Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Angus (1449 – 1513)
Angus was born about 1449 at Tantallon Castle
and succeeded his father,
George the 4th earl, in 1462 or
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lost influence, being superseded by the Homes and Hepburns, and the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.
(4th Earl of Angus) Douglas
Sibbard b: ABT. 1418
1 Catherine Seton, a natural daughter of Alexander Gordon, 1st
Earl of Huntly
(Master of Angus) Douglas b: ABT. 1469 k: 1513 at
(Sir) (of Glenbervie) Douglas
k: 1513 at Flodden
Douglas, b1476 = Andrew 2nd Lord (of Terregles) Herries
(of Angus) Douglas, b1470 = Cuthbert (3rd Earl of Glencairn) Cuninghame
- Gavin, b1472
- Elizabeth, b1474
Archibald Douglas of Kilspindie, b1475 - Given the nickname Greysteil
by James V, Treasurer of Scotland
1. Lady Mary
Note incorrect dates
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