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BEATON


373


BEATON


Scotland, in order to urge James to follow his example in usurping the supremacy of the Church in his dominions. The King of Scots refused to be drawn into Heniy's net, maintained his unshaken trust in Beaton's statesmanship and patriotism, and declined to leave his kingdom for a personal interview with his uncle. His intrigues being baffled, Henry had recourse to force; and hostilities broke out between thetwo kingdoms in 1542. The Scotch, success- ful in the first engagement, were hopelessly defeated by the English forces on Solway Moss, and James died broken-hearted at Falkland soon afterwards, leaving a daughter (Mary) a week old, to inherit the crown. Beaton produced a document in which he, with three nobles, was appointed regent by the late monarch's will; but the nobles assembled in Edin- burgh refused to act on this, declared the Earl of Arran (heir-presumptive to the throne) regent during the queen's minority, and imprisoned tlie cardinal on a false charge of conspiring ^^^th the Duke of Guise against Arran's authority. Henry now com- menced negotiations with the Scottish regent and Parliament with the object of arranging a marriage between the infant queen and his own heir (after- wards Edward VI), of getting the Scottish fortresses and the government of the country committed into his hands, and the person of Mary entrusted to his custody. Arran and the Parliament agreed to the project of marriage, but were resolute against the rest of Henry's schemes. Meanwhile the unjust imprisonment of the cardinal-primate had been followed by the proclamation of an interdict through- out the kingdom; and so deep was the feeling aroused among the still Catholic people by the closing of the churches and the suspension of the sacraments that it was thought prudent at once to release Bea- ton. The undaunted primate instantly summoned the bishops and clergy to St. Andrews; and the assembly, fully alive to the imminent danger (menac- ing both Church and State) of Henrjs insolent demands, spontaneously voted a large sum, taxed on their own benefices, in defence of the national rights. Beaton by his patriotic ardour awakened similar .sentiments in the people at large; the person of the baby queen was safeguarded, and a number of the nobles, including the regent himself (who about this time abjured the new doctrines and submitted to the Catholic Church), abandoned their unnatural alliance with the enemies of Scotland, and ranged them.selves on the cardinal's side.

In October, 1543, Marco Grimani, Patriarch of Aquileia, came from Rome as nuncio to the Scottish court; and it was during his sojourn in Scotland that the high dignity of legate a latere was (in January, 1.544) bestowed on Beaton by the pope. About the same time the cardinal was invested with the office of chancellor of the kingdom; the Parliament annulled the treaty of marriage between the queen and Prince Edward, on the ground of the duplicity and bad faith of Henry VIII; vigorous measures were taken against the "English party" among the Scottish nobles; and the bishops were desired to take equally .stern measures for the suppression of heretical doctrines. Furious at the fiustration of his schemes, Henry now connived at, and indeed openly encour- aged, a plot for the removal from his path of the able and patriotic man who had been the chief instru- ment in foiling his ambitious plans. George Wishart (whose identity, long disputed, with the Wishart afterwards put to death as a heretic has been con- clusively proved by the published State Papers of the time) was employed to negotiate between Crich- ton of Brunston and Beaton's English enemies, on the subject of the assassination of the cardinal. Nearly three years were devoted to the intrigues and correspondence connected with this dark scheme; and, meanwhile, the primate never relaxed his zeal


and diligence in the performance of his high functions. He summoned another convention of tlie clergy in Edinburgh in January, 1546, when further large sums were voted in support of the defence of the realm against the invading armies of England; and two months later he convoked a provincial council at St. Andrews. The great general council was already sitting at Trent, but no Scottish prelate was able to attend it, the cardinal himself seeking dispensation from Pope Paul III, on the ground of the overwhelming nature of his duties in Scotland. The council at St. Andrews was interrupted by the apprehension and trial, for preaching heretical doc- trines, of George Wishart. The trial took place in St. Andrews Cathedral, in presence of the two arch- bishops and other prelates; the articles of accusation were read and duly proved; and Wishart, remaining obdurate in his errors, was condemned to death, and suffered (being first strangled and afterwards burned) at St. Andrews on 28 March, 1546.

The profound impression caused throughout Scot- land by Wishart 's execution induced Beaton's ene- mies to hurry on their murderous designs; and two months later a pretext was found for the consumma- tion of the long-cherished plot in a dispute which had arisen, on a question of property, between the cardinal and Norman Leslie, Master of Rothes. The latter, with his uncle John Leslie. Kirkaldy of Grange, and James Melville, undertook the work of butchery; and at daybreak on 29 May, 1546, they obtained admission into the castle of St. Andrews, and dis- patched the cardinal with repeated blows of their swords. Thus perished, in the forty-fifth year of his age, one to whom (as his most recent, and far from partial, biographer, Professor Herkless, declares) "historic truth must give a place among Scotland's greatest statesmen and patriots". No student of his life and of the history of his times can deny the justice of this tribute; and it may fairly be added that he proved himself not less vigilant in the discharge of the spiritual functions of his office, in watching over the interests of the Scottish Church, and protecting her by every means at his command from the inroads of heresy and schism. As to the charge of persecu- tion brought against him, account must be taken of the age in which he lived, and the prevailing senti- ments of the time. Seven persons in all are said to have suffered death under him; and Hosaek, com- paring this number with the hundreds of lives sacri- ficed under some of his contemporaries, concludes that Beaton deser\-es rather to be commended for his moderation than denounced for his barbarity. With regard to his moral character, it has been vio- lently attacked by his enemies, and no less warmly defended by his friends. The charges of immorality again.st him, never raised until after his death, are in many cases absurd and contradictory; and Leslie, Winzet, and others who strenuously denied them, are fully as wortliy of credit as those who maintained them. The evidence from contemporary history is indeed insufficient to decide the truth or falsity of these charges; and Lyon, the historian of St. Andrews, prudently concludes that the accusations and the denials may be considered as neutralizing one another.

There are two well-known portraits of Beaton, one (formerly in the Scots College at Rome, now at Blairs College, Aberdeenshire), depicting him in his doctor's cap, with slightly silvered brown hair, clear-cut features, and a noble and commanding air. In the other portrait, which hangs in Holyrood Palace, he is represented in a black dress, with white bands, and wearing the red skull-cap of a cardinal.

Lesley, Hist, of ScoUand (Bannatyne Cluh, 18.30), 149. 155. 158; State Papers, Henry Vlll (Foreign and Domestic), V. VI; Theiner, Monumenta. 009. 611, 613; Lyon. Hist, of St. Aiidrews, Ancient and Modern (Edinburgh. 18.38); Hkhkless, Cardinal Beaton, Priest and Politician (Kdinburgh. 1891);