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"Murder of Chevalier de la Bastie"

 

Broomhouse near Duns 20th. September 1517

 
The Ballad of the Death of de la Beautie
 

James 1V of Scotland

 

James 1V King of Scots died tragically on Flodden Field in 1513 and yet again Scotland was plunged into a period of minority rule.

His successor was his infant son James V then  little more than a year old once again necessitating the appointment of a guardian.

The Queen Mother, Margaret Tudor albeit she was sister of Henry V111 of England initially was looked upon without too much disfavour as the natural person to fulfill this role as indeed had happened previously in the minorities of James 11 and James 111. Further by the will of James 1V, Margaret had been appointed tutrix to her son and therefore head of government so long as she remained a widow.

Unfortunately as well as being sister to Henry, Margaret rather shared his predilection for marital adventure and a year later married the Earl of Angus thereby losing the authority granted to her by her husband's will.

At this point Flodden was possibly regarded not quite as the disaster in which it is seen today and which it almost certainly was but rather, simply as something of a set back, in a never ending feud and the intention was to resume the campaign the following year. Having an English Queen in these circumstances was probably not regarded as the best of situations.

For these reasons the General Council of Scotland decided to invite the Duke of Albany to be Governor. John Duke of Albany was the eldest son of Alexander second son of James 11 and therefore next in line to the throne after the young James and his even younger brother who had been born posthumously but who was to die young. Alexander had married a French Countess and John had been born and brought up in France, spoke French and was very much a Frenchman.

As it happened in the interim Henry and Margaret's sister Mary had married Louis X11 of France and Louis was not anxious to continue the war with England. He therefore at first refused the request from the Scots to allow Albany to come to Scotland at the head of a French army but subsequently allowed him to accept the invitation but only on the understanding that he would urge the Scots to keep the peace with England.

By and large Albany proved a not unsuccessful Governor but tensions were growing. There were those who felt that war against England should be pursued vigorously invoking French assistance while others mindful of Flodden, which was now being recognised more and more for the disaster it was, felt more inclined to abandon the French alliance and pursue a policy of co-operation with England. Also Albany's French followers were proving unpopular and the running costs of the Court unacceptably high.

There were a number of Lords opposed to Albany's rule but by and large he managed to win them over with the exception of the Earl of Hume, the strongest magnate in the south east of Scotland whom he had executed (along with his brother) and deprived of his office as Warden of the East March.

 

The Humes' loyalty to the Stewarts had been questioned before. They had been instrumental in the uprising against James 111 resulting in his death at Sauchieburn and some accounts question the full extent of their commitment at Flodden.

In 1517 Albany returned to France leaving in charge to preside over a council of regency of four Earls his deputy Chevalier de la Bastie, a handsome devil by all accounts hence his nickname "Beaute".

The Hume family naturally resented the execution of the Earl and their loss of the wardenship.

In a dispute over the inheritance to the estate of Langton William Cockburn who was married to a Hume and who claimed the title and is described as a "brisk man" was, with his brother in law Home of Wedderburn laying siege to Langton Castle. De la Bastie who was in Kelso summoned Wedderburn to meet with him and they met two miles north of Kelso and journeyed together, it appears at first reasonably amicably until they had reached a spot somewhere around Gavinton where a violent disagreement broke out. La Bastie felt obliged to flee for his life seeking to return to his Castle at Dunbar. He fled through the streets of Duns pursued by Wedderburn and other kinsmen who had left off from besieging Langton and had joined in. As La Bastie tried to cross the Whiteadder at Broomhouse his horse fell and although defending valiantly he was overcome and slain by John Hume of Manderston and Patrick Hume, brother of David Hume of Wedderburn.

Monument to De la Bastie at Broomhouse   La Bastie's head was cut off and exposed on Duns Market Cross. His body was buried where it fell and a cairn later erected by Patrick Home of Broomhouse.

In due course the head was removed from the Cross but remained at Wedderburn Castle until 1810 when it was burned by Miss Jean Home.

On 19th. February the following year sentence of forfeiture was brought against the Humes and shortly afterwards a force under the Earl of Arran marched against the Humes. No battle ensued however, the Humes effectively surrendering at Lauder and handing over the keys of the Castles of Home, Langton and Wedderburn on the promise of a pardon.

In 1975 the present monument was erected by Berwickshire Civic Society.