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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


THE STUARTS TO THE DEATH OF YAMES 111 17 The increasing importance which the royal capital was now assuming, speedily drew attention to its exposed situation. In the reign of Robert IL the singular privilege had been conceded to the principal inhabitants, of building dwellings within the Castle, so as to secure their families and wealth from the constant inroads of the English; but now, in the year 1450, immediately after the battle of Sark, the ancient city was enclosed within fortified walls, traces of which still exist. They extended along the south declivity of the ridge on which the older parts of the town are built; after crossing the West Bow, then the principal entrance to the city, from the west; and running between the High Street, and the hollow where the Cowgate was afterwards built, they crossed the ridge at the Nether Bow, and terminated at the east end of the North Loch. Within these ancient limits the Scottish capital must have possessed peculiar means of defence ; a city set on a hill, and guarded by the rocky fortress-“ There watching ‘high the least alarms,”-it only wanted such ramparts, manned by its burgher watch, to enable it to give protection to its princes, and repel t.he inroads of the southern invader. The important position which it now held, may be inferred from the investment in the following year of Patrick Cockburn of Newbigging, the Provost of Edinburgh, in the chancellor’s oEce as governor of the Castle ; as well as his appointment along with other commissioners, after the-defeat of the English in the battle of Sark, to treat for the renewal of a truce. To this the young King, now about twenty years of age, was the more induced, from his anxiety to see his bride, Mary of Gueldera,--“ a lady,” says Drummond, “ young, beautiful, and of a masculine constitution,”-whose passage from the Netherlands was only delayed till secure of hindrance from the English fleet, She accordingly arrived in Scotland, accompanied by a numerous retinue of princes, prelates, and noblemen, who were entertained with every mark of royal hospitality, and witnessed the solemnisation of the marriage, as well as the coronation, of the young Queen thereafter, both of which took place in the Abbey of Holyrood, with the utmost pomp and solemnity. The first fruit of this marriage seems to have been the rebellion of the Earl of Douglas, who, jealous of the influence that the Lord Chancellor Crichtou had acquired with the Queen, almost immediately thereafter proceeded to revenge his private quarrel with fire and sword ; so that in the beginning of the following year, a- Parliament was assembled at Edinburgh, whose first enactmenta were directed against. such encroachments on the royal prerogative. His further deeds of blood and rapine, at length closed by a hasty blow of the King’s dagger in Stirling Castle, belong rather to Scottish history ; as well as the death of the Monarch himself shortly after, by the bursting of the Lyon, a famous cannon, at the siege of Roxburgh Castle, in the year 1460. At this time, Henry VI., the exiled King of England, with his heroic Queen and son, sought shelter at the Scottish Court, where they were fitly lodged in the monastery of the Greyfriars, in the Grassmarket ; and so hospitably entertained by the court and citizens of VIQNETTE-M~V of Gueldera’ Armefrom her -1. C
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I 8 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. Edinburgh, that in requital thereof, he granted to them a charter, empowering the free citizens to trade to any part of England, subject to no other duties than those payable by the most highly favoured natives: in acknowledgment, as he states, of the humane and honourable treatment he had received from the provost, ministers, and burgesses of Edinburgh. As, however, the house of Lancaster never regained the crown, the charter survived only as an honourable acknowledgment of their services. About this time it whs that the Collegiate Church of the Holy Trinity, and the Hospital attached to it, were founded by the Queen Dowager, Mary of Guelders : and here the royal foundress was interred in the year 1463. In 1471, the Scottish capital again witnessed a royal marriage and coronation ; Margaret, Princess of Denmark, having landed at Leith in the month of July of that year, where she was received with every demonstration of welcome and rejoicing. The courtly historians of the period describe her as winning the favour of both Prince and people, by a beauty and grace rarely equalled among the ladies of the age. Lindsay of Pitscottie adds-“The gentlevoman being bot twelff yeires of age at the tyme.”’ The alliance was further rendered acceptable to the nation, by the royal bridegroom, King James III., having ‘‘ gatt with the King of Denmarkis dochter, in tocher guid, the landis of Orkney and Zetland.” To all this we may add, from Abercromby ’-“ The very sight of such a Queen could not but endear her to all ranks of people, who, to congratulate her happy arrival, and to create in her a good opinion of themselves and the country, entertained her and her princely train for many days, with such variety of shows, and such delicious and costly feasts, that Ferrerius, a foreigner, who had seen all the gallantry and pomp of the Courts of France and Savoy, tells us that no pen can describe them so much to the advantage as they deserve.” It is to be regretted that a more detailed account of this royal reception has not been given, as it would better than any other have served to convey a lively picture of the manners of the citizens, and the character of the Scottish capital at this period. These joyous proceedings speedily gave place to others of a very different character. The historians, in accordance with the credulity of the times, have preserved the tradition of numerous prophecies and omens, wherewith the king was forewarned of the troubles that awaited him, and his jealousy excited against his brothers. The youngest of them, the Earl of Mar, was committed a prisoner to Craigmillar Castle, from whence he was afterwards permittet to remove to the Canongnte, when suffering under a violent fever, of which he died there, under the care of the King’s physician ; not without suspicion of foul play, After his death, some reputed witches were tried‘ at Edinburgh, and condemned to the stake, for plotting, along with him, the death of the King ; and these, according to the historians of the time, confessed that the Earl had dealt with them to have him taken away by incantation-‘‘ For the King’s image being framed in wax, and with many spells and incantations baptized, and set unto a fire, they persuaded themselves the King’s person should fall away as it consumed.”’ The successful confederacy against Cochrane, the succeeding Earl of Mar, and the other royal favourites, belong not to our subject. But immediately thereafter, in 1481, we find the King a captive in the Castle of Edinburgh, which served alternately as a palace and a Pitscottie, vol. i. p. 178. Nartial Achierements, vol. i i p. 407. a Drum. of Hawthornden, p. 48.
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