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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


YAMES l? TO ABDICATION OF QUEEN MARK 59 This year also is the period of John Knox's return to Scotland. On his escape from France-whither he had been carried a prisoner, after the taking of the Castle of St Andrews-he had remained in England till the death of Edward VI., whence he went for a time to Geneva. Immediately on his return to Scotland, he began preaching against the mass, as an idolatrous worship, with such effect that he was summoned before the ecclesiastical judicatory, held in the Blackfriars' Church in Edinburgh, on the 15th of May 1556. The case, however, was not pursued at the time, probably from apprehension of a popular tumult; but the citation had the usual effect of increasing his popularity; " and it is certain," says Bishop Keith, '' that Mr -Knox preached to a greater auditory the very day he should have made his appearance, than ever he did before."' At this time it was that the letter was written by him to the Queen Regent, entreating for reformation in the Church, which, on its being delivered to her by the Earl of Glencairn, she composedly handed it to the Archbishop of Glasgow, after glancing at it, saying- " Please y-o.u , my Lord, to look at a pasquill I "-a striking contrast to the influence he afterwards exercised over her royal daughter.' No sooner had John Knox accepted an invitation, which he received that same year, from an English congregation at Geneva, than the clergy cited him anew before them, and in default of his appearance, he was condemned as an heretic, and burned in effigy at the Cross of Edinburgh. Towards the close of the year 1555, the City of Edinburgh gave a sumptuous entertainment to the Danish Ambassador, at the expense of twenty-five pounds, seventeen shillings, and one penny Scots I doubtless a magnificent civic feast in those days.' About this time, the Queen Regent, acting under the advice of her French councillors, excited the general indignation of the Scottish nobility and people in general, by a scheme for raising a standing army, to supersede the usual national force, composed of the nobles and their retainers, and which was to be supported by a tax imposed on every man's estate and substance. Numerous private assemblies of the barons and gentlemen took place to organise a determined opposition to the scheme ; and at length three hundred of them assembled in the Abbey Church of Holyrood, and despatched the Lairds of Calder and Wemyss to the Queen Regent and her council, with so resolute a remonstrance, that the Queen was fain to abandon the project, and thought them little worthy of thanks that were the inventors of what proved a fertile source of unpopularity to her government' The contentions arising from differences in religion now daily increased, and the populace of the capital were among the foremost to manifest their zeal against the ancient faith. In the year 1556, they destroyed the statues of the Virgin Mary, Trinity, and St Francis, in St Giles's Church, which led to a very indignant remonstrance from the Queen Regent, addressed to the magistrates ; but they do not seem to have been justly chargeable with sympathy in such reforming movements, as we find the council of that same year, in addition to other marks of honour conferred on the Provost, ordering that for his greater state, the servants of all the inhabitants shall attend him, with lighted torches, from the vespers or evening prayers, to his house.6 On the breaking out of war between England and France, in 1557, the Queen Regent, . 1 Bishop Keith's History, vol. i. p. 150. 8 Council Registers, Maitland, p. 14. Calderwood's Historp, Wodrow Soc., voL i. p. 316. Bishop Leslie'n Hist., p. 255. Maitland, p. 14.
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60 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. under the influence of Henry 11. of France, assembled a considerable force at Kelso, and sought, by all means, to persuade the nobility to unite with her in invading England. But though the Borderers availed themselves, with their usual alacrity, of the first symptoms of hostilities, to make a raid across the marches, the general sense of the nobility was strongly opposed to thus rashly plunging into war, without any just cause ; and so resolute were they against it, that the Queen Regent, after various ineffeciual attempts to precipitate hostilities, was compelled to dismiss the army, and abandon all further attempts at co-operation with France.’ From this occurrence may he dated the true rise of those divisions in this country which alienated from the Queen Regent the Scottish party, on which she had most depended, and ultimately led to the war of the Reformation ; and from this time forward the ecclesiastical is intimately blended with the civil history of the country, mainly influencing every important occurrence, The continuation of war between France and Spain at this period, induced the French Monarch to seek to hasten on the proposed alliance between the Dauphin and the Queen of Scots, to which the Queen ,Regent lent all her influence. A Parliament accordingly assembled at Edinburgh on the 14th of December 1557, before which a letter was laid from the King of France, proposing khat the intended marriage should be carried into effect without delay. Jamea Stewart, prior of St Andrews, afterwards the Regent Murray, and others of the leaders of the Protestant party, were chosen by the Parliament as Commissioners, empowered to give their assent to the marriage, on receiving ample security for the preservation of the ancient laws and liberty of the kingdom. They accordingly proceeded to Paris, and there, on the 24th of April 1558, were witnesses of the marriage, which was solemnised with the utmost pomp and magnificence in the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Another Parliament was summoned immediately ob their return, and accordingly assembled at Edinburgh in the beginning of December. It ratified the transactions of the Commissioners, and agreed, at the same time, to confer on the Dauphin the Crown of Scotland during the continuance of the marriage. As the reformed opinions spread among the people, they manifested their zeal by destroying images, and breaking down the carved work of the monasteries and churches. It was the custom at this period for the clergy of Edinburgh to walk annually in grand procession, on the.first of September, the anniversary of St Giles, the patron saint of the town ; but in the year 1558, before the arrival of St Giles’s day, the mob contrived to get into the church, and carrying off the image of the saint, which was usually borne in procession on such occasions, they threw it into the North Loch-the favourite place for ducking all offenders against the seventh commandment-and thereafter committed it to the flames.’ The utmost confusion prevailed on its being discovered to be amissing. The bishops sent orders to the Provost and Magistrates either to get the old St Giles, or to furnish another at their own expense ; but this they declined to do, notwithstanding the threats and denunciations of the clergy, alleging the authority of Scripture for the destruction of I‘ idols and images.’’ Bishop Leslie’s Hint., pp. 260, 261. Calderwood’s Hist., vol. i. p. 344.
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