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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Aganis the Weiris 1586

The third of our documents about political matters is a poem composed by Sir Richard Maitland of Lethington (1496-1586) who had a long career in the Scottish government under James V, Queen Mary and James VI. He was a senator of the College of Justice, ordinary Lord of Session, Privy Councillor and Lord Privy Seal. But he is best remembered for his work as a poet, making comment about the political and religious strife that gripped Scotland. In his poem Aganis the Weiris Maitland dwelt at length on the predicament Scotland found herself in during much of the 16th century, as both England and France (and latterly also Spain) interfered in Scottish internal politics and attempted to engineer what we today would call ‘regime change’. When Queen Mary was forced to abdicate in 1567 Scotland was torn apart by civil war until 1573, with two regents killed in office and a third later executed. Until 1584 the pro-English and pro-French parties at the Scottish court continued to cause instability, division and feuds which Maitland complained were destroying the kingdom and playing into the hands of the English who wished to keep Scotland divided.

Extracts from the poem, along with background commentary and language notes, are contained in the PDF document which may be downloaded below.