Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


lection of glittering jewels, of which Tytler gives the list. In the ?inventory? of the Jewel House are mentioned five relics of Robert Bruce, viz., four silver goblets and a shirt of mail, ?King Robert?s serk,? as it is written. Among his cannon were two great French curtalds, forty-six other pieces of various calibre, and sixteen fieldwaggons, with a vast quantity of military stores of every description. . The quarrels between James and his arrogant nobles deepened day by day. At last, says Godscroft,. a story went abroad that it was proposed to invite them all to a banquet in the great hall of the Castle, and there cut them off root and branch ! This startling rumour led to others, and all culminated in the battle of Sauchieburn, where James perished, under the dagger of an assassin, on the 8th of June, 1488-a monarch who, more than any other of the Stuarts, contributed towards the permanent prosperity of the Scottish metropolis. ?By favour of his charters its local jurisdiction was left almost exclusively in the hands of its own magistrates; on them were conferred ample powers for enacting laws for its governance, with authority in life and death-still vested in its chief magistrate-an independence which was afterwards defended amid many dangers down to the period of the Union. By his charters, also in their favour, they obtained the right, which they still hold, to all the customs of the haven and harbour of Leith, with the proprietorship of the adjacent coast, and all the roads leading thereto.? On the accession of James IV., in his boyhood, he sent a herald from Leith to demand the surrender of the Castle, and a commission consisting of the Lord High Treasurer, Sir Wi11;am Knowles (afterwards slain at Flodden), and others, took over all the personal property of the late king. The inventory taken on this occasion, according to Tytler, affords a pleasing and favourable idea of the splendour of the Scottish court in those days. In the treasurer?s accounts we have many curious entries concerning the various Scottish harpers, fiddlers, and English pipers, that performed here to amuse James IV. ?July 10, 1489 ; to Inglish pyparis that cam to the Caste1 yet and p1.ayit to the king, viij lib. viij s,? During the reign of the chivalrous and splendid James 1V.-who was crowned at Kelso-Edinburgh became celebrated throughout all Europe as the scene of knightly feats. The favourite place for the royal tournaments was a spot of ground just below the Cast16 rock, and near the king?s stables. There, James in particular, assembled the nobles by prwlamation, for jousting, offering such meeds of honour as a golden-headed lance, or similar favours, presented by his own hand or that of some beautiful woman. Knights came from all countries to take part in these jousts; ?bot,? says Pitscottie, ?few or none of thame passed away unmatched, and oftimes overthrowne.? One notable encounter, witnessed by the king from the Castle wall, took place in 1503, when a famous cavalier of the Low Countries, named by Pitscottie Sir John Cochbevis, challenged the .best knight in Scotland to break a spear, or meet him d outrancc in combat to the death. Sir Patrick Hamilton of the house of Arran took up his challenge. Amid a vast concourse, they came to the barriers, lanced, horsed, and clad in .tempered mail, with their emblazoned shields hung round their necks. At sound of trumpet they rushed to the shock, and splintered their spears fairly. Fresh ones were given them, but as Hamilton?s horse failed him, they drew their two-handed swords, and encountered on foot. They fought thus ?for a full hour, till the Dutchman being struck to the ground,? the king cast his plumed bonnet over the wall to stay the combat, while the heralds and trumpeters proclaimed the Scottish knight victorious. But the court of James was distinguished for other things than the science of war, for during his brilliant reign Edinburgh became the resort of men high in every department of science and art; and the year 1512 saw the Provost of St. Giles?s, Gavin Douglas, translating Virgil?s ?Bneid? into Scottish verse. In the Castle there resided, about 1503, Lady Margmet Stuart, the daughter of James, by Margaret Drummond of that ilk, whom he is said to have married clandestinely, and who was removed by some Scottish conspirators ?? to . make way for a daughter of England,? as an old historian has i t She was poisoned, together with her two sisters; and in August, 1503, ?the daughter of England? duly came in the person of Margaret Tudor, whose marriage to James at Edinburgh was conducted with great splendour and much rejoicing. In 1509 James employed his master gunner, Robert Borthwick, to cast a set of brass ordnance for the Castle, all of which were inscribed -Mmfim sum, Scofo Borfhwick Eizbricafa, Roberto. Seven of these were named by James ? the sisters,? being remarkable for their beauty and size. Borthc wick also cast within the Castle the bells that now hang in the cathedral of St. Magnus at Kirkwall ?
Volume 1 Page 35
  Shrink Shrink   Print Print