The History of Leith

August 25, 2011

The Rescue of James II

On the assembly of the Lords of Parliament, their first care was the coronation of James II., who was conducted in procession from the Castle to the church of Holyrood, where he was crowned with every solemnity, on the 25th of March, 1437.
The queen-mother was named his guardian, with an allowance of 4,000 merks yearly, and Archibald the great Earl of Douglas and Angus (Duke of Touraine) was appointed lieutenant-general of the kingdom. During the two subsequent years the little king resided entirely in the Castle under the custody of Crichton, now Lord Chancellor, greatly to the displeasure of the queen and her party, who
found him thus placed completely beyond their control or “influence.
In short, it was no longer the queen-mother, but the crafty Crichton, who had uncontrolled custody of the little sovereign, and who thus was enabled to seize the revenues, and surround him by a host of parasites, who permitted neither her, nor the Regent, Sir Alexander Livingstone of Callender, to have any share in the government.
A bitter feud was the consequence, and Scotland again was rent into two hostile factions, a state of matters of which the English could not, as usual, make profit, as they were embroiled among themselves. The queen remained with the regent at Stirling, while her son was literally a prisoner at Edinburgh; but, womanlike, the mother formed a plan of her own to outwit the enemy.
Visiting the Castle, she professed a great regard for the Chancellor, and a desire to be with her son, with whom she took up her abode. After having effectually lulled all suspicion, she affected to remember a vow she had made to visit the White Kirk of Brechin (according to the ” Chronicles of Pitscottie “), and bade adieu to the Chancellor overnight, with many tender recommendations of the
young king to his care. She set forth betimes next morning with her retinue, and baggage borne on sumpter horses. In one of the arks or chests strapped on one of these she had the young king
concealed, with his own consent. He was thus conveyed to Leith, and from thence by water to Stirling, where she placed him in the hands of the Regent Livingstone, while the haughty Douglas kept aloof, as one who took no interest in the petty intrigues around the throne. Livingstone now unfurled the royal standard, levied troops, and laid siege to the Castle of Edinburgh ; but the wary
Chancellor, finding that he had been outwitted,pretended to compromise matters by delivering the keys of the gates into the hands of the king, after which they all supped together in the great
hall of the fortress. Crichton was confirmed in his office of Chancellor, and the other as regent and guardian of the royal person, a state of affairs not fated to last long.
Livingstone having quarrelled with the queen, she carried off the young king again, and restored him to the custody of the Chancellor in the Castle of Edinburgh. Under the guidance of the Bishops
of Moray and Aberdeen, then resident in the city, a conference was held in the church of St. Giles, making him and his rival joint guardians, which, from their mutual dread and hatred of the Earl of
Douglas, led to an amicable arrangement, and the young king chose the Castle as his future place of residence

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