4th earl of Morton, James Douglas

(c. 1516—1581)

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(c. 1516–81).

The position of regent to young James VI of Scotland was not an enviable one. Moray, the first, was shot in 1570; Lennox was stabbed in 1571; Mar lasted a year before dying unexpectedly, with poison rumoured; Morton was the fourth and last, and had exercised effective power during the two previous regencies. After Mary's return from France in 1561, Morton played an increasingly important role, first as chancellor [S] 1562–6 and again 1567–73. He took a leading part in the murder of Rizzio, an equivocal one in the murder of Darnley, but in 1567 led the opposition to Mary and Bothwell, defeating their supporters in 1568 at Langside. He succeeded Mar as regent in 1572. His strong policy antagonized nobles and kirk alike, and in 1578 he was overthrown by Atholl and Argyll. Elizabeth's intervention afforded him a shaky return to office, though scarcely to power, until in 1580 he was charged with Darnley's murder and beheaded in 1581.

Subjects: British History.

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