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Battle of Carberry Hill

 

 

The Battle of Carberry Hill took place on the 15th June 1567, near Musselburgh, East Lothian, a few miles east of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. It was part of the ongoing civil war that surrounded Mary, Queen of Scots and the ever changing sides that opposed her and supported her.

In May of 1567 Queen Mary of Scotland married James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell. Many of the Queen's allies who previously supported her including Maitland, Morton, Balfour, and Murray of Tullibardine disapproved of this and chose to oppose her. This disapproval may have been because the Earl of Bothwell was said to have murdered Lord Darnley. A trial of Bothwell had come to nothing when his prosecutor, the Earl of Lennox, failed to appear having turned back with his 3000 troops when confronted by the Earl of Bothwell's 4000. The elevation of Bothwell to Duke of Orkney and Zetland on 12 May, then marriage three days later, fuelled the flames of opinion.

With only the support of the Hamiltons (who hated Lennox) Mary and Bothwell left Fa'side Castle on the morning of 15 June 1567 and took to the field of battle at Carberry Hill against her enemies, the Confederate Lords, near Musselburgh. The stand-off lasted from 11 o'clock in the morning till 5 o'clock in the afternoon. Mary's supporters carried the banner of the Lion of Scotland; the Lord's banner showed Darnley dead under a tree with the infant James VI, with the motto, "Judge and Revenge my cause, O Lord."

Bothwell offered single combat to any of the Confederate Lords. William Kirkcaldy accepted the challenge, but Bothwell would not fight him as he was merely a baron. He also refused Murray of Tullibardine, and then Lord Lindsay. It was hot and Mary's supporters had nothing to drink. The day dragged on. Eventually, Mary surrendered to Kirkcaldy and he led her horse by the bridle down from the hill. but Bothwell rode off towards Dunbar with 25 horsemen. A drawing of the battlefield sent to London with a newsletter survives and gives a schematic idea of the events.

Commemorative Stone at CarberryAccording to the later chroncicle called The Historie of James the Sext, Mary's supporters at Carberry were; Lord Seton, Lord Hay of Yester, Lord Borthwick, the Laird of Ormiston, Home of Wedderburn, Blackadder (of Tulliallan), and the Laird of Langtoun. The Confederate Lords included the Earls of Morton, Mar, Glencairn, the Lords Lindsay, Ruthven, Home, Lord Sempill, Sanquhar, and the barons Murray of Tullibardine, Douglas of Drumlanrig, Kirkcaldy of Grange and all their horsemen and foot soldiers.

Mary was taken to Edinburgh and then imprisoned in Lochleven Castle, in Kinross, where her keeper was Sir William Douglas, half brother to James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray. She remained in prison for eleven months while public opinion gathered against her. Bothwell got to a ship and first went to Orkney, and evaded William Kirkcaldy whose ship the Lion ran aground. Then he crossed the sea to Norway, captivity and madness.

On the 20th June one of the Earl of Bothwell's soldiers was found in possession of a silver casket containing letters from Queen Mary to the Earl of Bothwell. It was alleged that the letters proved her complicity in Lord Darnley's death and justified her deposition. About this time the Earl of Bothwell was proclaimed for the actual physical murder of Darnley and a reward of 1000 crowns offered for his capture. John Knox denounced Mary from the pulpit, and the General Assembly similarly raised its voice against her. On 24 July 1567 she was forced to abdicate, despite her protestations, and her son James VI of Scotland was crowned five days later in Stirling.

 

 

 

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Last modified: Saturday, 18 March 2017

Back to top

The content of this website is a collection of materials gathered from a variety of sources, some of it unedited.

The webmaster does not intend to claim authorship, but gives credit to the originators for their work.

As work progresses, some of the content may be re-written and presented in a unique format, to which we would then be able to claim ownership.

Discussion and contributions from those more knowledgeable is welcome.

Contact Us

Last modified: Saturday, 18 March 2017