7th May 1560. Siege of Leith.

In Scotland the Reformation was influenced by John Knox with the Presbyterian religion being established in 1592.

The Auld Alliance between France and Scotland was forged in the 13th century to contain English military ambitions. It continued up to the 16thc when a division opened up in Scotland between the pro-French Court and Protestant reformers.

By 1548 The French were invited back to contain the English at the time when negotiations, arranged by Henry VIII, had broken down for the marriage of his son Edward VI and Mary Queen of Scots, resulting in the ‘War of Rough Wooing’.(1)

Mary of Guise as Queen Regent, wife of James V, had brought the French to Leith in 1548 to protect her daughter, the young Mary Queen of Scots, who was soon to be removed to France.

However by 1560 Edinburgh was revolting against the 12 years occupation by France, so the Scots led by the Protestant Lords of the Congregation, a force of 12,000, set out to clear France from the walled fortifications at Leith they had built, but with no avail.

They thus turned to the English and Queen Elizabeth to supply troops, cannon and ships to reinforce the siege. A major English assault on the enclave which began Today at 4.00 am 1560 however proved abortive.

However after one year and with the death of the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise at Edinburgh Castle on June 11th, the French were becoming demoralized, especially as they had been reduced to eating anything they could find including the horses.

Thus the French were persuaded to depart after destroying the fort, and peace was procured on 7th July by The Treaty of Edinburgh [or Leith] signed by Elizabeth of England and Francois and Mary, King and Queen of France and Scotland.

One of the key terms, which was ignored, was that Francois (Francis) and Mary Queen of Scots should cease using the style and arms of King and Queen of England as they regarded Elizabeth as illegitimate being the daughter of Anne Boleyn

The year long siege marked the beginning of the end of the ‘Auld Alliance’ between Scotland and France, triggered the end of the Catholic Church in Scotland and the eventual union of the two crowns of England and Scotland.

One aspect of the Siege, with a modern ring is the amount of espionage under many guises, employed by all sides. 


Map of Siege of Leith.

Map of Siege of Leith.

One macabre result of the siege was the discovery of horses’ heads found in a well in Easter Road, Leith in the 19thc.

Thomas Churchyard (1520-1604) penned a poem The School of War, about Leith, as it was the first campaign of Queen Elizabeth.

At Petworth House, Hampshire there is a map detailing the Siege of Leith dated 7th May 1560. Lord Egremont is a descendant of the Percys, present at the battle.

(1)  Henry had died in 1547. The term Rough Wooing was coined by Walter Scott.

Ref: britishbattlefields.com/siege-of-leith.

Ref: scotsman.com/siege-of-leith.

Ref: wikipedia.org/siege_of_leith/Pic Image.


Tags: , , , , ,

About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: