A SEGMENT OF SCOTTISH HISTORY
THE INVOLVEMENT OF THE BOYDS
"A Short History of Scotland" P. Hume Brown, 1908
James III came to the Scottish throne at the age of eight in 1460. James II was killed at the seige of Roxburghcastle. Three nobles made a bargain they were all to profit from. These three men were, Lord Gilbert Kennedy, Lord Robert Fleming, and Lord ALEXANDER BOYD. Kennedy and Boyd were to have possesion of the king, and Fleming was in some way to be made rich. As these barons had many powerful friends, they were quite able to carry out their plans.
Shortly after their bargains
had been made, there was a great meeting at Lingithgow,
at which the king and his officers were present. Then Boyd and Fleming
held a hunting-party, and during the hunt they seized the young
king and bore him off to Edinburgh castle against his will. Now that
the conspirators had the king in their power, they took care
to enrich themselves. They pretended, however, to act within the laws.
They held a parliament in Edinburgh castle, and Lord Boyd,
the head of the Boyd family, fell at the king's feet, clasped
his knees, and asked him if he had been brought to Edinburgh
against his will. What could the poor king say? And now for
a time the Boyds and their friends had it all their own way
in the country. Sir Alexander Boyd was made guardian of the
king and his two brothers, and all the royal fortresses were put
into his hand. A great many lands were given to his family,
and the Boyds became almost as powerful as the Douglases had been.
But it was Lord Boyd's eldest son,
THOMAS BOYD, who became their greatest man. This Thomas was one of the cleverest men then living in Scotland; he was one of the best knights of the time, and he knew how to make himself pleasant to everybody. It is no wonder, therefore, that he became so great a person in the country. He was first made Earl of Arran, and then he was married to the king's sister*, the princess Mary. But the pride of the Boyd's was soon to have a fall. They had, of course, made many enemies who envied their wealth and power. The Boyd's were to fall as quickly as they had risen.
King James was
now about eighteen years old, and his
councillors began to think it was time for him to be married. They found
a queen that brought a handsome gift to Scotland. It will be remembered
that, when Alexander III conquered the Western islands from King
Haakon of Norway it was agreed that
Scotland should pay a huge sum of money every year for them. Since the time of James I the money had not been paid, and now Christian, king of Norway, who was also king of Sweden, began to rumble and to say that the money must be paid or the islands given back.
How did James concillors get out of this difficulty? They sent Thomas Boyd to Christian to propose that his daughter Margaret, who was only twelve years old, should marry the King of Scots. He was delighted with the proposal.
As he had not enough money to pay his daughter's dowry, he gave his feudal rights over the Orkney islands as a pledge. He was unable to find the money, and in 1472, four years after the marriage, the Orkney and Shetland islands were annexed to the Scottish crown. So at last all the islands around the Scottish coasts had come to be part of the kingdom of Scotland.
But what has this to do with the family of the Boyds? We have just seen that Thomas Boyd, Earl of Arran, had been sent to Denmark to propose the marriage between James and Margaret. But he was also sent there a second time to bring the bride to Scotland. Now, while he was away in Denmark, the enemies of the Boyds (and there were many of them) laid a plot to have him taken prisoner when he returned and then to have him and many others of his family put to death. However, Arran's wife, the princess Mary, heard of the plot, and, when the ship arrived at Leith, she went aboard secretly and warned him of his danger, and both sailed to Denmark, where he was safe from his enemies. There was two of the Boyds still in their hands, Arran's father, Lord Boyd, and his uncle, Sir Alexander Boyd. Both were charged with being traitors of the king, and were condemned to death; but only Alexander was executed, as Lord Boyd escaped to England. As all their lands were taken from them their greatness lasted only a few years. This was another lesson to the nobles that in the end the king was too strong for any of them. Yet the nobles never defied the king's power so much as they did during the remainder of James's III reign.
*This was the closest the Boyds ever came to the Scottish Royal throne. Thomas Boyd and Mary Stewart had a son James Boyd who was killed by a Hamilton in a duel when only 16 years of age. This son James Boyd was nephew to James III and the Hamiltons didn't want a Boyd with royal blood that close to the throne.
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