LAST week we touched on the aftermath of the disastrous Battle of Flodden in 1513, and learned how in May 1515, John Stewart, the Duke of Albany and second in line to the Scottish throne, visited Glasgow on his way to being acclaimed as regent of Scotland by the Parliament and particularly the Regency Council which had governed the country since Flodden.

Recognising the fragility of the peace in Scotland, Glasgow’s Archbishop and Regency Council member James Beaton converted his house into a fortified castle with a round tower, and the Bishop’s Castle or Palace became known as Glasgow Castle.

The peace really was fragile. The infant James V became the centre of a struggle between Albany and his cousin by marriage, Margaret Tudor, the widowed queen consort of James IV. The mother of the king had swiftly married Archibald Douglas, the 6th Earl of Angus, a move that proved very unpopular with the other Scottish nobles.

Margaret unsurprisingly favoured closer links with England ruled by her brother Henry VIII, but most of the Scottish aristocracy wanted closer ties to France, which the French-speaking, French-reared Albany made his policy.

It was only a matter of time before civil war broke out. James Hamilton, the 1st Earl of Arran, joined with the earls of Lennox and Glencairn in revolt against Albany and their supporter, John Mure of Caldwell, almost immediately laid siege to Glasgow Castle.

On February 20, 1515, Mure’s troops pounded the castle with artillery and eventually broke into it, making off with “rich booty”, as the Clan Muir Society states on its website.

We know what was taken because in an action before the Lords of Council – effectively the Scottish high court – two years later, Beaton was granted compensation from Mure “for the wranguis and violent ejection and furthputting of his servands out of his castell and palace of Glasgow and taking of the samyn fra them; and for the wranguis spoliation, intrometting, away taking and withhalding fra the said maist reverend fader of certain goods, such as beds, clothing, jewels, utensils, provisions, ammunition and arms, all specified in detail; and for the wranguis destruction of his said castell and place, breking down of the samyn with artalzary (artillery) and utherwais”.

Albany came west with a small army and duly re-captured the Castle for the Archbishop. The regent decided to make Glasgow his base of operations for the campaign against the rebel lords.

Acting alongside Beaton, who was also Lord Chancellor of Scotland though the primate was Archbishop Andrew Forman of St Andrews, Albany summoned forces from burghs across the country and heavy artillery was brought from Falkirk by a team of


Preparations for war continued apace on both sides. A later description of Arran’s actions accused him of “the treasonable arraying of batell, insurrection and feilding, aganis Johne, duke of Albany, etc., tutour to the Kingis grace, protectour and governour of his realme, cumand with the kingis autoritie and his banner being displayit for the tome at Kittycrocehill, besyde Glasgw.”

We don’t know where Kittycrocehill actually was, but we do know that Archbishop Beaton, fearing that Glasgow might be turned into a battlefield, managed to negotiate a peace treaty between Albany and Arran that took effect on March 7, 1515.

With Lord Chancellor Beaton backing him, Albany duly forced Margaret to relinquish control of her son the king, and she and her husband moved to England where the marriage broke up, though

not before the former queen had given birth to Lady Margaret Douglas who will reappear in this history.

Albany either tired of his role or was voted out by the Regency Council, or both, and went back to his home in France. Archbishop Beaton was made vice-regent along with the earls of Angus and Arran who were both back in favour.

The cleric appears to have spent the next few years being the umpire at the many unpleasant encounters between the two powerful lords.

Amazingly, despite all the upset and trauma in and around Glasgow, the growing city appears to have prospered, and the first examples of a very important development began to emerge – the crafts guilds. These guilds had been common in Europe for centuries and Scotland and Glasgow almost certainly had them for many years before the first formal craft procedure took place in the city in 1516.

No-one can say exactly when the first ‘guild’ as such was formed in the city, but the best guess is sometime in the late 15th century or the early years of the 16th century.

Edinburgh had its own guild of merchants which exists today as the Merchant Company, and it had a recognised constitution in 1505. Ten years later, moves began to put the guilds in Glasgow on a legal footing.

At that time these guilds – in effect societies for regulating their crafts or trades – must have already been established for a good number of years, but between 1513 and early 1516, moves began to make crafts into legally constituted bodies. In those years Provost John Schaw or Shaw seems to have encouraged the crafts to get organised.

Crucial to that development was that the craft organisation had to be recognised by the town council and the Archbishop who, don’t forget, was also Lord Chancellor of Scotland and a member of the regency Council who would have been well aware of what was happening in Edinburgh and elsewhere.

On May 28, 1516, the Provost of Glasgow, George Colquhoun, along with the council and magistrates granted the Seal of Cause to the skinners and furriers crafts. This is the first known council approval of any craft society or guild in the city, and there were just 11 masters of the crafts in that first guild.

Their rules were simple: members of the craft had to be admitted only if they were masters of their trade; they had to pay a fee for services such as prayers and mass in the city’s cathedral; they could not hire each other’s apprentices; they could not sell “false stuff” on pain of having their goods impounded and be fined a pound of wax for use as church candles.

The seal of Glasgow’s council and Archbishop Beaton’s own

seal were attached to the Seal of Cause document which is still preserved. As we shall see, these early societies became powerful guilds that would have an integral role to play in Glasgow’s development.