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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


CHAPTER 11. FROM THE ACCESSION OF THE STUARTS TO THE DEATH OF YAMES III. cession of Robert IL, the first of the Stuarts, a new era begins in the history of Edinburgh. From that time may be dated its standing as the chief burgh of Scotland, though it did not assume the full benefits arising from such a position till the second James ascended the throne. It may, indeed, be emphatically termed. the capital of the Stuarts; it rose into importance with their increasing glory ; it shared in all their triumphs ; it suffered in their disasters ; and with the extinction of their line, it seemed to sink from its proud position among the capitals of Europe, and to mourn the vanished glories in which it had taken so prominent a part. The ancient Chapel of Eolyrood, neglected and forgotten by their tmccessors, was left to tumble into ruins ; and grass grew on the unfrequented precincts of the Palace, where the Jameses had held high court and festival; and the lovely but unfortunate Mary Stuart had basked in the brief splendour of her first welcome to the halls of her fathers; and endured the assaults of the rude barons and reformera, with whom she waged so unequal a contest. During the reigns of the earlier Stuarts, the relative positions of Scotland and England continued to preserve more of the character of an armistice in time of war, than m y approach to settled peace; and in the constant incursions which ensued, Edinburgh ex- .
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I 2 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. perienced the same evils formerly resulting from its exposed position. In 1383,’ we find King Robert IT. holding his court there, and receiving the ambassador of Charles VI. of France, with whom he renewed the league entered into with his predecessor; and from this time so constant an intercourse was maintained between the two courts, that both the manners of the people and the style of building of the Scottish capital were formed on the French model-traces of which were abundant in the last century, and are not quite extinct even in the present day. The Scots, under the Earls of Douglas and March, having begun the war with great success, the Duke of Lancaster, at the head of an army almost innumerable,’’ as Walsingham styles it, passed the border, and marched straight to Edinburgh, which, however, he spared from the destruction to which it was devoted, in grateful remembrance of his hospitable entertainment there, while an exile from the English Court-a kindness the Scots showed little appreciation of, in the reprisala with which they, as usual, followed him immediately on his retreat to England. In requitance of this, he returned the following year and laid the town in ashes. It was in this incursion that the f i s t edifice of St Giles’s was destroyed; at this time only a parish church, originally in the patronage of the Bishop of Lindisfarn, from whom it passed into the hands of the Abbot of Dunfermline. Yet, from the remains of the original church that were preserved almost to our own day, it would seem to have been a building of great richness and beauty, in the early Norman style. There is a very scarce engraving, an impression of which is in the Signet Library, exhibiting a view of a very beautiful Norman doorway, destroyed about the year 1760, in the same reckless manner as so many other relics of antiquity have been swept away by our local authorities ; and which was, without doubt, a portion of the original building that had survived the conflagration in 1385. The ancient church was, doubtless, on a much smaller scale than now, as suited to the limits of the town ; thus described by Froissart, in his account of the reception of De Kenne, the admiral of France, who came to the assistance of Robert 11. at this time : --(‘Edinburgh, though the kynge kepte there his chefe resydence, and that is Parys in Scotland; yet it is not like Tourney or Vallenciennes, for in all the towne is not foure thousande houses ; therefore it behoved these lordes and knyghts to be lodged about in the villages.” The reception they met with was in keeping with their lodging. We are told the Scots (-( dyde murmure and grudge, and sayde, Who the devyll hath sent for them? cannot we mayntayne our warre with Englande well ynoughe without their helpe ? They understand not us, nor we theym; therefore we cannot speke toguyder. They wyll annone ryffle, and eat up alle that ever we have in this countrey; and doo us more dispytes and damages than thoughe the Englysshemen shulde fyght with us ; for thoughe the Englysshe brinne our houses, we care lytell therefore ; we shall make them agayne chepe ynough ! ” In the succeeding reign, at the close of 1390, we again find the ambassadors of Charles VI. at the Scottish Court, where they were honourably entertained, and witnessed, in the Castle of Edinburgh, the King’s putting his hand and seal to the treaty of mutual aid and defence against the English, which had been drawn up in the reign of his father. Shortly Immediately thereafter, in 1384, the town is found in the hands of the English. r1385.J Martial Achievemente, vol. ii. p. 185. Lord Ekrners Froiaeart.
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