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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


Leith.] THE FORTIFICATIONS. 17r then at peace. A small force under Monsieur de la Chapelle Biron had already preceded this main body, which consisted of between six and seven thousand well-trained soldiers, all led by officers of high rank and approved valour. Andre de Montelambert, Sieur &Esse, commanded the whole ; 2,000 of these men were of the regular infantry of France, and were commanded by Coligny, the Seigneur d?Andelot, who for his bravery at the siege of Calais, afterwards was presented with the house of the last English governor, Lord Dunford. His father, Gaspard de Coligny, was a marshal of France in 1516. Gaspare di Strozzi, Prior of Capua, a Florentine cavalier (exiled by Alessandro I., Grand Duke of Tuscany), was colonel of the Italians ; the Rhinegrave led 3,000 Germans ; Octavian, an old cavalier of Milan, led 1,000 arquebussiers on horseback ; Dunois was captain of the Compagrries d?Oru?omance ; Brissac D?Etanges was colonel of the horse. Another noble armament, which was to follow under the Marquis d?Elbeuff, was cast away on the coast of Holland, and only 900 of its soldiers reached Scotland, under the Count de Martigues. In the following year D?Esse was superseded in the command by Paul de la Barthe, Seigneur de Termes, a knight of St, Michael, who brought with him IOO cuirassiers, zoo horse, and 1,000 infantry. He was appointed marshal of France in 1555. Prior to the arrival of these auxiliaries, Leith seems to have been completely an open town ; but Andre de Montelambert, as a basis for future operations, at once saw the importance of fortifying it, dependent as he was almost entirely upon support from the Continent, and having a necessity for a place to retreat into in case of reverse; so he at once proceeded to enclose the seaport with strong and regular works, carried out on the scientific principles of the time. As not a vestige of these works now remain, it is useless to speculate on the probable height or composition of the ramparts, which were most probably massive earthworks, in many places faced with stone, and must have been furnished with a ferre-plene all round, to enable the gamson to pass . and re-pass ; and no doubt the work would be efficiently done, as the French have ever evinced the highest talent for military engineering. The works erected then were of a very irregular kind, partaking generally of a somewhat triangular form, the smallest base of which presented to Leith Links on the eastward a frontage of about 2,000 feet from point to point of the flankers or bastions. In the centre of this was one great projecting bastion, 600 feet in length, in the h e of the present Constitution Street Ramsay?s Fort, usually called the first bastion, adjoined the river in the line of BernarC?s Street with a curtain nearly 500 feet long, the second bastion terminating the frontage described as to the Links. The present line of Leith Walk would seem to have entered the town by St. Anthony?s Port, between the third and fourth bastion. A gate in the walls is indicated by Maitland as being at the foot of the Bonnington Road, near the fifth bastion, from whence the works extended to the riveq which was crossed by a wooden bridge near the sixth bastion. Port St. Nicholas-so called from the then adjacent church-entered at the seventh bastion, which was flanked far out at a very acute angle, evidently to enclose the church and burying-ground ; and from thence the fortifications, with a sea front of 1,200 feet, extended to the eighth bastion, which adjoined the Sand Port, near where the Custom House standsnow. The two bastions at the harbour mouth would no doubt be built wholly of stone, and heavily armed with guns to defend the entrance. Kincaid states that in his time some vestiges of a ditch and bastion existed westward of the citadel. Where the Exchange Buildings now stand there long remained a narrow mound of earth a hundred yards long and of considerable height, which in the last century was much frequented by the belles of Leith as a lofty and airy promenade, to which there was an ascent by steps. It was called the ? Ladies? Walk,? and was, no doubt, the remains of the work adjoining the second bastion of AndI;e de Montelambert. The wall near the third bastion, when it became reduced to a mere mound of earth, formed for a time a portion of South Leith burying-ground. ? An unfortunate and unthinking wight of a seacaptain,? sayscampbell, in his ?History,)) ?tempted, we presume, by the devil, once took it in his head to ballast his ship with this sacred earth. The consequence, tradition has it, of this sacrilegious act was, that neither the wicked captain nor his ship, after putting to sea, was ever heard of again.? Montelambert D?Esse could barely have had his fortifications completed when, as already noted, he was superseded in the command by a senior officer, Paul de la Barthe, the Seigneur de Termes, one of whose first measures was to drive the English out of Inchkeith, where a detachment of them had been occupying the old castle. The general operations of the French army at Haddington and elsewhere, after being joined by 5,000 Scottish troops under the Governor, lie apart from the history of Leith;
Volume 5 Page 171
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