Battle of Langside, 1568
Glasgow is also closely connected with the decisive event of the times—the Battle of Langside, 13 May 1568—which, though it 'lasted but for three-fourths of an hour,' and was, from the number engaged and the nature of the contest,' more of the character of a skirmish than anything else, was yet, from the conditions under which it was fought, of a most decisive character, settling the fate of Scotland, affecting the future of England, and exerting an influence all over Europe. The Regent Murray was holding a court of Glasgow in the city when the startling intelligence reached him of the Queen's escape from LOCHLEVEN and of the assembling of her friends at Hamilton. The news whereof being brought to Glasgow (which is only 8 miles distant), It was scarce at first believed ; but within two hours or less, being assured, a strong alteration might have been observed in the minds of those who were attending. The reports of the Queen's forces made divers slide away ; others sent quietly to beg pardon for what they had done, resolving not to enter in the cause farther, but to govern themselves as the event should lead and direct them ; and there were not a few who made open desertion, and not of the meaner sort, amongst whom my Lord Boyd was specially noted, and in the mouths of all men ; for that being very inward with the Regent, and admitted to his most secret counsels, when he saw matters like to turn he withdrew himself and went to the Queen.' Though Murray was surprised by the rapid and unexpected course of events, which had not only rescued Mary from a prison but placed her at the head of an army, he was not dismayed ; and having gained a breathing time by listening to overtures of accommodation from the Queen's party, he in the meantime sent word to his own friends and those of the young King, and was joined by the Earls of Glencairn, Montrose, Mar, and Monteith, the Lords Semple, Home, and Lindsay, by Kirkaldy of Grange, a soldier of great ability and skill, and many other gentlemen, in addition to a large body of the citizens of Glasgow, which placed him at the head of an army of upwards of 4000 men. With this force he encamped on the Burgh Muir (which extended along the E from the Green by Borrowfield towards thc cathedral), and there awaited the approach of the Queen's forces, as it was believed that her followers intended to place her Majesty in safety in the strong fortress of Dumbarton, which was then held by Lord Fleming. This was her own desire, as, once there, she hoped 'to regain by degrees her influence over her nobility and her people.' Murray was thus in a favourable position for intercepting the Queen's troops had they proceeded towards Dumbarton by the N bank of the Clyde ; but news came that the royalists were marching W by the S bank of the river, intending to cross at Renfrew, and so reach the castle. Both sides were keenly alive to the importance of occupying Langside Hill, an eminence 1½ mile S of Glasgow, and directly on the line of Mary's march from Rutherglen ; but while Murray promptly moved forward, his cavalry being sent across the Clyde by a ford (each horseman with a foot soldier behind him), and his infantry following by the bridge, the Queen's forces were delayed by the illness of their chief commander, the Earl of Argyll ; and when, therefore, they reached Langside, they found it already occupied by the Regent's cavalry and the hagbutters they had carried with them, who, disposed among the houses and along the hedges, poured a heavy fire into the Queen's troops as they advanced. The vanguard, however, confident in their numbers, pressed on, but were exhausted by the time they reached the top of the hill, and so but little fit to cope with Murray's first line which there awaited them, and which was composed of excellent pikemen. Notwithstanding this, the fighting was severe, 'and Sir James Melvil [of Halhill, who was from whose account of the battle all subsequent accounts have been derived] describes the long pikes as so closely crossed and interlaced, that when the soldiers behind discharged their pistols, and threw them or the staves of their shattered weapons in the faces of their enemies, they never reached the ground, but remained lying on the spears.' The battle was wavering, and Murray's right wing beginning to give way, when Kirkaldy at the critical moment brought up the reserves, and such was the impetuosity of the new attack that the Queen's forces gave way, and the flight immediately became general. Three hundred of her followers perished, while the Regent's loss is set down as one man. On seeing the rout of her army, Mary, who had been watching the conflict from a hill near Cathcart House, about mile in the rear, fled in such a state of terror that she never stopped till she reached Sanquhar, 60 miles from the field of battle, thence going on to TERREGLES, and thence crossing over to England.
The Regent 'returned in great pomp to the city, where, after going to church and thanking Almighty God in a solemn manner for the victory, he was entertained by the magistrates and a great many of the town council very splendidly, suitable to his quality, at which time the Regent expressed himself very affectionately towards the city and citizens of Glasgow ; and for their kind offices and assistance done to him and his army, he promised to grant to the magistrates or any incorporation in the city any favour they should rea- sonably demand.' Several requests were in consequence made and granted to the incorporations. The deacon of the incorporation of bakers was at the time Matthew Fauside, and he, being a very judicious and projecting man, who had an extraordinary concern for the good and advancement of the incorporations,' took occasion to say that, as the mills at Partick, which were formerly the property of the archbishop, now belonged to the crown, and the tacksman exacted such exorbitant multures that it raised the price of bread to the community, a grant of these mills to the corporation would be regarded as a public benefit ; and, moreover, the bakers were not altogether undeserving of favour in another respect, as they had liberally supplied the army with bread while it remained in the neighbourhood of Glasgow. Fauside's well-timed address had the desired effect, and the five flour-mills at Partick, on the banks of the Kelvin, are possessed by the incorporation of bakers till this day. The citizens have, however, never been able to discover that in virtue of this gift bread is to be had cheaper in Glasgow than elsewhere.
From Francis Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, 1896