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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


Volume 10 Page 70
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YAMES V. TO ABDICA TION OF QUEEN MAR Y. 65 Queen Regent, demanding the dismissal of all foreign& and men-at-arms from the town of Leith. To this she replied, with dignity, that their letter appeared rather as coming from a prince to his subjects, than the reverse, and referred them for further answer to the Lord Lion Herald, by whom the letter was sent.’ The Queen’s messenger found the Lords of the Congregation assembled in the Tolbooth, seriously debating whether she should be deposed from the Regency, as had been proposed to them by Lord Ruthven. The reformed preachers joined in the discussion, freely denouncing her as an obstinate idolatress, and a message was at length returned by the Lord Lion, intimating to her that they suspended her, in the name of their Sovereign, from the oEce of Regent. In furtherance of their plans, a herald was sent to summon all French and native solaiers to depart from Leith within twelve hours, and little regard being paid to their orders, immediate preparations were made for the assault. Scaling ladders were hastily prepared in the aisles of St Giles’s Church, which so offended the preachers, as an act of sacrilege, that they weakly prognosticated failure to the whole enterprise. The prophecy wrought its own fulfilment, for the troops were so intimidated thereby, that, upon marching to the attack, they forsook their artillery on the first sally that the enemy made, and retreated so precipitately to Edinburgh, that the foot were trampled down by the horsemen in their eagerness to enter the-city gates. The French pursued them to the middle of the Canongate and up Leith Wynd, slaying indiscriminately women and children as well as men, and plundering the houses exposed to their fury. The Queen Regent watched them from the ramparts, and welcomed them with ill-judged mirth, as they returned victorious, laden with the homely booty they had acquired in the action. ‘‘ One brought a kirtle, another a petticoate, the third a pott or panne.” Such was the panic at this period among the undisciplined rabble, who formed the main force of the Congregation, that their flight was with difficulty restrained on their reaching the West Port, at the opposite extremity of the city.’ A second contest, arising from an attempt by the French troops to intercept a convoy carrying proviRions into Edinburgh, was equally unfortunate. The forces of the Congregation, headed by the Lord James, got entangled in a morass at Restalrig. Haliburton, Provost of Dundee, one of the best of their leaders, fell in the action; and though they retreated at length with small loss, they were so completely disheartened, that they precipitately deserted the town that same night. The Regent immediately returned to the Capital; all who were in any way implicated in the reforming movements were compelled to flee, and the best houses in the town were conferred on her French soldiers as a reward for their services. Towards the close of the year both leaders were anxiously watching for the fist appearance of their allies’ fleets. The French commander at length hailed with delight the appearance of several large vessels bearing up the Forth, which he at once decided to be the promised French fleet; nor wa8 he disabused of his error, till he beheld his own victualling transports seized by them, and the English flag hoisted in their rigging. In the beginning of the following year, 1560, the Lords of the Congregation united Each party again turned for security to foreign aid. Keith, vol. i. p. 230. ’ CdderWOod, VOL i p. 650. &OS, p. 195-7. I
Volume 10 Page 71
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