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August 22nd 1582

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The Ruthven Raid

James 6th was always fond of hunting, and in August of 1582 he had been out in the Atholl district. He returned to Perth where he was visited by the Earls of Mar and Gowrie, the Lords Lindsay, Boyd and others who persuaded him to accompany them to Ruthven Castle (later Huntingtower) about three miles away.

The next morning when he attempted to leave he was told that this would not be permitted. James, who was only sixteen at the time, was said to have begun to cry with vexation and fear. This occasioned the famous remark from the Master of Glamis, ” Better bairns greet than bearded men.” 

The so-called Ruthven Raid was brought about mainly because of the dissatisfaction felt with both the religious and political power wielded by Arran and Lennox. Soon after James’ constraint, a proclamation was made “declaring his Majesty was not detained against his will as the report was spread, and that the noblemen with him had attempted nothing but that which became them of their duty; and all things done were of good service.” 

The ultra-Protestant faction was jubilant and the General Assembly commended the Raid as “that late action of reformation.”  Their triumph was short lived.

Ten months later, having lulled his captors into believing that he was quite content with his position, James managed to escape to the castle at St Andrews where his grand-uncle, the Earl of March was waiting for him.

The Earl of Gowrie was executed for his part in the affair and the other lords who supported him were banished to England.

James began his grand design of subjecting the Presbyterian Church to the power of the crown.

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