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[Chap. IV.




A DEEP and general panic seized the
English, after the disastrous defeat at
Bannockburn. The weak and unde­
cided character of the king infected
his nobility, and the common soldiers
having lost all confidence in their
officers, became feeble and dispirited
themselves. “A hundred English
would not hesitate,” says Walsingham,
“to fly from two or three Scottish sol­
diers, so grievously had their wonted
courage deserted them.”1 Taking
advantage of this dejection, the king,
iu the beginning of autumn,2 sent
Douglas and Edward Bruce across the
eastern marches, with an army which
wasted Northumberland, and carried
fire and sword through the principality
of Durham, where they levied severe
contributions. They next pushed for­
ward into Yorkshire, and plundered
Richmond, driving away a large body
of cattle, and making many prisoners.
On their way homeward, they burnt
Appleby and Kirkwold, sacked and
set fire to the villages in their route,
and found the English so dispirited
everywhere, that their army reached
Scotland, loaded with spoil, and un­
challenged by an enemy.3 Edward,
indignant at their successes, issued
his writs for the muster of a new
army to be assembled from the dif­
ferent wapentachs of Yorkshire ; com­
manded ships to be commissioned
and victualled for a second Scottish
expedition ; and appointed the Earl of
Pembroke to be governor of the coun­
try between Berwick and the river
Trent, with the arduous charge of
defending it against reiterated attacks,
and, to use the words of the royal

1 Walsingham, p. 106.
It was before the 10th of August, Rotuli
Scotiæ, vol. i. p. 129.
Chron. Lancrcost, p. 228.

commission, “the burnings, slaugh­
ters, and inhuman and sacrilegious
depredations of the Scots.”4 These,
however, were only parchment levies ;
and before a single vessel was manned,
or a single horseman had put his foot
in the stirrup, the indefatigable Bruce
had sent a second army into England,
which ravished Redesdale and Tyne-
dale, again marking their progress by
the black ashes of the towns and
villages, and compelling the miserable
inhabitants of the border countries to
surrender their whole wealth, and to
purchase their lives with large sums
of money.5 From this they diverged
in their destructive progress into
Cumberland, and either from despair,
or from inclination, and a desire to
plunder, many of the English borderers
joined the invading army, and swore
allegiance to the Scottish king.6

Alarmed at these visitations, and
finding little protection from the in­
activity of Edward, and the disunion
and intrigues of the nobility, the
barons and clergy of the northern
parts of England assembled at York;
and having entered into a confederacy
for the protection of their neighbour­
hood against the Scots, appointed
four captains to command the forces
of the country, and to adopt measures
for the public safety. Edward imme­
diately confirmed this nomination,
and, for the pressing nature of the
emergency, the measure was not im­
politic ; but these border troops soon
forgot their allegiance, and, upon the
failure of their regular supplies from
the king’s exchequer, became little
better than the Scots themselves,

4 Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. i. p. 129. 10th August

5 Chron. Lanercost, p. 229.

6 Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. i. pp. 152, 153.

1814-15.]                               ROBERT BRUCE.                                       125

plundering the country, and subsist­
ing themselves by every species of
theft, robbery,1 and murder.

Robert wisely seized this period of
distress and national dejection to
make pacific overtures to Edward, and
to assure him that, having secured
the independence of his kingdom,
there was nothing which he more
anxiously desired than a firm and
lasting peace between the two nations.
Negotiations soon after followed.
Four Scottish ambassadors met with
the commissioners of England, and
various attempts were made for the
establishment of a perpetual peace, or
at least of a temporary truce between
the rival countries ; but these entirely
failed, owing, probably, to the high
tone assumed by the Scottish envoys ;
and the termination of this destructive
war appeared still more distant than
before.2 Towards the end of this
year, the unfortunate John Baliol died
in exile at his ancient patrimonial
castle of Bailleul, in France, having
lived to see the utter demolition of
a power which had insulted and de­
throned him. He had been suffered
to retain a small property in England;
and his eldest son appears to have
been living in that country, and under
the protection of Edward, at the time
of his father’s death.3

In addition to the miseries of foreign
war and intestine commotion, England
was now visited with a grievous fam­
ine, which increased to an excessive
degree the prices of provisions, and,
combined with the destructive inroads
of the Scots, reduced the kingdom to
a miserable condition. A parliament,
which assembled at London in Jan-

1 Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. i. p. 137, 10th Jan­
uary 1314. Walsingham, p. 110. Lord Ilailes
has stated that Edward assembled a parlia­
ment at York in 1314, and quotes the Fœdera,
vol. iii. pp. 491, 493, for his authority. This,
I think, must be an error ; as these pages
rather prove that no parliament was then as­
sembled, nor is there any writ for a parlia­
ment in Rymer in this year at all. Walsing-
ham, p. 106, says, indeed, that the king held
a great council at York, immediately after
his flight from Bannockburn.

2 Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. i. p. 131. Everwyk,
18th September 1314. See also pp. 132, 133,
6th October 1314.

3 Fœdera, vol. iii. p. 506, 4th January 1315.

uary, (1314-15,) endeavoured, with
short-sighted policy, to provide some
remedy in lowering the market price
of the various necessaries of life; and
making it imperative upon the seller
either to dispose of his live stock at
certain fixed rates, or to forfeit them
to the crown4—a measure which a
subsequent parliament found it neces­
sary to repeal.5 The same assembly
granted to the king a twentieth of
their goods, upon the credit of which
he requested a loan from the abbots
and priors of the various convents in
his dominions, for the purpose of rais­
ing an army against the Scots.6 But
the king’s credit was too low, the
clergy too cautious, and the barons
of the crown too discontented, to
give efficiency to this intended muster,
and no army appeared. The famine,
which had begun in England, now ex­
tended to Scotland; and as that coun­
try became dependent upon foreign
importation, the merchants of Eng­
land, Ireland, and Wales were rigor­
ously interdicted from supplying it
with grain, cattle, arms, or any other
commodities. Small squadrons of
ships were employed to cruise round
the island, so as to intercept all for­
eign supplies; and letters were direct­
ed to the Earl of Flanders, and to the
Counts of Holland, Lunenburg, and
Brabant, requesting them to put a
stop to all commercial intercourse be­
tween their dominions and Scotland—
a request with which these sagacious
and wealthy little states peremptorily
refused to comply.7

In the spring, another Scottish
army broke in upon Northumberland,
again ravaged the principality of Dur­
ham, sacked the seaport of Hartle-
pool, and, after collecting their plun­
der, compelled the inhabitants to re­
deem their property and their freedom
by a high tribute. Carrying their

4 Rotuli Park 8 Edw. II. n. 35, 86, quoted
in Tyrrel, vol. iii. p. 263.

5 Tyrrel, vol. iii. p. 265.

6 Ibid. vol. iii. p. 2G3. Rymer, Fœdera,
vol. iii. p. 511.

7 Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. i. pp. 135, 136. Ry-
mer, Fœdera, vol. iii. p. 770. Edward wrote
also to the magistrates of Dam, Nieuport,
Dunkirk, Ypre, and Mechlin, to the same im­
port. Rotuli Scotiæ, 12 Edw. II. m. 8.

126                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                        [Chap. IV.

arms to the gates of York, they wasted
the country with fire and sword, and
reduced the wretched English to the
lowest extremity of poverty and de­
spair.1 Carlisle, Newcastle, and Ber­
wick, defended by strong fortifications,
and well garrisoned, were now the
only cities of refuge where there was
security for property; and to these
towns the peasantry flocked for pro­
tection, whilst the barons and nobility,
instead of assembling their vassals to
repel the common enemy, spent their
time in idleness and jollity in the

An important measure, relating to
the succession of the crown, now
occupied the attention of the Estates
of Scotland, in a parliament held at
Ayr, on the 26th of April. By a
solemn act of settlement, it was de­
termined, with the consent of the
king, and of his daughter and pre­
sumptive heir, Marjory, that the
crown, in the event of Bruce’s death,
without heirs male of his body,
should descend to his brother, Ed­
ward Bruce, a man of tried valour,
and much practised in war. It was
moreover provided, with consent of
the king, and of his brother Edward,
that, failing Edward and his heirs
male, Marjory should immediately
succeed ; and failing her, the nearest
heir lineally descended of the body of
King Robert; but under the express
condition that Marjory should not
marry without the consent of her
father, and failing him, of the major­
ity of the Estates of Scotland. If it
happened that either the king, or his
brother Edward, or Marjory his daugh­
ter, should die leaving an heir male
who was a minor, in that event Tho­
mas Randolph, earl of Moray, was con­
stituted guardian of the heir, and of
the kingdom, till the Estates consi­
dered the heir of a fit age to admin­
ister the government in his own per­
son ; and in the event of the death of
Marjory without children, the same
noble person was appointed to this
office, if he chose to accept the burden,
until the states and community, in

1 Chronicle of Lanercost, pp. 230, 231.
Walsingham, p. 107.

their wisdom, determined the rightful
succession to the crown.3

Not long after this, the king be­
stowed his daughter Marjory in mar­
riage upon Walter, the hereditary
High Steward of Scotland; an impor­
tant union, which gave heirs to the
Scottish crown, and afterwards to the
throne of the United Kingdoms.4

An extraordinary episode in the
history of the kingdom now claims
our attention. Edward Bruce, the
king’s brother, a man of restless ambi­
tion and undaunted enterprise, fixed
his eyes upon Ireland, at this time
animated by a strong spirit of re­
sistance against its English masters;
and having entered into a secret cor­
respondence with its discontented
chieftains, he conceived the bold idea
of reducing that island by force of
arms, and becoming its king.5 A
desire to harass England in a very
vulnerable quarter, and a wish to
afford employment, at a distance, to a
temper which was so imperious at
home,6 that it began to threaten dis­
turbance to the kingdom, induced the
King of Scotland to agree to a project
replete with difficulty; and Edward
Bruce, with six thousand men, landed
at Carrickfergus, in the north of Ire­
land, on the 25th of May 1315. He
was accompanied by the Earl of Moray,
Sir Philip Mowbray, Sir John Soulis,
Sir Fergus of Ardrossan, and Ramsay
of Ochterhouse. In a series of battles,
which it would be foreign to the ob­
ject of this history to enumerate,
although they bear testimony to the
excellent discipline of the Scottish
knights and soldiers, Edward Bruce
overran the provinces of Down, Ar­
magh, Louth, Meath, and Kildare;
but was compelled by want, and the

3 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. ;pp. 256, 258.
Robertson’s Index, pp. 7, 8.

4 Stuart’s History of the Stewarts, p. 18.

5 Barbour, p. 277.

6 Neither Lord Hailes nor any other Scot­
tish historian take notice of the ambitious
and factious character of Edward Bruce,
although Fordun expressly says: — "Iste
Edwardus erat homo ferox, et magni cordis
valde, nec voluit cohabitare fratri suo in
pace, nisi dimidium regni solus haberet; et
hac de causa mota fuit guerra in Hibernia,
ubi ut præmittitur finivit vitam.”— Fordun a
Hearne, p. 1009.

1315.1                                         ROBERT BRUCE.                                            127

reduced numbers of his little army,
to retreat into Ulster, and despatch
the Earl of Moray for new succours
into Scotland. He was soon after
crowned king of Ireland, and imme­
diately after his assumption of the
regal dignity laid siege to Carrickfer-
gus. On being informed of the situa­
tion of his brother’s affairs, King Ro­
bert intrusted the government of the
kingdom to his son-in-law, the Stew­
ard, and Sir James Douglas. He then
passed over to the assistance of the
new king, with a considerable body of
troops; and, after their junction, the
united armies, having reduced Carrick-
fergus, pushed forward through the
county Louth, to Slane, and invested
Dublin ; but being compelled to raise
the siege, they advanced into Kilkenny,
wasted the country as far as Limerick,
and after experiencing the extremities
of famine, and defeating the enemy
wherever they made head against
them, terminated a glorious but fruit­
less expedition, by a retreat into the
province of Ulster, in the spring of

The King of Scotland now returned
to his dominions, taking along with
him the Earl of Moray, but having left
the flower of his army to support his
brother in the possession of Ulster. A
miserable fate awaited these brave
men. After a long period of inaction,
in which neither the Irish annals nor
our early Scottish historians afford any
certain light, we find King Edward
Bruce encamped at Tagher, near Dun-
dalk, at the head of a force of two
thousand men, exclusive of the native
Irish, who were numerous, but badly
armed and disciplined. Against him,
Lord John Bermingham, along with
John Maupas, Sir Miles Verdon, Sir
Hugh Tripton, and other Anglo-Irish
barons, led an army which was strong
in cavalry, and outnumbered the Scots
by nearly ten to one. Edward, with
his characteristic contempt of danger,
and nothing daunted by the disparity
of force, determined, against the advice
of his oldest captains, to give the enemy
battle. In the course of a three years’
war, he had already engaged the Anglo­
1 Fordun a Hearne, p. 1008.

Irish forces eighteen times; and al­
though his success had led to no im­
portant result, he had been uniformly
victorious.2 But his fiery career was
now destined to be quenched, and his
short-lived sovereignty to have an end.
On the 5th of October 1318, the two
armies joined battle, and the Scots
were almost immediately discomfited.3
At the first onset, John Maupas slew
King Edward Bruce, and was himself
found slain, and stretched upon the
body of his enemy. Sir John Soulis
and Sir John Stewart also fell; and the
rout becoming general, the slaughter
was great. A miserable remnant, how­
ever, escaping from the field, under
John Thomson, the leader of the men
of Carrick, made good their retreat to
Carrickfergus, and from thence reached
Scotland. Two thousand Scottish sol­
diers were left dead upon the spot, and
amongst these some of Bruce’s best
captains.4 Thus ended an expedition
which, if conducted by a spirit of more
judicious and deliberate valour than
distinguished its prime mover, might
have produced the most serious annoy­
ance to England. Unmindful of the
generous courtesy of Bruce’s behaviour
after the battle of Bannockburn, the
English treated the body of the King
of Ireland with studied indignity. It
was quartered and distributed as a
public spectacle over Ireland, and the
head was presented to the English
king by Lord John Bermingham, who,
as a reward for his victory, was created
Earl of Louth.5

Having given a continuous sketch
of this disastrous enterprise, which,
from its commencement till the death
of Edward, occupied a period of three
years, we shall return to the affairs of
Scotland, where the wise administra­
tion of King Robert brought security
and happiness to the people both at
home and in their foreign relations.

The ships which had transported
Edward Bruce and his army to Ireland
were immediately sent home; and the

2 I have here followed the authority of Bar-
bour, p. 317.

3 Barbour, p. 364.

4 Their names will be found in Trivet,
contin. p. 29.

5 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iii. p. 767.

123                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                        [Chap. IV.

king undertook an expedition against
the Western Isles, some of which had
acknowledged his dominion,1 whilst
others, under John of Argyle, the firm
ally of England, had continued for a
long time to harass and annoy the
commerce of his kingdom. Although
constantly occupied in a land war,
during the course of which he had
brought his army into a high state of
discipline, Bruce had never been blind
to the strength which he must acquire
by having a fleet which could cope with
the maritime power of his rival; and
from the complaints of the English
monarch in the state papers of the
times, we know that on both sides of
the island the Scottish vessels, and
those of their allies, kept the English
coast towns in a state of constant

Their fleets seem to have been partly
composed of privateers, as well Flemish
as Scottish, which, under the protection
of the king, roved about, and attacked
the English merchantmen. Thus, dur­
ing Edward Bruce’s expedition, he
met, when on the Irish coast, and sur­
rounded with difficulties, with Thomas
of Doune, a Scottish “ scoumar,” or
freebooter, “of the se,” who, with a
small squadron of four ships, sailed
up the river Ban, and extricated his
countrymen from their3 perilous situ-

In his expedition to the Isles, Bruce
was accompanied by his son-in­law, the
Steward of Scotland; and having sailed
up the entrance of Loch Fine to Tar-
bet, he dragged his vessels upon a slide,
composed of smooth planks of trees
laid parallel to each other, across the
narrow neck of land which, separates
the lochs of East and West Tarbet.
The distance was little more than an
English mile; and by this expedient
Bruce not only saved the necessity of
doubling the Mull of Kantire, to the
small craft of those days often a fatal

1 Fœdera, vol. iii. p. 238.

2 Rotuli Scot. vol. i. p. 151, date 6th No­
vember 1315.

3 Barbour, book x. p. 288. In Leland, Col­
lect, vol. i. p. 549, we find, in an extract from
the Scala Chron., “One dyne, a Fleming, an
admiral, and great robber on the se, and in
high favour with Robert Bruce,”

enterprise, but availed himself of a su­
perstitious belief then current amongst
the Western islanders, that they should
never be subdued till their invader
sailed across the isthmus of Tarbet.4
The presence of the king in the West­
ern Isles was soon followed by the
submission of all the little pirate chiefs
who had given him disturbance, and
by the capture and imprisonment of
John of Lorn, who, since his defeat at
Cruachin Ben, had been constantly in
the pay of Edward, with the proud
title of Admiral of the Western fleet
of England.5 This island prince was
first committed to Dumbarton castle,
and afterwards shut up in the castle
of Lochleven, where he died.6 After
the termination of his peaceful mari­
time campaign, the king indulged him­
self and his friends in the diversion of
the chase; whilst at home, his army,
under Douglas, continued to insult and
plunder the English Border counties.7
On his return from the Western Isles,
Bruce undertook the siege of Carlisle;
but, after having assaulted it for ten
days, he was compelled, by the strength
of the works and the spirit of its towns­
men and garrison, to draw off his
troops. Berwick, too, was threatened
from the side next the sea by the Scot­
tish ships, which attempted to steal up
the river unperceived by the enemy,
but were discovered, and bravely re­
pulsed.8 Against these reiterated in­
sults, Edward, unable from his extreme
unpopularity to raise an army, con­
tented himself with querulous com­
plaints, and with some ineffectual ad­
vances towards a reconciliation,9 which
as yet was far distant.

4  Barbour, p. 302. The fishermen con­
stantly drag their boats across this neck of
land. Tar-bat for trag-bat, or drag-boat.

5  Rotuli Scotiæ, p. 121. This John of Lorn
seems to be the same person as the John of
Argyle, so frequently mentioned in the Rotuli.

6  Barbour, p. 303.

7  Leland, Collect, vol. i. p. 24. Douglas
wasted Egremont, plundered St Bees’ Priory,
and destroyed two manors belonging to the
prior. The work quoted by Leland is an
anonymous MS. History of the Abbots of St
Mary’s, York, by a monk of the same reli­
gious house.

8  Chron. Lanercost, pp. 230, 231, 204. This
was in the end of July 1314.

9 Rotuli Scotiæ, 9 Ed. II. m. 6, p. 149.

1316.]                                         ROBERT BRUCE.                                            129

About this time, to the great joy of
the King of Scotland and of the nation,
the Princess Marjory bore a son, Ro­
bert, who was destined, after the death
of David, his uncle, to succeed to the
throne, and become the first of the
royal house of Stewart; but grief soon
followed joy, for the young mother
died almost immediately after child-

Undaunted by the partial check
which they had received before Car­
lisle and Berwick, the activity of the
Scots gave the English perpetual em­
ployment. On one side they attacked
Wales, apparently making descents
from their ships upon the coast; and
Edward, trembling for the security of
his new principality, countermanded
the Welsh levies which were about to
join his army, and enjoined them to
remain at home ; but he accompanied
this with an order to give hostages for
their fidelity, naturally dreading the
effect of the example of the Scots
upon a nation whose fetters were yet
new and galling.2 On the other side,
King Robert in person led his army,
about midsummer, into Yorkshire,
and wasted the country, without meet­
ing an enemy, as far as Richmond.
A timely tribute, collected by the
neighbouring barons and gentlemen,
saved this town from the flames; but
this merely altered the order of march
into the West Riding, which was
cruelly sacked and spoiled for sixty
miles round, after which the army
returned with their booty and many
prisoners.3 Bruce then embarked for
Ireland; and soon after, the English
king, encouraged by his absence and
that of Randolph, summoned his mili­
tary vassals to meet him at Newcastle,
and determined to invade Scotland
with great strength ; but the Earl of
Lancaster, to whom the conduct of
the enterprise was intrusted, and the

1 Fordun a Goodal, book xii. c. 25. Hailes,
vol. ii. p. 81. It is strange that Fordun him­
self does neither mention the birth of Robert
the Second, nor the death of his mother. See
Fordun a Hearne, p. 1008, 1009. Winton, too,
says nothing of her death.

2 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iii. p. 620. Rotuli
Scothe, vol. i. p. 159, 4th August.

3 Chron. Lanercost, p. 233.

barons of his party, having in vain
waited at Newcastle for the king’s
arrival, returned home in displeasure ;4
so that the original design of Edward
broke down into several smaller inva­
sions, in repelling which the activity
and military enterprise of Sir James
Douglas, and the Steward, not only
kept up, but materially increased, the
Scottish ascendancy. In Douglas, the
adventurous spirit of chivalry was
finely united with the character of an
experienced commander. At this time
he held his quarters at Linthaughlee,
near Jedburgh ; and having informa­
tion that the Earl of Arundel, with Sir
Thomas de Richemont, and an Eng­
lish force of ten thousand men, had
crossed the Borders, he determined to
attack him in a narrow pass, through
which his line of march lay, and which
was flanked on each side by a wood.
Having thickly twisted together the
young birch trees on either side, so as
to prevent escape,5 he concealed his
archers in a hollow way near the gorge
of the pass, and when the English
ranks were compressed by the narrow­
ness of the road, and it was impossible
for their cavalry to act with effect, he
rushed upon them at the head of his
horsemen, whilst the archers, suddenly
discovering themselves, poured in a
flight of arrows, so that the unwieldy
mass was thrown into confusion, and
took to flight. In the melee, Douglas
slew Thomas de Richemont with his
dagger; and although, from his in­
feriority of force, he did not venture
to pursue the enemy into the open
country, yet they were compelled to
retreat with great slaughter.6

Soon after this, Edmund de Cailou,
a knight of Gascony, whom Edward
had appointed to be Governor of Ber­
wick, was encountered by Douglas, as
the foreigner returned to England
loaded with plunder, from an inroad
into Teviotdale. Cailou was killed;
and, after the slaughter of many of
the foreign mercenaries, the accumu­
lated booty of the Merse and Teviot-
dale was recovered by the Scots.

4 Tyrrel, vol. iii. p. 2G7.
Barbour, p. 324.
Ibid. p. 323.


130                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                        [Chap. IV.

Exactly similar to that of Cailou was
the fate of Sir Ralph Neville. This
baron, on hearing the high report of
Douglas’s prowess, from some of De
Cailou’s fugitive soldiers, openly boast­
ed that he would fight with the Scottish
knight, if he would come and shew his
banner before Berwick. Douglas, who
deemed himself bound to accept the
challenge, immediately marched into
the neighbourhood of that town, and,
within sight of the garrison, caused a
party of his men to waste the country
and burn the villages. Neville in­
stantly quitted Berwick with a strong
body of men, and, encamping upon a
high ground, waited till the Scots
should disperse to plunder ; but Doug­
las called in his detachment, and in­
stantly marched against the enemy.
After a desperate conflict, in which
many were slain, Douglas, as was his
custom, succeeded in bringing the
leader to a personal encounter, and
the superior strength and skill of the
Scottish knight were again successful.
Neville was slain, and his men utterly
discomfited.1 An old English chro­
nicle ascribes this disaster to “the
treason of the marchers; " but it is
difficult to discover in what the treason
consisted. Many other soldiers of
distinction were taken prisoners, and
Douglas, without opposition, ravaged
the country, drove away the cattle,
left the towns and villages in flames.
and returned to Scotland. So terrible
did the exploits of this hardy warrior
become upon the Borders, that Bar­
bour, who lived in his time, informs
us the English mothers were accus­
tomed to pacify their children by
threatening them with the name oi
the “ Black Douglas.” 2

Repulsed with so much disgrace in
these attempts by land, the English
monarch fitted out a fleet, and invaded
Scotland, sailing into the Firth of
Forth, and landing his armament at
Donibristle. The panic created by
the English was so great, that the
sheriff of the county had difficulty in
assembling five hundred cavalry; and

1 Leland, Collect, vol. i. p. 547. Barbour,
p. 309.
Barbour, p. 310.

these, intimidated by the superior
numbers of the enemy, disgracefully
took to flight. Fortunately, however,
a spirited prelate, Sinclair, bishop of
Dunkeld, who had more in him of the
warrior than the ecclesiastic, received
timely notice of this desertion. Put­
ting himself at the head of sixty of
his servants, and with nothing clerical
about him, except a linen frock or
rochet cast over his armour, he threw
himself on horseback, and succeeded
in rallying the fugitives, telling their
leaders that they were recreant knights,
and deserved to have their gilt spurs
hacked off. “ Turn,” said he, seizing
a spear from the nearest soldier,
“ turn, for shame, and let all who
love Scotland follow me ! " With this
he furiously charged the English, who
were driven back to their ships with
the loss of five hundred men, besides
many who were drowned by the
swamping of one of the vessels. On
his return from Ireland, Bruce highly
commended his spirit, declaring that
Sinclair should be his own bishop; and
by the name of the King’s Bishop
this hardy prelate was long remem­
bered in Scotland.3

Unable to make any impression
with temporal arms, the King of Eng­
land next had recourse to the thun-
ders of spiritual warfare; and in the
servile character of Pope John the
Twenty-second, he found a fit tool for
his purpose. By a bull, issued from
Avignon, in the beginning of 1317,
the Pope commanded the observance
of a truce between the hostile coun­
tries for two years; but the style of
this mandate evinced a decided par­
tiality to England. Giving the title
of King of England to Edward, he
only designated Bruce as his beloved
son, “ carrying himself as King of
[ Scotland; “ 4 and when he despatched
two cardinals as his legates into Bri­
tain, for the purpose of publishing
this truce upon the spot, they were
privately empowered, in case of any
opposition, to inflict upon the King
of Scotland the highest spiritual cen­
sures. In the same secret manner,

3 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 259.

4  Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iii. p. 594.

1317.]                                         ROBERT BRUCE.                                            131

he furnished them with a bull, to be
made public if circumstances so re­
quired, by which Robert Bruce and
his brother Edward were declared ex­
communicated persons.1 The Pope
also directed another bull against the
order of Minorite Friars, who, by their
discourses, had instigated the Irish to
join the Scottish invaders, and rise in
rebellion against the English govern­
ment. These attempts to deprive him
of his just rights, and to overawe him
into peace, were met by a firm resist­
ance on the part of Bruce; who,
placed in a trying and delicate situa­
tion, evinced, in his opposition to the
Papal interference, a remarkable union
of unshaken courage, with sound judg­
ment and good temper, contriving to
maintain the independence of his
crown ; whilst, at the same time, he
professed all due respect for the au­
thority of his spiritual father, as head
of the Church.

Charged with their important com­
missions, the cardinals arrived in Eng­
land at the time when Lewis de Beau­
mont was about to be consecrated
Bishop of Durham. Their first step
was to despatch two nuncios, the
Bishop of Corbeil and Master Aumery,2
who were intrusted with the delivery
of the Papal letters to the Scottish
king, and with the bulls of excommu­
nication. As Durham lay on their
road, Master Aumery and his brother
nuncio set out with the bishop elect,
and a splendid suit of churchmen and
barons, intending to be present at the
inauguration. But it proved an ill-
fated journey for these unfortunate
envoys. The Borders at this time
were in a wild and disorderly state.
Many of the gentry and barons of
England, as already noticed, had en­
tered into armed associations for the
defence of the marches against the
destructive inroads of the Scots; but
the habits of loose warfare, the ex­
tremities of famine, and the unpopu­
larity of the king’s person and govern­
ment, had, in the course of years,
transformed themselves and their sol­
diers into robbers, who mercilessly

1 Dated 4th April 1317.

2 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iii. p. 661.

ravaged the country.3 Anxious in
every way to increase the confusions
which then distracted the English
government, the King of Scotland
kept up an intelligence with these
marauders ; and, on the present occa­
sion, aware of the hostility which was
meditated against him by the cardi­
nals, and of their attachment to his
enemy, it seems very probable that
he employed two leaders of these
broken men, Gilbert de Middle ton
and Walter Selby, to intercept the
nuncios, and make themselves masters
of their letters and secret instruc­
tions. It is certain that, on the
approach of the cavalcade to Rushy
Ford, a large body of soldiers, headed
by these lawless chiefs, rushed out
from a wood near the road, and in a
short time made the whole party
prisoners; seized and stript of their
purple and scarlet apparel the unfor­
tunate Churchmen; rifled and carried
off their luggage and horses; but,
without offering violence to their per­
sons, dismissed them to prosecute
their journey to Scotland. The bishop
elect and his brother, Henry de Beau­
mont, were carried to Middleton’s
castle of Mitford; nor were they libe­
rated from their dungeon till their
plate, jewels, and the rich vestments
of the cathedral were sold to raise
money for their ransom.4

Meanwhile the Papal nuncios, in
disconsolate plight, proceeded into
Scotland, and arrived at court. Bruce
received them courteously, and listened
with attention to the message with
which they were charged.5 Having
then consulted with those of his coun­
sellors who were present upon the
proposals, he replied that he earnestly
desired a firm peace between the king­
doms, to be procured by all honour­
able means, but that as long as he
was only addressed as Governor of
Scotland, and his own title of king
withheld from him, it was impossible
for him, without convening his whole
council, and the other barons of his

3 Walsingham, p. 107.

4 Tyrrel, Hist, vol. .iii. p. 269. Hutchin-
son’s History and Antiquities of Durham, p.
267. 1st Sept. 1317.

5 Rymer, vol. iii. p. 662.

132                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                        [Chap. IV.

realm, to admit the cardinal legates to
an interview; nor was it possible for
him, before the Feast of St Michael,
to summon any council for this pur­
pose. “Among my subjects,” said
the king, “ there are many bearing
the name of Robert Bruce, who share,
with the rest of my barons, in the
government of the kingdom. These
letters may possibly be addressed to
them ; and it is for this reason that,
although I have permitted the Papal
letters, which advise a peace, to be
read, as well as your open letters on
the same subject; yet to these, as they
refuse to me my title of king, I will
give no answer, nor will I by any
means suffer your sealed letters, which
are not directed to the King of Scot­
land, to be opened in my presence.”

The nuncios, upon this, endeavoured
to offer an apology for the omission,
by observing that it was not custom­
ary for our holy mother, the Church,
either to do or to say anything dur-
ing the dependence of a controversy
which might prejudice the right of
either of the parties. “ If, then,” re­
plied Bruce, “ my spiritual father and
my holy mother have professed them­
selves unwilling to create a prejudice
against my opponent by giving to me
the title of king, I am at a loss to
determine why they have thought
proper to­ prejudice my cause by with­
drawing that title from me during the
dependence of the controversy. I am
in possession of the kingdom. All
my subjects call me king, and by that
title do other kings and royal princes
address me; but I perceive that my
spiritual parents assume an evident
partiality amongst their sons. Had
you,” he continued, “ presumed to
present letters so addressed to other
kings, you might have received an
answer in a different style. But I
reverence your authority, and enter­
tain all due respect for the Holy See.”
The messengers now requested that
the king would command a temporary
cessation of hostilities. “ To this,”
replied Bruce, “ I can by no means
consent without the advice of my par­
liament, and especially whilst the
English are in the daily practice of

spoiling the property of my subjects
and invading all parts of my realm.”
During this interview, the king ex­
pressed himself with great courtesy,
professing all respect for his spiritual
father, and delivering his resolute an­
swers with a mild and placid counte­
nance.1 The two nuncios, it seems,
had taken along with them into the
king’s presence another Papal messen­
ger, who, having come some time be­
fore to inform the Scottish prelates of
the coronation of the Pope, had been
refused admission into Scotland. For
this person, who had now waited some
months without being permitted to
execute his mission, the messengers
entreated the kings indulgence; but
Bruce, although the discarded envoy
stood in the presence-chamber, took
no notice of him, and changed the
subject with an expression of counte­
nance which at once imposed silence
and intimated a refusal. When the
nuncios questioned the secretaries of
the king regarding the cause of this
severity, they at once replied that
their master conceived that these
letters had not been addressed to him,
solely because the Pope was unwilling
to give him his royal titles. The
Scottish councillors informed the
nuncios that if the letters had been
addressed to the King of Scots, the
negotiations for peace would have
immediately commenced, but that
neither the king nor his advisers would
hear of a treaty so long as the royal
title was withheld, seeing that they
were convinced that this slight had
been put upon their sovereign through
the influence of England, and in con­
tempt of the people of Scotland.2

Repulsed by Bruce with so much
firmness and dignity, the Bishop of
Corbeil returned with haste to the
cardinals. They had remained all this
time at Durham, and anxious to fulfil
their mission, they now determined at
all hazards to publish the Papal truce
in Scotland. For this purpose the
Papal bulls and instruments were in-

1 These interesting particulars we learn
from the original letter of the nuncios them­
selves. Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iii. p. 662.

2 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iii. p. 661.

1317-18.]                            ROBERT BRUCE.                                 133

trusted to Adam Newton, the Father-
Guardian of the Minorite Friars of
Berwick, who was commanded to re­
pair to the presence of Bruce, and to
deliver the letters of his Holiness to
the King of Scotland, as well as to
the Bishop of St Andrews and the
Scottish prelates. Newton accordingly
set out for Scotland, but, anticipating
no cordial reception, cautiously left
the Papal bulls and letters at Berwick
until he should be assured of a safe-
conduct. After a journey of much
hardship and peril, the friar found
King Robert encamped with his army
in a wood near Old Cambus, a small
town about twelve miles distant from
Berwick, busily engaged in construct­
ing warlike engines for the assault of
that city, although it was now the
middle of December. Having con­
ferred with Lord Alexander Seton, the
seneschal of the king, and received a
safe-conduct, Newton returned for his
papers and credentials to Berwick, and
again repaired to Old Cambus. He
was then informed by Seton that
Bruce would not admit him to a per­
sonal interview, but that he must de­
liver to him his letters, in order to
their being inspected by the king, who
was anxious to ascertain whether their
contents were friendly or hostile.
Newton obeyed, and Bruce observing
that the letters and Papal instruments
were not addressed to him as King
of Scotland, returned them to the
friar with much contempt, declaring
that he would on no account obey
the bulls so long as his royal titles
were withheld, and that he was de­
termined to make himself master of
Berwick. The envoy then publicly
declared before the Scottish barons
and a great concourse of spectators
that a two years’ truce was, by the
authority of the Pope, to be observed
by the two kingdoms; but his pro­
clamation was treated with such open
marks of insolence and contempt, that
he began to tremble for the safety of
his person, and earnestly implored
them to permit him to pass forward
into Scotland to the presence of those
prelates with whom he was com­
manded to confer, or, at least, to have

a safe-conduct back again to Berwick.
Both requests were denied him, and
he was commanded, without delay, to
make the best of. his way out of the
country. On his way to Berwick, the
unfortunate monk was waylaid by four
armed ruffians, robbed of his letters
and papers, amongst which were the
bulls excommunicating the King of
Scotland, and, after being stript to
the skin, turned naked upon the road.
“ It is rumoured,” says he, in an inte­
resting letter addressed to the cardi­
nals containing the account of his mis­
sion, “ that the Lord Robert and his
accomplices, who instigated this out­
rage, are now in possession of the
letters intrusted to me.”1 There can
be little doubt that the rumour rested
on a pretty good foundation.

Throughout the whole of this nego-
ation, the Pope was obviously in the

interest of the King of England. Ed-
ward’s intrigues at the Roman court,
and the pensions which he bestowed
on the cardinals, induced his Holiness
to proclaim a truce, which, in the pre­
sent state of English affairs, was much
to be desired; but Bruce, supported
by his own clergy, and secure of the
affections of his people, despised all
Papal interference, and succeeded in
maintaining the dignity and independ­
ence of his kingdom.

Having rid himself of such trouble­
some opposition, the Scottish king
determined to proceed with the siege
of Berwick, a town which, as the key
to England, was at this time fortified
in the strongest manner. Fortunately
for the Scots, Edward had committed
its defence to a governor, whose
severity and strict adherence to dis­
cipline had disgusted some of the
burgesses ; and one of these, named
Spalding,2 who had married a Scotch­
woman, was seduced from his alle­
giance, and determined, on the night
when it was his turn to take his part
in the watch rounds, to assist the
enemy in an escalade. This purpose
he communicated to the Marshal, and

1  Rymer, Fœclera, pp 683, 684.

2 Hardynge in his Chronicle, p. 308, Ellis’
edition, tells us that Spalding, after betray­
ing the town, went into Scotland, and was
slain by the Scots.

134                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                       [Chap. IV.

he carried the intelligence directly to
Bruce himself, who was not slow in
taking advantage of it.1 Douglas and
Randolph, along with March, were
commanded to assemble with a chosen
body of men at Duns Park in the
evening; and at nightfall, having left
their horses at the rendezvous, they
marched to Berwick; and, by the
assistance of Spalding, fixed their
ladders, and scaled the walls. Orders
seem to have been given by Bruce
that they should not proceed to storm
the town till reinforced by a stronger
body; but Douglas and Randolph found
it impossible to restrain their men,
who dispersed themselves through the
streets, to slay and plunder, whilst,
panic-struck with the night attack, the
citizens escaped over the walls, or
threw themselves into the castle.
When day arrived, this disobedience
of orders had nearly been fatal to the
Scots; for Roger Horsley, the gover­
nor of the castle,2 discovering that
they were but a handful of men, made
a desperate sally, and all but recovered
the city, Douglas, however, and Ran­
dolph, who were veterans in war, and
dreaded such an event, had kept their
own soldiers well together, and, as­
sisted by a young knight, Sir William
Keith of Galston, who greatly distin­
guished himself, they at last succeeded
in driving the English back to the
castle; thus holding good their con­
quest of the town, till Bruce came up
with the rest of his army, and
effectually secured it. The presence
of the king, with the men of Merse
and Teviotdale, intimidated the garri­
son of the castle, which soon sur­
rendered ; and Bruce, with that gene­
rous magnanimity which forms so fine

1 Barbour, p. 334.

2 Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. i. p. 175, 19th August.
Lord Hailes, vol. ii. p. 78, seems to think it
an error in Tyrrel to imagine that there was
a governor of the town, and a governor of the
castle. But Tyrrel is in the right. John of
Witham was governor or warder of the town,
Rot. Scot. vol. i. p. 178, 30th Sept. 1317; and
Roger of Horsle governor of the castle,
Rotuli Scotiæ, p. 175. Maitland, vol. i. p.
490, and Guthrie, vol. ii. p. 254, finding in
Rymer, vol. iii. p. 516, that Maurice de Berke­
ley was governor of the town and castle of
Berwick in 1315, erroneously imagine that he
continued to be so in 1318.

a part of his character, disdaining to
imitate the cruelty of Edward the
First, readily gave quarter to all who
were willing to accept it. For this
we have the testimony of the English
historians, Thomas de la More, and
Adam Murimuth, although the Pope,
in his bull of excommunication, re­
presents him as having seized Berwick
by treachery during a time of truce;
and charges him, moreover, with hav­
ing committed a great and cruel
slaughter of the inhabitants. Both
accusations are Unfounded.3 The
truce was publicly disclaimed by the
king, and the city was treated with
uncommon lenity. It was at this
time the chief commercial emporium
of England, and its plunder greatly
enriched the Scottish army. There
were also found in it great quantities
of provisions and military stores, and
Bruce, after having examined the
fortifications, determined to make it
an exception from his general rule
of demolishing all fortresses reco­
vered from the English.4 In execu­
tion of this plan, he committed the
keeping of both town and castle to
his son-in-law, Walter, the Steward;
and aware that, from its importance,
the English would soon attempt to
recover it, he provided it with every
sort of warlike engine then used
in the defence of fortified places.
Springalds and cranes, with huge
machines for discharging iron darts,
called balistœ de turno, were stationed
on the walls; a large body of archers,
spearmen, and cross-bowmen, formed
the garrison ; and the young Steward
was assisted in his measures of de­
fence by John Crab, a Fleming,
famous for his skill in the rude
engineering of the times.5 Five hun-

3  Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iii. pp. 708, 709.

4  Fordun a Groodal, p. 245.

5 Barbour, pp. 339, 340. Crab seems to
have been a mercenary who engaged in the
service of any who would employ him. In
1313, Edward the Second complained of de­
predations committed by him on some Eng­
lish merchants, to his sovereign, Robert, earl
of Flanders. Fcedera, vol. iii. p. 403. In
August 1333, after Berwick fell into the
hands of the English, Crab obtained a
pardon, and entered into the service of Eng­

1318-19.]                                   ROBERT BRUCE.                                            135

dred brave gentlemen, who quartered
the arms of the Steward, repaired to
Berwick, to the support of their chief;
and Bruce, having left it victualled
for a year, marched with his army
into England, and ravaged and laid
waste the country. He besieged and
made himself master of the castles of
Wark and Harbottle, surprised Mit-
ford, and having penetrated into York­
shire, burnt the towns of Northaller-
ton, Boroughbridge, Scarborough, and
Skipton in Craven. The plunder in
these expeditions was great, and the
number of the captives may be esti­
mated from the expression of an
ancient English chronicle, that the
Scots returned into their own country,
driving their prisoners like flocks of
sheep before them.1

Irritated at the contempt of their
authority, the cardinal legates solemnly
excommunicated Bruce2 and his ad­
herents; whilst Edward, after an in­
effectual attempt to conciliate his par­
liament and keep together his army,
was compelled, by their violent ani­
mosities, to disband his troops, and
allow the year to pass away in dis­
content and inactivity. Meanwhile,
the death of King Edward Bruce in
Ireland, and of Marjory, the king’s
daughter, who left an only son,
Robert, afterwards king, rendered
some new enactments necessary re­
garding the succession to the throne.
A parliament was accordingly as­
sembled at Scone in December, in
which the whole clergy and laity
renewed their engagements of obedi­
ence to the king, and promised to
assist him faithfully, to the utmost of
their power, in the preservation and
defence of the rights and liberties of
the kingdom, against all persons of
whatever strength, power, and dignity
they may be; and any one who should
attempt to violate this engagement and
ordinance was declared guilty of trea­
son. It was next enacted that, in the
event of the king’s death, without
issue male, Robert Stewart, son of the
Princess Marjory and of Walter, the
Lord High Steward of Scotland, should

1  Chron. Lanercost, pp. 235, 236.

2  Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iii. pp. 707, 711.

succeed to the crown; and in the
event of that succession taking place
during the minority of Robert Stew­
art, or of other heir of the king’s
body, it was appointed that the office
of tutor to the heir of the kingdom
should belong to Thomas Randolph,
earl of Moray, and failing him, to
James, lord Douglas; but it was
expressly provided that such appoint­
ment should cease whenever it ap­
peared to the majority of the com­
munity of the kingdom that the heir
is of fit age to administer the govern­
ment in person It was also declared
that since, in certain times past, some
doubts had arisen regarding the suc­
cession of the kingdom of Scotland,
the parliament thought proper to ex­
press their opinion that this succession
ought not to have been regulated, and
henceforth should not be determined,
by the rules of inferior fiefs and in­
heritances, but that the male heir
nearest to the king, in the direct line
of descent, should succeed to the
crown; and failing him, the nearest
female in the direct line ; and failing
the whole direct line, the nearest male
heir in the collateral line — respect
being always had to the right of blood
by which the last king reigned, which
seemed agreeable to the imperial

This enactment having been unani­
mously agreed to, Randolph and Dou­
glas came forward, and, after accept­
ing the offices provisionally conferred
upon them, swore, with their hands
on the holy gospels and the relics of
the saints, faithfully and diligently to
discharge their duty, and to observe,
and cause to be observed, the laws
and customs of Scotland. After this,
the bishops, abbots, priors, and in­
ferior clergy, the earls, barons, knights,
freeholders, and the remanent mem­
bers of the community of Scotland, in
the same solemn manner took the same
oath, and those of the highest rank
affixed their seals to the instrument of

Having settled this important mat­
ter, various other laws were passed,

3  Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 290.

4  Ibid. vol. i. p. 291.

136                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                        [Chap. IV.

relative to the military power, and to
the ecclesiastical and civil government
of the kingdom. All men were re­
quired to array themselves for war.
Every layman possessed of land, who
had ten pounds worth of movable pro­
perty, was commanded to provide him­
self with an acton and a basnet, that is,
a leathern jacket and a steel helmet,
together with gloves of plate, and a
sword and spear. Those who were not
thus provided were enjoined to have
an iron jack, or back and breastplate
of iron, an iron head­piece, or knapis-
with gloves of plate; and every
man possessing the value of: a cow
was commanded to arm himself with
a bow and a sheaf of twenty-four
arrows, or with a spear.1 It was made
imperative upon all sheriffs and lords
to insist on the execution of this law;
and in case of disobedience, to cause the
recusant to forfeit his movable estate,
half to the king, and half to his over­
lord, or superior. All persons, while
on the road to the royal army, were
commanded to subsist at their own
charges; those who came from places
near the rendezvous being commanded
to bring carriages and provisions along
with them, and those from remote
parts to bring money; and if, upon
an offer of payment, such necessaries
were refused, the troops were autho-
rised, at the sight of the magistrates
or bailies of the district, to take what
was withheld. All persons were
strictly prohibited from supplying the
enemy with armour or horses, bows
and arrows, or any kind of weapons,
or to give to the English assistance in
any shape whatever, and this under
the penalty of being guilty of a capital
offence. All ecclesiastics were pro­
hibited from transmitting to the Papal
court any sums of money for the pur­
chase of bulls; and all Scotsmen, who,
although possessed of estates in their
own country, chose to reside in Eng­
land, were prohibited from drawing
any money out of Scotland,—a clause
apparently directed against David de
Strabogie, earl of Athole, who at this

1 Regiam Majestatem. Statutes of King
Robert I. See Chartulary of Aberbrothock. p.
283, M Farlane Transcript.

time stood high in the confidence of
Edward the Second.2

This weak monarch, when he found
that Bruce could not be brought to
terms by negotiation, or intimidated
by the Papal thunders, determined
once more to have recourse to arms ;
and having assembled an army, he
crossed the Tweed, and sat down
before Berwick.3 His first precaution
was to secure his camp by lines of
circumvallation, composed of high
ramparts and deep trenches, so as to
enable him to resist effectually any
attempt of the Scots to raise the
siege. He then strictly invested the
town from the Tweed to the sea, and
at the same time the English fleet
entered the estuary of the river, so
that the city was beleaguered on all
points. This was in the beginning of
September; and from the strength of
the army and the quality of the leaders
much was expected.4

The first assault was made on the
7th of the month; it had been pre­
ceded by great preparations, and
mounds of earth had been erected
against that part of the walls where
it was expected there would be the
greatest facility in storming. Early
in the morning of St Mary’s Eve, the
trumpets of the English were heard,
and the besiegers advanced in various
bodies, well provided with scaling
ladders, scaffolds, and defences, with
hoes and pickaxes for mining, and
under cover of squadrons of archers
and slingers. The assault soon became
general, and continued with various
success till noon; at which time the
English ships entered the river, and,
sailing up as far as the tide permitted,
made a bold attempt to carry the
town, from the rigging of a vessel
which they had prepared for the pur­
pose. The topmast of this vessel, and
her boat, which was drawn up half-
mast high, were manned with soldiers;
and to the bow of the boat was fitted
a species of drawbridge, which was
intended to be dropt upon the wall,
and to afford a passage from the ship

2 Regiam Majestatem. Stat. Robert 1.

3  Barbour, p. 342.

4  Ibid. p. 343.

1319.]                                        ROBERT BRUCE.                                             137

into the town. The walls themselves,
which were not more than a spear’s
length in height, afforded little defence
against these serious preparations; but
the Scots, animated by that feeling
of confidence which a long train of
success had inspired, and encouraged
by the presence and example of the
Steward, effectually repulsed the ene­
my on the land side, whilst the ship,
which had struck upon a bank, was
left dry by the ebbing of the tide ;
and being attacked by a party of the
enemy, was soon seen blazing in the
mouth of the river. Disheartened by
this double failure, the besiegers drew
off their forces, and for the present
intermitted all attack.1 But it was
only to commence new preparations
for a more desperate assault. In case
of a second failure in their escalade,
it was determined to undermine
the walls; and for this purpose,
a huge machine was constructed,
covered by a strong roofing of boards
and hides, and holding within its
bosom large bodies of armed soldiers
and miners. From its shape and
covering, this formidable engine was
called a sow. To co-operate with the
machine, movable scaffolds, high
enough to overtop the walls, and cap­
able of receiving parties of armed
men, were erected for the attack; and
undismayed at his first failure by sea,
Edward commanded a number of ships
to be fitted out similar to that vessel
which had been burnt; but with this
difference, that in addition to the
armed boats, slung half-mast high,
their top-castles were full of archers,
under whose incessant and deadly
discharge it was expected that the
assailants would drag the ship so near
the walls as to be able to fix their
movable bridges on the capstone.2
Meanwhile the Scots were not idle.
Under the direction of Crab, the
Flemish engineer, they constructed
two machines of great strength, simi­
lar to the Roman catapult, which
moved on frames, fitted with wheels,
and by which stones of a large size
were propelled with steady aim and

1  Barbour, pp. 345, 346.

2  Ibid. pp. 301, 352.

destructive force. Springalds were
stationed on the walls, which were
smaller engines like the ancient bal-
istæ, and calculated for the projection
of heavy darts, winged with copper;
iron chains, with grappling hooks
attached to them, and piles of fire-
fagots, mixed with bundles of pitch
and flax, bound into large masses,
shaped like casks, were in readiness;
and to second the ingenuity of Crab,
an English engineer, who had been
taken prisoner in the first assault, was
compelled to assist in the defence.
The young Steward assigned, as before,
to each of his officers a certain post on
the walls, and put himself at the head
of the reserve, with which he deter­
mined to watch, and, if necessary, to
reinforce the various points. Having
completed these arrangements, he
calmly awaited the attack of the Eng­
lish, which was made with great fury
early in the morning of the 13th of
September. To the sound of trumpet
and war-horns, their various divisions
moved resolutely forward; and, in
spite of all discharges from the walls,
Succeeded in filling up the ditch, and
fixing their ladders ; but after a con­
flict, which lasted from sunrise till
noon, they found it impossible to over­
come the gallantry of the Scots, and
were beaten back on every quarter.
At this moment the King of England
ordered the sow to be advanced; and
the English, aware that if they allowed
the Scottish engineers time to take a
correct aim, a single stone from the
catapult would be fatal, dragged it on
with great eagerness. Twice was the
aim taken, and twice it failed. The
stone flew over the machine, the first
second fell short of it; the third, an
immense mass, which passed through
the air with a loud booming noice, hit
it directly in the middle with a dread­
ful crash, and shivered its strong roof-
timbers into a thousand pieces. Such
of the miners and soldiers who escaped
death rushed out from amongst the
fragments; and the Scots, raising a
shout, cried out that the Euglish sow
had farrowed her pigs.3 Crab, the
engineer, immediately cast his chains
Barbour, p. 354.

138                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                       [Chap. IV.

and grappling hooks over the unwieldy
machine, and having effectually pre­
vented its removal, poured down
burning fagots upon its broken tim­
bers, and consumed it to ashes. Nor
were the English more fortunate in
their attack upon the side of the
river. Their ships, indeed, moved up
towards the walls at flood-tide; but
whether from the shallowness of the
water, or the faint­heartedness of their
leaders, the attack entirely failed.
One of the vessels which led the way,
on coming within range of the cata­
pult, was struck by a large stone,
which damaged her, and killed and
mangled some of the crew; upon
which the remaining ships, intimi­
dated by the accident, drew off from
the assault. A last effort of the be­
siegers, in which they endeavoured to
set fire to St Mary’s gate, was repulsed
by the Steward in person; and at
nightfall the English army, foiled on
every side, and greatly disheartened,
entirely withdrew from the assault.1

The spirit with which the defence
was carried on may be estimated from
the circumstance that the women and
boys in the town during the hottest
season of the assault supplied the
soldiers on the walls with bundles of
arrows, and stones for the engines.

Although twice beaten off, it was
yet likely that the importance of gain­
ing Berwick would have induced the
King of England to attempt a third at­
tack; but Bruce determined to raise
the siege by making a diversion on a
large scale, and directed Randolph and
Douglas, at the head of an army of
fifteen thousand men, to invade Eng­
land. During the presence of her
husband at the siege of Berwick, the
Queen of England had taken up her
quarters near York, and it was the
plan of these two veteran warriors, by
a rapid and sudden march through the
heart of Yorkshire, to seize the person
of the queen, and, with this precious
captive in their hands, to dictate the
terms of peace to her husband.2 Bruce,

1 Barbour, p. 357.

2 “ Certe si capta fuisset tunc Regina, credo
quod pacem emisset sibi Scotia.”—M. Mal-
mesbur. p. 192.

who, in addition to his talents in the
field, had not neglected to avail him­
self in every way of Edward’s unpopu­
larity, appears to have established a
secret correspondence, not only with
the Earl of Lancaster, who was then
along with his master before Borwick,
but with others about the queen’s
person.3 The plan had in consequence
very nearly been successful; but a
Scottish prisoner, who fell into the
hands of the English, gave warning of
the meditated attack, and Randolph,
on penetrating to York, found the
prey escaped, and the court removed
to a distance. Incensed at this dis­
appointment, they ravaged the sur­
rounding country with merciless ex­
ecution, marking their progress by
the flames and smoke of towns
and castles, and collecting much plun­

The military strength of the country
was at this time before Berwick, and
nothing remained but the forces of the
Church, and of the vassals who held
lands by military service to the archi-
episcopal see. These were hastily as­
sembled by William de Melton, the
archbishop of York, assisted by the
Bishop of Ely,4 and a force of twenty
thousand men, but of a motley descrip­
tion, proceeded to intercept the Scots.
Multitudes of priests and monks,
whose shaved crowns suited ill with
the steel basnet—large bodies of the
feudal militia of the Church, but
hastily levied, and imperfectly disci­
plined—the mayor of York, with his
train­bands and armed burgesses, com­
posed the army which the archbishop,
emulous, perhaps, of the fame which
had been acquired in the battle of the
Standard, by his predecessor Thurstin,
too rashly determined to lead against
the experienced soldiers of Randolph
and Douglas. The result was what
might have been expected. The Scots
were encamped at Mitton, near the
small river Swale. Across the stream
there was then a bridge, over which
the English army defiled. Whilst
thus occupied, some large stacks of

3 Walsingham, pp. 1ll, 112.
Rotuli Scotiæ. vol. i. p. 202. 4th Sept., 13
Edw. II.

1319-20.1                                      ROBERT BRUCE.                                         139

hay were set on fire by the enemy,1
and, under cover of a dense mass of
smoke, a strong column of men threw
themselves between the English army
and the bridge. As the smoke cleared
away, they found themselves attacked
with great fury both in front and rear,
by the fatal long spear of the Scottish
infantry; and the army of the arch­
bishop was in a few moments entirely
broken and dispersed.2 In an incredibly
short time four thousand were slain,
and amongst these many priests, whose
white surplices covered their armour.
Great multitudes were drowned in at­
tempting to recross the river, and it
seems to have been fortunate for the
English that the battle was fought in
the evening, and that a September
night soon closed upon the field; for,
had it been a morning attack, it is
probable that Randolph and Douglas
would have put the whole army to the
sword. Three lmndred ecclesiastics
fell in this battle; from which cir­
cumstance, and in allusion to the pre­
lates who led the troops, it was deno­
minated, in the rude pleasantry of
the times, “The Chapter of Mitton.”
When the news of the disaster reached
the camp before Berwick, the troops
began to murmur, and the Earl of
Lancaster soon after, in a fit of disgust,
deserted the leaguer with his whole
followers, composing nearly a third part
of the army.3 Edward immediately
raised the siege, and made a spirited
effort to intercept Douglas and Ran­
dolph on their return, and compel
them to fight at a disadvantage ; but
he had to deal with veteran soldiers,
whose secret information was accurate,
and who were intimately acquainted
with the Border passes. While he
attempted to intercept them by one
road, they had already taken another,
and leaving their route to be traced,
as their advance had been, by the
flames and smoke of villages and ham­
lets, they returned, without experi­
encing a check, into Scotland, loaded

1 Hardynge’s Chronicle, p. 309.

2  J. de Trokelowe, p. 45. Hume’s Douglas
and Angus, vol. i. pp. 69. 70. Barbour, p.

3  Barbour. p. 359.

with booty, and confirmed in their
feeling of military superiority. It may
give some idea of the far-spreading
devastation occasioned by this and
similar inroads of the Scottish army
when it is stated that in an authentic
document in the Fœdera Angliæ it
appears that eighty-four towns and
villages were burnt and pillaged by
the army of Randolph and Douglas in
this expedition. These, on account
of the great losses sustained, are, by
a royal letter addressed to the tax-
gatherers of the West Riding of York­
shire, exempted from all contribu­
tion;4 and in this list the private
castles and hamlets which were de­
stroyed in the same fiery inroad do
not appear to be included.

Bruce could not fail to be particu­
larly gratified by these successes.
Berwick, not only the richest com­
mercial town in England, but of ex­
treme importance as a key to that
country, remained in his hands, after
a siege directed by the King of Eng­
land in person; and the young warrior
who had so bravely repulsed the
enemy was the Steward of Scotland,
the husband of his only daughter, on
whom the hopes and wishes of the
nation mainly rested. The defeat
upon the Swale was equally destruc­
tive and decisive, and it was followed
up by another expedition of the rest­
less and indefatigable Douglas, who,
about All-Hallow tide of the same
year, when the northern Borders had
gathered in their harvest, broke into
and burnt Gillsland and the sur­
rounding country, ravaged Borough-
on-Stanmore, and came sweeping home
through Westmoreland and Cumber­
land, driving his cattle and his prison­
ers before him, and cruelly adding to
the miseries of the recent famine, by
a total destruction of the agricultural
produce, which had been laid up for
the winter.5

It was a part of the character of
Bruce, which marked his great abili­
ties, that he knew as well when to
make peace as to pursue war; and that,
after any success, he could select the

4  Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iii. pp. 801, 802.

5  Hume’s Douglas and Angus, vol. i. p. 70.

140                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                      [Chap. IV.

moment best fitted for permanently
securing to his kingdom the advan­
tages which, had he reduced his enemy
to extremity, might have eluded his
grasp. The natural consequence of a
long series of defeats sustained by Ed­
ward was an anxious desire upon his
own part, and that of his parliament, for
a truce between the kingdoms;1 and as
the Scots were satiated with victory,
and, to use the words of an English
historian, so enriched by the plunder
of England that that country could
scarcely afford them more, the Scottish
king lent a ready ear to the represen­
tations of the English commissioners,
and agreed to a truce for two years
between the kingdoms, to commence
from Christmas 1319. Conservators of
the truce were appointed by England,2
and, in the meantime, commissioners
of both nations were directed to con­
tinue their conferences, with the hope
of concluding a final peace.

One great object of Bruce in con­
senting to a cessation of hostilities,
was his earnest desire to be reconciled
to the Roman See—a desire which
apparently was far from its accom­
plishment; for the Pope, instead of
acting as a peace­maker, seized this
moment to reiterate his spiritual cen­
sures against the King of Scotland and
his adherents, in a bull of great length,
and unexampled rancour;3 and some
time after the final settlement of the

1 Walsingham, p. 112. “Igitur Rex, sen-
tiens quotidie sua damna cumalari, de com­
muni consilio in treugas jurat biennales,
Scotis libenter has acceptantibus, non tamen
quia jam fuerant bellis fatigati, sed quia fuerant
Anglica præda ditati.” Lingard says nothing
of the request of the parliament, that Edward
would enter into a truce with the Scots, but
observes, that the first proposal for a nego­
tiation came from Scotland, and that the de­
mand for the regal title was waved by Bruce.
The truce itself is not published in Rymer, so
that there is no certain proof that Bruce
waved the regal title; and although, in the
document in Rymer, vol. iii. p. 806, Edward,
in a letter to the Pope, states that Bruce
made proposals for a truce, the evidence is
not conclusive, as Edward, in his public
papers, did not scruple to conceal his disas­
ters, by assuming a tone of superiority, when
his affairs were at the lowest ebb.

2 This is said to be the first instance of the
appointment of Conservators of truce for the
Borders. Ridpath, Border Hist. p. 265.

3 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iii. p. 797.

truce, the Archbishop of York, with
the Bishops of London and Carlisle,
were commanded—and the order is
stated to have proceeded on informa­
tion communicated by Edward—to
excommunicate Robert and his ac­
complices, on every Sabbath and fes­
tival-day throughout the year.4

Convinced by this conduct that their
enemies had been busy in misrepre­
senting at the Roman court their
causes of quarrel with England, the
Scottish nobility assembled in parlia­
ment at Aberbrothock,5 and with con­
sent of the king, the barons, free­
holders, and whole community of Scot­
land, directed a letter or manifesto to
the Pope, in a strain different from
that servility of address to which the
spiritual sovereign had been accus­

After an exordium, in which they
shortly allude to the then commonly
believed traditions regarding the emi­
gration of the Scots from Scythia, their
residence in Spain, and subsequent
conquest of the Pictish kingdom; to
their long line of a hundred and thir­
teen kings, (many of whom are un­
doubtedly fabulous;) to their conver­
sion to Christianity by St Andrew, and
the privileges which they had enjoyed
at the hands of their spiritual father, as
the flock of the brother of St Peter,
they describe, in the following ener­
getic terms, the unjust aggression of
Edward the First ;-

“ Under such free protection did we
live, until Edward, king of England,
and father of the present monarch,
covering his hostile designs under the
specious disguise of friendship and al­
liance, made an invasion of our coun­
try at the moment when it was without
a king, and attacked an honest and un­
suspicious people, then but little ex­
perienced in war. The insults which
this prince has heaped upon us, the
slaughters and devastations which he
has committed; his imprisonments of
prelates, his burning of monasteries,
his spoliations and murder of priests,
and the other enormities of which he

4 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iii. p. 810.
April 6, 1320. Forciun a Goodal, vol. ii.
p. 277.

1320.]                                    ROBERT BRUCE.                                       141

has been guilty, can be rightly de­
scribed, or even conceived, by none
but an eye-witness. From these in­
numerable evils have we been freed,
under the help of that God who wound-
eth and who maketh whole, by our
most valiant prince and king, Lord
Robert, who, like a second Maccabæus
or Joshua, hath cheerfully endured all
labour and weariness, and exposed him­
self to every species of clanger and pri­
vation, that he might rescue from the
hands of the enemy his ancient people
and rightful inheritance, whom also
Divine Providence, and the right of
succession according to those laws and
customs, which we will maintain to
the death, as well as the common con­
sent of us all, have made our prince
and king. To him are we bound both
by his own merit and by the law of
the land, and to him, as the saviour of
our people and the guardian of our
liberty, are we unanimously determined
to adhere; but if he should desist from
what he has begun, and should shew
an inclination to subject us or our
kingdom to the King of England or to
his people, then we declare that we
will use our utmost effort to expel
him from the throne as our enemy
and the subverter of his own and of
our right, and we will choose another
king to rule over us, who will be able
to defend us; for as long as a hundred
Scotsmen are left alive we will never
be subject to the dominion of England.
It is not for glory, riches, or honour
that we fight, but for that liberty
which no good man will consent to
lose but with his life.

“ Wherefore, most reverend father,
we humbly pray, and from our hearts be­
seech your Holiness to consider that you
are the vicegerent of Him with whom
there is no respect of persons, Jews or
Greeks, Scots or English; and turning
your paternal regard upon the tribula­
tions brought upon us and the Church
of God by the English, to admonish
the King of England that he should
be content with what he possesses,
seeing that England of old was enough
for seven or more kings, and not to
disturb our peace in this small coun­
try, lying on the utmost boundaries of

the habitable earth, and whose inhabi­
tants desire nothing but what is their

The barons proceed to say that they
are willing to do everything for peace
which may not compromise the freedom
of their constitution and government;
and they exhort the Pope to procure
the peace of Christendom, in order to
the removal of all impediments in the
way of a crusade against the infidels;
declaring the readiness with which
both they and their king would under­
take that sacred warfare if the King
of England would cease to disturb
them. Their conclusion is exceed­
ingly spirited:—

“ If,” say they, “ your Holiness do
not sincerely believe these things, giv­
ing too implicit faith to the tales of
the English, and on this ground shall
not cease to favour them in their de­
signs for our destruction, be well as­
sured that the Almighty will impute
to you that loss of life, that destruc­
tion of human souls, and all those vari­
ous calamities which our inextinguish­
able hatred against the English and
their warfare against us must neces­
sarily produce. Confident that we now
are, and shall ever, as in duty bound,
remain obedient sons to you, as God’s
vicegerent, we commit the defence of
our cause to that God, as the great
King and Judge, placing our confidence
in Him, and in the firm hope that He
will endow us with strength and con­
found our enemies ; and may the Al­
mighty long preserve your Holiness in

This memorable letter is dated at
Aberbrothock on the 6th of April
1320, and it is signed by eight earls
and thirty-one barons, amongst whom
we find the great officers, the high
steward, the seneschal, the constable,
and the marshal, with the barons, free­
holders, and whole community of Scot­

The effect of such a remonstrance,
and the negotiations of Sir Edward
Mabuisson and Sir Adam de Gordon,
two special messengers, who were sent

1 A fac­simile of this famous letter was en­
graved by Anderson, in his Diplomata Scotiæ,
plate 51. Fordun a Goodal. vol. ii. p. 275. .

142                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                        [Chap. IV.

by Bruce to the Papal court, induced
his Holiness to delay for some time
the reiterated publication of the Papal
processes, and earnestly to recommend
a peace between the two countries.
For this purpose a meeting took place
between certain Scottish and English
commissioners, which was attended by
two envoys from the King of France,
who entreated to be allowed to act as
a mediator, and by two nuncios from
the Pope. But Edward was not yet
sufficiently humbled to consent to the
conditions stipulated by his antago­
nist; and Bruce was the less anxious
to come to an agreement, as a danger­
ous civil insurrection, headed by the
Earl of Lancaster, his secret friend
and ally, had just broke out in Eng­
land, and promised to give Edward
full employment at home.1

In the midst of these unsuccessful
negotiations for peace, a conspiracy of
an alarming and mysterious nature
against the life of the King of Scots
was discovered, by the confession of
the Countess of Strathern, who was
privy to the plot. William de Soulis,
the seneschal, or high butler of Scot­
land; Sir David de Brechin, nephew
to the king, an accomplished knight,
who had signalised himself in the Holy
War; five other knights, Sir Gilbert
de Malherbe, Sir John Logie, Sir Eus­
tace de Maxwell, Sir Walter de Berk-
lay, and Sir Patrick de Graham; with
three esquires, Richard Brown, Hame-
line de Troupe, and Eustace de Rattray,
are the only persons whose names have
come down to us as certainly impli­
cated in the conspiracy. Of these, Sir
David de Brechin, along with Mal-
herbe, Logie, and Brown, suffered the
punishment of treason.2 The destruc­
tion of all record of their trial renders
it difficult to throw any light on the
details of the plot; but we have the
evidence of a contemporary of high
authority that the design of the con­
spirators was to slay the king, and
place the crown on the head of Lord
Soulis, a lineal descendant of the

1 Rymer’s Fœdera, vol. iii. pp. 866, 884.
Ridpath’s Border History, p. 267. Rymer,
vol. iii. p. 924.

2 Fordun a Hearne, vol. iv. p. 1010.

daughter of Alexander II.; and who,
as possessing such a claim, would have
excluded both Bruce and Baliol, had
the legitimacy of his mother been un­
questioned.3 There is evidence in the
records of the Tower that both Soulis
and Brechin had long tampered with
England, and been rewarded for their
services. In the case of Brechin, we
find him enjoying special letters of
protection from Edward. In addition
to these he was pensioned in 1312, was
appointed English warden of the town
and castle of Dundee, and employed
in secret communications, having for
their object the destruction of his
uncle’s power in Scotland, and the
triumph of the English arms over his
native country. It is certain that he
was a prisoner of war in Scotland in
the year 1315,4 having probably been
taken in arms at the battle of Bannock-
burn. In the five years of glory and
success which followed, and in the re­
peated expeditions of Randolph and
Douglas, we do not once meet with
his name ; and now, after having been
received into favour, he became con­
nected with, or at least connived at, a
conspiracy, which involved the death
of the king. Such a delinquent is
little entitled to our sympathy. There
was not a single favourable circum­
stance in his case ; but he was young
and brave, he had fought against the
infidels, and the people who knew not
of his secret treasons could not see
him suffer without pity and regret.5
Soulis, who, with a retinue of three
hundred and sixty esquires, had been
seized at Berwick, was imprisoned in
Dumbarton, where he soon after died;
and Maxwell, Berklay, Graham, Troupe,
and Rattray, were tried and acquitted.
The parliament in which these trials
and condemnations took place was held
at Scone in the beginning of August
1320, and long remembered in Scot­
land under the name of the Black

3 Barbour, p. 380, 1. 385.

4 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iii. p. 311. Rotuli
Scotiæ, 5 Edw. II. m. 3. Ibid. 8 Edw. II.
m. 7, dorso.

5 Barbour, pp. 381, 382.

6 Hailes, trusting perhaps to Bower in his
additions to Fordun. p. 174. who was ignorant

1321-2.]                                    ROBERT BRUCE.                                             143

A brief gleam of success now cheered
the prospects of Edward, and encou­
raged him to continue the war with
Scotland. The Earl of Lancaster, who,
along with the Earl of Hereford and
other English barons, had entered into
a treaty of alliance with Bruce, and
concerted an invasion of England, to
be conducted by the King of Scotland
in person,1 was defeated and taken
prisoner by Sir Andrew Hartcla and
Sir Simon Ward, near Pontefract; his
army was totally routed, and he him­
self soon after executed for treason.

In the battle the Earl of Hereford
was slain, others of the discontented
nobility shared the fate of Lancaster,
and the dangerous faction which had
for so many years been a thorn in the
side of the king was entirely broken
and put down. Exulting at this suc­
cess, Edward determined to collect an
army which should at once enable him
to put an end to the war, and in a
tone of premature triumph wrote to
the Pope, “ requesting him to give
himself no further trouble about a
truce with the Scots, as he had deter­
mined to establish a peace by force of
arms.”2 In furtherance of this reso­
lution, he proceeded to issue his writs
for the attendance of his military vas­
sals ; but so ill were these obeyed, that
four months were lost before the force
assembled; and in this interval the
Scots, with their usual strength and
fury, broke into England, led by the
king in person, wasted with fire and
sword the six northern counties, which
had scarcely drawn breath from a visi­
tation of the same kind by Randolph,
and returned to Scotland, loaded with
booty, consisting of herds of sheep and
oxen, quantities of gold and silver,
ecclesiastical plate and ornaments,

of Brechin’s connexion with Edward, laments
over Brechin, and creates an impression in
the reader’s mind that Bruce was unneces­
sarily rigorous, and might have pardoned him;
yet, it seems to me, his case, instead of
being favourable, was peculiarly aggravated.
Bruce’s generous nature had passed over
manifold attempts by Brechin against the
liberty of his country: in the conspiracy of
Soulis, any extension of mercy would have
been weak, if not criminal.

1 Fœdera, vol. iii. pp. 938, 939.

2 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iii. p. 944.

jewels, and table equipage, which they
piled in waggons, and drove off at their
pleasure.3 Meanwhile Edward conti­
nued his preparations, which, although
dilatory, were on a great scale.4 A
supply of lancemen and cross-bowmen
was demanded from his foreign sub­
jects of Aquitaine, along with a due
proportion of wheat and a thousand
tuns of wine for the use of his army;
every village and hamlet in England
was commanded to furnish one foot-
soldier fully armed, and the larger
towns and cities were taxed propor­
tionally to their size and importance.
A parliament held at York, in the end
of July, granted large subsidies from the
nobles and the clergy, the cities, towns,
and burghs; a fleet of transports, with
provisions, was sent round to enter
the Forth; and an offensive squadron,
under the command of Sir John Ley-
bourn, was fitted out for the attack of
the west coast and the islands. All
things being ready, Edward invaded
Scotland at the head of an army of a
hundred thousand men ;5 but the re­
sult of the expedition was lamentably
disproportionate to the magnitude of
his promises and his preparations; and
manifested, in a striking manner, the
superior talents and policy of Bruce.

No longer bound, as at Bannockburn,
by the rash engagement of his brother
to risk his kingdom upon the fate of a
battle, which he must have fought with
a greatly disproportionate force, the
king determined to make the numbers
of the English army the cause of their
ruin; to starve them in an enemy’s
country, and then to fall upon them
when, enfeebled by want, they could
offer little resistance. Accordingly, on
advancing to Edinburgh, the English
found themselves marching through a
desert, where neither enemy could be
seen, nor provisions of any kind col­
lected. The cattle and the sheep, the
stores of corn and victuals, and the
valuable effects of every kind, through­
out the districts of the Merse, Teviot-

3 Knighton, p. 2542. Hume’s History of
House of Douglas and Angus, vol. i. p. 72.

4  Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iii. pp. 930, 952,
955, 962.

5  In the month of August 1322.

144                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                        [Chap. IV.

dale, and the Lothians, had entirely
disappeared; the warlike population,
which were expected to debate the
advance of the army, had retired under
the command of the King of Scotland
to Culross, on the north side of the
Firth of Forth; and Edward having
in vain waited for supplies by his
fleet, which contrary winds prevented
entering the Firth, was compelled by
famine to give orders for a retreat.1
The moment the English began their
march homewards, the Scots com­
menced the fatal partisan warfare in
which Douglas and Randolph were
such adepts; hung upon their rear,
cut off the stragglers, and were ready
to improve every advantage. An
advanced party of three hundred
strong were put to the sword by
Douglas at Melrose; but the main
army, coming up, plundered and de­
stroyed this ancient monastery, spoiled
the high altar of its holiest vessels, sac­
rilegiously casting out the consecrated
host, and cruelly murdering the prior,
and some feeble monks, who, from
affection or bodily infirmity, had re­
fused to fly.2 Turning off by Dryburgh,
the disappointed invaders left this
monastery in flames, and hastening
through Teviotdale, were overjoyed
once more to find themselves sur­
rounded by the plenty and comfort of
their own country. Yet here a new
calamity awaited them; for the scarcity
and famine of an unsuccessful invasion
induced the soldiers to give themselves
up to unlimited indulgence; and they
were soon attacked by a mortal dysen-
tery, which rapidly carried off immense
numbers, and put a finishing stroke to
this unhappy expedition, by the loss
of sixteen thousand men.3

But Edward was destined to expe­
rience still more unhappy reverses.
Having collected the scattered remains
of his army, and strengthened it by
fresh levies, he encamped at Biland
Abbey, near Malton, in Yorkshire;
and when there, was met by the in­
telligence that King Robert, having

1  Barbour, p. 370.

2  Fordun a Hearne, p. 1011.

3  Knighton, p. 2542. Barbour, pp. 370, 374.
Fordun a Hearne, p. 1012.

sat down before Norham castle with a
powerful force, after some time fruit­
lessly spent in the siege, had been
compelled to retire. Scarce, however,
had this good news arrived, when the
advanced parties of the Scottish army
were descried; and the English had
only time to secure a strong position
on the ridge of a hill, before the king
was seen marching through the plain
with his whole forces, and it became
manifest that he meant to attack the
English. This, however, from the na­
ture of the ground, was no easy mat­
ter. Their soldiers were drawn up
along the ridge of a rugged and steep
declivity, assailable only by a single
narrow pass, which led to Biland Ab­
bey. This pass Sir James Douglas,
with a chosen body of men, undertook
to force ; and as he advanced his ban-
ner, and the pennons of his knights
and squires were marshalling and wav­
ing round him, Randolph, his friend
and brother ­in­arms, with four squires,
came up, and joined the enterprise as
a volunteer. The Scottish soldiers
attacked the enemy with the utmost
resolution, but they were received
with equal bravery by Sir Thomas
Ughtred 4 and Sir Ralph Cobham, who
fought in advance of the column which
defended the pass, and encouraged their
men to a desperate resistance. Mean­
while, stones and other missiles were
poured down upon the Scots from the
high ground ; and this double attack,
with the narrowness of the pass, caused
the battle to be exceeding obstinate
and bloody. Bruce, whose eye intently
watched every circumstance, deter­
mined now to repeat the manoeuvre,
by which, many years before, he en­
tirely defeated the army of the Lord
of Lorn, when it occupied ground
similar to the present position of the
English. He commanded the men of
Argyle and the Isles to climb the
Ker, in his History of Bruce, vol. ii. p.
284, following Pinkerton, makes the name
Enchter. The reading in Barbour, as restored
by Dr Jamieson, is Thomas Ochtre. It is
evidently the same name, and in all proba­
bility the same person, as Thomas de Uchtred,
mentioned in vol. iii. p. 963, of the Fœdera,
as the keeper of the castle and honour of
Pickering, and described as being of the
I county of York.

1322-3.]                                    ROBERT BRUCE.                                             145

rocky ridge, at some distance from the
pass, and to attack and turn the flank
of the force which held the summit.
These orders the mountaineers, trained
in their own country to this species of
warfare, found no difficulty in obey­
ing ;1 and the enemy were driven from
the heights with great slaughter, whilst
Douglas and Randolph carried the pass,
and made way for the main body of
the Scottish army.

So rapid had been the succession of
these events, that the English king,
confident in the strength of his position,
could scarcely trust his eyes when he
saw his army entirely routed, and fly­
ing in all directions; himself compelled
to abandon his camp, equipage, bag­
gage, and treasure, and to consult his
safety by a precipitate flight, pursued
by the young Steward of Scotland at
the head of five hundred horse. It
was with difficulty he escaped to
Bridlington, having lost the privy seal
in the confusion of the day.2 This
was the second time during this weak
and inglorious reign that the privy
seal of England had been lost amid
the precipitancy of the king’s flight
from the face of his enemies. First,
in the disastrous flight from Bannock-
burn, and now in the equally rapid
decampment from the Abbey of Bi-
land.3 In this battle John of Bretagne,
earl of Richmond, Henry de Sully,
grand butler of France, and many other
prisoners of note, fell into the hands
of the enemy. Richmond was treated
by the king with unusual severity,
commanded into strict confinement,
and only liberated after a long cap­
tivity, and at the expense of an enor­
mous ransom. The cause of this is
said to have been the terms of slight
and opprobrium with which he had
been heard to express himself against
Bruce,4 To Sully and other French
knights, who had been taken at the
same time, the king demeaned himself
with that chivalrous and polished
courtesy for which he was so distin­
guished ; assuring them that he was

1 Barbour, p. 376.
Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iii. p. 977.
Leland, Collect, vol. i. p. 250.
Barbour, p, 378.

well aware they had been present in
the battle, not from personal enmity
to him, but from the honourable am­
bition that good knights, in a strange
land, must ever have, to shew their
prowess; wherefore he entreated them,
as well for their own sake as out of
compliment to his friend, the King of
France, to remain at head­quarters.
They did so accordingly; and after
some time, on setting out for France,
were dismissed, not only free of ran­
som, but enriched with presents.5
After this decisive defeat, the Scots
plundered the whole country to the
north of the Humber, and extended
their ravages to Beverley, laying waste
the East Riding with fire and sword,
and levying from the towns and mo­
nasteries, which were rich enough to
pay for their escape from plunder,
large sums of redemption money.6
The clergy and inhabitants of Beverley
purchased their safety at the rate of
four hundred pounds, being six thou­
sand pounds of our present money.
Loaded with booty, driving large herds
of cattle before them, and rich in mul­
titudes of captives, both of low and
high degree, the Scottish army at
length returned to their own country.7
The councils of the King of England
continued after this to be weakened
by dissension and treachery amongst
his nobility. Hartcla, who, for his
good service in the destruction of the
Lancastrian faction, had been created
Earl of Carlisle, soon after, imitating
the example of Lancaster, entered into
a correspondence with Bruce,8 and
organised an extensive confederacy

5 Barbour, p. 379.

6  Ker's Bruce, vol. ii. p. 287.

7  Dr Lingard, (vol. iii. p. 442,) following the
authority of John de Trokelowe, p. 64, has
represented the battle of Biland Abbey as a
skirmish, in which, after Edward had dis­
banded his army, Bruce surprised the English
king, and the knights and suite who were with
him. It appears to me that the accounts of
Barbour, Fordun, and of Lord Hailes lead to
a very different conclusion. In Dr Lingard’s
narrative, the determined resistance made by
the English army, the storming of their en­
campment, the strong ground in which it was
placed, and, indeed, the circumstance that
there was an army at all with the king, is

8  Leland, Collect, vol. i. p. 466.


146                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                       [Chap. IV.

amongst the northern barons, which
had for its object, not only to conclude
a truce with the Scots, independent of
any communication with the king, but
to maintain Robert Bruce and his heirs
in the right and possession of the entire
kingdom of Scotland. On the dis­
covery of the plot, he suffered the
death of a traitor, after being degraded
from his new honours, and having his
gilt spurs hacked off his heels.1 Henry
de Beaumont, one of the king’s coun­
cillors, was soon after this disgraced,
and committed to the custody of the
marshal, on refusing to give his advice
in terms of insolence and audacity;2
so that Edward, unsupported by an
army, disgraced by personal flight, and
betrayed by some of his most confi­
dential nobility, whilst his kingdom
had been incalculably weakened by a
long and disastrous war, began to wish
seriously for a cessation of hostilities.
Nor was Bruce unwilling to entertain
pacific overtures. He repelled, indeed,
with becoming dignity, a weak attempt
to refuse to acknowledge him as the
principal leader and party in the truce,3
and insisted on his recognition as chief
of his Scottish subjects; but he con­
sented, by the mediation of his friend,
Henry de Sully, to a thirteen-years’
truce. This truce, however, he rati­
fied under the style and title of King
of Scotland, and this ratification Ed­
ward agreed to accept;4 thus virtually
acknowledging the royal title which
he affected to deny. But although
desirous of peace, the conduct of the
English monarch at this time was
marked by dissimulation and bad
faith. While apparently anxious for
a truce, he employed his ambassadors
at the Papal court to irritate the Holy
Father against Bruce, and to fan the
dissensions between them; he sum­
moned an array of the whole military
service of England during the negotia­
tions ; and he recalled Edward Baliol,
the son of the late King of Scots, from
his castle in Normandy, to reside at
Ker’s Hist, of Bruce, p. 289, vol. ii. Ry-
mer, Fœdera, vol. iii. p. 999.

2 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iii. p. 1021.

3 Hailes’ Annals, vol. ii. p. 108. Rymer,
Fœdera, vol. ii. p. 1003.
Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iii. p. 1031.

the English court,5 with the design,
as afterwards appeared, of employing
him to excite disturbances in Scotland.
To counteract these intrigues of Eng­
land, Bruce despatched his nephew,
Randolph, to the Papal court; and
the result of his negotiations was in a
high degree favourable to Scotland.
Flattered by the judicious declarations
of his master’s devotion to the Holy
See; soothed by the expression of his
anxiety for a peace with England,
and an entire reconciliation with the
Church; and delighted with the ardour
with which Bruce declared himself
ready to repair in person to the Holy
War, the Pontiff consented, under the
influence of these feelings, to remove
all cause of quarrel, by addressing a
bull to Bruce, with the title of king.6
It has been justly observed that the
conduct of this delicate negotiation
presents Randolph to us in the new
character of a consummate politician.7
Against this unexpected conduct of the
Holy See Edward entered a spirited
remonstrance, complaining, with great
show of reason, that although the
Pope maintained that Bruce’s claim
could not be strengthened, nor that
of the King of England impaired,
by his bestowing on his adversary
the title of king, yet the subjects
of both kingdoms would naturally
conclude that his Holiness intended to
acknowledge the right where he had
given the title ;8 and he reminded him
that it was against an established
maxim of Papal policy that any altera­
tion in the condition of the parties
should be made during the continuance
of the truce. At the same time, Ran­
dolph, previous to his return, repaired
to the court of France, and there re­
newed the ancient league between that
kingdom and Scotland.9

During these negotiations with the
Papal court, a son was born to King
Robert at Dunfermline,10 who, after a
long minority, succeeded his father,

5  Fœdera, vol. iv. p. 62.

6  Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iv. p. 29.

7  Hailes, vol. ii. 4to, p. 113.

8 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iv p. 46.
Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 279.
On 5th March 1323. Fordun a Goodal,
book xiii. chap. 5.

1323-7.1                                      ROBERT BRUCE.                                           147

under the title of David the Second.
It was an event of great joy to the
country; and the court poets of the
day foretold that, like his illustrious
father, the royal infant would prove
a man strong in arms, “who would
hold his war­like revels amid the gar­
dens of England; “ a compliment, un­
fortunately, not destined to be pro­
phetic.1 Meanwhile, the conferences
for a lasting peace between the two
kingdoms proceeded; but the de­
mands made by the Scottish commis­
sioners were considered too degrading
to be accepted by England, even in her
present feeble and disordered state.
The discussions were tedious and com­
plicated, but their particulars do not
appear in the state papers of the time.
If we may believe an ancient English
historian,2 it was insisted that all de­
mand of feudal superiority was for
ever to be renounced by England; the
fatal stone of Scone, as well as certain
manors in England belonging to the
King of Scots, which had been seized
by Edward the First, were to be de­
livered to their rightful owner. A
marriage between the royal blood of
England and Scotland was to guaran­
tee a lasting peace between the two
kingdoms; and, finally, the whole of
the north of England, as far as to the
gates of York, was to be ceded to
Scotland. This last demand, if really
made, must have proceeded from an
intention upon the part of the Scots
to break off all serious negotiation.
As soon indeed as Bruce became as­
sured of the disingenuous conduct of
Edward, in continuing his machina­
tions at the Papal court, for the pur­
pose of preventing the promised grant
of absolution to him and to his people,
it was natural that all thoughts of
a cordial reconciliation should cease,
more especially as the intrigues of
England appear in this instance to
have been successful.3

For some years after this the quiet
current of national prosperity in Scot­
land, occasioned by the steady influ-

1 “Iste, manu fortis, Anglorum ludet in
hortis.”—Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 280.

2  Mon. Malmesburiensis, p. 230.

3  Fœdera, vol. iv. p. 176.

ence of good government, presents few
subjects for the historian. Bruce’s
administration appears to have in­
creased in strength and popularity;
and the royal household, which had
been lately gladdened by the birth of
a young prince, was now cheered by
an important bridal. Christian Bruce,
the king’s sister, and widow of the
unfortunate Christopher Seton, es­
poused a tried and hardy soldier, Sir
Andrew Moray of Bothwell, afterwards
regent of the kingdom. Moray had
been bred to war by Wallace; and it
was a wise part of the policy of Bruce
to attach to himself the bravest sol­
diers by matrimonial alliances. The
joy of the country, however, at these
happy events, was not long after over­
clouded by the death of Walter, the
High Steward of Scotland, and son-in-
law to the king. He seems to have
been deeply and deservedly lamented.
When only a stripling in war he had
done good service at Bannockburn,
and afterwards increased the promise
of his fame by his successful defence
of Berwick against the King of Eng­
land in person.4

A treaty of alliance, offensive and
defensive, between France and Scot­
land, was concluded at Corbeil by Ran­
dolph, in which it was agreed to make
common cause in all future wars be­
tween England and either of the con­
tracting parties; with the reservation,
however, upon the part of Robert, that
so long as the truce continued he
should be free from the effects of such
an engagement.5 Soon after this, a par­
liament was held at Cambuskenneth,
wherein the clergy, earls, barons, and
all the nobility of Scotland, with the
people there assembled, took the oaths
of fealty and homage to David, the
king’s son, and his issue; whom fail­
ing, to Robert Stewart, now orphan
son of Walter the Steward and the
Princess Marjory, the king’s daughter.
It is important to notice that this is
the earliest parliament in which we
have certain intimation of the appear-

4 Barbour, p. 386. He died at Bathgate,
and was buried at Paisley.

5 Ker’s History of Bruce, vol. ii. p. 343.
Acts of the Parl. of Scotland, vol. iv. p. 564.

148                           HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                    Chap. IV.

ance of the representatives of the cities
and burghs, as forming a third estate
in the great national council. The
same parliament, in consequence of the
lands and revenues of the crown having
suffered extreme defalcation during the
protracted war with England, granted
to the king a tenth of the rents of all
the lay-lands in the kingdom, to be
estimated according to the valuation
which was followed during the reign
of Alexander the Third.1

A sudden revolution, conducted by
Isabella, the profligate Queen of Eng­
land, and her paramour Mortimer,
terminated soon after this in the de­
position of Edward the Second, and
the assumption of the royal dignity
by his son, the great Edward the
Third, now entering his fourteenth
year.2 Although the avowed inten­
tions of the English regency, who
acted as council to the king, were
pacific, yet their real conduct was in­
sidious and hostile. To Bruce it was
even insulting; for, although they rati­
fied the truce in the name of the young
king, and appointed commissioners to
renew the negotiations for peace, yet
their instructions empowered them to
treat with the messengers of the noble­
men and great men of Scotland, with­
out the slightest mention of the name
of the king, who, under such a provo­
cation, soon manifested a disposition
to renew the war. He had been dis­
gusted by the repeated instances of
bad faith on the part of the English
government; and, taking advantage of
the minority of the king, and the
civil dissensions which had greatly
weakened the country, he assembled a
formidable army on the Borders, and
declared his resolution of disregarding
a truce which had been broken by
one of the parties, and of instantly
invading England, unless prevented
by a speedy and advantageous peace.
Against these warlike preparations the
English ministry adopted decisive
measures. The whole military array of
England was summoned to meet the
king at Newcastle on the 18th of May;
and the Duke of Norfolk, Marshal of

1  Fordun a Hearne, vol. iv. p. 1014.

2  Tyrrel’s Hist, of England, vol. iii. p. 325.

England, and uncle to young Edward,
was commanded to superintend the
muster. To Carlisle, the key of the
kingdom on the other side, were sent
two brave officers, Robert Ufford and
John Mowbray, with a reinforcement
to Lord Anthony Lucy, the governor.
The naval force of the southern ports
was ordered to be at Skinburness, near
the mouth of the Tees. Two fleets,
one named the Eastern and the other
the Western Fleet of England, were
directed to be employed against the
Scots. The men living on the borders,
and in the northern shires, received
orders to join the army with all speed,
marching day and night, and to send
their women and children for shelter
to distant places, or castles;3 and those
who were too old to fight were obliged
to find a Substitute. Anxious to give
spirit to the soldiers, and to watch the
designs of the enemy, the young king
and the rest of the royal family came
to York, accompanied by John of
Hainault, with a fine body of heavy-
armed Flemish horse; and Hainault
was not long after joined by John of
Quatremars, at the head of another
reinforcement of foreign cavalry.4 Con­
fident in those warlike preparations,
the negotiations for the attainment of
peace soon became cold and embar­
rassed ; and from the terms proposed
by the English commissioners it was
evident that they, as well as Bruce,
had resolved upon the prosecution of
the war.

Accordingly, soon after this, a de­
fiance was brought to the youthful
monarch from the King of Scotland;
and the herald was commanded to
inform him and his nobles that the
Scots were preparing to invade his
kingdom with fire and sword. Bruce
himself was about this time attacked
by a mortal sickness, brought on by
that excessive fatigue, and constant
exposure to the inclemency of the
seasons, which he had endured in his
early wars.5 The extreme weakness
occasioned by this, rendered it impos-

3 Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. i. p. 208. Hailes, vol.
ii. p. 117. Barbour, p. 388.
Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. i. pp. 210, 213.
Ker’s Bruce, vol. ii. p. 357.

1327.]                                   ROBERT BRUCE.                                        149

sible for him to take the field in per­
son; but Randolph and Douglas, his
two ablest captains, put themselves
at the head of an army of ten thou­
sand men, and passing the Tyne near
Carlisle, soon shewed that, although
the king was not present, the skill, en­
terprise, and unshaken courage which
he had inspired continued to animate
his soldiers.1 This is one of the last
great military expeditions of this
reign; and as it places in a strong
and interesting light the species of
warfare by which Bruce was enabled
to reconquer and consolidate his king­
dom, as contrasted with the gigantic
efforts employed against him, we
shall make no apology for a some­
what minute detail of its operations.
Froissart, too, one of the most delight­
ful and graphic of the old historians,
appears now in the field, and throws
over the picture the tints of his rich
feudal painting.

Accounts soon reached the English
king that the Scots had broken into
the northern counties; and instant
orders were given for the host to
arrange themselves under their respec­
tive banners, and advance against the
enemy, on the road to Durham. The
English army, according to Froissart,
consisted of sixty-two thousand men,
of which eight thousand were knights
and squires, armed both man and horse
in steel, and excellently mounted;
fifteen thousand lighter-armed cavalry,
who rode hackneys; and fifteen thou-
sand infantry : to these were added
twenty-four thousand archers.2 The
army was divided into three columns,
or battles, all of infantry, each battle
having two wings of heavy-armed
cavalry of five hundred men.

Against this great host, admirable
in its discipline and equipment, the
Scots had to oppose a very inferior

1 Barbour, p. 387. Froissart, vol. i. p. 19,
by Lord Berners, makes the Scottish army
fourteen thousand strong. Barbour says, “ of
gud men”
there were ten thousand. The
camp-followers who came for plunder, and
the hobilers, or light-armed horse, may make
up the disparity.

2 Froissart, chap. xxxv. Buchon’s Chron-
iques Françaises, vol. i.p. 80. Barnes’s Hist.
of Edward III., p. 9.

force. It consisted of three thousand
knights and squires, armed cap-a-pie,
and mounted on strong good horses,
and twenty thousand light-armed
cavalry, excellently adapted for skir­
mishing, owing to their having along
with them no impediments of luggage,
or carts and waggons, and their being
mounted on hardy little hackneys,
which were able to go through their
work in the most barren country,
where other horses would die of want.
“These Scottishmen,” says Froissart,
“ are exceeding hardy, through their
constant wearing of arms, and experi­
ence in war. When they enter Eng­
land, they will, in a single day and
night, march four-and-twenty miles,
taking with them neither bread nor
wine; for such is their sobriety, that
they are well content with flesh half
sodden, and for their drink with the
river water. To them pots and pans
are superfluities. They are sure to
find cattle enough in the countries
they break into, and they can boil or
seeth them in their own skins; so
that a little bag of oatmeal, trussed
behind their saddle, and an iron plate,
or girdle, on which they bake their
crakenel, or biscuit, and which is fixed
between the saddle and the crupper,
is their whole purveyance for the field.”
It requires little discernment to see
that a force of this description was
admirably adapted for warfare in
mountainous and desert countries;
and that a regular army, however
excellently equipped, being impeded
by luggage, waggons, and camp-follow­
ers, could have little chance against
it. So, accordingly, the event soon

Advancing from York, the English
army learnt no tidings of the Scots
until they entered Northumberland,
when the smoke that rose from the
villages and hamlets which they had
burnt in their progress too plainly
indicated their wasting line of march.3
Although the Marshal of England had
been stationed at Newcastle with a
large body of troops, and the Earl of
Hereford and Sir John Mowbray com­
manded at Carlisle with a strong gar-
Froissart, vol. i. pp. 19, 20.

150                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                        [Chap. IV.

rison, the Scottish army had crossed
the Tyne with such silence and rapid­
ity, that the blazing villages of North­
umberland were the first messengers
which informed their enemies of their
approach. From morning to night
did the English for two days pursue
these melancholy beacons, without
being able to get a sight of their
enemy, although they burnt and laid
waste the country within five miles
of their main army. But the English
appear to have been little acquaint­
ed with the country, and obliged to
march with great slowness and pre­
caution through the woods, marshes,
and mountainous passes with which
it was intersected; whilst the Scots,
veterans in this species of warfare,
and intimately familiar with the seat
of the war, drove every living thing
from before their enemies, wasted the
forage, burnt the granaries, and sur­
rounded their army with a blackened
and smoking desert, through which
they passed without a sight of their

After a vain pursuit of three days,
through desert and rugged paths, the
English army, exhausted with toil,
hunger, and watching, determined to
direct their march again to the Tyne,
and, having crossed that river, to
await the return of the Scots, and cut
off their retreat into their own country.
This object they accomplished towards
nightfall with great difficulty, and the
army was kept under arms, each man
lying beside his horse with the reins
in his hands, ready to mount at a
moment’s warning, with the vain hope
that the daylight would shew them
their enemy, who, they conjectured,
would return by the same ford which
they had crossed in their advance.
Meanwhile, this great host began to
experience all those bitter sufferings
which the Scottish mode of warfare
was so surely calculated to bring upon
them.1 The rain poured down and
swelled the river, so that its passage
became perilous; their carriages and
waggons, containing the wine and pro­
visions, had been, by orders of the
leaders, left behind; and each soldier
Barnes’s Edward III., p. 10,

had carried, strapped behind his saddle,
a single loaf of bread, which the rain
and the sweat from the horse had
rendered uneatable; the horses them­
selves had tasted nothing for a day
and night; and the soldiers expe­
rienced the greatest difficulty in shel­
tering themselves from the weather,
by cutting down the green branches,
and making themselves lodges, whilst
the horses supported themselves by
cropping the leaves. There was much
suffering also from the want of light
and fire, as the green wood would not
burn, and only a few of the greater
barons had brought torches with them;
so that the army lay on the cold
ground under a heavy rain, ignorant,
from the darkness, of the situation
which they occupied, and obliged to
keep upon the alert, lest they should
be surprised by the enemy. In this
plight the morning found them, when
they discovered from the country people
that their encampment was about
fourteen leagues from Newcastle, and
eleven from Carlisle, but could hear
no tidings of the Scots.2 It was de­
termined, however, to await their re­
turn ; and for eight days they lay
upon the bank of the Tyne, in the
vain idea of cutting off the retreat of
the enemy, while the rain continued
to pour down in torrents, and their
sufferings and privations to increase
every hour, so that murmurs and up-
braidings began to rise amongst the
soldiers; and the leaders, alarmed by
the symptoms of mutiny, determined
to repass the river, and again march
in search of the enemy.

Having accomplished this, procla­
mation was made through the host
that the king would honour with
knighthood, and a grant of land, any
soldier who would lead him to where
he could cope on dry ground with the
Scots;3 and sixteen knights and
squires rode off on the adventure,
which was quickly accomplished; for
one of. them, Thomas de Rokeby, was
soon after taken prisoner by the ad-

2 Froissart, vol. i. pp. 20-22. The true dis­
tance is forty-two miles from Newcastle, and
thirty-three from Carlisle,
Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iv. p. 312.

1327.]                                         ROBERT BRUCE.                                           151

vanced guards of the Scots, and carried
before Douglas and Randolph. These
leaders, confident in the strength of
the position which they occupied, sent
the squire back to his companions,
with orders to lead the English army
to the spot where they were encamped,
adding, that Edward could not be
more anxious to see them than they
were to be confronted with him and
his barons. Rokeby, who found the
king with his army at Blanchland, on
the river Derwent, informed them of
his success; and next morning the
army, drawn up in order of battle,
having marched, under the guidance
of Rokeby, through Weardale, about
mid­day came in sight of the Scots,
strongly encamped on the slope of a
hill, at the foot of which ran the rapid
river Wear.1 The flanks of the posi­
tion were defended by rocks, which it
was impossible to turn, and which
overhung the river so as to command
its passage; whilst the stream itself,
full of huge stones, and swollen by the
late rains, could not be passed without
the greatest risk. Having halted and
reconnoitred the position of the Scots,
the English leaders considered it to be
impregnable, and, in the chivalrous
spirit of the times, heralds were sent
with the proposal that the two armies
should draw up on the plain, renounce
the advantages of ground, and decide
the battle in a fair field. The Scot­
tish leaders were too well experienced
in war to be moved by this bravado.
“ It is known,” said they, in reply to
the defiance, “ to the king and barons
of England that we are here in their
kingdom, and have burnt and wasted
the country. If displeased therewith,
let them come and chastise us if they
choose, for here we mean to remain
as long as we please.” 2

1 Barnes’s Edward III., p. 12. Froissart,
vol. i. p. 93.

2 Froissart, vol. i. p. 23. Hume erroneously
describes Douglas as eagerly advising to risk
a battle, and Moray dissuading him from it.
He has also confounded this expedition with
a subsequent inroad of Bruce into England,
describing the attack upon Norham as having
taken place previously to the encampment on
the Wear. But the campaign of Randolph
and Douglas, and the encampment at Stan­
hope Park, took place on 6th August 1327.

On the first sight of the strength of
the Scottish position, the English
leaders had given orders for the whole
host to be drawn up on foot, in three
great columns or battles, having com­
manded the knights and men-at-arms
to lay aside their spurs, and join
the ranks of the infantry. In this
order the army continued for three
days, vainly endeavouring, by man­
oeuvres and bravadoes, to compel the
Scottish leaders to leave their strong
ground, and accept their challenge.
Every night the soldiers lay upon their
arms, resting on the bare rocky ground;
and as they had no means of tying or
picketing their horses, the cavalry
were compelled to snatch a brief in­
terval of sleep with their reins in their
hand, and harness on their back, desti­
tute of litter or forage, and without
fuel to make fires for their comfort
and refreshment. On the other hand,
they had the mortification to be near
enough to see and hear the merri­
ment of the Scottish camp ; to observe
that their enemies retired nightly to
their huts, after duly stationing their
watches ; to see the whole hill blazing
with the fires, round which they were
cooking their victuals; and to listen
to the winding of the horns, with
which the leaders called in the strag­
glers and pillaging parties.

Although irritated and mortified
with all this, the English absurdly de­
termined to remain where they were.
They had learned from some prisoners,
taken in skirmishing, that their ene­
mies had neither bread nor wine; and
to use the words of Froissart, it was
the “ intention of the English to holde
the Scots there in manner as besieged,
thinking to have famished them.”
But a few hours sufficed to shew the
folly of such a design. The third
night had left the two armies as usual
in sight of each other, the Scottish
fires blazing, their horns resounding
through the hills, and their opponents
lying under arms. In the morning,
the English, instead of the gleam of
arms, and the waving of the pennons
of an encamped army, saw nothing

The siege of Norham did not commence till
September. Hume’s Hist, vol. iii. p. 245,

152                               HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                    [Chap. IV.

before them but a bare hill side.1
Their enemies, familiar with every
part of this wild country, having
found out a stronger position, had
secretly decamped, and were soon dis­
covered by the scouts in a wood called
Stanhope Park, situated on a hill, at
nearly the same distance from the
river Wear as their first encampment.2
This ground had equal advantages,
in commanding the river, with their
first position; and it was not only
more difficult of access and of attack,
but enabled them, under cover of the
wood, to. conceal their operations.
Thus completely out­manoeuvred, and
made aware on how frail a basis had
been rested their project for starving
out their enemy, the English army
marched down the side of the Wear,
and encamped on a hill fronting the
Scots, and having the river still inter­
posed between them. Fatigued and
disheartened by their sufferings and
reverses, they became remiss in their
discipline; and a daring night attack
of Douglas had nearly put an end to
the campaign, by the death or cap­
tivity of the young monarch of Eng­
land.3 This leader, having discovered
a ford at a considerable distance from
both encampments, passed the river
at midnight with five hundred horse ;
with these he gained unperceived the
rear of the English camp, and con­
trived to deceive the outposts by as­
suming the manner of an English
officer going his rounds, and calling
out, “ Ha, St George ! no watch ! “
He thus passed the barriers, and
whilst one part of his men made an
attack on a different quarter, Douglas
and his party fell so fiercely and sud­
denly upon the enemy, that three
hundred were slain in a few minutes;
still pressing on, and putting spurs to
his horse, he penetrated to the royal
tent, cut the tent-ropes, and would
have carried off the young monarch,
but for the resistance of the royal
household. The king’s chaplain bravely
defended his master, and was slain;

1 Froissart, vol. i. p. 25.

2 Barbour, pp. 394, 395.

3 Barnes’s Edward III., p. 14. Froissart,
vol. i. p. 24. Barbour, p. 397.

others followed his example, and
shared his fate; but the interval thus
gained gave Edward time to escape,
and roused the whole army, so that
Douglas found it necessary to retreat.
Blowing his horn, he charged through
the thickening mass of his enemies,
and, with inconsiderable loss; rejoined
his friends. Disappointed of his prey,
this veteran leader, on being asked by
Randolph what speed they had made,
replied, “ They had drawn blood, but
that was all.”4

Provisions now began to fail in the
Scottish camp, which had hitherto
been plentifully supplied, and the
two Scottish commanders consulted
together what was best to be done.
Randolph recommended the hazarding
a battle; but Douglas, who, with all
his keenness for fighting, was a great
calculator of means, insisted that the
disparity of force was too great, and
proposed a retreat, which, from the
nature of the ground, was nearly as
dangerous as a battle. Behind the
Scottish camp was stretched a large
morass, which was deemed impassable
for cavalry, and which had effectually
prevented any attack in their rear.
In the front was the river Wear, the
passage guarded by the English army,
which outnumbered the Scots by forty
thousand men ; and on each flank were
steep and precipitous banks. To have
attempted to break up their camp,
and retreat in the day-time, in the
face of so superior an enemy, must
have been certain ruin. The Scottish
leaders, accordingly, on the evening
which they had chosen for their de­
parture, lighted up their camp fires,
and kept up a great noise of horns
and shouting, as they had been wont
to do. Meanwhile they had prepared
a number of hurdles, made of wands
or boughs, tightly wattled together,
and had packed up in the smallest
compass their most valuable booty.
At midnight they drew off from their
encampment, leaving their fires burn­
ing, and having dismounted on reach­
ing the morass, they threw down the
hurdles upon the softer places of the
bog, and thus passed over the water-
Barbour, p. 399.

1327-8.]                                      ROBERT BRUCE.                                            153

runs in safety, taking care to remove
the hurdles so as to prevent pursuit by
the enemy.1

It happened that, the day before, a
Scottish knight had fallen into the
hands of the English during a skir­
mish ; and being strictly questioned,
he informed the king that the soldiers
had received orders to hold them­
selves in readiness to follow the ban­
ner of Douglas in the evening. Anti­
cipating from this information another
night attack, the whole army drew up
on foot in three divisions in order of
battle; and having given their horses
in charge to the servants who re­
mained in the camp-huts, lay all night
under arms, expecting to be assaulted
every moment. Night, however, passed
away without any alarm; and a little
before daylight two of the enemy’s
trumpeters were taken, who reported
that the Scottish army had decamped
at midnight, and were already advanced
five miles on their way homewards.
An instantaneous pursuit might still
have placed the retreating army in
circumstances of great jeopardy ; but
the success of Douglas’s night attack
had made the English over­cautious,
and they continued under arms till
broad daylight, suspecting some strata­
gem or ambush. At last when, after
a little time, nothing was seen, some
scouts were sent across the river, who
returned with the intelligence that
the Scots had made good their retreat,
and that their camp was entirely

The deserted encampment was then
visited by their mortified opponents,
and presented a singular spectacle.
In it were found five hundred slaugh­
tered cattle, and more than three
hundred caldrons, or kettles, which
were made of skins of cattle, with the
hair on, suspended on stakes, and full
of meat and water, ready for boiling,
with about a thousand spit-racks with
meat on them, and about ten thousand
pairs of old shoes, commonly called
brogues in Scotland, and made of raw
hides, with the hair on the outer side.
The only living things found in the
camp were five poor Englishmen,

1 Barbour, p. 402. Froissart, vol. i. p, 25.

stript naked and tied to trees. Three
of these unfortunate men had their
legs broken,—a piece of savage cruelty,
which, if committed with their know­
ledge, throws a deep stain upon Doug­
las and Randolph.

On witnessing this, it is said that the
young king, grievously disappointed
at the mortifying result of an expedi­
tion commenced with such high hopes,
and involving such mighty prepara­
tions, could not refrain from tears.
In the meantime the Scottish army,
with safety and expedition, regained
their own country in health and spirits,
and enriched with the plunder of a
three-weeks’ raid in England. Very
different was the condition of the army
of Edward. The noble band of foreign
cavalry, consisting of knights and men-
at-arms from Hainault, Flanders, and
Brabant, commanded by John of Hain-
ault, were reduced, by the privation
and fatigue of a mode of warfare with
which they were little acquainted, to
a state of much wretchedness.2 On
reaching York, their horses had all
died or become unserviceable; and
the rest of the English cavalry were
in an almost equal state of exhaustion
and disorganisation.

The disastrous termination of this
campaign very naturally inspired the
English government with a desire of
peace; and although the blame con­
nected with the retreat of the Scots
was attempted to be thrown upon the
treachery of Mortimer, and a procla­
mation, issued from Stanhope Park,
ridiculously described their enemies
as having stolen away in the night,
like vanquished men,3 the truth could
not be concealed from the nation;
and every one felt that the military
talents of Douglas and Randolph, and
the patient discipline of the Scottish
soldiers, rendered them infinitely su­
perior to any English force which could
be brought against them. The ex­
haustion of the English treasury, and
the jealousy and heart-burnings be­
tween Mortimer and the principal
nobility, rendered it exceedingly im-

2 Fœdera. vol. iv. p. 304.
Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iv. p. 301. Hailes,
vol. ii. p. 123.

154                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                       [Chap. IV.

probable that a continuance of the
war would lead to any better success;
and these desires for peace were not a
little strengthened by the sudden ap­
pearance of the King of Scotland in
person, who broke into England by
the eastern borders at the head of an
army including every person in Scot­
land able to bear arms.1 Bruce him­
self sat down before Norham with a
part of his force; a second division
was commanded to waste Northum­
berland; and a third, under Douglas
and Randolph, laid siege to Alnwick
castle ; but before hostilities had pro­
ceeded to any length, commissioners
from England were in the camp of
the Scottish king with a proposal for
the marriage of Joanna, the Princess
of England, and sister to the king, to
David, the only son of the King of

It was required by the king, as the
preliminary basis on which all future
negotiation was to proceed, that Ed­
ward should renounce for ever all
claim of feudal superiority which he
and his predecessors had pretended to
possess over the kingdom of Scotland.
To agree to this concession appears to
have been beyond the powers of the
commissioners; and a parliament was
summoned for this purpose, a truce in
the meantime having been agreed upon
during the continuance of the nego­

At length, on the 1st of March
1327-8, the English parliament as­
sembled at York ; and this important
preliminary, which had cost so great
an expense of blood and treasure to
both kingdoms during a terrible war
of twenty years, was finally and satis­
factorily adjusted. Robert was ac­
knowledged as King of Scotland, and
Scotland itself recognised for ever as
a free and independent kingdom.

It was declared by Edward, in the
solemn words of the instrument of
renunciation, “ that whereas we and
others of our predecessors, Kings of
England, have endeavoured to obtain
a right of dominion and superiority

1 Barbour, p. 404.

2 The truce was to last from 23d Nov. till
the 22d March 1328. Rymer, vol. iv. p. 326.

over the kingdom of Scotland, and
have thereby been the cause of long
and grievous wars between the two
kingdoms; we, therefore, considering
the numerous slaughters, sins, and
bloodshed, the destruction of churches,
and other evils brought upon the in­
habitants of both kingdoms by such
wars, and the many advantages which
would accrue to the subjects of both
realms if, by the establishment of a
firm and perpetual peace, they were
secured against all rebellious designs,
have, by the assent of the prelates,
barons, and commons of our kingdom,
in parliament assembled, granted, and
hereby do grant, for us, and our heirs
and successors whatsoever, that the
kingdom of Scotland shall remain for
ever to the magnificent Prince and
Lord, Robert, by the grace of God, the
illustrious King of Scots, our ally and
dear friend, and to his heirs and suc­
cessors, free, entire, and unmolested,
separated from the kingdom of Eng­
land by its respective marches, as in
the time of Alexander, King of Scot­
land, of good memory, lately deceased,
without any subjection, servitude,
claim, or demand whatsoever. And
we hereby renounce and convey to the
said King of Scotland, his heirs and
successors, whatever right we or our
ancestors in times past have laid claim
to in any way over the kingdom of
Scotland. And by these same pre­
sents we renounce and declare void,
for ourselves and our heirs and suc­
cessors, all obligations, agreements, or
treaties whatsoever, touching the sub­
jection of the kingdom of Scotland,
and the inhabitants thereof, entered
into between our predecessors and any
of the kings thereof, or their subjects,
whether clergy or laity. And if there
shall anywhere be found any letters,
charters, muniments, or public instru­
ments, which shall have been framed
touching the said obligations, agree­
ments, or compacts, we declare that
they shall be null and void, and of no
effect whatsoever. And in order to
the fulfilment of these premises, and
to the faithful observation thereof in
all time coming, we have given full
power and special authority to our

1328.1                                        ROBERT BRUCE.                                             155

faithful and well ­beloved cousin, Henry
de Percy, and to William le Zouche of
Ashby, to take oath upon our soul for
the performance of the same. In tes­
timony whereof we have given these
our letters-patent, at York, on the 1st
of March, and in the second year of
our reign. By the king himself, and
his council in Parliament.”1

This important preliminary having
been amicably settled, the English
and Scottish commissioners did not
find it difficult to come to an arrange­
ment upon the final treaty. Accord­
ingly, peace with England was con­
cluded at Edinburgh on the 17th of
March 1327-8,2 and confirmed on the
part of the English government, in a
parliament held at Northampton, on
the 4th of May 1328. It was stipu­
lated that there should be a perpetual
peace between the two kingdoms, for
confirmation of which, a marriage
should take place between David,
eldest son and heir of the King of
Scotland, and Joanna, sister to the
King of England. In the event of
Joanna’s death before marriage, the
King of England engaged to provide a
suitable match for David from his
nearest in blood ; and in the event of
David’s death previous to the mar­
riage, the King of England, his heirs
and successors, are to be permitted to

1 There are three copies of this important
deed known to our historians. One in Rymer,
vol. iv. p. 337, taken from a transcript in the
Chronicle of Lanercost, another in Goodal’s
edition of Fordun, and a third in a public
instrument of Henry Wardlaw, bishop of St
Andrews, copied by this prelate, 17th March
1415. It is from this last, as published by
Goodal, (Fordun, vol. ii. p. 289,) that I have
taken the translation.

2 Carte, in an unsuccessful attempt to
prove that this treaty did not receive the
ratification of parliament, observes—“ If the
parliament at York had assented to the treaty,
why was that of Northampton summoned to
warrant it by their assent and approbation ?“
The answer is obvious. The parliament at
York, on the 1st of March, agreed to the re­
nunciation of the claim of superiority, but
the remaining articles of the treaty were yet
unsettled. These were finally adjusted by
the commissioners at Edinburgh, on the 17th
of March ; and a parliament was summoned
at Northampton, which gave its final appro­
bation on the 4th of May. All this is very
clear ; yet Lingard echoes the scepticism of

marry the next heir to the throne of
Scotland, either to Joanna, if allowable
by the laws of the Church, or to some
other princess of the blood royal of
England. The two kings, with their
heirs and successors, engaged to be
good friends and faithful allies in
assisting each other, always saving to
the King of Scots the ancient alliance
between him and the King of France;
and in the event of a rebellion against
England in the kingdom of Ireland, or
against Scotland in Man, Skye, or the
other islands, the two kings mutually
agreed not to abet or assist their rebel
Subjects. All writings, obligations,
instruments, or other muniments, re­
lative to the subjection which the kings
of England had attempted to establish
over the people and land of Scotland,
and which are annulled by the letters-
patent of the King of England, as well
as all other instruments and charters
respecting the freedom of Scotland, as
soon as they are found, were to be
delivered up to the King of Scots;
and the King of England expressly
engaged to give his assistance, in order
that the processes of excommunication
against Robert and his subjects, which
had been carried through at the court
of Rome, and elsewhere, should be
recalled and annulled. It was besides
agreed on the part of the king, the
prelates, and the nobles of Scotland,
that the sum of twenty thousand
pounds sterling should, within three
years, be paid, at three separate terms;
and in the event of failure, the parties
were to submit themselves to the
jurisdiction of the Papal chamber. It
was finally covenanted that the laws
and regulations of the marches were
to be punctually adhered to by both
monarchs; and although omitted in the
treaty, it was stipulated in a separate
instrument, that the stone upon which
the Kings of Scotland were wont to sit
at their coronation, and which had been
carried away by Edward the First,
should be restored to the Scots.3
There can be no doubt that this

3 Hailes, vol. ii. p. 127. The original dupli­
cate of this treaty, which was unknown to
Lord Hailes, was discovered after the publi­
cation of his History, and is now preserved

156                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                        [Chap. IV.

treaty was highly unpopular in Eng­
land. The peace was termed igno­
minious, and the marriage a base alli­
ance ; the treaty itself, in the framing
of which the queen and Mortimer had
a principal share,1 although undoubt­
edly ratified in parliament, was not
generally promulgated, and does not ap­
pear amongst the national records and
muniments of the time; and when
the renunciation of the superiority
over Scotland, and the restoration of
the fatal stone, came to be publicly
known, the populace in London rose
in a riotous manner, and would not
suffer that venerable emblem of the
conquest of Edward the First to be
removed.2 Yet although it wounded
the national pride, the peace, consider­
ing the exhausted state of England,
the extreme youth of the king, the
impoverishment of the exchequer by a
long war, and the great superiority of
such military leaders as Bruce, Ran­
dolph, and Douglas, to any English
commanders who could be opposed to
them, was a necessary and prudent
measure, imperiously dictated by the
circumstances of the times.

To Bruce, on the other hand, the
peace was in every respect a glorious
one; but it was wise and seasonable
as well as glorious. Robert anxiously
desired to settle his kingdom in tran-

amongst the archives in the General Register
House in Edinburgh, with the seals of the
three lay plenipotentiaries still pretty entire.
Robertson’s Index, p. 101. The original is in
French, and has been printed in Ker’s His­
tory of Bruce, vol. ii. p. 526. Lingard, vol. iv.
p. 9, following Lord Hailes, falls into the
error of supposing that no copy of this treaty
had been preserved by any writer, and doubts
whether it was ever ratified by a full parlia­
ment. On what ground this doubt is founded,
unless on the erroneous idea that no copy of
the treaty could be discovered, it is difficult
to imagine. He remarks in a note, that a par­
liament was held at Northampton in April.
It was at this parliament that the treaty of
Northampton was agreed to. “ Donne a North­
ampton, le quart jour de May, Ian de nostre
regne secont.” What are we to think,
then, of his concluding observation—“but no
important business was done on account of
the absence of the principal members ?“

1 Edward’s mother got a grant of 10,000
marks for herself. Fœdera, vol. iv. p. 410.

2 Chronicle of Lanercost, p. 261. See
Rymer, vol. iv. p. 454. Rotul. Claus. 4 Ed­
ward III , m. 16, dorso,

quillity. Although not to be called
an old man, the hardships of war had
broken a constitution naturally of
great strength, and had brought on a
premature old age, attended with a
deep-seated and incurable disease,
thought to be of the nature of leprosy.
Upon his single life hung the prosper­
ity of his kingdom and the interests
of his family. His daughter, the
only child of his first marriage, was
dead. During the negotiations for the
treaty of Northampton, Elizabeth, his
second wife, had followed her to the
grave ;3 his gallant brothers, partly on
the scaffold, and partly on the field,
had died without issue; his only son
was an infant, and his grandson a boy
of ten years old, who had lost both
his parents. In these circumstances,
peace was a signal blessing to the
nation, and a joyful relief to himself.
The complete independence of Scot­
land, for which the people of that land
had obstinately sustained a war of
thirty-two years’ duration, was at last
amply acknowledged, and established
on the firmest basis; and England,
with her powerful fleets, and superb
armies, her proud nobility, and her
wealthy exchequer, was, by superior
courage and military talent, compelled
to renounce for ever her schemes of
unjust aggression. In the conduct of
this war, and in its glorious termina­
tion, Bruce stood alone, and shared
the glory with no one. He had raised
the spirit of his people to an ascend­
ancy over their enemies, which is ac­
knowledged by the English historians
themselves; and in all the great mili­
tary transactions of the war we can
discern the presence of his inventive
and presiding genius. He was indeed
nobly assisted by Douglas and Ran­
dolph; but it was he that had first
marked their military talents, and it
was under his eye that they had grown
up into that maturity of excellence
which found nothing that could cope
with them in the martial nobility of
England. Having thus accomplished
the great object of his life, and warned

3 She died 7th Nov. 1327. Fordun a Good-
al, vol. ii. p. 288.

1328-9.1                                     ROBERT BRUCE.                                            157

by intimations which could not be
mistaken, that a mortal disease had
fixed upon him, the king retired to
his palace at Cardross, on the eastern
shore of the Clyde. His amusements,
in the intervals of disease, were kingly,
and his charities extensive. He built
ships, and recreated himself by sail­
ing; he devoted himself to architec­
ture and gardening, improving his
palace and orchard; he kept a lion for
his diversion, and, when his health
permitted, delighted in hawking; he
entertained his nobility in a style of
rude and abundant hospitality, and the
poor received regular supplies by the
king’s order.1

Meantime the Princess Joanna of
England, then in her seventh year,
accompanied by the Queen Dowager,
the Earl of Mortimer, the bishop of
Lincoln, High Chancellor of England,
and attended by a splendid retinue,
began their journey to Scotland. At
Berwick she was received by David,
her young bridegroom, then only five
years of age. Randolph and Sir James
Douglas, whom King Robert, detained
by his increasing illness, had sent as
his representatives, accompanied the
prince; and the marriage was cele­
brated at Berwick with great joy and
magnificence.2 The attendants of the
princess brought along with them, to
be delivered in terms of the treaty of
Northampton, the Ragman Roll con­
taining the names of all those Scots­
men who had been compelled to pay
homage to Edward the First, as well
as other important records and muni­
ments,3 which that monarch had car­
ried with him from Scotland. Bruce
was able to receive his son and his
youthful consort with a warm and
affectionate welcome at Edinburgh;
but, finding his disease increasing upon
him, he returned immediately to his
rural seclusion at Cardross, where he
died on the 7th June 1329, at the age
of fifty-five. Some time before his
death, an interesting scene took place,

1 Chamberlain’s Accounts, vol. i. pp. 38-41,

2 Fordun a Hearne, vol. iv. p. 1016. Bar-
bour, p. 407.

3 Carte, vol. ii. p. 397.

which I shall give in the beautiful and
affecting narrative of Froissart.

“ In the meantime,” says that
historian, “ it happened that King
Robert of Scotland was right sore
aged and feeble, for he was grievously
oppressed with the great sickness, so
that there was no way with him but
death; and when he felt that his end
drew near, he sent for such barons
and lords of his realm as he most
trusted, and very affectionately en­
treated and commanded them, on
their fealty, that they should faith­
fully keep his kingdom for David his
son, and when this prince came of
age, that they should obey him, and
place the crown on his head. After
which, he called to him the brave and
gentle knight Sir James Douglas, and
said, before the rest of the courtiers,
—' Sir James, my dear friend, none
knows better than you how great
labour and suffering I have undergone
in my day, for the maintenance of the
rights of this kingdom ; and when I
was hardest beset, I made a vow,
which it now grieves me deeply that I
have not accomplished : I vowed to
God that if I should live to see an
end of my wars, and be enabled to
govern this realm in peace and secu­
rity, I would then set out in person,
and carry on war against the enemies
of my Lord and Saviour, to the best
of my power. Never has my heart
ceased to bend to this point; but our
Lord has not consented thereto; for
I have had my hands full in my days,
and now, at the last, I am seized with
this grievous sickness, so that, as you
all see, I have nothing to do but to
die. And since my body cannot go
thither, and accomplish that which
my heart hath so much desired, I have
resolved to send my heart there, in
place of my body, to fulfil my vow;
and now, since in all my realm I know
not any knight more hardy than your­
self, or more thoroughly furnished
with all knightly qualities for the ac­
complishment of the vow : in place of
myself, therefore, I entreat thee, my
dear and tried friend, that, for the
love you bear to me, you will under­
take this voyage, and acquit my soul

158                                  HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                        [Chap. IV.

of its debt to my Saviour; for I hold
this opinion of your truth and noble­
ness, that whatever you undertake I
am persuaded you will successfully
accomplish; and thus shall I die in
peace, provided that you do all that I
shall tell you. I will, then, that as
soon as I am dead, you take the heart
out of my body, and cause it to be
embalmed, and take as much of my
treasure as seems to you sufficient for
the expenses of your journey, both for
you and your companions; and that
you carry my heart along with you,
and deposit it in the Holy Sepulchre
of our Lord, since this poor body
cannot go thither. And it is my
command, that you do use that royal
state and maintenance in your journey,
both for yourself and your compan­
ions, that into whatever lands or cities
you may come, all may know that you
have in charge, to bear beyond seas,
the heart of King Robert of Scot­

“At these words, all who stood by
began to weep; and when Sir James
himself was able to reply, he said,—
' Ah ! most gentle and noble king, a
thousand times do I thank you for the
great honour you have done me, in
making me the depositary and bearer
of so great and precious a treasure.
Most faithfully and willingly, to the
best of my power, shall I obey your
commands, albeit I would have you
believe, that I think myself but little
worthy to achieve so high an enter­
prise,’ 'Ah! gentle knight,’ said the
king, 'I heartily thank you, provided
you promise to do my bidding on
the word of a true and loyal knight.’
'Assuredly, my liege, I do promise so,'
replied Douglas, ' by the faith which I
owe to God, and to the order of knight­
hood.’ 'Now praise be to God,’ said
the king, 'for I shall die in peace,
since I am assured that the best and
most valiant knight of my kingdom
has promised to achieve for me that
which I myself could never accom­
plish.’ And not long after, this noble
king departed this life.”1

At this or some other interview,

1 Froissart, vol. i. pp. 28, 29. Fordun a
Goodal, vol. ii. p. 300.

shortly before his death, Bruce de-
delivered to the Scottish barons his
last advice regarding the best mode of
conducting the war against England.
They concentrate, in a small compass,
the wisdom and experience which he
had gained during the whole course of
his protracted but glorious war; and
it is perhaps not too much to say that
there is no instance in their subse­
quent history in which the Scots have
sustained any signal defeat where it
cannot be traced to a departure from
some of the directions of what is
affectionately called the “ Good King
Robert’s Testament.” His injunc­
tions were, that the Scots in their
wars ought always to fight on foot;
that, instead of walls and garrisons,
they should use the mountains, the
morasses, and the woods; having for
arms the bow, the spear, and the bat­
tle-axe; driving their herds into the
narrowglens, and fortifying them there,
whilst they laid waste the plain coun­
try by fire, and compelled the enemy
to evacuate it. “ Let your scouts and
watches,” he concluded, “be vociferat­
ing through the night, keeping the
enemy in perpetual alarm; and worn
out with famine, fatigue, and appre­
hension, they will retreat as certainly
as if routed in battle.” Bruce did
not require to add that then was
[ the time for the Scots to commence
I their attacks, and to put in practice
that species of warfare which he had
taught them to use with such fatal
effect.2 Indeed, these are the princi­
ples of war which will in every age be
adopted by mountaineers in defence
of their country; and nearly five hun­
dred years after this, when a regular
Russian army invaded Persia, we find
Aga Mohammed Khan speaking to his
prime minister almost in the very
words of Bruce. “ Their shot shall
never reach me, but they shall possess
no country beyond its range; they
shall not know sleep, and let them

2 See the original leonine verses, with an
old Scots translation, taken from Hearne’s
Fordun, vol. iv. p. 1002, in Notes and Illus­
trations, letters BB. In the translation in the
text of the word “securis,” I have adopted
the suggestion of Mr Ridpath. in his Border
History, p. 290.

1329.]                                         ROBERT BRUCE.                                             159

march where they choose I will sur­
round them with a desert.1

Bruce undoubtedly belongs to that
race of heroic men, regarding whom
we are anxious to learn even the com­
monest particulars. But living at so
remote a period, the lighter shades and
touches which confer individuality are
lost in the distance. We only see,
through the mists which time has cast
around it, a figure of colossal pro­
portion, “ walking amid his shadowy
peers;" and it is deeply to be regretted
that the ancient chroniclers, whose
pencil might have brought him before
us as fresh and true as when he lived,
have disdained to notice many minute
circumstances with which we now seek
in vain to become acquainted; yet some
faint idea of his person may be gathered
from the few scattered touches pre­
served by these authors, and the greater
outlines of his character are too strongly
marked to escape us.

In his figure the king was tall and
well-shaped. Before broken down by
illness, and in the prime of life, he
stood nearly six feet high; his hair
curled closely and shortly round his
neck, which possessed that breadth and
thickness that belong to men of great
strength; he was broad-shouldered and
open-chested, and the proportion of
his limbs combined power with light­
ness and activity. These qualities
were increased not only by his constant
occupation in war, but by his fondness
for the chase and all manly amuse­
ments. It is not known whether he
was dark or fair complexioned; but
his forehead was low, his cheek-bones
strong and prominent, and the general
expression of his countenance open
and cheerful, although he was maimed
by a wound which had injured his
lower jaw. His manners were digni­
fied and engaging; after battle, nothing
could be pleasanter or more courteous;
and it is infinitely to his honour that
in a savage age, and smarting under
injuries which attacked him in his
kindest and tenderest relations, he
never abused a victory, but conquered
often as effectually by his generosity
and kindness as by his great military
Sketches in Persia, vol. ii. p. 210.

talents. We know, however, from his
interview with the Papal legates, that
when he chose to express displeasure
his look was stern and kingly, and at
once imposed silence and insured obe­
dience. He excelled in all the exer­
cises of chivalry, to such a degree,
indeed, that the English themselves
did not scruple to account him the
third best knight in Europe.2 His
memory was stored with the romances
of the period, in which he took great
delight. Their hairbreadth ’scapes
and perilous adventures were some­
times scarcely more wonderful than
his own; and he had early imbibed
from such works an appetite for Indi­
vidual enterprise and glory, which,
had it not been checked by a stronger
passion, the love of liberty might have
led him into fatal mistakes : it is quite
conceivable that Bruce, instead of a
great king, might, like Richard the
First, have become only a kingly

But from this error he was saved by
the love of his country, directed by
an admirable judgment, an unshaken
perseverance, and a vein of strong
good sense. It is here, although some
may think it the homeliest, that we
are to find assuredly the brightest
part of the character of the king. It
is these qualities which are especially
conspicuous in his long war for the
liberty of Scotland. They enabled
him to follow out his plans through
many a tedious year with undeviating
energy; to bear reverses, to calculate
his means, to wait for his opportuni­
ties, and to concentrate his whole
strength upon one great point, till it
was gained and secured to his country
for ever. Brilliant military talent and
consummate bravery have often been
found amongst men, and proved far
more of a curse than a blessing; but
rarely indeed shall we discover them
united to so excellent a judgment, con­
trolled by such perfect disinterested­
ness, and employed for so sacred an
end. There is but one instance on re­
cord where he seems to have thought
more of himself than of his people,3

2  Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 295.

3  See supra, p. 117.

160                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                        [Chap. V.

and even this, though rash, was he­

By his first wife, Isabella, the daugh­
ter of Donald, tenth Earl of Mar, he had
one daughter, Marjory. She married
Walter, the hereditary High Steward
of Scotland, and bore to him one son,
Robert Stewart, afterwards king, under
the title of Robert the Second. By his
second wife, Elizabeth, the daughter
of Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster,
he had one son, David, who succeeded
him, and two daughters, Elizabeth
and Margaret.

Immediately after the king’s death
his heart was taken out, as he had
himself directed. He was then buried
with great state and solemnity under
the pavement of the choir, in the
Abbey Church of Dunfermline, and
over the grave was raised a rich marble
monument, which was made at Paris.1

Centuries passed on, the ancient church,
with the marble monument, fell into
ruins, and a more modern building was
erected on the same site. This, in
our own days, gave way to time; and
in clearing the foundations for a third
church the workmen laid open a tomb,
which proved to be that of Robert the
Bruce. The lead coating in which the
body was found enclosed was twisted
round the head into the shape of a
rude crown. A rich cloth of gold, but
much decayed, was thrown over it;
and, on examining the skeleton, it was
found that the breast­bone had been
sawn asunder to get at the heart.2

There remained, therefore, no doubt,
that after the lapse of almost five hun­
dred years, his countrymen were per­
mitted, with a mixture of delight and
awe, to behold the very bones of their
great deliverer.

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