Holyrood Palace

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Holyrood Palace or the Palace of Holyroodhouse, was completed in the 1670s to serve as the Royals main residence in Edinburgh / Scotland. The Palace that can be seen today was built for Charles II Stuart, King of Scotland, England and Ireland 1660 - 1685. Postcode: EH8 8DX

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Remains of an earlier Baronial Palace from 1505 are incorporated in the building, the front section, including the Mary Queen of Scots Chambers, where a brutal murder took place in 1566.

The Palace is 1 mile north of Edinburgh Castle in the grounds of the now ruined 1100s Holyrood Abbey. The Abbey was used by many early Royals for weddings and burials.

You can visit the Palace Grounds, Abbey, Royal Apartments, Mary Queen of Scots Chambers, Queens Gallery, and Cafe.

The present Holyrood Palace was built to replace the large Linlithgow Palace 19 miles west of Edinburgh.

Linlithgow Palace had been built in the 1400s, fell into disrepair by the 1640s.

There are also Royal Palaces and Great Halls in the two vast fortresses of Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle.

The Royals used the Palaces in the Castles during times of conflicts from the 1300s - 1700s. The Palaces in the Castles were not as large, having to be built inside the Castle walls.

History of Holyrood Palace

The first Kings to gain control of all Scotland were descendants of Malcolm III (Canmore) 1031 – 1093.

Before this time, Scotland had many rulers in a number of areas.

Malcolm III and his wife who became Saint Margaret, used Dunfermline Abbey and its Palace as their top Royal residence, now a partial ruin.

1100s - Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle were built for David I to serve as secure Royal residences, and large military forts so he could attempt to take control of all Scotland, and extend its borders south into lands disputed with England.

1128 - David I founded the Augustinian Holyrood Abbey one mile north of Edinburgh Castle.

The straight road between the Castle and Abbey become known as the Royal Mile.

1326 - Robert the Bruce held a parliament at the Abbey. Bruce had become King of Scotland during the First War of Scottish Independence 1296 - 1328.

Robert the Bruce descendants were the Stuart Kings that ruled Scotland until 1707, and Scotland and England from 1603 to 1707.

1370 - David II was buried at Holyrood Abbey. The following years saw a number of Royals married and buried at the Abbey.

1400s - Royal Apartments were built at Holyrood Abbey.

1505 - a Palace was built next to the Abbey for James IV.

1544 - during the War with England over Henry VIII wanting the young Mary Queen of Scots to mary his son to unite the two countries, Holyrood was looted and burned.

1559 - the Reformation lead to the banning of Christian Catholicism in favour of Christian Protestantism, with Reformers destroying the Abbey Altars.

Holyrood Abbey was left to fall into a ruin from that time.

1561 - Mary Queen of Scots took up residence in the Royal Apartments in the Tower of Holyrood Palace.

Mary married her two Scots husbands at Holyrood, Lord Darnley in 1565, and the 4th Earl of Bothwell in 1567.

1566 - Mary's private secretary, the Italian David Rizzio, was murdered in front of Mary in her private apartments.

Rizzio was stabbed 56 times by Lord Darnley and his friends as Darnley blamed him for getting Mary pregnant.

1567 February - Lord Darnley was murdered in the orchard of Kirk o' Field house, close to Holyrood, where he had been living.

Queen Mary and her top nobleman, the 4th Earl of Bothwell, were suspected of being behind the murder.

Mary enraged many people after she was seen playing golf at St Andrews only a few days after Darnley's murder.

1567 April - Mary was traveling from Linlithgow Palace to Edinburgh when Bothwell and 800 men took her to his Castle at Dunbar.

1567 May - Mary married Bothwell in the Great Hall at Holyrood. It is unclear if this was a consensual or forced marriage.

1567 July - Mary was forced to abdicate in favour of her one year old son James, who became King of Scotland at that time, and King of Scotland and England in 1603.

Scottish Nobles had rebelled against the marriage of Mary to Bothwell, forcing Bothwell to flee the country, and Mary to abdicate. Mary was imprisoned by the Nobles in Loch Leven Castle by Perth north of Edinburgh.

1568 - Mary escaped and moved to England.

1587 - Mary was executed by beheading at Fotheringhay Castle by Peterborough in England.

Mary's cousin, Queen Elizabeth of England, had her executed as some Nobles in England and Scotland, were accused of plotting to have the Catholic Mary replace the Protestant Queen Elizabeth.

1603 - Queen Elizabeth died without leaving an heir. Mary Queen of Scots son James VI of Scotland, became King of England as well, uniting the two countries.

The Stuart's then ruled England and Scotland till 1707, with the exception of 11 years during the English Civil War.

1660 - Charles II was restored to the throne after the English Civil War.

1670s - the new Holyrood Palace was completed for Charles II to serve as the Royals main residence when visiting Scotland.

The 1670s work on Hollyrood Palace extended the Scottish Baronial front and added the larger rear section in Renaissance style.

1707 - the Protestant Queen Anne Stuart died without leaving an heir. Her Protestant German cousin George became George I, King of Great Britain. This was the end of the Stuart Royals as the next in line Stuart's were Catholics, with the English Parliament not wanting a Catholic King as they were seen to be too close to the French.

1745 - Bonnie Prince Charlie controled Holyrood for five weeks during the Jacobite Risings, an attempt to have the Catholic Stuart's take the throne. The Jacobite's failed to capture Edinburgh Castle at that time, as forces loyal to George II repelled the attacks.

1746 - the Battle of Culloden saw the defeat of the Jacobite's, the last major battle on the British mainland.

1746 to today - Few Royals have stayed at Holyrood Palace. The present Queen only spends about one week each summer at the Palace.

The Royals prefer living at Balmoral Castle in the northeast of Scotland, a remote peaceful location with more privacy.

2011 - The Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips married England rugby player Mike Tindall at the Canongate Kirk on the Royal Mile. Holyrood Palace was used for the wedding celebrations, said to be an exceptionally lively event.

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