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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


Cmigmillar.] CRAIGMILLAR CASTLE. Si Robert XI., ?of the lands of Craigmillar, in Vic du Edinburgh, whilk William de Capella resigned, sustennand an archer in the king?s army.? (Robertson?s ? Index?) Under the same monarch, some time after, another charter was granted, confirming ?John de Capella, keeper of the king?s chapel, in the lands of Erolly (sic), whilk Simon de Prestoun resigned ; he, John, performing the same service in the king?s chapel that his predecessors used to perform for the third part of Craigmillar.? The date 1474 above the principal gate probably refers to some repairs. Four years afterwards, William, a successor of Sir Simon Preston, was a member of the parliament which met at Edinburgh June I, 1478. He had the title .of Domine de Craigmillar, the residence of his race for nearly three hundred years. In 1479 this castle became connected with a dark and mysterious State tragedy. The Duke of Albany was accused of conspiring treasonably with the English against the life of his brother, James III., but made his escape from Edinburgh Castle, as related in Volume I. Their younger brother John, Earl of Mar, was placed a prisoner in Craigmillar on the same charges. James 111. did not possess, it was alleged, the true characteristics of a king in those days. He loved music, architecture, poetry, and study. ?He was ane man that loved solitude,? says Pitscottie, ?and desired never to hear of warre ?-a desire that the Scottish noblemen never? cared to patronise. Mar, a handsome and gay fellow, ? knew nothing but nobility.? He was a keen hunter, a sportsman, and breeder of horses for warlike purposes. Whether Mar was guilty or not of the treasons which were alleged against him will never be known, but certain it is that he never left his captivity alive. Old annalists say that he chose his own mode 01 death, and had his veins opened in a warm bath but Drummond, in his ? History of the Jameses,? says he was seized by fever and delirium in Craig millar, and was? removed to the Canongate, wherc he died in the hands of the king?s physician, eithei from a too profuse use of phlebotomy, or from his having, in a fit of frenzy, torn off the bandages. In 1517 Balfour records that the young king James V. was removed from Edinburgh to Craig millar, and the queen-mother was not permitted tc see him, in consequence of the pestilence ther raging. But he resided here frequently. In 1544 it is stated in the ? Diurnal of Occurents ? that thc fortress was too hastily surrendered to the Englisl invaders, who sacked and burned it. By far the most interesting associations of Craig nillar, like so many other castles in the south of kotland, are those in which Queen Mary behrs a )art, as she made it a favourite country retreat. Within its walls was drawn up by Sir James Balfour, with unique legal solemnity, the bond of Dardey?s murder, and there signed by so many iobles of the first rank, who pledged themselves o stand by Bothwell with life and limb, in weal or woe, after its perpetration, which bond of blood the wily lawyer afterwards destroyed. Some months after the murder of Rizzio, and while the grasping and avaricious statesmen of the !ay were watching the estrangement of Nary and ier husband, on the 2nd December, 1560, Le 3oc, the French Ambassador, wrote thus to the 4rchbishop of Glasgow :-? The Queen is for the xesent at Craigmillar, about a league distant from .his city. She is in the hands of the physicians, and I do assure you is not at all well, and do Jelieve the principal part of her disease to consist n deep grief and sorrow. Nor does it seem possible to make her forget the same. Still she repeats ihese words--?lcould wish to be dead!?? Craigmillar narrowly escaped being stained with the blood of the dissolute Darnley. It would zppear that when he returned from Glasgow, early in 1567, instead of lodging him in the fatal Kirk-0?- Field, the first idea of the conspirators was to bring , him hither, when it was suggested that his recovery from his odious disease might be aided by the sanitary use of a bath--? an ominous proposal to a prince, who might remember what tradition stated to have happened ninety years earlier within the same walls.? The vicinity abounds with traditions of the hapless Mary. Her bed closet is still pointed out ; and on the east side of the road, at Little France, a hamlet below the castle walls, wherein some of her French retinue was quartered, a gigantic plane-the largest in the Lothians-is to this day called ? Queen Mary?s Tree,?? from the unauthenticated tradition that her own hands planted it, and as such it has been visited by generations. In recent storms it was likely to suffer ; and Mr. Gilmour of Craigmillar, in September, 1881, after consulting the best authorities, had a portion of the upper branches sawn off to preserve the rest In ?? the Douglas wars,? subsequent to the time when Mary was a captive and exile, Craigmillar bore its part, especially as a prison ; and terrible times these were, when towns, villages, and castles were stormed and pillaged, as if the opposite factions were inspired by the demon of destruction -when torture and death were added to military execution, and the hapless prisoners were hurried
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60 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Craigmillar. CRAIGMILLAR CASTLE. I, The Hall ; 2, The Keep ; 3. Queen Mary's Tree ; 4, South-west Tower ; 5, The Chapel
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