August – October 1559
Following the rabbling of the churches and monasteries there ensued a war of words – allegations and counter allegations, both on grounds of differences in religion and allegations of treason. The Regent Mary attempted to paint a picture of traitorous rebellion against her and her daughter, Mary (Queen of Scots); while the Congregation responded with letters and proclamations that they sought only freedom of conscience. Having secured some supporters Mary sought to buy support either by bribery or threat. Top of her list were the Earl of Argyll and Lord James, but neither fell for her wiles.
In another tack she sought to divide the Congregation by writing individually to people, including the Ministers, but her messenger only releasing the letters if the recipient did not disclose it contents to others ( implying bribes offered) . But the Congregation had previously agreed always to act together and not to reply to such offers or contentious matters without consultation among themselves. However there were some failings in that Robert Logan, the Laird of Restalrig, and principal landowner in Leith, submitted to Mary and the town fell into her hands. Matters took a further bleak turn when Erskine, Captain of Edinburgh castle declared his support for the Regent, although the people of Edinburgh showed their support for the Congregation by electing John Knox as their minister, and John Willock his assistant. This prompted shows of discord by Papists demanding to hold the mass in St Giles, and Mary deliberately setting up the chapel of Holyroodhouse for the mass. In Leith French officers disrupted services at the Kirk of Leith by talking loudly amongst themselves during the sermon. Pettiness seemed everywhere but a spark could easily lead to bloodshed; which was to come.
On 24 July 1559 there was a meeting (an `Appointment`) between the parties at the Links of Leith which drew up a form of treaty which at best sought to prevent bloodshed, although the underlying issues of religion still remained. Following the meeting the Duke of Chatelherault (Arran) and the Earl of Huntley met with Argyll and Lord James during which they said that they would declare for the Congregation if Mary broke the agreement particularly the matter of removing the French soldiers from Leith. This was significant and indicated a break in Mary`s ranks; it was strengthened when the Earl of Arran, the Duke`s son and a Protestant, escaped from France to join them.
The ensuing months saw many exchanges of letters and proclamations as each accused the other of breaking the treaty and justifying its actions. Hearts and minds of the people became the objective for Mary as she played on the treason allegation and quietly (at first) increased the number of French soldiers in Leith by 1000. In September 1559 a further 800 were brought in along with a French Bishop allegedly to debate the religious issues. Mary meanwhile gathered local support by declaring that she would create Leith a separate town from Edinburgh, which won over some of the burgesses and tradesmen who saw profit in it. On 15 October the Congregation`s forces convened at Stirling, ready to go to the aid of Edinburgh if needed.
The next major event was the decision of the convention at Stirling which wrote to Mary alleging breaking of the `Appointment` by fortifying Leith. Mary sent the Lyon Herald (she would not write) with a peevish response on the lines of `who do you think you are talking to` and apparently a long list of counter allegations. The Congregation reconvened on 21 October and produced an Act of Suspension – declaring Mary as removed from the office of Regent.