Archibald Douglas is my 15th Great Grandfather on my mother's side. he was born abt 1445 Kilmaurs, Aryshire, Scotland, died before 31 January 1513/1514 in Wigtownshire, Scotland. This is his story.
He was the 5th Earl of Angus; Lord of Liddesdale Thur 1491 "...Fifth Earl of Angus, became the most powerful nobleman in the kingdom, and was commonly called the Great Eral. He was only 14yrs of age when he seceded his father. On attaining the maturity the young Earl did not prove more loyal than his Kings men of the elder branch. When the Duke of Albany quarrelled with his brother, King James III, and fled into England, Angus became a party to the treasonable treaty which Albany concluded with the English King for the acknowledgement of his sovereignty, and ceding to him Eskdale, Annan dale, and Liddesdale, on condition of being made King of Scotland. The young Earl (in his twenty-eighth year) was the leader of the discontented nobles who were indignant at the preference which the kings showed for architects, musicals and painters, and deter minded to seize the person of their sovereign and to the wreak their vengeance on his favorites. The muster of their feudal array for the purpose of invading England, in retaliation for the ravage which and English army had made in Scotland, afforded them a favorable opportunity for carrying their nefarious schemes into effect. On their march to the Border the army halted for the first night at Lauder, and next morning the principal conspirators held a secret council in the church to arrange for the immediate execution of their designs. They were all agreed as to what should be done, and they hesitated as to the best mode of proceeding. Lord Gray, as Gods croft relates the occupancies, craved audience, and told them the apologies of the mice, who consulting in a public meeting how to be sure from the cat's surprising them, found out a very good way, which was to hang a bell about her neck, that would ring as she stepped, and so give them warning of her approach, that they might save themselves by flight.
He became known as the "Great" Earl of Angus and, perhaps more famously, as "Bell the Cat". He became the most powerful nobleman in the realm through a successful rebellion and established his family as the most important in the kingdom.
In 1481, Angus was made warden of the east marches, but the next year he joined the league against James III and his favourite Robert Cochrane at Lauder. Here he earned his nickname by offering to "bell the cat" – that is, to deal with the latter – beginning the attack upon him by pulling his gold chain off his neck, and causing him and others of the king's favourites to be hanged. The phrase "to bell the cat" comes from one of Aesop's fables, The Mice in Council, and means a dangerous task that is undertaken for the benefit of all.
Subsequently he joined Alexander Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany, in league with Edward IV of England on the 11 February 1483, signing the convention at Westminster which acknowledged the overlordship of the English king. However, in March they returned, outwardly at least, to their allegiance, and received pardons for their treason.
Later, Angus was one of the leaders in the rebellion against James in 1487 and 1488 which ended in the latter's death.
He was made one of the guardians of the young king James IV. but soon lost influence, being superseded by the Homes and Hepburns, and the wardenship of the marches was given to Alexander Home. Though outwardly on good terms with James, he treacherously made a treaty with Henry VII around 1489 or 1491, by which he undertook to govern his relations with James according to instructions from England. He also agreed to hand over Hermitage Castle, commanding the pass through Liddesdale into Scotland, on the condition of receiving English estates in compensation.
In October 1491 he fortified his castle of Tantallon against James, but was obliged to submit and exchange his Liddesdale estate and Hermitage Castle for the lordship of Bothwell.
In 1493 he was again in favour, receiving various grants of lands, and was made chancellor, which office he retained till 1498. In 1501 he was once more in disgrace and confined to Dumbarton Castle. After the disaster at Flodden Field in 1513, at which he was not present, but at which he lost his two eldest sons, Angus was appointed one of the counsellors of the queen regent. He died at the close of this year, or in 1514.
5th Earl of Angus, in a feud with Spens of Kilspindie, tore off Spen's leg with one stroke of his great sword. This appears to be how the lands of Kilspindie passed to the Douglases. Also later Douglas of Kilspindie used the title 'Greysteel' which may refer to the sword stroke used to obtain the lands of Kilspindie.
Battle of Flodden Field - 1513
FLODDEN, or FLODDEN FIELD, near the village of Branxton, in Northumberland, England (10 m. N.W. of Wooler), the scene of a famous battle fought on the 9th of September 1513 between the English and the Scots.
On the 22nd of August a great Scottish army under King James IV. had crossed the border. For the moment the earl of Surrey (who in King Henry ViII.’s absence was charged with the defence of the realm) had no organized force in the north of England, but James wasted much precious time among the border castles, and when Surrey appeared at Wooler, with an army equal in strength to his own, which was now greatly weakened by privations and desertion, he hall not advanced beyond Ford Castle.
The English commander promptly sent in a challenge to a pitched battle, which the king, in spite of the advice of his most trusted counsellors, accepted. On the 6th of September, however, he left Ford and took up a strong position facing south, on Flodden Edge. Surrey”i reproaches for the alleged breach of faith, and a second challenge to fight on Millfield Plain were this time disregarded. The English commander, thus foiled, executed a daring and skilful march round the enemy’s flank, and on the 9th drew up for battle in rear of the hostile army.
It is evident that Surrey was confident of victory, for he placed his own army, not less than the enemy, in a position where defeat would involve utfer ruin. On his appearance the Scots hastily changed front and took post on Branxton Hill’, facing north. The battle began at 4 P.M. Surrey’s archers and cannon soon gained the upper hand, and the Scots, unable quietly to endure their losses, rushed to close quarters. Their left wing drove the English back, but Lord Dacre’s reserve corps restored the fight on this side.
In all other parts of the field, save where James and Surrey were personally opposed, the English , gradually gained ground. The king’s corps was then attacked by Surrey in front, and by Sir Edward Stanley in flank. As the Scots were forced back, a part of Dacre’s force cio~ed upon the other flank, and finally Dacre himself, boldly neglecting an almost intact Scottish division in front of him, charged in upon the rear of King James’s corps. Surrounded and attacked on all sides, this, the remnant of the invading army, was doomed. The circle of spearmen around the king grew less and less, and in the end James and a few of his nobles were alone left standing. Soon they too died, fighting to the last man.
Among the ten thousand Scottish dead were all the leading men in the kingdom of Scotland, and there was no family of importance that had not lost a member in this great disaster. The “King’s Stone,” said to mark the spot where James was killed, is at some distance from the actual battlefield. “ Sybil’s Well,” in Scott’s Marinion, is imaginary.
Scottish dead included twelve earls, fifteen lords, many clan chiefs an archbishop and above all KingJames himself. It is said that every great family in Scotland mourned the loss of someone at the Battleof Flodden. The dead were remembered in the famous Scottish pipe tune The Flowers of the Forest.