The History of Leith

March 3, 2012

Events at Holyrood

In 1437 the Parliament met at Edinburgh, on the 25th March, after the murder of James I., and adopted immediate measures for the government of the country. Their first act was the coronation of
the young prince, in his sixth year, on whose head at Holyrood, as James II, the crown was solemnly placed by James Kennedy, Bishop of St. Andrews, in presence of a great concourse of the nobles,,
clergy, and representatives of towns, amid the usual testimonies of devotion and loyalty.
On March 2yth, 1439, Patrick Abbot of Holyrood and his convent granted a charter to Sir Robert Logan of Restalrig, and his heirs, of the office of bailie over their lands of St. Leonard’s, in the town of Leith, “from the end of the great volut of William Logane, on the east part of the common gate that passes to the ford over the water of Leith,, beside the waste land near the house of John of Turyng on the west part, and common Venale called St. Leonard’s Wynd, as it extended of old on the south part, and the water of the port of Leith on the north, and . . . . in the ninth year of the pontificate of our most holy father and lord,, Eugenius IV., by Divine Providence Pope.” Chronologically, the next event connected with the abbey was the arrival of Mary of Gueldres in
1449. In company with John Railston, Bishopo of Dunkeld, and Nicholas Otterburn, official of Lothian, the Lord Chancellor Crichton went to- France to seek among the princesses of that friendly court a suitable bride for young James II.; but no match being suitable, by the advice of Charles VII. these ambassadors proceeded to Burgundy, and, with the cordial concurrence of Duke Philip the Good, made proposals to his kinswoman, Mary, the only daughter and heiress of Arnold, Duke of Gueldres, and in 1449 the engagement was formally concluded. Philip promised to pay 60,000 in gold as a dowry, while James, on the other hand, settled 10,000 crowns upon her, secured on land in Strathearn, Athole, Methven, and East Lothian, while relinquishing all claim to the Duchy of Gueldres, in the event of an heir male being born to Duke Arnold ; and the Parliament met at Stirling, resolved that the royal nuptials should be conducted on a scale of splendour suited to the occasion.
The fleet containing the bride anchored in June in the Forth. She was ” young, beautiful, and of a masculine constitution,” says Hawthornden, and came attended by a splendid train of knights and nobles from France and Burgundy, including the Archduke Sigismund of Austria, the Duke of Brittany, and the Lord of Campvere (the three brothers-in-law of the King of Scotland), together with the Dukes of Savoy and Burgundy. She landed at Leith amid a vast concourse of all classes of the people, and, escorted by a bodyguard of 300 men-at-arms, all cap-a-pie, with the citizens also in their armour, under Patrick Cockburn of Newbigging, Provost of Edinburgh and Governor of the Castle, was escorted to the monastery of the Greyfriars, where she was warmly welcomed by her future husband, then in his twentieth year, and was visited by the queenmother on the following day.
The week which intervened between her arrival and her marriage was spent in a series of magnificent entertainments, during which, from her great beauty and charms of manner, she won the devoted
affection of the loyal nobles and people. A contemporary chronicler has given a minute account of one of the many chivalrous tournaments that took place, in which three Burgundian nobles, two of them brothers named Lalain, and the third Herve Meriadet, challenged any three Scottish knights to joust with lance, battle-axe, sword, and dagger, a defiance at once accepted by Sir James
Douglas, James Douglas of Lochleven, and Sir John Ross of Halkhead, Constable of Renfrew. Lances were shivered and sword and axe resorted to with nearly equal fortune, till the king threw down his truncheon and ended the combat. The royal marriage, which took place in the church at Holyrood amid universal joy, concluded these stirring scenes. At the bridal feast the first dish was in the form of a boar’s head, painted and stuck full of tufts of coarse flax, served up on an enormous platter, with thirty-two banners, bearing the arms of the king and principal nobles ; and the
flax was set aflame, amid the acclamations of the numerous assembly that filled the banquet-hall.

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