Herbert Maxwell.

Official guide to the Abbey-church, palace, and environs of Holyroodhouse online

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IT has been shown in the last chapter how the Scottish
kings gradually came to regard and use the Abbey of
Holyrood as their regular residence when in the capital.
The royal family and their suite, with some members of
the Court and State officials, would be lodged in the con-
ventual buildings adjoining the church. But such accom-
modation had its limits ; it must have been taxed to the
utmost during the state ceremonies which occurred from
time to time ; and at last it was resolved by King James IV.
to erect a regular palace upon the site which had become
so closely identified with the work of government. Effect
was given to this resolve between the years
T 49 8 a "d 1501. Master Leonard Logy had

by James iv., tne work j n charge in the latter year, and the

building was far enough advanced in 1503 to

receive Princess Margaret of England when she arrived


from the south for her espousals with the King of Scots.
The immediate effect of the new building must have been
to spoil the appearance of the Abbey from the south and
west ; for the palace was built against the west side of the
cloisters, thus shutting off the east end of the church from
view of the Canongate and city of Edinburgh.

John Younger, Somerset Herald, was in the English

Princess's suite, and kept a most minute account of the

. wedding festivities, which has long been the

Marriage of ' .

James iv. delight of antiquaries by reason of the vivid

P icture it: preserves of the habits of the time.
sth August The treaty of marriage between the King of

Scots and the daughter of Henry VII. of Eng-
land had been settled so long before as the autumn of 1499.
Towards the end of July 1503 Princess Margaret set out
from London "mounted on a faire palfrey," followed by
a numerous suite, and made leisurely progress to the
northern capital. Everywhere as she passed, the lords
and gentry turned out to bid her God-speed, " well horsed
upon fayre coursers, and maid gambads plaisant for to
see," and the English guns of Berwick thundered a royal
salute, "the which was fayr to here." Crossing the Border,
she was met at Lamberton Kirk by Scottish gentlemen,
"a thousand persons in company, five hundred mounted
on horses of gret prece and well appoynted " ; and on the
third day after that, the King met her at Dalkeith "arayd
of a jakette of cramsyn velvet borded with cloth of gold,
. . . hys beerde somethynge long."

"The King was conveyd to the Quene's chamber, wher she mett
hym at her grett chamber dore right honorable accompanyed. At the
mettynge he and she maid grett reverences the one to the tother, his
hed being bare ; and they kyssed togeder, and in lykwys kyssed the
ladyes and others also. And he in especiall welcomed the Erie of Surrey
varey hertly."


The Princess remained four days at Dalkeith and
Newbattle Abbey, and each day the King rode out from
Edinburgh to pay his court, entertaining his bride by his
feats of horsemanship and playing to her on the clarycordes
and lute, "wiche pleasyd hyr varey much, and she had
grett plaisir to here hym." On the morning of 7th August
the Princess arrayed herself in " a rychi gowne of cloth of
gold, with a purfill of black velvet, and a rich coller of
perle and stone," and proceeded towards Edinburgh in a
fine litter.

" Half of the way, the Kyng cam to mett hyr, mounted
apon a bay horse, rennynge as he wolde renne after the
hayre." He wore a jacket of cloth of gold, a purple satin
doublet, scarlet hose, a "schert" richly jewelled, and "hys
spourris gylt and long. At the commyng towardes the
Quene, he maid hyr varey humble obeyssance in lepynge
downe from hys horse, and kyssed hyr in hyr litere." He
first tried to seat the Princess behind him on one of his
own horses ; but the animal had not been trained to carry
double, so he mounted the Princess's palfrey, "and the
said Quene behinde hym, and so rode towards the town of
Edenburgh." There they were received with a curious
medley of pageants, " Paris and the three deessys [god-
desses] " appearing in agreeable contrast to the Salutation
of the Virgin by the Angel Gabriel. At the Cross there
was a fountain " castynge forth of wyn, ychon [each one]
drank that wold," and gay tapestry flaunted from every

"Then the noble company passed out of the said towne to the Church
of the Holy Crosse. . . . Ychon lept off hys horse and in fayr order
went after the processyon to the Church, & in the entryng of that sam,
the Kyng & the Quene light downe, and after he take the Quene by the
body, doynge humble reverence, & led hyr to the grett awter [altar],
wher was a place ordonned for them to knele apon two cuschyons of


cloth of gold. Bot the Kyng wold never knell downe first, bot both
togeder. . . . After all reverences doon at the Church, in ordre as
before, the Kyng transported himself to the Fallals, through the clostre, 1
holdynge allwayes the Quene by the body, and hys hed bare, tyll he
had brought hyr within her chammer. . . . Then the Kyng kyssed her
for hyr labor ; and so tuke hyr ageyn with low cortesay and bare hed,
and brought her to her second chammer, and kyssed her ageyn, taking
his leve right humble. . . . The eighth day of the said monneth, every
man apoynted hymselfe rychly for the honor of the noble maryage.
Betuix 8 and 9 o the clock, everychon was rady, nobly apperyld, and
the ladyes came rychly arayd, sum in gownys of cloth of gold, others of
cremsyn velvet and blak, others of satyn and of tynsell, of damake and
of chamlet, of many colours ; hoods, chaynnes and collers apon ther
neks ; accompanyed of ther gentylwomen arayd honnestly after ther
gyse, for to hold company to the said Quene."

Then the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of Durham,
the Earl of Surrey, and other English lords were brought
before the King, who " sat in a chayre of cramsyn velvet,
the pannells gylte, under hys cloth of astat [state] of blew
velvet fygured of gold. . . . It was a noble thynge to se
the sayd chammer so nobly fournyshed."

As he proceeds with his narrative, Somerset Herald
becomes sadly at a loss for epithets to describe withal
the splendour of the scene. The English lords, having
made obeisance to the King of Scots, withdrew, and
presently returned, bringing with them the royal bride
"arayed in a rich robe, borded of cramsyn velvet, and
lyned of the self, with a varey riche coller of gold, of
pyerrery [jewellery] and perles round her neck, . . .
crowned with a varey ryche croune of gold, garnished
with pierrery and perles, her hayre hangyng." 2 The King

1 The eastern side of the present Palace occupies the site of the
western side of the cloister. >

2 This was the fashion of the time, differing from that of 1469, as
shown by the picture of the marriage of James III., in which Margaret
of Denmark is represented with her hair elaborately dressed.


was no whit inferior in splendour of raiment, " rychly and
honnestly arayd in a gowne of whit damaske, figured
with gold and lynned with sarsanet. He had on a jakette
with slyffs [sleeves] of cramsyn satin, the lists of blak
velvett. Under that sam a dowblet of cloth of gold,
and a payr of scarlatte hosys [hose] ; hys shurt broded
with thred of gold; his bonnet blak with a rich balay
[ruby], and hys swerd about him."

The Archbishop of Glasgow performed the marriage
ceremony; the King placed the sceptre in the Queen's
hand ; the Te Deum was sung ; and " that and all the
ceremonyes accomplysched, ther was brought by the
lordes bred and wyn in ryche potts and ryche cupps."

The King and Queen dined in separate rooms.

"The Quene was served before the Kyng, with all th' onner that
myght be doon. . . . The chammer in which she dyned was rychly drest,
and the cloth of astat wher she satt was of clothe of gold varey riche.
At the first course sche was served of a wyld borre's hed gylt, within
a fayr platter ; then with a fayr pece of brane [pork], and in the thyrd
place with a gambon ; which wer followed by divers other dyshys, to
the nombre of xii, of many sortes, in fayre and ryche vesselle. . . .
After this the Kyng was served in vesselle gylt, as the Quene. . . .
The Archbyschops of Saunt Andrew [brother of the King] and of
York, the Bischop of Durhame and the Erie of Surrey dyned with
hym. The chammer was haunged of red and of blew, and in it was
a cyll of astate [canopy of state] of cloth of gold, bot the Kyng was
not under it for that sam day. Ther wer also in the sam chammer a
riche bed of astat, and a riche dressor, after the guyse of the countre ;
and the Lord Grays the father served the King with water for to wash,
and the Erie of Huntlye berred the towaylle."

Feasting went on in four other apartments namely,
the Great Chamber, hung with tapestry representing "the
ystory of Troy towne"; the King's Chamber, "the wich
was haunged about with the story of Hercules, togeder
with other ystorys " ; the King's Hall, " haunged of th'



ystory of the old Troy " ; and another chamber, where
the adventures of Hercules again formed the subject of
the decoration. There were also "grett syerges \_cierges ^
candles] of wax for to lyght at even," and " rych dressors,
good chere and good wyn. . . . After dynnar, the myn-
strells played, and the Kynge and the Quene, the ladyes,
knyghts, gentylmen and gentylwomen daunced. Also some
good bodys maid games of passe passe, and dyd varey

Next day there was a great tournament, in which

" sum brak speres, the others not. At the wyndowes was the Kynge,
accompanyed of th' Archbyschops of Saunt Andrew and York, and of
the Byschop of Durham, and of other prelatts, the said windowes being
well apoynted. The Quene was at the windowes of hyr grett
chammer ; . . . ageynst them was a scarfawld, whereon was my Lord
of Surrey and the Erie Both well only."

And so this famous house-warming went on right royally
until the i4th August, "and that doon, every man went
his way," in the belief, no doubt, that in this union of
the royal houses of England and Scotland was the quench-
ing of that weary, wasteful war which had run, almost
without intermission, for two hundred years. Ay, but
it was the destiny of King James to meet Surrey once
again, ten years later, on the stricken field of Flodden.
Meanwhile, the King was so well pleased with the palace
that had been prepared for his bride that on loth
September following the wedding he granted to Master
Leonard Logy, who had charge of the work, a pension of
40 a-year for life, in acknowledgment of the " diligent
and grete lawboure maid be him in the bigging of the
palace beside the Abbay of the Halycroce."

The next important ceremony of which the Church of
Holyrood was the scene took place in 1507, when the


Papal legate, Bishop Forman, and the Abbot of Dunferm-

line delivered to King James a sword of State,

Julius ii. an em broidered belt, and a consecrated hat,

sends a sword

of state to the gifts of Julius II., most militant of Popes,
i inn? 8 ., ,pk e swor( j and belt have been preserved
in a remarkable manner, and are now kept
with the Honours of Scotland, or, as they are usually
termed, the Regalia, in Edinburgh Castle. When Crom-
well invaded Scotland in 1651, the Scottish Privy Council
and Parliament committed these insignia of royalty to the
keeping of William, ;th Earl Marischal, in Dunnottar
Castle. The earl was absent in England with Charles
II. 's army; but he had a faithful lieutenant in George
Ogilvie of Barras, who, when closely besieged by Crom-
wellian troops under Lambert, perceiving that he would
be forced by famine to surrender, managed to smuggle
out the regalia into a place of safety. Mistress Granger,
wife of the minister of Kinneff, applied to General Morgan
for leave to enter the beleaguered castle in order to visit
Mistress Ogilvie, wife of the lieutenant-governor, who was
ailing. There was nothing unusual in the appearance of
a huge distaff covered with lint which Mistress Granger
carried with her, for it was the custom of industrious
housewives to spin thread while moving about : when
the visit was over, and the good dame was taking her
leave, nobody suspected that the real distaff had been
replaced by the Sceptre and Sword of Scotland. The
Crown came nearer being detected, for that was concealed
in Mrs Granger's apron under a lot of yarn, and when
General Morgan courteously assisted the lady to mount her
palfrey, the Crown was within an ace of rolling out. How-
ever, all went well ; Mistress Granger carried her priceless
burden safely to the parsonage, and that night her husband


buried the regalia under the pavement of his church, where
they lay unsuspected until the Restoration in 1660, when
Ogilvie delivered them to Charles II;

The belt was not buried with the rest of the Honours.
Many years afterwards it was found concealed in the wall
of the house of Barras, and having passed into the posses-
sion of Dr G. Livingstone Ogilvie, a descendant of the
family of Barras, was restored by him to Queen Victoria,
and now rests with the sword among the Honours of

Margaret Tudor bore six children to King James, all of
whom died in infancy save one, the future James V., born
at Linlithgow, loth April 1512. Two other sons, James
and Arthur, were born in Holyrood House ; the fourth son,
Alexander, Duke of Ross, having been born at Stirling,
was buried at Cambuskenneth. To the end of his life
James IV. continued to spend money on the improvement
and extension of his palace. It is not known when
Robert Bellenden resigned the abbotship, nor is there any
record of a successor to him until the year 15 1 5, two years
after King James's death at Flodden, when John, Duke of
Albany, grandson of James II., and heir presumptive to
the Crown, returned from France and was acknowledged
by Parliament as Governor of Scotland during the minority
of James V. This Prince, a Frenchman born and trained,
could not so much as speak the language of the nation
which he was called upon to govern. Nevertheless, he
took up the unfinished work in the Palace and continued
the expenditure thereon until his return to France on 8th
June 1517. It is recorded by Marjoreybanks that when
Albany arrested the High Chamberlain (Lord Home) and
his brother William on a charge of treason, he warded them
in the tower of Holyroodhouse, "which wes foundit by


the said Ducke." This, as observed elsewhere (see p. i),
probably referred to the " foir-werk " or gatehouse, where
the prison still remains. Lord Home and his brother
were executed on 8th and gth October 1516, their
heads remaining exposed on the Tolbooth till 2ist July

At this time George Crichton, Lord Privy Seal, was
Abbot of Holyrood, and continued so till 1522, when he
was appointed Bishop of Dunkeld. The affairs of Scot-
land, political and ecclesiastical, had come to a deplorable
pass. The realm was rent into two main factions, which
it is difficult to keep clearly in view, so swiftly and so
frequently did the leading members of each change sides
in accordance with what seemed their interest at the
moment. Queen Margaret had married the Earl of Angus
within less than a year of her husband's death, and round
these two, who had the infant king in possession, gathered
those nobles who favoured the English interest. The head
of the French faction was the Regent Albany, supported
by James Hamilton, whom the late king had created Earl
of Arran because of his prowess at the wedding tourna-
ment. The Church, now at its darkest hour of corruption
and venality, inclined to either side according to the degree
in which the benefices could be stuffed with the partisans
of Angus or Arran. The feud culminated in the conflict
known as "Cleanse the Causeway," which
took place on the High Street of Edinburgh,
aoth April ^oth April 1520, when the Hamiltons were
routed by the Douglasses, and Arran fled to
France. But the triumph of Angus was marred by the
hatred which his wife, the Queen-mother, had conceived
for him. In her anxiety for a divorce she did not scruple
to intrigue against her husband with Albany and Arran.


She even encouraged Albany to look for her hand in
marriage once she should be free. Angus himself found
it convenient to retire to France in 1522. Margaret's
brother, Henry VIII., sent Surrey, son of the victor of
Flodden, to waste the distracted kingdom of Scotland.
Repeated raids were made in the summer and autumn of
1523. The magnificent abbey of Jedburgh was burnt,
and all the Border land wasted to such a degree that
multitudes died of starvation.

Plot and counter-plot followed with so much intricacy
and rapidity that it would be vain to attempt to follow them
in this brief review of events. Queen Margaret shifted
sides more frequently than anybody. The position in the
summer of 1524 was that Albany had finally retired to
France on 2 oth May, despairing of the country he had
aspired to govern. Angus returned in June from his exile
in France, seeking refuge in England, where he was
received with favour by Henry VIII. and Wolsey, quite
enough to impel Queen Margaret towards the French
alliance. The English Government, under pretext of
arranging a peace with Scotland, continued diligent in
nourishing the internal feuds of that distracted realm.
Margaret cared for nothing in comparison with obtaining
her divorce from Angus. Had this been granted in time
for her to marry Albany, one can scarcely doubt that she
intended to sacrifice her son's birthright to Albany's pre-
tension to the crown ; but now that Albany was off the
Scottish stage, she bestowed her feverish affection upon
Henry Stewart, captain of her Guard (whom ultimately she
married in 1526), and took measures to obtain the official
recognition of her son as King.

On 26th July, Angus her husband being still in Eng-
land, Queen Margaret took James V., then aged twelve


years, left Stirling suddenly, and rode with him to Edin-
burgh, where they were received with great
jam Val v f t re Ji c i n S by the people. Then they went in
Moiyrood, procession to Holyrood, where, according to
adth^juiy Li n d sa y of Pitscottie, the King "tuik up hous,
with all office men requisite for his estate, and
changed all the old officeris, both tresaurer, comptroller,
secreitar, M r Maissar, M r Household, M r Stableris, copperis,
carveris, and all the rest."

This "erection of the King," as it was called, pleased
the King of England and Wolsey, in so far as it seemed
a discouragement to the French faction. Angus was per-
mitted to return to Scotland, but not to his family circle ;
for Margaret withdrew from Holyrood at his approach,
ensconcing herself with the young king in Edinburgh
Castle, where she set at defiance the armed attempt of
Angus and Lennox to get possession of her son's

This anarchy proving intolerable, in February 1525
Parliament appointed a council of eight nobles to take
the King in charge ; in which body Angus, head of the
dreaded house of Douglas, soon took the lead.

Church patronage being among the most coveted per-
quisites of office, Angus, as was to be expected, lost no
time in finding comfortable appointments for
wniiam hj s ki nsm en. His brother, William Douglas,


Abbot of had already acquired the Priory of Coldingham,
"' l ^ r a d ' by means which illustrate so vividly the condi-


tion to which affairs of Church and State had
fallen, that they may be briefly rehearsed. It should
be remembered that the higher ecclesiastical benefices
carried with them not only handsome revenues, but great
political power and extensive patronage bishops, abbots,


and priors being entitled ex officio to sit in Parliament,
with precedence over lay peers and commoners.

The Priory of Coldingham had been for many years a
subject of angry contention between the Douglases and
the rising house of Home. In 1515 David, youngest
brother of Lord Home, managed to get himself appointed
prior. Next year, after Lord Home and his second
brother had been executed for treason, David managed to
retain the office, but was slain in 1519 by his kinsman
James Hepburn of Hailes. Robert Blackadder succeeded
to this much-coveted post, only to fall a few months later
by the sword of David Home of Wedderburn, where-
upon William Douglas stepped in and seized the priorate
for himself. His right was challenged by Archdeacon
Blackadder of Dunblane, cousin of the latest murdered
prior, who declared that the Pope, at Albany's request,
had conferred the priorate upon him Blackadder. He
had better have held his peace, such short work did John
Home make of his claim. Meeting the archdeacon one
day near Edinburgh, he ended the controversy by killing
him outright ; and Douglas continued to enjoy the benefice,
per vim, till 1522, when he was charged with treason, and
had to go into exile with his brother Angus.

When Angus returned to power in 1525, his uncle,
Gavin Douglas, Bishop of Dunkeld, was dead. Abbot
Crichton of Holyrood had been appointed to that see in
1522 ; Angus, therefore, gave rein to his fraternal feelings
by appointing William to the abbotship of Holyrood, and
allowing him to retain the priorate of Coldingham also.

The ascendancy of Angus boded no good to the French
faction in Scotland, and their hopes seemed finally wrecked
by the total defeat and capture of Frangois I er at the battle
of Pa via (24th Feb. 1525). A three years' truce, there-


fore, was patched up with England, and on i4th June 1526
the Three Estates in Parliament assembled decreed that,
King James having reached the age of fourteen years, the
"authority royal" was in his hands. This brought over
Arran to the party of Angus ; but it also brought about
civil war. The Earl of Lennox, well knowing the young
King's detestation of his stepfather Angus, and his anxiety
to be freed from his thraldom, took the field in force, but
was defeated and slain at Linlithgow by Angus and Arran
on 4th September 1526. Two years later, when King
James, detained against his will by Angus, escaped from
Falkland, his first act was to avenge the blood of Lennox,
whom he had loved, by causing Parliament to pass act
of forfeiture upon Angus and the chiefs of Douglas whom
he continued to hate; after which he began to rule for
himself with precocious vigour.

William Douglas's tenure of his lucrative pluralities did
not bring him much ease. He died in 1528, overcome,
Robert Cairn- says Bucnanan > not only by disease, but by
cross, Abbot, anxiety and weariness of the condition of
affairs. He was succeeded as abbot by Robert
Cairncross, Provost of Corstorphine Collegiate Church,
chaplain to the King, and Lord High Treasurer of
Scotland a person of whom Buchanan speaks in very
uncomplimentary terms. Buchanan was not an un-
biassed judge of ecclesiastics ; nevertheless, his charges
of fraud and peculation against Cairncross appear to have
solid foundation, for he was deprived of the Treasurership
in 1529, recovered the office in 1537, and lost it again in
1538. In that year or the next he gave up his abbot-
ship on being appointed Bishop of Ross, which see he
held, in conjunction with the abbotship of Feme, until
his death in 1545.


Although, as will be shown presently, James V. re-
modelled and enlarged the Palace of Holyrood, he does
not seem to have spent much of his time there. He was
present, however, clothed in scarlet, at the


of heretics, sinister proceedings of the ecclesiastical com-
1S34 ' missioners appointed to try heretics, who met

in the Abbey in August 1534. Some of those examined
before this court recanted and burned their faggots. King
James, perhaps, was not willing that any should suffer, but
the bishops vowed that he had no prerogative of mercy
that his coronation oath bound him to the extirpation of
heresy. Two victims were condemned to the stake David
Straiton, a gentleman of Forfarshire, and Norman Gourlay,
a priest. They suffered within view of the Palace, at the
Cross of Greenside on the Calton Hill, 27th August 1534-
In February following, Holyrood was the scene of a less
lugubrious ceremony. Since the fall of Angus, King
James had gone over completely to the French alliance
and the old religion. While he was burning Scottish
heretics, his uncle of England was showing his zeal for the

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