The Battle of Langside,13 May 1568

Following the battle of Carberry Hill in June 1567  and her  imprisonment in Lochleven Castle the fortunes of Mary, Queen of Scots, took a  further downturn. The revelations of her letters to Bothwell had led to her abdication, under pressure from the dissident nobles, on 24 July 1567. On the continent France was in the throes of civil war, while Spain was at war with Holland. The Pope had withdrawn his favours, so only in England was there a woman’s word of comfort from Queen Elizabeth I. Despite the advice of her good friend Lord Herries, It was the latter thought that occupied Mary`s mind if she needed to escape, as by seeking Queen Elizabeth`s protection she would be an English prisoner, not a Scottish one.

Mary first attempted to escape from Lochleven in March but was however, caught. On 2 May 1568 she finally escaped and joined with supporters and the ever faithful Hamiltons. At Hamilton Mary issued a proclamation revoking her abdication saying it had been obtained under duress (which was probably true). She had a choice of trying to clear her name in Parliament or to do battle. Choosing the option to do battle she and her supporters headed for the west of Scotland where there was evidence of support for her. On 13 May Mary and a considerable force of about 6500 were making their way to the safety of Dumbarton Castle by way of the southern edge of Glasgow - via Rutherglen and Langside. The Earl of Moray heard of the Queen`s movement and took his army of about 4000 out of Glasgow to see which way the Queen would seek to pass. Finding her on the south side of the River Clyde Moray marched and took possession of a hill near the village of Langside on the river Cart. With Moray were the Earls of Morton, Semple, Hume, Mar, Glencairn, Monteith and a goodly gathering of the citizens of Glasgow.

Prominent among the commanders was Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange who had been involved in the assassination of Cardinal Beaton in 1548 and a sometime supporter of Queen Mary both before and after her exile in England. He was sent forward with cavalry, allegedly each rider taking with him a musketeer, to secure the village of Langside. These musketeers were positioned to be able to pour concentrated fire on the narrow road. This they did when a body of foot soldiers under Lord Claud Hamilton advanced. At this point the royal army faltered then broke and fled with Moray`s cavalry wreaking havoc among them. It is said the rout was because the Commander in Chief of the royal forces, the Earl of Argyll, fell off his horse and panicked his soldiers.

 The Queen  and a small retinue watched the rout from about a mile away. Mary turned and rode for the English border where she crossed the Solway into England, and exile, on 16 May 1568.

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