Treaty of Berwick, 1560

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The years 1558–60 were critical in Anglo-Scottish relations. The death of Mary Tudor in 1558 placed a protestant on the English throne. Mary, queen of Scots, became queen of France in 1559, with her mother Mary of Guise as regent for her in Scotland. Her catholicizing policy was opposed by the lords of the Congregation, a group of noblemen, supported by the zeal of John Knox. The regent held the port of Leith, vital for communication with France. By the treaty of Berwick of February 1560, Elizabeth I undertook to support the rebellious lords.

On the 27 March 1560, Mary of Guise wrote to her brothers, the Cardinal and Duke of Guise, that she never saw anything so shameful as the Articles.

The Berwick articles included:

1.  The belief of Elizabeth that France intended to conquer Scotland, and offered her protection to its nobility during the marriage of Mary to Francis II of France.
2.  Elizabeth would send an army with all speed to join with Scots.
3.  Any forts won by the English force would be immediately destroyed by the Scots, or delivered to the Duke of Châtellerault.
4.  The Scots will aid the English Army.
5.  All enemies of England are enemies of both.
6.  Scotland shall be no further united to France than by Mary's marriage.
7.  Scotland will help repel French invasions of England.
8.  The Earl of Argyll will help English rule in the north of Ireland.[17]
9.  The Scots will offer hostages or 'pledges' – those sent in April 1560 included:
  • Claud Hamilton, 1st Lord Paisley, Châtellerault's son, aged 14.
  • Master Alexander Campbell, first cousin to the Earl of Argyll.
  • Master Robert Douglas half-brother of Lord James.
  • Master James Cunningham, son of Earl of Glencairn.
  • Master George Graham, son of the Earl of Menteith, aged 5.
  • Master Archibald Ruthven, son of Lord Ruthven, aged 14.
     These hostages were at Newcastle by 10 April 1560, attended by Ninian Menville of Sledwick Hall. Châtellerault wrote to Elizabeth on 21 December 1561, asking for the return of these pledges, as they were meant to stay in England only until a year after the end of Mary's French marriage.

10.  The treaty to be signed by the Duke after the hostages are delivered. There is no due obedience withdrawn from Mary or the French king.

The treaty was signed and sealed by 30 of the Lords of the Congregation at the 'camp before Leith' (Pilrig) on 10 May 1560.

In June 1560 Mary of Guise died and later in the year Mary, queen of Scots, was widowed. Though one must be careful before hailing the treaty as the turning-point towards a protestant Scotland and union with England, there is little doubt that it turned the scales in the struggle between the old and new religions.


Sources for this article include:

  • Calendar of State Papers, Scotland (1898)

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