It was based on trade and had many merchants' houses and warehouses.This was where ships offloaded their cargoes at The Shore where they were collected by Edinburgh merchants.
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Mary of Guise moved the Scottish Court to Leith, to a site that is now Parliament Street, off Coalhill.
According to the 18th-century historian William Maitland, her palace was situated on Rotten Row, now Water Street.
As the major port serving Edinburgh, it has been the stage on which many significant events in Scottish history have taken place.
Mary of Guise ruled Scotland from Leith in 1560 as Regent while her daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots remained in France.
becaus the Palace of Halyrudehous was not throuchly put in Ordour (for hir cumming was more suddane then many luiked for), sche remained in Leyth, till towards the Evening, and then repaired thither" After the abdication of Mary Queen of Scots in 1567, during the ensuing civil war, troops fighting for James VI of Scotland against his mother's supporters in Edinburgh Castle based themselves in Leith from 1571-1573, a period called the "Wars between Leith and Edinburgh".