Letter: the chancellor and three estates to Henry VIII of England concerning the custody of the kingdom of Scotland during the minority of James V
A reply concerning the custody of the kingdom during the minority of the king

To the right excellent, right high and right mighty prince [Henry VIII], king of England. Right excellent, right high and mighty prince, on 3 February instant we received your letters patent under your privy seal dated at Greenwich, 14 January last past, bearing in effect that, albeit in consideration of the proximity of blood between the king, our sovereign lord, your nephew, and your grace, as well as of his minority and tender age, you have hitherto been agreeable to live in tranquility and peace with him, his realm and us. Nonetheless, you now understand that [John Stewart], duke of Albany has arrived here, furnished in the manner tending to hostility and war, taking upon him as governor the custody of our said sovereign, and, as you are informed, has committed the keeping and governance of him to a stranger of small reputation, damnably procuring the divorce of [Margaret Tudor], the queen, your sister, and [Archibald Douglas, earl of Angus], her husband, intending thereby to contract marriage with her, whereby our said sovereign lord, as it appeared to your grace, is in danger to be destroyed and your sister to the point of perdition, which inconvenience to eschew you by your great labour caused long or now [Francis I], king of France to faithfully promise to keep the said duke in France and think that he is coming here to accomplish his damnable enterprises in a covert manner and without knowledge of the said king, as he has expressly declared to your ambassador resident in his court, and that albeit the said duke lately desired at your grace's prorogation of truce. Yet regarding the dangers written above, and that if he were established at rest in this realm he should abuse us and so aspire to the crown of the same, you have refused to grant any truce or peace at his request during his residence here, albeit he, being excluded from us, you could have been agreeable thereto if the same had been demanded by us, desiring us, therefore, that we neither aid, favour nor assist the said duke in his perverse purpose, nor suffer him to remain in this realm, assuring us that if we do otherwise and suffer his remaining here, you will thereby take provocation with your confederates to do us all displeasure and damage at your power, as is further contained in your letters at more at length. Right excellent, right high and mighty prince, in our most humble manner we thank your grace of the favour you bear to the king, our sovereign lord, your nephew, and the good mind that, until now, your grace has had to live in peace and tranquility with his highness, his realm and us, in which we believe firmly you will yet continue, you being as largely informed in all behalfs of the truth as you have been of the contrary by such persons as we well perceive neither love your grace's honour nor the well-being of this realm, albeit we marvel greatly that your highness, being so virtuous a prince, should give any faith or credence to them, especially in the points contained in your said letters upon which the information made to your grace is so little of appearance or of likelihood to be true. For in the first, where it has been reported to your grace that the right illustrious prince the Duke of Albany, tutor of law to our said sovereign lord, chosen and often called to us to the governance of this realm should now be coming here in manner of hostility, taking into his hands the custody of our said sovereign lord, and appointing the governance of him to a stranger of small reputation, may it please your grace to understand that we know perfectly that these informations made to your grace are contrary to the truth, for it is well known how desirous he has been at all times, and is, to the procuring and keeping of good peace, and that he would never interfere in any manner with the custody of the king, our sovereign lord's person, nor appoint any servant or officer in his house [to do the same], but always has referred and refers all such things to be ordered by us, and we, with advice of the queen, have made both before the first coming of our said governor and since then, have so substantially provided for the sure custody of his person, appointing certain of the most aged, notable and honourable lords of this realm thereto, who yet continually persevere, awaiting on the same and all other ways in the manner as we will answer to God and to the world whatever is coloured or alleged in the contrary, marvelling not a little that your grace should repute us of so small honour, conscience and provision that we, for any pleasure or profit in this earth, would overlook the surety of our natural prince and sovereign lord, or that any others should be more attentive to his conservation than his proper mother and we, as true subjects. Further, right excellent, right high and mighty prince, we see no appearance as to why your grace should believe or give credence that our said lord governor, who has been nourished with so great honour and had so tender a familiarity with popes and the greatest princes in Christendom, would endure the neglect of his fame and conscience as to imagine or think of any harm or displeasure to our sovereign lord's person, or to induce any princess to leave her lawful husband for his cause, nor he to separate himself from [Anne, countess of Auvergne and Lauraguais], his own espoused wife, being a lady so virtuous and by whom he has so great lordships and possessions, and in good faith we firmly believe that neither the queen's grace, your sister, or he, are or have been minded thereto in any manner.

Right excellent, right high and mighty prince, whereas your grace, for avoiding the dangers stated above by your letters, you with your labours and instance persuaded the King of France faithfully to promise that he should not endure our said lord governor's return in this realm; what promise or conventions are passed between you thereupon we know not, yet we understand well what is between his highness, our sovereign lord, and us. But of one thing pleases your grace, be informed that, considering how virtuously our said lord governor had himself during all the time of his residency here, truly serving our sovereign lord, how well minded he ever stood for the augmentation of peace between these realms, how diligent he was in repressing the damnable enterprise of our sovereign lord's untrue lieges, who treasonably attempted to put hands on his most noble person and transport the same out of this his realm, of which they were convicted in plain parliament, we doubt not, but it will clearly appear to all Christian princes that your grace should have shown more evident tokens of love and amity towards our sovereign lord, procuring and soliciting at the King of France's [instance] the hasty return of our said governor to the keeping and entertaining of this realm in policy and justice than to have given impediment to the same, suffering, as is plainly alleged by your command, your wardens and officers on your borders continually to aid and favour and receive the traitors, rebels and broken men of this realm, inciting them to the contempt of their and our sovereign lord's authority, riding with convocation of thieves, traitors and misdoers, their accomplices, so many as they might be, and also far within the land as they dare, robbing, spoiling and overthrowing the true lieges of this realm at their power. And moreover, by the foresaid letters of your grace, it appears that whatsoever good service is done by our lord governor and us to the king, our sovereign lord, your nephew, and commonwealth of his realm is little regarded but rather taken as an evil part by your grace, and whatsoever report of little weight is sinisterly made by any Scottish traitor or fugitive for his demerits from our sovereign lord, your nephew, and his laws, has firm credence by the principal [men] of your grace's council, whereupon if they so continue, we do not see how amity and good love may increase between our said sovereign lord, your nephew, and you. Nonetheless, may it please your grace to withdraw your credence from such false reports, not allowing [Gavin Douglas], bishop of Dunkeld or others of our sovereign lord's rebels to be received within your realm and be content with our said lord governor's presence, and that we may have abstinence of war for a time until an embassy may be made ready. The king, our sovereign lord, shall in the meantime, with advice of his tutor, our governor, send to your grace his ambassadors for establishing further peace. Where, by the contrary, your grace standing so impeded that you cannot be agreeable to have peace or a truce with the king, our sovereign lord, or us, unless we expel and cause our said lord governor to depart out of this realm, we may be forced, and to our great displeasure, to make known to all Christian princes, and especially to our sovereign lord's confederates and friends, what is necessarily to ensue upon this your deliberation, that is to say, either you will that we, without any relevant cause, take from our said governor, he never offending, the protection of our sovereign lord pertaining to him of law and deprive him of his office of governor, to the which he is chosen by us all and so lovably has exercised the same during all the time of his being in this realm that no creature may of reason lay reproach or dishonour to him, the which thing if we so did it would be expressly against all equity, justice and the common good of this realm; or by the contrary, we assisting him you will move war and do unto us all the damage and displeasure that may be in your power, and if this your quarrel is just or reasonable let God be the judge, since it may be no better, for we have always desired and desire to live with your grace in good amity and peace, if we may have it without extreme inconvenience, yet we are resolved that, or if we should consent thereto, to do so great hurt to the king, our sovereign lord, and commonwealth of his realm, so great dishonour to ourselves and so great wrong to our said lord governor as to remove him out of this realm and live in division and daily trouble amongst ourselves as this long time bypast we have done, he being in France, we will, with his presence, take our adventure of peace or war as shall please God to send it, assuring your grace that for the cause specified above and others anew, which we shall show in time and place, we neither may do nor will do at the request of your grace, or any other prince, consent or suffer in any manner that our said lord governor depart out of this realm during our sovereign lord the king's minority and less-age; and if for this cause we happen to be invaded, what may we do but take God and our good quarrel in defence and do as our progenitors and forbearers have been constrained to do for the conservation of this realm heretofore. Given under our sovereign lord's privy seal at Edinburgh, 11 February 1521 [1522].

Your humble orators and servants with all lawful service, [James Beaton, archbishop of Glasgow], the chancellor, and the three estates of the realm of Scotland.

  1. From APS, xii, pp.38-40, which gives the source as PRO. Original not yet traced.