Edinburgh World Heritage - Learn about a Royal debtor who took sanctuary here


Learn about a Royal debtor who took sanctuary here

Historically, Holyrood Abbey offered the right of sanctuary for those who could not pay their debts.  The debtors, known as “Abbey lairds”, found shelter from their creditors within the Abbey boundaries, which included Holyrood Park.  The “S”s marked the edge of the sanctuary area and as long as the debtors stayed on the right side of the line they could not be arrested.  At the height of its occupation as a sanctuary, Holyrood sheltered around 6,500 debtors.

Well, one of the “Abbey Lairds” who took advantage of the Holyrood sanctuary was the Comte d'Artois, younger brother of the French king, Louis XVI.  He went into exile at the start of the French Revolution, and led an army against the French revolutionaries.  Defeated and unable to pay his soldiers, he arrived at Holyrood in 1796, having been granted refuge by the British government.  In 1830-32 he returned to the Palace, this time as the deposed Charles X of France.

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