Mary gave up the Scottish throne in 1567 and her infant son James became King but Mary still had strong support in Scotland.
The Earl of Moray was the first of James VI’s regents. He gained Protestant support by passing laws which favoured the Kirk and taking action against Catholic priests.
Moray was murdered in Linlithgow in January 1570 by one of Mary’s followers.
From 1572, the Earl of Morton became regent and was to make policy throughout the remainder of James’s youth. He aimed to make sure Scotland became a Protestant country.
Town councillors and ministers were to declare that they accepted the King as Supreme Governor of the Kirk.
Bishops were also appointed causing further arguments.
However in 1574 Andrew Melville returned to Scotland after spending ten years studying and teaching in France and Geneva. On his return Melville was appointed to the influential position of Principal, first of the University of Glasgow then of that of St Andrew’s University.
Melville, was to become the new leader of the Reformed Church in Scotland although he held different views from John Knox. Melville was opposed to bishops and wanted a theocracy - a Presbyterian church where all ministers were to be of the same rank. There was no hierarchy. Through presbyteries and general assemblies, Melville wanted the Church to have a self sufficient organisation in which neither the King nor Parliament had any part.
This would mean that the Kirk, not the King would control the Church.
The nobility opposed Morton and he was executed in 1581 for involvement in Darnley’s murder.