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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


52 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. marched under a white banner, on which was painted a female kneeling before a crucifix, her hair dishevelled, and embroidered underneath the motto ‘‘ Afflicts Ecclesis ne obliviscaris.” Preparatory to determining their differences by force of arms, the Earl of Huntly made offer to the English leader to decide the issue by single combat ; but this he rejected, and after skirmishing for several daya with various success in the neighbourhood of Prestonpans, where the English army was encamped,-a scene long afterwards made memorable by the brief triumph of Mary’s hapless descendant, Charles Stuart-the two armies at length came to a decisive engagement on Saturday the 10th of September 1547, long after known by the name of ‘‘ Black Saturday.” The field of Pinkie, the scene of this fatal contest, lies about six miles distant from Edinburgh, and so near to the sea, that the English ships did great injury to the Scottish army, as they marched towards the field of battle. The stately mansion of Pinkie House, formerly the residence of the Abbots of Dunfermline, still remains in perfect preservation, in the immediate vicinity of the scene where the fatal battle of Pinkie was fought. The Scots were at first victorious, and succeeded in driving back the enemy, and carrying off the royal standard of England ; but being almost destitute of cavalry, they were unable to follow up their advantage, and being at length thrown into disorder by the enemy’s menat- arms, consisting principally of a body of mounted Spanish carabineers in complete mail, they were driven from the field, after a dreadful slaughter, with the loss of many of their nobles and leaders, both slain and taken prisoners. Immediately after the battle, the English advanced and took the town of Leith, where they tarried a few days, during which the Earl of Huntly, and many other Scottish prisoners of every degree, were confined in St Mary’s Church there, while treating for their ran~om.~T hey also made an unsuccessful attempt on Edinburgh, whose provost had fallen on the field, and where it is recorded that this fatal battle had alone made three hundred and sixty widows ; ’ but finding the Scottish nation as resolute as ever in rejecting all terms of accommodation, they again pillaged and burned the town of Leith, spoiled the Abbey of Holyrood, from which they tore off the leaden roof, and re-embarked on board t,heir fleet. They wreaked their vengeance on some defenceless fishing towns and villages along the coast of the Firth, and then returned to England, where Archbishop Cranmer prepared a general thanksgiving to be used throughout all the churches in the kingdom, for the great victory God had vouchsafed them over their enemies 1 So differently are the same actions estimated, according as our interests are affected ; for the Duke of Somerset had so exasperated the Scottish nation by his cruelty, and disgusted even the barons who had inclined to the English party by his impolitic conduct, that they were more unanimous than ever against the proposed alliance. ‘‘ The cruelty,” says Qtler, “of the slaughter at Pinkie, and the subsequent severities at Leith, excited universal indignation ; and the idea that a free country was to be compelled into a pacific matrimonial alliance, amid the groans of its dying citizens, and the flames of its seaports, was revolting and absurd.” The Queen Dowager availed herself of the popular feeling thus so strongly excited with 1 Tytler, vol. vi. p. 31. ‘ Herries’ Memoirs, p. 21. 2 Diumd of Occurrenta, p. 44, 6 Tytler, vol. vi, p. 42. a Bishop Lesiie’s History, p. 198.
Volume 10 Page 57
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