Who was Robert Cochrane?
Robert Cochrane was an architect or mason who lived in the reign of King James III of Scotland. There exists a good deal of controversy about him, and some broader issues about the reign of James III. These issues concern the theme of a king taking advice from low-born favourites rather than from established noble councillors.
The traditional view is that James was a cultured man in the context of his time, but otherwise had some serious character flaws, a weak king and a dilettante who surrounded himself with a group of low-born favourites who had various talents. Cochrane was the most important of these favourites, to some extent he governed the country during the 1470s, and James may have made him Earl of Mar after the death of the previous earl, the king's younger brother. Cochrane's downfall came during an invasion by an English army led by the king's younger brother, the Duke of Albany, and the Duke of Gloucester, the future King Richard III of England. A cabal of aristocrats, led by Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Angus, decided that they must "bell the cat". They hanged Cochrane and the other favourites at Lauder Bridge.
In the late 20th century much of this came to be questioned. Some historians have been more sympathetic to James III, seeing him as a cultured man in the rugby club atmosphere of the Scottish nobility at that time, and defended him against some criticisms. However it has also been suggested that James was a homosexual, and these "favourites of low birth" were his homosexual partners.
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