The History of Leith

August 11, 2012

Council at Holyrood, 1542

Amid the State turmoils and horrors that culminated
in the rout of Solway, James V. held a
council at Holyrood on the 3rd of November,
1542, when, according to Knox, a scroll was
presented to him by Cardinal Beaton, containingthe
names of more than one hundred of the principal
nobles and gentry, including the Earl of
Arran, then, by deaths in the royal family, next
heir to the throne, who were undoubtedly in the
pay of England, tainted with heresy, or in league
with the then outlawed clan of Douglas.
Appended to this scroll was a minute of their
possessions, with a hint of the pecuniary advantages
to result from forfeiture. This dangerous policy
James repelled by exclaiming, ” Pack you, javels !
(knaves). Get you to your religious charges ; reform
your lives, and be not instruments of discord
between me and my nobles, or else I shall reform j
you, not as the King of Denmark does, by imprisonment,
nor yet as the King of England does
by hanging and heading, but by sharp swords,
if I hear of such motion of you again !”
From this speech it has been supposed that^
James contemplated some reform in the then
dissolute Church. But the rout at Solway
followed; his heart was broken, and on learning
the birth of his daughter Mary, he died in despair
at Falkland, yet, says Pitscottie, holding up his
hands to God, as he yielded his spirit. He was
interred in the royal vault, in December, 1542,
at Holyrood, ^ where, according to a MS. in the.
Advocates’ Library, his body was seen by the Earl
of Forfar, the Lord Strathnaver, and others, who
examined that vault in 1683. “We viewed the
body of James V. It lyeth within ane wodden
coffin, and is coverit with ane lead coffin. There
seemed to be hair upon the head still. The
body was two lengths of my staff with twa inches
more, which is twae inches and more above twae
Scots elms, for I measured the staff with an ellwand
afterward. The body was coloured black with ye
balsam that preserved it, and which was lyke
melted pitch. The Earl of Forfar took the measure
with his staf lykewayes.” On the coffin was the
inscription, Illustris Scotomm, Rex Jacobus, ejus
Nominis V., with the dates of his age and death.
The first regent after that event was James,
second Earl of Arran (afterwards Duke of Chatelherault,
who had been godfather to James, the
little Duke of Rothesay, next heir to the crown,
failing the issue of the infant Queen Mary), and in
1545 this high official was solemnly invested at
Holyrood, together with the Earls of Angus, Huntly,
and Argyle, with the collar and robes of St.
Michael, sent by the King of France, and at the
hands of the Lyon King of Arms.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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