BALFOUR, MICHAEL [SSNE 1475]
- First name
- BARON OF BURLEY (BURLIE)
- BURLEY, BORDERS
- Social status
Sir Michael Balfour, later Lord Balfour of Burleigh, was the son of Sir James Balfour, President of the Scottish Court of Session, and Margaret Balfour. Michael was admitted to St Leonard’s College in St Andrews in 1589. Then, prior to mid-1592, Michael was invested as a knight and was a rival contender with Andrew Melville, Rector of the University, for the provostship of St Andrews. In 1598, the Kinross laird set out across the continent, with recorded visits to France, Lorraine, Rome, Naples, and Tuscany. Balfour conducted four royal missions to Florence (1598-9, 1601-2, 1602-3, 1604) to seek a matrimonial alliance with the House of Medici. In parallel, Balfour travelled, under the direction of King James, to the Low Countries in 1600-2 with a view to purchase arms for a possible future war of succession.
Balfour’s book of friends adds to our knowledge of the diplomat’s European movements with recorded visits to Geneva, Copenhagen, London, Nancy, Naples, Padua, Prague, and Rome, among others, over the period 1596-1610. Michael Balfour travelled to Denmark in 1598, and was in Copenhagen in June 1598 where he obtained for his 'Stammbuch' the signatures of Christian IV, Queen Anna Katherina, the Queen Mother Sophie, Duke Ulrik, Princess Hedwig and Andrew Sinclair of Ravenscraig, then in service as Gentleman of the Bedchamber to Queen Anna Catherine.
Balfour was later created Baron of Burlie (Burley) on 19 November 1600.
Dk. Ra. TKUA Skotland A I 2, 31/5/1598, letter of introduction to Christian IV; T. Riis, Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot (Odense, 1988), II, p.54; G. M. Bell (ed), A Handlist of British Diplomatic Representatives, 1509-1688 (London, 1990), p. 165; J. D. Mackie, Negotiations between King James VI. and I. and Ferdinand I. Grand Duke of Tuscany (Oxford, 1927); J. D. Mackie, ‘The Secret Diplomacy of King James VI. in Italy Prior to His Accession to the English Throne’, Scottish Historical Review, 21 (1923), pp. 272, 278-82; The National Archives, London, State Paper Office, Signet Office, Docquets, SP38/7, fos. 62r, 68v, 232v. Balfour's album amicorum is in National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, MS 16000.
This entry was kindly updated by Dr Thomas Brochard.
- Arrived 1598-01-01
- Departed 1598-12-31
- Purpose CIVIL SERVICE