Composers and their stage works 

Armstrong's Last Goodnight

John Arden

Historical drama in 3 acts; Scots dialect prose, with some verse and songs

First performed 1964, Glasgow
Published : 1965

Scenes & Settings: Royal palace, Armstrong's castle, and forest, Scotland, 1528-30
Cast: 30m, 7f

Sir David Lindsay (author of A Satire of the Three Estates), James V of Scotland's Chief Herald, is attending a meeting in 1528 of Scots
and English Commissioners 'to secure ane certain time of peace, prosperity, and bliss on ilk side of the Border'. One of the sticking points is the frequency of the borderers' cattle raids, especially those carried out by John Armstrong of Gilnockie. The Scots promise to get Gilnockie to obey the King's law, and Lindsay is charged with the task of winning him over.

Gilnockie and fellow clansmen betray an old enemy, Johnstone of Wamphray, and bring about his death. Lindsay offers Gilnockie the title of warden of Eskdale if he will swear loyalty to James and refrain from further border raids. Lindsay, insisting that Gilnockie make his peace with Wamphray, is glad to hear that he is now 'in condition of peace'. Lindsay's mistress, arriving too late to join Lindsay, lodges with Gilnockie and is roughly seduced by him. The confirmation of Gilnockie's appointment is delayed by the opposition of Gilnockie's suzerain, Lord Maxwell.

The impatient Gilnockie now demands Wamphray's lands. Lindsay has a vision of a free state ruled by the borderers like a Swiss canton. However, Gilnockie has led a raid into England, and Henry VIII threatens war in retaliation. Gilnockie is promised safe conduct to meet the King, but is treacherously seized and hanged.