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Castles of Scotland
Linlithgow Palace


Linlithgow PalaceIn Linlithgow off the M9. 01506 842896

Birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. All the Stewart kings lived here and later it housed Cromwell, Bonnie Prince Charlie and, after Culloden, the Duke of Cumberland. Mary of Guise declared of Linlithgow she had "never seen such a princely palace".

Linlithgow Palace first appears in records in November 1301 when the Kings Bedchamber was prepared for Edward I of England, who had invaded Scotland in support of John Balliol’s claim to the throne. In 1302, because of its ideal siting as a military base, the English King set about transforming it into a secure stronghold.

This castle was built mainly from wood and earth. During the siege of Stirling Castle in 1304 the English used Linlithgow as their main supply base. After the Battle of Bannockburn, in 1314, Linlithgow returned to Scottish hands.

In 1337 the ‘peill’ was granted to John Cairns by king David II with orders to build it up for the Kings coming. This he did and King David held court their in 1343 and in later years. Repairs to the kings manor are also recorded during the reign of Davids successor, Robert III (1390-1406).

Nothing remains of the early manor house except the name peel’. In 1424 a disastrous fire destroyed most of the town of Linlithgow as well as the parish church and the manor house. King James I set about a programme of building which resulted in the royal palace much as it is today.

By 1430 2440 Scots are recorded as being spent by John de Waltoun, the Master of Works, and, by June 1428 the place was habitable enough for the king to spend some days there. A high rate of expenditure was maintained until the kings assassination in 1437.

James II made little use of his fathers palace before his death at Roxburgh in 1460.

His son, James III(1460-88) made some necessary repairs before the reception for the fugitive King Henry VI of England. In 1469, James III married Margaret, the daughter of Christian I of Denmark, and both Linlithgow Palace and Doune Castle were included in her marriage portion.

Queen Margaret died in 1486, and her husband , James III, was killed fleeing the battlefield at Sauchieburn. Their son, James IV, came to the throne at age 15, and almost at once took the reigns of government.

By the time of his death in 1513 the transformation of Linlithgow into a modern royal residence was virtually complete. The most significant of the new works was the completion of the west range, closing of what had formerly been the open side of James I’s palace.

In 1503 King James IV married Margaret Tudor, the daughter of King Henry VII of England. At that time Linlithgow Palace was settled on the queen as a dower house. On 9 September 1513, the peace with England having foundered, James IV faced the earl of Surrey’s army on Flodden Field, where he fell along with many of the Scottish nobility.

It is said that Queen Margaret waited for his return in the look out post above the north-west turnpike stair, known today as Queen Margaret's bower.

In 1534 the mason Thomas French was instructed by James V to complete the palace and it is around this time that the new entrance in the south wall was built.

In 1537, James V married Mary of Guise - Lorraine and she is reported as comparing Linlithgow to the noblest chateaux in France.

In august 1540 the keeper of Linlithgow was executed on a trumped up charge, it is said, so that the king could acquire his large personal fortune.

Finally after the disaffection of many of the Scottish nobility and the routing of his army by the English at the Battle of Solway Moss in 1542, James withdrew, a broken man, to Falkland, where he died on 14 december, only six days after the birth of a daughter, Mary, to the queen at linlithgow.

Linlithgow palace is perhaps best known as the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, but she only occasionally resided there.

In 1607, during the reign of James VI, it was reported that the North range of the palace was falling down. This was not rebuilt until 1618 when work began on one of the finest Renaissance facades in Scotland which was completed in 1624.

Charles I(1625-49) stayed here in 1633. After his execution the Scots proclaimed for Charles II, and Oliver Cromwell spent the winter of 1650 here.

After the restoration of Charles II(1660-85) a warrant was issued in 1663 to have the English defences levelled. In 1745 Prince Charles Edward Stuart was the last royal to stay here soon after, January 1746, troops of the Duke of Cumberlands army were billeted in the palace and marched out in february 1746 and left it burning.

It has remained roofless and uninhabited since.

See Burke's Peerage & Gentry for more information


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