Friday, May 28, 2010

Treaty of Everlasting Peace

The Treaty of Everlasting Peace refers to an agreement made between Henry VII and Scotland's James IV, with Pope Alexander VI binding the treaty with the threat of excommunication to whoever violated the pact.  Part of the deal involved James marrying Henry's daughter Margaret Tudor.  The treaty was signed on May 28, 1502.

Peace benefitted both kingdoms.  Henry, for his part, had recently taked the throne in battle over Richard III.  The Wars of the Roses were not out of mind.  In Scotland, James consolidated his power over the Lord of the Isles.  Peace eternal; until 1513.  In that year, King Henry VIII invaded France, forcing James into an invasion of England under Scotland's Auld Alliance with France.  James died in that invasion, at the Battle of Flodden.

Everlasting peace gave way to centuries of warfare, and there is some sentiment in opposition to the prospect of peace in the poem below, which was included in "A Legend of Montrose".  The poem was written by Sir Alexander Boswell; biographer James Boswell's son, and a friend of Walter Scott's.

"IV. APPENDIX.


No. I

The scarcity of my late friend's poem may be an excuse for adding the spirited conclusion of Clan Alpin's vow. The Clan Gregor has met in the ancient church of Balquidder. The head of Drummond-Ernoch is placed on the altar, covered for a time with the banner of the tribe. The Chief of the tribe advances to the altar:

And pausing, on the banner gazed;
Then cried in scorn, his finger raised,
"This was the boon of Scotland's king;"
And, with a quick and angry fling,
Tossing the pageant screen away,
The dead man's head before him lay.
Unmoved he scann'd the visage o'er,
The clotted locks were dark with gore,
The features with convulsion grim,
The eyes contorted, sunk, and dim.
But unappall'd, in angry mood,
With lowering brow, unmoved he stood.
Upon the head his bared right hand
He laid, the other grasp'd his brand:
Then kneeling, cried, "To Heaven I swear
This deed of death I own, and share;
As truly, fully mine, as though
This my right hand had dealt the blow:
Come then, our foeman, one, come all;
If to revenge this caitiffs fall
One blade is bared, one bow is drawn,
Mine everlasting peace I pawn,
To claim from them, or claim from him,
In retribution, limb for limb.
In sudden fray, or open strife,
This steel shall render life for life."
He ceased; and at his beckoning nod,
The clansmen to the altar trod;
And not a whisper breathed around,
And nought was heard of mortal sound,
Save from the clanking arms they bore,
That rattled on the marble floor;
And each, as he approach'd in haste,
Upon the scalp his right hand placed;
With livid lip, and gather'd brow,
Each uttered, in his turn, the vow.
Fierce Malcolm watch'd the passing scene,
And search'd them through with glances keen;
Then dash'd a tear-drop from his eye;
Unhid it came--he knew not why.
Exulting high, he towering stood:
"Kinsmen," he cried, "of Alpin's blood,
And worthy of Clan Alpin's name,
Unstain'd by cowardice and shame,
E'en do, spare nocht, in time of ill
Shall be Clan Alpin's legend still!"

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