2nd Duke of Albany, Regent of Scotland
Born c.1481 Died 1536

John Stewart was born about 1481. He was brought up in France, where he owned large estates, and held the office of Admiral of France. In 1515, at the request of the Scottish parliament, and in spite of Henry VIII's efforts to prevent him, Albany came to Scotland, was inaugurated regent in July, and proceeded to organize resistance to the influence of England and of Margaret Tudor, the queen dowager, sister of Henry VIII. In August he seized the latter and her children at Stirling, and subsequently was occupied in suppressing the rebellion of the Homes, Angus (the second husband of Margaret), and James Hamilton, Earl of Arran; Alexander, third Lord Home, being beheaded in October 1516.

Albany was declared on the 12th of November heir to the throne, and on the 6th of June 1517 he returned to France. In August he concluded the treaty of Rouen, by which the alliance between France and Scotland was renewed and a daughter of Francis I was to marry James V, and next year he obtained the relaxation of certain dues on Scottish imports into France. Meanwhile Margaret had returned immediately on Albany's departure, and disorders had broken out owing to the rivalry between Angus and Arran. Francis I had secretly engaged himself to Henry VIII not to allow Albany's departure from France, but he returned at the close of 1521 and immediately became the object of Henry VIII's and Wolsey's attacks.

He reconciled himself temporarily with Margaret, supported her divorce from Angus, and was now accused by the English government, in all probability unjustly, of having seduced her and of harbouring schemes of marrying her himself, together with designs against the life of the young king. These accusations were repudiated by the Scots, and Henry's demand for the regent's dismissal refused. War broke out in 1522, and in September Albany advanced to within four miles of Carlisle with a large army. The Scots, however, showed unwillingness to fight outside their own frontiers, and Albany agreed to a truce and disbanded his troops. On the 25th of October he departed hastily to France, leaving the borders exposed to the enemy.

On the 25th of September 1523 he once more landed in Scotland, bringing with him supplies from France and a considerable body of troops, and on the 3rd of November, after an unsuccessful attack on Wark, retreated hastily, and quitted Scotland finally on the 20th of May 1524. On the 30th of July his regency was terminated by the declaration of James V as king. He accompanied Francis I in his disastrous Italian campaign of 1525, being detached to make a diversion in Naples against the Spanish. Between 1530 and 1535 he acted as French ambassador in Rome, conducted Catherine de Medici, his wife's niece, to Paris on her marriage to Henry (afterwards Henry II) in 1534, and negotiated the marriage of James V.

The regent Albany was a singularly unfortunate commander in the field, but a successful ruler and administrator, and the Scottish court of session owed to him its institution. But he regarded himself more the subject of the king of France than of the king of Scotland, subordinated the interests of the latter state to the former, and disliked his official duties in Scotland, where the benefits of his administration were largely diminished by his want of perseverance and frequent absence. He appears to have been a man of honourable and straightforward conduct, whose character must be cleared from the aspersions of Wolsey and the English authorities. He married his cousin Anne de la Tour d'Auvergne, but left no legal issue, and all his honours became extinct at his death.

Extracted from the entry for ALBANY, DUKES OF in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.

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