Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


anderwent at sea, yet he adds, ?our numbers amounted to 700, and with the loss of three we made ourselves masters of the island, defended by 800 English trained to war and accustomed to slaughter.? The Queen Regent and Monluc, the Bishop of Valence, visited the island after its recapture, and, according to the French account, were rather regaled by the sight of 300 English corpses strewn about it. The castle was afterwards demolished by order of LEITH HARBOUR ABOUT 1700. (Fronr am Oil Paint ng in fhe Tn?ni2y trousu, Lcifh.) The French troops in Leith, being all trained veterans, inured to military service in the wars of Francis I. and Henry II., gave infinite trouble to the raw levies of the Lords of the Congregation, who began to blockade the town in October, 1559. Long ere this Mary, Queen of Scots, had become the bride of Francis of France ; and her mother, who had upheld the Catholic cause so vigorously, was on her deathbed in the castle of Edinburgh. the Scottish Parliament as useless, and nothing remains of it now but a stone, bearing the royal arms, built into the lighthouse ; but the French troops in Leith conceived such high ideas of the excellent properties of the grass there, that all their horses were pastured upon it, and for ten years *hey always termed it ? L?isZe des Chvaux.? So pleased was Mary of Lorraine with the presence of her French soldiers in Leith, that- :according to Maitland-she erected for herself ? a ?house at the corner of Quality Wynd in the Rotten Row ;? but Robertson states that ?a general impression has existed that Queen Street was the site of the residence of the Queen Dowager.? Above ithe door of it were the arms of Scotland and Guise. The Lords of Congregation, before proceeding to extremities with the French, sent a summons,in the names of ?their sovereign lord and lady, Francis and Mary, King and Queen of Scotland and France, demanding that all Scots and Frenchmen, of whatever estate or degree, depart out of the town of Leith within the space of twelve hours.? To this no answer was returned, so the Scottish troops prepared for an assault by escalade; but when they applied their ladders to the wall they were found to be too short, and the heaiy fire of the French arquebusiers repelled the assailants with loss, These unlucky scaling-ladders had been made in St. Giles?s Church, a circumstance which, curiously enough, is said to have irritated the
Volume 5 Page 173
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures
I74 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. ? [Leith. preachers, who though profound unbelievers in any kind of consecration, ?? publicly declared that God would not allow such wickedness and irreverence to pass unpunished, as it betokened contempt for the place where men assembled for divine service.? The troops of the Congregation now imagined that the vengeance of Heaven impended over them, ready to burst on the first opportunity, for their iniquity in using a church as a carpenter?s shop ; and there was another alarming element in the ranks, a want of pay, which caused a disinclination to fight. Queen Elizabeth had sent the Lords 4,000 crowns of the sun, but these had been abstracted from the bearer, at the sword?s point, by that spirit of evil, James, Earl of Bothwell (the future Duke of Orkney), and now their troops became disheartened and disorderly. ?? The men of war,? says Knox, ?who were men without God or honesty, made a mutiny, because they lacked part of their wages ; they had done the same in Linlithgow before, when they made a proclamation that they would serve any man to suppress the Congregation, and set up the mass again ! ? In their desperation the Lords applied to England, and a meeting was held at Berwick between the Duke of Norfolk and their delegates, who were Lord James Stuart (the future Regent Moray), Lord Ruthven (one of Rizzio?s assassins), James Wishart of Pittarow, and three others ; and the treaty which the duke concluded with these Reformers was confirmed by the Queen of England. The alleged objects were, ? the defence of the Protestant religion, of the ancient rights and liberties of Scotland, against the attempts of France to destroy them and make a conquest of that free kingdomin effect, to crush completely the Catholic interest and the power of the House of Guise.? The French in Leith cared little for this treaty, as they were in daily expectation of fresh succours from France j but their scouting and ravaging detachments in Fife, under the Count de Martigues, General d?Oisel, the Swiss leader L?Abast, and others, were severely cut up by Kirkaldy of Grange, the Master of Lindsay, and other Protestant leaders ; disasters followed fast, and before they could concentrate all their forces in Leith they suffered considerable loss in skirmishes by the way. The Lords of the Congregation now ordered a general muster before the walls of Leith on the joth of March, 1560, every man to come fully equipped for battle, with thirty days? provisions ; and in conformity with the treaty referred to, on ? the 2nd of April there marched into Scotland an English force, consisting of 1,250 horse and 6,000 infantry, under a brave and experienced leader, Lord Grey de Wilton, warden of the East and Middle Marches of England. Sir James Crofts was his second in command ; Sir George Howard was general of the men-at-arm% or heavy cavalry, and Burnley Fitzpatrick was his lieutenant ; Sir Henry Piercy led the demi-lances, or light horse ; William Pelham was captain of the pioneers, Thomas Gower captain of the ordnance ; the LordScrope was Earl Marshal. Many of these troops had served at the battle of Pinkie and in other affairs against Scotland. Lord Grey?s first halt was at Dunglas, where he encamped his infantry, while the English cavalry were peacefully cantoned in the adjacent hamlets. The second day?s halt was at Haddington. As. they passed the royal castle of Dunbar the Queen?s. troops made a sally, an encounter took place, and some lives were lost. ?The third day?s march, brought them to Prestonpans, where they met the Scottish leaders, and had an interview, which is, perhaps, the more important from the fact that we now find, for the first time in history, Scottish and English forces acting together as allies.? On the first of the same month an English fleet under Vice-Admiral William Winter, Master of Elizabeth?s Ordnance, cast anchor in the roads to) assist in the reduction of Leith. According to Lediard?s Naval History,? he instantly attacked. and made himself master of the French ships which were there at anchor, and blocked up Inchkeith. It was defended by a French garrison, which was soon reduced to the last extremity for want of provisions. All this was done in defiance of the remonstrances. of M. De Severre, the French ambassad% at the Regent?s court, who went on board the English fleet in the roads. Lord Grey encamped at Restalrig, where he was joined by the Earls of Argyle, Montrose, and Glencairn ; the Lords Boyd and Ochiltree ; the prior ot St. Andrews, and the hlaster of Maxwell, with 2,000 men. On this occasion the Town Council of Edinburgh contributed from the corporation funds A1,600 Scots, as a month?s pay for 400 men to assist in the reduction of Leith--?a sum,? says 5 historian, ?which enabled each of these warriors to live at the rate of twopence-halfpenny a day.? The Queen Regent, whose dying condition rendered it impossible for her expose herself to the hazards of a siege in Leith, retired into the castle of Edinburgh, where she daily and anxiously watched the operations of her Scottish enemies and their English allies The French in Leith were now reduced to about 5,000 men, whose orders were to
Volume 5 Page 174
  Enlarge Enlarge