Cleanse the Causeway
The skirmish known as Cleanse the Causeway, or Clear the Causeway,
took place in the High Street of Edinburgh, Scotland, on April 30,
1520, between rivals James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran, chief of
Clan Hamilton, and Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, chief of
The skirmish was the result of enmity between
the House of Hamilton and the "Red" Angus line of the House of Clan
Douglas, both powerful noble families jealous of each other's
influence over King James V. The Hamiltons, led by Sir Patrick
Hamilton of Kincavil, half-brother of the Earl of Arran, and Sir
James Hamilton of Finnart, the earl's bastard son, attempted to
apprehend the Earl of Angus, and prompted a street fight.
Earl of Arran had become Lord Provost of Edinburgh in 1517 and head
of the King’s Council. In a dispute over the sale of a cargo of
timber from a Dutch ship, he had sided with Leith merchants over the
Edinburgh burgesses. The Leithers, supported by Robert Barton, had
ignored any of the rights of the burgesses, but Arran still gave
them his support, enraging the Edinburgh traders. During the
skirmish, the burgesses of Edinburgh saw the opportunity for
revenge, and took the side of Angus.
The fight went badly for
the Hamiltons, and Sir Patrick Hamilton and about 70 others were
killed in the incident. The Earl of Arran and Sir James fought their
way out, and escaped along a narrow close. Stealing a nearby
pack-horse that had come into the city with coals, they fled through
the shallows of the Nor Loch marshes.
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