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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


THE STUARTS TO THE DEATH OF YAMES III. I3 after this, Henry IV. of England renewed the oft-confuted claim of superiority over Scotland; and in pursuance of this, wrote letters to the Scottigh King, and to the nobles and prelates of Scotland, requiring them to meet him at Edinburgh by the 23d of August, in order to pay the homage due to him as their superior and direct lord.’ King Henry was as good as his word, for with a well-ordered and numerous army, he crossed the Borders, and was at Edinburgh before the day he had appointed ; as appears from a letter written by him to the King of Scots, dated at Leith, 21st August 1400.* While there, the Duke of Rothsay, who then held the Castle of Edinburgh, sent him a challenge to meet him where he pleased, with an hundred nobles on each side, and so to determine the quarrel. But King Henry was in no humour to forego the advantages he already possessed, at the head of a more numerous army than Scotland could raise ; and 80 contenting himself with a verbal equivocation in reply to this knightly challenge, he sat down with his numerous host before the Castle, till (with the usual consequences of the Scottish reception of such invaders), cold and rain, and absolute dearth of provisions, compelled him to raise the inglorious siege and hastily recross the Border, without doing any notable injury either in his progress or retreat. During the minority of James I., the royal poet, and his tedious captivity of nineteen years in England, Edinburgh continued to partake of all the uncertain vicissitudes of the capital of a kingdom under delegated government, though still prosperous enough to contribute 50,000 merks towards the payment of his ransom. When at length he did return to enter on the cares of royalty, his politic plans for the control of the Highland clans seem to have led to the almost constant assembly of the Parliaments, as well as his frequent residence at Perth. Yet, in 1430, we find him residing in Edinburgh, attended by his Queen and court, as appears from accounts of the surrender of the Earl of Rosa. At thia time, the rebellious Earl, having made a vain attempt to hold out against the resolute measures of the King, wrote to his friends at court to mediate a peace ; but finding their efforts unavailing, he came privately to Edinburgh: where, having watched a fit opportunity, when the Ring and Queen were in the church of Holyrood Abbey at divine service, he prostrated himself on his knees, and holding the point of his sword in his own hand, presented the hilt to the King, intimating that he put his life at his Majesty’s mercy. At the request of the Queen, King James granted him his life, but confined him for a time in the castle of Tantallan. His imprisonment, however, seems to have been brief, and the reconciliation, on the King’s part at least, sincere and effectual ; for the Queen having shortly after this given birth to two sons-Alexander, who died 00011 after; and James, afterwards the second monarch of the name ;-the King not only liberated him, with many other prisoners, but is said to have selected him to stand sponsor for the royal infants at the font. The style of building, still prevalent at this period, was of the same rude and fragile nature as we have already described at an earlier period ; and repeated enactments occur, intended to avert the dangerous conflagrations to which the citizens were thus liable. In the third Parliament of this reign, a series of stringent laws were passed, requiring the magistrates to keep I( siven or aught twenty fute ledders, as well as three or foure sayes to the comnoun use, and sex or maa cleikes of iron, to draw down timber and d e st hat are fired.” And, again, ‘I that na fie be fetched fra ane house, til me uther within the town, Hartial Achievements, vol. ii. p. 200. ’ Ibid, p, 215. * Ibid,p. 289.
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14 bot within covered weshel or lanterne, under the paine of ane unlaw ; ’’ from all which it would seem that the houses were atill mostly wooden tenements, thatched with straw, and never higher than two storeys, “he nobility had not yet begun to build mansions for their MEMORIA L S OF EDINB UR GH. residence in the capital while attending on the court; but continued to take up their abode in the monasteries, according to the fashion of the times. Still earlier in the same reign, all travellers are forbid to lodge with their friends when they visit the borough, but in the ‘( hostillaries ; bot gif it be the persones that leadis monie with them in companie, that sal1 have friedome to harberie with their friends; swa that their horse and their meinze be harberied and ludged in the commoun hostillaries ; ” and burgesses are forbid to harbour their friends under pain of forty shillings. In this and the following reign, occur successive sumptuary laws, which give considerable insight into the manners of the age. All save knights and lords, of at least 200 merks yearly rent, are prohibited from wearing silk or furs, of various descriptions ; “ and none uther were borderie, pearle, nor bulzeone, bot array them in honest‘ arraiments, as serpes, beltes, broches, and cheinzies.” While, again in the fourteenth Parliament of James II., held in Edinburgh in 1457, the ladies seem to have called down such restrictions upon them in an especial manner, by their love of display. It is there required of the citizens, ‘( that they make their wifes and dauchters gangand correspondant for their estate ; that is to say, on their heads short curches, with little hudes ; and as to their gownes, that na women weare mertrickes nor letteis, nor tailes unfitt in length, nor furred under, bot on the Halie-daie. And, in like manner, the barronnes and other puir gentlemen’s wives. “hat na laborers nor husbandmen weare on the warke daye, bot gray and quhite : and on the Halie-daie, bot lichtblew, greene, redde, and their wives richt-swa ; and courchies of their awin making, not exceeding the price of xl. pennyes the elne.” On the 2lst of February 1438, James I., the poet, the soldier, and the statesman, fell by the hands of his rebellious subjects, in the convent of the Dominicans at Perth, spreading sorrow and indignation over the kingdom, Within less than forty days thereafter, all the conspirators had been apprehended and brought to Edinburgh for trial. The meaner sort were left to the hangman ; but for their titled leaders, the ingenuity of a barbarous Scots Acta, 121110. 3d and 4th Parliaments, Jamea I. VIGNETTE-Ancient houses near the Kirk-of-Field, from a map 1575.
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