Biography Gavin Douglas

Gavin Douglas

photo of Gavin Douglas
  • Time Period1474 - 1522
  • Place
  • CountryScotland

Poet Biography

Gavin was the third son of Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Angus, and was probably born at the castle of Tantallon in East Lothian. He was at St Andrews between 1490 and 1494, and may also have studied in Paris. He held church posts at Dunkeld and Prestonkirk (East Lothian), and in 1503 he was appointed to the important post of Provost of the Collegiate Church of St Giles in Edinburgh. In 1515 he became Bishop of Dunkeld, having failed in his bid to become Bishop of St. Andrews.
This was a troubled period in Scottish history, with the defeat and death of James IV at Flodden in 1513, and the subsequent regency of the Duke of Albany (James V still being in his infancy). Angus Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, married James's widow Margaret Tudor, and this put his uncle Gavin and all the rest of the family in the Queen's camp during the power squabbles. Gavin was imprisoned in 1516, and after his release had to fight off rival claims to his bishopric. But he soon returned to favour, and in 1517 went to France to help arrange the marriage of James V (now five years old) to Princess Madeleine, daughter of Francois I (though the wedding would not take place until 1537). However Douglas's ambition and his involvement in the political wrangling of the regency led to another fall from grace, and he was exiled to England in 1521, where he died of plague in September 1522.