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earl of Moray James Stewart

(b. 1531)


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B. 1531, s. of James V and Margaret Erskine, da. of John, Lord Erskine; d. Linlithgow, 23 Jan. 1570; bur. Edinburgh.

Illegitimate son of James V, made prior in commendam of St Andrews (1538) and educated there, James was legitimized with his brother John early in 1551. Subsequently appointed one of the commissioners to negotiate the marriage of his half-sister Mary with the dauphin, he was sent to France again in 1561 to invite her to return home. Having brought the Borders back under control, Mary rewarded him with the earldoms of Moray, then Mar (1562). Although chief adviser to the queen, he failed to prevent her marriage to Darnley, and was denounced after his involvement in the Chaseabout raid—he was a strong calvinist—but was given asylum in England by Elizabeth; the rebel protestant lords were summoned to trial, but Moray was subsequently restored to favour. Whilst not directly involved in Darnley's murder, he judiciously left for France soon afterwards. On Mary's abdication in 1567, he was appointed regent to her young son James VI, but his two years in office until murdered by James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, staunch supporter of the exiled queen, were riven by civil war between the Queen's party and the King's party, and he had difficulty in keeping the latter stable. Moray was ambitious and intensely self-controlled but, despite depiction as a ‘Good Regent’, his political acumen was poor, and his successes rare.

Subjects: British History.


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