The Tudor Society

May 7 – An English assault on Leith

Map of the Siege of Leith

Map of the Siege of Leith 1560

On this day in Tudor history, 7th May 1560, in the reign of Elizabeth I, English troops charged the wall of Leith at the siege of Leith.

In 1548, during the War of the Rough Wooing, which had broken out over Scotland’s refusal to marry Mary Queen of Scots off to Edward VI, Scotland had invited French troops to protect the port of Leith. They set up a garrison and were still there 12 years later. Protestant reformers turned to England to help them remove these French Catholics.

English troops launched an assault on 7th May 1560, but they were unsuccessful and suffered heavy losses. When Mary of Guise, mother of Mary, Queen of Scots, saw the dead English soldiers laid out along Leith’s wall, she commented “Yonder are the fairest tapestrie that I ever saw.”

The siege continued, though, and soon there was famine in Leith. A week's armistice was declared on 17th June 1560 and on 7th July 1560 the Treaty of Edinburgh, or Treaty of Leith, agreed peace between Elizabeth I, Mary, Queen of Scots and her French husband Francis II of France.

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May 7 – An English assault on Leith