Leith Eurowalk

Point G - Parliament Street

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Mary of Guise, powerful in both France and Scotland, was an important figure in the complicated dynastic struggles between Tudor and Stewart houses. Born in 1515 she was married at 18 to the Duke of Longueville but widowed three years later with one surviving son. She refused the suit of Henry VIII and married his nephew James V who wished to strengthen the Auld Alliance with France and the Catholic faith in Scotland. Their two sons died young and after defeat by the English at Solway Moss James died just six days after his daughter Mary was born.

Boat called "Mary of Guise" in Leith Harbour
“Mary of Guise” in Leith Harbour

After much political activity, complicated by the rise of Protestantism in Scotland and changing of sides by several key figures, Mary of Guise became Regent for her daughter who was promised to the Dauphin and living safely in France. Mary set up her court in Parliament Street and her palace in Rotten Row, now Water Street.

Parliament Street

French troops came to Mary’s aid on more than one occasion but increasing support for the Protestant faith resulted in the signing in 1559 of the Articles of Leith supporting religious tolerance in Scotland. Mary thus failed to maintain Scotland as a Catholic country for her daughter. After a final defeat by the English in 1560, Mary of Guise died and her daughter Mary, now widowed, became the Catholic Queen of a Protestant nation.

To find out more about Mary of Guise, click this link.

Turn round and walk back down Parliament Street to the junction with Coalhill. Turn left and continue along Coalhill for 300 metres. Coalhill changes its name to Sheriff Brae about halfway along. At the end of Sheriff Brae turn right on to Mill Lane. Walk about 250 metres to the end of Mill Lane at Great Junction Street. Turn right on Great Junction Street and walk for about 230 metres passing over the bridge over the Water of Leith (the street changes its name to North Junction Street after the traffic lights). The Norwegian church is on the left.

Picture Credits: Denise Fisher, Friederike Brezing/Edinburgh4Europe 2021