The History of Leith

March 19, 2011

The Siege of Edinburgh Castle-1573

MARY escaped from Lochleven on the and of May, 1568, and after her defeat fled to England, the last country in Europe, as events showed, wherein she should have sought refuge or hospitality.
After the assassination of the Regent Moray, to his successor, the Regent Morion, fell the task of subduing all who lingered in arms for the exiled queen; and so well did he succeed in this, that, save the eleven acres covered by the Castle rock of Edinburgh, which was held for three years by Sir William Kirkaldy of Grange with a garrison
resolute as himself, the whole country was now under his rule.
Kirkaldy, whose services in France and elsewhere had won htm the high reputation of being the bravest soldier in Europe,” left nothing undone, amid the unsettled state of affairs, to strengthen his post. He raised and trained soldiers without opposition, seized all the provisions that were brought into Leilh, and garrisoned St. Giles’s church, into the open spire of which he swung up cannon to keep the citizens in awe. This was
on the 28th of March, 1571, After the Duke of Chatelherault, with his Hamiltons—all queen’s men- marched in on the Ist of May, the gables of the church were loopholed for arquebuses. Immediate means were taken to defend the town against the Regent Troops crowded into it; others were mustered for its protection, and this state
of affairs continued for fully three years, during which Kirkaldy baffled the efforts of four successive Regents, till Morion was fain to seek aid from Elizabeth, to wrench from her helpless refugee the last strength that remained to her; and most readily did the English queen agree thereto.
A truce which had been made between ‘Morton and Kirkaldy expired on the 1st of January, 1573, and as the church bells tolled six in the morning, the Castle guns, among which were two 48 pounders, French battardes, and English culverins or 18-
pounders (according to the’,’ Memoirs of Kitkaldy “), opened on the city in the; dark. It was then full of adherents of James VI., so Kirkaldy cared not where his shot fell, after the warning gun had been previously discharged, that all loyal subjects of the queen should retire. As the ‘grey winter dawn stole in, over spire and pointed roof, the cannonade was chiefly directed from the eastern curtain against the new Fish Market; the baskets in which were beaten so high in the air, that for days after their contents were seen scattered on the tops of the highest houses. In one place a single shot
killed five persons and wounded twenty others.
Selecting a night when the wind was high and blowing eastward, Kirkaldy made a sally, and set on fire all the thatched houses in West Port and Castle Wynd, cannonading the while the unfortunates who strove to quench the flames that rolled away towards the east. In March Kirkaldy resolutely declined to come to terms with Morton, though
earnestly besought to do so by Henry Killigrew, who came ostensibly as an English envoy,

to be continued

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