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
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
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.
According 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
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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