The History of Leith

December 10, 2011

The Royal Tournaments

During the reign of the chivalrous and splendid James IV.—who was crowned at Kelso—Edinburgh became celebrated throughout all Europe as the scene of knightly feats. The favourite place for the royal tournaments was a spot of ground just below the Castle rock, and near the king’s stables. There, James in particular, assembled the nobles by proclamation, for jousting, offering such meeds of
honour as a golden-headed lance, or similar favours, presented by his own hand or that of some beautiful woman. Knights came from all countries to take part in these jousts; ” bot,” says Pitscottie, “few or none of thame passed away unmatched, and oftimes overthrowne.” One notable encounter, witnessed by the king from the Castle wall, took place in 1503, when a famous cavalier of the Low Countries, named by Pitscottie Sir John Cochbevis, challenged the best knight in Scotland to break a spear, or meet him a outrance in combat to the death. Sir Patrick Hamilton of the house
of Arran took up his challenge. Amid a vast concourse, they came to the barriers, lanced, horsed, and clad in tempered mail, with their emblazoned shields hungsround their necks. At sound of trumpet they rushed to the shock, and splintered their spears fairly. Fresh ones were given them, but as Hamilton’s horse failed him, they drew their two-handed swords, and encountered on foot. They fought thus ” for a full hour, till the Dutchman being struck to the ground,” the king cast his plumed bonnet over the wall to stay the combat, while the heralds and trumpeters proclaimed the Scottish knight victorious.

Source-Old and New Edinburgh

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