The Founding of Bothwell School of Witchcraft

Francis Stewart had backing in England from those who supported his rebellion against King James VI. During his trial, Francis regularly transported himself to one of his patrons' castles in England; a major factor in why he was able to escape capture so easily. Initially his plan was to use a mind-altering charm on the King to grant him a full pardon so he could return peacefully to his estates in Scotland. While originally successful, Francis was forced to retreat again when the effect of his charm wore off and the King immediately revoked his exoneration. Using magical misdirection and cunning, Francis managed to convince the Crowns of both Scotland and England that he had fled to Europe.

After grabbing what he could from his lands in Scotland, Francis Stewart was forced to settle in England to hide from the Crown. He placed many charms and spells on the castle he took refuge in so it wouldn’t be seen by non-magic folk. Here he decided to devote the rest of his life to cultivating his penchant for magic and wrote many books on the subject.

However, in 1603, ten years after the horrific Berwick Witch Trials, Queen Elizabeth I died and left no heir to the throne of England. The Queen's right hand man, Robert Cecil, had secretly been keeping correspondence with James during the Queen's twilight years. On the day of her death, James VI of Scotland was declared the new King of England, becoming James I; King of England, Scotland and Wales. James’ obsession with the persecution of Witches had become fiercer over the years. After the Berwick Trials he wrote “Daemonologie”, a work which denounced Witches as servants of the devil and promoted the practice of witch hunting.

Fearing these practices would soon become more prevalent in his new home of England, Francis felt compelled to seek out other magic folk and bring them to his castle. He set up the Bothwell Sanctuary for Witches and Sorcerers, using his previous title to name the sanctuary as a mockery to his exile. This proved a difficult mission as those who were magic often hid their talents or wouldn’t dare speak of their abilities in public. Francis was forced to use stories and rumours to hunt down witches before the angry mobs did. He transfigured himself into the form of his familiar, a dog, in order to hide himself from the public. As he gathered followers, he was able to teach others the art of transfiguration and used their help to sweep the nation and rescue those that he could, fearing they would become subject to the same gruesome torture of his fellows in Scotland. Up and down the country the King's own guard of witch hunters tried to capture this mysterious dog “daemon” but Francis always managed to escape.

The people Francis Stewart brought to his castle were often inexperienced in the art of magic, and had only discovered a fraction of their powers. Some discovered they could heal animals or grow crops instantly using only their thoughts. Others had had more calamitous experiences with magic, destroying their families’ homes by accident when they got mad or making objects fly across the room. Those who managed to escape accusations of witchcraft were often left paralysed in fear of doing it again and facing the harsh penalties that awaited them.

Francis taught all of them how to use their magical abilities, using the knowledge he had gained himself while studying the art over the years. He also provided them with a home in the castle where they could be themselves, secure from the King's elite witch hunters, who often used crude magic themselves to trick those with magical abilities into revealing themselves. After just a few years, many of his students developed their own specialisms in magic and devoted themselves to their chosen arts, developing original spells and literary works. Using their combined talent and power, Stewart and his colleagues managed to develop The Seeing Stones, whose purpose was to reveal those with magical ability. The Seeing Stones made it much easier to sweep the country and rescue those fearing prosecution under the reign of James I. Francis Stewart then turned the sanctuary into the Bothwell School of Witchcraft, inducting children deemed of age into his school each year, and teaching them to control their magical abilities. From there the school grew into a center of magical excellence and forever a safe haven for magic folk.

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