Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


I72 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Leith. .but the3ittle .warlike episode connected with Inchkeith forms a part of it. In the rare view of Holyrood given at page 45 .of Vol. II., Inchkeith is shown in the distance, with its castle, a great square edifice, having a round tower at each corner. The English garrison here were in a position which afforded them many .advantages, and they committed many outrages on the shores of Fife and Lothian; and when it be- .came necessary to dislodge them, M. de Biron, a French officer, left Leith in a galley to reconnoitre to the island, and evident selection of the only landing-place, roused the suspicions of the garrison. Finding theirintentions discovered, they made direct for the rock, and found the English prepared to dispute every inch of it with them. Leaping ashore, with pike, sword, and arquebus, they attacked the English hand to hand, drove them into the higher parts of the island, where Cotton, their commander, and George Appleby, one of his officers, were killed, with several English gentlemen of note. The castle was captured, and @he island-the same galley in which, it is said, little Queen Mary afterwards went to France. The English garrison were no doubt ignorant of Biron?s object in sailing round the isle, as they did not fire upon him. Mary of Lorraine had often resorted to Leith since the arrival of her cour.trymen ; and now she took such an interest in the expedition to Inchkeith that she personally superintended the embarkation, on Corpus Christi day, the 2nd of June, 1549. Accompanied by a few Scottish troops, the French detachment, led by Chapelle de Biron, De Ferrieres, De Gourdes, and other distinguished .officers, quitted the harbour in small boats, and to .deceive the English as to their intentions sailed up and down the Firth ; but their frequent approaches the English driven pell-mell into a corner of the isle, where they had no alternative but to throw themselves into the sea or surrender. In this combat De Biron was wounded on the head by an arquebus, and had his helmet so beaten about his ears that he had to be carried off to the boats. Desbois, his standard-bearer, fell under the pike of Cotton, the English commander, and Gaspare di Strozzi, leader of the Italians, was slain. An account of the capture of this island was published in France, and it is alike amusing and remarkable for the bombast in which the French writer indulged. He records at length the harangues of the Queen Regent and the French leaders as the expedition quitted Leith, the length and tedium of the voyage, and the sufferings which the troops
Volume 5 Page 172
  Shrink Shrink   Print Print   Pictures Pictures