The History of Leith

October 5, 2012

Alexander, Lord of the Isles

In 1428 a remarkable episode occurred in Holyrood
abbey. Alexander, Lord of the Isles, who
had been in rebellion against James I, but had
been utterly defeated by the royal troops in
Lochaber, sent messengers to the king to sue for
mercy. But the latter, justly incensed, refused to
enter into any negotiations with an outlawed
fugitive. Alexander, driven to despair, and compelled
to fly from place to place, was compelled at
last to trust to the royal clemency travelling
secretly to Edinburgh, he suddenly presented himself,
upon a solemn festival, before the high altar of
Holyrood, and holding his drawn sword by the
point, he presented the hilt to the astonished king,
in token of his unconditional submission, and
falling on his knees, in presence of Queen Jane
and the whole court, implored the royal mercy.
The ill-fated James granted him his life, at the
tender intercession of his royal consort, but sent
him a prisoner to^the sequestered castle of
Tantallon, on its sea-beat rock, under the charge
of his nephew, the Earl of Angus. The island
chief eventually received a free pardon, was restored
to all his honours, castles, and estates, and stood
as sponsor for the twin princes, Alexander and
James, at the font.

Source-Old and New Edinburgh

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