AFTER seeing her troops routed at the Battle of Langside on May 13, 1568, Mary, Queen of Scots, fled south from Glasgow to go into her long imprisonment in England. She left behind her infant son James, the sixth King of Scots to bear that name, who was not yet two-years-old.

It is entirely typical of British history, as it is taught, that much more attention is paid to his time as King James I of England than to his tumultuous reign over Scotland from 1567 to 1603. James would go on to become the longest reigning King of Scots by far, with his reign of nearly 58 years being almost a decade longer than the nearest contender William the Lion. It is often forgotten that he was the longest reigning king in the history of the British Isles, his total time on the throne of Scotland surpassed only by Queen Victoria and the current Queen Elizabeth, both women reigning over the United Kingdom.

Yet as happened with so many Scottish monarchs, his reign began in infancy which meant that a regent had to be appointed to rule in his stead.

The first Regent for James VI was James Stewart, the Earl of Moray, illegitimate son of King James V and thus the half-brother of Queen Mary and half-uncle to her infant son. As we saw last week, it was his army fighting on behalf of King James which defeated Mary’s forces at Langside. Yet Langside was definitely not the end of the Scottish Civil War, as some historians call it, between Mary’s supporters and those who favoured her son and Regent Moray.

Due largely to his personal determination to wipe out all traces of Marianism, Moray has come down to us as the ‘Gude Regent’ as his three-year rule saw him promote the Reformation and clamp down on those mainly Catholic nobles who continued to support the deposed Mary. Moray was allied to the pro-English camp in the Scottish nobility, and was a zealous Protestant, but he never quite overcame the Catholic, pro-French, supporters of Mary who agitated for her return from England.

His main enemies were the powerful Hamilton family led by the Duke of Chatelherault, and in 1569 Moray’s troops burned down the Hamilton-owned Rutherglen Castle in retaliation for their support of Mary. By the end of that year, the only major Western fortress that remained in the hands of Marian forces was Dumbarton Castle, said to be virtually impregnable.

Moray was heading to a conference in Edinburgh to discuss, among other things, how to take Dumbarton when he was assassinated in Linlithgow on January 23, 1570.

James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh killed him with a shot from a carbine that he fired from the gallery of a house owned by John Hamilton, his uncle who was the Archbishop of St Andrews. The Hamiltons suffered greatly for the family’s involvement in Moray’s assassination, Archbishop John being the first to die. He had taken refuge with Lord and Lady Fleming who held Dumbarton Castle for Mary until April 2, 1571, when the supposedly impossible feat of seizing the Castle was achieved by career soldier Thomas Crawford and 150 picked men.

Crawford assembled his force in Glasgow and rode to Dumbuck where he was joined by a man called Robertson who knew the layout of Dumbarton Rock and its Castle well as he had previously been a warden in the fortress. Allegedly because his wife was flogged for theft by the Flemings, Robertson agreed to lead Crawford’s force into the Castle at its highest point, the eastern summit known as The Beak. They captured a cannon and turned it on the defenders who panicked and fled. Lord Fleming escaped without his wife, the French Ambassador was taken prisoner but later released while Archbishop John Hamilton was found wearing armour.

After a show trial at Stirling, John Hamilton became the second Archbishop of St Andrews in the space of 25 years to lose his life prematurely. In Cardinal Beaton’s case in 1546 it was by assassination carried out by Protestants avenging the burning of George Wishart, but in Archbishop Hamilton’s case it was death by execution just three days after his capture.

He was accused of ‘art and part’ murder of both Regent Murray and Mary’s consort Henry Darnley, and the verdict was a foregone conclusion, but it shows how the Protestant Lords led by the Earl of Lennox, James VI’s grandfather who had succeeded Moray as Regent, were not in total control of the country as they quickly hanged the 59-year-old Archbishop at the Mercat Cross in Stirling before anyone could attempt to save him. His family grieved for him – like Cardinal Beaton he had fathered a number of children by his mistress, Grizzell Sempill of the well-known Renfrewshire family.

Among those who witnessed the execution was Thomas Crawford. A future Provost of Glasgow, Crawford was then in the employ of Regent Lennox and had already secured extensive lands to the west of Lennox’s home city of Glasgow – we now know the location as Jordanhill. Crawford of Jordanhill will reappear in this continuing history of Glasgow next week and we shall learn how he single-handedly preserved one of the city’s greatest treasures.

The Earl of Lennox spent a lot of his brief Regency at his home in Glasgow, as he suffered grievously from gout. The Regent knew how shaky his control of Scotland was, and just five months after executing Archbishop Hamilton he was himself killed at Stirling on September 4, 1571, during a skirmish with Mary’s supporters. The Earl of Mar briefly took over as Regent but he took ill and died, possibly having been poisoned by the man who became his successor, the fourth and final Regent, James Douglas, the 4th Earl of Morton.

While Morton set about the business of winning the civil war with Mary’s supporters, at which he was eventually successful, John Knox and the Reformation Lords concentrated on ensuring that Presbyterianism became the main and indeed only faith in Scotland. But when Knox died on November 24, 1572, Scotland’s Reformation was nowhere near complete and it would take an immigrant to Glasgow to sort things out. Read about Andrew Melville next week.