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Title: King Robert the Bruce
Author: Murison, A. F.
Language: English
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    KING ROBERT
    THE BRUCE:



FAMOUS SCOTS SERIES


_The following Volumes are now ready_:--

  THOMAS CARLYLE. By HECTOR C. MacPHERSON.
  ALLAN RAMSAY. By OLIPHANT SMEATON.
  HUGH MILLER. By W. KEITH LEASK.
  JOHN KNOX. By A. TAYLOR INNES.
  ROBERT BURNS. By GABRIEL SETOUN.
  THE BALLADISTS. By JOHN GEDDIE.
  RICHARD CAMERON. By PROFESSOR HERKLESS.
  SIR JAMES Y. SIMPSON. By EVE BLANTYRE SIMPSON.
  THOMAS CHALMERS. By Professor W. GARDEN BLAIKIE.
  JAMES BOSWELL. By W. KEITH LEASK.
  TOBIAS SMOLLETT. By OLIPHANT SMEATON.
  FLETCHER OF SALTOUN. By G. W. T. OMOND.
  THE "BLACKWOOD" GROUP. By Sir GEORGE DOUGLAS.
  NORMAN MacLEOD. By JOHN WELLWOOD.
  SIR WALTER SCOTT. By Professor SAINTSBURY.
  KIRKCALDY OF GRANGE. By LOUIS A. BARBÉ.
  ROBERT FERGUSSON. By A. B. GROSART.
  JAMES THOMSON. By WILLIAM BAYNE.
  MUNGO PARK. By T. BANKS MacLACHLAN.
  DAVID HUME. By Professor CALDERWOOD.
  WILLIAM DUNBAR. By OLIPHANT SMEATON.
  SIR WILLIAM WALLACE. By Professor MURISON.
  ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON. By MARGARET MOYES BLACK.
  THOMAS REID. By Professor CAMPBELL FRASER.
  POLLOK AND AYTOUN. By ROSALINE MASSON.
  ADAM SMITH. By HECTOR C. MacPHERSON.
  ANDREW MELVILLE. By WILLIAM MORISON.
  JAMES FREDERICK FERRIER. By E. S. HALDANE.
  KING ROBERT THE BRUCE. By A. F. MURISON.



[Illustration]

    KING ROBERT
    THE BRUCE

    BY

    A. F.
    MURISON

    FAMOUS
    SCOTS
    SERIES

    PUBLISHED BY
    OLIPHANT ANDERSON
    & FERRIER · EDINBURGH
    AND LONDON



The designs and ornaments of this volume are by Mr Joseph Brown, and
the printing from the press of Messrs Turnbull & Spears, Edinburgh.

    _July 1899._



    ALMAE MATRI
    VNIVERSITATI ABERDONENSI



    "O, ne'er shall the fame of the patriot decay--
    De Bruce! in thy name still our country rejoices;
    It thrills Scottish heart-strings, it swells Scottish voices,
    As it did when the Bannock ran red from the fray.
    Thine ashes in darkness and silence may lie;
    But ne'er, mighty hero, while earth hath its motion,
    While rises the day-star, or rolls forth the ocean,
    Can thy deeds be eclipsed or their memory die:
    They stand thy proud monument, sculptur'd sublime
    By the chisel of Fame on the Tablet of Time."



PREFACE


The present volume on King Robert the Bruce is the historical
complement to the former volume on Sir William Wallace. Together they
outline, from the standpoint of the leading spirits, the prolonged and
successful struggle of the Scots against the unprovoked aggression of
Edward I. and Edward II.--the most memorable episode in the history of
Scotland.

As in the story of Wallace, so in the story of Bruce, the narrative
is based on the primary authorities. Happily State records and
official papers supply much trustworthy material, which furnishes
also an invaluable test of the accuracy of the numerous and wayward
race of chroniclers. Barbour's poem, with all its errors of fact
and deflections of judgment, is eminently useful--in spite of the
indulgence of historical criticism.

There is no space here to set forth the long list of sources, or to
attempt a formal estimate of their comparative value. Some of them
appear incidentally in the text, though only where it seems absolutely
necessary to name them. The expert knows them; the general reader will
not miss them. Nor is there room for more than occasional argument on
controverted points; it has very frequently been necessary to signify
disapproval by mere silence. The writer, declining the guidance of
modern historians, has formed his own conclusions on an independent
study of the available materials.

After due reduction of the exaggerated pedestal of Patriotism reared
for Bruce by the indiscriminating, if not time-serving, eulogies
of Barbour and Fordun, and maintained for some five centuries, the
figure of the Hero still remains colossal: he completed the national
deliverance.



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER I
                                                  PAGE
  THE ANCESTRY OF BRUCE                             11


  CHAPTER II

  OPPORTUNIST VACILLATION                           18


  CHAPTER III

  THE CORONATION OF BRUCE                           26


  CHAPTER IV

  DEFEAT AND DISASTER: METHVEN AND KILDRUMMY        36


  CHAPTER V

  THE KING IN EXILE                                 53


  CHAPTER VI

  THE TURN OF THE TIDE                              58


  CHAPTER VII

  RECONQUEST OF TERRITORY                           69


  CHAPTER VIII

  RECOVERY OF FORTRESSES                            84


  CHAPTER IX

  THE BATTLE OF BANNOCKBURN                         92


  CHAPTER X

  INVASION OF ENGLAND AND IRELAND                  108


  CHAPTER XI

  CONCILIATION AND CONFLICT                        119


  CHAPTER XII

  PEACE AT THE SWORD'S POINT                       134


  CHAPTER XIII

  THE HEART OF THE BRUCE                           149



KING ROBERT THE BRUCE



CHAPTER I

THE ANCESTRY OF BRUCE


When Sir William Wallace, the sole apparent hope of Scottish
independence, died at the foot of the gallows in Smithfield, and was
torn limb from limb, it seemed that at last 'the accursed nation' would
quietly submit to the English yoke. The spectacle of the bleaching
bones of the heroic Patriot would, it was anticipated, overawe such of
his countrymen as might yet cherish perverse aspirations after national
freedom. It was a delusive anticipation. In fifteen years of arduous
diplomacy and warfare, with an astounding expenditure of blood and
treasure, Edward I. had crushed the leaders and crippled the resources
of Scotland, but he had inadequately estimated the spirit of the
nation. Only six months, and Scotland was again in arms. It is of the
irony of fate that the very man destined to bring Edward's calculations
to naught had been his most zealous officer in his last campaign, and
had, in all probability, been present at the trial--it may be at the
execution--of Wallace, silently consenting to his death. That man of
destiny was Sir Robert de Brus, Lord of Annandale and Earl of Carrick.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Bruces came over with the Conqueror. The theory of a Norse origin
in a follower of Rollo the Ganger, who established himself in the
diocese of Coutances in Manche, Normandy, though not improbable, is but
vaguely supported. The name is territorial; and the better opinion is
inclined to connect it with Brix, between Cherbourg and Valognes.

The first Robert de Brus on record was probably the leader of the
Brus contingent in the army of the Conqueror. His services must have
been conspicuous; he died (about 1094) in possession of some 40,000
acres, comprised in forty-three manors in the East and West Ridings of
Yorkshire, and fifty-one in the North Riding and in Durham. The chief
manor was Skelton in Cleveland.

The next Robert de Brus, son of the first, received a grant of
Annandale from David I., whose companion he had been at the English
court. This fief he renounced, probably in favour of his second son,
just before the Battle of the Standard (1138), on the failure of his
attempted mediation between David and the English barons. He died in
1141, leaving two sons, Adam and Robert.

This Robert may be regarded as the true founder of the Scottish branch.
He is said to have remained with David in the Battle of the Standard,
and, whether for this adherence or on some subsequent occasion, he was
established in possession of the Annandale fief, which was confirmed
to him by a charter of William the Lion (1166). He is said to have
received from his father the manor of Hert and the lands of Hertness in
Durham, 'to supply him with wheat, which did not grow in Annandale.' He
died after 1189.

The second Robert de Brus of Annandale, son of the preceding lord,
married (1183) Isabel, daughter of William the Lion, obtaining as her
dowry the manor of Haltwhistle in Tyndale. His widow married Robert de
Ros in 1191. The uncertainty as to the dates of his father's death and
his own has suggested a doubt whether he ever succeeded to the lordship.

William de Brus, a brother, the next lord, died in 1215.

The third Robert de Brus of Annandale, son of William, founded the
claim of his descendants to the crown by his marriage with Isabel,
second daughter of David, Earl of Huntingdon, younger brother of
William the Lion. He died in 1245.

The fourth Robert de Brus of Annandale, eldest son of the preceding
lord, was born in 1210. In 1244, he married Isabel, daughter of Gilbert
de Clare, Earl of Gloucester. Next year he succeeded to Annandale,
and, on his mother's death in 1251, he obtained ten knight's fees in
England, her share of the Earldom of Huntingdon. He took an active
part in public affairs. In 1249-50 he sat as a Justice of the King's
Bench, and in 1268 he became Chief Justice of England, but Edward, on
his accession (1272), did not reappoint him. He served as Sheriff of
Cumberland and Governor of Carlisle Castle in 1254-55, and in 1264 he
fought for Henry at Lewes, and was taken prisoner.

At the same time, de Brus was a prominent figure in the baronage of
Scotland. The alleged arrangement of 1238 whereby Alexander II., with
the consent of the Scots parliament, appointed de Brus his successor in
the event of his dying childless, was frustrated by the King's second
marriage (1239), and the birth of a son, Alexander III. (1241). As one
of the fifteen Regents (1255) during the minority of Alexander III.,
he headed the party that favoured an English alliance, cemented by the
young King's marriage with Margaret, daughter of Henry III. At the
Scone convention on February 5, 1283-84, he was one of the Scots lords
that recognised the right of Margaret of Norway. The sudden death of
Alexander III., however, in March 1285-86, and the helplessness of the
infant Queen, put him on the alert for the chances of his own elevation.

On September 20, 1286, de Brus met a number of his friends at Turnberry
Castle, the residence of his son, the Earl of Carrick. There fourteen
Scots nobles, including de Brus and the Earl of Carrick, joined in a
bond obliging them to give faithful adherence to Richard de Burgh,
Earl of Ulster, and Lord Thomas de Clare (de Brus's brother-in-law),
'in their affairs.' One of the clauses saved the fealty of the parties
to the King of England and to 'him that shall obtain the kingdom of
Scotland through blood-relationship with King Alexander of blessed
memory, according to the ancient customs in the kingdom of Scotland
approved and observed.' The disguise was very thin. The instrument
meant simply that the parties were to act together in support of de
Brus's pretensions to the crown when opportunity should serve. It
'united the chief influence of the West and South of Scotland against
the party of John de Balliol, Lord of Galloway, and the Comyns.' There
need be no difficulty in connecting this transaction with the outbreak
of 1287-88, which devastated Dumfries and Wigton shires. The party of
de Brus took the castles of Dumfries, Buittle and Wigton, killing and
driving out of the country many of the lieges. There remains nothing
to show by what means peace was restored, but it may be surmised that
Edward interfered to restrain his ambitious vassal.

For, by this time, Edward was full of his project for the marriage
of the young Queen with his eldest son, Prince Edward. The Salisbury
convention, at which de Brus was one of the Scottish commissioners,
and the Brigham conference, at which the project was openly declared,
seemed to strike a fatal blow at the aspirations of de Brus. But the
death of the Queen, reported early in October 1290, again opened up a
vista of hope.

When the news arrived, the Scots estates were in session. 'Sir Robert
de Brus, who before did not intend to come to the meeting,' wrote the
Bishop of St Andrews to Edward on October 7, 'came with great power,
to confer with some who were there; but what he intends to do, or
how to act, as yet we know not. But the Earls of Mar and Athol are
collecting their forces, and some other nobles of the land are drawing
to their party.' The Bishop went on to report a 'fear of a general
war,' to recommend Edward to deal wisely with Sir John de Balliol,
and to suggest that he should 'approach the March for the consolation
of the Scots people and the saving of bloodshed.' The alertness of de
Brus and his friends is conspicuously manifest, and the foremost of the
party of Balliol is privately stretching out his hands for the cautious
intervention of the English King.

The Earl of Fife had been assassinated; the Earl of Buchan was dead;
and the remaining four guardians divided their influence, the Bishop of
St Andrews and Sir John Comyn siding with Balliol, and the Bishop of
Glasgow and the Steward of Scotland with de Brus. Fordun thus describes
the balance of parties in the early part of 1291:

  The nobles of the kingdom, with its guardians, often-times
  discussed among themselves the question who should be made their
  king; but they did not make bold to utter what they felt about
  the right of succession, partly because it was a hard and knotty
  matter, partly because different people felt differently about
  such rights and wavered a good deal, partly because they justly
  feared the power of the parties, which was great, and partly
  because they had no superior that could, by his unbending power,
  carry their award into execution or make the parties abide by
  their decision.

The most prominent competitors were liegemen of Edward, and, whether
they appealed to warlike or to peaceful methods, the decision must
inevitably rest with him.

At the Norham meeting of June 1291, de Brus, as well as the other
competitors, fully acknowledged the paramount title of Edward. He had
no alternative; he had as large interests in England as in Scotland,
and armed opposition was out of the question. Availing himself of his
legal experience, he fought the case determinedly and astutely. If
Fordun correctly reports the reformation of the law of succession by
Malcolm, de Brus was, in literal technicality, 'the next descendant';
as son of David of Huntingdon's second daughter, he was nearer by one
degree than Balliol, grandson of David's eldest daughter. But the
modern reckoning prevailed. De Brus's plea that he had been recognised
both by Alexander II. and by Alexander III. was not supported by
documentary evidence, and his appeal to the recollection of living
witnesses does not seem to have been entertained. His third position,
that the crown estates were partible, was but a forlorn hope. He must
have seen, long before November 1292, that an adverse decision was a
foregone conclusion. He entered a futile protest. Already, in June,
he had concluded a secret agreement with the Count of Holland, a
competitor never in the running, but a great feudal figure, for mutual
aid and counsel; he had also an agreement with the Earl of Sutherland,
and, probably enough, with others. But an active dissent was beyond the
powers of a man of eighty-two. Accordingly, he resigned his claims in
favour of his son, the Earl of Carrick, and retired to Lochmaben, where
he died on March 31, 1295, at the age of eighty-five.

The fifth Robert de Brus of Annandale, the eldest son of the
Competitor, was born in 1253. On his return from the crusade of 1269,
on which he accompanied Prince Edward, afterwards Edward I., he married
Marjory (or Margaret), Countess of Carrick, and thus became by the
courtesy of Scotland Earl of Carrick. Marjory was the daughter and
heiress of Nigel, the Keltic (if Keltic be the right epithet) Earl of
Carrick, grandson of Gilbert, son of Fergus, Lord of Galloway, and
she was the widow of Adam of Kilconquhar, who had died on the recent
crusade. De Brus is said to have met her accidentally when she was out
hunting. Fordun gives the romance as follows:--

  When greetings and kisses had been exchanged, as is the wont of
  courtiers, she besought him to stay and hunt and walk about; and,
  seeing that he was rather unwilling to do so, she by force, so
  to speak, with her own hand made him pull up, and brought the
  knight, though very loth, to her castle of Turnberry with her.
  After dallying there with his followers for the space of fifteen
  days or more, he clandestinely took the Countess to wife, the
  friends and well-wishers of both parties knowing nothing about
  it, and the King's consent not having been obtained. And so the
  common belief of all the country was that she had seized--by
  force, as it were--this youth for her husband. But when the
  news came to the ears of King Alexander, he took the castle
  of Turnberry and made all her other lands and possessions be
  acknowledged as his lands, for the reason that she had wedded
  with Robert de Brus without consulting his royal majesty. Through
  the prayers of friends, however, and by a certain sum of money
  agreed upon, this Robert gained the King's goodwill and the whole
  domain.

It may be, of course, that the responsibility was thrown on the lady
in order to restrain the hand of the incensed king. But she was half
a dozen years older than de Brus, who was still in his teens and was
never distinguished for enterprise. In any case, she acted only with
the legitimate frankness of her time, and the marriage put a useful
dash of lively blood into the veins of the coming king.

In every important political step, de Brus followed with docility his
father's lead. He stood aloof from Balliol, and, in spite of marked
snubbing, steadily adhered to Edward. From October 1295, he was for two
years governor of Carlisle Castle. After the collapse of Balliol at
Dunbar, he is said to have plucked up courage to claim fulfilment of
a promise of Edward's, alleged to have been made in 1292 immediately
after the decision in favour of Balliol, to place his father eventually
on the Scottish throne. The testy reply of 'the old dodger' (_ille
antiquus doli artifex_), as reported by Fordun, is at any rate
characteristic: 'Have I nothing else to do but to win kingdoms to
give to you?' The story, though essentially probable, is discredited
by the chronicler's assertion that the promise was accompanied by an
acknowledgment on the part of Edward that his decision of the great
cause was an injustice to de Brus, the Competitor.

But while de Brus took nothing by his loyalty to Edward, he suffered
for his disloyalty to Balliol. He had, of course, ignored the summons
of Balliol 'to come in arms to resist the King of England,' and
consequently Balliol's council had declared him a public enemy and
deprived him of his lands of Annandale, giving them to Comyn, Earl of
Buchan. At the same time, and for the like reason, his son Robert was
deprived of the Earldom of Carrick, which de Brus had resigned to him
on November 11, 1292. Annandale, indeed, was restored to de Brus in
September 1296, but the state of Scotland was too disturbed for his
comfort, and he retired to his English possessions, where, for the most
part at least, he lived quietly till Edward had settled matters at
Strathord. He then set out for Annandale, but died on the way, about
Easter, 1304, and was buried at the Abbey of Holmcultram in Cumberland.

De Brus left a large family of sons and daughters, most of whom will
find conspicuous mention in the story of the eldest brother, Robert,
Earl of Carrick, the future King of Scotland.



CHAPTER II

OPPORTUNIST VACILLATION


Robert Bruce, the sixth Robert de Brus of Annandale and the seventh de
Brus of the Annandale line, was the eldest son of the preceding lord
and a grandson of the Competitor. He was born on July 11, 1274. The
place of his birth is uncertain--Ayrshire says Turnberry; Dumfriesshire
says Lochmaben. Geoffrey le Baker calls him an Englishman (_nacione
Anglicus_), and records that he was 'born in Essex,' to which another
hand adds, 'at Writtle,' a manor of his father's. Geoffrey, it is true,
like several other chroniclers, confuses Bruce with his grandfather,
the Competitor; and he may mean the Competitor, though he says the
King. Hemingburgh makes Bruce speak to his father's vassals before the
Irvine episode as a Scotsman, at any rate by descent. In any case Bruce
was essentially--by upbringing and associations--an Englishman. It was
probably in, or at any rate about, the same year that Wallace was born.
At the English invasion of 1296, they would both be vigorous young men
of twenty-two, or thereabouts. During most part of the next decade
Wallace fought and negotiated and died in his country's cause, and
built himself an everlasting name. How was Bruce occupied during this
national crisis?

Considering the large territorial possessions and wide social
interlacings of the family in England, their English upbringing, their
traditional service to the English King, their subordinate interest in
Scottish affairs, the predominance of the rival house of Balliol, and
the masterful character of Edward, it is not at all surprising that
Robert Bruce should have preferred the English allegiance when it was
necessary for him to choose between England and Scotland. On August 3,
1293, indeed, he offered homage to Balliol on succeeding to the Earldom
of Carrick. But on March 25, 1296, at Wark--three days before Edward
crossed the Tweed--he joined with his father and the Earls of March and
Angus in a formal acknowledgment of the English King; and on August
28 he, as well as his father, followed the multitude of the principal
Scots in doing homage to the conqueror at Berwick.

With this political subjection one is reluctant to associate a more
sordid kind of obligation. Some six weeks later (October 15) it is
recorded that 'the King, for the great esteem he has for the good
service of Robert de Brus, Earl of Carrick, commands the barons to
atterm his debts at the Exchequer in the easiest manner for him.' But
the elder Bruce continued to be designated Earl of Carrick in English
documents after he had resigned the earldom to his son, and it can
hardly be doubted that the debts were his. It is a small matter,
indeed, yet one would like to start Bruce without the burden.

Early in 1297, Scotland was heaving with unrest. Edward, while busily
arranging 'to cross seas' to Flanders, was also pushing forward
preparations for a 'Scottish War.' In May, Wallace and Douglas had
summarily interrupted the severities of Ormsby, the English Justiciar,
at Scone, and driven him home in headlong flight. About the same time,
or somewhat later, Andrew de Moray took the field in Moray, Macduff
rose in Fife, and Sir Alexander of Argyll set upon the adherents of
Edward in the West. On May 24, Edward had addressed, from Portsmouth,
a circular order to his chief liegemen north and south of Forth,
requiring them to attend certain of his great officers to hear 'certain
matters which he has much at heart,' and to act as directed. Bruce was
ordered to attend Sir Hugh de Cressingham and Sir Osbert de Spaldington
at Berwick. But before the order could have reached him, he must have
heard of the expulsion of Ormsby, and had probably conceived dynastic
hopes from the aspect of affairs. Indeed, he appears to have fallen
under English suspicions. For, no sooner did the news from Scone reach
Carlisle than the Bishop and his advisers--the Bishop was acting
governor in the absence of the elder Bruce at Portsmouth--'fearing for
the faithlessness and inconstancy of Sir Robert de Bruys the younger,
Earl of Carrick, sent messengers to summon him to come on a day fixed
to treat with them about the King's affairs, if so be that he still
remained faithful to the King.'

Bruce duly appeared with a strong following of 'the people of
Galloway,' and repeated the oath of fealty upon the consecrated Host
and upon the sword of St Thomas (à Becket). What more could the Bishop
want or do? But Bruce went a step further. He summoned his people, says
Hemingburgh, and, 'in order to feign colour, he proceeded to the lands
of Sir William de Douglas and burnt part of them with fire, and carried
off his wife and children with him to Annandale.' For all that, he was
already in secret conspiracy with the Bishop of Glasgow, the Steward
of Scotland, and Sir John of Bonkill, the Steward's brother. Douglas,
indeed, presently appears as one of the leaders in the rising; but his
relations with Bruce would be subject to easy diplomatic adjustment.

When the time for open action arrived, Bruce appealed to his father's
men of Annandale. He repudiated his oath at Carlisle as extorted by
force and intimidation, and professed a compelling sense of patriotism.
The Annandale men deferred reply till the morrow, and slipped away to
their homes overnight. With his Carrick men, however, he joined the
Bishop and the Steward, and began to slay and harry the English in the
south-west.

Engrossed in the outfitting of his expedition, Edward delegated the
suppression of the Scots to Warenne, Earl of Surrey, the Guardian of
Scotland, who sent ahead his kinsman, Sir Henry de Percy, with a strong
force. Percy advanced through Annandale to Ayr, and, two or three days
later, stood face to face with the insurgents near Irvine. There was
dissension in the Scots camp. Sir Richard Lundy went over to Percy,
'saying that he would no longer war in company with men in discord and
at variance.' Besides, the English force was no doubt much superior.
The insurgent leaders at once asked for terms. The provisional
agreement was that 'their lives, limbs, lands, tenements, goods and
chattels,' should be unharmed, that their offences should be condoned,
and that they should furnish hostages. Such was the humiliating fiasco
of July 7, 1297, at Irvine.

So far their skins were safe; and now, on the counsel of the Bishop,
they appealed to Cressingham and Warenne to confirm the agreement, and
to vouchsafe an active interest in their behalf with Edward. The full
flavour of their pusillanimity can only be gathered from the text of
their letter to Warenne.

  They were afraid the English army would attack them to burn and
  destroy their lands. Thus, they were told for a certainty that
  the King meant to seize all the middle people of Scotland to send
  them beyond sea in his war [in Gascony], to their great damage
  and destruction. They took counsel to assemble their power to
  defend themselves from so great damages, until they could have
  treaty and conference with such persons as had power to abate
  and diminish such kind of injury, and to give security that
  they should not be exceedingly aggrieved and dishonoured. And,
  therefore, when the host of England entered the land, they went
  to meet them and had such a conference that they all came to the
  peace and the faith of our Lord the King.

The hostage for Bruce was his infant daughter, Marjory. It would be
interesting to know why Douglas failed to provide hostages. It may be
that his native obstinacy was aroused by the objurgations of Wallace,
who then lay in Selkirk Forest, and who is said to have displayed
intense indignation at the ignominious surrender. Edward ratified the
convention; but somehow it was not till November 14 that powers were
conferred on the Bishop of Carlisle and Sir Robert de Clifford 'to
receive to the King's peace Robert de Brus, Earl of Carrick, and his
friends, as seems best to their discretion.'

Midway between the shameful collapse at Irvine and the formal
submission at Carlisle lay September 11, 1297, and Wallace's memorable
victory at Stirling Bridge. In this great triumph of patriotism Bruce
had neither part nor lot. Neither was he present at the disastrous
battle of Falkirk on July 22, 1298. The Scottish chroniclers, indeed,
relate the popular story that the English victory was primarily due to
Bruce, who, with Bishop Bek, stealthily caught the Scots in the rear
and broke up the schiltrons. But this is a complete misconception, due
possibly to a confusion of Bruce with Basset, who, with Bek, delivered
the attack on the left wing, not on the rear, or with Bruce's uncle,
Sir Bernard, who fought on the English side. In any case, Bruce stands
clear of Falkirk. For English chroniclers relate that, when Edward
withdrew towards Carlisle, Bruce burnt Ayr Castle and fled away
into Carrick. Yet it seems all but certain that he was in Edward's
allegiance within three weeks before the battle. He had gone over
before the result reached him, possibly on learning the dire straits of
Edward immediately before, or on the strength of a false report of the
issue.

The stormy meeting of Scots nobles at Peebles on August 19, 1299,
discovers Bruce in a remarkable attitude. One object of the meeting was
to choose Guardians of the realm. The discussion was sufficiently warm;
for Sir John Comyn--the Red Comyn, afterwards slain at Dumfries--seized
the Earl of Carrick by the throat, and his cousin of Buchan tried a
fall with de Lamberton, Wallace's Bishop of St Andrews. The outcome
of the wrangle was a purely personal accommodation of an essentially
momentary character. It was settled that the Bishop of St Andrews, the
Earl of Carrick, and Sir John Comyn should be the Guardians, the Bishop
as principal to have custody of the castles. Bruce, through the Wallace
influence, had gained the upper hand. But it must have cost him a pang
to consent to act in the name of Balliol.

Bruce, with Sir David de Brechin, returned to the attack of Lochmaben
peel, where the Scots had been pressing Clifford since the beginning of
August. They were unsuccessful in direct assault, but they seriously
hindered the victualling of the place by infesting the lines of
communication. Bruce would seem to have been in consultation with his
colleagues in the Torwood on November 13, when the Guardians, who
were then besieging Stirling, despatched to Edward an offer to cease
hostilities on the terms suggested by the King of France. At any rate
he is named as Guardian, and it is to be noted that the Guardians write
'in the name of King John and the community of the realm.' Edward was
compelled to abandon Stirling to its fate, and Lochmaben fell in the
end of the year. Warenne's December expedition to the western March was
a failure. Edward, in fact, had been paralysed by his refractory barons.

During the next two years, while Comyn was doing his best in the field
and Wallace was busy in diplomatic negotiation, there is no trace of
Bruce in the records. He may have felt it too irksome to pull together
with Comyn. But he reappears--in a new coat--in 1301-2. On February 16,
Edward, 'at the instance of the Earl of Carrick,' granted pardon to a
murderous rascal, one Hector Askeloc. And by April 28, 1302, the King
had 'of special favour granted to the tenants of his liege Robert de
Brus, Earl of Carrick, their lands in England lately taken for their
rebellion.' And Bruce attended Edward's parliament towards the end of
October.

In the next year or two Bruce manifested special devotion to the
English King. When Edward was going north on the campaign of 1303, he
ordered Bruce to meet him about the middle of May at Roxburgh with
all the men-at-arms he could muster, and with 1000 foot from Carrick
and Galloway. On July 14, Bruce received an advance of pay by the
precept of Sir Aymer de Valence, the King's lieutenant south of Forth.
On December 30, he is Edward's sheriff of Lanark; on January 9, he
is Edward's constable of Ayr Castle. His star was deservedly in the
ascendant by diligent service.

His ardour steadily increased. After the surrender of Comyn and his
adherents in February 1303-4, he threw himself heartily into the
pursuit of Wallace. On March 3, Edward wrote to 'his loyal and faithful
Robert de Brus, Earl of Carrick, Sir John de Segrave, and their
company,' applauding their diligence, begging them to complete the
business they had begun so well, and urging them, 'as the cloak is well
made, also to make the hood.' Wallace and Sir Simon Fraser were hotly
pursued southwards, and defeated at Peebles within a week.

About this time Bruce must have received news of the death of his
father, probably not unexpected. On April 4, 1304, he was at Hatfield
in Essex, whence he wrote to Sir William de Hamilton, the Chancellor,
asking him to direct quickly the necessary inquisitions of his father's
lands in Essex, Middlesex and Huntingdon, as he wished to go to the
King with them to do homage. On June 14, having done homage and fealty,
he was served heir. The succession to the paternal inheritance was
happily achieved.

Meantime, on his return north, Bruce had found Edward in hot eagerness
to commence the siege of Stirling, and worked with the energy of
gratitude that looks towards favours to come. He undertook the special
task of getting up the King's engines to Stirling. On April 16, the
King wrote him thanks for sending up some engines, and gave particular
instructions about 'the great engine of Inverkip,' which appears to
have been unmanageable for want of 'a waggon fit to carry the frame.'
Bruce seems to have been at Inverkip and Glasgow, and wherever else
any of the thirteen engines were lagging on the road to Stirling. His
energy operated in congenial harmony with the fiery expedition of the
King.

Yet there was something in the background of all this enthusiastic
service. On June 11, only three days before 'his loyal and faithful
Robert de Brus' did homage and fealty to Edward on succession to his
father, Bruce met Bishop Lamberton at Cambuskenneth and formed with
him a secret alliance for mutual aid and defence 'against all persons
whatsoever.' Seeing dangers ahead, and wishing to fortify themselves
against 'the attempts of their rivals,' they engaged to assist each
other to the utmost of their power with counsel and material forces in
all their affairs; 'that neither of them would undertake any important
enterprise without consultation with the other'; and that 'they would
warn each other against any impending danger, and do their best to
avert the same from each other.' No particular motives or objects, of
course, are specified. But the Bishop may have foreseen the likelihood
of an invasion of English ecclesiastics; and Bruce would not be slow
to perceive the possible value of the moral support of the Church, and
of the material aid derivable from the men and lands of the religious
houses of the wide episcopate of St Andrews. At such a moment neither
party would affect to forget the Bruce's royal pretensions. We shall
hear of this bond again.

Stirling surrendered on July 20, the last of the Scottish fortresses
that held out against Edward. Wallace, the last centre of opposition,
was a fugitive, dogged by emissaries of the English King. In March next
year, Bruce was with the King at Westminster, petitioning him for the
lands recently held by Sir Ingram de Umfraville in Carrick--a petition
substantially granted--and he attended Edward's parliament in Lent. It
is hardly any stretch of probability to believe that he was present, in
August, at the trial and execution of the illustrious Wallace--the man
that, above all others, paved the way for his elevation to the Scottish
throne.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bruce was now in his thirty-second year. From his twenty-second year
onwards, through the ten years' struggle of Wallace and Comyn, he was
two parts of the time the active henchman of Edward, and during the
other part he is not known to have performed any important service
for Scotland. His action during this period--the period of vigorous
manhood, of generous impulses and unselfish enthusiasms--contrasts
lamentably with the splendour of Wallace's achievement and endeavour,
and gravely with the bearing of Comyn. One looks for patriotism and
heroism; one finds not a spark of either, but only opportunism,
deliberate and ignoble, not to say timid--the conduct of a 'spotted
and inconstant man.' Yet Bruce was tenaciously constant to the grand
object of his ambition. In the light of his kingly career this early
period has puzzled the historians very strangely; but one cannot affect
to be surprised that the friendliest critic is compelled to pronounce
the simple enumeration of the facts to be, 'in truth, a humiliating
record.'



CHAPTER III

THE CORONATION OF BRUCE


Stirling surrendered and Wallace a fugitive, Edward went home and
meditated measures for the government of the conquered country.
While yielding no point of substance, he recognised the policy of
conciliation in form. He took counsel with the Bishop of Glasgow,
the Earl of Carrick, and Sir John de Mowbray; and, ostensibly guided
by their suggestions, he appointed a meeting of ten Scots and twenty
English representatives to be held in London in the middle of July.
The meeting was subsequently postponed to September. On September
23, all the representatives were 'sworn on our Lord's body, the holy
relics, and holy Evangels, each severally.' The joint commission
settled ten points, which were embodied in an Ordinance--'not a
logical or methodical document,' but 'mixing up the broadest projects
of legislation and administration with mere personal interests and
arrangements.' First, the official establishment was set forth: Sir
John de Bretagne, junior, Edward's nephew, being appointed King's
Lieutenant and Warden, Sir William de Bevercotes Chancellor, and
Sir John de Sandale Chamberlain. Next, Justiciars were appointed, a
pair for each of the four divisions of the country. Then a score of
Sheriffs were named, nearly all Englishmen, though Scots were eligible.
Thereafter, the law was taken in hand: 'the custom of the Scots and
Brets' was abolished; and the King's Lieutenant, with English and
Scots advisers, was 'to amend such of the laws and usages which are
plainly against God and reason,' referring difficulties to the King.
For the rest, the articles were mainly particular. One of them applied
specifically to Bruce: 'The Earl of Carrick to place Kildrummy Castle
in the keeping of one for whom he shall answer.' The King confirmed the
Ordinance at Sheen. At the same time (October 26), apparently, the
King's Council for Scotland--twenty members, including the Bishop of St
Andrews, the Earls of Carrick, Buchan, and Athol, Sir John Comyn, and
Sir Alexander of Argyll--was sworn in. Bretagne was unable to proceed
to Scotland till Lent (and then till Easter), and meantime a commission
of four was appointed to act for him, the first commissioner being the
Bishop of St Andrews.

The King rejoiced at the sure prospect of peace in Scotland. The
country was outwardly quiet. Edward had put on the velvet glove. He
had restored submissive barons, knights, and lairds to their lands;
he had that very day at Sheen doubled the periods within which they
might pay their several fines; and he had displayed a general friendly
consideration in his Ordinance. A fortnight before (October 14), he
had instructed all the English sheriffs that he desired honourable and
courteous treatment to be shown to all Scots passing through their
jurisdictions. In a short time, he was contemplating a more complete
assimilation of the two countries, to be arranged in a Union convention
at Carlisle. But, in February next, the whole face of affairs was
suddenly transformed by the report that Sir Robert de Brus, Earl of
Carrick, had done sacrilegious murder on Sir John Comyn at Dumfries.

       *       *       *       *       *

The accounts of the train of events leading to the death of Comyn,
though agreeing in essentials, vary considerably in details. The Scots
story may be told first. Fordun, like his compatriots, colours his
narrative deeply with the fanciful glow of Bruce's patriotism. He
tells how Bruce 'faithfully laid before Comyn the unworthy thraldom of
the country, the cruel and endless torment of the people, and his own
kindly project for bringing them relief.' Bruce, he says, 'setting the
public advantage before his own,' proposed to Comyn two alternatives:
either take you the crown and give me your lands, or else take my
lands and support my claim to the crown. Comyn chose the latter
alternative; and the agreement was guaranteed by oaths and embodied in
indentures duly sealed. Eventually, however, Comyn betrayed Bruce's
confidence, 'accusing him again and again before the King of England,
by envoys and by private letters, and wickedly revealing his secrets.'
Edward acted with restraint: he sounded Bruce; he even showed him his
adversary's letters; he feigned acceptance of his explanations. One
evening, however, 'when the wine glittered in the bowl,' he expressed
his definite determination to put Bruce to death on the morrow. On
hearing this, the Earl of Gloucester at once sent Bruce a broad hint in
the form of twelve pence and a pair of spurs. Bruce promptly mounted
his horse, and rode day and night to his castle of Lochmaben. As he
was nearing the Border, he met a messenger of Comyn's bearing to
Edward the very bond he had made with Comyn. He struck off the man's
head and hurried on his way. By appointment, he presently met Comyn in
the church of the Friars Minorites at Dumfries. He charged Comyn with
treachery. 'You lie!' replied Comyn. Whereupon Bruce stabbed him on
the spot. The friars stretched Comyn on the floor behind the altar.
'Is your wound mortal?' he was asked. 'I think not,' he replied. The
hopeful answer sealed his fate. 'His foes, hearing this, gave him
another wound, and thus, on February 10,[1] was he taken away from the
world.'

According to Barbour, the alternative proposal proceeded, not from
Bruce, but from Comyn, which is far from likely; and it was made 'as
they came riding from Stirling,' presumably--Blind Harry, indeed,
expressly says so--when Edward and his barons were going home from the
siege. Barbour goes beyond Fordun in stating that Comyn actually rode
to Edward and placed in his hands the indenture with Bruce's seal.
Thereupon, he says, the King 'was angry out of measure and swore that
he would take vengeance on Bruce' for his presumption, summoned a
council, produced the bond, and demanded of Bruce whether the seal was
his; but Bruce obtained respite till next day in order to get his seal
and compare it with the bond, and fled the same night with the document
in his pocket. The embellishments of later writers--the conversion of
Gloucester's twelve pence into other coins, the reversal of Bruce's
horses' shoes because of the new-fallen snow, and so forth--need not
be considered. Barbour makes no mention of an appointment: Bruce rode
over to Dumfries, where Comyn was staying, and the tragedy was enacted.
Barbour has the same outline of the interview as Fordun, but he remarks
that other accounts were current in his time.

A picturesque tradition tells how Bruce, on striking the blow, hurried
out of the church to his friends, whereupon Roger de Kirkpatrick and
James de Lindsay, seeing his excitement, anxiously inquired how it was
with him. 'Ill!' replied Bruce; 'I doubt I have slain the Red Comyn.'
'You doubt!' cried Kirkpatrick; 'I'll mak' siccar' (make sure). And
they rushed into the church and buried their daggers in Comyn's body.
But if the Justiciars were then sitting, and Roger de Kirkpatrick
was still one of them--for he and Walter de Burghdon were appointed
Justiciars for Galloway on October 25--there may be some difficulty in
accepting the tradition.

The English story commences in Scotland, and it introduces a very
important element wholly absent from the principal Scottish versions.
The English authorities expressly allege a deliberate purpose on
Bruce's part to rid himself of his rival. Both Hemingburgh and the
Lanercost Chronicler state that Bruce sent two of his brothers, with
guileful intent, to invite Comyn to an interview; Hemingburgh names
Thomas and Nigel. The fullest account is given by Sir Thomas Gray,
who wrote in 1355--just half a century later, but still twenty and
thirty years earlier than Barbour and Fordun. Gray records that
Bruce dispatched his brothers, Thomas and Nigel, from Lochmaben to
Dalswinton, where Comyn was staying, to invite him to meet Robert in
the church at Dumfries; and, moreover, that he instructed them to fall
upon Comyn on the way and kill him--a purpose thwarted by the softening
effect of Comyn's kindly reception of the youths. 'Hm!' said Bruce,
on hearing their report, 'milk-sops you are, and no mistake; let me
meet him.' So he advanced to Comyn, and led him up to the high altar.
He then opened the question of the condition of Scotland, and invited
Comyn's co-operation in an attempt at freedom on the terms already
mentioned as contained in the alleged bond between them. 'For now is
the time,' he said, 'in the old age of the King.' Comyn firmly refused.
'No?' cried Bruce, 'I had other hopes in you, by promise of your own
and of your friends. You discovered me to the King by your letters.
Since while you live I cannot fulfil my purpose, you shall have your
guerdon!' On the word, he struck Comyn with his dagger, and some of his
companions completed the crime with their swords before the altar.

Hemingburgh works up artistically the pacific bearing of Comyn in the
face of Bruce's accusations; and this would be likely enough if it be
true that Comyn was unarmed and attended by but a small escort. The
writer of the Merton MS. of the _Flores Historiarum_, who says Comyn
was unarmed, states that he endeavoured to wrest Bruce's weapon from
his hand; that Bruce's men rushed up and freed their leader; that
Comyn got away to the altar; and that Bruce pursued him, and on his
persistent refusal to assent, slew him on the spot.

A distinct English variation occurs in at least five of the records.
The Meaux Chronicle states that Bruce, on returning to Scotland
after the settlement of the Ordinance, summoned the Scots earls and
barons to Scone to consider the affairs of the realm, and put forward
his hereditary claim. He received unanimous support, except that
Comyn stood by his oath of fealty to Edward, rejected Bruce's claim
with scorn, and at once left the council. The council was adjourned
to a future day at Dumfries. Meantime Bruce sent Comyn a friendly
invitation. Comyn appeared at Dumfries and was cordially received
by Bruce, but still he maintained his objections, and again he left
the council. Bruce drew his sword and followed him, and ran him
through the body in the Church of the Friars Minorites. The Cambridge
Trinity College MS., it may be noted, states that Bruce sent his two
brothers to invite Comyn to meet him at the 'Cordelers' of Dumfries;
and Geoffrey le Baker makes Bruce kill Comyn in the midst of the
magnates. But these councils may safely be set aside as grounded on
misconceptions.

The English allegation of Bruce's purpose of murder seems to invest
with a special interest Blind Harry's casual story, with its
coincidences and discrepancies. Bruce, says Harry, charged his brother
Edward, whom he found at Lochmaben on his arrival, to proceed next day
with an armed escort to Dalswinton, and to put Comyn to death, if they
found him; but they did not find him.

On the fall of Comyn, his followers pressed forward and blows were
hotly exchanged. Comyn's uncle, Sir Robert, assailed Bruce himself,
but failed to pierce his armour (which, the Meaux Chronicler says, he
wore under his clothes), and was cut down by Sir Christopher de Seton,
probably in the cloister, not in the church. Barbour adds that 'many
others of mickle main' were killed in the mêlée; and the statement is
amply confirmed.

While this scene was enacting, the English Justiciars were in session
in the Castle. Thither Bruce and his friends, having overpowered
Comyn's adherents, at once proceeded. The Justiciars had prudently
barricaded the doors, but, when Bruce called for fire, they instantly
surrendered. Bruce spared their lives, and allowed them to pass over
the Border without molestation. According to Hemingburgh, it was only
after Bruce had got possession of the Castle that he learned that
Comyn was still alive after his first wound; whereupon, by order of
Bruce, the wounded man was dragged from the vestibule, where the friars
were tending him, and slain on the steps of the high altar, which was
bespattered with his blood.

Comyn was slain (according to the usually accepted date) on February
10. Less than two months later (April 5), Edward affirmed that he had
placed complete confidence (_plenam fiduciam_) in Bruce. The profession
may be accepted as sincere, for it is on record, under date February
8 (the order would have been made some days earlier), that Edward
remitted scutage due by Bruce on succession to his father's estates.
We may, therefore, put aside the English part of the Fordun and
Barbour story and refuse to believe that Edward dallied with Comyn's
allegations, or was such a simpleton as to let Bruce keep possession
of the incriminating bond. But was there a bond at all? It is generally
accepted that Edward did hold in his hands a bond of Bruce's; but
this bond is usually taken to have been the Lamberton indenture,
which is supposed to have come into Edward's possession through the
instrumentality of Comyn. Still, there is nothing to show that this
indenture was yet in Edward's hands. It may also be gravely doubted
whether Comyn would ever have entered into any bond with Bruce. There
is much significance in the silence of the English records. Nor is
there more than a very slight English indication of any communication
about Bruce from Comyn to Edward. It is likely enough, however, that
Comyn informed Edward of Bruce's private pushing of his claims; and it
may be that the details of the story of a bond were evolved on mere
suppositions arising out of the Bruce-Lamberton compact.

The allegation that Bruce deliberately murdered Comyn is the most
serious matter. But the English writers do not satisfy one that they
had the means of seeing into Bruce's mind; and the allegation may be
reasonably regarded as inference, not fact. There can scarcely be
any doubt that Bruce resumed the active furtherance of his claims
on observation of the declining health of Edward, but without any
immediate intention of a rupture. He could hardly have found support
enough to counterbalance the far-reaching power of Comyn, to say
nothing of the power of Edward. Clearly it was of the very first
importance that he should, if possible, gain over Comyn. He may have
offered Comyn broad lands and high honours. But to expect the practical
heir of the Balliol claims to support him was, on the face of it,
all but hopeless; and to speak of patriotism to Comyn would have
been nothing less than open insult. Comyn, of course, would stanchly
reject Bruce's overtures. Despite all his prudence, Bruce had a hot
and imperious temper; and Comyn's obstinacy--it may be Comyn's frank
speech--most probably broke down his self-command. If it had been
Bruce's deliberate purpose to kill his rival, he would scarcely have
chosen a church for the scene, or have left the deed to be afterwards
completed either by others or by himself. The mere fact that he was
totally unprepared for a struggle with Edward tells almost conclusively
against the theory of premeditation--unless there was a very clearly
compromising bond with Comyn, which is wholly improbable. The bond with
Lamberton--the only bond that certainly existed--was capable of easy
explanation, and was a wholly insufficient reason to urge him to murder
a rival, whose adherents would make up in bitterness what they lost in
leadership.

Nor is there any reason to believe that Lamberton was implicated.
True, he was charged, on his own bond, with complicity in the deed.
There still exist letters patent, dated Scotland's Well, June 9, 1306,
in which Lamberton declares to Sir Aymer de Valence, then Edward's
lieutenant in Scotland, his anxious desire 'to defend himself in
any way the King or Council may devise against the charge of having
incurred any kind of guilt in the death of Sir John Comyn or of Sir
Robert his uncle, or in relation to the war then begun'; and on August
9, at Newcastle, he acknowledged the Cambuskenneth indenture. But there
is no necessary connection between the compact and the crime; and it
is in the last degree improbable that Lamberton had any anticipation
whatever of the Dumfries tragedy. His sympathy with Bruce's rising is
quite a different consideration.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having garrisoned Dumfries Castle, Bruce sent out his messengers to
raise adherents. The Galwegians having refused to join him, he ravaged
their lands; and he took the castles of Tibbers, Durisdeer, and Ayr.
But he was not strong enough to keep the castles for more than a very
short period. After the first surprise, Comyn's men asserted their
superior force; and aid arrived from Carlisle. The Lanercost chronicler
records that Bruce pursued a Galwegian noble and besieged him in a
lake, but that the Carlisle contingent raised the siege, compelling
Bruce to burn his machines and 'ships,' and take to flight. Probably
Carlaverock is meant.

Leaving the local struggle to lieutenants, Bruce hastened to Bishop
Wishart in Glasgow. At Arickstone, in the upper end of Annandale,
Barbour says, he was joined by James of Douglas, who had been staying
with the Bishop of St. Andrews--a young man destined to play a
great part in the history of Bruce. Bishop Wishart joyously received
his visitor, cheerfully broke his sixth oath of fealty to Edward,
pronounced absolution of Bruce for the murder of Comyn, and produced
coronation robes and a royal banner. There was nothing half-hearted
about the flexible prelate. Already the country was in eager
expectation, and Bruce and the Bishop proceeded boldly to Scone.

On March 27, 1306, in the Chapel Royal of Scone, the immemorial scene
of the inauguration of the Kings of the Scots, Robert Bruce was crowned
King. The ceremony inevitably lacked certain of the traditional
accessories that strangely influenced the popular mind. The venerable
Stone of Destiny had been carried off by Edward ten years before. The
crown--if crown there had been--was also gone; and the ancient royal
robes--if such there had been--were no longer available. The prescient
Bishop, however, had provided fresh robes, and a circlet of gold was
made to do duty for a crown. Still, there was lacking an important
functionary--the person whose office and privilege it was to place the
crown on the head of the King. The proper official was the chief of the
clan MacDuff; but Duncan, Earl of Fife, was in wardship in England, and
again, as on the coronation of Balliol, arose the difficulty of finding
an efficacious substitute. No substitute was forthcoming, and the
coronation had to pass with maimed rites.

Two days later, however, this difficulty was dramatically solved.
Isabella, Countess of Buchan, and sister of the Earl of Fife, had
hastened south with an imposing retinue, and appeared to claim the
honour and privilege of her house. A second coronation--not mentioned
by the Scottish writers--was held on March 29. The wife of a Comyn,
nearly related to the murdered Sir John, the Countess yet performed
the mystic function. It would be an exceedingly interesting thing if
one could now disentangle the extraordinary complication of ideas and
influences involved in this remarkable ceremonial. The subsequent
punishment of the Countess by Edward continued the romance of the
occasion; and it may be added here that, on March 20, 1306-7, Edward,
at the instance of his queen, pardoned one Geoffrey de Conyers for
concealing the coronet of gold with which King Robert was crowned.

The coronation might have been expected to strike the imagination
of the Scots, and to rally the spirit that cherished the memory of
Wallace. Fordun asserts that Bruce's friends in Scotland, as compared
with his collective foes, were but 'as a single drop compared with
the waves of the sea, or as a single grain of seed compared with
the multitudinous sand.' The hyperbole has a considerable basis of
fact. Bruce, indeed, was supported at his coronation by the two chief
prelates of Scotland, the Bishops of St Andrews and Glasgow, and by
the Abbot of Scone; by strong-handed relatives--his four brothers,
Edward, Thomas, Alexander, and Nigel; his nephew, Thomas Randolph of
Strathdon (better known afterwards as Randolph, Earl of Moray), and
his brother-in-law, Sir Christopher de Seton (husband of his sister
Christian); by the Earls of Lennox, Athol, and Errol; and by such
valorous men as James de Douglas, Hugh de la Haye (brother of Errol),
David Barclay of Cairns, Alexander, brother of Sir Simon Fraser, Walter
de Somerville of Carnwath, David de Inchmartin, Robert Boyd, and Robert
Fleming. Apart from the episcopal influence, however, the array is
not very imposing. Yet how vastly superior to the meagre beginnings
of Wallace! Bruce, indeed, lacked one vital source of strength that
his great predecessor had--intimate association and sympathy with the
common folk; but, on the other hand, he was admitted, except by the
Comyn interest, to be the legitimate sovereign, and 'is not the King's
name twenty thousand names?' And so it would have been but for his
inglorious record. It is only the servile adulation of later writers
that has pictured Bruce as animated by patriotism. He was simply a
great Anglo-Norman baron in quest of aggrandizement; and it took many
years to satisfy the people generally that their interests were safe
in his keeping. But he was a man with deep reserves of strength, freed
at last from the paralysis of worldly prudence by a sudden shock,
and compelled to defend his crown and his life with his back to the
wall. Happily, if only incidentally, such self-defence involved the
championship of the independence of Scotland.



CHAPTER IV

DEFEAT AND DISASTER: METHVEN AND KILDRUMMY


The new King buckled to his task with fiery energy. 'All the English'
had not, though many of them had, 'returned to their own land'; and
Bruce instantly issued a proclamation requiring those that remained
to follow those that had gone. According to the Meaux chronicler, he
proceeded to expel them; but the particular acts are not recorded. At
the same time he imperiously insisted on the submission of such Scots
as had not yet joined him. He threw the Perth bailies into prison, and
required them, on pain of death, to pay up £54 of the King's Whitsunday
rents. A detailed example of his procedure remains in the memorial
of exculpation addressed by Malise, Earl of Strathearn, to Edward.
The Earl alleges that, on Monday, the day after the coronation, Bruce
sent to him the Abbot of Inchaffray, requiring him to repair forthwith
to his presence to perform homage and fealty. On his refusal, Bruce,
with the Earl of Athol, entered Strathearn in force, occupied Foulis,
and despatched another summons, with a safe conduct, to the Earl,
who took counsel with his followers in the wood of Crieff. Bruce's
messenger seems to have been Sir Malcolm de Inverpeffry, who had been
Edward's sheriff of Clackmannan and Auchterarder, and had been one of
the first to go over to Bruce. Taking the advice of Sir Malcolm and
of his own friends, he went to Bruce, but still he refused to comply
with the peremptory demand of submission. Next day, he again met Bruce
by appointment at Muthill. In the course of the interview, Athol, who
had been stung by a sharp home thrust of Strathearn's, urged Bruce to
break his promise of safe conduct and give the Earl into custody, while
Athol's men should go and ravage his lands. Strathearn was taken to
Inchmalcolm, where he steadily maintained his refusal. Sir Robert de
Boyd thereupon advised Bruce to cut off his head and grant away his
lands, and to do the like to all others afflicted with such scruples.
Strathearn then gave way, and they let him go. The story may be
coloured to suit Strathearn's new difficulties, but it may at least be
taken as an indication of Bruce's resolute, yet prudent, action.

The memorial further shows that Strathearn was again at issue with
Bruce before the battle of Methven. Bruce sent him a letter, he says,
directing him to bring his power to Calder; but, instead of obeying
the order, he communicated the letter to Sir Aymer de Valence, then at
Perth, and prepared to follow with his men. Just as he was starting,
Bruce came upon him, laid siege to the place where he was, and ravaged
his country. At an interview, Strathearn flatly refused to join Bruce
in an attack on Valence; and Bruce had to let him go recalcitrant and
unpunished, for the sake of the hostages in the hands of Strathearn's
party.

The news of Bruce's revolt and the death of Comyn roused Edward into
full martial vigour. He at once despatched judicious instructions to
his officers in Scotland and on the Borders. In March he was directing
military supplies to be accumulated at Berwick; and in the beginning of
April he commanded the Irish authorities to divert supplies destined
for Ayr to Skinburness, and to send them 'with the utmost haste,'
giving 'orders to the seamen to keep the high seas and not to approach
the ports of Ayr or Galloway on any account.' On April 5 he issued
orders for the immediate muster of the forces of the northern counties
at the summons of Valence and Percy.

Having set his army in motion, Edward held a great feast at Westminster
at Whitsuntide. By proclamation he invited all such youths as had a
hereditary claim to knighthood, and such as had the means to campaign,
to come and receive knighthood along with the Prince of Wales. In the
middle of April he had despatched his clerks to St Botolph's Fair, with
orders to his sheriffs and other lieges of Southampton and Wilts to aid
them 'in purchasing 80 cloths of scarlet and other colours, 2000 ells
of linen cloth, 4000 ells of canvas, 30 pieces of wax, and 20 boillones
of almonds,' for the outfit and entertainment of the new knights.
The Royal Palace could not contain the visitors. The Prince and the
more noble of the candidates kept vigil in Westminster Abbey; the rest
made shift to keep vigil in the Temple. Next day the King knighted the
Prince, and made him Duke of Aquitaine. Thereupon the Prince went to
Westminster Abbey and conferred knighthood upon his companions. The
crush before the high altar was so severe that two knights died and
many fainted; and the Prince ordered in a ring of war-horses to fence
off his knights from the crowd. The number of new knights may be taken
roundly at three hundred.

Then followed a remarkable ceremony. As the King and the knights sat
at table, there entered a splendid procession, attended by a train of
minstrels, in the midst of which were borne two swans in golden nets
amid gilt reeds, 'a lovely spectacle to the beholders.' On seeing them,
the King chivalrously vowed a vow to God and to the swans--emblems of
purity and faith--that he would go to Scotland, and, alive or dead,
avenge the outrage to Holy Church, the death of Comyn, and the broken
faith of the Scots. Turning to the Prince and the nobles, he adjured
them by their fealty that, if he should die before accomplishing his
vow, they should carry his body with them in the war, and not bury it
'till the Lord gave victory and triumph' over the perfidious Bruce
and the perjured Scots. One and all, they engaged their faith by the
same vow. Trevet adds that Edward further vowed that, when the war in
Scotland was successfully ended, he would never more bear arms against
Christian men, but would direct his steps to the Holy Land and never
return thence. 'Never in Britain, since God was born,' says Langtoft,
'was there such nobleness in towns or in cities, except Caerleon in
ancient times, when Sir Arthur the King was crowned there.'

The brilliant ceremony over, the Prince set out for Carlisle, where his
army was ordered to be in readiness on July 8. He was accompanied by a
large number of his new-made knights. The King was to follow by slow
stages.

Amidst the pomp of the gallant ceremonial, Edward's mind was keenly
bent upon the business of the expedition. Writing to Valence on May
24, he desires 'that some good exploit be done, if possible, before
his arrival.' Two days later (May 26), he is delighted to hear that
Valence, then at Berwick, is ready to operate against the enemy, and
urges him to strike at them as often as possible, and in concert
with the forces at Carlisle. As regards 'the request by some for a
safe-conduct for the Bishop of St Andrews,' Valence, he orders, 'will
neither give, nor allow any of his people to give such.' The Bishop, if
he pleases, may come to the King's faith, and receive his deserts. Let
Valence take the utmost pains to secure the Bishop's person, and also
the person of the Bishop of Glasgow; and let him send frequent news of
his doings.

Valence had a stroke of luck. On June 8, Edward 'is very much pleased'
to learn from him 'that the Bishop of Glasgow is taken, and will soon
be sent to him.' The Bishop had been taken in arms on the recapture of
Cupar Castle by the English. A week later (June 16), Edward informs
Valence that 'he is almost as much pleased as if it had been the Earl
of Carrick,' and directs him to send the Bishop 'well guarded' to
Berwick, 'having no regard to his estate of prelate or clerk.' The
order was executed without any undue tenderness to the Bishop. The
Bishop of St Andrews, however, was still at large. 'I understand from
many,' wrote Edward to Valence in the letter of June 8, 'that the
Bishop of St Andrews has done me all the mischief in his power, for,
though chief of the Guardians of Scotland appointed by me, he has
joined my enemies.'

As yet the edge of Edward's appetite was but whetted. On June 12, he
'is well pleased to hear that Valence has burned Sir Simon Fraser's
lands in Selkirk Forest,' and commands him 'to do the same to all
enemies on his march, including those who turned against him in this
war of the Earl of Carrick, and have since come to his peace as enemies
and not yet guaranteed; and to burn, destroy, and waste their houses,
lands, and goods in such wise that Sir Simon and others may have no
refuge with them as heretofore.' At the same time, Valence is to spare
and honour the loyal, and in particular to compliment the foresters
of Selkirk on their loyal and painful service. In successive letters
he reiterates the caution to beware of surprise and treason, and his
anxiety for constant news.

Still more vindictive is his tone on June 19. He commands Valence
to burn, destroy, and strip the lands and gardens of Sir Michael de
Wemyss's manors, 'as he has found nor good speech nor good service in
him,' and this for an example to others. Likewise, to do the same, or
worse, if possible, to the lands and possessions of Sir Gilbert de la
Haye, to whom the King did great courtesy when he was last in London,
but now finds he is a traitor': the King will make up the loss to the
persons to whom he has granted his lands!

Meantime the Pope made his voice heard. On May 6, he had written to
Edward, promising to send a nuncio to deal with the Bishop of Glasgow
and others; and on May 11, he had strongly denounced to the Archbishop
of York the assumption of the Bishop, desiring him to order the culprit
peremptorily to come to his Holiness at Bordeaux. The Archbishop
replied that the Bishop had been captured in arms, and that the King
thought it inexpedient to serve the citation on his prisoner, but would
send envoys with explanations. On June 18, the Pope addressed a bull
to the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Carlisle directing them to
excommunicate Bruce and his adherents, and to lay their lands, castles,
and towns under ecclesiastical interdict till they should purge their
offence. Already, on June 5, according to the London Annalist, the
Archdeacons of Middlesex and Colchester had formally excommunicated
Bruce and three other knights at St Paul's for the death of Comyn.

However the sacrilegious deed at Dumfries may have affected the
attitude of Scotsmen generally to Bruce, it did not produce revulsion
in the minds of the more ardent patriots, any more than in the minds
of Bruce's personal friends. Yet not only the powerful Comyn interest,
but also a very large section of the rest of the population, adhered,
formally at least, to the English cause. The particular movements
of Bruce are not on record; but it appears that his adherents were
pressing Sir Alexander de Abernethy in Forfar Castle, and that Irish
as well as Scots allies were active in Fife and Gowrie. The foresters
of Selkirk, as we have seen, had stood by Edward, and apparently had
suffered not a little for their fidelity. Hemingburgh says Bruce 'did
great wonders': undoubtedly the impression is that he must have been
fighting a strenuous uphill battle. The great mass of the nation,
however, was waiting for more definite developments.

In June, Sir Aymer de Valence had advanced from Berwick to Perth. In
his company were several prominent Scots--Sir John de Mowbray, Sir
Ingram de Umfraville, Sir Alexander de Abernethy, Sir Adam de Gordon,
Sir David de Brechin, and others that leant to Comyn. He had received
to the peace some complaisant Scots whose lands or dwellings lay on his
northward route. Bruce probably kept him under observation, retiring
before him beyond the Forth, and not attempting to bar his progress to
Perth.

On June 25, Bruce, no doubt reinforced, appeared before the walls of
Perth, and challenged Sir Aymer to come out and fight him, or else to
surrender. Hemingburgh assigns to Valence only 300 men-at-arms and
some foot, a smaller force, he says, than Bruce had; but it is most
unlikely that Valence was not the stronger, though possibly not by 1500
men, as Barbour alleges. Valence seems to have been ready to accept
Bruce's challenge, but to have been dissuaded by his Scots friends.
Umfraville, says Barbour, advised him to promise battle on the morrow,
but to attack that night when the Scots were off guard in reliance on
his promise. Bruce--'too credulous,' says Hemingburgh--accepted the
promise. He was not in a position to establish a siege, and he retired
to Methven Wood. His main body set about preparing food, and disposed
themselves at ease, while parties went out to forage. In the dusk of
the evening, Valence issued from Perth and took Bruce by surprise. It
is not to be supposed, as the chroniclers narrate, that Bruce was so
inexperienced as to allow his men to lie in careless unreadiness: no
doubt many of them would have laid aside their arms; but the very fact
that his knights at least fought with loose linen tunics over their
armour to hide their distinctive arms would seem to show that they
at any rate were prepared. Still they did not expect attack. They
promptly rallied, however, and met with vigour the sudden and furious
onset. Bruce, keenly realising the importance of the issue, bore
himself with splendid valour. Before his fierce charge, the enemy gave
way; and, Langtoft says, he killed Valence's charger. Thrice was he
unhorsed himself, and thrice remounted by Sir Simon Fraser. According
to Sir Thomas Gray, he was taken prisoner by John de Haliburton, who
let him go the moment he recognised him. Barbour tells how he was hard
beset by Sir Philip de Mowbray, and was rescued by Sir Christopher de
Seton. But the day was going against him, and it was in vain that he
made a supreme effort to rally his men. He was compelled to retreat.
Barbour asserts that the English were too wearied to pursue, and
retired within the walls of Perth with their prisoners, keeping there
in fear of the approach of Bruce; but it seems far more likely, as
Langtoft relates, that they kept up the pursuit 'for many hours.' The
statement of Hemingburgh and others that the English pursued Bruce to
Cantyre, and besieged and took a castle there, mistakenly supposing him
to be in it, is evidently a misconception, and a confusion of Dunaverty
with Kildrummy.

Bruce lost comparatively few men in the battle--the 7000 of the
Meaux chronicle need not be considered--but a number of his ablest
supporters were taken prisoners, notably Thomas Randolph, his nephew,
Sir Alexander Fraser, Sir David Barclay, Sir Hugh de la Haye, Sir David
de Inchmartin, and Sir John de Somerville. The Bishop of St Andrews
had surrendered to Valence before the battle, but had taken care to
send his household to fight for Bruce. His calculation is said to have
been 'that if the Scots beat the English they would rescue him as a
man taken by force for lack of protection, whereas, if the English won
the day, they would mercifully regard him as having been abandoned by
his household, as not consenting to their acts.' But this looks like a
speculation of the chronicler's. Valence displayed humane consideration
for his prisoners, all the more honourable as he had not yet received
Edward's letter of June 28, modifying his previous bloodthirsty orders.

After the defeat, Bruce's party broke up into several groups.
Sir Simon Fraser was captured at Kirkincliffe, near Stirling. Sir
Christopher de Seton was taken at Lochore Castle in Fife. The Earl
of Lennox made for his own fastnesses. Bruce himself proceeded
northwards to Aberdeen. Barbour says he had about 500 followers, the
most prominent of whom were his brother Sir Edward, the Earls of Athol
and Errol, Sir William Barondoun, James of Douglas, and Sir Nigel
Campbell. He kept to the high ground, not venturing to the plains, for
the population had outwardly passed to the English peace again. Barbour
tells pitifully how the fugitives' clothes and shoon were riven and
rent before they reached Aberdeen. Here they were met by Nigel Bruce,
the Queen, and other ladies; and here Bruce rested his company 'a good
while.'

The English, however, followed up, and Bruce was unable to show fight.
The whole party, therefore, took to the hills again. The exact date is
not recorded; but we know that Valence was at Aberdeen on August 3.
The very next day (August 4) a painful scene was enacted at Newcastle.
Fifteen Scots, all prisoners from Methven, including Sir David de
Inchmartin, Sir John de Cambhou, Sir John de Somerville, Sir Ralph
de Heriz, and Sir Alexander Scrymgeour, were arraigned before nine
justices, whose instructions directed that 'judgment be pronounced as
ordained, and none of them be allowed to answer.' They were all hanged.
At the same time, John de Seton, who had been taken in Tibbers Castle,
which he was holding for Bruce, and who had been present with Bruce at
the death of Comyn, and at the capture of Dumfries Castle, of which
Sir Richard Siward of Tibbers was constable, was condemned, drawn, and
hanged. It appears to have been due to the earnest intervention of
Sir Adam de Gordon that Randolph--as we shall henceforth call Thomas
Randolph (_Thomas Ranulphi_) Bruce's nephew, later Earl of Moray--was
spared.

Bruce and his followers suffered serious privations in the hill
country. Barbour engagingly tells how Douglas especially exerted
himself in hunting and fishing, and, as became a chivalrous youth
hardly out of his teens, served indefatigably the ladies as well as
his lord. The party pushed south-westwards by 'the head of the Tay.'
Eventually, they found themselves face to face with the Lord of Lorn,
Alexander MacDougal, a 'deadly enemy to the King,' says Barbour,
'for the sake of his uncle John Comyn.' Alexander was really Lord of
Argyll, and had married Comyn's third daughter; it was his son, John
of Lorn, whose uncle Comyn was, and Barbour may mean John. Alexander
is said to have had over 1000 men, with the chiefs of Argyll as his
lieutenants. Bruce was in no case for battle, but he was encouraged, in
his necessity, by the nature of the ground, and put on a bold front.
A stern combat ensued at Dalry--the 'Kings Field'--in Strathfillan,
near Tyndrum. Fordun gives the date August 11; and, if this be correct,
Barbour has misplaced the episode. The men of Lorn, wielding their
great pole-axes on foot, did serious execution upon Bruce's horses; and
they wounded badly some of his men, including Douglas and Sir Gilbert
de la Haye. Bruce satisfied himself by a determined charge that further
contest would cost him too many men, and, forming close, he retreated
steadily, protecting his rear in person so vigilantly and boldly that
none of the Lorns durst advance from the main body.

The wrath of Lorn incited two brothers named MacIndrosser--that is,
sons of Durward (the Doorkeeper) as Barbour explains--to perform an
oath they had sworn to slay Bruce. This oath may possibly be connected
with the fact that Alan Durward, the celebrated Justiciar of Scotland,
had vainly endeavoured to get his family claims to the throne forwarded
by the legitimation of his daughters, his wife being an illegitimate
daughter of Alexander II. Joined by a third man--possibly the MacKeoch
of the Lorn tradition--they rushed on Bruce in a narrow pass--perhaps
between Loch Dochart and Ben More--where the hill rose so sheer from
the water that he had barely room to turn his horse. One caught his
bridle, but Bruce instantly shore off his arm. Another had seized his
leg and stirrup; but Bruce rose in his stirrups and spurred his horse,
throwing down his adversary, who still grimly maintained his grip. The
third meanwhile had scrambled up the incline and jumped on Bruce's
horse behind him; but Bruce at once dragged him forward and clove his
head. He then struck down the man at his stirrup. This exploit cowed
the Lorns. Barbour glorifies Bruce by citing the admiring comment of
MacNaughton, a Baron of Cowal. 'You seem to enjoy our discomfiture,'
said Lorn angrily. 'No,' replied MacNaughton; 'but never did I hear
tell of such a feat, and one should honour chivalry whether in friend
or in foe.' Bruce rode after his men, and Lorn retired in chagrin.
Barbour, it will be observed, makes no mention of a personal encounter
between Bruce and Lorn, or of the capture of the famous Brooch of Lorn,

    'Wrought and chased with fair device,
    Studded fair with gems of price.'

Bruce, according to Barbour, now applied himself to comfort his party,
though probably he was less versed than the devoted Archdeacon in
historical examples of courage in despair. There was need for comfort;
things were going rapidly from bad to worse. The ladies began to fail.
And not only the ladies, but some of the harder sex: the Earl of Athol,
Barbour says, could hold out no longer on any terms. A council of war
was called, with the result that Bruce himself, with some 200 of the
tougher men, took to the higher hills, and Sir Nigel Bruce, taking
all the horses, even the King's, essayed to conduct the Queen and the
other ladies, as well as the more exhausted of the men, back to the
Aberdeenshire stronghold of Kildrummy.

Sir Nigel reached Kildrummy in safety. The castle was well provisioned,
and was deemed impregnable. It had not been taken by Valence in early
August, when he 'well settled affairs beyond the Mounth, and appointed
warders there.' Sir Nigel was soon besieged, probably by the Prince of
Wales. A vigorous attack was met by a spirited defence, the besieged
frequently sallying and fighting at the outworks. There was hardly
time for the besiegers to despair of success, as Barbour says they
did, when a traitor set fire to the store of corn heaped up in the
castle hall, involving the place in flames, and driving the garrison
to the battlements. The English seized their opportunity and attacked
as closely as the fire permitted, but they were gallantly repelled.
The entrance gate, though burnt, is said to have been so hot that
they could not enter. They accordingly waited till the morrow. The
defenders, with great exertion, managed to block up the gate overnight.
At daybreak, the attack was renewed, with all the energy of certain
hope. The besieged, however, having neither food nor fuel, recognised
that further defence was impossible, and surrendered at discretion.
The precise date is not clear. A calendered letter, anonymous, dated
September 13, states that 'Kildrummy was lately taken by the Prince';
but, if this date be correct, it seems strange that Edward, writing
on September 22, should not say more than that 'all is going well at
Kildrummy Castle.'

The prisoners included Sir Nigel Bruce, Sir Robert de Boyd, Sir
Alexander de Lindsay, 'and other traitors, and many knights and
others.' Hemingburgh mentions the Queen; but Barbour and Fordun relate
that she and the Princess Marjory, in order to escape the siege, had
been escorted to the sanctuary of St Duthac at Tain, where they were
taken by the Earl of Ross, who delivered them to Edward. It may be
incidentally noted that some two years afterwards (October 31, 1308),
the Earl of Ross did fealty and homage to King Robert at Auldearn, and
was reinstated in his lands.

The fate of the more important prisoners demands particular notice.
Most of the captives were interned in English castles; but

    'Some they ransomed, some they slew,
    And some they hanged, and some they drew.'

The Queen was sent to stay at the manor of Burstwick, in Holderness,
Yorkshire. Edward certainly meant to treat her handsomely. His
directions were that she should have 'a waiting-woman and a
maid-servant, advanced in life, sedate, and of good conversation; a
butler, two man-servants, and a foot-boy for her chamber, sober and
not riotous, to make her bed; three greyhounds, when she inclined to
hunt; venison, fish, and the "fairest house in the manor."' Hemingburgh
gives two reasons. First, her father, the Red Earl of Ulster, had
proved faithful to him. Second, he was pleased with a reported saying
of hers on the coronation of her husband. 'Rejoice now, my consort,'
Bruce said, 'for you have been made a Queen, and I a King.' 'I fear,
Sir,' she replied, 'we have been made King and Queen after the fashion
of children in summer games.' Other chroniclers give the story with
slight variation. In a letter, without date, but apparently belonging
to next year, she complains to Edward 'that, though he had commanded
his bailiffs of Holderness to see herself and her attendants honourably
sustained, yet they neither furnish attire for her person or her
head, nor a bed, nor furniture of her chambers, saving only a robe
of three "garmentz" yearly, and for her servants one robe each for
everything'; and she prays him 'to order amendment of her condition,
and that her servants be paid for their labour, that she may not be
neglected, or that she may have a yearly sum allowed by the King for
her maintenance.' In autumn 1310, she was at Bistelesham; in 1311-12,
at Windsor Castle; in autumn 1312, at Shaftesbury; in 1313, at Barking
Abbey; in 1313-14, at Rochester Castle; in October 1314, at Carlisle
Castle, on her way back to Scotland, in consequence of Bannockburn.

Marjory, Bruce's daughter, had first been destined to a 'cage' in the
Tower of London, but was placed by Sir Henry de Percy in the Priory of
Watton in Yorkshire. She returned to Scotland with the Queen.

Mary Bruce, sister of the King, and wife of Sir Nigel Campbell, was
kept first in Roxburgh Castle, in a 'cage,' and then at Newcastle till
June 25, 1312, when she was probably exchanged.

Christian Bruce, another sister of the King, and widow of Sir
Christopher de Seton, was relegated to the Priory of Sixhill, in
Lincolnshire, whence she was released on July 18, 1314, and returned
with the Queen.

The Countess of Buchan was put in a 'cage' in Berwick Castle. The
Earl, it is said, wanted to kill her, but Edward delivered judgment
thus: 'As she did not strike with the sword, she shall not perish by
the sword; but, because of the unlawful coronation she performed, let
her be closely confined in a stone-and-iron chamber, fashioned in the
form of a crown, and suspended at Berwick in the open air outside
the castle, so that she may be presented, alive and dead, a spectacle
to passers-by and an everlasting reproach.' In fact, she was placed
in a room--or rather an erection of three storeys or rooms--of stout
lattice-work in a turret of the castle. She was to be kept so strictly
that 'she shall speak to no one, and that neither man nor woman of the
nation of Scotland, nor other, shall approach her,' except her keeper
and her immediate attendants. The 'cage' was simply an arrangement for
'straiter custody,' though but rarely judged necessary in the case of
ladies. About a year later, the ex-Constable of Bristol Castle was
reimbursed certain expenditure, part of which was for 'making a wooden
cage bound with iron in the said house for the straiter custody of
Owen, son of David ap Griffith, a prisoner, shut therein at night.'

A harder fate awaited the foremost knightly defenders of Kildrummy.
Sir Nigel Bruce and several others were drawn, hanged, and beheaded at
Berwick. The handsome person and gallant bearing of the youthful knight
excited general sympathy and regret.

The Earl of Athol had escaped from Kildrummy and taken to sea, but was
driven back by contrary winds and took refuge in a church, where he
was captured--'the news whereof eased the King's pain.' In the end of
October he was taken to London, and tried and condemned. When friends
interceded for him, and urged his royal blood, 'The higher the rank,'
said Edward, 'the worse the fall; hang him higher than the rest.' In
virtue of his royal blood he was not drawn, but he was hanged fifty
feet high (twenty feet higher than others), taken down half-dead,
beheaded and burnt, and his head was set on London Bridge, again higher
than the rest.

Sir Christopher de Seton had been taken at Lochore (Hemingburgh,
Trevet)--if not at Kildrummy (Gray)--betrayed, says Barbour, by MacNab,
'a man of his own household,' 'a disciple of Judas.' 'In hell condemnèd
mot he be!' prays the good Archdeacon. He was taken to Dumfries, in
consideration of the part he played at the death of Comyn, and there
(not, as Barbour says, at London) he was drawn, hanged, and beheaded.
He was only twenty-eight years of age.

Sir Simon Fraser had been captured about August 24, by Sir David de
Brechin, near Stirling, and conducted to London on September 6. He was
tried and condemned, drawn, hanged, and beheaded; his body, having been
rehung on the gallows for twenty days, was burnt; and his head was
carried, with the music of horns, to London Bridge, and placed near
the head of Wallace. Fraser, since turning patriot, had extorted the
admiration of foes and friends alike. 'In him,' says Langtoft, 'through
his falseness, perished much worth.' 'The imprisoned Scots nobles,'
says another English chronicler, 'declared he could be neither beaten
nor taken, and thought the Scots could not be conquered while he was
alive. So much did they believe in him that Sir Herbert de Morham,
handsomest and tallest of Scotsmen, a prisoner in the Tower, offered
his head to the King to be cut off the day Simon was captured.' Sir
Herbert's squire, Thomas du Bois, joined in his master's confident
wager. Both of them were beheaded on September 7, the day after Sir
Simon's arrival at the Tower.

But Edward dared not imbrue his hands in the blood of great churchmen.
The Bishops of St Andrews and Glasgow and the Abbot of Scone were
conducted to Newcastle-on-Tyne in the warlike guise in which they are
said to have been taken. From Newcastle (August 10) they were led by
stages, still traceable, to their separate places of confinement--the
castles of Winchester, Porchester, and Mere. On the way they were not
allowed to communicate with each other, or with anyone else, 'excepting
their keepers only'; and, on arrival at their several destinations,
they were loaded with irons. Edward was keenly anxious to get hold
of the Bishop of Moray also, whom he believed--no doubt wrongly--to
have been a party to the murder of Comyn, but who certainly adhered to
Bruce. The Bishop, however, had fled to Orkney, and for a twelvemonth
left Edward to negotiate with the King of Norway for his surrender.

The Bishop of St Andrews had sagaciously surrendered to Valence four
or five days before Methven. He had already (June 9) warmly repudiated
the charge of complicity in the death of Comyn. On August 9, he was
severely examined at Newcastle. Why had he concealed his bond with
Bruce when he was admitted of the Council at Sheen? He had 'entirely
forgotten' it--which is not quite improbable, for, on the face of
it at all events, and possibly in fact, it related to the immediate
contingencies of eighteen months back. Why did he hasten to Bruce's
coronation? He went to see him 'on account of grievous threats against
his person and substance, and for no other reason'--but he was not so
stiff as the Earl of Strathearn. Neither these nor his further answers
are satisfactory. Already he was declaring himself 'heartily sorry.' On
June 1, 1308, on an order dated May 23, he was released from Winchester
Castle, where he had lain from August 24, 1306, but he was taken
bound to remain within the county of Northampton. At Northampton, on
August 11, he swore fealty to Edward in abject terms, and made oath to
remain within the bounds of the bishopric of Durham. He was creeping
northwards. The Pope sent a strong remonstrance in his favour, but
Edward II. had anticipated it by the Bishop's release. On February
16, 1309-10, the Bishop figures at the head of a commission of seven,
invested, on the urgency of the Pope, with full powers to treat with
Bruce for a cessation of hostilities. On July 24, 1311, he was back in
Scotland, and Edward writes to the Pope excusing his absence from a
General Council holden at Vienna, on the ground that 'he is much needed
to give right direction to the minds of Scotsmen, and in these days no
one's exhortations are more readily acquiesced in.' Indeed, 'we have
laid upon him various arduous tasks touching the state of the country,
and especially its tranquillity.' Besides, 'his absence would be a
danger to souls.' In a second letter of excuse, on December 4, Edward
testifies emphatically to his continued fidelity. About two years
later, November 30, 1313, the Bishop was still so much in favour that
Edward dispatched him on an embassy to the King of France. On September
25, 1314, he 'is going abroad on business of his own, by our leave';
which implies his final release as a consequence of Bannockburn.

The Bishop of Glasgow was more strictly dealt with. Apparently about
the date of his internment in Porchester Castle (say August 25,
1306), he prayed the King, 'for God and for charity and the salvation
of his soul, to allow him to remain in England within certain bounds
at the King's will, on such surety as the King may demand, till the
rising of the Scots be entirely put down.' On December 1, 1308, Edward
II. delivered him to Arnaud, Bishop of Poitiers, to be taken to the
Pope; but three days later he wrote to his Holiness, and to a number
of cardinals, that the Bishop's crimes forbade any hope that he could
be allowed to return to Scotland. He set forth at large the supreme
wickedness of the Bishop, 'the sower of universal discord,' the
traitor, the sixfold perjurer, the ecclesiastic taken in arms; 'not a
pacific overseer, but a belligerent; not a Levite of the altar, but a
horsed warrior, taking to himself a shield for a diocese, a sword for
a stole, a corslet for an alb, a helmet for a mitre, a spear for a
pastoral staff.' Begging the Pope on no account to permit the return of
the Bishop to Scotland, or even 'elsewhere within the King's power,'
he recommends the appointment of Master Stephen de Segrave, Professor
of Canon Law and Dean of Glasgow, to the western bishopric. To the
Pope the Bishop went; and with the Pope he apparently remained for
two years, for in January 1310-11, Edward wrote from Berwick to his
Chancellor informing him that he had heard that the Bishop was 'busy
suing his deliverance at the Court of Rome,' and commanding him, 'in
concert with the Earl of Lincoln, the Lieutenant and Guardian, and
the Treasurer of Scotland, to issue letters under the Great Seal to
the Pope, and to the Cardinals named in the enclosed list, urgently
opposing the Bishop's restoration either to his office or to his
country, and pointing out his evil bearing (_mavoys port_), and his
repeated violation of his oath, and anything else likely to induce
the Pope to refuse him leave even to return to Scotland.' These
representations appear to have stayed the Pope's hand; and again,
on April 23, Edward repeated with especial urgency his request for
the supersession of the Bishop by Master Stephen de Segrave. Late in
1313, the Bishop was sent back to Edward 'to be detained by the King
at pleasure till Scotland was recovered'; and Edward, on November 20,
committed him to the charge of the Prior of Ely, 'to remain at the
Priory at his own expenses, and not to go forth except for the purpose
of taking the air, under sufficient escort.' On July 18, 1314, Edward
ordered him to be brought to York, where he joined Bruce's Queen and
other Scots prisoners, with whom he was sent to Carlisle on October 2,
and thence to Scotland. Physically, however, he was worn out; he had
become totally blind. He survived his restoration but two years, dying
in 1317. It stands to the credit of Bruce that he always retained a
strong feeling of gratitude and sympathy for the patriotic, flexible,
gallant, and much enduring Bishop.

The campaign of the east was over. On October 4, Edward conferred
on Sir Aymer de Valence lands and official honours in the shires of
Peebles and Selkirk; and, on October 7, he made him keeper of the
castle and forest of Jedburgh. On October 23, Edward received the
homage and fealty of James, Steward of Scotland, and restored to him
his lands. Of course the English lands and possessions of Bruce and all
his adherents were distributed as rewards to the deserving officers and
the favourites of the conqueror. The active opposition to the English
in Scotland was smothered in blood, except in the parts of Galloway and
Carrick.



CHAPTER V

THE KING IN EXILE


When Sir Nigel Bruce parted for the last time with his brother and
passed on his fated way to Kildrummy, the King was left with some two
hundred men, all on foot. He kept steadily to the hills, where he
suffered severely from hunger, cold, and wet, till at last he resolved
to make southward to Cantyre. Despatching Sir Nigel Campbell, whose
kinsmen dwelt in these parts, to obtain boats and victuals, and to
meet the party 'at the sea'--either on Loch Long or on the Firth of
Clyde--Bruce, says Barbour, struck for Loch Lomond, probably about
Rowardennan. Here he could find no boats, and either way round was long
and beset with foes. At last Douglas discovered a sunken boat, capable
of holding but three men. In the course of a night and a day the party
were ferried over, two by two, a few of them, however, swimming 'with
fardel on back.' Meanwhile Bruce cheered their drooping spirits by
reading from the old romance how Fierabras was overcome by the right
doughty Oliver, and how the Twelve (Eleven) Peers held out in Aigremont
against Lawyne (Laban, Balan) till they were delivered by Charlemagne.

The most pressing difficulty was lack of food. Presently, however, this
was relieved by the Earl of Lennox, who had noted the sound of the
King's horn and joyfully hastened to him. Shortly Sir Nigel returned
with boats and food in abundance. Bruce and his friends embarked.
Barbour has a dramatic story how Lennox made delay in starting, how
his boat was pursued--probably by Lorn's men--and how he escaped
by throwing overboard his belongings, which the enemy stopped to
appropriate. The boats ran down the Firth and safely landed the party
in Cantyre.

Here Bruce received a friendly welcome from Angus of Islay, Lord of
Cantyre, who placed at his disposal the rock fortress of Dunaverty.
He entertained suspicions of treachery, however, and stayed only three
days. Then, with all his following, he passed over to the island of
Rathlin, an exile from his kingdom.

Such is Barbour's story. Taking it, meantime, as it stands, let us
see what the English had been doing in the south-west. The details of
operation are very scanty. Percy, the King's lieutenant on the western
March, had exerted himself during June, July and August in fortifying
and provisioning the castles. Lochmaben Castle fell on July 11, and
Prince Edward felt himself free to go to Valence at Perth a few days
later, and to carry through the siege of Kildrummy by the middle
of September. He seems to have acted with more zeal than prudence.
Rishanger says he took 'such vengeance that he spared neither sex
nor age; towns, too, and hamlets, wherever he came he set on fire,
and he mercilessly devastated the country.' This conduct 'is said to
have gravely displeased the King his father, who chid him severely.'
The King had moved northwards by slow stages, borne in a litter on
horseback. It was September 29 when he reached the priory of Lanercost,
eight miles from Carlisle, and this house he made his headquarters till
March 26.

In September, the siege of Dunaverty was proceeding under the direction
of Sir John Botetourte, the King's ablest engineer. The local people
were very slack in aiding the English, and Edward, on September 25,
ordered Sir John de Menteith to compel them to supply the besiegers
with provisions and necessaries, 'if they will not with a good grace.'
Next month Edward empowered Sir John of Argyll to receive to his peace,
on special conditions, Donald of Islay, Gotheri his brother, John
MacNakyld, and Sir Patrick de Graham. The conditions suggest that they
had been in a position to drive a good bargain; and the submission
of the first three at least may, perhaps, be connected with the
capitulation of Dunaverty towards the end of October.

Now, at what date did Bruce pass from Dunaverty to Rathlin? Even were
it not for Barbour's weather indications, and for the necessity of the
awkward admission that, for some good reason--say commissariat--Bruce
fled before the English approach and left some of his stanchest
supporters in Dunaverty, it is difficult to suppose that he could
have lain undisturbed in Rathlin from mid September to the end of
January. Sir Thomas Gray records that Prince Edward, on his return
from Kildrummy (say mid September), had an interview with Bruce, 'who
had re-entered from the Isles and had collected a force in Athol,' at
the bridge of Perth, much to the displeasure of the King his father.
Gray is manifestly wrong in some points, and he may be wrong in all.
Still, Bruce, finding his way barred by Alexander of Argyll and not
daring to descend to the plains, may likely enough have turned back to
Athol, and, on hearing of the disaster of Kildrummy and the capture
of his Queen, his daughter, and his sisters, may have felt driven
to a desperate attempt at accommodation. On such a supposition, it
becomes easy to accept Barbour's Perthshire and Atlantic weather, to
absolve Bruce from an apparent sacrifice of friends in Dunaverty, and
to shorten to a credible length his stay in Rathlin. There are two
difficulties to this view. One is that the English should have gone
so far out of their way as to besiege Dunaverty so zealously, or at
all. They seem, however, to have been under the impression that Bruce
himself was there. The other difficulty is that Dunaverty had just been
taken by the English. But if the astute Angus Oig was governor when
Bruce arrived, Dunaverty was remote enough to allow him large scope for
temporising.

The secret of Bruce's retreat appears to have been well kept. In
October, indeed, Edward had commissioned Sir John of Argyll admiral on
the west coast. But he did not find Bruce. It was not till January 29,
that Edward commanded the Treasurer of Ireland to aid Sir Hugh Bisset
in fitting out 'as many well-manned vessels as he can procure, to come
to the Isles and the Scottish coast, and join Sir John de Menteith in
putting down Robert de Bruce and his accomplices lurking there, and in
cutting off their retreat.' More precise are the terms of appointment
of Sir Simon de Montacute (January 30) as commander of the fleet
specially destined 'for service against the rebels lurking in Scotland,
and in the Isles between Scotland and Ireland.' On February 1, Edward
ordered up vessels from Skinburness and neighbouring ports 'towards Ayr
in pursuit of Robert de Bruce and his abettors, and to cut off his
retreat.' Bruce, therefore, must have left Rathlin some days before the
end of January, and probably because of the menace of the English fleet.

Barbour keeps him in Rathlin till winter was nearly gone--not really
an inconsistency; but he seems to attribute the exodus to Douglas's
chafing at inaction. Douglas, he says, proposed to Boyd an attempt
on Brodick Castle, which Boyd knew well. With Bruce's leave they
proceeded to Arran, and overnight set ambush at the castle. As they lay
in wait, the sub-warden arrived with over thirty men in three boats,
bringing provisions and arms; and Douglas and Boyd set upon them. The
outcry brought men from the castle, who fled, however, before the bold
advance of the Scots, and barred the gate. The Scots appropriated the
sub-warden's provisions and arms, and took up a position in a narrow
pass; and the garrison does not seem to have even attempted to dislodge
them.

On the tenth day, it is said, Bruce arrived with the rest of his men,
in thirty-three small boats, and was conducted by a woman to the glen
where Douglas and Boyd lay, strangely ignorant of his coming. Then
Bruce determined to dispatch the trusty Cuthbert of Carrick to sound
the people on the mainland, arranging that Cuthbert, in case he found
them favourable, should raise a fire on Turnberry Point at a time
fixed. Cuthbert found Percy in Turnberry Castle, with some 300 men;
and, as for the Scots, some were willing, but afraid, while most were
distinctly hostile. He dared not fire the beacon.

At the appointed time, Bruce looked eagerly for the signal. He descried
a fire. The party put to sea, 300 strong, and rowed, in the dusk and
the dark, right on the fire. Cuthbert was at his wits' end; he dare
not extinguish the fire. He met Bruce at the shore, and explained the
untoward attitude of the people. 'Why, then,' demanded Bruce angrily,
with a suspicion of treachery, 'why did you light the fire?' Cuthbert
explained it was none of his doing, and beyond his help. What was to
be done? A council of war was held. Sir Edward Bruce is said to have
decided the question by a point-blank refusal to retire. He, for one,
would strike at once, let come what might.

Cuthbert had learned that two-thirds of the garrison were lodged in
the town. Bruce and his men entered quietly in small parties, breaking
open the doors and slaying all they found. Percy did not venture to
sally from the castle. Bruce stayed three days, testing the feeling of
the people; but even those that secretly favoured him were afraid to
show an open preference. It is said that a lady, a near relative of his
own, Christian of the Isles, came and encouraged him, and afterwards
sent him frequent supplies of money and victuals. While mewing up
Percy, he harried the country with increasing daring. A strong force
of Northumberland men, however, raised the siege. Hemingburgh places
Bruce's attack on Turnberry Castle 'about Michaelmas'; but it seems
very unlikely that Bruce ventured to take the field in the south-west
before he passed to Rathlin.

Apart from Barbour's details, it is plain that Bruce had struck a heavy
blow. On February 6, Edward wrote to his Treasurer expressing surprise
'at having no news of Valence and his forces since he went to Ayr,
if they have done any exploit or pursued the enemy.' He commands him
'quickly to order Valence, Percy, and Sir John de St John, and others
he sees, to send a trustworthy man without delay with full particulars
of their doings and the state of affairs.' And he is 'not to forget in
his letter to them to say on the King's behalf that he hears they have
done so badly that they do not wish him to know.' To the same effect he
wrote himself to Valence on February 11, and commanded him 'to write
distinctly and clearly by the bearer the news of the parts where he is,
the state of affairs there, and the doings of himself and the others
hitherto, and how he and they have arranged further proceedings. For
he suspects from his silence that he has so over-cautiously conducted
matters that he wishes to conceal his actions.' At the same time he
addressed similar letters to the Earls of Gloucester and Hereford, St
John, and Percy. The tone is too earnest to permit the supposition that
Edward was dissembling knowledge of the facts.

Bruce had at last regained a footing--though but a precarious
footing--in his kingdom, and rendered Edward anxious about the
immediate future.



CHAPTER VI

THE TURN OF THE TIDE


In the midst of his new success, another severe family blow was
impending on Bruce. On February 10, 1306-7--the first anniversary of
the Dumfries tragedy--his brothers Thomas and Alexander made a raid on
Galloway, with some 300 Scots and 700 Irish auxiliaries, landing at
Loch Ryan, in the territory of Sir Dougal MacDowall. In a desperate
fight, the force was completely crushed by MacDowall, who captured
Thomas and Alexander, and Sir Reginald Crawford, Wallace's uncle, all
'wounded and half-dead.' Hemingburgh says the Scots were caught by
surprise; Trevet adds 'in the night.' MacDowall delivered his chief
prisoners, together with the heads of a baron of Cantyre and two Irish
kinglets, to Prince Edward, at Wetheral, near Carlisle. These prisoners
were all executed at Carlisle on February 17. Sir Thomas Bruce was
drawn, hanged, and beheaded; Alexander Bruce, being a beneficed
clergyman (Dean of Glasgow), was not drawn, but he and Sir Reginald
Crawford, and apparently Sir Brice de Blair, were hanged and beheaded.
Thomas's head was placed on the castle tower, and the heads of the
others graced the three gates of the city. MacDowall was rewarded with
the lands and possessions of Sir Robert de Boyd and Sir Brice de Blair,
and on February 19, he received fifty marks and a charger; while on
March 1, a profitable privilege was conferred, at his instance, upon
his son.

According to Gray and Trevet, Bruce had sent his brothers to Nithsdale
and Annandale 'to gain over the people.' It may be that the expedition
was intended first to operate as a diversion, and then to join Bruce
himself in Nithsdale. For Bruce, if not already in these parts, was
moving thitherwards. On February 12, Sir John Botetourte, with a
considerable force, including over a score of knights, started to make
a raid on Bruce in Nithsdale; and on March 8, he was reinforced by 180
archers from Carlisle. The details, however, are not recorded.

It was probably in February, upon the landing of Bruce in Carrick,
that Edward issued from Lanercost an ordinance intended to conciliate
the Scots, while it graded carefully the degrees of punishment for the
worst classes of delinquents. Contrary to the King's intention, the
ordinance had been interpreted as too harsh and rigorous. On March 13,
therefore, he materially modified it. A few days later, he directed
steps to be taken for the repair and fortification of several castles
on the east side beyond Forth, and ordered fresh levies from the
northern counties of England to muster, 2300 strong, at Carlisle by a
fortnight after Easter.

In a lull of the Nithsdale operations, Bruce is said to have
reluctantly granted Douglas leave to proceed to Douglasdale,
accompanied only by two yeomen. On arrival, Douglas disclosed himself
to Tom Dickson of Hazelside, a stanch old warrior-tenant of his
father's, who was overjoyed to see the youth, and introduced him to
the other leal men of the land, one by one, at private conferences. It
was quickly decided to fall upon the unsuspecting garrison of Douglas
Castle in St Bride's Church on Palm Sunday (March 19). The countrymen
would bring concealed weapons, and Douglas would appear, with his
two men, in the guise of a corn-thresher, a threadbare mantle on his
back and a flail on his shoulder. The moment he raised his war-cry,
they would overpower the soldiers, and then the castle would offer no
resistance. Everything fell out as planned, except that an over-eager
friend prematurely raised the Douglas war-cry. Dickson instantly fell
upon the English in the chancel, and a neighbour followed his example;
but both were slain. At this moment Douglas came on the scene, raised
his war-cry, and pressed hard on the English, who manfully defended
themselves. About twenty were killed; the remaining ten were taken
prisoners. At the castle, Douglas found only the porter and the cook;
and so he barred the gates, and dined at leisure. After dinner, he
packed up valuables, arms, and other portable things, and proceeded to
destroy what he could not take away. He piled the wheat, flour, meal,
and malt on the floor of the wine cellar, beheaded the prisoners on
the pile, and broached the wine casks. This ghastly mess was locally
designated 'the Douglas Larder.' He then spoilt the well by throwing
in salt and dead horses. Finally, he set fire to the castle, and left
nothing but stones. The party dispersed, and hid away their wounded.
But Clifford, for whom the castle had been held, soon had it rebuilt
and regarrisoned.

A later petition, by Lucas de Barry, represents that Lucas had been
'under Sir Robert de Clifford in Douglas Castle when Sir Robert de Brus
and Sir James Douglas attacked it, the year when the late King died.'
But this does not necessarily mean that either Clifford or Bruce was
there in person.

On the same Sunday morning, Edward entered Carlisle with Peter,
Cardinal Bishop of St Sabine, a papal legate, who had just arrived to
arrange terms of peace between the English and French kings on the
basis of a marriage between Prince Edward and Isabella, daughter of
the King of France. On the Wednesday following, in the Cathedral, the
legate explained the objects of his mission, and, with bell, book and
candle, excommunicated the murderers of Comyn, with all their aiders
and abettors. The like denunciation was busily repeated through the
churches, especially of the north of England. On Friday, the peace was
proclaimed.

Towards the end of March, Sir John Wallace is said to have been
captured 'in the plain, pursued by the northeners,' and was taken
to Carlisle. Edward sent him to London, 'fettered on a hackney,' to
undergo the same barbarous death as his heroic brother. His head was
fixed on London Bridge, 'raised with shouts,' says Langtoft, 'near the
head of his brother, William the Wicked.' It could not have been more
nobly honoured.

By the middle of April, Bruce had moved to Glen Trool, where he was
hard beset for some three weeks by superior forces under a number of
able knights, young Sir John Comyn among them. The incidents of the
period have not been preserved. Barbour, indeed, tells how Valence and
Clifford advanced stealthily on Bruce, with over 1500 against less
than 300 men, and found him in a narrow pass, where horse could not
reach him. Valence sent a woman, disguised as a beggar, to spy out
the position; but Bruce saw through the dodge, and the spy confessed.
The English had to advance on foot. Bruce dashed upon them with fury,
seizing with his own hand their foremost banner. Some of his men,
Barbour admits, had gone off, but came back on seeing how the fight
went. The foremost English company being overpowered, the main body
retreated; and a quarrel between Clifford and Vaux seems to point to a
fruitless attempt of Clifford's to rally the fugitives. One can only
say that some such incidents are probable enough. Anyhow, Bruce appears
to have baffled all the attempts of the English in Glen Trool, and to
have got away towards Lothian.

In Lothian, Bruce found friends. The people, Hemingburgh explains,
had been exasperated during the preceding year by the justice of the
English justiciars; and, therefore, 'as if unanimously, they rose and
went with Bruce, willing rather to die than to be judged by the English
laws.' Thus reinforced, Bruce turned back to meet Valence. Perhaps it
was now that he over-ran Kyle and Cunningham. Valence, says Barbour,
despatched from Bothwell 1000 men under Sir Philip de Mowbray, whom
Douglas with 60 men met at Ederford, a narrow pass between two marshes,
and, by skilful strategy, totally defeated. Stung by this ignominious
reverse, Valence challenged Bruce, who lay at Galston, to meet him on
May 10, at Loudon Hill--the scene of Wallace's father's death and of
Wallace's first victory. Bruce accepted the challenge. Choosing his
ground between two stretches of moss, he cut three deep trenches (with
adequate gaps for the passage of his men) across the hard moor between,
and marshalled his 600 followers, so that Valence's 3000 men could come
into action only in detail. He ordered a fierce onset on the foremost,
with the view of discouraging the rest--the successful tactic in Glen
Trool; and Sir Edward and Douglas, as well as himself, are said to have
performed prodigies of valour. The English gave way, and, despite
his utmost efforts, Valence was driven from the field. Barbour says
he retreated to Bothwell; Gray states that Bruce pursued him to Ayr.
Three days later, Bruce also defeated the Earl of Gloucester with even
greater slaughter (says Hemingburgh) than had reddened Loudon Hill, and
besieged him in Ayr Castle.

From a letter, anonymous, dated May 15, we learn without surprise
that Edward 'was much enraged that the Warden and his force had
retreated before King Hobbe'--his familiar designation of Bruce. What
does surprise one is to learn, on the same authority, that 'James of
Douglas sent and begged to be received, but, when he saw the King's
forces retreat, he drew back.' It would be quite intelligible that the
hardships of his first terrible year of service had shaken the nerve
of the youthful warrior. But there were now 'rumours of treasonable
dealings between some of the English and the enemy,' and it seems far
more probable that Douglas was engineering one of his ruses. It needs
better evidence to stamp this solitary suggestion of a blot on the
clear scutcheon of Douglas.

The news of Bruce's success, no doubt exaggerated and distorted,
produced a great sensation in the northern parts of Scotland. A
calendared letter, anonymous, written from Forfar to some high official
under date May 15, graphically pictures the local feeling.

  The writer hears that Sir Robert de Brus never had the goodwill
  of his own followers or the people at large, or even half of
  them, so much with him as now; and it now first appears that he
  was right, and God is openly with him, as he has destroyed all
  the King's power both among the English and the Scots, and the
  English force is in retreat to its own country not to return.
  And they firmly believe, by the encouragement of the false
  preachers who come from the host, that Sir Robert de Brus will
  now have his will. And these preachers are such as have been
  attached before the Warden and the justices as abettors of war,
  and are at present freed on guarantees and deceiving the people
  thus by their false preachment. For he (the writer) believes
  assuredly, as he hears from Sir Reginald de Cheyne, Sir Duncan de
  Frendraught, and Sir Gilbert de Glencairney, and others who watch
  the peace both beyond and on this side of the mountains (Mounth),
  that, if Sir Robert de Brus can escape any way 'saun dreytes' or
  towards the parts of Ross, he will find them all ready at his
  will more entirely than ever, unless the King will be pleased to
  send more men-at-arms to these parts; for there are many people
  living well and loyally at his faith provided the English are in
  power, otherwise they see that they must be at the enemies' will
  through default of the King and his Council, as they say. And it
  would be a deadly sin to leave them so without protection among
  enemies. And may it please God to keep the King's life, for when
  we lose him, which God forbid, say they openly, all must be on
  one side, or they must die or leave the country with all those
  who love the King, if other counsel or aid be not sent them. For
  these preachers have told them that they have found a prophecy
  of Merlin, how, after the death of the grasping King (_le Roi
  Coueytous_), the Scottish people and the Bretons shall league
  together, and have the sovereign hand and their will, and live
  together in accord till the end of the world.

It was probably reports of this tenor that drew Valence and Bevercotes
on a hasty visit to the north immediately after Loudon Hill. They were
both in Inverness on May 20.

The reverses sustained by Valence and Gloucester led to increased
activity on the English side. The Bishop of Chester, with his successor
as treasurer (the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry), was at Lanark on
May 15, at Dumfries next day, and on May 18 he was back at Carlisle,
having seen to the provisioning of the fortresses. Edward was 'so
greatly pleased with his account that he kissed him--especially for
his borrowing the castle of Cumnock from its owner, Earl Patrick, for
a term, and garrisoning it with 30 men-at-arms under Sir Ingram de
Umfraville and Sir William de Felton, besides 100 foot.' The Bishop
went south next day to represent Edward at the funeral of the Countess
of Gloucester, the King's daughter Joan.

Edward himself was too ill to travel. Besides, he was immersed in
military preparations, summoning reinforcements and hurrying up
supplies. Bruce, though unable to maintain the siege of Ayr, did
considerable damage; for on June 1, Valence requisitioned masons and
carpenters from Carlisle 'to repair the castle and houses.' At the same
time, Valence added some 300 men to the garrison, 'to strengthen the
castle and secure the country round, while he is on his foray towards
Carrick and Glen Trool.' He was following up Bruce. Probably, too, he
avenged Loudon Hill before the arrival of Edward's fresh levies, which
had been summoned to be at Carlisle by the middle of July. Hemingburgh
says the English 'defeated Bruce with great slaughter, so that he
lurked thereafter in moors and marshes' with the ridiculous force of
'some 10,000 foot, and the English could not get at him, as he always
slipped out of their hands.' Gray says that Bruce was so badly beaten
'that he retired on foot through the mountains, and from isle to isle,
and sometimes he had not so much as a single companion with him.' One
is inclined to give the credit of this defeat to Valence--if defeat
there was. Bruce may have taken refuge again in Glen Trool; Gray's
mention of the isles may result from a confusion with earlier events.
This record of fresh disaster finds no mention in Barbour or in Fordun.

Sir Thomas Gray, professing to quote from 'the chronicles of his
deeds,' relates how at this time Bruce came, all alone, to a passage
between two islands, over which he was ferried by two boatmen. Had he
heard any news of what had become of Bruce? they asked. 'None,' he
replied. 'Certes,' said they, 'we would we had grip of him at this
moment; he should die by our hands.' 'And why?' queried Bruce. 'Because
he murdered John Comyn, our lord,' was the answer. They landed him. 'My
good fellows,' said Bruce, 'you wanted to get hold of Robert de Bruce.
Look at me!--that will give you satisfaction. And were it not that you
have done me the courtesy of ferrying me over this narrow passage, you
should rue your wish.' So he went on his way.

       *       *       *       *       *

Barbour recounts various exploits of Bruce and Douglas between the
landing in Carrick and the first retreat to Glen Trool; but, if they
represent facts, they must clearly be spread over a longer period.

For example. Sir Ingram Bell, the governor of Ayr--Barbour writes Sir
Ingram de Umfraville, who was probably in Cumnock Castle--intrigued
with a personal attendant of Bruce's, a man of local importance, a
one-eyed, sturdy rascal, nearly related to Bruce. The villain was
promised a reward of £40 in land to compass the King's death. With his
two sons, who were also trusted by Bruce, he lay in wait one morning
for his master, when he had gone out with only a page in attendance.
Bruce, suspecting the men, ordered them to stand. As they still came
on, he drew his page's bow, and shot the father in the eye; and with
his sword he cleft the skull of one son after the other. This may be
one of half a dozen possible variants of the story of the Brooch of
Lorn.

Not long afterwards, in the dusk of evening, Bruce with 60 men was
attacked by over 200 Galwegians, who had brought a sleuth-hound to
track him. Warned by his sentinels, he drew his men into a narrow pass
in a bog, and, leaving Sir Gilbert de la Haye in charge, went out with
two men to reconnoitre the position. Passing some way along the water
side, he found the banks high and the water deep, and no ford but the
one he had crossed. Here he sent his men back to camp, and watched
alone. Presently he heard the deep baying of the hound, and soon the
enemy appeared, under a bright moon. He determined to stand; they must
come on singly in the strait passage. They plunged confidently into the
water, but Bruce bore down the foremost with his spear, and stabbed the
horse, which fell in the ascent from the water and impeded the others.
He kept the ford; and, when his men came up, they found fourteen slain,
and the rest in retreat. The rumour of this exploit drew many to his
side.

Again Douglas repaired to Douglasdale and set an ambush near
Sandilands. With a small party he then took some cattle near the castle
of Douglas and drove them off. Thirlwall, the constable, sallied out
and pursued the party past the ambush. Attacked suddenly, he was slain
in attempted defence, together with most of his men. The survivors fled
to the castle, barred the gate, and manned the walls. Douglas had to
content himself with what booty he could find about the castle.

Presently Douglas, hearing of the approach of Valence with a strong
force, joined the King in a narrow pass near Cumnock. Bruce had but
300 men. Valence was accompanied by John of Lorn, who headed over 800
and had a sleuth-hound, said to have been once a favourite of Bruce's.
On finding himself caught between the two bodies, Bruce divided his
men into three companies, anticipating that the enemy would follow
his own track, and that so his other two companies would escape. The
hound followed Bruce, who gradually dispersed his company, at last
keeping only his foster-brother with him. Still the hound persisted.
John of Lorn then sent forward five of his stoutest men to take
Bruce. Three attacked Bruce; two assailed his foster-brother. Bruce
killed one of his opponents, and, marking the dismay of the others,
jumped aside to help his foster-brother, and smote off the head of
one of his assailants. He then killed his own two pursuers, while
his foster-brother despatched the only one remaining. Meantime Lorn
closed up with the hound. Bruce, with his companion, made for a wood,
and threw himself down by a stream, declaring he could go no farther;
but, yielding to his friend's remonstrances, he got up, and they waded
together some way down the stream, thus baffling the hound and escaping
further pursuit. Another account, according to Barbour, was that the
King's companion lurked in a thicket and shot the hound with an arrow.
Anyhow, Bruce escaped. It is said that Randolph captured Bruce's banner
in the pursuit, much to the satisfaction of the English King.

Having cleared the forest, Bruce and his companion were crossing a
moor, when they came on three men, armed with swords and axes, one of
them carrying a sheep on his shoulder. The men said they wished to join
Bruce, and Bruce said he would take them to him. They perceived that he
was Bruce, and he perceived that they were foes. Bruce insisted that,
till better acquaintance, they should go separate and in front of him.
Coming to an empty house at night, they killed the sheep, roasted it,
divided it, and dined at opposite ends of the room. Bruce, tired and
hungry as he had been, must sleep, his man promising to keep watch. His
man, however, fell asleep too; he 'might not hold up an e'e.' The men
then attacked Bruce, who instantly awoke, grasped his sword, and trod
heavily on his man. Bruce slew the three, but lost his companion, who
was killed in his sleep.

Bruce now made for the rallying-point of his dispersed companies. Here
he found the goodwife of the house 'sitting on a bink.' In answer to
her exhaustive inquiries, he said he was a wayfarer. 'All wayfarers,'
said she, 'are welcome for the sake of one--King Robert the Bruce.'
Then the King revealed himself. Where were his men? He had none.
Thereupon the gallant woman declared her two big sons should become his
men. As he sat at meat, he heard the tread of soldiers, and started up
to offer defence. It was Douglas and Sir Edward Bruce with 150 men.

Bruce now suggested that the enemy, confident that his force was
dissipated, would lie open to surprise. He made a forced march
overnight, and at daylight caught a large detachment--certainly nothing
like 2000 (Barbour's figures)--in some town, and slew two-thirds of
them. He retreated before the main body began to stir, and Valence did
not pursue.

On another occasion Bruce went a-hunting alone, with two hounds. He
had his sword, but had laid aside his armour. Presently he saw three
men with bows approaching--men that had in fact been watching for such
an opportunity to take vengeance for Comyn. Bruce taunted them for
attacking with arrows, three to one, and they chivalrously threw down
their bows and drew their swords. Bruce struck down one; a hound fixed
in another's throat and brought him to the ground, when Bruce cut his
back in two; and the third, fleeing to the wood, was seized and pulled
down by a hound and despatched by Bruce.

These stories represent early traditions and may easily be true, though
they may be merely imaginary. The three-men stories may be variants of
a single original, but by no means necessarily.

       *       *       *       *       *

On July 7, 1307, Edward I. died at Burgh-on-Sands, some three miles
from Carlisle. Owing to the poor success of his lieutenants, the
gallant King had determined to move forward in person. On Monday, July
3, he is said to have advanced from Carlisle; but it was Thursday
before he reached Burgh-on-Sands. On Friday, as his attendants raised
him up in bed to eat, he died in their hands. On his sick-bed--or, as
Walsingham says, on his death-bed--Edward had again charged the Prince
to persist steadily in the war against Bruce, taking his bones with
him in a casket. 'For,' said the dying King, with heroic confidence,
'no one will be able to overcome you while you have my bones borne
with you.' But all his dying advice and solemn charges the Prince
eventually disregarded.

The body of the late King was conveyed south in great state, to lie
in the church at Waltham till a definite settlement was attained in
Scotland. The Prince attended the cortège several stages, and then
returned to Carlisle. Edward was buried at Westminster on October 28.

Edward I. was not only the greatest of English Kings, but one of the
greatest of Englishmen. His treatment of Scotland, however he may
have reasoned out the justice of it, must always remain a very dark
blot on his memory. Never was his military ardour or his personal
resolution more signally manifested than in the last months and days of
his latest expedition. He died in harness, his valiant spirit shining
undimmed till the moment it was quenched by death itself. The virile
judgment and stern purpose of Edward I. was succeeded by the childish
incompetence and obstinacy of Edward II. The death of the great King
assured the eventual triumph of Bruce. The moment anticipated by
nationalists with hope and by anti-nationalists with dread was come. It
was the turn of the tide.



CHAPTER VII

RECONQUEST OF TERRITORY


While the great Edward was passing south on his last march, Valence was
actively engaged in strengthening the English positions in Kyle and
Carrick. Percy held Ayr Castle, and John of Argyll guarded Ayr town and
neighbourhood with a large force, which was presently joined by half a
score of redoubtable Scots knights with their followings.

The young King started from Carlisle on July 31, 1307, for Dumfries,
where many Scots nobles obeyed his summons to do homage and fealty.
Advancing up the valley of the Nith, he was at Cumnock on August 21,
and stayed there fully a week. At Tinwald, on August 30, he confirmed
Valence in the office of Warden of Scotland. He offered to receive
to his peace all Scotsmen not implicated in the murder of Comyn. The
Lanercost chronicler says he divided his army into three bodies to
pursue Bruce, but the pursuit was unsuccessful, and on September 4 he
returned to Carlisle with empty hands.

The effects of the accession of Edward II. were quickly apparent.
No sooner had he retired than the whole Border was ablaze. Even the
faithful men of Selkirk and Tweeddale and of the Forest, tenants of
the Warden himself, rose in force, and on September 12 the Sheriff of
Roxburgh reported that 'the poor tenants' of his district had fled
into England with their goods for fear of the enemy. The weight of the
Scots attack, however, was thrown upon Galloway and the MacDowalls.
The English settlers fled in numbers; for, on September 25, Edward
ordered Clifford, the justiciar of the forest beyond Trent, 'to allow
the men of Galloway to feed their flocks and herds in Englewood Forest,
whither they have come to take refuge for fear of Robert de Brus and
his accomplices.' On the same day he directed Sir Thomas de Multon
of Egremont and four other northern barons to hasten to Lancashire,
Cumberland, and Westmorland, to assist John, baron of Wigton, and
Richard le Brun, his justices there, 'for the salvation and quiet of
the men of those parts,' and to redress the wrongs and losses they
sustained, and to repel the incursions of the Scots. It looks as if
a swift foray had been executed by the men of Selkirk and Tweeddale.
On September 30, Edward, who had now learned further from St John,
MacDowall, and other officers in Galloway, that Bruce was 'burning and
plundering, and inciting and compelling the inhabitants to rebel,'
commanded Sir John de Bretagne, who had just succeeded Valence, to
march against the enemy. At the same time he summoned to the Warden's
assistance Earl Patrick and half a dozen other powerful Scots, as
well as the baron of Wigton and Richard le Brun, apparently already
relieved of their Selkirk visitors, and the keepers of the peace of
Northumberland and Tyndale. The Lanercost chronicler admits that the
Galwegians purchased peace, being unable to resist the forces of Bruce.

Sir Thomas Gray also bears testimony to Bruce's activity, and explains
the favour he steadily gained, in part at least, by the harsh conduct
of English officials 'for purposes of individual advantage.' We have
already seen that as early as May Scotland beyond the Forth was ready
for the advent of Bruce, and the English officers were looking forward
with dread to the death of Edward I. And now Bruce turned from Galloway
to the north.

According to Fordun, Bruce advanced as far as Inverness, where he took
the castle and levelled it with the ground, slaying the garrison;
and the other fortresses of the north he dealt with in like drastic
fashion. In this expedition, no doubt, it was--in late October and
November 1307--that Bruce overran Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness,
and compelled the Earl of Ross to take truce. The Earl's apologetic
petition to Edward explains how Bruce came against him with 3000 men
and subjugated these counties, 'and would have destroyed them utterly
if we had not taken truce with him at the entreaty of the good people,
both religious and other, till Whitsunday next.' Ross declares that
he could get no help from the Warden of Moray. The Bishop of Moray,
who had taken refuge in Orkney for about a year and whose lands had
been loyally raided by Ross, had by this time returned to Edward's
peace, and was demanding damages for the wasting of his lands. He,
at any rate, was not likely to have moved a finger against Bruce;
on the contrary, he no doubt privately aided him. Ross's apologies
were accepted; for in May 1308 he appears as Lieutenant of the Warden
of Scotland, and is requested to remain in office till midsummer.
But on October 31, he submitted to Bruce, who reinstated him in his
lands (with fresh additions), and his name heads the roll of Bruce's
Parliament at St Andrews on March 16, 1308-9.

Barbour, making no mention of these exploits, brings Bruce north of
the Mounth and on to Inverurie in Aberdeenshire. Bruce is joined by
Sir Alexander Fraser and Simon Fraser--the famous Sir Simon's brother
and son--who had apparently been acting in his interests in the north,
opposed mainly by Comyn (Earl of Buchan), Sir John de Mowbray, and Sir
David de Brechin. At Inverurie Bruce fell very sick. He could neither
eat nor drink; no medicine did him any good; he became too weak to ride
or to walk. Sir Edward Bruce, says Barbour, tried to comfort the men,
but it seems much more likely that Sir Edward remained in command in
Galloway, while Douglas made excursions towards the eastern border.
At any rate, Bruce's men would not fight while their chief was ill,
or Bruce had too much prudence to allow them; so they placed him on a
litter and carried him into the Slevach (mountain fastnesses). Comyn,
hearing of Bruce's serious illness, advanced against him with Mowbray
and Brechin, and with a largely superior force. The time, says Barbour,
was 'after Martinmas, when snow covered all the land.' Bruce quietly
awaited attack. On three successive days there occurred skirmishes
between bodies of archers, Buchan's men getting the worst of the
encounter day after day. Buchan's force, however, was continuously
obtaining additions, while Bruce was getting pinched with hunger.
Placing the King in his litter again, Bruce's men changed quarters,
marching slowly in fighting order, with their sick chief in the
centre, and restricting themselves rigidly to defence. They took up a
position in Strathbogie, a little further north, and Buchan's force
abandoned the pursuit and dispersed.

The King gradually regained strength and returned to Inverurie, 'to
be in the plains for the winter,' for the better chances of food.
Again Buchan proceeded to attack him, reaching Oldmeldrum 'on the
evening before Yule even' (January 4) 1307-8, with about 1000 men.
Next day Brechin made a dash at Inverurie; whereupon Bruce, in spite
of remonstrances, determined to mount and fight, though, says Fordun,
'he could not go upright, but with the help of two men to prop him up.'
He is said to have had 'near 700 men.' He advanced towards Oldmeldrum,
and as the enemy retreated, pressed steadily upon them, pushing their
retreat into flight, and pursuing them, Fordun says, as far as Fyvie.
Buchan and Mowbray fled to England, while Brechin stood a siege in his
own castle of Brechin. Bruce's 'herschip' (harrying) of the district of
Buchan is said to have been so exemplary that men lamented it for half
a century afterwards.

There are discrepancies between Barbour's account and Fordun's. Fordun
dates Buchan's retirement from the Slevach on Christmas day (on
which Barbour fights at Inverurie and Oldmeldrum), and he arranges
a truce on the occasion. It is in the Slevach that he makes Bruce's
illness commence. He dates the battle of Inverurie, without mention
of Oldmeldrum, vaguely in 1308. He also calls Mowbray Philip, not
John, and he says nothing of Brechin. Buchan and Mowbray, if they did
not then flee to England, at any rate went south not very long after
this time; and if Brechin surrendered his castle, it was certainly
not, as Barbour says it was, to David, Earl of Athol, who was on the
English side. On May 20, 1308, Edward writes to thank a great number
of his officers in Scotland, including Athol, Buchan, Brechin, John de
Mowbray, and others, for their faithful service, and he requests Buchan
to remain 'in the district committed to him' till August 1. This may
mean that up to May he had remained in command in the north, though
keeping clear of Bruce's devastating track.

Having reduced the country beyond the Grampians ('benorth the Mounth'),
Bruce descended upon Angus. Barbour says nothing of an attack on
Brechin Castle, having already recorded its capture and the submission
of Sir David to Bruce; but, as we have seen, Sir David was still--and,
indeed, for several years to come--on the English side; and Barbour was
evidently misinformed. Forfar Castle was taken by Philip the Forester,
of Platter; the watch had not been vigilant, and Philip scaled the
walls. Bruce demolished the castle; whether because it was of the old
ineffective type, or because he had no means of holding it. He then,
according to Barbour, invested Perth, which was strongly fortified,
and was held by Moffat and Oliphant--Sir William Oliphant, the gallant
defender of Stirling, who had been released from the Tower on May
24, 1308, having lain rusting there for nearly four years. The Earl
of Strathearn, says Barbour, was also in the garrison, while his son
and his men were in Bruce's camp; but Barbour is mistaken, for though
Strathearn had been transferred from Rochester Castle to York Castle in
the preceding November, he does not appear to have been released till
November 18 of this year. Frequent skirmishes took place during a six
weeks' siege, when Bruce suddenly decamped, amid the premature jeers
of the garrison. After eight days he returned suddenly in the night,
and, finding the English lulled in security, plunged into the moat up
to his neck, mounted the walls by ladder, and surprised the sentinels.
His men, dispersed in groups, gave the garrison no chance to marshal
for effective defence. The English leaders were taken; but few men were
slain, in consideration of their decent treatment of Scots. There was
much booty for the victors. Bruce demolished the walls and the towers.
'Was none that durst him then withstand.' Whether this capture of Perth
be fact or not--and probably it should be placed at a later date--Bruce
now had the upper hand north of Forth.

While Bruce was re-conquering his kingdom in the north, Edward II.
had married Isabella of France at Boulogne on January 28, 1307-8,
and had been crowned at Westminster on February 25. He had at once
plunged himself in difficulties with his barons by his infatuation
for Piers de Gaveston. In June some purpose of accommodation with
Bruce appears to have been pressed upon the English king. There exists
a memorandum dated June, without the year, which Mr Bain rightly, it
seems, assigns to 1308. It sets out that the levies summoned to meet
the King at Carlisle on August 23 shall be countermanded; and that the
King shall take no truce or sufferance from Bruce, but the Wardens of
Scotland--Sir Robert de Umfraville, Earl of Angus, and Sir William de
Ros of Hamelake (appointed on June 21)--'may take such, for as long
time as possible, as they have done hitherto of their own power or by
commission, so that the King, however, may furnish his castles with
men and victuals, and that no one be taken or other "mesprision" made
during such truce.' Then the wardens of districts are arranged. The
Earl of Buchan, Sir John de Mowbray, and Sir Ingram de Umfraville are
to be wardens of Galloway, Annandale, and Carrick respectively; Sir
Alexander de Abernethy, Sir Edmund de Hastings, and Sir John Fitz
Marmaduke, are to be wardens beyond the Forth. The endorsement bears
that the Wardens of Scotland shall 'take truce from Robert de Brus
as from themselves, as long as they can, but not beyond the month of
Pasques' (April), and--curiously enough--that 'the King may break
the truce at pleasure if the others will yield this point, but, if
they will not, the truce may be made without it.' The memorandum
testifies to the strength of Bruce's hold on the country, and to the
recalcitrance of Edward's barons. Still Edward struggled on. On June
21, he requested a large number of officers to retain their posts till
specified dates, and to join the Scottish expedition at Carlisle on
August 23. On July 10, he requisitioned ships and men from Shoreham all
round to Bristol, for the King 'needs a great fleet.' But on August 11,
he countermanded the order for these ships and men, 'the King having
deferred his expedition for the present.' The English barons were too
strong for the young King.

It is not clear at what date Bruce proceeded to reduce Argyll.
Probably, however, he undertook the expedition immediately after the
reduction of the north. If he conducted a six weeks' siege of Perth,
and Sir William Oliphant was one of the defenders, he could not have
been free to go west till the very end of July 1308. Fordun states
that, within a week after August 15, Bruce defeated the men of Argyll
and subdued the whole land; that he then besieged Alexander of Argyll
'for some time' in Dunstaffnage Castle (some three miles from Oban);
and that Alexander, on surrendering, refused to do homage, but was
allowed a safe-conduct for himself and his followers to England.
Barbour tells how Lorn--John, the son of Alexander--gathered some 2000
men and opposed Bruce in a narrow pass between a steep mountain and
the sheer bank of a loch--perhaps between Ben Cruachan and Loch Awe.
Lorn held the loch in his boats, and ambushed a party on the ridge
commanding the pass. Bruce, having despatched Douglas, Sir Alexander
Fraser, Sir William Wiseman, and Sir Andrew Gray, with a body of
archers, to fetch a circuit above Lorn's ambush, boldly advanced up the
pass. Lorn's men attacked, tumbling stones down the slope; but, finding
themselves caught in the rear, they fled down hill to a bridge crossing
the river at one end of the loch, and, having crossed, attempted to
break down the bridge. Bruce was upon them before they could effect
their purpose, and completely defeated them. Having rapidly overrun
Lorn's country, he took Dunstaffnage, and received to his peace
Alexander of Argyll, while John of Lorn, 'rebel as he was wont to be,'
escaped by water. Bruce then received the homage of all the men of
Argyll, and returned to Perth.

But these events must have been spread over a considerable time, and
they may not have been continuous. The record of Bruce's Parliament at
St Andrews on March 16, 1308-9, places it beyond doubt that Alexander
of Argyll came to Bruce's peace; it states that Alexander himself and
'the barons of the whole of Argyll and Inchegall' were present as
liegemen of Bruce. Again, on June 16, 1309, both Alexander and John of
Lorn were present at Edward's council at Westminster as liegemen of
the English king. Further, we have a letter of Lorn's, undated, but
replying to a letter of Edward's dated March 11, in which he says that
he had been on sick-bed for half a year; that Bruce 'had approached his
territories with 10,000 or 15,000 men, it was said, both by land and
sea,' while he 'had no more than 800 to oppose him,' and 'the barons of
Argyll gave him no aid'; that a truce had been made, at the instance of
Bruce; that 'he hears that Bruce, when he came, was boasting that he
(Lorn) had come to his peace,' 'which God and he (Lorn) knows is not
true'; that, on the contrary, 'he is, and will ever be, ready to serve
him (Edward) to the utmost of his power'; that 'he has three castles
to guard, and a loch twenty-four leagues long, on which he has vessels
properly manned, but is not sure of his neighbours'; and that 'so soon
as the King or his power arrives, he will be ready with lands, ships,
and others to aid him,' either in person (if he be not sick), or by his
son. Neglecting minor discrepancies, one may safely accept Mr Bain's
reconciliation of the various accounts. Alexander came to Bruce's peace
after the affair of Loch Awe; John was still holding out in March, but
was driven from Dunstaffnage within the next two months; and Alexander
thereupon retired, with John, to England. Alexander died in Ireland in
the end of 1310. John lived to fight for Edward some seven or eight
years more; but, as Mr Bain gently remarks, 'Barbour has strangely
misrepresented his later career.'

Bruce was now master in the west as well as in the north. Beyond Forth,
however, Perth, if ever captured, must soon have been recovered; and
Dundee--and even Banff--remained in English hands, as well as the
key-fortress of Stirling on the south bank of the dividing river. Still
Bruce was master of the country, and he was free to turn his attention
to the south.

Sir Edward Bruce, after an arduous struggle, had taken a firm grip
of Galloway by the end of 1308. With Lindsay, Boyd, and Douglas
he had attacked the Galwegians--'notwithstanding the tribute they
received from them,' says the Lanercost chronicler, who also admits
that they 'subdued almost all that land.' According to Barbour, Sir
Edward met the English near Cree, routed them, slew some 1200, and
pursued Umfraville and St John to Buittle Castle. St John then rode
to England and brought up over 1500 men; on hearing which, Sir Edward
instantly mounted, with 50 men, followed up the trail of the enemy
in the morning mist, and, when the day cleared and he found himself
within bowshot, charged with his usual reckless audacity. The English
believed there must be more men with Sir Edward than they saw. At the
third charge he routed them, slaying or taking many; St John, however,
escaping. Sir Allan de Cathcart, Barbour affirms, 'told me this tale.'
Sir Edward had all Galloway at the King's peace.

Fordun, again, relates that Sir Edward, on November 18, inflicted a
crushing defeat on Donald of the Isles and the Galwegians on the river
Dee (not Cree), taking Donald prisoner in his flight, and slaying 'a
knight named Roland, with many of the nobles of Galloway.' Whatever the
dates and the details, Sir Edward must have done some stern fighting.
The Lanercost chronicler even records that it was said that the English
king would have liked, if he could, to give Bruce peace on terms of
aiding him against his earls and barons.

No doubt the MacDowalls were uprooted. But Mr Bain seems somewhat lax
in stating that 'before April 1, 1309, Sir Dougal, their head, had been
driven into England, where for thirty years he and his family were
obliged to remain to escape the vengeance of the Bruces.' On April 1,
1309, it is true, Sir Dougal received as a reward for his services,
'whereby he has become hated by the enemy,' the manor of Temple Couton,
in Yorkshire, 'for the residence and support of his wife and children.'
But he himself was constable of Dumfries Castle in 1311, sheriff also
in 1312, and he had the mortification of surrendering the castle to
Bruce on February 7, 1312-13. Edward made provision for him from time
to time till his death (before January 27, 1327-28). A petition by
his son and heir Duncan, dated 1347, represents that Sir Dougal lost
£100 in land for his allegiance to Edward I. and Edward II.; that Sir
Dougal's brother was slain (in revenge for Bruce's two brothers); that
the petitioner's eldest brother had been slain at Bannockburn; and that
he and his six brothers were destitute. It shows a dark glimpse of the
losing side.

In the meantime, according to Barbour, Douglas had done some useful
work on his account. Some time after Bruce went north, he proceeded to
Douglasdale again and placed an ambush near his ancestral castle. He
sent fourteen men with sackfuls of grass on horses' backs to pass along
as if bound for Lanark fair. Sir John Webton, the constable, sallied
upon them; whereupon they cast down the sacks, threw off their frocks,
and, mounting their horses, showed fight. Douglas now broke ambush and
cut off Webton from the castle, eventually slaying him and all his
men. Barbour relates that there was found in Webton's pouch a letter
from a lady engaging to marry him if he kept 'the auenturous castell
of Douglas' for a year--a story worked up by Sir Walter Scott in his
boldly unhistorical 'Castle Dangerous.' Douglas took the castle and
demolished it.

Douglas also, Barbour says, did a great deal of hard fighting in
Selkirk Forest. On one occasion, in a house on the Water of Lyne
(which joins the Tweed a few miles above Peebles), he lighted upon Sir
Alexander Stewart of Bonkill, whose father, Sir John, distinguished
himself so brilliantly at Falkirk, Randolph, Bruce's nephew, Sir
Adam de Gordon, and others, who were really in search of himself. He
surrounded the house, and a fierce fight resulted. Gordon got away
safe, but Douglas captured Stewart, who was wounded, and Randolph, and
took them next morning to the King--who, in that case, must already
have returned south. Barbour tells of the proud bearing of Randolph,
and how Bruce put him 'in firm keeping' till he acknowledged his
authority. This must have taken place before March 4, 1308-9, when
Edward conferred on Sir Adam de Gordon Randolph's forfeited manor of
Stichill, in Roxburghshire. Never afterwards did Randolph swerve from
his uncle's allegiance.

Early in 1308-9 (January 14, Hemingburgh; February 12, Lanercost
chronicle), there came papal envoys to Edward and Bruce, at the
instance of the French king, and a truce was made, to run to November
1. But Bruce is said to have ignored it in practice, and perhaps that
is why a new sentence of excommunication was fulminated against him and
his adherents in the summer of 1309. On June 18, Edward summoned his
array; and, on July 30, he renewed the summons, requiring his army to
muster at Newcastle at Michaelmas, and declaring that the Scots had
'notoriously broken' the truce. Yet, only three days later (August 2),
he authorised the Earl of Ulster to treat with Bruce for peace; and,
on August 21, he renewed the commission, and granted safe-conducts
for Bruce's envoys, Sir Nigel Campbell and Sir John de Menteith--the
captor of Wallace, who must have joined Bruce before March 16, when he
was present at the St Andrews parliament. Still Edward hurried on his
preparations. He had summoned auxiliaries from Wales (August 5), and
filled afresh the chief offices in Scotland (August 16); and presently
he appointed the Earl of Gloucester captain of the army of Scotland
(September 14), and despatched fresh wardens to the Marches (about
October 18). Again, however, the Pope intervened, and on November 29,
Edward granted full powers to four of his magnates to treat in his name
for a truce. The Wardens of the Marches, according to the Lanercost
chronicle, had just forestalled the step by taking provisional truce
till the middle of January; and Edward extended the period to March
8, and afterwards 'to summer,' 1310--for, says the chronicler, 'the
English do not like to enter Scotland to war before summer, especially
because of the lack of fodder for their horses.' Probably the extension
to summer was arranged by the commission of seven appointed on February
16, headed by the Bishop of St Andrews.

There had been a round year of peace negotiations and futile truces,
with warlike preparation in the background. On February 24, 1309-10,
Bruce's position was strengthened by a formal recognition of his royal
title by a special meeting of the prelates and other clergy at Dundee.
In the beginning of June 1310, there was an outbreak on the Border, the
Priory of Coldstream being sacked, and the prioress and nuns dispersed;
and in the middle of the month the English fleet was ordered north to
strengthen Perth and to harass the eastern seaboard. Then, on August
15, Edward again mustered his army at Newcastle (Hemingburgh), or
at Berwick (Lanercost chronicle). The Earls of Lancaster, Pembroke
(Valence), Warwick, and Hereford would not accompany him, displeased
with his favour for Gaveston, though professing to be absorbed in their
duties as 'Ordainers'; but they sent their feudal services. The Earls
of Gloucester, Warenne, and Cornwall (Gaveston), with Percy, Clifford,
and many other magnates, did attend the muster. The expedition,
according to Walsingham, was said to be a mere pretext to excuse the
King from going to France to do fealty for his French possessions. He
dreaded to leave Gaveston 'among his enemies,' lest that troubler of
the realm should 'meet death, prison, or worse.' 'Such things were
said among the people; whether true or false,' says the chronicler,
'God knows, I don't.' The expedition crossed the Border early in
September, and passed by Selkirk, Roxburgh, Biggar, Lanark, Glasgow,
to Renfrew, back to Linlithgow, and thence to Berwick. The progress
occupied just over two months. Bruce stood aloof; on October 6, when
Edward was at Biggar, he was reported to be with his forces 'on a moor
near Stirling.' Fordun says there was famine in Scotland this year,
many being reduced 'to feed on the flesh of horses and other unclean
cattle.' But Edward was liberally supplied by the religious houses with
'oxen, cows, wethers, wheat, oats, barley, malt, beans, and peas,'
besides friendly contributions from other quarters. On November 22, he
issued a proclamation prohibiting the importation of provisions from
England.

When Edward withdrew from Linlithgow, Bruce hung upon his rear through
Lothian, severely harassing the army, and all local sympathisers.
Walsingham records an instance. A party of English and Welsh had gone
out to plunder, supported by cavalry. Bruce suddenly attacked from
ambush, and, though aid quickly arrived, he killed 300, and retired as
suddenly as he had advanced. 'Indeed,' says the chronicler, 'I should
extol Bruce, whose policy was to fight thus and not in open field, but
for his lying under the charge of homicide and the brand of treachery.'

Edward wintered at Berwick. Bruce seems to have actively developed
offensive operations on the west coast, to draw him home by a flank
attack, as well as to obtain supplies. For, on December 15 and 16,
Edward roused his officers in the north-western counties, and in Wales
and Ireland, to counteract Bruce's reported purpose 'to send his whole
fleet in the present winter to take the Isle of Man, and seize all the
supplies therein for the sustenance of his men.' Bruce's adherents in
Man are stated to have caused much trouble and mischief. A week before
Christmas, Clifford and Sir Robert Fitz Pain met Bruce at Selkirk to
discuss terms of peace, and another interview was arranged with the
Earls of Gloucester and Cornwall near Melrose; but 'it was said,'
writes a high official on February 19, 'that Bruce had been warned by
some that he would be taken, and therefore departed, so that they have
had no parley.'

A memorandum, undated, but assignable to 1307-10, addressed by the
'Commune' of Scotland to Edward and his great officers in the country,
affords a glimpse of the English high-handedness that always did--and
does--so much to thwart the English policy. The Commons represent that
'though they have purchased a truce for the safety of the country
and their allegiance, and included the castles and towns in their
bounds--namely, the sheriffdoms of Berwick, Roxburgh, and Edinburgh,'
yet 'some of the sheriffs allow no goods to leave their castles, or
their garrisons to pay for what they buy'--the sheriff of Edinburgh,
in particular--'and the country is so poor that they cannot get on
without ready money.' Again, 'when the enemy's people come to bargain
under the truce, their goods are taken by some of the castellans and
King's officers, endangering the truce, as the robbers are harboured
in the castles.' They earnestly plead for redress of such oppressions,
and complain that the King's former letters on the subject have
been suppressed by the officers inculpated. Only an occupation in
overwhelming force could stand against such a course of official
misconduct. Meantime this fatal administrative weakness was greatly
counterbalanced by the political divisions among the Scots.

In 1310-11, Gaveston, for whom Edward could find no resting-place
elsewhere, was established as lieutenant north of Forth and warden of
Dundee and Perth. 'It is said,' writes a high official, anonymous, on
April 4, 1311, 'that Bruce meant to fight with the Earl of Cornwall'
(Gaveston): but either he was unable to do so, or deemed it prudent
to weary out the enemy by harassing evasion. On April 9, Edward
issued instructions hastening the outfit of the fleet destined for
the coast of Argyll under Sir John of that ilk--'seeing it is one of
the greatest movements of the Scottish war'; and throughout May and
June great pressure was brought to bear upon the ports of England and
Ireland, though not always with effect. On July 14, the muster of the
army at Roxburgh was postponed to the 1st of August. 'This expedition,'
said Edward, 'lies especially close to our heart.'

Edward, however, was in deep trouble with his 'Ordainers,' and Bruce
was beforehand with him. On August 12, Bruce burst into England at
the Solway, burned the whole of Gilsland, the town of Haltwhistle,
and great part of Tyndale, returning to Scotland in eight days with
great droves of cattle. The Lanercost chronicler admits that he killed
few besides those that offered resistance, and that, though he took
several of the canons, and did infinite mischief during the three days
he made the monastery his headquarters, yet he released the canons of
his own accord. The latter episode is recorded as a separate foray, but
probably it belongs to the August operations.

The same chronicler gives an account of a more serious raid on
September 8, by Harbottle, Holystone and Redesdale, down to Corbridge
and back through Tyndale, occupying fifteen days. The Wardens of the
Marches, he says, could offer no resistance, and confined their efforts
to wasting the country in anticipation of the Scots, only 'they did
not burn houses or slay men.' The stress of opposition fell upon the
Bishop of Durham. Both Edward and the Bishop paint the invasion in the
usual lurid colours. At the same time the people had certainly not been
handled with tenderness. The Northumbrians protected themselves by
payment of £2000 for a respite till February 2, 1311-12. In the middle
of December Bruce appears to have made another raid into England; and
on January 26, 1311-12, Edward appointed six commissioners to treat in
his name for truce with the Scots.

The rising power of Bruce is variously testified otherwise than by the
progress of his army. The Lanercost chronicler admits that, in spite
of the adherence of so many Scots to the English side, 'their hearts,
though not their persons, were always with their countrymen.'

An inquisition at Edinburgh on February 20, mentions seven landed
knights and others that had gone over to Bruce in the past three or
four years, including Sir Robert de Keith, Sir Thomas de la Haye, and
Sir Edmund de Ramsay. Again, a list of land rewards to Sir Robert
de Hastang on March 20 mentions twelve, among whom are Sir David de
Brechin (who, however, is made warden of Berwick on April 20, though
Sir Edmund de Hastings receives the post on May 3), Sir Alexander de
Lindsay, Sir Geoffrey de Mowbray, and Sir Herbert de Maxwell. In five
hard years Bruce had recovered three parts of his kingdom, and carried
fire and sword through the English March.



CHAPTER VIII

RECOVERY OF FORTRESSES


Bruce was now in a position to turn his main energies against the
strongholds still in English occupation.

Towards the end of March 1312 he was preparing to besiege Berwick with
an unusually large force. But the operations are not known; and, in any
case, they were soon postponed. On April 26, he held a parliament at
Ayr, and carefully settled the succession to the throne.

The dissensions between Edward and his barons appear to have induced
Bruce to carry the war into the enemy's territory. While the incensed
barons were hunting down Gaveston, he raided the March again, took
tribute, burned Norham, and carried off prisoners and booty. Again, in
the end of June, after Gaveston was beheaded, Bruce made another foray
into the episcopate of Durham. He burnt Hexham, and dealt so severely
with the Priory, that even in 1320, it is said, the canons were unable
to return, while their collectors were still 'wandering about in the
country in 1326, with the archbishop's brief, in quest of funds for the
canons and their church.' It may have been on this occasion that Bruce
sent Douglas to pillage the region of Hartlepool. It is, no doubt, in
reference to a subsequent raid, that the Lanercost chronicler tells how
a detachment entered Durham on market day, burned most of the town,
and slew all that resisted, but did not touch the castle or the abbey.
The episcopate compounded for peace till next midsummer at £2000, the
Scots bargaining for free passage 'whenever they wanted to ride further
into England!' The Palatinate Register records the date as August 16.
The Northumbrians, too, paid down £2000; Westmorland, Coupland, and
Cumberland also paid ransom--money in part, and for the rest hostages,
'sons of the greater lords of the country.' And meantime Edward was
squabbling with his barons. It was enough to make his martial father
rise from his grave.

At last, on December 6, the Lanercost chronicle relates, Bruce suddenly
pounced upon Berwick. His men had placed two ladders, and 'he would
soon have had the castle, as is believed,' had the garrison not been
warned by the barking of a dog. The ladders, says the chronicler, 'were
of a remarkable make, as I myself, who write this, witnessed with my
own eyes.' He describes ladders of ropes, with wooden steps, and iron
hooks to grip the wall top. The alarm being raised, Bruce retired,
leaving the two ladders for the monk's inspection. 'So a dog on that
occasion saved the town, as once geese by their cackling saved Rome.'

Bruce turned north to Perth. According to the Lanercost chronicle,
he took the town by surprise in the night of January 10 (Fordun says
January 8), 1312-13. The governor, Sir William Oliphant--probably this
is the capture of Perth antedated by Barbour--'was bound and sent to
the islands afar'; but, if so, he did not stay long there, for he
was in England within two months, and on October 21, he obtained a
safe-conduct to return to Scotland. The chronicler says that Bruce slew
the better Scots burgesses, but permitted the English to go free; while
Fordun records that he put 'the disloyal people, Scots and English
alike,' to the sword. 'In his clemency,' adds Fordun, 'he spared the
rabble, and granted forgiveness to such as asked it; but he destroyed
the walls and dykes, and consumed everything else with fire.'

Bruce next swept down upon Dumfries. Here his old enemy, Sir Dougal
MacDowall, constable of the castle, had experienced much difficulty all
through summer and autumn in obtaining adequate supplies. He gave up
the castle to Bruce on February 7, the short siege probably indicating
that he was starved into surrender. It is likely, as Mr Bain surmises,
that Buittle, Dalswinton, Lochmaben, and Carlaverock were all recovered
about the same time.

The Scots appear to have derived considerable supplies from Flanders.
On February 15, 1312-13, Edward remonstrated with the Count of
Flanders, begging him to restrain his subjects from all intercourse
with Scotsmen. The Count seized the occasion to demand compensation
for losses and injuries inflicted on his subjects by Englishmen. An
English commission, much to the disgust of the Flemish envoys, rejected
the claims; and presently Flemish seamen plundered English vessels,
the chief depredator being the ingenious John Crab, whom we shall meet
again. On May 1, 1313, Edward invited the Count to send his aggrieved
subjects back to London; but 'now,' he added, 'we hear that thirteen
ships of your power, laden with arms and victuals, quite lately crossed
from the port of Swyn to Scotland--whereat we very much marvel.' The
Flemish quarrel went on; but on May 17, at the instance of the French
king, Edward appointed four commissioners 'to negotiate a truce or
sufferance with the Scots.'

Within a week, however, as Edward was on the point of embarking for
France to confer with Philip about Gascony, he learned from a special
messenger from the lieges of Cumberland that the Scots were again
upon them. He could only tell them to do their best, and he would
hasten back to take order for their safety. On June 6, Bishop Kellawe
of Durham testifies to the forlorn state of the nuns of Halistan on
the March; there are hostile incursions daily, goods and cattle are
reived, and the very nuns are insulted and persecuted by the robbers,
and driven from their homes suffering miserably. Such are examples
of the state of affairs in the mind of the Lanercost chronicler when
he records that 'the people of Northumberland, Westmorland, and
Cumberland, and other men of the Marches, neither having nor hoping
from their King defence or aid, he being then in the remote parts of
England and not appearing to trouble himself about them, offered no
moderate amount--nay, a very large amount--of money to Robert for truce
till September 29, 1314.' Bruce was striking hard and persistently, and
Edward was giving way all along the line of war.

On his return, indeed, Edward at once took measures of retaliation. As
early as April 2, he had answered applications from Northumberland for
aid by a promise of relief before midsummer--a promise that remained
unfulfilled. On July 6, he demanded a subsidy from the bishops, and on
August 13 he made a like appeal to the abbots and convents. In warlike
mood, in the end of July, he had ordered something like a press-gang
muster of boats at the ports from the Wash round to Plymouth. It was
but a spasmodic effort of weakness. About the beginning of October,
Sir Ralph Fitz William reported that 'they are grievously menaced with
treason at Berwick, but, if the garrison are loyal, they will defend
it against the King of France and the King of Scotland for a while
till succour reaches them.' In the end of next month, the Bishop of St
Andrews proceeded to France in the interest of Edward, no doubt with
the object of detaching Philip from co-operation with Bruce. It was a
fatuous choice of an envoy.

The wretched inefficiency of Edward had by this time rendered the
position of his adherents in Scotland all but insupportable. In
November they despatched the Earl of March and Sir Adam de Gordon to
lay their grievances before him. Their petition recounts their heavy
losses at the hands of the enemy during the past three years; their
costly purchase of truce; and especially their intolerable sufferings
from the lawless outrages committed upon them by the garrisons of
Berwick and Roxburgh, who are alleged to have plundered, killed, and
held them to ransom at will, as if they had been enemies. Here is
a substantial repetition of the memorandum of 1307-10. Sir Adam de
Gordon could tell how he had himself been arrested by the constable of
Roxburgh Castle and required to find security for his good behaviour.
The King, replying on November 28, could only give them the cold
comfort of an assurance of his intention to march to their relief at
next midsummer. It is quite natural that such slackness of the central
authority should have given head to such marauding scoundrels on the
Border as Sir Gilbert de Middleton and Thomas de Pencaitland. That
notorious knight of the road, Sir Gilbert, will cross our path again.

It could not have been earlier than autumn 1313 that Bruce recovered
the Peel of Linlithgow, which was held by Sir Archibald de Livingstone,
under the orders of Sir Peter Lubaud, warden and sheriff of Edinburgh.
Barbour makes it harvest time. The peel garrison had cut their hay,
and engaged William Bunnock, a neighbouring farmer, who hated them
patriotically, to 'lead' it for them. Bunnock conceived the notion of
elevating the familiar harvesting process to an operation of war, and
arranged the strategic details with his friends. He planted an ambush
in the early morning, and let the hay lie till the peel men had gone
out to cut their crop. Loading the hay, with eight men hid in it, he
set a hardy yeoman, with a hatchet under his belt, to drive the waggon,
himself walking idly beside. When the waggon was half-way through the
gate, Bunnock shouted the signal, 'Thief! Call all! Call all!' The
driver instantly severed the traces, stopping the waggon; Bunnock slew
the porter; the eight men leapt down from the midst of the hay, and
the ambush swarmed up. They slew the men they found in garrison, and
pursued those that were in the fields towards Edinburgh and Stirling,
killing some in their flight. For this exploit Bruce rewarded Bunnock
worthily. The peel he at once demolished. The story of Bunnock rests on
the sole authority of Barbour.

The next castle to fall was Roxburgh. Douglas had been keeping the
Forest, and harassing Roxburgh and Jedburgh castles. Resolving to win
Roxburgh, he got a handy man, Simon of the Leadhouse, to make him
ladders of hempen ropes, with strong wooden steps and iron hooks, after
the Berwick pattern. Then gathering some sixty men, he approached the
castle on Fastern's Even (Shrove Tuesday), February 27, 1313-14, and
waited till dark. The party left their horses, put black frocks over
their armour, and crept forward on all fours like cattle. The deception
succeeded; Barbour says they overheard the garrison jesting at the
expense of the neighbouring farmer, who, they imagined, had left his
cattle at large to be carried off by the Douglas. The click of a hook
on the wall attracted a sentinel, but Simon, who had mounted first,
stabbed the man dead, and the party quickly scaled the wall. The
garrison were making merry in the hall, when the Scots burst in upon
them with the Douglas war-cry. A sharp conflict ensued. At length Sir
William de Fiennes, the constable, a valorous Gascon, retreated to the
great tower. With daylight, the Scots plied the tower with arrows, and
eventually wounded Sir William so badly in the face that he yielded,
on terms that he and his men should pass safe to England. Douglas
conducted them over the Border, and Sir William soon afterwards died of
his wound. Bruce sent his brother Sir Edward to demolish the castle.
Sir Edward, says Barbour, secured all Teviotdale except Jedburgh
and other places near the English border. On main points Barbour is
corroborated by Sir Thomas Gray and the Lanercost chronicler.

The news of the capture of Roxburgh stimulated the rivalry of Randolph,
who was besieging Sir Peter Lubaud in Edinburgh Castle. Hopeless of
taking the place by assault, Randolph cast about for some likely
stratagem, when William Francis (or William the Frenchman), one of
his men, suggested a plan of extreme boldness. Francis, according to
Barbour, stated that he had at one time lived in the castle, and,
having a sweetheart in the town, had been accustomed to climb the
sheer rock in the darkest nights. All that was needed was good nerve,
and a twelve-foot ladder for the wall on the top. So, on a dark
night--Fordun gives March 14, 1313-14--Randolph, with thirty picked
men, essayed the adventurous ascent. About half way up they stopped
to rest. Here their nerves were dramatically tested. One of the watch
overhead threw down a stone, exclaiming 'Away! I see you well.' It was
a mere joke, the sentry saw nothing; and the stone passed harmlessly
over them. The watchmen passed on without suspicion, and Randolph with
his men hastened up the steeper and steeper crag to the foot of the
wall. Instantly the ladder was fixed, Francis mounting first, then
Sir Andrew Gray, and Randolph himself third. Before all the party got
over the watch was alarmed, the cry of 'Treason! Treason!' resounded
through the castle, and a desperate struggle ensued. Randolph himself
was very sorely bested, but he succeeded in killing the commandant;
whereupon the garrison gave in. The Lanercost chronicler states that a
strong assault was made on the south gate--the only point reasonably
open to assault--where the garrison offered a vigorous resistance; and
that the party mounting the rock on the north side under cover of this
front attack, having surprised and overcome the defenders, opened the
gate to their comrades. Sir Peter Lubaud, the warden, says Barbour,
had been deposed from the command of the garrison on account of some
suspicious intercourse with the enemy, and was found by Randolph in
prison in fetters. He became Bruce's man, but soon afterwards he fell
under suspicion of treason, and, by Bruce's order, was drawn and hanged
(Gray)--or at any rate put in prison, where he died miserably (John
of Tynmouth). The Lanercost writer states that the victors 'slew the
English,' probably meaning the garrison; but the extant rolls show that
there were many Scotsmen in the garrison, 'two of them,' as Mr Bain
remarks, even 'bearing the surname of Douglas.' Bruce demolished the
castle.

Barbour states that Sir Edward Bruce, having won all Galloway and
Nithsdale, and taken Rutherglen Peel and Dundee Castle, laid siege to
Stirling Castle from Lent to midsummer, 1313; and that then Sir Philip
de Mowbray, the constable, agreed to yield the castle, provided it
were not relieved by midsummer 1314. The most recklessly chivalrous
terms are indeed consonant with Sir Edward's character. But if, as
Barbour and the Monk of Malmesbury agree, Mowbray was influenced by a
threatened failure of provisions, the period must have been much less.
He in Stirling would hardly be in any better case for supplies than
was MacDowall in Dumfries. Immediately on investment of the castle,
he would begin to feel the pinch; and the fall of Edinburgh would at
once intimate the hopelessness of his position. But, further, we have
seen Sir Edward demolishing Roxburgh Castle in early March, and it does
not seem likely that he would have left a substitute to look after
Stirling. Besides, the Lanercost chronicler can hardly be mistaken
when he says that Sir Edward entered England on April 17, taking up
his headquarters at the Bishop's manor house at Rose, and sending his
army as far as Englewood Forest, south and west, for three days to burn
and plunder--because the tribute had not been duly paid. Once more,
the Monk of Malmesbury represents that it was after the fall of the
other castles that Mowbray carried to Edward the news of his agreement
for surrender. On the whole, it may be seriously doubted whether the
respite extended beyond a couple of months, or even six weeks. It is
not, apparently, till May 27, that Mowbray's conditional agreement for
surrender is mentioned in any existing official document.

Besides Stirling, the only fortresses of any importance that now
remained in the hands of the English were Berwick, Jedburgh, and
Bothwell. But the immediate interest centres in the fateful attempt to
relieve the castle of Stirling.



CHAPTER IX

THE BATTLE OF BANNOCKBURN.


As far back as December 23, Edward II. had summoned his army to
assemble at Berwick on June 10, 1314, for the war against Scotland. In
March, he was busily ordering his fleet for service on the east and
west coasts, and hastening the muster of the Irish contingent under the
Lord of Ulster. On May 27, from New Abbey, he issued an urgent reminder
to the sheriffs and barons of the northern and midland counties to have
their men at Wark by June 10. He has learnt, he tells them, that the
Scots are massing great numbers of foot in strong positions protected
by marshes and all but inaccessible to cavalry; and he fires their zeal
by informing them of the agreement of Mowbray to surrender the castle
of Stirling unless the siege be raised by midsummer day. Bruce, then,
had already chosen his ground, and commenced his measures of defence.

The English and Welsh troops summoned on May 27, numbered together
21,540. The numbers of the Irish contingent are not preserved, but, on
analogous cases, they can hardly be reckoned beyond 3000. The Gascons,
Hainaulters, and other foreigners are not likely to have numbered more
than the Irish. 'After allowing,' with Mr Bain, '10,000 light horsemen
and 3000 heavy cavalry, the whole English army probably did not exceed
50,000'--at the very outside. The Earls of Lancaster, Warenne, Arundel,
and Warwick did not join the expedition, on the ostensible ground that
the King had not first consulted Parliament in conformity with the
Ordinances, and thus they would be laid open to ecclesiastical censure;
but they sent their feudal services. The outfit of the army was on the
most ample, not to say magnificent, scale. 'The multitude of waggons,
if extended one after another in file,' says the Monk of Malmesbury,
'would have stretched over twenty leagues.' In truth, he says, it
was universally acknowledged that 'such an army did not go out of
England in our time.' The Monk's testimony lends a sober colour to the
assertion of Robert Baston, the Carmelite friar that went to celebrate
an English victory and was captured and made to sing the Scottish
triumph. 'Never,' he declared, 'was seen a more splendid, noble, or
proud English army.'

There is no definite clue to the numbers of the Scots. 'But,' as Mr
Bain says, 'in so poor and thinly populated a country, devastated by
long war, 15,000 or 16,000 would be a fair estimate of the comrades
of Bruce. The Scots, twenty years later, could raise no more for the
almost equally important object of relieving Berwick.'

The estimates usually given follow Barbour, who says there were over
100,000 English--enough 'to conquer the whole world'--and some 50,000
Scots, of whom 30,000 were fighting men. No doubt Barbour includes in
the English 100,000 the miscellaneous 'pitaille,' or rascalry, that
swarmed about the baggage trains of mediæval armies. But Mr Bain's
estimate seems to be as near as the authorities will admit. The
proportion of English to Scots was most probably somewhere about three
to one.

The army that mustered under Edward was indeed 'very fair and
great,' yet, in the eye of the Church--probably enlightened by later
events--there was one needful thing lacking. When Edward I. was on
the warpath towards Scotland, says the Lanercost chronicler, 'he was
wont to visit on his way the saints of England--Thomas of Canterbury,
Edmund, Hugh, William, Cuthbert--and to offer them fair oblations,
to commend himself to their prayers, and to dispense large gifts to
the monasteries and the poor'; but his degenerate son, omitting these
pious duties,' came with great pomp and circumstance, took the goods
of the monasteries on his route, and, it was stated, did and said some
things to the prejudice and injury of the saints,' by reason whereof
'certain religious of England prophesied' that no good would come of
the expedition. To the same effect, Robert of Reading records that
Edward permitted his troops, on their march, to ravage with violence
the patrimony of 'religious' and other churchmen, as if they had been
robbers (_more prædonum_). Still the Archbishop of York and the Bishop
of Durham, rehearsing the long list of Bruce's alleged enormities,
officially enjoined all within their jurisdiction to pray for the
success of the King's arms, offering an indulgence of forty days in
reward of such patriotic piety.

The King was in high spirits over the splendour of his army. Apparently
he anticipated an easy and complete triumph. He started from Berwick
only a few days before the fateful day of St John. 'From day to day,'
says the Monk of Malmesbury, 'he hastened to the place fixed on
beforehand, not like a man leading an army to battle, but rather as
if he were going on pilgrimage to Compostella. Short was the stay for
sleep; shorter still the stay for food; in consequence of which the
horses, horsemen, and foot were worn out by labour and fatigue.' On
Friday, June 21, the English army lay at Edinburgh; and on Saturday it
lay at Falkirk, little more than ten miles from Stirling.

The problem for Bruce was to keep the English out of Stirling till St
John's day had passed. In good time he had selected and laid out the
inevitable field of battle with military prescience of the first order.
He had mustered his forces in the Torwood, in a position commanding the
approach to Stirling from the south; and on the morning of Saturday,
the 22nd of June, on news of the approach of the English, he marched
them to the chosen spot on a plain some two miles south of Stirling
within the last large loop of the Bannock Burn, called the New Park--a
hunting-ground of the Scots kings. The Park was a piece of firm ground
rising on the north and west into the swelling ridges of Coxet Hill
near St Ninian's, and Gillies Hill on the left of the Bannock above
the bend towards the Forth. Eastwards it fell away into a marshy tract
filling the angle of the two rivers and intersected by watercourses.
Southwards, too, the hard ground was broken by two morasses--Halbert's
Bog and Milton Bog--between the Park and the Bannock. Bruce rested
his right wing on the steep bank of the Bannock below Gillies Hill;
his left wing stretched away past St Ninian's nearly to the gates
of Stirling; his rear was protected by Gillies Hill and the Bannock
behind. The English would be compelled to advance either across the
Bannock between Parkmill and Beaton's Mill--a breadth of a short
mile, free from precipitous banks--to the line of hard ground, with a
contracted front, to be immediately divided by the intervening bogs;
or else along the line of low and marshy flat between the Park and the
Forth. To reduce the superiority of the English cavalry, Bruce had
industriously dug pits along the parts of the firm route by which they
would probably, if not inevitably advance--pits a foot wide, round,
and deep as a man's knee, honeycombing the ground; and these holes he
covered loosely with a disguise of brushwood, turf, and grass. He is
also said to have inserted in them stakes shod with iron points. Sir
Thomas de la Moore mentions long transverse trenches, similarly covered
so as to bear men aware of them, but not horses. Later writers add that
Bruce strewed the ground with calthrops, or metal spikes, to cripple
the English horses. He himself had determined to fight on foot.

Bruce marshalled his troops in four divisions, facing south-eastwards.
The van was led by Randolph. The second and third divisions were ranged
behind the wings of the van; the former, to the right and resting on
the Bannock, led by Sir Edward Bruce, the latter by Walter the Steward
('that then was but a beardless hyne') and Douglas. The rearguard,
consisting of the men of Carrick, Argyll, Cantyre and the Isles, was
stationed right behind the van at some interval, under the immediate
command of Bruce himself. All the divisions could thus be promptly
massed on the English whether they should select the higher or the
lower line of advance. It was of the very first importance that no
detachment of the English should be allowed to outmanoeuvre the main
body of the Scots and throw themselves into Stirling; and Randolph,
who held the most advanced position, was especially charged to guard
against this fatal contingency. The non-combatants retired behind the
hill in the rear, afterwards named from them the Gillies' (that is,
Servants') Hill.

The dispositions of the English army are not known in certain detail.
There is little help in Barbour's statement that it was divided into
ten companies of 10,000 each. We know that the van was led by the
Earl of Gloucester; and that, if Robert of Reading and the Monk of
Malmesbury may be relied on, the appointment of Gloucester was hotly
resented by the hereditary constable, the Earl of Hereford. The King's
bridle was attended by Sir Aymer de Valence and Sir Giles d'Argentine,
the latter of whom was regarded as the third knight in Christendom,
and had been released from captivity at Salonica in the end of the
preceding year through Edward's urgent representations to the Emperor,
and even to the Empress, of Constantinople.

At sunrise on Sunday, June 23--the eve of St John--the Scots heard
mass. Bruce then devoted special attention to the pits that were still
preparing. After midday--the Scots observed the fast on bread and
water--the English were reported to be advancing from the fringe of
the Torwood. Bruce issued his final orders. Then he is said to have
addressed his men in terms of high resolution, bidding every man depart
that was not ready for either alternative--to conquer or to die. Not a
man moved from the ranks. More than five centuries later, at Balaclava,
'Men,' cried Sir Colin Campbell, 'you must die where you stand.' 'Ay,
ay, Sir Colin, we'll do that,' was the cheery response. Such, too, was
the spirit of the same race on the field of Bannockburn.

At this point, according to Barbour, Douglas and Sir Robert de Keith
(hereditary marshal) proceeded, by order of Bruce, to reconnoitre
the enemy's advance. They returned with such a report of the numbers
and equipment of the English as they deemed it prudent to render to
Bruce only 'in great privity.' Bruce, however, put a bold face on the
situation, and directed them, says Barbour, to spread a depreciatory
account of the enemy.

The main body of the English appears to have halted while the leaders
should take counsel. But Gloucester, with the vanguard, ignorant of
this and ardent for the fray, dashed through the Bannock and advanced
on the Park, where Sir Edward Bruce was ready to receive him. King
Robert himself was riding in front of Sir Edward's division on a small
palfrey, with only a battle-axe in hand. On his basnet, according to
Barbour's haberdashery, he wore a hat of jacked leather, surmounted
by 'a high crown, in token that he was a king.' Some of the English
knights, says the Monk of Malmesbury, rode out between the lines and
flung their challenges to the Scots. Sir Henry de Bohun, a knight of
the house of Hereford, spurred at Bruce himself, and Bruce, swerving
at the critical moment of attack, rose in his stirrups as de Bohun
passed and clove his head at a stroke, the shaft of his axe shivering
in his hand. It may be remarked incidentally that Gray calls the
luckless knight Sir Piers de Mountforth. The Scots pressed forward; the
English fell back; but Bruce prudently soon recalled his men from the
conflict. The Monk of Malmesbury, however, acknowledges that there was
'sufficiently keen fighting, in which Gloucester was unhorsed.' It is
not surprising that the leading Scots remonstrated earnestly with Bruce
for exposing himself to such an unequal chance. According to Barbour,
he made no answer, only regretting the breaking of his good axe-shaft.
There can hardly be any doubt that Bruce took the risk deliberately,
in calculated reliance on his dexterity and strength, and not without
a judicious eye to the moral effect on both armies. The feat, in any
case, damped the ardour of the English and raised the spirit of the
Scots.

Almost contemporaneously with the advance of Gloucester, Clifford
and Beaumont, with 300 men-at-arms--Gray, whose father rode with
them, says 300, while Barbour makes them 800--hurried along the lower
ground on the English right towards Stirling. Their evident object, as
Barbour says, was to relieve the castle; but the Lanercost chronicler
ingenuously explains that it was to prevent the Scots from escaping by
flight. Randolph, strangely ill-served by his scouts and by his eyes,
if Barbour be right, is said not to have been aware of the movement
till he received a sharp message from Bruce (as if Bruce's attention
was not fully engaged elsewhere), telling him significantly that a
rose had fallen from his chaplet. This is sheer monkish imagination.
Gray makes no mention of this incredible inadvertence, but represents
Randolph as fired by the news of Bruce's repulse of the English van;
and the Lanercost chronicler states that the Scots deliberately allowed
the advance of the party. Of course they did; Randolph undoubtedly
descried them the moment they debouched on the carse. To do so was no
less important than it was for Sir Edward to be ready for Gloucester's
onset. The next step for Randolph was to tackle his enemy at the right
spot and not elsewhere. With a strong detachment he rapidly traversed
the wooded edge of the Park, so as to converge upon the English
horsemen at the narrow neck between St Ninian's and the Forth--the only
point, in fact, where he could calculate upon holding them without
moving his whole division down into the low-lying ground (if even that
would have done it), and deranging the order of battle. When they were
'neath the kirk,' he issued from the wood and menaced their further
progress.

'Let us retire a little,' said Beaumont; 'let them come; give them the
fields.'

'Sir,' remarked Sir Thomas Gray, the elder, 'I suspect if you give them
so much now, they will have all only too soon.'

'Why,' rejoined Beaumont tartly, 'if you are afraid you can flee.'

'Sir,' replied Gray, 'it is not for fear that I shall flee this day.'

Whereupon Sir Thomas spurred his steed between Beaumont and Sir William
d'Eyncourt and charged the Scots. Randolph, whose men were on foot,
instantly threw them into a schiltron, 'like a hedgehog.' D'Eyncourt
was slain at the first onset. Gray's horse was speared and he himself
was taken prisoner. The horsemen were wholly unable to make the
slightest impression on the schiltron: they could not ride down the
Scots; they could only cast spears and other missiles into their midst.
Occasionally, on the other hand, a Scot would leap out from the ranks
and strike down horse or rider. Douglas, seeing the Scots surrounded,
entreated Bruce to permit him to go to Randolph's aid. Bruce, however,
sternly refused to disorder his array, but at last yielded to his
importunity. The temporary absence of Douglas and a small party could
not really matter at the moment, and it was wise to make doubly sure
of the vital object dependent on Randolph's defence. On getting near,
however, and perceiving that Randolph was holding his own, Douglas
chivalrously halted his men. But his appearance was not without effect
upon the English party. They gave up the contest. The movement had
completely failed. Some of them straggled to Stirling Castle; the main
body of the survivors fled back the way they had come; and Randolph
returned in triumph. It may be, as Barbour says, that Bruce used the
occasion to deliver to his men another rousing address. At any rate he
had gained a marked success in each of the operations of the day.

Though Gloucester had retired, apparently he did not withdraw beyond
the Bannock, but encamped for the night along the north bank. According
to the unanimous testimony of the chroniclers, the English host was
struck with serious discouragement. It may have been, as Barbour says,
that they talked in groups disconsolately and forebodingly, and that
the encouragement of the leaders predicting victory in the great battle
on the morrow failed to shake off their depression. Still there was
activity in the vanguard camp. Barbour says that at night efforts were
made to render bad parts of the low-lying land in the angle of the
rivers passable, and even that aid in this work was furnished by the
Stirling garrison. According to the Malmesbury chronicler, the English
anticipated attack in the night; and Gray states that they lay under
arms, their horses being ready bridled. Bruce, however, had resolutely
restricted himself to the tactics of defence; but the anticipation was
a natural one enough. Some of the men, very probably, sought artificial
means of consolation and courage. Sir Thomas de la Moore, following
Baston, pictures the English camp as a lamentable and unwonted scene of
drunkenness, men 'shouting "Wassail" and "Drinkhail" beyond ordinary';
and he sets forth, in forcible contrast, the quiet self-restraint and
patriotic confidence of the Scots.

In all the circumstances, it would seem an inexplicable thing that
the Scots should have been on the point of retiring in the night and
making for the fastnesses of the Lennox. Yet Gray records that such was
their intention. Sir Alexander de Seton, he says, came secretly from
the English host to Bruce, and told him that they had lost heart, and
would certainly give way before a vigorous onset next day; whereupon
Bruce changed his plans and braced himself to fight on the morrow. The
Scots had, indeed, 'done enough for the day,' but they had not done
enough for the occasion. Stirling Castle might yet be relieved. It is
likely enough that Seton visited Bruce, and that there were weak-kneed
warriors in Bruce's lines; but that the matter of the interview is
correctly reported by Gray seems absolutely incredible.

On the morning of St John's day, June 24, the Scots heard mass at
sunrise, broke their fast, and lined up with all banners displayed.
Bruce made some new knights, and created Walter the Steward and Douglas
bannerets. He then made fresh dispositions of his troops, in view of
the position of the English van along the Bannock. There, clearly, the
battle would be fought. Accordingly, he brought forward Randolph's
division from the wood, placing it probably by the north-west corner
of Halbert's Bog, almost parallel to Sir Edward's division; while the
third division lay across the south-east slopes of Coxet Hill. The
formation was in echelon by the right, with unequal intervals. Behind
the general line, the rear division stretched from the south-west
slopes of Coxet Hill towards Gillies Hill.

The Scottish array appears to have made a deeper impression on the
English veterans than on the English king. The Malmesbury chronicler
states that the more experienced leaders advised that the battle should
be postponed till the following day, partly because of the solemn
feast, partly because of the fatigue of the soldiery. The advice
was scorned by the younger knights. It was supported, however, by
Gloucester, himself a youthful knight. On him, it is said, the King
turned with vehement indignation, charging him even with treason and
double-dealing. 'To-day,' replied the Earl, 'it will be clear that I
am neither traitor nor double-dealer'; and he addressed himself to
preparation for battle.

The Scots seem to have made but a paltry show in the eyes of Edward.
'What! Will yonder Scots fight?' he is said to have asked his attendant
knights, incredulously. Sir Ingram de Umfraville assured him they
would; at the same time suggesting that the English should feign to
retire, and so draw the Scots from their ranks to plunder, when they
would fall easy victims. Neither did this suggestion jump with the
high humour of Edward. At the moment, he observed the Scottish ranks
falling on their knees as the Abbot of Inchaffray passed along the
lines, bearing aloft the crucifix.

'Yon folk kneel to ask for mercy,' he exclaimed.

'Sire,' said Umfraville, 'ye say sooth now; they crave mercy, but not
of you; it is to God they cry for their trespasses. I tell you of a
surety, yonder men will win all or die.'

'So be it!' cried Edward, 'we shall soon see.' And he ordered the
trumpets to sound the charge.

At the very moment when the hostile armies were closing in stern
conflict, says the Monk of Malmesbury, Gloucester and Hereford were
in hot wrangle over the question of precedence; and Gloucester sprang
forward, 'inordinately bent on carrying off a triumph at the first
onset.' His heavy cavalry, though hampered for space and disconcerted
by the treacherous pits, went forward gallantly, under the cover of a
strong force of archers, who severely galled the Scots, and even drove
back their bowmen. They crashed against Sir Edward Bruce's division,
which received them 'like a dense hedge' or 'wood.' The great horses
with their eager riders dashed themselves in vain against the solid
and impenetrable schiltron. Those behind pressed forward, only to
bite the dust, like their comrades, under the spears and axes of the
Scots. 'There,' says the Monk of Malmesbury, 'the horrible crash
of splintered spears, the terrible clangour of swords quivering on
helmets, the insupportable force of the Scottish axes, the fearsome
cloud of arrows and darts discharged on both sides, might have shaken
the courage of the very stoutest heart. The redoubling of blow on blow,
the vociferation of encouragements, the din of universal shouting, and
the groans of the dying, could be heard farther than may be said.' The
Lanercost writer goes near to justifying Scott's remarkable expression,
'steeds that shriek in agony.' Seldom in history has there been so
fierce a turmoil of battle.

According to Barbour, Randolph, noting the strain upon the first
division, bore down to Sir Edward's support and drew an equally heavy
attack upon himself. Steadily the second division won ground, though
they seemed lost in the swarms of the enemy, 'as they were plunged in
the sea.' But not yet did victory incline to either side. Then Bruce
threw into the scale the weight of the third division, the Steward and
Douglas ranging themselves 'beside the Earl a little by.' With splendid
tenacity, the English grappled with the newcomers in stubborn conflict,
till, Barbour says, 'the blood stood in pools' on the field.

The engagement was now as general as the nature of the position
allowed. Both sides settled down to steady hard pounding, and it
remained to be seen which would pound the hardest and the longest.

The English were at enormous disadvantage in being unable to bring into
action their whole force together. They could, indeed, supply the gaps
in the narrow front with sheer weight of pressure from the rear, and
they took bold risks on parts of the softer ground, especially along
the north bank of the Bannock; but, even so, the fighting line was
grievously hampered for space, and the wild career of wounded steeds
defied the most strenuous efforts to preserve order. The archers,
however, worked round to the right of Sir Edward's division, plying
their bows with such energy and discrimination as greatly to disconcert
Sir Edward's men. The moment had come for King Robert to order into
action the marshal, Sir Robert de Keith, with his handful of 500
horsemen 'armed in steel.' Keith dashed upon the archers in flank, and
scattered them in flight. This successful operation gave the Scots
archers the opportunity to retaliate with effect, while it relieved the
foremost division to reconcentrate their energies on the heavy cavalry
steadily thundering on their front. But more English cavalry pressed
to occupy the ground abandoned by the English archers. And now Bruce
appears to have brought his rear division into action upon the English
flank. It was his last resource. The Scots, says Barbour, 'fought as
they were in a rage; they laid on as men out of wit.' But still the
English disputed every inch of ground with indomitable resolution.

It was probably about this time that the gallant young Gloucester fell.
After brilliant efforts to penetrate the impenetrable wedge of Scots,
he had his charger slain under him, and was thrown to the ground. The
mishap is said to have dazed his men, who 'stood as if astonied,'
instead of aiding him to rise, burdened as he was with the weight of
his armour, and possibly trammelled by his horse. He was thus slain in
the midst of the 500 armed followers he had led into the front of the
battle. The Monk of Malmesbury raises a loud lament over Gloucester's
luckless fate: 'Devil take soldiery,' he exclaims in pious energy,
'whose courage oozes out at the critical moment of need.' It may be,
however, that others are right in stating that Gloucester was slain in
consequence of his rash and headlong advance at the very first onset.

The prolonged and doubtful struggle naturally wearied out the patience
of the non-combatants behind Gillies Hill. Choosing a captain,
says Barbour, they marshalled themselves--15,000 to 20,000 in
number--improvised banners by fastening sheets on boughs and spears,
and advanced over the brow of the hill in view of the battle raging
below. The English, it is said, believing them to be a fresh army,
were struck with panic. Bruce marking the effect shouted his war-cry
and urged his men to their utmost efforts. The English van at last
yielded ground, though not at all points. The Scots, however, seized
their advantage, and pressed with all their might. The English line
broke, falling back on the Bannock. Confusion increased at every step.
Horsemen and foot, gentle and simple, were driven pell-mell into the
Bannock, and but few of them were lucky enough to gain the south bank;
the burn, Barbour says, was 'so full of horses and men that one might
pass over it dry-shod.' The panic ran through the whole English army.
The day was lost and won.

King Edward refused to believe the evidence of his senses, and
obstinately refused to quit the field. But it is the merest
bravado--though countenanced by Scott--when Trokelowe relates how the
King, in the bitterness and fury of his wrath, 'rushed truculently
upon the enemy like a lion robbed of whelps,' copiously shed their
blood, and was with difficulty withdrawn from the orgy of massacre.
Unquestionably he stood aloof from the battle, watching its progress at
a safe distance. When the English gave way in hopeless rout, Valence
and Argentine seized his rein and hurried him off the field in spite
of all remonstrance. It was not a moment too soon, for already, says
Gray, Scots knights 'hung with their hands on the trappings of the
King's destrier' in a determined attempt to capture him, and were
disengaged only by the King's desperate wielding of a mace. They had
even ripped up his destrier, so that presently he had to mount another.
Once the King was clear of immediate pursuers, Argentine directed him
to Stirling Castle and bade him farewell. 'I have not hitherto been
accustomed to flee,' he said, 'nor will I flee now. I commend you to
God.' And striking spurs to his steed he charged furiously upon Sir
Edward Bruce's division, but was quickly borne down and slain.

The turning of the King's rein was the signal for the general dispersal
of the army in flight.

King Edward, attended by Valence, Despenser, Beaumont, Sir John
de Cromwell, and some 500 men-at-arms, made for Stirling Castle.
Mowbray, with the plainest commonsense--the suggestion of treachery
is preposterous--begged him not to stay, for the castle must be
surrendered; in any case, it would be taken. So the King was conducted
in all haste round the Park and the Torwood towards Linlithgow; the
Lanercost writer assigns as guide 'a certain Scots knight, who knew
by what ways they could escape.' But for Bruce's anxious care to keep
his men in hand in case of a rally, it seems quite certain that Edward
would not have escaped at all. Douglas went in pursuit, but he had only
some sixty horsemen. On the borders of the Torwood he met Sir Lawrence
de Abernethy, who was coming to assist the English, but at once changed
sides on learning the issue of the day, and joined Douglas in pursuit
of the fugitive King. At Linlithgow Douglas came within bowshot of
the royal party, but, not being strong enough to attack, hung close
upon their rear, capturing or killing the stragglers. The pursuit was
continued hot-foot through Lothian; Douglas

          'was alwais by thame neir;
    He leit thame nocht haf sic laseir
    As anys wattir for to ma'--

till at last Edward found shelter in Earl Patrick's castle of Dunbar.
The King, with seventeen of his closest attendants, presently embarked
on a vessel for Berwick (Barbour says Bamborough), 'abandoning all the
others,' sneers the Lanercost writer, 'to their fortune,' These others,
according to Barbour, had not even been admitted to Dunbar Castle;
but Douglas let them go on to Berwick unmolested, and with a drove of
captured horses speedily rejoined Bruce at Stirling. Sir Thomas de la
Moore attributes the King's escape 'not to the swiftness of his horse,
nor to the efforts of men, but to the Mother of God, whom he invoked,'
vowing to build and dedicate to her a house for twenty-four poor
Carmelites, students of theology. This vow he fulfilled, in spite of
the dissuasion of Despenser, and the house is now Oriel College, Oxford.

Another party, headed by the Earl of Hereford, made for Carlisle.
According to the Lanercost chronicler, it included the Earl of Angus,
Sir John de Segrave, Sir Antony de Lucy, Sir Ingram de Umfraville, and
many other knights, and numbered 600 horse and 1000 foot. They appealed
to the hospitality of Sir Walter Fitz Gilbert, who held Valence's
castle of Bothwell for Edward with a garrison of sixty Scots. Fitz
Gilbert admitted 'the more noble' of them--Barbour says fifty; the
Meaux chronicler, 120; Walsingham, a still larger number. Fitz Gilbert
at once secured them all as prisoners, and delivered them to Sir Edward
Bruce, who was sent with a large force to take them over. Hereford and
others were eventually exchanged for the Queen, the Princess Marjory,
and the Bishop of Glasgow; the rest were held to heavy ransom. The
main body of the party struggled forward to the Border, but many of
them--Barbour says three-fourths--were slain or captured. Everywhere,
in fact, the inhabitants, who 'had previously feigned peace' with the
English, rose upon the hapless fugitives. Thus, Sir Maurice de Berkeley
escaped with a great body of Welshmen, but, says Barbour, many were
taken or slain before they reached England. A large number fled to
Stirling Castle, where Barbour pictures the crags as covered with them;
but these at once surrendered to a detachment of Bruce's force.

It is hopeless to number the slain that strewed the field of battle,
choked the Bannock, or floated down the Forth. Barbour says roundly
that 30,000 English were slain or drowned. The Meaux chronicler admits
20,000. Walsingham numbers no less than 700 knights and squires.
Besides Gloucester and Argentine, the veteran Sir Robert de Clifford,
Sir Pagan de Tybetot, Sir William the Marshal, Sir William de Vescy,
Sir John Comyn (the son of the Red Comyn, slain at Dumfries), Sir Henry
de Bohun, Sir William D'Eyncourt, and many other notable warriors,
had fallen in the forefront of battle. Sir Edmund de Mauley, the
King's seneschal, was drowned in the Bannock. The undistinguished many
must remain uncounted. The Scots losses, which, though comparatively
insignificant, must yet have been considerable, are equally beyond
reckoning. The only men of note mentioned are Sir William Vipont and
Sir Walter Ross.

In dealing with his prisoners, Bruce displayed a princely generosity.
Trokelowe frankly acknowledges that his handsome liberality gained him
immense respect 'even among his enemies.' Walsingham declares that it
'changed the hearts of many to love of him.' The Monk of Reading is
fairly astonished. There was no haggling over exchanges or ransoms,
though no doubt many of the ransoms were at a high figure. Sir Ralph
de Monthermer, who was captured at Stirling, and was an old friend of
Bruce's, was released without ransom, and carried back to England the
King's shield, which Bruce freely returned. Sir Marmaduke Twenge, a
relative of Bruce's, who yielded himself to the King personally on the
day after the battle, was sent home, not only without ransom, but with
handsome gifts. The bodies of Gloucester and Clifford were freely sent
to Edward at Berwick with every token of respect for gallant foes; and,
while the common men that fell on the field were interred in common
trenches, the more noble were buried with noble ceremonial 'in holy
places.'

The spoils collected by the victors were enormous. Walsingham ventures
on an estimate of £200,000; 'so many good nobles, vigorous youths,
noble horses, warlike arms, precious garments and napery, and vessels
of gold--all lost!' Bruce made generous distribution among his
valiant men. The individual ransoms largely increased the individual
acquisitions. 'The whole land,' says Fordun, 'overflowed with boundless
wealth.'

The chroniclers labour to assign reasons for the great disaster. The
religious reason seems rather thin; for, if Edward and his barons broke
the Ordinances, and also fought on a feast day, Bruce and his friends
lay under multiplied excommunications. There is more substance in
other allegations--presumptuous confidence on the part of the English
leaders; discord in their councils; their impetuous and disorderly
advance; the fatigue and hunger of the men by reason of the rapid
march from Berwick. One would be unwilling to press a certain lack of
enthusiasm for their King, or a suspicion of inadequate generalship.
There is sufficient explanation in the skill, prudence, and iron
resolution of Bruce, supported by able generals of division, and by
brave and patriotic men. Had the result been otherwise, it would have
been, for England, a greater disaster still.

'Yet'--and the word of honest sympathy and justification will not jar
now on any generous mind--

    'Yet mourn not, Land of Fame!
    Though ne'er the leopards on thy shield
    Retreated from so sad a field
        Since Norman William came.
    Oft may thine annals justly boast
    Of battles stern by Scotland lost;
        Grudge not her victory,
    When for her freeborn rights she strove--
    Rights dear to all who Freedom love,
        To none so dear as thee!'



CHAPTER X

INVASION OF ENGLAND AND IRELAND


The battle of Bannockburn might well have been the historical, as well
as the dramatic, close of the struggle. But Edward refused to be taught
by experience, and the desultory welter of war was miserably prolonged
for nearly half a generation to come. The disaster rankled in Edward's
mind, ever craving vengeance, impotently. With childish wilfulness,
he would not even concede to Bruce the formal title of King of Scots,
though the Lanercost chronicler admits that the victory at Bannockburn
extorted a general recognition of his right by conquest.

Edward retired from Berwick to York. It was plain that Bruce would
instantly follow up his victory, and already there was anxiety on
the Border. Berwick was not only vexed by the Scots, but still more
seriously menaced by the violence of the Northumbrians, who had been
exasperated by the hanging of a number of their countrymen for alleged
treachery; and the storm burst upon the north of England before Edward
could send up reinforcements. Before the middle of July, Sir Andrew
de Harcla, the constable of Carlisle, was in daily expectation of
an attack, and complained that he was hampered by lack of promised
support. Bishop Kellawe could not attend Parliament, so busy was he
in preparations for the defence of his episcopate; 'all the people
say that, if he now leave the district, they will not venture to stay
behind.'

Immediately after the battle, Sir Philip de Mowbray surrendered
Stirling Castle, and passed over to the side of the victor. Towards the
end of July, Sir Edward Bruce and Douglas, with other Scots nobles,
crossed the eastern Border and ravaged Northumberland, leaving the
castles unassailed. They spared the episcopate of Durham from fire
in consideration of a large sum of money. Crossing the Tees, they
penetrated beyond Richmond, the people fleeing before them to the
south, to the woods, to the castles. They turned up Swaledale, and
on Stainmoor severely handled Harcla, who had seized the opportunity
of quietness at Carlisle to make a luckless raid upon them. On their
northward march they burnt Brough, Appleby, Kirkoswald, and other
towns, and trampled down the crops remorselessly. Coupland bought off a
visitation. They re-entered Scotland with many prisoners of price, and
with great droves of cattle. They had met with no resistance, except
Harcla's futile effort. 'The English,' says Walsingham dolefully, 'had
lost so much of their accustomed boldness that a hundred of them fled
from the face of two or three Scots.'

On September 9, Edward held a parliament at York. He readily confirmed
the ordinances, changed ministers, even retired Despenser--anything
for the military help of his barons. But further operations against
Scotland were postponed till Hereford and the other prisoners of note
could be ransomed home. About a week later, Edward had a communication
from Bruce expressing a strong desire for accord and amity. Safe
conducts were issued, and truce commissioners were appointed.
Meantime, however, the negotiations were too slow for the Scots; for,
on the very day that Edward appointed his commissioners, the Prior
and Convent of Durham signed a bond for 800 marks to Randolph for a
quiet life till the middle of January. Randolph, in fact, penetrated
Yorkshire, committing the usual depredations. Still the negotiations,
which apparently had been entered into at the instance of Philip of
France, went forward. But in November the English envoys returned
from Dumfries with empty hands, and with the news of the likelihood
of another invasion of the Scots, 'owing to the lack of food in their
country.' Already, indeed, a body of Scots had occupied Tyndale,
and were pushing down towards Newcastle. About Christmas they again
ravaged Northumberland, and let off Cumberland till midsummer day next
year for the sum of 600 marks. The Archbishop of York, whose manor of
Hexham had suffered, vigorously denounced the invaders; and at York
Minster on January 17, barons and clergy resolved on making a stand
at Northallerton three days later. But the only serious effort of the
season was Harcla's valorous November raid on Dumfriesshire, where
he was well punished, despite the local knowledge of his recreant
lieutenant, Sir Thomas de Torthorwald. About the beginning of February,
indeed, John of Argyll overpowered the Scots in the Isle of Man, and
recovered it for Edward. But 'the terror that prevailed throughout the
north of England,' as Canon Raine says, 'was something unexampled';
'with the exception of a few fortresses, two or three of the northern
counties were almost permanently occupied by the Scots.'

On April 26, 1315, a Parliament was held in the Parish Church of Ayr,
to consider 'the condition, defence, and perpetual security of the
Kingdom of Scotland.' The business was to settle the succession to
the throne. It was enacted that, failing lawful male heirs of King
Robert, Sir Edward and his lawful male heirs should succeed; failing
these, Marjory; and failing Marjory, the nearest lineal heir of the
body of Robert. In case the heir were a minor, Randolph was to be
guardian of both heir and realm. Failing all these heirs, Randolph
was to be guardian until Parliament should determine the succession.
Presently Marjory married Sir Walter the Steward. She died in her first
confinement on March 2, 1315-16, leaving a son, who became Robert II.
of Scotland.

The settlement no doubt was influenced by the imminence of a large
expansion of policy--the ill-starred Irish expedition. On May 25,
1315, Sir Edward Bruce landed at Carrickfergus with 6000 men. On his
staff were some of the foremost Scots knights--Randolph, Sir Philip de
Mowbray, Sir John de Soulis, Sir John the Steward, and many others.
The true motives of the enterprise are by no means clear. There was no
immediate object in dividing the English forces, and in any case there
was involved a like division of the Scots forces. The suggestion of the
discontentment of the Scots with their territorial boundaries, growing
out of repeated successes in the field and a superfluity of money,
seems to be a mere speculation of the Lanercost chronicler. There is
more probability in Barbour's assertion that Sir Edward Bruce, 'who
stouter was than a leopard, thought Scotland too small for his brother
and himself.' It may be that this particular outlet for his restless
and ambitious spirit was opened up by an offer of the crown of Ireland
by independent Ulster kinglets either in the first place to King Robert
or directly to Sir Edward himself. It is not improbable, however, that
the movement may have been a serious attempt at a great flank attack
on England. Walsingham mentions 'a rumour that, if things went well in
Ireland, Sir Edward would at once pass over to Wales.' 'For these two
races,' he says, 'are easily stirred to rebellion, and, taking ill with
the yoke of servitude, they execrate the domination of the English.'

The Irish expedition despatched from Ayr, King Robert and his
lieutenants again turned to the Border. In the end of May, a meeting
of the clergy and magnates of the north had been convened at Doncaster
by the Archbishop of York, at the instance of the Earl of Lancaster
and other barons, who appear to have been in a conciliatory mood; and
on June 30, Edward issued his summons for the muster at Newcastle by
the middle of August. But already, on June 29, Douglas had entered
the episcopate of Durham. Pushing on to Hartlepool, he occupied, but
did not burn the town, the people taking refuge on the ships; and he
returned laden with plunder. Sir Ralph Fitz William had given Edward a
week's warning, but nothing had been done in consequence. It does seem
odd, therefore, to stumble on an account of payment to nineteen smiths
of Newcastle for 'pikois,' 'howes,' and other instruments sent to Perth
in August.

On July 22, Bruce himself invested Carlisle, which was held by the
redoubtable Harcla. His army was amply supplied by forays into
Allerdale, Coupland, and Westmorland. Every day an assault was
delivered upon one of the three gates of the city, and sometimes upon
all at once; but the besieged replied manfully with showers of stones
and arrows. On the fifth day of the siege, the Scots brought into
action a machine that hurled stones continuously at the Caldew gate and
the wall, but without effect; and the defenders answered with seven or
eight similar machines, as well as with springalds for hurling darts
and slings for hurling stones, 'which greatly frightened and harassed
the men without.' The Scots next erected a wooden tower overtopping
the wall; whereupon the besieged raised over the nearest tower on the
wall a similar wooden tower overtopping the Scots one. But the Scots
tower proved useless, for its wheels stuck in the mud of the moat, and
it could not be got up to the wall. Nor could the Scots use their long
scaling ladders, or a sow they had prepared to undermine the wall;
they could not fill up the moat with fascicles; and, when they tried
to run bridges of logs on wheels across the moat, the weight of the
mass, as in the case of the tower, sank the whole construction in the
mud. On the ninth day, Bruce abandoned his engines, and delivered a
general assault; but still the besieged made manful defence. Next day
the attack was renewed with special vigour on the eastern side, while
Douglas with a determined band attempted to scale the wall on the west,
at its highest and most difficult point, where an assault would not
be expected. His men mounted the wall under the protection of a body
of archers; but the English tumbled down ladders and men, killing and
wounding many, and baffling the attack. On the morrow (August 1), the
siege was raised. The Lanercost chronicler, who writes as if he had
been present, affirms that only two Englishmen were killed and a few
wounded during the eleven days' investment.

Whether Bruce was hopeless and disgusted, or had been informed of the
approach of a relieving force under Valence, or had heard the false
report of the defeat and death of Sir Edward in Ireland, at any rate he
hurried back to Scotland. Harcla promptly sallied in pursuit, harassing
flank and rear, and making two important captures--Sir John de Moray
and Sir Robert Baird. Moray had been conspicuous at Bannockburn, and
had been enriched by the ransom of twenty-three English knights,
besides squires and others, who had fallen to his share. Baird is
described as 'a man of the worst will towards Englishmen.' Harcla
delivered the prisoners to Edward, receiving (November 8) a guerdon
of 1000 marks; but the money was to be raised from wardships, and the
accrual of it was spread over eight years. The King's treasury was low.

There is very little news of the Scots navy in those days, but it seems
to have been reasonably active. On September 12, one bold mariner,
Thomas Dunn, 'with a great navy of Scots,' followed an English ship
into Holyhead harbour, and, in the absence of the master on shore,
carried it off to Scotland. About the same time John of Argyll was in
Dublin, impatiently expecting reinforcements from the Cinque Ports.
Edward retained part of the squadron to assist the French king against
the Flemings.

On January 15, 1315-16, Bruce and Douglas made a sudden attack on
Berwick, by land and sea simultaneously, during the night. They hoped
to effect an entrance from the sea, at a point between the Brighouse
and the castle, where there was no wall. The attempt failed. It was
bright moonlight, and the assailants were promptly observed and
repulsed. Sir John de Landells was slain, and Douglas himself escaped
with difficulty in a small boat.

The garrison of Berwick had only too much reason to complain. Writing
on October 3, Edward's Chamberlain of Scotland had informed him that
the provisions expected from Boston in the end of July had never
been sent, and 'the town is in great straits, and many are dying
from hunger.' Indeed, 'if the Mayor and himself had not promised the
garrison food and clothing for the winter, they would have gone.' Two
days later, Sir Maurice de Berkeley, the warden, wrote that the town
and the inhabitants never were in such distress, 'and will be this
winter, if God and the King don't think more of them,' and quickly.
Unless money and provisions arrive by the end of the month, they will
give up their posts and leave the town, to a man. On October 30,
indeed, a vessel had brought in malt, barley and beans, but the master
had had to throw overboard a great part of his cargo to escape the
enemy. On November 26, Edward sent £300 by way of pay to the garrison;
but he could not succour them effectually, and apparently Valence, who
was warden north of Trent, had fallen into a lethargy. The repulse of
Bruce was therefore signally creditable to the defence.

A series of four official despatches during the latter half of February
and the first week in March exhibit the deplorable state of the town
from famine. On February 14, part of the garrison, in the teeth of
the warden's orders, had gone out on a foray, declaring it was better
to die fighting than to starve. They had captured many prisoners and
cattle, but Douglas, on the information of Sir Adam de Gordon, who had
recently changed sides, caught them at Scaithmoor, slew their leader,
and furiously broke up their schiltron, killing or capturing twenty
men-at-arms and sixty foot. Considering that the men were struggling to
keep the means of rescuing them from starvation, Barbour may well be
right in declaring it to be the hardest fight that Douglas ever fought.
The foray brought no relief to the garrison, except by diminution of
mouths. The men were 'dying of hunger in rows on the walls.' 'Whenever
a horse dies,' wrote Sir Maurice de Berkeley, 'the men-at-arms carry
off the flesh and boil and eat it, not letting the foot soldiers touch
it till they have had what they will. Pity to see Christians leading
such a life.' He will remain warden no longer than his term, which
expires a month after Easter.

Meantime Sir Henry de Beaumont, warden of the March, had gone to
Lincoln to represent to the King and Council his conferences with some
of the Scots leaders for a truce. On February 22, Edward appointed
commissioners to treat with Bruce, Sir Maurice de Berkeley being one;
and on April 28, 1316, he authorised safe conducts for the Scots
envoys. But the business did not get forward, and the Mayor of Berwick,
on May 10, sent urgent news to the King. Berwick has provisions for a
month only; the enemy's cruisers have cut off supplies, and have just
captured two vessels with victuals; the warden will serve an extended
term till Whitsunday, but no longer; Bruce will be at Melrose in a
fortnight with all his force. And all the time Edward was hampered in
his measures against Scotland by the war in Ireland and by a rising in
Wales.

At midsummer 1316, the Scots again crossed the Border with fire and
sword, and penetrated to Richmond, where they were heavily paid to
abstain from further burning in the town and neighbourhood. Then they
headed west as far as Furness, burning and ravaging without opposition.
They carried home immense booty, as well as many prisoners, men and
women; and they were particularly delighted with the quantity of iron
they found at Furness, there being very little iron in Scotland. The
leader of this expedition is not named.

For many years there had been great scarcity in both countries, a
natural consequence of predatory warfare. 'This year,' says the
Lanercost chronicler, 'there was both in England and in Scotland a
mortality of men from famine and pestilence unheard of in our times;
and in the northern parts of England a quarter of corn sold at 40s.'
Walsingham says the distress was worst in the north, where, he heard,
'the people ate dogs and horses and other unclean animals.'

In Ireland it was still worse; in these wretched years of intestine
broils, it is said 'men were wont to devour one another.' Sir Edward
Bruce had now been fighting there for a full year. With his Irish
allies, he had raided the English adherents in Ulster; occupied
Carrickfergus after a great fight, but failed to take the castle;
captured and burnt Dundalk (June 29, 1315); defeated the joint forces
of the Earl of Ulster and the King of Connaught at Connor (September
10); besieged Carrickfergus in vain (till December 6); marched down
into Kildare, defeating first Sir Roger de Mortimer at Kenlis, and
afterwards (January 26) Sir Edmund le Butler, the justiciar, at
Arscott; and returned to the siege of Carrickfergus, which was starved
into surrender some time in summer. On May 2, 1316, Sir Edward was
crowned King of Ireland.

In autumn of 1315, and again in the following March, Randolph had
returned to Scotland for reinforcements. On the latter occasion he
brought Sir Edward's urgent request that King Robert would come in
person, for then the conquest would be assured. In autumn, 1316,
accordingly, Bruce appointed Douglas and the Steward Guardians in his
absence, and sailed from Loch Ryan to Carrickfergus. His operations
during the winter in Ulster do not appear to have advanced the cause
materially, and in spring he set out on an adventurous expedition
throughout Ireland.

Barbour's account, though considerably detailed, can be treated only
with the greatest reserve. King Edward led the van, King Robert brought
up the rear. The enemy lay in wait at Moyra Pass, 'the Gap of the
North,' the immemorial route of invaders north and south, some three
miles north of Dundalk. Edward, says Barbour, rode past the ambush.
When the rear came up, two archers appeared in view, immediately
suggesting the nearness of an enemy; and Bruce held back his men. Sir
Colin Campbell, son of Sir Nigel and nephew of Bruce, pressed forward
and killed one of them, but the other shot his horse; whereupon Bruce,
in great wrath, felled Sir Colin with his truncheon for disobedience,
which 'might be cause of discomfiting.' Emerging at length from the
gorge, they found Richard de Clare with 40,000 men drawn up on the
plain, whom they presently defeated: in all the Irish war 'so hard
a fighting was not seen.' When Edward heard of it, 'might no man
see a wrother man.' But only a cloistered ecclesiastic can be held
responsible for such military procedure.

Advancing on Dublin, the Scots took Castle Knock on February 23;
two days later they were at Leixlip; in four days more, they had
reached Naas; and on March 12, they were at Callan in Kilkenny. The
southernmost place they visited was Limerick, where they stayed two or
three days. As they were starting northwards again, King Robert heard a
woman's wail, and on inquiry learned that it was a poor laundress that
had been seized with the pains of labour and was lamenting to be left
behind; upon which he countermanded the march till she should be able
to accompany the army. Such is Barbour's story; let us call it, after
Scott, a 'beautiful incident.' The expedition then, somehow, passed
back to Dublin, and on to Carrickfergus. It is an amazing narrative.
Possibly the Bruces anticipated that they would gain over the tribes
of the south and west; possibly they expected to tap ampler and more
convenient sources of supplies; possibly they were trying the effect
of a grand demonstration. At any rate they did not win any permanent
support; 'in this march,' says Fordun, 'many died of hunger, and the
rest lived on horse-flesh'; and the demonstration was utterly futile.
Towards the end of the march, the English hung upon the Scots, but
'hovered still about them and did nothing.' Yet it seems unreasonable
to blame the English commanders, for it cannot be doubted that
they would have exterminated the Scots if they could. A change of
Lord-Lieutenant was impending; and Sir Roger de Mortimer of Wigmore,
who had been appointed to succeed Sir Edmund le Butler (November 23),
was delayed by want of outfit and did not arrive in Ireland till April
7, when the expedition was practically over.

King Robert returned to Scotland in May 1317, after an absence of
about half a year, bringing with him 'many wounded men.' Meantime his
lieutenants had kept Scotland with a strong hand. During 1316, Edward's
efforts to conduct an army against the Scots had been again and again
thwarted, and towards the end of November negotiations were in progress
for a truce. At the same time the redoubtable Harcla had been defeated
and captured by Sir John de Soulis (Barbour says) in Eskdale, and was
begging Edward for Sir John de Moray and Sir Robert Baird, his former
prisoners, 'in aid of his ransom, as he does not see how he can free
himself otherwise.' Truce or no truce, the Earl of Arundel, who was
in command on the March, conceived the notion of sending a force to
hew down Jedburgh Forest. Douglas, who was building himself a house
at Lintalee on the Jed, took 50 men-at-arms and a body of archers and
planted an ambush at a wooded pass. When the English--certainly nothing
like 10,000, as Barbour estimates them--had well entered, the archers
assailed them in flank, and Douglas struck upon the rear, killing
their leader, Sir Thomas de Richmond, and routing them disastrously. A
detachment that had taken possession of Douglas's quarters at Lintalee
he surprised at dinner and slew almost to a man. Jedburgh Forest was
left unfelled.

About the same time, it came to the ears of Douglas that Sir Robert de
Neville, 'the Peacock of the North,' irritated by the recurrent praise
of his deeds, had boasted at Berwick that he would fight him on the
first chance. Douglas instantly took the road to Berwick, marching in
the night, and in the early morning he displayed his broad banner, and
lit up the landscape by firing several villages. Neville issued at the
challenge and posted himself on a hill, expecting that the Scots would
scatter in search of plunder. Douglas, however, impatiently advanced,
and quickly met Neville, man to man. It was an unequal contest. Neville
fell under the sword of Douglas. His troops fled. His three brothers,
Alexander, John, and Ralph were among the prisoners captured, and were
held to ransom for 2000 marks each.

The English, beaten at all points on the Border, made an attempt by
sea, landing a force of 500 men near Inverkeithing to raid Fife. The
Earl and the Sheriff of Fife, though apprised of their coming, had not
the pluck or the numbers to prevent their landing, and retired. Bishop
Sinclair of Dunkeld, however, rode up at the head of 60 horsemen, his
episcopal cloak covering a suit of full armour. He scouted the Earl's
excuse of superior numbers, and told him to his face that he deserved
to have his gilt spurs hewn off his heels. 'Follow me,' he cried, 'and,
in the name of the Lord, and with the aid of St Columba, whose land
they are ravaging, we will take revenge.' Thereupon, casting off his
cloak and wielding a formidable spear, he spurred right on the enemy,
routed them, and drove them to their ships with great slaughter. So
precipitate was their flight that one barge was overladen and sank with
all on board. Ever after Sinclair was called by King Robert 'my own
Bishop,' and popularly he was 'the Fechtin' Bishop.'

Bruce had now complete control of every part of his kingdom, excepting
Berwick, and the northern counties of England lay open to him at his
will. It was more than time for a final peace.



CHAPTER XI

CONCILIATION AMID CONFLICT


On January 1, 1316-17, the Pope declared a truce of two years between
Edward and Bruce 'acting as King of Scotland' (_gerentem se pro
rege Scotiæ_), and denounced excommunication against all breakers
thereof. By a Bull dated March 17, he exhorted Edward to peace with
Bruce 'now governing the realm of Scotland' (_impraesentiarum regnum
Scotiæ gubernantem_), representing not only the waste of good lives
and property but also the hindrance to the recovery of the Holy
Land, and announcing the despatch of his nuncios, Guacelin d'Euse
and Lucca di Fieschi, to effect a solemn concord. Presently he drew
up two more Bulls, dated March 28--one, to certain English prelates,
excommunicating all enemies of Edward invading England and Ireland; the
other, to certain Irish prelates, excommunicating Robert and Edward
Bruce--but these the Cardinals would hold in reserve till the issue of
their mission should declare itself. In these Bulls, King Robert is
'late Earl of Carrick' (_dudum Comes de Carrik_); Edward, by profession
of eagerness to go on a crusade--and otherwise--is the Pope's 'most
dear son in Christ.' In view of the crusade, it was essential that
Edward should also enjoy peace at home; and, on April 20, the Pope
wrote to the chief magnates urging them to support their King with
counsel and with help.

Towards the end of June 1317, the two Cardinals arrived in England,
and were conducted with great ceremony to London. Edward had gone to
Woodstock, where, on July 1, he summoned his parliament to meet at
Nottingham on the 18th, to consider, before the Cardinals should come
to his presence, the questions he would have to discuss with them. On
July 27, he authorised safe conducts for the Cardinals' party, and
assigned specially to the two prelates two officers of his personal
staff. The Cardinals started for the north, 'as the manner of the
Romans is,' with great pomp and circumstance. On the way, they were to
consecrate the new Bishop of Durham, Louis de Beaumont, who proceeded
in their train. They were also accompanied by Sir Henry de Beaumont,
the brother of the Bishop elect, and other magnates. In the pride
of ecclesiastical security, they contemned all warnings of danger.
They had an unexpected welcome to the episcopate. On September 1, as
they were passing Rushyford, within nine miles of Durham--if not at
Aycliffe, three miles south of Rushyford--they were suddenly assailed
by Sir Gilbert de Middleton and his robber band, and despoiled of all
their valuables. The prelates and their personal attendants Sir Gilbert
permitted to proceed to Durham, perhaps on foot, unharmed; the Bishop
elect, Sir Henry, and the rest he consigned to Mitford Castle--the
eyrie whence he swooped upon the country around, harrying as far as
the Priory of Tynemouth. Arrived at Durham, the Cardinals, having duly
adored St Cuthbert and venerated the venerable Bede, let loose upon
their sacrilegious assailants all the powers of excommunication. The
malison, says the Malmesbury chronicler, was efficacious; for, before
the year was out, Middleton was captured and taken to London, where he
was drawn, hanged, beheaded, and quartered.

The Cardinals' advance messengers, and their special envoys
(_praecursores_)--the Bishop of Corbau and the Archdeacon of
Perpignan--had reached the Border in safety. There the messengers
had been stopped. The envoys, however, were met, about the beginning
of September, by Douglas and Sir Alexander de Seton, and allowed to
proceed, but only after handing over their letters for King Robert.
They were conducted to Roxburgh Castle. There the King received them
graciously, listened with reverent attention to the Pope's open
letters in favour of peace, and replied that he would welcome a good
and lasting peace, whether arranged by the mediation of the Cardinals
or otherwise. He also listened respectfully to the Cardinals' open
letters. But as for the _close_ letters, he positively refused to
break the seal of one of them. They were addressed to Robert de Brus,
'governing the realm of Scotland.' 'There are several others of the
name of Robert de Brus,' he said, 'who take part with the other barons
in the government of the realm of Scotland. These letters may be for
one of them; they are not addressed to me, for they do not bear the
title of King.' No; he would not risk opening other men's letters.
Still, he would assemble his Council and consult with them whether he
should nevertheless receive the Cardinals to audience; but, as his
barons were engaged in various distant places, it would be impossible
for him to give his decision till Michaelmas (September 29).

The envoys had their apology ready. They explained that it was the
custom of Holy Mother Church, during the pendency of a question, not
to say or write anything calculated to prejudice either party. 'If my
Father and my Mother,' replied Bruce, holding up the Pope's letters,
'wished to avoid creating prejudice against the other party by calling
me King, it seems to me that they ought not, while the question is
still pending, create prejudice against me by withholding the title
from me; especially when I am in possession of the realm, and everybody
in it calls me King, and foreign kings and princes address me as King.
Really, it appears to me that my Father and Mother are partial as
between their sons. If you had presented a letter with such an address
to another king, it may be that you would have received another sort of
answer.' This caustic reply, the envoys reported, he delivered with a
benign mien, 'always showing due reverence for his Father and Mother.'

The envoys passed to the next point. They requested him to cease
meantime from further hostilities. 'That,' he replied, 'I can in no
wise do without the consent of my barons; besides, the English are
making reprisals upon my people and their property.'

In the confidence of authority, the envoys had taken with them one
of the Cardinals' advance messengers, who had been sent on with a
letter announcing the Pope's coronation, but had been stopped at the
frontier. They now entreated King Robert to grant him a safe conduct;
but he denied their request 'with a certain change of countenance,' not
uttering a word.

Turning to Bruce's staff they inquired anxiously, Why was this? Why,
simply because King Robert was not suitably addressed. But for this
blunder, he would have willingly and promptly responded on every point.

So wrote the Cardinals to the Pope from Durham on September 7.
They added that they expected nothing better than a refusal of an
audience at Michaelmas; for, even if Robert were himself disposed to
receive them, it was evident that his barons would offer opposition.
The friends of Bruce had made no secret of their opinion that the
reservation of the royal title was a deliberate slight at the instance
of English intriguers--an opinion avowedly based on information from
the papal court. The contrary assurances of the envoys had been worse
than useless, and they despaired of further intercommunication unless
and until the resentment of the Scots should be mollified by concession
of the royal title. Some considerable time after Michaelmas, Bruce
confirmed by letter the anticipations of the Cardinals. He must have
his royal title recognised. At the same time he repeated his desire for
peace, and his readiness to send representatives to negotiate; but when
the bearer brought back the Cardinals' reply, he was stopped at the
frontier, and had to take the letters back--no doubt because they were
still improperly addressed.

Three days later (September 10), Edward wrote to the Pope from York,
whither he had hastened on hearing of the assault on the Cardinals,
assuring him that he would promptly 'avenge God and the Church,' and
see that the prelates had their temporal losses made good.

To do the Pope justice, he had been anxious to keep clear of the
difficulties obviously involved in the reservation of Bruce's royal
title. In his letter of March 18, he had apologetically prayed Bruce
not to take it ill that he was not styled King of Scotland. On October
21, he sends the Cardinals letters--one for Bruce explaining the former
omission of the royal title, and apparently conceding it now; another
for Edward, begging him not to be offended at his styling Bruce King;
and a third for themselves, blaming them for not telling him whether or
not they had Edward's consent that he (the Pope) should address Bruce
as King. They are to request Edward to give way on the point; and they
are to present or to keep back the letters as they may see expedient.
The information of the Scots from Avignon was evidently well grounded.

Meantime the Cardinals made another attempt. They proclaimed the
truce in London, and had it proclaimed by other ecclesiastics 'in
other principal places of England and Scotland.' But they must bring
it directly to the knowledge of Bruce. Accordingly they despatched
Adam de Newton, the Guardian of the monastery of the Friars Minors in
Berwick, to King Robert and the leading prelates of Scotland, to make
the proclamation. Adam prudently left his papers in safe keeping at
Berwick till he had provided himself with a safe conduct. On December
14, he set out for Old Cambus, twelve miles off, and found Bruce in
a neighbouring wood hard at work, 'day and night, without rest,'
preparing engines for the siege of Berwick. He at once obtained his
safe conduct, and fetched his Bulls and other letters from Berwick to
Old Cambus; but Sir Alexander de Seton refused to allow him to wait
upon the King, and required him to hand over the letters. Seton took
the letters to Bruce, or professed to do so, but presently brought
them back, delivered them to Adam, and ordered him to be gone. Bruce
would have nothing to do with Bulls and processes that withheld from
him the title of King, and he was in any case determined, he said,
to have the town of Berwick. Adam, however, was not to be baffled.
He proclaimed the truce publicly before Seton 'and a great assembly
of people.' The Scots, however, would not take it seriously. Not the
most solemn adjurations could procure for Adam a safe conduct either
back to Berwick or on to the Scots prelates, and he was summarily
ordered to get out of the country with all speed. So he took his way to
Berwick. But he was waylaid and stripped to the skin, and his Bulls and
processes were torn in pieces. Still Adam was undaunted. 'I tell you,
before God,' he wrote to the Cardinals on December 20, 'that I am still
ready as ever, without intermission, to labour for the advancement of
your affairs.'

From midsummer 1317, Edward's officers had been kept busy on the March.
About the beginning of July, Sir John de Athy had taken the Scots
sea-captain, Thomas Dunn, and killed all his men, except himself and
his cousin, from whom Sir John had learned that Randolph was preparing
to attack the Isle of Man, and even had designs on Anglesey, where
English traitors were in league with him. Before January there had
been large submissions to Bruce in the northern counties, partly from
compulsion of arms, partly from starvation; and the chronic feuds
between the town and the castle of Berwick were dangerously aggravated
by the high-handedness of the constable, Sir Roger de Horsley, who
hated all Scots impartially and intensely.

At last a burgess of Berwick, Peter (or Simon) de Spalding, exasperated
by Horsley's supercilious harshness--bribed with ready money and
promise of lands, the Lanercost chronicler says; corrupted by Douglas,
says John of Tynmouth--entered into communication with the Marshal (or
the Earl of March) for the betrayal of the town. By direction of the
King, the Marshal (or March) ambushed at night in Duns Park, where
he was joined by Randolph and Douglas. Advancing on foot, the Scots
planted their ladders unperceived and scaled the wall at the point
where Simon was in charge. The temptation to plunder upset the order
of attack, two-thirds of the party scattering themselves over the
town, breaking houses and slaying men. The opposition of the town's
people was easily overcome, but when the garrison sallied, Randolph and
Douglas were dangerously weak. Sir William de Keith, however, exerted
himself conspicuously, as became a brand-new knight, in collecting
the Scots, and after very hard fighting the garrison was driven in.
Bruce presently came up with large reinforcements, but the castle held
out tenaciously, and surrendered only to famine. The town was taken
on March 28 (Fordun), or April 2 (Lanercost); the castle held out
gallantly till past the middle of July, and even then Horsley marched
out his famished garrison with the honours of war. Bruce installed
as warden Sir Walter the Steward. Peter of Spalding, says John of
Tynmouth, proved troublesome in insisting upon his promised reward;
and, on an accusation of plotting against the life of King Robert, was
put to death. The allegation recalls the case of Sir Peter de Lubaud.

Edward was extremely incensed at the Mayor and burgesses of Berwick,
who had undertaken, for 6000 marks, to defend the town for a year
from June 15, 1317. He ascribed the loss of it to their carelessness,
and in the middle of April he ordered that their goods and chattels,
wheresoever found, should be confiscated, and that such of them as
had escaped into England should be imprisoned. On June 10, 1318, he
summoned his army to meet him at York on July 26, to proceed against
the Scots.

Meantime the Scots were proceeding with vigour against him. For soon
after the capture of Berwick town, Bruce detached a strong force to
ravage the northern counties. They laid waste Northumberland to the
gates of Newcastle, starved the castles of Harbottle and Wark into
surrender, and took Mitford Castle by stratagem. They sold immunity to
the episcopate of Durham, excepting Hartlepool, which Bruce threatened
to burn and destroy because some of its inhabitants had captured a ship
freighted with his 'armeours' and provisions. Northallerton, Ripon,
Boroughbridge, Knaresborough, Otley and Skipton were guiding-points in
the desolating track of the invaders. Ripon and Otley suffered most
severely, and Ripon paid 1000 marks for a cessation of destruction.
Fountains Abbey also paid ransom; Bolton Abbey was plundered;
Knaresborough Parish Church bears to this day the marks of the fire
that burnt out the fugitives. The expedition returned to Scotland
laden with spoils, and bringing numerous captives and great droves of
cattle. The Archbishop of York postponed misfortune by being too late
with measures of resistance. But he energetically excommunicated the
depredators, all and sundry.

On hearing of Bruce's reception of the envoys, the Pope had authorised
the Cardinals, on December 29, to put in execution the two Bulls
of excommunication prepared in the previous March. The Cardinals,
however, would seem to have delayed. On June 28, 1318, when the Pope
heard of the woeful adventures of Adam de Newton and of the capture
of Berwick despite his truce, he ordered them to proceed. For Bruce,
he said, had 'grievously' (_dampnabiliter_) 'abused his patience and
long-suffering.' In September accordingly they excommunicated and
laid under interdict Bruce himself, his brother Edward, and all their
aiders and abettors in the invasion of England and Ireland. 'But,'
says the Lanercost chronicler, 'the Scots cared not a jot for any
excommunication, and declined to pay any observance to the interdict.'
In October, Edward followed up his diplomatic success by pressing hard
for the deposition of the Bishop of St Andrews, but the Pope easily
found good technical pleas whereby to avoid compliance.

The Irish expedition came to a disastrous close on the fatal field of
Faughart, near Dundalk, on October 5 (or 14), 1318. A vastly superior
English army, under Sir John de Bermingham, moved against the Scots;
and King Edward the Bruce, wrathfully overruling the counsels of his
staff, disdaining to wait for the approaching reinforcements from
Scotland, and despising the hesitations of his Irish allies, dashed
against the tremendous odds with his native impetuosity.

    'Now help quha will, for sekirly
    This day, but mair baid, fecht vill I.
    Sall na man say, quhill I may dre,
    That strynth of men sall ger me fle!
    God scheld that ony suld vs blame
    That we defoull our nobill name!'

Barbour gives the numbers at 2000 against 40,000, no doubt with
generous exaggeration. King Edward fell at the first onset, killed by
a gigantic Anglo-Irish knight, Sir John de Maupas, who was found lying
dead across his body. Sir John the Steward, Sir John de Soulis, and
other officers were slain. Barbour tells how Sir Philip de Mowbray,
stunned in action, was led captive by two men towards Dundalk; how he
recovered his senses sufficiently to realise his position, shook off
his captors, drew his sword and turned back towards the battle-field,
and how he cleared a hundred men out of his way as he went. John
Thomasson, the leader of the Carrick men, took him in charge, and
hurried him away towards Carrickfergus. But the brave defender
of Stirling had received a mortal wound. King Edward's body was
dismembered, the trunk buried at Faughart, and the limbs exposed in
Irish towns held by the English. The head is said to have been sent to
England to Edward; but Barbour tells how King Edward the Bruce had that
day exchanged armour with Gilbert the Harper, as he had done before
at Connor, and how it was Gilbert's head that had been mistakenly
struck off and despatched to England. The remnants of the Scots army
reached Carrickfergus with the utmost difficulty, and hastily took
ship for Scotland, where the news was received with great lamentation.
Bermingham was created Earl of Louth for his victory. It is curious to
observe that his wife was a sister of the Queen of Scotland.

The death of Edward Bruce disturbed the settlement of the succession,
which was again brought under consideration of Parliament, on December
3, at Scone. Robert, the son of Sir Walter the Steward and the late
Princess Marjory, was recognised as heir, with a proviso saving the
right of any subsequent male issue of King Robert. In case of a
minority, Randolph was to be guardian; and failing Randolph, Douglas.

No sooner had the sentences of excommunication been promulgated than
King Robert took measures to have them revoked or mitigated. He had
good friends at Rome. Letters from these had fallen accidentally into
the hands of Edward, who, on January 12, 1318-19, sent them to the
Pope by the hands of Sir John de Neville, and asked His Holiness to
deal suitably with the writers. A few days before, he had urged the
two Cardinals to press the Pope to reject the applications that he
heard were being made on behalf of Bruce and his friends, and stated
that he would presently send envoys to the Pope himself. Neville was
graciously received, and the Pope ordered the Scots and their abettors
at his court to prison. On April 24, the Pope granted Edward's request
for a Bull permitting him to negotiate for peace with the Scots
notwithstanding their excommunication. But the pressure was not all on
one side; the nuncios in England boldly exercised their powers, and had
often to be restrained even by royal menace, while every ecclesiastical
office was steadily claimed for the papal nominee. Bruce appears to
have deemed it prudent to raise little formal objection to the papal
appointment of ecclesiastics up and down Scotland, though some of them
evidently had but a seat of thorns.

From March to May there was an interesting correspondence between
Edward and some minor states and municipalities on the other side of
the North Sea, whose people, Edward understood, had harboured, or
even assisted, his Scots enemies. They all denied the allegation. The
statesmanlike answer of the Count of Flanders, however, is peculiarly
notable. 'Our land of Flanders,' he wrote, 'is common to all men, of
whatever country, and freely open to all comers; and we cannot deny
admission to merchants doing their business as they have hitherto been
accustomed, for thereby we should bring our land to desolation and
ruin.'

But Berwick must be recaptured. On the loss of Berwick town, Edward
had angrily summoned his forces to muster at York on July 26, 1318.
So few of them appeared, however, that he was forced to postpone the
expedition. On June 4, 1319, he ordered the Welsh levies to be at
Newcastle by July 24 at latest; and, two days after, he wrote to the
Pope that he hoped now 'to put a bit in the jaws of the Scots.' But
another postponement was forced on him. On July 20, however, he issued
a peremptory order for a muster at Michaelmas. His May parliament at
York had granted him certain taxes, his treasury being 'exhausted more
than is believed'; and his good friend the Pope had added a material
contribution. But the levy could not be collected till Michaelmas,
and meantime the King appealed for an advance. There must have been
a favourable response, for early in September he encamped before
Berwick with some 10,000 or 12,000 men, his fleet occupying the
harbour. Having entrenched his lines, he delivered a general assault on
September 7. The besiegers hastily filled the dykes and placed their
scaling-ladders, but the garrison threw them down as fast as they
were raised. The lowness of the wall was not altogether in favour of
the assailants, for the besieged on the top could easily thrust their
spears in their faces. In the course of the afternoon the English
brought a ship on the flood-tide up to the wall, with a boat lashed to
midmast, whence a bridge was to be let down for landing a storming
party. They were embarrassed in their efforts, however, and the ship,
being left aground by the ebb-tide, was burned by the Scots, the
sallying party with difficulty regaining the town. The fight went on
briskly till night, when the combatants agreed to postpone its renewal
for five days.

Though King Robert had mustered a considerable force, probably as large
as Edward's, he deemed it more prudent to despatch it on a raid into
England than to launch it directly against the English entrenchments.
He had, indeed, good reason to rely upon the skill and energy of the
Steward. The five days' truce over, the English, on September 13, moved
forward on wheels an immense sow, not only covering a mining party,
but carrying scaffolds for throwing a storming party on the wall. By
this time, John Crab, whom we have already met as a sea-captain or
pirate, and whom the Count of Flanders presently assured Edward he
would break on the wheel, if he could only get hold of him, had proved
himself engineer enough to devise a 'crane,' which must have been of
the nature of a catapult; and this engine he ran along the wall on
wheels to encounter the sow. The first shot passed over the monster;
the second just fell short; the third crashed through the main beam,
and frightened the men out. 'Your sow has farrowed,' cried the Scots.
Crab now lowered blazing faggots of combustible stuff upon the sow, and
burnt it up. But presently another attempt was made from the harbour,
and Crab's engine was hurried up to fight ships with top-castles
full of men, and with fall-bridges ready at midmast. The first shot
demolished the top gear of one of the ships, bringing down the men; and
the other ships kept a safe distance.

Meantime the general attack raged all along the wall. Sir Walter the
Steward rode from point to point, supplying here and there men from
his own bodyguard, till it was reduced from a hundred to a single
man-at-arms. The severest pressure was at Mary Gate. The besiegers
forced the advance barricade, burned the drawbridge, and fired the
gate. Sir Walter drew reinforcements from the castle, which had not
been attacked, threw open Mary Gate and sallied upon the foe, driving
them back after a very hard struggle, and saving the gate. Night
separated the combatants. Barbour tells how the women and children of
the town had carried arrows to the men on the walls, and regards it as
a miracle that not one of them was slain or wounded. But clearly the
Steward could not sustain many days of such heavy fighting.

The Scots army under Randolph and Douglas had meanwhile followed the
familiar track through Ripon and Boroughbridge, harrying and burning
and slaying. They appear to have made a serious attempt to capture
Edward's Queen, who was then staying near York; but the Archbishop,
learning this intention from a Scots spy that had been taken prisoner,
sallied forth and brought her into the city, and sent her by water
to Nottingham. Trokelowe speaks of certain 'false Englishmen' that
had been bribed by the Scots, and Robert of Reading specifies Sir
Edmund Darel as the guide of the invaders in the attempt. Next day the
Archbishop, with Bishop Hotham of Ely, the Chancellor of England, and
an unwieldy multitude of clergy and townspeople numbering some 10,000,
advanced against the Scots between Myton and Thornton-on-Swale, about
twelve miles north of York. 'These,' said the Scots, 'are not soldiers,
but hunters; they will not do much good.' For the English 'came through
the fields in scattered fashion, and not in united order.' The Scots
formed a schiltron, and set fire to some hay in front, the smoke from
which was blown into the faces of the English. As they met, the Scots
raised a great shout, and the enemy, 'more intent on fleeing than on
fighting,' took to their heels. The Scots mounted in pursuit, killing
(says the Lanercost chronicle) clergy and laymen, about 4000, including
Nicholas Fleming, the Mayor of York, while about 1000, 'as was said,'
were drowned in the Swale. Many were captured and held to heavy ransom.
The Archbishop lost, not only his men, his carriages, and his equipment
generally, but all his plate, 'silver and bronze as well,' which his
servants had 'thoughtlessly' taken to the field; and yet the blame may
rest elsewhere, for the York host appears to have fully anticipated
that the Scots would flee at sight of them. The Primate's official
cross was saved by the bearer, who dashed on horseback through the
Swale and carefully hid it, escaping himself in the dusk of the
evening. Then a countryman, who had observed the cross and watched the
bearer's retreat, discovered it, wound wisps of hay about it, and kept
it in his hut till search was made for it, whereupon he restored it to
the Archbishop. Such is John of Bridlington's story. The whole episode
contrasts markedly with the exploit of Bishop Sinclair in Fife. It
was contemptuously designated, from the number of ecclesiastics, 'the
Chapter of Myton.'

The Myton disaster occurred on September 20, and on September 24 Edward
raised the siege of Berwick. Certain chroniclers speak of intestine
dissensions, and particularly of a quarrel with Lancaster over the
appointment of wardens of town and castle once Berwick was taken. The
Lanercost chronicler says Edward desired to detach a body to intercept
the Scots, and with the rest to carry on the siege; but his magnates
would not hear of it. He accordingly abandoned the siege, and marched
westward to cut off the retreat of the Scots. Randolph had penetrated
to Castleford Bridge, near Pontefract, and swept up Airedale and
Wharfdale; and, passing by Stainmoor and Gilsland, he eluded Edward's
army, and carried into Scotland many captives and immense plunder. It
remained for Edward but to disband his troops, and go home, as usual,
with empty hands.

About a month later (November 1), when the crops were harvested in
northern England, Randolph and Douglas returned with fire and sword.
They burnt Gilsland, and passed down to Brough (Burgh) under Stainmoor;
turned back on Westmorland, which they ravaged for ten or twelve days,
and went home through Cumberland. They mercilessly burnt barns and the
stored crops, and swept the country of men and cattle.

Edward began to think of truce. In his letter of December 4 to the
Pope, he represents that urgent proposals for peace had come to
him from Bruce and his friends. In any case, the step was a most
sensible one. On December 21, terms were agreed on, and next day Bruce
confirmed them. This truce was to run for two years and the odd days
to Christmas. Bruce agreed to raise no new fortresses within the
counties of Berwick, Roxburgh, and Dumfries. He delivered the castle
of Harbottle to Edward's commissioners, 'as private persons,' with the
proviso that, unless a final peace were made by Michaelmas, it should
be either redelivered to him or demolished. On August 25, 1321, Edward
commanded that it should be destroyed 'as secretly as possible.'

In autumn 1319, the Pope, at the instance of Edward, had given orders
for a revival of the excommunications against Bruce and his friends;
but on January 8, 1319-20, he cited Bruce and the Bishops of St
Andrews, Dunkeld, Aberdeen, and Moray, to compear before him by May
1. The summons went unheeded; he had not addressed Bruce as King.
Excommunications were again hurled at Bruce and his bishops, and
Scotland was laid under ecclesiastical interdict. Meanwhile, however,
the Scots 'barons, freeholders, and all the community of the realm'--no
churchmen, be it observed--assembled at Arbroath Abbey on April 6, and
addressed to his Holiness a memorable word in season. First, as to
their kingdom and their King:

  Our nation continued to enjoy freedom and peace under the
  protection of the Papal See, till Edward, the late King of the
  English, in the guise of a friend and ally, attacked our realm,
  then without a head, and our people, then thinking no evil or
  deceit, and unaccustomed to war or aggression. The acts of
  injury, murder, violence, burning, imprisonment of prelates,
  burning of abbeys, spoliation and slaying of ecclesiastics, and
  other enormities besides, which he practised on our people,
  sparing no age or sex, creed or rank, no man could describe or
  fully understand without the teaching of experience. From such
  countless evils, by the help of Him that woundeth and maketh
  whole, we have been delivered by the strenuous exertions of
  our Sovereign Lord, King Robert, who, for the deliverance of
  his people and his inheritance from the hands of the enemy,
  like another Maccabeus or Joshua, cheerfully endured toils and
  perils, distress and want. Him the Divine Providence, that legal
  succession in accordance with our laws and customs, which we are
  resolved to uphold even to death, and the due consent of us all,
  made our Prince and King. To him, as the man that has worked out
  the salvation of the people, we, in maintenance of our freedom,
  by reason as well of his merits as of his right, hold and are
  resolved to adhere in all things. If he should abandon our cause,
  with the intention of subjecting us or our realm to the King
  of England or to the English, we should instantly strain every
  nerve to expel him as our enemy and the subverter of both his own
  rights and ours, and choose another for our King, such a one as
  should suffice for our defence; for, so long as a hundred of us
  remain alive, never will we be reduced to any sort of subjection
  to the dominion of the English. For it is not for glory, or
  riches, or honours, that we contend, but for freedom alone, which
  no man worthy of the name loses but with his life.

With this noble and resolute declaration, they appealed to the Pope
to 'admonish' Edward, who ought to be content with his own dominions,
anciently held enough for seven kings, and 'to leave in peace us
Scotsmen, dwelling in our poor and remote country, and desiring nothing
but our own,' for which 'we are ready and willing to do anything we can
consistently with our national interests.' But, further, as to the Pope
himself:

  If, however, your Holiness, yielding too credulous an ear to the
  reports of our English enemies, do not give sincere credit to
  what we now say, or do not cease from showing them favour to our
  confusion, it is on you, we believe, that in the sight of the
  Most High, must be charged the loss of lives, the perdition of
  souls, and all the other miseries that they will inflict on us
  and we on them.

This memorable declaration was not without effect. On August 13, the
Pope earnestly impressed Edward with the duty of keeping on good terms
with Bruce. And on August 18, he wrote that, on the prayer of Bruce by
his envoys, Sir Edward de Mambuisson and Sir Adam de Gordon, he had
granted suspension of the personal citation and of the publication of
the sentences till the 1st of April next year.



CHAPTER XII

PEACE AT THE SWORD'S POINT


The Scots manifesto of April 6, 1320, presented a united and firm front
to English pretensions and Papal intrigues. Yet there were traitors
in the camp. Little more than four months had elapsed when the Black
Parliament, held at Scone on August 20, was investigating a conspiracy
to kill King Robert and elevate to the throne Sir William de Soulis.
Sir William was a brother of Sir John, and a grandson of Sir Nicholas,
one of the Competitors in 1292. Edward's emissaries had been tampering
with the fidelity of King Robert's barons.

The plot still remains involved in obscurity. It was discovered to
the King, Barbour heard, by a lady. Gray, however, as well as John of
Tynmouth, states that the informant was Sir Murdoch de Menteith, who
had come over to Bruce in 1316-17, and remained on the Scots side till
his death some sixteen years later; but, apart from his name, there
seems no reason to suppose that he was in Edward's pay. Sir William was
arrested at Berwick, with 360 squires in his livery (says Barbour), to
say nothing of 'joly' knights. He openly confessed his guilt, and was
interned for life in Dumbarton Castle. The Countess of Strathearn was
also imprisoned for life. Sir David de Brechin, Sir John de Logie, and
Richard Brown a squire, were drawn, hanged, and beheaded. Sir Roger de
Mowbray opportunely died; but his body was brought up and condemned
to be drawn, hanged, and beheaded--a ghastly sentence considerately
remitted by the King. Sir Eustace de Maxwell, Sir Walter de Barclay,
Sheriff of Aberdeen, Sir Patrick de Graham, and two squires, Hamelin de
Troupe and Eustace de Rattray, were fully acquitted. Soulis, Brechin,
Mowbray, Maxwell, and Graham had all attended the Arbroath parliament,
and put their seals to the loyal manifesto.

It is far from evident why Soulis escaped with imprisonment while
Brechin and others were sent to the gallows. Robert may have judged
that Soulis was a tool rather than prime mover of the plot; he may
have regarded the long service of the culprit; he may have softened
at the recollection of his brother Sir John's death by his own
brother Edward's side. Brechin, no doubt, had considerable services
to his credit. But his record shows grievous instability, and Robert
probably had sound reasons for putting a period to his dubieties. His
fate aroused painful regrets. Barbour narrates that Sir Ingram de
Umfraville openly censured the sight-seers at his friend's execution,
obtained leave to give the body honourable burial, and prepared to quit
Scotland, telling the King he had no heart to remain after seeing so
good a knight meet with such a fate. This story of Barbour's has been
too hastily discredited.

The position of Bruce remained unshaken. On November 17, Edward
instructed various high officers to receive to his peace, 'as secretly
as they could,' such Scots as felt their consciences troubled by the
papal excommunication; and, on December 11, the Archbishop of York was
empowered to release all such renegades from the censure of the Church.
Sir Ingram de Umfraville was re-established in his Northumberland
estates (January 26), and Sir Alexander de Mowbray (February 18) and
Sir William de Mohaut (May 20) obtained Edward's pardon. But Bruce was
practically unaffected by Edward's subterranean diplomacy.

Openly, Edward maintained due observance of the truce, and by the
middle of September 1320, had taken steps towards a final peace. The
negotiations begun at Carlisle at Michaelmas were resumed at Newcastle
on February 2, and continued for nine weeks; papal commissioners being
present, and French envoys fostering the cause of peace. But the
deliberations were fruitless. The Earl of Richmond's production of a
mass of old parchments to demonstrate Edward's overlordship of Scotland
indicates how little the English King and commissioners realised the
facts of the situation.

Throughout the summer and autumn of 1321, Edward was in hot water with
the barons of the Welsh border. At the July parliament at Westminster,
he was compelled to banish the Despensers, and to send home the
turbulent lords with pardon. These troubles prevented him from sending
the promised envoys to 'enlighten the consciences' of the Pope and his
Cardinals as to the wickedness of the Scots. On August 25, however,
he wrote the usual denunciatory generalities, and yet again impressed
on his Holiness the necessity of dealing severely with Bruce and his
adherents. The summons of Bruce and his four Bishops had meanwhile been
postponed to September 1; but even then they did not compear. Edward's
envoys, at last despatched on December 8, were still in very good
time. Having taken Leeds Castle in Kent and driven back the marauding
Marchers to the Welsh border, he informed the Pope that his domestic
troubles were settling down, and, in view of an expedition on the
expiry of the Scots truce at Christmas, he appealed for a subsidy from
Rome. But already Lancaster was stretching one hand to Bruce and the
other to the malcontents of the Welsh March.

The Marchers rose, but Edward proved himself the stronger, and by the
third week of January received the submission of the Mortimers. On
February 8, he tried conciliation with Lancaster, and also authorised
Harcla to treat with Bruce for 'some sort of final peace.' Lancaster,
however, received the Welsh insurgents, and harassed Edward's advance,
but was compelled to fall back on his castle of Pontefract.

Lancaster's negotiations with the Scots had begun as early as December.
His emissary, Richard de Topcliffe, an ecclesiastic, had obtained a
safe-conduct from Douglas (December 11) to visit Jedburgh, and one
from Randolph (January 15) to come to him wherever he could find him.
Randolph was then at Corbridge on a swift raid, while Douglas and the
Steward advanced, the one towards Hartlepool and the other towards
Richmond, harrying or taking ransom. Immediately on the junction
of Hereford and his Marchers with Lancaster at Pontefract, in the
beginning of February, before they went south to oppose Edward's
advance, the rebel chiefs despatched John de Denum with a letter to
Bruce, Randolph, and Douglas, 'or which of them he shall soonest find,'
asking an appointment for a final agreement. The precise terms proposed
were presently found on the dead body of Hereford at Boroughbridge.
Bruce, if not detained by illness or other serious cause, and Randolph
and Douglas, with their power, shall join the Earls in their enterprise
'in England, Wales and Ireland, and with them live and die in the
maintenance of their quarrel, without claiming conquest or dominion in
the said lands of England, Wales, and Ireland.' The Earls, on their
part, shall never aid Edward against the Scots, and, their quarrel
ended, shall do their best to establish and maintain peace between the
two countries on the footing of independence. Fortunately for Edward,
John de Denum lost ten days in his peregrinations. He missed Douglas
on February 7, and was unable to obtain his reply till February 17.
On February 16, Randolph, then at Cavers, near Hawick, had issued a
safe-conduct for Sir John de Mowbray and Sir Roger de Clifford to come
to him in Scotland. In either case, the ten days were gone. But for
this accident, the history of the English crown would probably have
been turned into another channel.

The approach of the royal troops decided the insurgents to retire
towards the Scots, to Lancaster's castle of Dunstanburgh. At
Boroughbridge, however, they were confronted by Harcla on March 16, and
disastrously defeated. Hereford was slain on the bridge; Lancaster was
captured, tried, and beheaded. Harcla was created Earl of Carlisle.
'Do not trouble yourself,' wrote Edward to the Pope (March 25), 'to
proclaim a truce between me and the Scots. Formerly some exigencies
inclined me to a truce, but now, thank God, these no longer exist, and
I am constrained, by God's help, to war them down for their broken
faith.'

Edward at once summoned his army to muster at Newcastle by the second
week in June; but early in May he postponed the assembly till July 24.
By that time, however, the Scots had completed another destructive
raid. Before mid June, a force had crossed the western March; and in
the beginning of July, Robert himself, with Randolph and Douglas,
penetrated beyond Preston and ravaged the length and breadth of
Lancashire and the archdeaconry of Richmond, burning Lancaster town and
castle 'so entirely that nothing is left,' and carrying off what cattle
had not been driven for safety into the remoter parts of Yorkshire.
They do not seem to have encountered local opposition. As they
returned, they lay five days before Carlisle, without drawing forth the
prudent Harcla; and on July 24, they struck their tents for home.

The English army followed them, entering Scotland by the eastern March
in the first days of August. Robert withdrew both men and cattle from
the Merse and the Lothians, either to the strongholds or beyond the
Forth, and lay with his army at Culross. Barbour tells how an English
foraging party found but one lame cow at Tranent: 'It is the dearest
beef I ever saw yet,' remarked Warenne, 'it must have cost £1000 and
more.' Edward himself subsequently wrote that he had 'found neither
man nor beast' in the Lothians. The English fleet failed to bring up
provisions, and, on August 23, Edward found himself with some 7000
men at Leith, in like predicament with his father before the battle
of Falkirk. He was starved into retreat. Immediately the Scots hung
upon his rear, and Douglas cut up an advance company of 300 men near
Melrose. The English had sacked Holyrood; they now sacked Melrose
Abbey, killing the prior and others; and they burnt to the ground
Dryburgh and other monasteries. 'But,' says Fordun, 'God rewarded them
therefor.'

Bruce instantly followed up his advantage. By the middle of September,
the Scots were before Bamborough and Norham. Bamborough bought off the
invaders; and on September 26, Sir Roger de Horsley, the constable,
as well as the constables of Warkworth, Dunstanburgh, and Alnwick
castles, received a severe wigging from Edward for not showing fight
against such an inferior force. Norham was defended by Sir Thomas Gray
the elder against an inadequate body of 200 Scots. Edward displayed
great energy of rebuke and counsel, while Robert steadily advanced
southwards. On October 14, the English army barred the way on the ridge
of Blackhowe Moor between Biland and Rievaulx; but Bruce's rapid action
enabled him to strike a decisive blow before the Earl of Carlisle, who
was at Boroughbridge with 2000 (surely not, as some say, 20,000) horse
and foot, could effect a junction, if indeed he really meant to do so.

Douglas at once offered to storm the English position, and Randolph,
leaving his own division, led the way up the hill as a volunteer. The
Scots were strongly opposed by Sir Ralph de Cobham, who was held to
be the best knight of his day in England, and by Sir Thomas Ughtred,
constable of Pickering, whose gallantry in the fight raised him to
a higher position than even Cobham. The assailants were grievously
embarrassed by stones rolled down upon them and by the fire of the
archers. Robert supported them by sending 'the Irishry,' the Argyll
Highlanders, and the men of the Isles to scramble up the crags in
flank. At the top they were confronted by the main body under the
Earl of Richmond, but they charged with such impetuosity as broke
the English ranks and scattered them in flight; Gray even uses the
conventional expression, 'like a hare before hounds.' 'In these
days,' says John of Bridlington, 'the Lord took away the hearts of
the English.' Richmond was captured and held to heavy ransom (14,000
marks). Lord Henri de Sully and other French knights surrendered to
Douglas; by arrangement with whom, King Robert soon released them by
way of diplomatic compliment to the King of France. Edward narrowly
escaped from Biland Abbey and fled through the night to Bridlington,
whence the prior conducted him to Burstwick. Sir Walter the Steward
pursued as far as York. Robert occupied the abbeys of Biland and
Rievaulx and divided the spoils of the English camp and the king's
baggage. Then, making Malton his headquarters, he wasted Yorkshire at
his will, taking ransoms from Ripon, Beverley, and other towns, and
despoiling religious houses; and he returned, with immense booty, to
keep Christmas in Scotland.

Three calamitous invasions in one year might well have induced
reflection in a statesmanlike mind. They merely excited Edward's
impotent eagerness for revenge. But the Earl of Carlisle, as doughty
a warrior as the best, saw that the contest was both hopeless and
ruinous; and on January 3, 1322-23, he was closeted with Randolph at
Lochmaben. There and then they drafted an agreement. The fundamental
provisions were: (1) that each realm should have its own national
King; (2) that the Earl should aid King Robert in maintaining Scotland
against all gainsayers; and (3) that King Robert and the Earl should
maintain the realm of England under the direction of a council of
twelve, six to be chosen by each party. Then, if the King of England
should assent to these conditions within a year, King Robert was to
found an abbey in Scotland, of 500 marks rent, for the souls of the men
slain in war, and to pay an indemnity of 40,000 marks within ten years;
and the King of England was to have the marriage of the heir male of
the King of Scotland under advice of the council of twelve.

Harcla at once published the terms of the agreement, and they were
received with intense satisfaction on the Border. He appears to have
acted in concert with the chief officers in these parts, and to have
believed, or at least professed, that he acted within the terms of
his commission. Edward, however, on January 8, ordered that no truce
be made without his knowledge, and summoned Harcla to his presence;
and on January 19, he sent a copy of the Lochmaben indenture to his
Council at York, with the comment that it appeared to him 'fraught with
great danger.' He had already (January 13) instituted a search of the
Chancery rolls for any authorisation to Harcla to treat with the Scots.
On February 25, Harcla was arrested in Carlisle Castle; and on March
3, he was tried, condemned, and barbarously executed. The charge of
treason, though formally too well grounded, was essentially baseless;
otherwise it is unintelligible that Harcla should have limited his
measures of self-defence to the procurement of the formal oaths of the
northern sheriffs to stand by him 'in all things touching the common
good of England and the said peace.' His action was simply the action
of a strong, business-like, and patriotic man, forgetful of finesse.
His mistake lay in omitting to obtain express authority to treat, and
in neglecting either to veil his contempt for the King, or to provide
against his natural resentment, inflamed as it was sure to be by the
envy of personal enemies.

The death of Harcla, the keenest and ablest warrior in England, did
not remove the difficulties from Edward's path. In a fortnight he was
treating for peace--'was frightened, and begged for peace,' according
to the _Flores Historiarum_--though in his own perversely maladroit
fashion. On March 21, Robert wrote to Lord Henri de Sully, Edward's
envoy, in substance this:

  The King of England's letter, of which you sent me a copy
  yesterday, bears that he has granted a cessation of arms to the
  people of Scotland at war with him. This language is very strange
  to me. In former truces taken between us, I was named principal
  of the one part, as he was of the other part, although he did
  not vouchsafe to me the title of King. But on this occasion, no
  more mention is made of me than of the least person in my realm;
  so that, in case of a breach, I should be no more entitled than
  another to demand redress. Do not be surprised, then, that I do
  not agree to this truce. If, however, it were put before me in
  the proper way, I should willingly sanction it, as I promised
  you. I send you a copy of the King's letter; for I imagine you
  have not seen it, or, if you have, you have paid but scant
  attention to its terms.

After some futile negotiations at Newcastle, a truce was at last
concluded at Bishopsthorpe, near York, to last till June 12, and for
thirteen years thereafter. On May 30, 1323, Edward ordered it to be
proclaimed throughout England; and on June 7, Robert ratified it at
Berwick. Each party was to evacuate all lands of the other by June
12; neither party was to build or repair fortresses on the March,
excepting constructions in progress; and Edward was to interpose no
obstacle to any attempt of Robert and his friends to obtain absolution
at Rome. During the negotiations, Edward had been summoning his forces
in England, Ireland, and Gascony, in the belief that the Scots were
really purposing another invasion; but in the first days of June he
countermanded the muster.

King Robert was sincerely anxious to set himself and his people right
with the Church. He despatched Randolph as his ambassador. On his way
south, Randolph, with the Bishop of St Andrews, treated with Edward's
commissioners for a final peace; and, at any rate, on November 25,
he got Edward to write to the Pope and the Cardinals in favour of a
grant of absolution to the Scots during the peace negotiations. How
Randolph fared at Rome we learn from a letter of the Pope's to Edward,
dated January 1, 1323-24. First, he begged for the usual indulgences
necessary to enable him to fulfil his vow to go on a crusade. The Pope
refused: there would be little good to the Holy Land or to his own
soul, while he lay under the Church's censure; but the request might
be reconsidered if he would effect a permanent peace with England
and satisfy the Church. Secondly, Randolph prayed for safe conducts
for Bruce's envoys, presently to be sent to procure reconciliation
with the Church. The Pope refused, for the present, but he agreed to
direct the usual application to the princes on the line of route.
Thirdly, Randolph put forward Robert's readiness to join the King of
France in his proposed crusade, or, if the King of France did not go,
then to proceed himself or send Randolph instead. The Pope replied
that reconciliation with the Church was an indispensable condition
precedent. Fourthly, Randolph declared that King Robert and himself
desired above all things to obtain peace and reconciliation, and that
it really lay with His Holiness to bring their ardent desires to
fruition. Let him address himself to Robert as King, and Robert would
readily respond to his wishes; it was the reservation of the royal
title that blocked the way. The Pope consented to address Robert by the
royal title.

Edward was keenly annoyed. The Pope, after setting forth the facts of
Randolph's interview, had earnestly begged Edward not to take it ill
that he had consented to address Robert as King. It could do him no
harm; it could do Robert no good. He was intensely anxious for peace,
and, if he did not give Robert the royal title, Robert would not look
at his letters any more than he had done before. But Edward did not
agree. He bluntly urged that the concession would prejudice his right
and his honour, bring discredit on the Church, and enable Bruce to make
capital of his wrong-doing. He recapitulated his claims to Scotland,
contended that no change should be introduced during the truce, and
pointed out that the concession would be popularly construed as a papal
confirmation of Bruce's title. Let the title therefore be reserved as
before.

Then Edward played another card: he invited Edward de Balliol, son of
ex-King John, to come over to England. The safe-conduct was issued on
July 2; and it was not Edward's fault that Balliol postponed his visit.
Meantime, in the midst of conflict with France over Aquitaine, Edward
continued negotiations with Robert for final peace. But no agreement
could be reached. The true cause appears in Edward's letter of March
8, 1324-25, to the Pope. There had recently been a meeting of envoys
at York, but the Scots would not yet budge from their old position,
and 'I could not meet their wishes without manifest disherison of my
royal crown.' His envoys had proposed to refer the knotty point to the
decision of His Holiness; but 'this they absolutely declined.' The
Scots, indeed, had apparently stiffened their demands. According to
the Monk of Malmesbury, they had claimed not only the independence of
Scotland, but also the north of England down to the gates of York (by
right of conquest), and the restoration of Bruce's manor of Writtle in
Essex, as well as of the famous coronation stone.

In May, Scots envoys were again on the road to Rome, and Edward wrote
to the Pope, informing him that he was sending ambassadors to guard his
own interests. Again, on September 23, he wrote to the Pope and the
Cardinals urging them not to recall the sentences of excommunication
till the Scots should surrender Berwick to him--Berwick, captured
treacherously in defiance of the papal truce. The Pope consented,
and on October 18 Edward expressed effusive thanks. But he reaped no
advantage from the diplomatic victory: in three months he was deposed
by his Parliament for notorious incompetence.

On January 25, 1326-27, Edward, Prince of Wales, a boy of fifteen,
was proclaimed King. He presently confirmed the thirteen years' truce
(February 15), and appointed envoys to treat for final peace (March 4).
The meeting was to take place on the March on May 17. But, on April 5,
Edward III. summoned his power to be at Newcastle by May 18, averring
that he had sure information that Robert was massing his troops on the
Border with the intention of invading England if his own terms of peace
were not conceded. It seems much more likely that Robert's action was
purely precautionary in view of the disturbed condition of the English
March; but a hostile construction was favoured by the fact that many
of the most turbulent fellows in Northumberland were Scots. On the
other hand, Barbour is likely enough to be right in asserting that
Robert was unable to obtain redress for the seizure of Scots vessels in
English and Flemish waters; and it may be, as he says, that for this
reason Robert openly renounced the truce. At the same time, Robert
must have heard of Edward's warlike preparations by land and sea. This
may be what Fordun has in view when he says that the duplicity of the
English was at length laid bare. Edward's summons was issued on April
5, and Froissart places Robert's formal defiance 'about Easter' (April
12); but this date must be nearly two months too early. One thing is
certain: Robert was in no aggressive mood, and would not have resumed
hostilities without really serious provocation.

About the middle of June a body of Scots crossed the Border, and on
July 4 they were at Appleby, almost in touch with the Earl Marshal.
Edward was at York, where he had been joined by Sir John of Hainault,
Lord of Beaumont, with a body of heavy cavalry, between whom and the
English archers much bad blood had been spilt in the streets of York.
His army was very large--Barbour says 50,000; Froissart says upwards
of 40,000 men-at-arms; Murimuth says three times as large and strong
as the Scots army--a force difficult alike to handle and to feed in a
rough and wasted country, especially in face of the Scots veterans. On
July 13, Edward had reached Northallerton, and had learned that the
Scots intended to mass their forces near Carlisle.

By this time the Scots army, under Randolph and Douglas, had ravaged
Coquetdale and penetrated into the Episcopate of Durham. When Edward
reached Durham city, he was apprised of the passage of the Scots by a
track of smoking ruins and devastated fields. He decided to bar their
return. Advancing with his cavalry, he crossed the Tyne at Haydon
Bridge (July 26), leaving his infantry on the south side. But the Scots
did not come, and between drenching rains and lack of provisions his
troops were worn out in body and in temper. The men, says Froissart,
'tore the meat out of each other's hands'; and 'great murmurs arose
in the army.' After a week's distressful experience, he determined to
seek the enemy southwards, and offered a reward of £100 a year in land,
as well as knighthood, to the man that should bring him in sight of
them 'on hard and dry ground' fit for battle. He crossed the Tyne at
Haltwhistle fords, losing many men in the swollen river. On the fourth
day, Thomas de Rokeby reported the Scots, and brought Edward face to
face with them on the Wear.

The Scots were strongly posted on a rising ground on the south bank:
Froissart numbers them 24,000; Barbour, much more probably, 10,000.
Douglas made a reconnaissance, and reported a strong army in seven
divisions. 'We will fight them,' cried Randolph, 'were they more'; but
Douglas counselled patience. Presently Edward sent heralds, offering
to retire far enough to allow the Scots room to array themselves for
battle on the north side on the morrow; or, if the Scots preferred, to
accept like terms on the south side. It was an unconscious repetition
of the offer of Tomyris, Queen of Massagetai, to Cyrus, on the Araxes
river. But the Scots, evidently too weak to fight in a plain field,
replied that they would do neither the one thing nor the other; that
the King and his barons saw they were in his kingdom and had burnt and
pillaged wherever they had passed, and that, if this displeased the
King, he might come and amend it; for they would tarry there as long
as they pleased.' That night the English lay on their arms. Part of
the Scots also kept themselves in readiness, while the rest retired
to their huts, 'where they made marvellously great fires, and, about
midnight, such a blasting and noise with their horns that it seemed as
if all the great devils from hell had been come there.'

The next two days the Scots and English lay watching each other across
the Wear. On the first day, a thousand English archers, supported by
men-at-arms, attempted to draw the Scots. Douglas, planting an ambush
under the Earl of Mar (who had at length joined the Scots) and his
own son Archibald of Douglas, rode forward, with a cloak over his
armour, and gradually gave way to their onset, till he had enticed them
within reach of the ambush. At Douglas's signal, the ambush broke upon
the pursuers, and slew 300 of them. Next day, the English put 1000
horsemen in ambush in a valley behind the Scots position, and delivered
a front attack. Douglas was advancing to repel the assailants when he
was informed of the force in rear, and instantly drew back his men.
'They flee,' cried some Englishmen; but John of Hainault explained the
manoeuvre, and, according to Barbour, pronounced the Scots captain fit
'to govern the Empire of Rome.'

On the following morning--probably August 3--the Scots were gone.
They had moved about two miles along the river, and occupied a still
stronger position in Stanhope Park. In the afternoon the English were
again facing them. About midnight, Douglas, with 200 horsemen--Barbour
says 500--crossed the Wear, and rode boldly into the English camp.
'No guard, by St George!' he exclaimed, on being discovered, as if he
were an English officer. He made right for the King's pavilion, and,
shouting his war-cry, actually 'cut two or three of its cords.' The
King most narrowly escaped capture or death. Douglas got clear with
but insignificant loss, and, collecting his men by a prearranged note
of his horn, he returned to camp. Randolph, who was waiting under
arms, ready for rescue or aid, eagerly asked the news. 'Sir,' replied
Douglas, 'we have drawn blood.'

The success of Douglas suggested to Randolph that a larger party might
have inflicted defeat on the English. Douglas had his grave doubts.
Randolph again proposed a pitched battle. Douglas objected, in view of
the disastrous effects in case of defeat. No; better treat the English
as the fox treated the fisherman. The fox had entered the fisherman's
cottage and was eating a salmon. The fisherman discovered him, and
stood on the threshold with a drawn sword in his hand. The fox, seeing
the fisherman's cloak on the bed, dragged it into the fire. Thereupon
the fisherman rushed to save his cloak, and the fox bolted out at
the unguarded door. Douglas, in fact, had planned a mode of escape,
and, though somewhat wet ('sumdele wat'), it would serve. Randolph
gave way. So the Scots made merry in the day time, burnt great fires
at night, and blew their horns 'as if all the world were theirs.'
Occasional skirmishes took place, and the English drew round the Scots
on both sides, leaving their rear open on a morass believed to be
impassable. Meantime Douglas made his preparations.

It was probably on the night of August 6-7 that Douglas led the Scots
army out of Stanhope Park. He took them across the morass, about a mile
wide, over a causeway of branches, which the rear demolished as they
passed. The men led their horses, and only a few baggage animals stuck
fast. By daybreak the Scots were far on the way homewards. The English
had been completely outwitted. On the day before, they had captured a
Scots knight, who told them that orders had been issued 'for all to be
armed by vespers and to follow the banner of Douglas,' he did not know
where. The English lords suspected a night attack, and remained under
arms. In the morning, two Scots trumpeters, who had been left to blow
misleading blasts, were brought into camp. 'The Scots,' they said, 'are
on the march home, since midnight; they left us behind to give you the
information.' The English, fearing a ruse, continued to stand to their
arms till their scouts confirmed the mortifying intelligence.

The Scots were soon met by a considerable body of their countrymen
under the Earl of March and Sir John the Steward. They all hurried back
to Scotland by the western march. The English retired to Durham, and
then to York, where the army was disbanded on August 15. Edward is said
to have shed bitter tears over the collapse of his expedition. Some of
the chroniclers allege unsupported charges of treachery, and mistakenly
accuse Mortimer of accepting a heavy bribe to wink at the escape of the
Scots. But the plain fact is that the English were outgeneralled at
every turn.

It was neither age nor sickness, as the chroniclers allege, that
prevented King Robert from leading the Weardale foray. He was away
in Ireland, creating a diversion. On July 12, at Glendun in Antrim,
he granted a truce for a year to Henry de Maundeville, the English
seneschal of Ulster, and his people, on condition of their delivering
a certain quantity of wheat and barley at Lough Larne. The expedition
does not seem to have been directly prosperous; the Irish, whom he had
expected to rise and join him in Ulster, having apparently broken faith.

Immediately on the return of the Scots from Weardale, King Robert
passed into Northumberland. He sent Randolph and Douglas to besiege
Alnwick Castle; set down another division before Norham Castle;
and, with a third body, himself overran the neighbourhood. He even
granted away the English lands to his chief followers. The attempt
on Alnwick was unsuccessful, and, the open country having bought a
truce, the leaders concentrated on Norham. On October 1, while Bruce
still lay before Norham, Edward appointed commissioners to treat with
him for final peace. After negotiations at Newcastle and York, the
treaty was signed by Robert at Edinburgh on March 17; confirmed by
the English Parliament on April 24; and finally, on May 4, signed
by Edward at Northampton. Edward conceded in the fullest terms the
absolute independence of Scotland as the marches stood in the days of
Alexander III., and agreed to deliver up all extant documents relating
to the overlordship, and in any case to annul them; and he consented
to aid Robert to obtain the revocation of the papal processes. Robert
agreed to pay £20,000 sterling in three years. And the peace was to be
cemented by the marriage of David, the Scots heir-apparent, a boy of
four, with Joan, King Edward's sister, a girl of six. In England, the
peace was freely stigmatised as 'shameful,' and the marriage as 'base';
partly on patriotic grounds, partly from dislike of Queen Isabella and
Mortimer, who guided the policy of the King. The news of the death of
the King of France no doubt gave an impulse to the English decision,
for it would be necessary for Edward to have his hands free to assert
his claim to the succession. The conditions were alike 'honourable for
the Scots and necessary for England.'



CHAPTER XIII

THE HEART OF THE BRUCE


King Robert the Bruce died at Cardross on the Clyde, on June 7, 1329, a
little more than a month before the completion of his fifty-fifth year.
The cause of his death is said to have been leprosy. Barbour says it
was the development of a severe cold, a benumbment contracted in the
hardships of his early wanderings. Apart from specific disease, the
strain of his laborious reign of nearly a quarter of a century would
have shaken the strongest constitution of man.

In the last three years he had been struck by two severe bereavements:
the death of his son-in-law, Sir Walter the Steward, a knight of great
promise, on April 9, 1326; and the death of the queen, at Cullen, on
October 26, 1327. In the latter year, indeed, in spite of increasing
illness, he had taken the field in Ireland and in Northumberland. But
he had been unable to attend the marriage of David and Joan at Berwick
in July 1328. Still he continued to move about quietly. When, however,
Douglas brought him back from a visit to Galloway in the end of March
1329, it was not to be concealed that 'there was no way for him but
death.' And, accordingly, he set his house in order.

On October 15, 1328, the Pope had at last granted absolution to Robert
from the excommunication pronounced by the cardinals, and, on November
5, authorised his confessor to give him plenary remission in the hour
of death.

At a parliament held on November 14, 1328, at Scone, it had been
settled that, in the event of David's dying without heir male of his
body begotten, Robert the Steward, son of Marjory, should succeed; and
that, if King Robert died during David's minority, Randolph should be
regent, and, failing Randolph, Douglas. David and Joan were crowned,
and David received homage and fealty.

On May 11, 1329, the King assembled his prelates and barons to
hear his last wishes. He gave directions for liberal largess to
religious houses, with special consideration for Melrose Abbey, where
he desired his heart to be buried. He declared his long-cherished
intention--Froissart says his 'solemn vow'--after bringing his realm to
peace, 'to go forth and war with the enemies of Christ, the adversaries
of our holy Christian faith.' As he had been unable to carry out his
fixed purpose, he wished his heart to be taken and borne against the
foes of God. On Douglas was laid this great and noble charge. Froissart
mentions a specific instruction: 'I wish that you convey my heart to
the Holy Sepulchre where our Lord lay, and present it there, seeing my
body cannot go thither. And wherever you come,' added the King, 'let it
be known that you carry with you the heart of King Robert of Scotland,
at his own instance and desire, to be presented at the Holy Sepulchre.'
Douglas solemnly pledged himself to this last faithful service.

On the death of King Robert, his heart was embalmed, and enclosed in a
silver casket 'cunningly enamelled,' which Douglas bore always about
his neck. Strangely enough, even in death, the King came in conflict
with Rome; for the excision of his heart was a breach of a Papal Bull
of 1299, involving excommunication of the mutilators, and excluding the
body from ecclesiastical burial. On August 13, 1331, the Pope, at the
prayer of Randolph, granted absolution to all that had taken part 'in
the inhuman and cruel treatment' of the King's body.

The body was embalmed, and carried through the Lennox, and by Dunipace
and Cambuskenneth, to repose with the body of the Queen in Dunfermline
Abbey--since Malcolm Canmore, the last resting-place of the Kings of
Scotland. Over the King's grave was erected a marble monument, which he
had ordered from Paris a twelvemonth before his death. It might have
been supposed that never in time would any Scotsman lay a rude hand
on the sepulchre of the greatest of Scottish kings; yet on March 28,
1560, an insensate rabble of 'Reformers' razed the abbey to the ground,
and broke in pieces the royal monument. In 1818, when foundations for
a new church were being cleared, there were found, in a grave in front
of the spot where the high altar of the Abbey Church had stood, the
bones of a man whose breast-bone had been sawn asunder, and who had
been buried in fine linen shot with gold thread. The probability that
these were the bones of Bruce was enhanced by the surrounding fragments
of black and white marble, well-polished, carved, and gilt. There lay
also a mouldering skull, which five centuries agone may have held the
powerful brain that dominated the field of Bannockburn.

Douglas set about his preparations. Now that peace with England was
established, and Randolph held the reins of State, there was no
national reason why Douglas could not be spared for a time. Nor would
warriors like Bruce and his paladins have ever weighed for a moment
the risks of the sacred mission. It seems a misapprehension to suggest
either selfishness or ingratitude on the part of the dying King. Nor
is there any substantial ground for imagining that Robert feared any
lack of harmony between his two great lieutenants. Barbour's casual
suggestion of petty rivalry between them cannot weigh for a moment
against their constant association in scores of enterprises. Their
rivalry was of noble quality. The King had made a knightly vow, and
that vow he must, as far as might be, perform; it was hardly less a
national than a personal obligation.

On September 1, Douglas obtained from Edward III. letters of protection
for seven years, and a letter of commendation to Alfonso XI., King of
Castile and Leon. On February 1, 1329-30, the day of the patron saint
of his house, St Bride, he bestowed lands on the Abbey of Newbattle to
secure her special intercession in his spiritual interests. Shortly
thereafter he set out on his mission, with 'a noble company'--one
knight banneret, seven other knights, twenty-six squires, and a large
retinue. According to Froissart, he sailed from Montrose to Sluys,
where he lay twelve days, thinking he might be joined by other knights
'going beyond the sea to Jerusalem'; and then to Valencia in Spain.
According to Barbour he sailed from Berwick direct to Seville. In any
case, he proceeded to the camp of Alfonso, then on his frontier warring
against Osmyn, the Moorish King of Granada, and was received with
honour befitting his fame and his mission. The knights with Alfonso
were eagerly curious to see the famous Scot; and one notable warrior
expressed his great surprise that Douglas's face was not seamed with
scars like his own. 'Praised be God!' said Douglas, 'I always had hands
to defend my head.'

On August 25, 1330, the Christian and Moorish armies faced each other
near Theba on the Andalusian frontier. Froissart states that Douglas
mistook a forward movement of the Spanish troops for the onset of
battle, and charged the Moors furiously; but the Spaniards had halted
and left him unsupported. The story seems little consonant with
Douglas's warlike intelligence. Barbour says that Alfonso assigned to
Douglas the command of the van--which is very unlikely, unless he also
assigned him an interpreter. He also asserts that Douglas hurled the
precious casket 'a stone-cast and well more' into the ranks of the
enemy, exclaiming--

      '"Now pass thou forth before
    As thou wast wont in field to be,
    And I shall follow, or else dee"';

and that he fought his way to it and recovered it, 'taking it up with
great daintie.' This, too, is but a fantastic embellishment of the
cloister. Barbour, of course, proceeds to rout the Moors and to make
Douglas press on ahead of his company, attended by only ten men. Seeing
Sir William de St Clair surrounded, however, Douglas spurred to his
friend's rescue, but was overpowered by numbers and slain. Among those
that fell with him were Sir William de St Clair and Sir Robert and Sir
Walter Logan.

The bones of Douglas were brought home by Sir William de Keith, who
had been kept out of the battle by a broken arm, and were buried in
the church of St Bride of Douglas. The silver casket with the heart of
Bruce was buried by Randolph, 'with great worship,' in Melrose Abbey.

Douglas has been charged with breach of trust. It is argued that he
ought not to have gone to Spain, but to have crossed the continent to
Venice or the south of France, and made direct for Jerusalem. It is
hardly worth while to remark that this is just what Boece says he did,
his death taking place in Spain on his way home. It is more to the
purpose that the Holy Sepulchre was then in the hands of the Saracens,
and that Spain was the central point of opposition to the infidels.
But what Douglas ought or ought not to have done depends solely on the
precise terms of his trust; and it may be taken as certain that he
knew King Robert's mind better than either Barbour or Froissart, or
even their critics, and that he decided on his course in consultation
with Randolph and the other magnates, prelates as well as barons.
Edward's safe conduct and commendatory letter show by their terms that
his going to Spain was no afterthought, but his original intention. To
attribute to Douglas lack of 'strength of purpose' is to miss the whole
significance of his career.

       *       *       *       *       *

King Robert must obviously have been a man of powerful physique and
iron constitution. The early hardships and continuous toils of his
reign could not have been sustained by any ordinary frame; and his
recorded feats of strength, such as in the case of Wallace have been
scouted as fabulous, have always been accepted without question. The
Merton MS. of the 'Flores Historiarum' calls him 'a very powerful man,'
on the occasion of his striking down Comyn. The killing of Sir Henry
de Bohun in face of both armies speaks convincingly of muscle as well
as of nerve. If the bones discovered in 1818 were his, they indicate
that he stood about six feet in height. 'In figure,' says Major, 'he
was graceful and athletic, with broad shoulders. His features were
handsome, and he had the yellow hair of the northern race, and blue and
sparkling eyes.'

Bruce's outstanding characteristic, in Barbour's analysis, was his
'hardiment:' he 'hardy was of head and hand.' That is to say, he was
a strong, bold, and resolute soldier. But with hardiment he joined
'wit'--judgment, prudence, measure; and the union of the two is
'worship.' This 'worship' was undoubtedly the fundamental cause of
Bruce's great career; and the most simple and conspicuous illustration
of it is seen in the dramatic episode of De Bohun's death. Fordun
pronounces that he 'was, beyond all living men of his day, a valiant
knight.' And Barbour sums up--

    'To whom, into gude chevelry,
    I dar peir nane, wes in his day.
    For he led hym with mesure ay.'

It was this splendid hardiment controlled and directed by cool
judgment, and supported by untiring industry in details, that ranked
King Robert not merely as the second knight in Christendom, but as
one of the most renowned generals of the age. His patient drudgery of
preparation, his wary dispositions, his firmness of resolution, his
promptitude to mark and remedy a weakness of his own and to strike hard
at a weakness of the enemy, were superbly illustrated on the field of
Bannockburn. King Robert's military renown does not need the false
attribution of tactical discoveries that he certainly did not make.
It was not Bannockburn that showed him what infantry could do against
mailed cavalry; nor was it the example of the Flemings at Courtrai.
Sir William Wallace had proved the power of the schiltron before
Bannockburn and before Courtrai; and he is not to be deprived of the
honour by the imperfect historical knowledge of Sir Thomas Gray. If the
tactic was known in these islands before the time of Wallace, or if
Wallace gained the knowledge of it from elsewhere, the fact yet remains
to be historically demonstrated. King Robert and his generals simply
practised the lesson of Wallace with notable ability. Nor did they
advance beyond Wallace in the still more important principles of large
strategy. But, apart from this, the Bruce's capacity as a military
commander stands forth pre-eminent. And though many painful incidents
inevitably stain the records of his campaigns, they are attributable
more to the age than to the man. It is impossible to charge on his
memory any reckless or wanton cruelty. His mind with all its sternness
ever tended to clemency, and his constitutional prudence, or measure,
forbade purposeless excess.

The incessant demands of war left Robert but scant leisure for
internal administration, notwithstanding the diligent service of his
eminently capable lieutenants. Apart from necessary inference and from
incidental indications, his care for civil order and good government is
conspicuously manifested in the legislation of the Scone Parliament,
December 3, 1318; and there is abundant evidence of his fostering
watchfulness over the commercial traffic with Continental countries.
The Cambuskenneth Parliament, July 15, 1326, has a constitutional
interest, as the first great council where burgesses are known to have
sat with the baronage. The trading communities were worth consultation
when a heavy war tax was to be levied, and the country was so cruelly
impoverished. There can be no doubt that Robert's management of home
affairs was watchful, energetic, and liberal.

In the conduct of his foreign relations, the Bruce proved himself an
adept in diplomacy. His dealings with the Continental princes, mainly
in regard to shipping and commerce, were conciliatory and businesslike.
His political transactions with the English sovereign and with the
Pope were uniformly characterised by astute perception, reasonableness
to the point of generosity, courteous but rigid firmness on every
essential point, and fidelity to engagements.

The occupations of the King's late and brief leisure may be read
between the lines of the Exchequer Rolls: how he kept open house at
Cardross, dispensed gifts and charities, pottered (with Randolph) at
shipbuilding, sailed his great ship between Cardross and Tarbet, built
Tarbet Castle, added a wing to his mansion, tended his garden, and so
forth; and how he kept a pet lion at Perth, where he seems to have
spent parts of his last two years.

Bruce was twice married. First, to Isabel, daughter of the Earl of Mar,
the mother of Marjory. Second, to Elizabeth, eldest daughter of De
Burgh, Earl of Ulster, who bore him two sons and two daughters: Matilda
and Margaret, after 1316; David, March 5, 1324; and John, who died in
infancy. The most distinguished of his other children, Sir Robert de
Brus, fell at Dupplin in 1332.

Bruce has been called by Lord Hailes (after Rapin) the 'restorer of
Scottish monarchy.' The monarchy was a small matter; Bruce was the
restorer of Scottish independence. But the conditions of the case
are apt to be misconceived. The incalculable services of Sir William
Wallace, through nearly ten years of incomparably heroic struggle
against the great Edward in his full vigour, are too often forgotten,
or belittled. But for Wallace, it is more than probable that Bruce
would never have been King of Scotland. He built on Wallace's
foundations.

Comyn being dead, Bruce possessed the admitted right to the crown,
without even the semblance of competition--a powerful aid in his
enterprise. He started in the acquisitive spirit of an Anglo-Norman
baron, and was carried through largely by his personal gallantry,
his military capacity, his consummate prudence, and his indomitable
resolution. Though the mass of the people rallied to him but slowly
through many years, yet he at once gained the more ardent patriots;
and, in particular, he had the instant support of the leading prelates,
and, at the Dundee Parliament on February 24, 1308-9, the formal
adhesion of the clergy generally. Nor is it easy to overestimate the
aid of three such paladins as Edward de Brus, Randolph, and Douglas.
And not the least of the grounds of Bruce's success is to be sought in
the feebleness and foolishness of Edward II. and the stupid oppressions
practised by his local officers. Still, with full acknowledgment of
these supports, King Robert was and is the central figure in the final
establishment of the independence of Scotland.

One is strongly inclined to believe that the services of Sir Edward
de Brus, Lord of Galloway and Earl of Carrick, have been seriously
underrated, partly no doubt through his own besetting fault. When we
remember how boldly he is said to have counselled action on the return
from Rathlin, how vigorously he cleared the English out of his lordship
of Galloway, and how ably he bore the brunt of the heaviest fighting
at Bannockburn, we cannot but suspect that his glory has been unduly
dimmed by the splendour of his brother, and by the inappreciation of
his monkish critics. The main certainty about his hapless expedition
to Ireland is the certainty that he fought with the most chivalrous
ardour. He was not only 'hardy' but, according to Barbour, 'outrageous
hardy'--a prototype of Hotspur. His habitual exaltation of mind is well
expressed by the Archdeacon, when he describes him in face of vastly
superior numbers at Kilross:

              'The more they be,
    The more honoùr allout have we,
    If that we bear us manfully.'

Undoubtedly his 'hardiment' overbore his 'wit'; yet one may safely
doubt whether the Archdeacon was the man to take his military measure.
At the very least, he must have been a powerful force in urging
unmitigated hostility against the English; and his dash in battle must
have proved a potent force on many a stricken field.

In the absence of Sir Edward, Randolph ranked as first lieutenant.
He was Bruce's nephew, son of Isabel de Brus and Thomas Randolph
of Strathdon.[2] From Lord of Nithsdale, he blossomed into Earl of
Moray, and Lord of Annandale and of Man. As soldier, diplomatist, and
statesman, he displayed pre-eminent ability. Barbour represents him as
of moderate stature, proportionably built, 'with broad visage, pleasing
and fair,' and a courteous manner. 'A man he was,' says Lord Hailes,
most justly, 'to be remembered while integrity, prudence, and valour
are held in esteem among men.' He survived King Robert a little over
three years.

The good Sir James of Douglas ranked second to Randolph only because
Randolph was the King's nephew. From his early teens he displayed a
gallant and chivalrous spirit, a mind set on honour, and withal a
conspicuous gift of strategic device. If we may rely on Barbour, he
was even more cautious than the well-balanced Randolph; yet, when
occasion served, he could display the adventurous dash of Sir Edward
de Brus; and he exhibited a splendid tenacity. According to Froissart,
he was 'esteemed the bravest and most enterprising knight in the two
kingdoms.' Like most great commanders, he rendered his men devoted to
him by a large generosity, not merely in division of the spoils, but
also in recognition of valiant deeds. Barbour tells us that

    'He had intill custom allway,
    Quhen euir he com till hard assay,
    To press hym the chiftane to sla;'

a bold principle that often decided the fight--like Bruce's principle
of striking hard at the foremost line. After he slew Sir Robert de
Neville,

    'The dreid of the Lorde Dowglass,
    And his renoun swa scalit wass
    Throu-out the marchis of Yngland
    That all that war tharin duelland
    Thai dred him as the deuill of hell.'

And Barbour had often heard tell that wives would frighten their
wayward children into obedience by threatening to deliver them to the
Black Douglas. The Leicester chronicler says 'the English feared him
more than all other Scotsmen'; for 'every archer he could take, either
his right hand he cut off or his right eye he plucked out,' and, for
the sake of the archers, he always took his vengeance on an Englishman
in the severest form he could devise. This view is not corroborated,
however, and it may be a generalisation from some particular case. But,
while terrible to the enemy--'a brave hammerer of the English,' as
Fordun says--Douglas is represented as charming to his friends.

    'But he wes nocht sa fayr that we
    Suld spek gretly off his beaute:
    In wysage[3] wes he sumdeill gray,[4]
    And had blak har,[5] as Ic hard say;
    Bot off lymmys[6] he wes weill maid,
    With banis[7] gret & schuldrys braid.[8]
    His body wes weyll maid and lenye,[9]
    As thai that saw hym said to me ...
    And in spek wlispyt[10] he sum deill;
    But that sat[11] him rycht wondre weill.'

Scott's picture of the Knight of the Tomb, while based on Barbour's
description, verges on caricature.

       *       *       *       *       *

Was King Robert the Bruce a patriot? The question, startling as it may
be, especially to trustful readers of uncritical laudations, may no
longer be avoided.

It is not necessary to repeat the outlines of his political attitude
during the storm and stress of Wallace's memorable struggle. Can it be
supposed, then, that a man may become patriotic after his thirty-first
year? With his assumption of the kingly office, Bruce's baronial and
royal interests coincided with the interests of Scotland, and it may be
that some feeling of the nature of patriotism may have thus developed
in his breast. The manifesto of the barons and other laymen in 1320,
apart from its dramatic purpose, may be taken to indicate that the
external reasons for the King's profession of patriotism were not less
potent than his private reasons. Let us concede to him the benefit even
of grievous doubt. For, be his motives what they may, the practical
outcome was the decisive establishment of the independence of the
realm of Scotland, and he remains for ever the greatest of the line of
Scottish Kings.



FOOTNOTES:

[1] Hemingburgh also gives February 10; Rishanger, Walsingham, and
others give January 29. It is the difference between iv. _Id._ Feb. and
iv. _Kal._ Feb. Probably both dates are wrong. The true date, it is
suggested, is January 27--'Thursday next before Carne-prevyum' (_Cal._
ii., p. 486, under August 4, 1306).

[2] So say the modern authorities. The chroniclers call him Bruce's
'nephew,' and Bruce himself calls him 'nepos'; and Boece calls him
David's 'cousin.' But is not 'nephew' used here, not in the present
strict sense, but in the wider sense of young relative? Bruce's father
and mother were married not before 1270 at earliest. Isabel was married
to the King of Norway on November 15, 1293; and probably the marriage
was in contemplation when her father and she went to Norway in autumn,
1292. Was she a widow, then, at 21? Randolph was present with his
father at proceedings in the Succession case at Berwick in August
1292. If, then, he was the son of Isabel, he must have been a mere
child--five or six at most. If there was another sister Isabel (Bain),
the age difficulty remains. Was Isabel--if Isabel _was_ Randolph's
mother's name--not the sister, but the aunt, of Bruce? And was Randolph
really Bruce's _cousin_?

[3] Visage.

[4] Somewhat gray (swarthy).

[5] Hair.

[6] Limbs.

[7] Bones.

[8] Shoulders broad.

[9] Lean.

[10] Lisped.

[11] Became.



Transcriber's Notes:


Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Page 35: Unmatched closing single quotation mark after "is a traitor'".

Page 43: "David ap Griffith" means "son of" (Welch origin).





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