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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


EARLIEST TRADITIONS. 5 having been concluded between Ermengarde de Beaumont, cousin to King Henry, Edinburgh Castle was gallantly restored as a dowry to the Queen, after having been held by an English garrison for nearly twelve years. In the year 1215, Alexander II., the son and successor of William, convened his first Parliament at Edinburgh ; and during the same reign, still further importance was given to the rising city, by a Provincial Synod being held in it by Cardinal l’Aleran, legate from Pope Gregory IX. The revenues of Alexander could not rival the costly foundations of his great-grandfather, David I. ; but he founded eight monasteries of the Mendicant Order, in different parts of Scotland; one of which, the monastery of Blackfriars, stood nearly on the same spot as the Royal Infirmary now occupies ; near which was the Collegiate Church of St Mary-in-the-Field, better known as the Kirk-0’-Field, occupying the site of the College-all vestiges of which have long since disappeared. But of these we shall treat more at large in their proper place. His son and successor, Alexander III,, having been betrothed to Margaret, daughter of Henry 111. of England, nine years before, their nuptials were celebrated at York, in the year 1242, Arnot tells us “ the young Queen had Edinburgh Castle appointed for her residence ; ” but it would seem to have been more in the character of a stronghold than a palace ; for, whereas the sumptuousness of her namesake, Queen of Malcolm Canmore, the future St Margaret of Scotland, while residing there, excited discontent in the minds of her rude subjects, she describes it as “ a sad and solitary place, without verdure, and by reason of its vicinity to the sea, unwholesome ; that she was not permitted to make excursions through the kingdom, nor to chose her female attendanta ; and lastly, that she was excluded from all conjugal intercourse with her husband, who by this time had completed his fourteenth year.” “ Redress of her last grievance,” Dalrymple adds, ‘‘ was instantly procured, redress of her other grievances was promised.” Shortly after, the Castle was surprisedbp Alan Dureward, Patrick Earl of March, and other leaders, while their rivals were engaged in preparation for holding a Parliament at Stirling ; and the royal pair being liberated from their durance, we shortly afterwards find them holding an interview with Henry, at Werk Castle, Northumberland. During the remainder of the long and prosperous reign of Alexander III., the Castle of Edinburgh continued to be the chief place of the royal residence, as well as for holding his courts for the transaction of judicial affairs ; it was also during his reign the safe depository of the principal records, and of the regalia of the kingdom.’ From this time onward, through the disastrous wars that ultimately settled the Bruce on the throne, and established the independence of Scotland, Edinburgh experienced its full share of the national sderings and temporary humiliation; in June 1291, the town and Castle were surrendered into the hands of Edward I. Holinshed relatea that he came to Edinburgh, where “ he planted his siege about the Castell, and raised engines which cast stones against and over the walls, sore beating and bruising the buildings within ; so that it surrendered by force of siege to the King of England’s use, on the 15 daie after he had first laid his siege about it.”3 He was here also again on 8th July 1292, and again on the 29th of the same month; and here, in May 1296, he received within the church in the Castle, the unwilling submission of many magnates of the kingdom, acknowledging him as Lord Paramount; and on the 28th of August following, William de Caledonia, vol. ii. p. 586. = Ibid., p. 687. ’ Chronicles, 1586, vol. iii. p. 300.
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6 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. Dederyk, Alderman of Edinburgh, with the whole community of the town, swore fealty to the usurper. Immediately after the final triumph of the Bruce, few occurrences of importance, in connection with Edinburgh, are recorded ; though here, on the 8th March 1327, his Parliament held its sittings in the Abbey of Holyrood,' and here also his sixteenth and last Parliament assembled in March 1328. From the glimpses we are able to obtain from time to time, it may be inferred that it still occupied a very secondary station among the towns of Scotland; and while the Cast,le was always an object of importance with every rival power, its situation was much too accessible from the English border to be permanently chosen as the royal reaidence. In the interregnum, for example, after the death of Margaret, the Maid of Norway, we find, in 1304, when a general Parliament was summoned by Edward to be held at Perth, for the settlement of Scotland, sheriffs are appointed for each of twenty-one burghs named, while Edinburgh is grouped with Haddington and Linlithgow, under '' Ive de Adeburgh ; " and the recapture of the Castle, on two successive occasions, by Edward, obtains but a passing notice, amid the stirring interest of the campaigns d Bruce. Towards the close of 1312, when the persevering valour of Bruce, and the imbecility of Edward II., had combined to free nearly every stronghold of Scotland from English garrisons, we find the Castle of Edinburgh held for the English by Piers Leland, a Gascon knight; but when Randolph, the nephew of the Bruce, laid it under strict blockade, the garrison, suspecting his fidelity, thrust him into a dungeon, and prepared, under a newly chosen commander, to hold out to the last. Matters were in this state, when a romantic incident restored this important fortress to the Scottish arms. William Frank, a soldier, who had previously formed one of the Scottish garrison, volunteered to guide the besiegers by a steep and intricate path up the cliff, by which he had been accustomed in former years to escape during the night from military durance, to enjoy the society of a fair maiden of the neighbouring city, of whom he was enamoured. Frequent use had made him familiar with the perilous ascent ; and, under his guida,nce, Randolph, with thirty men, scaled the Castle walls at midnight; and after a determined resistance, the garrison was overpowered. Leland, the imprisoned governor, entered the Scottish service on his release, and, according to Barbour, was created by the King Viscount of Edinburgh ; but afterwards, headds, he thought that he had an English heart, and made him to be Aangit and dramen.' Acta of Parliament of Scotland, vol. i. fol. Hailes' Annals, vol. i. p. 285. Ibid., vol. ii. p. 38. VIGNETTE-Ancient atone from Edinburgh Castle, now in the Antiquarian Museum.
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