became regent in context with each other and contemporary expectations, Regency in Sixteenth-Century Scotland offers the first study of regency as a political office. It provides a major reassessment of both the office of regency itself and of individual regents. The developments in how the Scots thought about regency are charted, and the debates in which they engaged on this subject are exposed for the first time. Drawing on a broad archival base of neglected manuscript materials, ranging from financial accounts, to the justiciary court records, to diplomatic correspondence scattered from Edinburgh to Paris, the book reveals a greater level of continuity between the personal rules of the adult Stewarts and of their regents than has hitherto been appreciated. Amy Blakeway is a Junior Research Fellow in History at Homerton College, University of Cambridge.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-432-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. x-xi)
  6. Timeline of Regents and Monarchs
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    When John Maxwell, fourth Lord Herries of Terregles, sat down to write his memoirs, he recollected royal minorities as troubled times. This former warden of the West March could justifiably consider himself an authority on the subject, since he and his contemporaries had gained considerable experience of child kings. For fifty years of the sixteenth century, Scotland lacked an adult monarch.² James V became king aged seventeen months; his daughter, Mary, succeeded him when six days old; in turn, Mary’s son, James VI, was crowned a month after his first birthday. Royal minorities were a hazard attendant upon hereditary monarchy...

  8. 1 Concepts of Regency
    (pp. 17-53)

    On 20 October 1568, two groups of Scots were invited to ‘declare their Opinions, for the government of their Realme in the minoritie of their Prince’.¹ The question was both pertinent and topical, since in May that year Mary, Queen of Scots, had escaped from her imprisonment in Lochleven castle and fled across the border to England. Unwilling to sanction rebellion against a fellow anointed monarch, but equally unwilling to restore Mary (a Catholic and a dynastic threat), Elizabeth ordered Mary’s imprisonment. In an attempt to secure a compromise between Mary and her opponents, Elizabeth summoned representatives from both sides...

  9. 2 Concepts of Regency in Practice
    (pp. 54-88)

    The change in conceptions of regency outlined in chapter one, from an inherited right and duty to an office bestowed by election, had implications for the practicalities of rule. A small but significant example of the way in which changing understandings of regency affected practice can be seen in the sederunt lists of privy council meetings, which recorded the individuals in attendance in order of precedence. During majority rule, the name of the monarch attending the council was written above the word ‘sederunt’, indicating the monarch’s superior, and separate, status. During the minorities of James V and Mary, Queen of...

  10. 3 Regency Finances
    (pp. 89-126)

    The sixteenth-century Scottish crown, like its European counterparts, was semi-permanently broke. Standard historiographical wisdom has it that, with the exceptions of the personal rules of James V and Mary, the crown limped and lurched from financial crisis to financial crisis throughout the sixteenth century until James VI finally took the court south, when he left a number of ruined former officials and an overall sigh of relief in his financially reckless wake.¹ Minorities in general, and individual regents specifically, have been regarded as a contributing factor to the crown’s financial woes. Albany’s regency has been characterised as ‘an expensive luxury’,...

  11. 4 Households and Courts
    (pp. 127-157)

    On 3 February 1549, Barbara Hamilton, Châtelherault’s eldest daughter, married Alexander Gordon, master of Huntly, heir of George Gordon, fourth earl of Huntly. Barbara’s appearance on this occasion was, naturally, paramount. Accordingly, a considerable amount was spent to ensure that she looked not only ravishing, but regal, since a ‘rob ryall’ made of purple velvet served as her wedding dress.¹ This was more than simply an expensive item of clothing, as royal robes were traditionally worn by members of the immediate royal family at important political events: Marie de Guise and James V had royal robes made for her coronation...

  12. 5 Justice and Regency
    (pp. 158-192)

    On 5 August 1568, a proclamation was issued in an attempt to reassert Moray’s authority. The regent and council were concerned that disobedience was increasing, including, most perturbingly, amongst those who had previously accepted the regent’s authority, ‘alsweill in jugement as outwith sitting in place of judgement, executand judgment to his Hienes subjectis’.² This concern neatly underscores the importance of justice to early modern regimes; since justice was rulers’ paramount duty, it was vitally important that they were seen to dispense it.³ On the other side of the coin, subjects’ participation in the judicial process revealed, at the least, that...

  13. 6 Regency Diplomacy
    (pp. 193-232)

    In July 1567, William Cecil mused over the prospect of a particularly enticing political morsel. Reviewing the terms of an offer for Mary and her infant son, Prince, but shortly to become King, James, to come and live in England in order to ‘enioy quyetness’, Cecil amended the terms to include only James.¹ Whilst his mother was a liability, the infant royal presented a tantalising opportunity. In the event, of course, on this occasion Cecil got the exact opposite of what he wanted. Moreover, his suggestion was far from novel. Rumours of French plots and concrete English plans to acquire...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 233-239)

    Any hereditary monarchy in which the succession is strictly determined by primogeniture faces the prospect of a child as head of state. As we have seen, sixteenth-century Scots experienced royal minority to a far greater degree than any of their European counterparts. Moreover, they coped with the ensuing ‘inconvenients’ in a strikingly uniform way: the appointment, succession or election of an individual to become regent, an office which comprised ‘bearing the person’ of the monarch. Throughout this book numerous contemporary quotations refer to regents, with the exceptions of the two dowager queens, as ‘princes’. In some cases, such as for...

  15. Appendix 1: The Treasurer’s Accounts
    (pp. 240-244)
  16. Appendix 2: The Comptroller’s Accounts
    (pp. 245-250)
  17. Appendix 3: The Collectors of the Thirds’ Accounts
    (pp. 251-252)
  18. Appendix 4: Justice Ayres in Sixteenth-Century Scotland
    (pp. 253-262)
  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 263-282)
  20. Index
    (pp. 283-290)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 291-291)