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James Stuart, earl of Arran

Stuart or Stewart, James, earl of Arran (ârˈən) [key], d. 1595, Scottish nobleman. He spent his early years as a soldier of fortune fighting in the Dutch revolt against Spain, returned to Scotland in 1597, and ingratiated himself at the court of the young James VI (later James I of England). As a reward for his services in accusing the earl of Morton of the murder of Lord Darnley, Stuart was made a member of the council and granted (1381) the earldom of Arran, then in the possession of the insane James Hamilton, 3d earl of Arran. The king's arrest by the Protestant lords in the raid of Ruthven (1582) led to Arran's imprisonment. After the king's escape (1583), however, he was released and appointed lord chancellor. Arran set out to crush his opponents in Scotland, driving the Protestant lords into exile and seizing their lands. He and James also determined to overthrow Presbyterianism, and in 1584 Parliament passed an act requiring the church to acknowledge the king as its head. Arran's reckless use of power soon alienated his few supporters in Scotland, while his agent in England treacherously undermined the good relations that he had established initially with Elizabeth I. In 1585 the English queen accused Arran of the murder of Lord Francis Russell in a border fray. James was compelled to imprison Arran. After the return in force of the banished Protestant lords, Arran himself was banished (1586). He later returned to live in Scotland as Capt. James Stuart and intrigued unsuccessfully to return to power. He was slain in 1595 by Sir James Douglas, nephew of the earl of Morton, in revenge for Arran's part in the death of Morton.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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