David Beaton

David Beaton (also spelled Bethune), was born at Balfour, Markinch, in Fife, and was educated for the Church at St Andrews, Glasgow and Paris. In 1524 he was Abbot of Arbroath and was twice ambassador to France. This tasty position was promoted by the influence of uncle James Beaton, whom he succeeded as Archbishop of St Andrews in 1539. It was ever thus.

He worked hard at cementing a close alliance between Scotland and France, and was an implacable opponent of the Scottish Reformation. He dissuaded King James IV from following the Reformist religious policies of Henry VIII of England, and helped arrange James's two successive marriages to French noblewomen.

By preventing the proposed marriage of Mary Stuart to the future king Edward VI of England, he provoked the abortive English invasion of 1544. He became papal legate in Scotland that same year.

His enthusiastic opposition to the reformation led him to burn the popular reformer George Wishart at the stake in 1546. The Cardinal watched the show from a convenient window. This act of over enthusiasm backfired however, as a few months later a band of Wishart's Protestant supporters caught him in his bedchamber and cut him down.

A thoroughly naughty boy, Cardinal Beaton left behind several children by a mistress.