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Stuart, Bernard (1447?-1508) (DNB00)


STUART or STEWART, BERNARD or BÉRAULT, third Seigneur of Aubigny (1447?–1508), son of John, second seigneur of Aubigny, by Beatrice, daughter of Bérault, seigneur of Apchier, was born about 1447. Like his father and grandfather, Sir John Stuart or Stewart of Darnley, first seigneur of Aubigny [q. v.], he was high in favour with the French sovereign and was captain of the Scots guard. Occupying a position of special trust, and related to Scotland by ties of descent and friendship, no more appropriate envoy could have been chosen than he to announce to James III the accession of Charles VIII to the throne of France, and to sign on 22 March 1483–4 the treaty renewing the ancient league between the two countries. Not improbably the seigneur of Aubigny was also the medium of communication with a section of Scots lords who favoured the enterprise of the Earl of Richmond (afterwards Henry VII) against Richard III; and in 1485 he was chosen to command the French troops who accompanied Richmond to England, and assisted him to win his signal victory over his rival at Bosworth Field. In 1489 he was employed by Charles in negotiating for the release of Louis, duke of Orleans (afterwards Louis XII), then a prisoner in the tower of Bourges; but his career as a soldier dates properly from 1494. When Charles VIII in that year laid claim to the crown of the two Sicilies, he sent the seigneur of Aubigny to set forth his claim to the pope, and while returning from his embassy he received an order from the king of France to place himself in command of a thousand horse, and lead them over the Alps, by the Saint Bernard and Simplon passes into Lombardy; and after taking part with the king in the conquest of Romagna that followed, he accompanied him in the triumphal entry into Florence on 15 Nov. 1494. Thereafter he was made governor of Calabria and lieutenant-general of the French army, and in June 1495 he gained a great victory near Seminara over the king of Naples and Gonsalvo de Cordoba. In 1499 he took part in the campaign of Louis XII in Italy, and on its conclusion was appointed governor of the Milanese, with command of the French army left to garrison the towns of north Italy. In 1501 he completed the conquest of Naples, of which he was then appointed governor. But after a few successes in Calabria in 1502, he was completely defeated at Seminara on 21 April 1503, and shortly afterwards had to deliver himself up, when he was imprisoned in the great tower of the Castel Nuovo at Naples until set free by the truce of 11 Nov. In 1508 he was sent to Scotland to consult James IV regarding the proposed marriage of the Princesse Claude with the Duc d'Angoulême. He was welcomed by the king of Scots with honours appropriate to his soldierly renown. He was placed at the same table with the king, who called him the ‘father of war,’ and named him judge in the tournaments which celebrated his arrival. William Dunbar also eulogised his achievements in a poem of welcome, in which he described him as ‘the prince of knighthood and the flower of chivalry.’ But not long after his arrival he was taken suddenly ill while journeying from Edinburgh to Stirling, and died in the house of Sir John Forrester at Corstorphine. By his will, dated 8 June, and made during his last illness, he directed that his body should be buried in the church of the Blackfriars, Edinburgh, to the brothers of which order he bequeathed 14l., placing the rest of his property at the disposal of his executors, Matthew, earl of Lennox, and John of Aysoune, to be bestowed by them for the good of his soul as they should answer to God (Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. p. 392). The seigneur composed a treatise upon ‘The Duty of a Prince or General towards a conquered Country,’ of which there exist copies in manuscript in Lord Bute's collection and in the Bibliothèque Nationale.

By his first wife, Guillemette or Willelmine de Boucard, he had a daughter, Guyonne Stuart, who married Philippe de Bragne, seigneur de Luat. By his second wife, Anne, daughter of Guy de Maumont, seigneur of Saint-Quentin, he had a daughter Anne, married to her cousin, Robert Stuart, who became seigneur of Saint-Quentin in her right.

A portrait of Bernard Stuart, after a medal by Niccolo Spinelli, engraved from Heiss's ‘Médailleurs de la Renaissance,’ forms the frontispiece of Lady Elizabeth Cust's ‘Stuarts of Aubigny.’

[Andrew Stuart's Genealogical Hist. of the Stewarts; Forbes-Leith's Scots Guards in France; Francisque Michel's Les Écossais en France; and especially Lady Elizabeth Cust's Stuarts of Aubigny.]

T. F. H.