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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


THE STUARTS TO THE DEATH OF JAMES 111. 15 age was exercised to devise more novel and exquisite tortures to satisfy the indignation of the people. The sderings of the Earl of Athol were prolonged through three days ; on the second of which he was elevated on a pillar at the cross, to the gaze of the people, and with a hot iron coronet, crowned in derision as the King of Traitors. On the third day, he was dragged on a hurdle through the High Street to the place of public execution, where, after further indignities, he was at length beheaded, and his head exposed on a pole at the cross-the body being quartered and sent to the four chief towns of the kingdom. With the like barbarous indignities, Robert Graham, the most active of the regicides, suffered at the same time and place. Bneas Sylvius, who afterwards filled the papal chair as Pope Pius 11.) was at this time resident in Edinburgh, as the Pope’s nuncio for Scotland, and witnessed, as Abercromby says, ‘‘ with some horror, but more admiration,” The remark of the Italian ecclesiastic, ‘( that he was at a loss to determine whether the crime of the regicides, or the punishment inacted on them by the justice of the nation, was the greatest ”-would not seem to imply any censure on the bloody revenge with which the Scottish Capital thus expressed her indignation on the murderers of her King. King James 11. was not above seven years old, when the officers of state called a Parliament in his name, which accordingly met at Edinburgh on the 20th of March 1438. Their fist act was the condemnation, already recorded, of the regicides ; and thereafter, the youthful Sovereign was brought from the Castle, where he had been lodged since shortly after his birth, attended by the three estates of the kingdom ; and being conducted in state to Holyrood Abbey, was there crowned with great magnificence-the first of the Scottish Kings that is thus united, in birth and royal honours, with the capital of the kingdom. During the two succeeding years, he continued to reside entirely in the Castle, under custody of the Chancellor Crichton, greatly to the displeasure of the Queen and her party, who thus found him placed entirely beyond their control. She accordingly visited Edinburgh, professing great friendship for the Chancellor, and a longing desire to see her son; by which means she completely won the goodwill of the old statesman, and obtained ready access, with her retinue, to visit the Prince in the Castle, and take up her abode there. At length having lulled all suspicion, she gave out that she had made a vow to pass in pilgrimage to the White Kirk of Brechin, for the health of her son ;’ and bidding adieu to the Chancellor over night, with many earnest recommendations of the young King to his fidelity and care, she retired to her devotions, having to depart at early dawn on the ensuing morrow. Immediately on being left at liberty, the King was cautiously pinned up among the linen and furniture of his mother, and so conveyed in a chest to Leith, and from thence by water to Stirling, into the hands of Sir Archibald Livingstone. h e d i a t e l y thereafter, the latter raised an army and laid siege to the Chancellor in the Castle of Edinburgh ; but the wary statesman, having lost the control of the King, wisely effected a compromise with his opponent, and delivering the keys into the King’s own hands, they both supped with him the same night in the Castle, and, on the following day, he confirmed the one in his oEce of Chancellor, and the other in that of guardian of his person. This state of af€airs did not continue long, however, for Sir Archibald Livingstone having quarrelled with the Queen, the King was shortly afterwards again carried off and restored to the guardianship these executions. Martial Achievements, vol. ii. p. 310. ’ Lindsay of Pitscottie, vol. i. p. 7.
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16 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. ‘of the Chancellor, in the Castle of Edinburgh. His increasing years, however, seem to have led to his enjoying greater liberty of person, as well as deference to his opinion. Under the guidance of the Bishops of Aberdeen and Moray, then residing in Edinburgh, a conference was held in the church of St Giles, between him and his rival guardians, which, from their mutual hatred to the Earl of Douglas, again led to an amicable arrangement, the King making choice of Edinburgh Castle as the place where he should continue to reside. No sooner were the rival statesmen reconciled, than they consulted together to aecure the overthrow of the Douglas, whose exorbitant power was employed for the most oppressive and tyrannical objects. To have openly proceeded against him as a criminal, while at the head of his numerous forces, would only have proved the sequel for a civil war. He was accordingly invited to Edinburgh, with the most flattering assurances of friendship. On the way, the Chancellor met him at Crichton Castle, about twelve miles &E. of Edinburgh, where he was entertained with every mark of hospitality, insomuch so as to have excited the jealous fears of his friends. He rode thereafter to the Castle of Edinburgh, accompanied by his brother and Sir Malcolm Fleming of Cumbernauld : they were received with every show of welcome, and admitted to the same table with the King ; but, towards t.he close of the entertainment, a bull’s head, the well-known symbol of destruction, was set before them. They recognised the fatal signal, and sprang from the board, but being immediately surrounded by armed men, they were led forth, in defiance of the tears and entreaties of the young King, and immediately beheaded 66 in the back court of the Castle that lyeth to the west ; ” or, according to Balfour, in the great hall of the Castle.’ In the year 1753, some workmen digging for a foundation to a new storehouse within the Castle, found the golden handles and plates of a coffin, which are supposed to have belonged to that in which the Earl of Douglas was interred8 From a protest afterwards taken by the son of Sir Malcolm Fleming, against the sentence of his father, as being unwarrantable and illegal, as well as from the fact of no attempt being made to bring the Chancellor to trial for the deed when the Douglas faction prevailed, there would seem to have been some form of trial, and a sentence of condemnation pronounced, with the assumed authority of the King.+ The popular estimation of the deed may be inferred from the rude rhymes quoted by Hume of Godscroft :- “ Edinburgh Castle, towne and tower, God grant thou sinke for sinne ; An’ that even for the black dinner Earle Douglm gat therein.” The Chancellor continued to maintain possession of the Castle, even when the Douglas party succeeded in obtaining the guardianship of the young King, and used the royal authority for demanding its surrender. Here he held out during a siege of nine months, till he succeeded in securing satisfactory terms for himself; while of his less fortunate coadjutors some only redeemed their lives with their estates, and the others, including three members of the Livingstone family, were all tried and beheaded within its walls. History of the Douglasses, 1643, p. 165. Arnot, p. 11. * Balfour’s Aunals, vol. i. p. 169. ‘ Nartial Achievements, vol. ii. p. 330.
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