1561 - Mary returns to Scotland

Mary's Return

On 5 December 1560, François, the young King of France, died, leaving Mary a widow, and she soon saw that the best of her few options was to go back and govern her native land. She arrived at Leith on Tuesday 19 August 1561, returning to a country which had undergone a pro-protestant religious revolution in the meantime. The Reformation was not consolidated in Scotland and the nation was deeply divided. Despite this, Mary was received in the capital with joy and great ceremony. The 'Diurnal of Occurrents', a 16th-century chronicle of Scottish events, contains what seems to be a contemporary description of the festivities. It's notable that the children of Edinburgh were given the religiously controversial parts of the display. One child gave Mary Protestant translations of the Bible and the Psalms, which in the words of Catholic courtier Lord Herries 'were scarce savourie to her', and it was the 'bairns in the cairt' with the Queen's present who gave her a speech about getting rid of the mass before singing a psalm at her.

Upoun the secund day of September lxi [1561] the quenes grace
Upon the second day of September 1561 the queen's grace
maid hir entres in the burgh of Edinburgh on this maner. Hir hienes
made her entry to the burgh of Edinburgh in this manner. Her highness
depairtit of Halyrudhous, and raid be the lang gait on the north syid
left Holyroodhouse and rode by the long street on the North side
of the said burgh, unto the tyme scho come to the castell, quheir wes
of the burgh, until she came to the castle, where a gate was
ane yet maid to hir, at the quhilk scho accumpaniit with the maist
made for her. There she was accompanied by the most
pairt of the nobilitie of Scotland except my lord Duke
part of the nobility of Scotland except for the Duke and
[Chateauherault] and his sone, come in and raid up the castell bank
his son [the Hamiltons]. They rode up the castle bank and
to the castell, and dynit thairin; and quhen sho had dynit at tuelf
dined in the castle and at noon, after she had dined, her
houris, hir hienes come furth of the said castell towart the said burgh,
highness came out of the castle towards the burgh. At her
at quhilk depairting the artailyerie schot vehementlie. And thairefter,
departure the artillery shot loudly. After that as she
quhen sho was rydand down the castellhill, thair met hir hienes ane
was riding down the castle hill, an
convoy of the young mene of the said burgh, to the nomber of fyftie,
escort of about fifty of the young men of the burgh met her highness.
or thairby, thair bodeis and theis coverit with yeallow taffateis, thair
Their bodies and thighs were covered with yellow taffeta. Their arms
armes and leggs fra the kne doun bair, cullorit with blak in the maner
and legs from the knee down were bare, coloured black as though they
of Moris, upon thair heidis blak hattis, and on their faces blak
were moors. They had black hats upon their heads and black masks on their
visouris, in their mowthis rings, garnesit with intellable precious
faces, in their mouths were rings decorated with innumerable precious
staneis, about thair neckkis, leggis and armes infynit of chenis of gold;
stones. About their necks, arms and legs were uncountable chains of gold.
togidder with saxtene of the maist honest men of the toun, cled in
Together with 16 of the most notable men of the town, clad in
velvot gownis and velvot bonettis, berand and gangand about the paill
velvet gowns and bonnets, they bore and accompanied the canopy of cloth
under the quhilk her hienes raid; quhilk paill wes of fyne purpour
under which her highness rode. The canopy was of fine purple
velvet lynit with reid taffateis, freinyiet with gold and silk; and efter
velvet lined with red taffeta, fringed with gold and silk. Behind them
thame wes ane cart with certane bairnes, togidder with ane coffer
was a cart with some children, together with a coffer in which was the
vquhairin wes the copboard and propyne quhilk suld be propynit to hir
cupboard [a special piece of furniture for displaying plate] and the gift
hienes; and quhen hir grace come fordwart to the butter trone of the
which was to be presented to her highness [costly plate]. Then the queen
said burgh, the nobilitie and convoy foirsaid precedand, at the quhilk
came on to the Butter Tron [a public weighing machine and by extension the
butter trone thair was ane port made of tymber, in maist honourable
marketplace in which one stood] of Edinburgh, preceded by the nobility
maner, cullorit with fyne cullouris, hungin with syndrie armes; upoun
and her escort. At the tron was a gate made of timber, in the most stately
the quhilk port thair wes ane cloud opynnand with four levis, in the
fashion, coloured with fine colours, hanging with various heraldic devices
quhilk wes put ane bony barne. And quhen the quenes hienes was
and over the gate was a cloud which opened in four pieces, in the cloud
cumand throw the said port, the said cloude opynnit, and the barne
was a pretty child. When the queen's highness was coming through the
discendit doun as it had bene ane angell, and deliverit to hir hienes the
gate, the cloud opened and the child descended as if it had been an angel
keyis of the toun, togidder with ane bybill and ane psalme buik,
and delivered to her highness the keys of the town, together with a bible
coverit with fyne purpourit velvot; and efter the said barne had
and psalm book, covered with fine purple velvet. After the child had made
spoken some small speitches, he deliverit alsua to hir hienes thre
some small speeches, he delivered three documents to her highness, the
writingis, the tennour thairof is uncertane. That being done, the barne
nature of which is uncertain. When that was done the child went
ascendit on the cloud and the said cloude stekit; and therefter the
up on the cloud and the cloud closed. After that the queen came down to
quenis grace come doun to the tolbooth, at the quhilk was [ ]
the Tolbooth, at which was a [ ]
upoun two skassattis, ane abone and ane under that; upon the under
upon two scaffolds, one above and one under it, on the bottom one was
was situat ane fair wirgin, callit Fortoune, under the quhilk was thrie
a fair maiden representing Fortune, beneath whom were three fair
fair virgynnis, all cled in maist precious attyrement, callit [ ] justice
maidens all clothed in the most precious garments called [ ] justice and
and policie. And efter ane litill speitche maid thair, the quenis grace
policy. And after a little speech made there, the queen's grace came to the
come to the croce, quhair thair was standand four fair virgynnis, cled
burgh cross, where four fair maidens clothed in the most heavenly
in maist hevenlie clething, and fra the quhilk croce the wyne ran out
clothing were standing. From the cross wine poured out abundantly at the
at the spouttis in greit abundance; thair wes the noyis of pepill casting
spouts, there could be heard the noise of people throwing down the
the glassis with wyne. This being done, our soverane ladie come to the
glasses with wine. This being done, our sovereign lady came to the
salt trone, quhair thair wes sum spekaris; and efter ane litill speitche,
Salt Tron, where there were some speakers and after a little speech,
thai brunt upoun the skasset maid at the said trone, the maner of ane
they burnt the representation of a sacrifice upon the scaffold made at that
sacrifice; and swa that being done, sho depairtit to the nether bow,
tron. That being done, she left for the Nether Bow
quhair thair wes ane uther skasset maid, havand ane dragoun in the
where there was another scaffold made with a dragon in it
samyn, with some speiches; and efter the dragoun wes brynt, and the
and more speeches. After the dragon was burnt, the
quenis grace hard ane psalme song, hir hienes past to hir abbay of
queen heard a psalm sung. Her highness then went to the abbey of
Halyrudhouse with the said convoy and nobilities; and thair the
Holyroodhouse with her escort and the nobles. There the
barins quhilk wes in the cairt with the propyne maid some speitche
children in the cart with the gift made a speech about
concernyng the putting away of the mess and thairefter sang ane
abolishing the mass and after that sang a
psalme; this being done, the cart come to Edinburgh, and the said
psalm. This being done the cart came to Edinburgh and the notable
honest men remaynit in hir utter chalmer, and desyred hir grace to
men of the burgh remained in her outer chamber and desired her grace to
ressave the said copebord, quhilk wes double ourgilt; the price wes
receive the cupboard which was double gilded and worth
2,000 merkis; quha ressavit the samyne, and thankit thame thairof.
2,000 marks. She received it and thanked them and so the notables
And sua the honest men and convoy come to Edinburgh.
and the escort returned to Edinburgh.

A Diurnal of Remarkable Occurrents that have passed within the Country of Scotland since the death of King James the Fourth, ed. T. Thomson, Bannatyne Club, 1833.

print Top of page Close window