Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Flamborough Head

King James I of Scotland was a strong ruler, though his reign was shortened by 18 years of captivity under English Kings Henry IV - VI.  Gaining the throne in 1406 on the death of his father, Robert III, the 12 year old James was sailing to France to grow up in safety when disaster struck; March 30, 1406 (OS).  Sir Walter Scott provides some history on this event in 'Scotland'.

'Meantime Prince James, the only surviving son of the poor infirm old king, being now (1405) in his eleventh year, required better education than Scotland could afford, and protection more efficient than that of his debilitated father. Robert III could not but suspect the cause and circumstances of his eldest son's death, and be conscious that the ambition which had prompted the removal of Rothsay would not be satisfied without the life of James also. The youthful prince was, therefore, committed to the care of Wardlaw, bishop of Saint Andrew's, and was by his advice sent to France, as the safest means of protecting him from his uncle's schemes of treachery or violence. He was embarked accordingly, Henry Sinclair, earl of Orkney, being appointed as his governor. A considerable number of Lothian gentlemen, with David Fleming of Cumbernauld, attended him to the ship. But on their return they were attacked, for what reason is unknown, by James Douglas of Balveny, uncle to the earl. A skirmish took place on Hermanston Moor, where Fleming and several of his companions fell.

This bloody omen, at the commencement of Prince James's voyage, was followed by equally calamitous consequences. The vessel in which he was embarked had not gained Flamborough Head, when she was taken by an English corsair. As the truce at the time actually subsisted, this capture of the prince was in every respect contrary to the law of nations. But knowing the importance of possessing the royal hostage, Henry resolved to detain him at all events. "In fact," he said, "the Scots ought to have given me the education of this boy, for I am an excellent French scholar." Apparently this new disaster was an incurable wound to the old king; yet he survived, laden with years and infirmities, till 1406, just a twelvemonth after this last misfortune. His death made no change in public affairs, and was totally unfelt in the administration, which continued in the hands of Albany.'

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