Lady Janet Douglas is said to haunt the Glamis Castle in Scotland after being burned at the stake after being entangled in court politics and being an enemy of the King.
Glamis Castle is said to have inspired one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, Macbeth, a play so haunted you are not supposed to say the title out loud inside of a theater. The old castle is located in Angus, Scotland, not far from Edinburgh and is considered one of Scotland’s most haunted castles.
There are many mysteries surrounding this place, from the monster of Glamis, the ghost playing cards for the rest of the eternity and many more apparitions and legends. One of the ghosts residing in Glamis Castle is that of Lady Janet Douglas, also called Lady Glamis.
Lady of the Castle
The story behind Lady Janet Douglas and her death is rooted in the bloody battle for power and revenge in 1500s Scotland. King James V was remembered as the vindictive king and of his paranoid fear of his nobility, leading to the death of many of them, Lady Glamis being one of them.
King James V had Lady Janet Douglas accused of treason against him, although it was clear that the accusations were false. Her only crime was that she was the sister to the King’s stepfather, Archibal Douglas, Earl of Angus, which the king hated after having been imprisoned by him for years before escaping.
The Douglas and Stewart families had been battling for power in Scotland for generations. When King James V’s mother, Margaret Tudor became a widow, Archibald Douglas married her and took control over the kingdom as King James was just a child.
Living as Archibald’s prisoner for years and having taken the power away from him, the hatred King James V had for the Douglases grew. His hatred for Angus extended to the whole family and he wanted them gone when he finally escaped.
Charged for Murder and Treason
In 1528, upon the death of Lady Glamis first husband, John Lyon, 6th Lord of Glamis, Lady Janet Douglas was immediately summoned for treason, accused of supporting the civil war against the King and of poisoning Lyon who died on 17th of September 1528.
Her being unwed left her vulnerable and a target for the King’s vengeance against her brother. Lady Glamis brother, the king’s stepfather was already exiled and King James had seized all his land and property he was once a prisoner in. Now he sought revenge on the one he could get his hands in.
Charges were eventually dropped, and Lady Glamis were free to go back to Glamis Castle. She went on to marry Archibald Campbell in 1532, having ceased all communication with her brother and the rest of the Douglas clan to prove her innocence in any plot against the King.
Her Final Arrest
Lady Janet Douglas’ reprieve was short-lived, however, as in 1537, she was once again summoned away from Glamis Castle for treason, and this time the King was going to have her punished. There were several reasons as to why she was picked out, one of the reasons was because of her beauty. She was seen as a unique and one of a kind beauty among the nobles and when her first husband died, she had several suitors.
One of them was William Lyon, a close friend of her first husband. His obsession for her only grew and when she married Campbell, it turned sour. He started whispering in the king’s ear about her plans to poison him, and the king, looking for any excuse to get back at the Douglases, listened intently.
Lady Janet Douglas was imprisoned with her husband and her son John in a dungeon of Edinburgh Castle, a castle riddled with rumored ghosts as well. Her husband managed to escape from prison, but was later killed when he was found.
This time, the charges brought against Lady Glamis included being in secret talks with the Douglas clan, attempting to poison the King. To capture Lady Janet Douglas was easy enough, but to convict her for being a witch was more difficult as Lady Glamis reputation was impeccable and a loved character.
The Lady Burnt at the Stake
To gather enough evidence for a conviction, King James had Lady Janet Douglas family members and servants imprisoned and tortured until they gave answers that he wanted.
In later years she has been remembered as being an accused witch, but nowhere in her files does it say she was ever accused of witchcraft as well. Perhaps it would have been better for her, as those accused of witchcraft were often strangled before being burned. Traitors didn’t have that luxury.
In the end they all talked and Lady Janet Douglas was convicted. When they led her out from the dungeon, she was nearly blind after being kept behind bars in the dark for so long. Lady Glamis was burned at the stake on 17 July 1537 by Edinburgh Castle and It is said King James forced her young son, John from her first marriage to watch her agonizing death before letting him go.
Lady Glamis’ son was also sentenced to death, but because of his young age, he was not to be executed until he reached eighteen. Luckily for John, the king died before then and was pardoned, reclaiming his property of Glamis Castle and becoming the seventh Lord Glamis.
The Haunted Glamis Castle
Not many years after Lady Glamis’ execution, reports about a gray lady started to appear around the Glamis Castle grounds and people kept seeing this ghost, believing it to be her. The castle is not the only place her ghost is said to have been seen though. In Edinburgh Castle, were she was held captive and at last burned alive, there have been reports about a ghost reminding them about the Lady Glamis as well.
Back at Glamis Castle, she has been reported around the Clock Tower as well as in the chapel of the castle. People report an atmosphere of great sadness when they have seen her kneeling at the altar. For a long time one seat in the chapel was reserved for her and no one was allowed to sit in that seat.
Once, The James the old pretender, during the Jacobite Rising in 1716, a direct descendant of her killer saw her sitting there, still haunted by his forefathers actions.
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