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James V
of Scotland

The language which James V addressed the clergy, even the bishops, has something of the brutal frankness of his Tudor kin. There was undoubtedly something ambiguous in the attitude of James V towards the Roman church. He saw the necessity for reform of corruptions in the church, and on a few points carried it out, but probably allowed himself to be guided by Beaton, on condition of receiving pecuniary aid for himself and the state from the overgrown revenues of the church. He made a communication to the provincial council in Edinburgh in 1536, urging the abolition of the ‘corpse presents,’ the ‘church cow,’ and the ‘upmost cloth,’ three of the most hated exactions of the clergy, and threatened that if this was not done he would force them to feu their lands at the old rents. He obtained a contribution from the revenues of the prelates of 1,400l. a year to pay the judges of the new court of session. In 1540 James is said to have threatened the bishops that if they did not take heed, he ‘would send half a dozen of the proudest to be dealt with by his uncle of England.’ George Buchanan, who was tutor to one of his bastards, wrote by James's desire his ironical ‘Palinodia,’ and his more outspoken ‘Franciscanus’ against the friars [see under Buchanan, George]. In January 1540 Sir William Eure, an English envoy, met on the borders Thomas Bellenden and Henry Balnavis, when the former requested that a copy of the English statutes against the pope should be sent for James's private study, and represented him as prepared to aid the Reformation. But James never pursued that policy. In February Sir Ralph Sadler was sent on a fruitless mission to Edinburgh with a present of some horses, and vainly endeavoured to induce James, by a promise of the succession to the English crown in the event of Prince Edward's death, to openly support Henry and the Reformation. To Sadler's proposal that he should seize the estates of the church, as Henry had done in England, he replied that ‘his clergy were always ready to supply his wants,’ and that ‘abuses could easily be reformed.’ He seemed especially to favour Beaton, and Sadler himself confesses that the Scottish nobles who were opposed to an English alliance were men of small capacity, a circumstance which forced James to use the counsel of the clergy. Sadler mentions the rumour which Knox refers to in his ‘History,’ that Beaton had given James a list of 360 barons and gentlemen whose estates might be forfeited for heresy, with the name of Arran at the head.

On 22 May Mary of Guise bore her first child, and soon afterwards James set out on a voyage round the north and west coasts. Alexander Lindsay, who had been selected as his pilot, has left a narrative of the expedition, which was published in Paris in 1718 by Nicolas d'Arville, the royal cosmographer. The fleet of twelve ships, well furnished with artillery, set sail from the Forth in the beginning of June, coasted the east and north of Scotland, visited the Orkneys, Skye, the coast of Ross and Kintail, and the more southern islands, Coll, Tiree, Mull, Iona, and finally reached Dumbarton by way of Arran and Bute. The royal forces were strong enough to extort the submission of the clans, but the stay was too short for permanent effect. In August Sir James Hamilton of Finnart (d. 1540) [q. v.] was suddenly arrested in his lodging in Edinburgh, on the information of his kinsman James, the brother of the martyr, Patrick Hamilton; he was tried, condemned, and executed as a traitor on 16 Aug. The historians all report a dramatic scene of the informer meeting the king as he passed over the Forth, when James, giving the ring off his finger to him, told him he was to present it to the master of the household and treasurer in Edinburgh, who effected the arrest of Hamilton. The king, perhaps, did not wish to appear prominent in the arrest of his old councillor. A weird story relates that James thought he saw in a dream ‘Sir James Hamilton of Finnart coming upon him with a naked sword, and first cut his right arme and next his left from him; and efter he had threatened efter schort space also to tak his lyf he evanished.’ The prophecy was supposed to be half fulfilled when the news came in the following year of the deaths of his two infant sons within a few days of each other, one, an infant five days old, on 29 April, and his elder brother, James, before 25 May. The king's mother, too, died in October 1541. On 3 Dec. 1540 James held an important parliament at Edinburgh. Besides passing many acts, chiefly relating to the administration of justice and preparation for war, there occur among its proceedings the king's general revocation, by which he confirmed the revocation of all grants made before 3 April 1537. But by an act of annexation he added to the crown ‘the Lands and Lordships of all the Isles North and South, the two Kintyres with the Castles, the Lands and Lordships of Douglas, the Lands and Lordships of Crawford Lindsay, and Crawford John, the Superiority of all Lands of the Earldom of Angus and all other lands, rents, and possessions of the Earl of Angus, the Lands and Lordships of Glamis, “that are not halden of the Kirk,” the Orkney and Shetland Isles,