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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


CHAPTER 111. FROM THE ACCESSION OF JAMES IK TO THE BATTLE OF FLODDEN. - -_ --._ .- -7 / -, ___ --.. . ' very inauspicious circumstances. His tender age seemed to hold out a very unpromising future, under the guidance of such councillors as had already made him their tool in the Field of Stirling. Yet his reign of twenty-five years is one of the brightest in our national history, and furnishes many valuable local associations, as well a8 curious traditions connected with our present subject. The opening scenes of this eventful reign introduce to our notice Sir Andrew Wood, the most famous of our Scottish seamen, whose undaunted courage and loyalty shone conspicuously, while yet the death of his royal master, James III., remained uncertain. The Prince, as James IV. was still called, had assembled the nobility adhering to him, along with their followers at Leith, from whence messengers were despatched to Sir Andrew's ships, then lying in the Firth, to ascertain if the King had found refuge on board ; and, if not, to endeavour to engage his adherence to their party.' The sturdy seaman indignantly rejected the latter proposition, and refused to come on shore, till certain of the nobility were delivered up as hostages for his safe return ; and he being detained long on shore, his noble substitutes, the Lords Seton and Fleming, narrowly escaped the halter, by his opportune arrival.' Immediately after the coronation of the young King, his heralds were sent to demand the restitution of the Castle in his name; and thig, with other royal strongholds, being promptly surrendered to his summons, he assumed the throne without further obstacles. Towards the close of the same year, 1488, his first Parliament assembled within the Martial Achievements, vol. ii. p. 489. Pitacottie, vol. .i p. 225. VIQNETTE-The Castle, from the West Port, J. a., about 1640.
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JAMES ZV. TO THE BATTLE OF FLODDEN. 23 Tolbooth of Edinburgh, and uuder the influence of the leaders at the Field of Stirling, enacted, in his name, many harsh and unjust laws, directed against the adherents of the late King, involving suspension or deprivation to all officers of state, and handing over (‘ all churchmen taken in armour, to their ordinaries, to be punished according to law.” The first occurrence that tended to rescue the King from implicit confidence in his father’s enemies, was the splendid victory obtained by Sir Andrew Wood, over a fleet sent by Henry VII. of England, to execute reprisals on the murderers of the late King. They had committed great ravages on the Scottish shipping, and completely blockaded the mouth of the Forth ; when Sir Andrew Railed against them, and with an inferior force, completely defeated, and brought the whole armament, consisting of five large ships, into Leith. Shortly after this, the King concluded a truce with England, and on the 15th day of February 1490, his second Parliament met at Edinburgh, and again another in the following year, both of which enacted many salutary laws ; and, at the same time, Andrew Foreman, Protonotary of Pope Alexander VL, arrived at the Scottish Court with consolatory letters to the King, whose grief at the share he had taken in the fatal rebellion against his father still manifested itself in severe penances and mortifications. He was also the bearer of a bull, addressed to the abbots of Paisley and Jedburgh,’ empowering them to absolve and readmit into the church all such as had been accessory to the death of King James 111. of famous memory, on their expressing sincere repentance for the same.* And now the King, drawing towards manhood, the ominous clouds that had threatened the commencement of his reign disappeared, and a long and prosperous calm succeeding his early troubles, left him free to give the rein to his chivalrous tastes, and extend his royal patronage to the many eminent men that adorned the Scott,ish Court. During this reign, Edinburgh became celebrated throughout Europe, as the scene of knightly feats of arms. tournaments are of great antiquity ; they were held. in Edinburgh in the reign of milliam the Lion, and in those of many of the succeeding Princes. The valley or low ground lying between the wester road to Leith, and the rock at Lochend, was bestowed by James 11. on the community of Edinburgh, for the special purpose of holding tournaments and other martial sports.” Here, most probably, the weaponshaws which were of such constant recurrence at a later period, ‘ as well as such martial parades as were summoned by civic authority, were held, unless in cases of actual preparation for war, when the Borough Muir seems to have been invariably the appointed place of rendezvous. The favourite scene of royal tournaments, however, was a spot of ground near the King’s Stables, just below the Castle wall. Here James IT., in particular, often assembled his lords and barons, by proclamation, for jousting; offering such meeds of honour as a spear headed with gold, and the like favours, presented to the victor by the King’s own hand; so that ‘‘ the fame of hisjusting and turney spread throw all Europe, quhilk caused many errand knyghtis cum out of vther pairtes to Scotland to seik justing, becaus they hard of the kinglie fame of the Prince of Scotland. Bot few or none of thame passed away vnmached, and oftymes overthromne.” ‘ One notable encounter is specially recorded, which took place between Sir John Cockbewis, a Dutch knight, and Sir Patrick Hamilton. “ Being assembled togidder on great In this country,” says Arnot, Hawthornden, p. 68 Arnot, p. i l . ’ Martial Achievements, voL ii. p. 497. ’ Piboottie, vol. E. p. 246.
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