The Anglo-Scottish agreement known as the Treaty of London was supposedly signed on the 4th of December, 1423.
There have been many Anglo-Scottish treaties over the centuries; some good, some bad, some indifferent. Many of those treaties favoured the southern side, whether it was the Saxons, the Normans, the Tudors or the descendants of the anglicised Stuarts, such as happened in 1707. Way back in 1423, there is supposed to have been a treaty signed in London; hence the name – the Treaty of London. There have been also several London Treaties by the way. On the face of it, the 1423 event was an important occasion. It is said to have been the official recognition of an agreement finalising the terms of the release from English custody of Scotland's King, James I, after his eighteen-year captivity.
A release treaty then, between Henry VI of England and James I of Scotland. The problem is, there was no such treaty – at least in London. The real treaty that secured James' release was the Treaty of Durham, signed, guess where, on the 28th of March, 1424. What happened in London, up to and including the 4th of December, 1423, was merely the negotiation of the marriage of James I, King of Scots, to Miss Jane Beaufort, daughter of the Earl of Somerset.
Back in 1406, soon after he had been born, James' father, Robert III, decided to send wee Jamesie to France – for his own protection. That was largely down to the disturbing fact that earlier, in 1402, the same King’s elder son, David, Duke of Rothesay, had been starved to death in Falkland, after being imprisoned on the orders of his uncle, Robert, Duke of Albany. With Robert III being an invalid, his very capable brother, Albany, was effectively the ruler of Scotland; as Regent. After the murder of his brother, wee Jamesie was the only surviving heir and vulnerable to a similar fate. Whether Albany was really as dangerous as he has been portrayed, the King wisnae taking any chances and, in March, 1406, James set sail for France. He never made it.
Ok, James did get to France, but not until 1415, when he was used as a pawn in the campaign of Henry V. In that year, James' presence provided Henry with a justification for treating the Scottish auxiliaries, who made up the backbone of French resistance to the English, as rebels. James went back to France, again, in 1421, with the same idea of embarrassing France’s Scottish allies. That move led to James being pitted against 6000 of his own subjects in open warfare. Similar things are still going on in the 21st Century, which only goes to prove Hegel's adage; “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.”
On the way to France in 1406, James’ ship, the Maryenknecht out of Danzig, was captured by English sailors and he was promptly taken into the custody of Henry IV. The English King refused a ransom and, just a month later, when James' father died and at the age of twelve, he became the first of the Jameses – the first of six such Kings of Scots. However, James I wasn't the first Scots King to be held captive by the English. James wasn't the last King be held captive either, albeit his successors were so done to by their own subjects.
So James was a King in name only whilst he remained a captive in England, with his rule and government being carried on by the Regent, Albany. That wily old fox showed no signs of anxiety in trying to procure his nephew's release. When Albany died in 1420, to be succeeded as Regent by his son, Murdac (Murdoch), things didn't change much at all, despite Murdoch having been also a captive in England, until his release in 1415. You'd think Murdoch might've had a bit of sympathy for James' plight from having shared some of his experience – no chance! James had increasing freedoms in England, but there was no sign of any significant desire from north of the Border for his release. After all, neither of the Albanys had any incentive to give up their rule of Scotland, in favour of nephew or cousin. As it happens, Murdoch's son, Walter, with more influence than his father, who wasn't nearly as effective as the previous Albany, was instrumental in the stalling and obstruction that occurred.
It wasn't until after the death of Henry VI, in 1422, that any serious negotiations for James’ release took place. The first of those, with representatives of the infant Henry VI, took place in Pomfret, in the summer of 1423. After consulting with James himself, the English sent a priest, Dougal Drummond, with a safe conduct for several notables to meet “with their master the captive king and there to treat of their common interests.”
The Scots party included William Lauder, the Bishop of Glasgow and Chancellor of Scotland; the Dunbar Earl of March; John Montgomery of Androssan; Sir Patrick Dunbar of Bele; Sir Robert Lauder of Edrington; and others unmentioned. At that meeting, James acted as a kind of a mediator between England and his own subjects and a list of items upon which to treat was fleshed out. A follow-up meeting was held at York, during which the terms of the eventual Durham Treaty were laid out in more detail. The chief articles, agreed between the English Commissioners and the Scottish representatives on the 10th of September, 1423, numbered five.
The principle article required the King of Scots and his heirs to pay to the King of England the sum of 60,000 Merks as “an equivalent for his entertainment in England.” That sum was to be paid in six equal instalments, beginning with the first, which was due six months after the King of Scotland had entered his own kingdom. There was a provision for the last payment to be remitted and that was linked to the fifth article. That last article effectively declared that “to cement and perpetuate the amity of the two kingdoms the governors of Scotland should send ambassadors to London with power to conclude a contract of marriage between the King of Scotland and some lady of the first quality in England.
That lady was Jane Beaufort, with whom James had already fallen in love. Indeed, during his captivity in England, James the Poet had written the ‘Kingis Quair’ celebrating his courtship of the Lady Jane. James and Jane were wed in London on the 12th of February, 1424. Ten thousand Merks of the release payment was remitted as the new Queen's dowry.