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Alexander the Third had not com­
pleted his eighth year, when the death
of the king, his father, on the 8th
July 1249, opened to him the peace­
able accession to the Scottish throne.1
He was accordingly conducted by an
assembly of the nobility to the Abbey
of Scone, and there crowned.2

A long minority, at all times an un­
happy event for a kingdom, was at
this time especially unfortunate for
Scotland. The vicinity of Henry the
Third of England, who, although in­
dividually a weak monarch, allowed
himself sometimes to be directed by
able and powerful counsellors, and the
divisions between the principal nobility
of Scotland, facilitated the designs of
ambition, and weakened the power of

1 Winton, vol. i. p. 380, book vii. chap. x.
Mathew Paris Hist. p. 770.

2 Alexander the Third was son of Alexan­
der the Second, by Mary, daughter of Ingel-
ram de Couci. Imhoff. Regum Pariumque
Magnæ Britt. Histor. Genealogica, part i. p.
42. The family of De Couci affected a royal
pomp, and considered all titles as beneath
their dignity. The Cri de Guerre of this In-
gelram, or Enguerrand, was—

Je ne suis Roy, ni Prince aussi.
Je suis le Seigneur de Couci.

On account of his brave actions, posses­
sions, and three marriages with ladies of royal
and illustrious families, he was surnamed Le
Grand.—Winton, vol. ii. p. 482.

resistance; nor can it be doubted, that
during the early part of this reign,
the first approaches were made towards
that great plan for the reduction of
Scotland, which was afterwards at­
tempted to be carried into effect by
Edward the First, and defeated by the
bravery of Wallace and Bruce. But
in order to shew clearly the state of
the kingdom upon the accession of this
monarch, and more especially in its
relations with England, it will be
necessary to go back a few years, to
recount a story of private revenge
which happened in the conclusion of
the reign of Alexander the Second,
(1242,) and drew after it important

A tournament, the frequent amuse­
ment of this warlike age, was held
near Haddington, on which occasion
Walter Bisset, a powerful baron who
piqued himself upon his skill in his
weapons, was foiled by Patrick, earl of
Athole.3 An old feud which existed
between these families embittered the
defeat; and Athole was found mur-

3 Henry, earl of Athole, had two daughters,
Isobel and Fernelith. Isobel married Thomas
of Galloway. Their only son was Patrick,
earl of Athole. Fernelith married David de
Hastings. — Hailes’ Annals, vol. i. p. 157.
Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 72. Math. Paris.
p. 586.


2                                       HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                          [Chap. I.

dered in his house, which, probably
for the purpose of concealment, was
set on fire by the assassins. The sus­
picion of this slaughter, which, even
in an age familiar with ferocity, seems
to have excited unwonted horror, im­
mediately fell upon the Bissets; and
although Walter was the person pre­
sent at the tournament, the popular
clamour pointed to William, the chief
of the family.1 He was pursued by
the nobility, who were incited to ven­
geance by the Earl of March and David
de Hastings; and would have been
torn to pieces, had not the interfer­
ence of the king protected him from
the fury of the friends of Athole.
Bisset strenuously asserted his inno­
cence. He offered to prove that he
had been fifty miles distant from Had-
dington when the murder was com­
mitted ; he instantly procured the sen-
tence of excommunication against the
assassins to be published in every
chapel in Scotland; he offered combat
to any man who dared abide the issue;
but he declined a trial by jury on
account of the inveterate malice of his
enemies. The king accepted the office
of judge : the Bissets were condemned,
their estates forfeited to the crown,
and they themselves compelled to
swear upon the Holy Gospel that they
would repair to Palestine, and there,
for the remaining days of their lives,
pray for the soul of the murdered

Walter Bisset, however, instead of
Jerusalem, sought the English court.2
There, by artfully representing to the
king that Alexander owed him fealty,
and that, as lord superior, he ought to
have been first consulted before judg­
ment was given, whilst he described
Scotland as the ally of France and the
asylum of his expatriated rebels,3 he

1 Lord Hailes remarks, vol. i. p. 157, that
Fordun says the author of the conspiracy was
Walter. Fordun, on the contrary, all along
ascribes it, or rather says it was ascribed, to
William Bisset.—Fordun a Gloodal, vol. ii,
pp. 72-74. The name of the Bisset banished
from Scotland, as shewn in the Patent Rolls
of Henry the Third, is Walter.

2  Chronicon Melross a Stevenson. Ban-
natyne edition, p. 156.

3  Math. Paris, pp. 643, 645. Speed’s Chro­
nicle, p. 527. Speed ascribes the disagree­
ment between Henry and Alexander to the

contrived to inflame the passion of the
English monarch to so high a pitch,
that Henry determined on an imme­
diate invasion. Nor was the temper
with which Alexander received this
information in any way calculated to
promote conciliation. To the com­
plaints of the King of England, that
he had violated the duty which he
owed to him as his Lord Paramount,
the Scottish monarch is said to have
answered, that he neither did, nor ever
would, consent to hold from the King
of England the smallest portion of his
kingdom of Scotland. His reply was
warmly seconded by the spirit of his
nobility. They fortified the castles on
the marches; and the king soon found
himself at the head of an army of
i nearly a hundred thousand foot and a
thousand horse. Henry, on the other
hand, led into the field a large body of
troops, with which he proceeded to
Newcastle. The accoutrements and
discipline of these two powerful hosts,
which were commanded by kings, and
included the flower of the nobility of
both countries, are highly extolled by
Mathew Paris.4 The Scottish cavalry,
according to his account, were a fine
body of men, and well mounted, al­
though their horses were neither of
the Spanish nor Italian breed; and the
horsemen were clothed in armour of
iron network. In the number of its
cavalry the English army far surpassed
its rival force, including a power of
five thousand men-at-arms, sumptu­
ously accoutred. These armies came
in sight of each other at a place in
Northumberland called Ponteland; and
the Scots prepared for battle, by con­
fessing themselves to their priests, and
expressing to each other their readi­
ness to die in defence of the indepen­
dence of their country. As Alexander,

influence of Ingelram de Couci; and adds,
that on the death of this nobleman, the hu­
of battle—this is Nym’s phrase—ceased.
De Couci, in passing a river on horseback,
was unseated, dragged in the stirrup, run
through the body with his own lance, and

4 M. Paris, p. 645. Chron. Melross, p. 156.
Rapin is in an error when he says, vol. i. p. 318,
that Alexander sent Henry word, he meant
no longer to do him homage for the lands he
held in England.

1249-51.]                                 ALEXANDER III.                                                3

however, was much beloved in Eng­
land, the nobility of that country coldly
seconded the rash enterprise of their
king, and shewed no anxiety to hurry
into hostilities. Richard, earl of Corn­
wall, brother to Henry, and the Arch­
bishop of York, thought this a favour­
able moment for proposing an armis­
tice; and, by their endeavours, such
great and solemn preparations ended
in a treaty of peace, without a lance
being put in rest. Its terms were just,
and favourable to both countries.1

Henry appears prudently to have
waved all demand of homage from
Alexander for the kingdom of Scot­
land; and the Scottish monarch, on
the other hand, who possessed land in
England for which, although the Eng­
lish historians assert the contrary, he
does not appear to have ever refused
homage, consented, for himself and his
heirs, to maintain fidelity and affection
to Henry and his heirs, as his liege
lord, and not to enter into any league
with the enemies of England, except
in the case of unjust oppression. It
was also stipulated, that the peace for­
merly signed at York, in the presence
of Otto, the Pope’s legate, should stand
good; and that the proposal there
made, of a marriage between the daugh­
ter of the King of England and the
son of the King of Scots, should be
carried into effect. Alan Durward, at
this time the most accomplished knight
and the best military leader in Scot­
land, Henry de Baliol, and David de
Lindesay, with other knights and pre­
lates, then swore on the soul of their
lord the king, that the treaty should
be kept inviolate by him and his

Thus ended this expedition of
Henry’s into Scotland, formidable in
its commencement, but happy and
bloodless in its result; 3 and such was
the relative situation of the two

1  Rymer, vol. i. pp. 374, 428. Rapin’s Acta
Regia, by Whately, vol. i. p. 28.

2 The original charter granted to Henry by
Alexander may be found in Mathew Paris,
p. 646, and in Rymer, Fœd. vol. i. p. 428.
See Illustrations, A. It is curious, as shew
ing the state of the Scottish peerage in 1244.
Neither Lesley nor Buchanan take any notice
of this expedition and treaty.

3  Tyrrel, History of England, vol. ii. p. 930.

countries when Alexander the Third,
yet a boy in his eighth year, mounted
the Scottish throne.

The mode in which the ceremony
of his coronation was performed, is
strikingly illustrative of the manners
of that age. The Bishops of St An­
drews and Dunkeld, with the Abbot
of Scone, attended to officiate; but
an unexpected difficulty arose. Alan
Durward, the great Justiciary, re­
marked that the king ought not to
be crowned before he was knighted,
and that the day fixed for the ceremony
was unlucky. The objection was sel­
fish, and arose from Durward, who
was then at the head of the Scottish
chivalry, expecting that the honour
of knighting Alexander would fall
upon himself.4 But Comyn, earl of
Menteith, insisted that there were
frequent examples of the consecration
of kings before the solemnity of their
knighthood; he represented that the
Bishop of St Andrews might perform
both ceremonies; he cited the in­
stance of William Rufus having been
knighted by Lanfranc, archbishop of
Canterbury; and he earnestly urged
the danger of delay. Nor was this
danger ideal. Henry the Third, in a
letter to Rome, had artfully repre­
sented Scotland as a fief of England;
and had requested the Pope to iuter-
dict the ceremony of the coronation
until Alexander obtained the permis­
sion of his feudal superior.5 Fortu­
nately the patriotic arguments of the
Earl of Menteith prevailed. The
Bishop of St Andrews girded the king
with the belt of knighthood, and ex­
plained to him the respective oaths
which were to be taken by himself
and his subjects, first in Latin, and
afterwards in Norman French.6 They
then conducted the boy to the regal
chair, or sacred stone of Scone, which
stood before the cross in the eastern
division of the chapel. Upon this he
sat: the crown was placed on his head,
the sceptre in his hand; he was in­
vested with the royal mantle ; and the

4  Fordun a Hearne, p. 759.

5  Hailes, vol. i. p. 162. Rymer, vol. i. p.

6 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 81.

4                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                      [Chap. I.

nobility, kneeling in homage, threw
their robes beneath his feet. A High-
land sennachy or bard, of great age,
clothed in a scarlet mantle, with hair
venerably white, then advanced from
the crowd; and, bending before the
throne, repeated, in his native tongue,
the genealogy of the youthful mon­
arch, deducing his descent from the
fabulous Gathelus. It is difficult to
believe that, even in those days of
credulity, the nobility could digest
the absurdities of this savage genea­

Henry the Third, at this time in­
fluenced by the devotional spirit of
the age, had resolved on an expedi­
tion to the Holy Land; and in order
to secure tranquillity to his dominions
on the side of Scotland, the marriage
formerly agreed on, between his daugh­
ter Margaret and the young Scottish
king, was solemnised at York on
Christmas day with much splendour
and dignity.2 The guests at the bridal
were the King and Queen of Eng­
land; Mary de Couci, queen-dowager
of Scotland, who had come from
France, with a train worthy of her
high rank; 3 the nobility, and the
dignified clergy of both countries, and
in their suite a numerous assemblage
of vassals. A thousand knights, in
robes of silk, attended the bride on
the morn of her nuptials; and after
some days spent in tournaments, feast­
ing, and other circumstances of feudal
revelry, the youthful couple, neither
of whom had reached their eleventh
year, set out for Scotland. “ Were
I,” says Mathew Paris, in one of those
bursts of monastic eloquence which
diversify his annals, “to explain at
length the abundance of the feasts,

1 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. pp. 80-82.
Chron. Melross, p. 219. Lord Hailes has
omitted the anecdote of the Highland sen-
nachy ; but there seems no reason to doubt
its authenticity. It was probably relying on
this story that Nisbet has asserted, (Heraldry,
vol. ii. p. iv. p. 155.) that it was a part of the
coronation ceremony to repeat six genera­
tions of the king’s ancestry. Martin’s Western
Isles, p. 241.

2 Math. Paris, p. 829. Rymer, vol. i. p.
466. Fordun a Hearne, pp. 761, 762.

3 Rymer, vol. i. edit. 1816, p. 278. Fordun
a Hearne, p, 762.

the variety and the frequent changes
of the vestments, the delight and the
plaudits occasioned by the jugglers,
and the multitude of those who sat
down to meat, my narrative would
become hyperbolical, and might pro­
duce irony in the hearts of the absent.
I shall only mention, that the arch­
bishop, who, as the great prince of the
North, shewed himself a most serene
host to all comers, made a donation
of six hundred oxen, which were all
spent upon the first course ; and from
this circumstance, I leave you to form
a parallel judgment of the rest.” 4

In the midst of these festivities, a
circumstance of importance occurred.
When Alexander performed homage
for the lands which he held in Eng­
land, Henry, relying upon the facility
incident to his age, artfully proposed
that he should also render fealty for
his kingdom of Scotland. But the
boy, either instructed beforehand, or
animated with a spirit and wisdom
above his years, replied, “ That he had
come into England upon a joyful and
pacific errand, and that he would not
treat upon so arduous a question with­
out the advice of the states of his
kingdom; “ upon which the king dis­
sembled his mortification, and the
ceremony proceeded.5

Alan Durward, who, as High Justi-
ciar, was the Scottish king’s chief
counsellor, had married the natural
sister of Alexander; and, during the
rejoicings at York, was accused, by
Comyn, earl of Menteith, and William,
earl of Mar, of a design against the
crown. The ground on which this
accusation rested, was an attempt of
Durward, in which he was seconded
by the Scottish chancellor,6 to procure
from the court of Rome the legitima­
tion of his wife, in order, said his
accusers, that his children should suc­
ceed to the crown, if the king hap­
pened to die without heirs. From the
ambitious and intriguing character of

4  Math. Paris, p. 830. Winton, book vii.
chap. x. vol. i. p. 383.

5  Math. Paris, p. 829. Rapin’s History,
by Tindal, vol. iii. p. 392, 8vo.

6 Fordun a Hearne, p. 762. Chron. Mel­
ross, p. 179. Winton, vol. i., book vii. chap.
x. p. 384.


ALEXANDER III.                                                5

Durward, this story probably had some
foundation in fact, and certain persons
who were accused, actually fled from
York; upon which Henry made a new
appointment of guardians to the young
king, at the head of whom were placed
the Earls of Menteith and Mar.

The peace of Scotland was for many
years after this interrupted by that
natural jealousy of England, so likely
to rise in a kingdom its equal in the
sense of independence, although its
inferior in national strength. Henry,
too, adopted measures not calculated
to secure the confidence of the Scottish
people. He sent into Scotland, under
the name of guardian to the king,
Geoffry de Langley, a rapacious noble,
who was immediately expelled. He
procured Innocent the Fourth to grant
him a twentieth of the ecclesiastical
revenues of that kingdom, nominally
for the aid of the Holy Land, but
really for his own uses; and he de­
spatched Simon de Montfort, the Earl
of Leicester, on a mission, described
as secret in his instructions,1 but the
object of which may be conjectured
from the increasing animosity of the
disputes between the Scottish nobility.
Many English attendants, some of them
persons of rank and consequence, ac­
companied Margaret into her new
kingdom; and between these intruders
and the ancient nobility of Scotland,
who fiercely asserted their privileges,
disputes arose, which soon reached the
ears of the English court. The young
queen, accustomed to the indulgence
and superior refinement of her father’s
court, bitterly lamented that she was
immured in a dismal fortress, without
being permitted to have her own at­
tendants around her person, or allowed
to enjoy the society of her husband,
the king.2

These complaints, which appear to
have been highly exaggerated, and a
still more horrid report that the queen’s
physician had been poisoned by the
same party because he ventured to
remonstrate against the confinement
of his mistress, were not lost upon
Alan Durward, the late justiciar. He

1 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. i, p. 523.
Math. Paris, p. 908.

had accompanied Henry in his expe­
dition to Guienne, where, by his
courage and address, he regained the
confidence of that capricious monarch;
and he now prevailed upon the king
to despatch the Earl of Gloucester
and Maunsell his chief secretary, to
the Scottish court, for the purpose of
dismissing those ministers who were
found not sufficiently obsequious to
England.4 In sending these noblemen
upon this mission, Henry solemnly
engaged to attempt nothing against
the person of the Scottish king, and
never to insist upon his being disin­
herited, or upon the dissolution of the
marriage settlement;5 promises, the
particular history of which is involved
in much obscurity, but which strongly,
though generally, demonstrate, that
the English king had been accused of
designs inimical to the honour and
independence of Scotland. At the
head of the party which steadily op­
posed the interested schemes of Henry,
was Walter Comyn, earl of Menteith,
whose loyalty we have seen insisting
on the speedy coronation of the young
king, when it was attempted to be
deferred by Alan Durward. Many of
the principal nobility, and some of the
best and wisest of the clergy, were
found in the same ranks.

The Earl of Gloucester and his asso­
ciates accordingly repaired to Scot­
land; and, in concert with the Earls
of Dunbar, Strathern, and Carrick,
surprised the castle of Edinburgh,
relieved the royal couple from the real
or pretended durance in which they
were held, and formally conducted
them to the bridal chamber, although
the king was yet scarcely fourteen
years of age.6 English influence ap­
pears now to have been predominant ;
and Henry, having heard of the suc­
cess of his forerunners Maunsell and
Gloucester, and conceiving that the
time was come for the reduction of
Scotland under his unfettered control,
issued his writs to his military tenants,

3 Chron. Melross, p. 183.

4  Rymer, Fœdera, vol. i. pp. 558, 559.
See Illustrations, B.

5  Rymer, vol. i. p. 559.

6 Math. Paris, p. 908. Fordun a Goodal,
vol. ii. p. 90, book x. chap. ix.

6                                       HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                           [Chap. I.

and assembled a numerous army. As
he led this array towards the borders,
he took care to conceal his real inten­
tions, by directing, from Newcastle, a
declaration, that in this progress to
visit his dear son Alexander, he should
attempt nothing prejudicial to the
rights of the king, or the liberties
of Scotland.1 In the meantime, the
Comyns collected their forces, and the
opposite faction suddenly removed the
king and queen to Roxburgh, in which
castle Alexander received Henry, who
conducted him, with pomp and accla­
mation, to the Abbey of Kelso. The
government of Scotland was there
remodelled; a new set of counsellors
appointed; and the party of the
Comyns, with John Baliol and Robert
de Ross, completely deprived of their
political influence. In the instruments
drawn up upon this occasion, some
provisions were inserted, which were
loudly complained of as derogatory to
the dignity of the kingdom; the abet­
tors of England were stigmatized as
conspirators, who were equally obnox­
ious to prelates, barons, and burgesses;
and the Bishop of Glasgow, the Bishop
elect of St Andrews, the chancellor,
and the Earl of Menteith, indignantly
refused to affix their seals to a deed,
which, as they asserted, compromised
the liberties of the country.2

A regency was now appointed,
which included the whole of the
clergy and the nobility who were
favourable to England,3 to whom were
intrusted the custody of the king’s
person, and the government of the
realm for seven years, till Alexander
had reached the age of twenty-one.
Henry assumed to himself the title of

1 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. i. pp. 560, 561. The
instrument is dated 25th August 1255.

2  The Chronicle of Melrose, p. 181, calls
the deed “nefandissimum scriptum.” See
Fordun a Goodal, book x. chap. ix. Winton,
book vii. chap. x. vol. i. p. 385.

3  Richard Inverkeithen bishop of Dunkeld,
Peter de Ramsay bishop of Aberdeen, Mal­
colm earl of Fife, Patrick earl of Dunbar or
March, Malise earl of Strathern, and Nigel
earl of Carrick, Walter de Moray, David de
Lindesay, William de Brechin, Robert de
Meyners, Gilbert de Hay, and Hugh Gifford
de Yester, were the heads of the English |
party. Rymer, Fœdera, vol. i. pp. 565-567.

“ principal counsellor to the illustrious
King of Scotland;” and the Comyns,
with Bishop Gamelin, the Earl of Mar,
Baliol, Ross, and their chief accom­
plices, were removed from all share in
the government of the kingdom.4

Alexander, upon his part, engaged
to treat his young queen with all
honour and affection; and the Earl of
Dunbar, according to a common solem­
nity of this age, swore upon the soul
of the king, that every article of the
agreement should be faithfully per­
formed. Thus ended a negotiation
conducted entirely by English influ­
ence; and which, although the ambi­
tion of the Comyns may have given
some plausible colour to the designs
of their enemies, was generally and
justly unpopular in Scotland.5 Alex­
ander and his queen now repaired to
Edinburgh; and Henry, after having
attempted to recruit his exhausted
coffers, by selling a pardon to John
de Baliol, and confiscating the estates
of Robert de Ross, returned to com­
mit new attacks upon the property of
his English subjects.6

Upon his departure, Scotland be­
came the scene of civil faction and
ecclesiastical violence. There were at
this time in that kingdom thirty­two
knights and three powerful earls of
the name of Comyn;7 and these, with

4 Rotul. Patent. 39 Hen. III. m. 2, in pro-
tectionibus duabus pro Eugenio de Ergadia.

5 Winton, book vii. chap, x.—
Thare wes made swylk ordynans,
That wes gret grefe and displesans
Till of Scotland ye thre statis,
Burgcns, Barownys, and Prelatis.

Nothing can be more slight or inaccurate
than the account of the early transactions of
Alexanders reign, to be found in Buchanan,
Boece, and Major. Nor are our more modern his­
torians, who have not submitted to the task of
examining the original authorities, free from
the same fault. Maitland gives almost a
transcript of Buchanan. Lingard, the author
of a valuable history of England, has advanced
opinions regarding the conduct of Henry the
Third and the once keenly-contested subject
of homage, which do not appear to me to be
well founded: and even Hailes has not ex­
posed, in sufficiently strong colours, that
cunning and ambition in the English king,
which, under the mask of friendship and
protection, concealed a design against the
liberties of the kingdom.

6 Mathew Paris, p. 911.

7 Fordun a Goodal. vol. ii. p. 92.

1256-59.]                                  ALEXANDER III.                                                7

their armed vassals, assisted by many
of the disgraced nobility, formed an
effectual check upon the measures of
the regency. Gamelin, the Bishop
elect of St Andrews, and the steady
enemy of English influence, unawed
by his late removal, procured himself
to be consecrated by the Bishop of
Glasgow : and although placed with­
out the protection of the laws, he yet,
in an appeal to the court of Rome,
induced the pope to excommunicate
his accusers, and to declare him worthy
of his bishopric.1 Henry, enraged at
the bold opposition of Gamelin, pro­
hibited his return, and issued orders
to arrest him if he attempted to land
in England; while the regents per­
formed their part in the persecution,
by seizing the rich revenues of his

In the midst of these scenes of fac­
tion and disturbance, the King and
Queen of Scotland proceeded to Lon­
don on a visit to their father, and
were received with great magnificence.
They were entertained at Oxford,
Woodstock, and in London. Tents
were raised in the meadows for the
accommodation of their followers;
and Henry renewed to Alexander a
grant of the honour of Huntingdon,
which had been held by some of
his predecessors.3 The party of the
Comyns, however, were slowly regain­
ing ground. The pope, by his judg­
ment in favour of Gamelin, espoused
their quarrel; and they soon received
a powerful support in Mary de Couci,
the widow of Alexander the Second,
and John of Acre her husband, who
at this time passed through England
into Scotland.4 This was indeed a
favourable conjuncture by the dele­
gates of the pope, to publish the sen­
tence of excommunication against the
counsellors of the king. The cere­
mony, in those days an affair of awful
moment, was performed by the Bishop
of Dumblane, and the Abbots of Jed-
burgh and Melrose, in the abbey

1 Chron. Melross, p. 181. Hailes, vol. i. p.
170, 4to.
Rymer, Fœd. vol. i. p. 652.
Math. Paris, p. 930.
Rymer, vol. i. p. G25.

church of Cambuskenneth, and re­
peated, “ by bell and candle,” in every
chapel in the kingdom.5

To follow this up, the Comyns now
assembled in great strength : they de­
clared that the government of the
kingdom had been shamefully mis­
managed,—that foreigners were pro­
moted to the highest offices,—that
their sovereign was detained in the
hands of excommunicated and ac­
cursed persons,—and that an inter­
dict would soon be fulminated against
the whole kingdom.6 Finding that
their party increased in weight and
popularity, they resorted to more
desperate measures. Under cover of
night they attacked the court of the
king, which was then held at Kinross;
seized the young monarch in his bed ;
carried him and his queen before
morning to Stirling; made themselves
masters of the great seal of the king­
dom ; and totally dispersed the oppo­
site faction. Nor were they remiss in
strengthening their interest by foreign
alliance. They entered into a remark­
able treaty with Wales—at this time
the enemy of England—which, with a
wisdom scarcely to be looked for in
those rude times, included in its pro­
visions some important regulations
regarding the commerce of both coun­

Alan Durward meanwhile precipi­
tately fled to England;8 and the
Comyns, eager to press their advan­
tage to the utmost, assembled their
forces, and marched with the king
against the English party. A nego­
tiation at length took place at Rox­
burgh ; and the nobility and principal
knights, who had leagued with Henry,
engaged to submit themselves to the
king and the laws, and to settle all
disputes in a conference to be held at
Forfar. This was merely an artifice
to gain time, for they immediately
fled to England; and the Earls of
Hereford and Albemarle, along with
John de Baliol, soon after repaired
to Melrose, where the Scottish king

5 Chron. Melross, p. 182.

6  See Illustrations, C.

7  Ibid. D.

8 Chron. Melross, p. 182.

8                                       HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                           [Chap. I.

awaited the arrival of his army. Their
avowed purpose was to act as media­
tors between the two factions : their
real intention to seize, if possible, the
person of the king, and to carry him
into England.1 But the plot was
suspected; and Alexander, with the
Comyns, defeated all hopes of its suc­
cess, by appointing for the scene of
their conference the forest of Jed-
burgh, in which a great part of his
troops had already assembled.

The two English earls, therefore,
resumed their more pacific design of
negotiation. It was difficult and pro­
tracted ; so that, in the interval, the
king and the Comyns, having time to
collect a large force, found themselves
in a situation to insist upon terms
which were alike favourable to their
own power and to the liberty of
the country. The King of England
was compelled to dissemble his ani­
mosity, to forget his bitter opposition
against Bishop Gamelin, and to re­
serve to some other opportunity all
reference to the obnoxious treaty of
Roxburgh. A new regency was ap­
pointed, which left the principal power
in the hands of the queen-mother and
of the Comyns, but endeavoured to
reconcile the opposite parties, by in­
cluding in its numbers four of the
former regents.2 Meanwhile the
country, torn by contending factions,
was gradually reduced to a state of
great misery. Men forgot their re­
spect for the kingly authority, and
despised the restraint of the laws;
the higher nobles enlisted under one
or other of the opposite parties, plun­
dered the lands and slew the retainers
of their rival barons ; churches were
violated, castles and hamlets razed to
the ground, and the regular returns
of seed-time and harvest interrupted
by the flames of private war. In
short, the struggle to resist English
interference was fatal, for the time, to
the prosperity of the kingdom ; and
what Scotland gained in independence,
she lost in improvement and national

1 Chron. Melross, p. 183.

2 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. i. p. 670.

3 Fordun a Groodal, vol. ii, p. 85.

At this crisis, when they had effec­
tually succeeded in diminishing, if not
destroying, the English influence, the
Comyns lost the leader whose courage
and energy were the soul of their coun­
cils. Walter Comyn, earl of Menteith,
died suddenly. It was reported in Eng­
land that his death was occasioned by
a fall from his horse;4 but a darker
story arose in Scotland. The Countess
of Menteith had encouraged a criminal
passion for an English baron named
Russel,5 and was openly accused of
having poisoned her husband to make
way for her paramour, whom she mar­
ried with indecent haste. Insulted
and disgraced, she and her husband
were thrown into prison, despoiled of
their estates, and at last compelled to
leave the kingdom.6

Encouraged by the death of his op­
ponent, and anxious to regain his lost
influence, the English king now became
desirous that Alexander and his queen
should pay him a visit at London; and
for this purpose he sent William de
Horton, a monk of St Albans, on a
secret mission into Scotland. Horton
arrived at the period when the king
and his nobles were assembled in coun­
cil, and found them jealous of this per­
petual interference of England. They
deemed these visits incompatible with
the independence of the country; and
the messenger of Henry met with great
opposition.7 The nature of the mes­
sage increased this alarm. It was a
request that Alexander and his queen
should repair to London, to treat of
matters of great importance, but which
were not communicated to the parlia­
ment; and it was not surprising that
the nobility, profiting by former expe­
rience, should have taken precautions
against any sinister designs of Henry.

4 Math. Paris, p. 660.

5  Buchanan, copying Boece, as he generally
does, calls Russel” ignobilis Anglus. But I
suspect that the paramour of the countess
was John Russel, one of the witnesses, in
1220, who signs the agreement for the mar­
riage of Johanna, sister of Henry the Third,
to Alexander the Second, giving his obliga­
tion to Alexander for the fulfilment of the
treaty, and who could not be an obscure indi­
vidual. Fœdera, vol. i. p. 240.

6 Hailes’ Hist. vol. i. p. 172, 4to.

7  Math. Paris, p. 985.

1259-63.]                                 ALEXANDER III.                                                9

Accordingly, the Earl of Buchan, Dur-
ward the Justiciar, and the Chancellor
Wishart, were in their turn despatched
upon a secret mission into England;
and the result was, that Alexander and
his queen consented to visit London,
under two conditions: first, an express
stipulation was made that, during their
stay at court, neither the king, nor any
of his attendants, were to be required to
treat of state affairs; and, secondly, an
oath was to be taken by the English
monarch, that if the Queen of Scot­
land became pregnant, or if she gave
birth to a child during her absence,
neither the mother nor the infant
should be detained in England;1 so
great, at this moment, in the minds of
the Scottish nobility, was the jealousy
of English ambition and intrigue.

In fulfilment of this promise, the
King of Scotland repaired with a con­
course of his nobility to the court of
England; and left his queen, whose
situation now speedily promised an
heir to the Scottish throne, to follow
him, by slow stages, with the Bishop
of Glasgow. On her approach to St
Albans, she was met by her younger
brother Edmund, who received her
with a splendid retinue, and conducted
her in the morning to London. The
object of this visit of Alexander was
not solely to gratify the King of Eng­
land. He was anxious to exercise his
rights over the territory of Hunting­
don, which he held of the English
crown; and the payment of his wife’s
portion had been so long delayed, that
he wished to reclaim the debt. The
reception of the royal persons appears
to have been unusually magnificent;
and the country round the court was
greatly exhausted by the sumptuous
entertainments, and the intolerable ex­
penses which they demanded.2 In the
midst of these festivities, the queen
drew near her time; and, at the press­
ing instance of her father, it was agreed
that she should lie-in at the court of
England : not, however, without a re­
newed stipulation, sworn upon the soul
of the king, that the infant, in the

1   Rymer, Fœdera, vol. i. pp. 713, 714.
Math. Westminster, p. 376.

2  Math. Westminster, p. 376.

event of the death of its mother or of
Alexander, should be delivered to an
appointed body of the Scottish no­

Having secured this, Alexander re­
turned to his kingdom; and in the
month of February 1261 his young
queen was delivered at Windsor of a
daughter, Margaret, afterwards mar­
ried to Eric, king of Norway.3

In the beginning of the following
year, Henry seems to have interposed
his good offices to prevent a rupture
between Alexander and Haco, king of
Norway, regarding the possession of the
Western Islands, the petty chiefs of
which had for a long period been feuda­
tory to the Norwegian crown.4 Their
habits of constant war and piratical ex­
cursion had at this time rendered the
Norwegians a formidable people; and
their near vicinity to Scotland en­
abled them, at a very early period, to
overspread the whole of the Western
Archipelago. The little sovereignties
of these islands, under the protection
of a warlike government, appear to
have been in a flourishing condition.
They were crowded with people; and
the useful and ornamental arts were
carried in them to a higher degree of
perfection than in the other European
countries. A poet of the north, in
describing a dress unusually gorgeous,
adds, that it was spun by the Sudre-
yans.5 And even in science and litera­
ture, this remarkable people had, in
their colonies especially, attained to
no inconsiderable distinction.6

The vicinity of such enterprising
neighbours was particularly irksome to
the Scottish kings, and they anxiously
endeavoured to get possession of these
islands. When treaty failed, they en­
couraged their subjects of Scotland to
invade them; and Alan, lord of Gal­
loway, assisted by Thomas, earl of

3  Math. Westminster, p. 377. The Chron.
Melross, p. 185, places her birth in the year
1260. She certainly was not born as late as
the 16th November 1260.

4  Macpherson’s Geographical Illustrations
of Scottish History, under the word “ His.”
A valuable work.

5  Johnstone’s Lodbrokar-Quida, stanza xv.
and explanatory note.

6 Macpherson’s Illustrations, ut supra,
voce “ His.”

10                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                          [Chap. I.

Athole, about thirty years before this, I
carried on a successful war against
the isles, and expelled Olaf the Black,
king of Man, from his dominions.1
These Scottish chiefs had collected a
large fleet, with a proportionably nu­
merous army; and it required all the
exertions of the Norwegian king to
re-establish his vassal on his island
throne. After this, the authority of
Norway became gradually more and
more precarious throughout the isles.
Some of the chiefs were compelled,
others induced by motives of interest,
to renounce their allegiance, and to
embrace the nearer superiority of
Scotland: some, who held lands of
both crowns, were uncertain to whom
they should pay their paramount al­
legiance; and Alexander the Second,
the immediate predecessor of Alex­
ander the Third, after an unsuccessful
attempt at negotiation, prepared an
expedition for their complete reduc­
tion. The expressions used in threat­
ening this invasion may convince us
that the Norwegians had not only ac­
quired the sovereignty of the isles,
but had established themselves upon
the mainland of Scotland; for the
Scottish king declares, “ that he will
not desist till he hath set his standard
upon the cliffs of Thurso, and subdued
all that the King of Norway possessed
to the westward of the German
Ocean.”2 Alexander the Second,
however, lived only to conduct his
fleet and army to the shores of Argyle-
shire; and, on the king’s death, the
object of the expedition was aban­

During the minority of Alexander
the Third, all idea of reducing the
isles seems to have been abandoned;

1  Johnstone, Antiquitates Celto-Norman-
nicæ, p. 30. See also a Memoir, by Mr Dil­
lon, in the Transactions of the Society of
Scottish Antiquaries, p. 356, vol. ii. p. 2.
The fleet of Earl Alan alone consisted of 150
ships : small craft, of course, but formidable
in piratic warfare.

2  Chronicle of Man, p. 43.

3 Math. Paris, p. 770. Mathew describes
Alexander as having sailed on this expedi­
tion, for the purpose of compelling Angus of
Argyle to do him homage for certain lands
which were held of Norway : Alexander's ob­
ject was to compel all the vassals of Norway
to renounce their allegiance.

but when the king was no longer a
boy, the measure was seriously re­
sumed ; and after an unsuccessful
embassy to the Norwegian court,4 the
Earl of Ross and other island chiefs
were induced to invade the reguli, or
petty kings of the Hebrides, in the
western seas. Their exp dition was
accompanied with circumstances of
extreme cruelty. The ketherans and
soldiers of the isles, if we may believe
the Norwegian Chronicles, not content
with the sack of villages and the plun­
der of churches, in their wanton fury
raised the children on the points of
their spears, and shook them till they
fell down to their hands : barbarities
which might be thought incredible,
were we not acquainted with the horrid
atrocities which, even in our own days,
have accompanied piratic warfare.5

Such conduct effectually roused
Haco, the Norwegian king. He de­
termined to revenge the injuries
offered to his vassals, and immediately
issued orders for the assembling of a
fleet and army, whilst he repaired in
person to Bergen to superintend the
preparations for the expedition. The
magnitude of these spread an alarm
even upon the coasts of England. It
was reported, that the Kings of Den­
mark and Norway, with an overwhelm­
ing fleet, had bent their course against
the Scottish islands; 6 and although
the apparent object of Haco was no­
thing more than the protection of his
vassals, yet the final destination of so
powerful an armament was anxiously

On the 7th of July, the fleet set sail
from Herlover. The king commanded
in person. His ship, which had been
built at Bergen, was entirely of oak,
of great dimensions,7 and ornamented

4 Chronicle of Man, p. 45.

5 The Chronicle of Man, p. 45, says the
Earl of Ross was assisted by Kearnach and
the son of Macalmal. Macalmal is conjec­
tured to be Macdonald. Who was Kearnach ?
As to the inhuman practice mentioned in the
text, see Johnstone, Notes to the Norwegian

6 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. i. p. 772. Letter
from Ralph de Nevil, captain of Bamborough

7 Norse Account of this Expedition, with
its translation, published by Johnstone, p. 25.

1263.]                                        ALEXANDER III.                                              11

with richly-carved dragons, overlaid
with gold. Everything at first seemed
to favour the expedition. It was mid­
summer, the day was fine, and in­
numerable flags and pennons flaunted
in the breeze; the decks were crowded
with knights and soldiers, whose ar­
mour glittered in the sun; and the
armament, which was considered as the
most powerful and splendid that had
ever sailed from Norway, bore away
with a light wind for Shetland, which
it reached in two days.1 Haco thence
sailed to Orkney, where he proposed
to separate his forces into two divi­
sions, and to send one of these to
plunder in the Firth of Forth; whilst
he himself remained in reserve, with
his largest ships and the greater
part of his army, in Orkney. It
happened, however, that the higher
vassals and retainers, who appear to
have had a powerful influence in
the general direction of the expedi­
tion, refused to go anywhere with­
out the king himself; and this pro­
ject was abandoned.2 The fleet,
therefore, directed its course to the
south; and, after being joined by a
small squadron which had previously
been despatched to the westward,3
Haco conducted his ships into the bay
of Ronaldsvoe, and sent messengers to
the neighbouring coast of Caithness to
levy contributions. This country, ex­
posed from its situation to perpetual
piratic invasions, was, as we have seen,
in 1249 under the dominion of Nor­
way. But this did not long continue.
The exertions of the Scottish govern­
ment had succeeded in reducing the
inhabitants; hostages were exacted for
their fidelity; and now we find this
remote district in the state of a Scot­
tish province, exposed to the exactions
of Norway.

No aid, however, appeared from Scot­
land; and the Caithnessians quietly

According to this work, Haco’s ship had
twenty-seven banks of oars ; that is, twenty-
seven seats for the rowers.

1 Norse Account of the Expedition, pp. 38,
39. It calls it a mighty and splendid arma­
ment. Haco anchored in Breydeyiar Sound.

2 Norse Account, p. 43.
Observations on the Norwegian Expedi­
tion, Antiquarian Transactions, vol. ii. p. 363.

submitted to the tribute which Haco
imposed upon them. It is remarked
by the Norwegian Chronicle, that
when their king lay with his fleet in
Ronaldsvoe, “a great darkness drew
over the sun, so that only a little ring
was bright round his orb.” The
ancient historian thus unconsciously
afforded to modern science the means
of exactly ascertaining the date of this
great expedition. The eclipse was cal­
culated, and it was found to have taken
place on the 5th of August 1263,4 and
to have been annular at Ronaldsvoe
in Orkney: a fine example of the
clear and certain light reflected by the
exact sciences upon history. Early in
August, the king sailed across the
Pentland Firth, having left orders for
the Orkney men to follow him when
their preparations were completed;
thence he proceeded by the Lewes to
the Isle of Skye, where he was joined
by Magnus, the lord of Man; and
from this holding on to the Sound of
Mull, he met Dugal and other Hebri-
dean chiefs with their whole forces.

The united armament of Haco now
amounted to above a hundred vessels,
most of them large, all well provided
with men and arms; and, on the junc­
tion of the fleet, the business of
piracy commenced. A division of the
forces first took place.5 A squadron
of fifty ships, under Magnus and
Dugal, was sent to plunder in the
Mull of Kantire; five ships were de­
spatched for the same purpose to
Bute; and the king himself, with the
rest of the fleet, remained at Gigha, a
little island between the coast of
Kantire and Islay. He was here met
by King John, one of the island chiefs,
whom Alexander the Second had in
vain attempted to seduce from his
fidelity to Norway. John was now,
however, differently situated; and a
scene took place which is strongly
illustrative of feudal manners. Haco
desired him to follow his banner, as
was his duty; upon which the island
prince excused himself. He affirmed
that he had taken the oaths as a

4  The Chronicle of Melrose is thus evidently
wrong in placing this expedition in 1262.

5  Norse Account of the Expedition, p. 49. .

12                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                           [Chap. I.

vassal of the Scottish king; that he
held of him more lands than of his
Norwegian master; and he entreated
Haco to dispose of all those estates
which he had conferred on him. This
reasoning, although not agreeable to
his powerful superior, was apparently
such as Haco could not dispute; and
after a short time John was dismissed,
not only uninjured, but with pre­

Many of these island chiefs found
themselves, during this northern inva­
sion, in a very distressing situation.
On one hand, the destroying fleet of
Haco lay close to the shores of their
little territories, eager to plunder them
should they manifest the slightest
resistance. On the other, they had
given hostages for their loyal be­
haviour to the King of Scotland ; and
the liberty, perhaps the lives, of their
friends or their children were forfeited
if they deserted to the enemy. In
this cruel dilemma was Angus, lord of
Kantire and Islay, apparently a person
of high authority in these parts, and
whose allegiance the Scottish king
seems to have adopted every method
to secure. He held his infant son as
a hostage ; an instrument had been
drawn out, which declared his terri­
tories subject to instant forfeiture if
he deserted; and the barons of Argyle
were compelled to promise that they
would faithfully serve the king against
Angus of Islay, and unite in accom­
plishing his ruin, unless he continued
true to his oaths.2 But the power of
the King of Scotland was remote; the
vengeance of piratical warfare was at
his door; and Angus, with another
island prince, Murchad of Kantire,
submitted to Haco, and delivered up
the whole lands which they held of
Alexander. A fine of a thousand
head of cattle was esteemed a proper
punishment for their desertion from
Norway; and when they renewed
their oaths to Haco, he promised,
what he did not live to perform, to re-

1 Norse Account of the Expedition, p. 51.
See also p. 69.

2 Observations on the Norwegian Expedi-
tion, Antiquarian Transactions, pp. 367, 368.
See Ayloffe’s Calendar of Ancient Charters,
pp. 336, 342.

concile them to the offended majesty
of Scotland.3

In the meantime, the squadron
which had been despatched towards
the Mull of Kantire made a desolat­
ing descent upon the peninsula; but
in the midst of their havoc, and when
they were proceeding to attack the
greater villages, they received letters
from Haco, forbidding them to plunder,
and commanding them to rejoin the
king’s fleet at Gigha. Haco next de­
spatched one of his captains, with
some small vessels, to join the little
squadron which had sailed against
Bute; and intelligence soon after
reached him that the castle of Rothe-
say, in that island, had been taken by
his soldiers, and that the Scottish
garrison had capitulated. A pirate
chief, named Roderic, who claimed
Bute as his inheritance, but who had
been opposed by the islanders and
outlawed by Alexander, was at this
time with Haco. His knowledge of
the seas in these quarters made him
useful to the invaders, and the power
of Haco enabled him to gratify his
revenge. He accordingly laid waste
the island, basely murdered part of
the garrison of Rothesay, and leading
a party of plunderers from Bute
into Scotland, carried fire and sword
into the heart of the neighbouring

While the king’s fleet lay at Gigha,
Haco received messengers from the
Irish Ostmen, with proposals of sub­
mitting themselves to his power ;
under the condition that he would
pass over to Ireland with his fleet,
and grant them his protection against
the attacks of their English invaders,
who had acquired the principal towns
upon the coast. In reply to this pro-

3  Norse Account of the Expedition, pp. 55,

4  Norse Account of the Expedition, pp. 63,
67. This valuable historical chronicle is in­
terspersed with pieces of poetry, descriptive
of the events which occurred, The invasion
of Bute and the inroad of Rudri into Scotland
are thus sung :—

“ The habitations of men, the dwellings of
the wretched, flamed. Fire, the devourer of
halls, glowed in their granaries. The hapless
throwers of the dart fell near the swan-fre­
quented plain, while south from our floating
pines marched a host of warriors.”

1263.]                                        ALEXANDER III.                                              13

posal, the king despatched Sigurd, one
of his chief captains, to communicate
with the Ostmen;1 and in the mean-
time he himself, with the whole fleet,
sailed round the point of Kantire, and,
entering the Firth of Clyde, anchored
in the Sound of Kilbrannan, which lies
between the island of Arran and the

Hitherto the great body of the
Norwegian fleet had remained in the
Hebrides, and Scotland was only made
acquainted with this formidable inva­
sion by the small squadrons which had
been despatched for the purposes of
plunder. But the whole naval arma­
ment of Haco, amounting to a hundred
and sixty ships, as it entered the Firth
of Clyde, became conspicuous from
the opposite shores of Kyle, Carrick,
and Wigtown; and the more imme­
diate danger of a descent induced the
Scottish government to think seriously
of some terms of pacification. Accord­
ingly, there soon after arrived from
Alexander a deputation of Prædicant,
or Barefooted Friars, whose object
was to sound Haco regarding the con­
ditions upon which a peace might be
concluded; and, in consequence of
these overtures, five Norwegian com­
missioners2 were sent to treat with
the King of Scotland. They were
honourably received by Alexander,
and dismissed with a promise that
such terms of accommodation as the
Scottish king could consent to should
be transmitted to Haco within a short
time; and in the meanwhile a tem­
porary truce was agreed on.

This was wise: for to delay any
pacification, without irritating their

1 Norse Account of the Expedition, p. 67.
These Ostmen, or Easterlings, appear to have
been the descendants of the Norwegians, or
Ostmen. who long inhabited the eastern
coast of Ireland, and founded some of its best
towns. They were still, in 1201, so consider­
able, that, at a recognition taken of the dio­
cese of Limerick, the arbitrators were twelve
English, twelve Irish, and twelve Ostmen.
Edward the first gave Gilmorys, and other
Ostmen of the county of Waterford, particular
privileges.—Johnstone’s Notes on p. 66 of the
Norse Expedition.

2 These were Gilbert, bishop of Hamar,
Henry, bishop of Orkney, Andrew Nicolson,
Andrew Plytt, and Paul Soor.—Norse Account
of the Expedition, p. 69.

enemy, was the manifest policy of
Scotland. Every day gave them more
time to levy and concentrate their
army; and as the autumn was drawing
to a close, it brought the Norwegians
a nearer prospect of wreck and dis­
aster from the winter storms. Envoys
were now despatched from Alexander
to Haco ; and the moderate demands
of the King of Scotland made it ap­
parent that, at this moment, he was
not prepared to resist the fleet and
army of Norway. He claimed Bute,
Arran, and the two islands of the Cum­
braes, all lying in the Firth of Clyde, as
the property of Scotland; but it appears
that he was willing to have given up
to Norway the whole of the isles of
the Hebrides.3 These terms, so advan­
tageous to Haco, were, fortunately
for Scotland, rejected : no pacification
took place; and the fleet of Norway
bore in through the narrow strait
between the larger and the lesser Cum-
brae, thus menacing a descent upon
the coast of Ayrshire, which is scarcely
two miles distant.

The crews had now run short of
provisions, the weather was daily be­
coming more threatening, a strong
Scottish force of armed peasants had
gathered on the shore, and Haco was
anxiously exhorted by his officers to
give orders for a descent on the coast,
were it only to recruit, by plunder, the
exhausted state of their provisions.4
This measure, it seems, he was un­
willing to adopt, without a last mes­
sage to the King of Scotland ; and for
this purpose he sent an ambassador 5
to Alexander, whose commission was
worded in the true style of ancient
chivalry. He was to propose, “ That
the sovereigns should meet amicably
at the head of their armies, and treat
regarding a peace, which if, by the
grace of God, it took place, it was
well; but if the attempt at negotia­
tion failed, he was to throw down the
gauntlet from Norway, to challenge
the Scottish monarch to debate the
matter with his army in the field,
and let God, in his pleasure, deter-

3 Norse Account of the Expedition, p. 71.

4 Ibid. pp. 73, 75.

5 Kolbein Rich was his name.

14                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                           [Chap. I.

mine the victory. Alexander, how­
ever, would agree to no explanation;
but “seemed,” says the Norse Chroni­
cle, “in no respect unwilling to fight;”1
upon which the envoy returned from
his unsatisfactory mission, and the
truce was declared at an end.

Haco next despatched a fleet of
sixty ships up the Clyde, into Loch
Long, under the command of Magnus,
king of Man, and with him four He-
bridean chiefs, and two principal Nor­
wegian officers. They penetrated and
plundered to the head of Loch Long ;
they then took to their boats, and
dragging them across the narrow neck
of land between Arrochar and Tarbet,
laLtnched them into Loch Lomond,
the islands of which lake were then
full of inhabitants. To these islands
the Scots had retreated for security,
no doubt; little anticipating the mea­
sure which the lightness of the Nor­
wegian craft, and the active persever­
ance of that bold people, enabled them
to carry into execution. Their safe-
holds now became the scenes of plun­
der and bloodshed; the islands were
wasted with fire, the shores of this
beautiful lake completely ravished,
and the houses on its borders burnt to
the ground.2 After this, one of the
Hebridean chiefs made an expedition
into the rich and populous county of
Stirling, in which he slew great num­
bers of the inhabitants, and returned,
driving herds of cattle before him, and
loaded with booty.3

But the measure of Norwegian suc­
cess was now full: the spirit of the
Scottish nation was highly exasperated
—time had been given them to collect
their forces—and, as had been fore­
seen, the elements began to fight on
their side. Upon returning to their
ships in Loch Long, the invaders en­
countered so dreadful a storm, that

1  Norse Account of the Expedition.

2  Ibid. pp. 78, 79. Sturlas sings of this :
—“ The persevering shielded warriors of the
thrower of the whizzing spear drew their
boats across the broad isthmus. Our fear­
less troops, the exactors of contribution, with
flaming brands wasted the populous islands
in the lake, and the mansions around its
winding bays.”

3  Excerpt, e Rotul. Compot. Temp. Alex.
III. p. 38.

ten of their vessels were completely
wrecked.4 King Haco still lay with
the rest of the fleet in the Firth of
Clyde, near the little islands of the
Cumbraes, when, on Monday the 1st of
October, a second tempest came on,
accompanied with such torrents ef
hailstones and rain, that the Nor­
wegians ascribe its extreme violence
to the powers of enchantment—a pre­
valent belief at this period.5 The
wind blew from the south-west, mak­
ing the coast of Ayrshire a lee-shore
to the fleet, and thus infinitely in­
creasing its distress. At midnight a
cry of distress was heard in the king’s
ship ; and before assistance could be
given, the rigging of a transport,
driven loose by the storm, got en­
tangled with the royal vessel, and
carried away her head. The transport
then fell alongside, so that her anchor
grappled the cordage of the king’s
ship; and Haco, perceiving the storm
increasing, and finding his own ship
beginning to drag her anchors, ordered
the cable of the transport to be cut,
and let her drift to sea. When morn­
ing came, she and another vessel were
seen cast ashore. The wind still in­
creased ; and the king, imagining that
the powers of magic might be con­
trolled by the services of religion,
rowed in his long boat to the islands
of the Cumbraes, and there, amid the
roaring of the elements, ordered mass
to be celebrated.6 But the tempest
increased in fury. Many vessels cut
away their masts; his own ship, al­
though secured by seven anchors,
drove from her moorings; five galleys
were cast ashore, and the rest of the
fleet violently beat up the channel
towards Largs.7

Meanwhile, Alexander had neglected
no precaution which was likely to in-

4 Norse Account of the Expedition, pp.

5 “Now our deep-inquiring sovereign en­
countered the horrid powers of enchantment.
The troubled flood tore many fair galleys
from their moorings, and swept them anchor­
less before its waves. . . . The roaring bil­
lows and stormy blast threw shielded com­
panies of our adventurous nation on the Scot­
tish strand.”—Norse Account, p. 87.

6 Norse Account of the Expedition, p. 85.

7 Ibid.

1263.]                                   ALEXANDER III.                                        15

sure the discomfiture of this great
armament. Before it appeared on the
coast, the warders in the different
castles which commanded a view of
the sea were directed to keep a strict
look­out; a communication by beacons
was established with the interior of
the country;1 and now, when the
tempest seemed to threaten the total
destruction of their enemies, a mul­
titude of armed peasants hovered on
the surrounding heights observing
every motion of the Norwegian fleet,
and ready to take instant advantage
of its distress. Accordingly, when
the five galleys, with their armed
crews, were cast ashore, the Scots
rushed down from the heights, and
attacked them. The Norwegians de­
fended themselves with great gal­
lantry ; and the king, as the wind had
somewhat abated, succeeded in sending
in boats with reinforcements; but as
soon as their crews landed, the Scots
retired, satisfying themselves with re­
turning during the night, to plunder
the transports.2

When morning broke, Haco came
on shore with a large reinforcement,
and ordered the transports to be light­
ened, and towed to the ships. Soon
after, the Scottish army appeared at
a distance, upon the high grounds
above the village of Largs; and as it
advanced, the sun’s rays glancing from
the lines made it evident to the Nor­
wegians that a formidable body of
troops were about to attack them.
The cavalry, although they only
amounted to fifteen hundred horse­
men, had a formidable appearance on
the heights, most of them being
knights or barons from the neigh­
bouring counties, armed from head to
heel, and mounted on Spanish horses,
which were clothed in complete ar­
mour.3 All the other horses were
defended with breastplates ; and be­
sides this cavalry, there was a nu­
merous body of foot soldiers, well
accoutred, and for the most part

1  Observations on the Norwegian Expedi­
tion against Scotland, pp. 390, 391. Also,
Excerpt, e Rot. Compot. Tempore Regis
Alexandri III. pp. 9, 31, 48.

2  Norse Account of the Expedition, p. 91.
Ibid. pp. 94, 95.

armed with spears and bows. This
force was led by the king in person,
along with Alexander the High Stew­
ard of Scotland.4

On the shore, at this time, was a
body of nine hundred Norwegians,
commanded by three principal leaders;
two hundred men occupied in advance
a small hill which rises behind the
village of Largs, and the rest of the
troops were drawn up on the beach.
With the advance also was the king,
whom, as the main battle of the Scots
approached, his officers anxiously en­
treated to row out to his fleet, and
send them further reinforcements.
Haco, for some time, pertinaciously
insisted on remaining on shore; but
as he became more and more exposed,
the barons would not consent to this,
and at last prevailed on him to return
in his barge to his fleet at the Cum-
braes. The van of the Scottish army
now began to skirmish with the ad­
vance of the Norwegians, and greatly
outnumbering them, pressed on both
flanks with so much fury, that, afraid
of being surrounded and cut to pieces,
they began a retreat, which soon
changed into a flight. At this critical
moment, when everything depended
on Haco’s returning with additional
forces before the main body of the
Scots had time to charge his troops
on the beach, a third storm came on,
which completed the ruin of the Nor­
wegian fleet, already shattered by the
former furious gales. This cut off all
hopes of landing a reinforcement, and
they were completely routed. Indeed,
without a miracle, it could not have
been otherwise. The main body of
the Scots far outnumbered the force of
the Norwegians; 5 and their advance,
under Ogmund, flying back in con­
fusion, threw into disorder the small
squadrons which were drawn up on
the beach. Many of these attempted
to save themselves, by leaping into
their boats and pushing off from land ;
others endeavoured to defend them-

4  Norse Account of the Expedition, p. 95.
Winton, vol. i. p. 387. Fordun a Goodal,
vol. ii. p. 98.

5  Norse Account of the Expedition, p. 97,
says that ten Scots fought against one Nor­
wegian. This is no doubt exaggerated.

16                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                           [Chap. I.

selves in the transport which had been
stranded; and between the anger of
the elements, the ceaseless showers of
missile weapons from the enemy, and
the impossibility of receiving succour
from the fleet, their army was greatly
distressed. Their leaders, too, began
to desert them ; and their boats be­
came overloaded and went down.1
The Norwegians were now driven
along the shore, but they constantly
rallied, and behaved with their accus­
tomed national bravery. Some had
placed themselves in and round the
stranded vessels; and while the main
body retreated slowly, and in good
order, a conflict took place beside the
ships, where Piers de Curry,2 a Scottish
knight, was encountered and slain.
Curry appears to have been a person
of some note, for he and the Steward
of Scotland are the only Scottish sol­
diers whose names Lave come down to
us as acting a principal part upon this
occasion. His death is minutely de­
scribed in the Norwegian Chronicle.
Gallantly mounted, and splendidly
armed, his helmet and coat of mail
being inlaid with gold, Sir Piers rode
fearlessly up to the Norwegian line,
attempting, in the chivalrous style of
the times, to provoke an encounter.
In this he was soon satisfied; for a
Norwegian, who conducted the re­
treat, irritated by his defiance, engaged
him in single combat; and after a short
resistance, killed him by a blow which
severed his thigh from his body, the
sword cutting through the cuisses of
his armour, and penetrating to his
saddle.3 A conflict now took place
round the body of this young knight,
the plunder of whose rich armour the
retreating Norwegians could not re­
sist ; their little square was thrown
into confusion; and, as the Scots
pressed on, the slaughter became
great. Haco, a Norse baron, and near
in blood to the king, was slain, along
with many others of the principal
leaders; and the Norwegians would
have been entirely cut to pieces, if

1 Norse Account of the Expedition, p. 97.

2  Winton, vol. i. p. 388. “ Perrys of Curry
call’d be name.”

3  Norse Account of the Expedition, p. 99.

they had not at last succeeded in
bringing a reinforcement from the
fleet, by landing their boats through a
tremendous surf.4

These new troops instantly attacked
the enemy upon two points ; and their
arrival reinspirited the Norsemen, and
enabled them to form anew. It was
now evening, and the day had been
occupied by a protracted battle, or
rather a succession of obstinate skir­
mishes. The Norwegians, although
they fought with uncommon spirit,
had sustained severe loss; and they
now made a last effort to repulse the
Scots from the high grounds imme­
diately overhanging the shore. The
impetuosity of their attack succeeded,
and the enemy were driven back after
a short and furious resistance.5 The
relics of this brave body of invaders
then re-embarked in their boats, and,
although the storm continued, arrived
safely at the fleet.

During the whole of this conflict,
which lasted from morning till night,
the storm continued raging with un­
abated fury, and the remaining ships
of Haco were dreadfully shattered and
distressed. They drove from their
anchors, stranded on the shore, where
multitudes perished — struck against
shallows and rocks, or found equal de­
struction by running foul of each other;
and the morning presented a beach
covered with dead bodies, and a sea
strewed with sails, masts, cordage, and
all the melancholy accompaniments of
wreck.6 A truce was now granted to
the king; and the interval employed
in burying his dead, and in raising
above them those rude memorials,
which, in the shape of tumuli and
huge perpendicular stones, still remain
to mark the field of battle. The
Norwegians then burnt the strand­
ed vessels; and, after a few days,
having been joined by the remains
of the fleet, which had been sent up
Loch Long, their shattered navy

4 Norse Account of the Expedition, p. 101.

5  Ibid. p. 103. “ At the conflict of corslets
on the blood-red hill, the damasked blade
hewed the mail of hostile tribes, ere the Scot,
nimble as the hound, would leave the field to
the followers of our all-conquering king.”

6  Fordun, chap. xvi. book x. vol. ii. p. 98.




weighed anchor, and sailed towards

In Lamlash Bay the king was met
by the commissioners whom he had
sent to Ireland, and they assured him
that the Irish Óstmen would willingly
maintain his forces, until he had freed
them from the dominion of the Eng­
lish. Haco was eager to embrace the
proposal. He appears to have been
anxious to engage in any new expedi­
tion which might have banished their
recent misfortunes from the minds of
his soldiers, whilst it afforded him
another chance of victory, with the
certainty of reprovisioning the fleet;
but their late disasters had made too
deep an impression ; and, on calling a
council, the Irish expedition was op­
posed by the whole army.2

The shattered squadron, therefore,
steered for the Hebrides ; and in pass­
ing Islay, again levied a large contri­
bution on that island. The northern
monarch, however, now felt the differ­
ence between sailing through this
northern archipelago, as he had done
a few months before, with a splendid
and conquering fleet, when every day
brought the island princes as willing
vassals of his flag, and retreating, as he
now did, a baffled invader. His boat
crews were attacked, and cut off by
the islanders. He appears to have in
vain solicited an interview with John,
the prince of the Isles. The pirate
chiefs who had joined him, disappoint­
ed of their hopes of plunder, returned
to their ocean strongholds; and al­
though he went through the forms of
bestowing upon his followers the is­
lands of Bute and Arran, with other
imaginary conquests, all must have
seen that the success and power of
Scotland rendered these grants utterly
unavailing.3 The weather, too, which
had been his worst enemy, continued
lowering, and winter had set in. The
fleet encountered in their return a
severe gale off Islay; and, after doub­
ling Cape Wrath, were met in the
Pentland Firth by a second storm, in

1 Observations on the Norwegian Expedi­
tion, Antiq. Trans, vol. ii. p. 385.
Norse Account of the Expedition, p. 109.
Ibid. pp. 1ll, 113, 117.

which one vessel, with all on board,
went down, and another narrowly es­
caped the same fate. The king’s ship,
however, with the rest of the fleet,
weathered the tempest, and at last
arrived in Orkney on the 29 th of Oc­

It was here found advisable to grant
the troops permission to return to
Norway ; as, to use the simple expres­
sion of the Norwegian Chronicle,
“ many had already taken leave for
themselves.” At first the king re­
solved on accompanying them ; but
anxiety of mind, the incessant fatigues
in which he had passed the summer
and autumn, and the bitter disappoint­
ment in which they ended, had sunk
deep into his heart, and the symp­
toms of a mortal distemper began to
shew themselves in his constitution.
His increasing sickness soon after this
confined him to his chamber; and
although for some time he struggled
against the disease, and endeavoured
to strengthen his mind by the cares of
government and the consolations of
religion, yet all proved in vain. At
last, feeling himself dying, the spirit
of the old Norse warrior seemed to
revive with the decay of his bodily
frame ; and, after some time spent in
the services of the Church, he com­
manded the Chronicles of his ancestors
the Pirate Kings to be read to him.
On the 12th of December, the princi­
pal of the nobility and clergy, aware
that there was no hope, attended in his
bedchamber. Though greatly debili­
tated, Haco spoke distinctly, bade
them all affectionately farewell, and
kissed them. He then received ex­
treme unction, and declared that he
left no other heir than Prince Magnus.
The Chronicle of King Svverar was
still read aloud to him when he was
indisposed to sleep, but soon after this
his voice became inaudible; and on
the 15th of December, at midnight, he

Such was the conclusion of this
memorable expedition against Scot­
land, which began with high hopes
and formidable preparations, but ended

4 Norse Account of the Expedition, p. 119.
Ibid. p. 131.


18                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                          [Chap. I.

in the disappointment of its object,
and the death of its royal leader. It
was evidently a fatal mistake in Haco
to delay so long in petty expeditions
against the Western Islands. While
it was still summer, and the weather
fair, he ought at once to have at­
tempted a descent upon the mainland;
and had he done so, Alexander might
have been thrown into great difficul-
ties. Delay and protracted negotia­
tion was the policy of the Scots. They
thus avoided any general battle; and
they knew that if they could detain
the Norwegian fleet upon the coast till
the setting in of the winter storms,
its destruction was almost inevitable.
Boece, in his usual inventive vein,
covers the field with 25,000 dead Nor­
wegians, and allows only four ships to
have been saved to carry the king to
his grave in Orkney. But all this is
fiction; and the battle of Largs ap­
pears to have been nothing more than
a succession of fortunate skirmishes,
in which a formidable armament was
effectually destroyed by the fury of
the elements, judiciously seconded by
the bravery of the Scots.

The accounts of the death of Haco,
and the news of the queen having been
delivered of a son, were brought to
King Alexander on the same day ;1 so
that he was at once freed from a rest­
less and powerful enemy, and could
look forward to a successor of his own
blood. Nor did he lose any time in
following up the advantages already
gained by completing the reduction of
the little kingdom of Man, and the
whole of the Western Isles. For this
purpose, he levied an army with the
object of invading the Isle of Man, and
compelled the petty chiefs of the He­
brides to furnish a fleet for the trans­
port of his troops. But the King of
Man, terrified at the impending ven­
geance, sent envoys with messages of
submission ; and, fearful that these
would be disregarded, set out himself,
and met Alexander, who had advanced

1 Winton, vol. i. pp. 389, 390. Mackenzie,
in his Lives of Scottish Writers, vol. ii. p. 86,
mentions a fragment of the records of Colm-
kill, which was in possession of the Earl of
Cromarty, as containing an account of the
battle of Largs.

on his march as far as Dumfries.2 At
this place the Island Prince became
the liegeman of the King of Scotland,
and consented that, in future, he
should hold his kingdom of the Scot­
tish crown; binding himself to furnish
to his lord paramount, when required
by him, ten galleys or ships of war,—
five with twenty-four oars and five
with twelve.

A military force, commanded by the
Earl of Mar, was next sent against those
unfortunate chiefs of the Western Isles,
who, during the late expedition, had
remained faithful to Haco.3 Some
were executed, all were reduced, and
the disputes with Norway were finally
settled by a treaty, in which that
country agreed to yield to Scotland all
right over Man, the Æbudæ, and the
islands in the western seas. The is­
lands in the south seas were also in­
cluded, but those of Orkney and Shet­
land expressly excepted. The inhabi­
tants of the Hebrides were permitted
the option of either retiring with their
property, or remaining to be governed
in future by Scottish laws. On the part
of the King and the Estates of Scot­
land, it was stipulated that they were
to pay to Norway four thousand marks
of the Roman standard, and a yearly
quit-rent of a hundred marks sterling
for ever. The King of Man received
investiture as a vassal of Alexander;
and all parties engaged to fulfil their
obligations, under a penalty of ten
thousand marks, to be exacted by the

Ottobon de Fieschi was at this time

2 Fordun a Goodal, book x. chap, xviii. vol.
ii. p. 101. In Ayloffe’s Calendar of Ancient
Charters, p. 328, we find the letter of the King
of Man to the King of Scotland, quod tenebit
terram Man de rege Scotice.
It was one of
the muniments taken out of Edinburgh Castle,
and carried to England by Edward the First.

3 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. pp. 101, 102.
Excerpt, e Rotul. Compot. Temp, Alex. III.
p. 18.

4 The treaty will be found in Fordun by
Hearne, p.1353-5. It is dated 20th July 1266.
In the account of the treaty, Lord Hailes has
made a slight error when he says that the pa­
tronage of the bishopric of Sodor was reserved
to the Archbishop of Drontheim. The patron­
age was expressly ceded to Alexander, but
the ecclesiastical jurisdiction was reserved in
favour of the Archbishop of Drontheim.

1263-74.]                                  ALEXANDER III.                                              19

the Papal legate in England, and to
defray the expenses of his visitation,
he thought proper to demand a con­
tribution from each cathedral and
parish church in Scotland. The king,
however, acting by the advice of his
clergy, peremptorily refused the de­
mand; appealed to Rome; and, when
Ottobon requested admittance into
Scotland, steadily declared that he
should not set a foot over the Border.
The legate next summoned the Scot­
tish bishops to attend upon him in
England whenever he should hold his
council; and he required the clergy
to despatch two of their number to
appear as their representatives. This
they agreed to; but the representa­
tives were sent, not as the vassals of
the Papacy, but as the members of an
independent Church. Such, indeed,
they soon shewed themselves; for
when the legate procured several
canons to be enacted regarding Scot­
land, the Scottish clergy resolutely
disclaimed obedience to them. In­
censed at this conduct, Clement the
Fourth shifted his ground, and de­
manded from them a tenth of their
benefices, to be paid to Henry of Eng­
land, as an aid for an approaching
crusade. The answer of Alexander
and his clergy was here equally de­
cided : Scotland itself, they said, was
ready to equip for the crusade a body
of knights suitable to the strength
and resources of the kingdom, and
they therefore rejected the requisi­
tion. Accordingly, David, earl of
Athole, Adam, earl of Carrick, and
William, lord Douglas, with many
other barons and knights, assumed
the cross, and sailed for Palestine.1

In consequence, howewer, of the
Papal grant, Henry attempted to levy
the tenth upon the benefices in Scot­
land. The Scottish clergy refused the
contribution, appealed to Rome, and,
in addition to this, adopted measures,
which were singularly bold, and well
calculated to secure the independence

1 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 109, book x.
chap. xxiv. Holinshed, vol. i. p. 406, gives as
the names of the crusading nobles, the Earls
of Carrick and Athole, John Steward, Alex­
ander Cumin, Robert Keith, George Durward,
John Quincy, and William Gordon.

of the Scottish Church. They assem­
bled a provincial council at Perth, in
which a bishop of their own was
chosen to preside, and where canons
for the regulation of their own Church
were enacted. This they contended
they were entitled to do by the bull
of Pope Honorius the Fourth, granted
in the year 1225; and, aware of the
importance of making a vigorous stand
at this moment, by their first canon
it was appointed that an annual coun­
cil should be held in Scotland; and
by their second, that each of the
bishops should assume, in rotation,
the office of “Protector of the Sta­
tutes,” or Conservator Statutorum.
These canons remain to this day an
interesting specimen of the ancient
ecclesiastical code of Scotland.2

About this time happened an inci­
dent of a romantic nature, with which
important consequences were connect­
ed. A Scottish knight of high birth,
Robert de Bruce, son of Robert de
Bruce, lord of Annandale and Cleve-
land, was passing on horseback through
the domains of Turnberry, which be­
longed to Marjory, countess of Car-
rick.3 The lady happened at the
moment to be pursuing the diversion
of the chase, surrounded by a retinue
of her squires and damsels. They
encountered Bruce. The young coun­
tess was struck by his noble figure,
and courteously entreated him to re­
main and take the recreation of hunt­
ing. Bruce, who, in those feudal
days, knew the danger of paying too
much attention to a ward of the king,
declined the invitation, when he found
himself suddenly surrounded by the
attendants; and the lady, riding up,
seized his bridle, and led off the
knight, with gentle violence, to her
castle of Turnberry. Here, after
fifteen days’ residence, the adventure
concluded as might have been antici­
pated. Bruce married the countess

2 These canons were printed by Wilkins
in his Concilia, and in a small 4to by Lord
Hailes. See Hailes’ Hist. vol. i. p. 149.

3 Although all the historians call this lady
Martha, yet she is named Marjory by her son,
King Robert Bruce. Register of the Great
Seal, p. 108; and Marjory was the name of
King Robert’s daughter.

20                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                          [Chap. 1.

without the knowledge of the relations
of either party, and before obtaining
the king’s consent; upon which Alex­
ander seized her castle of Turnberry
and her whole estates. The interces­
sion of friends, however, and a heavy
fine, conciliated the mind of the mon­
arch. Bruce became, in right of his
wife, Lord of Carrick; and the son of
this marriage of romantic love was
the great Robert Bruce, the restorer
of Scottish liberty.1

Two years previous to this (1272)
died Henry the Third of England,2
after a reign of nearly sixty years.
His character possessed nothing that
was great; his genius was narrow ;
his temper wavering; his courage,
happily, seldom tried; and he was
addicted, like many weak princes, to
favouritism. At times, however, he
had permitted himself to be guided
by able ministers; and the vigour,
talents, and kingly endowments of his
son, Edward the First, shed a lustre
over the last years of his reign, which
the king himself could never have
imparted to it. At the coronation of
this great prince, who succeeded
Henry, Alexander, and his queen, the
new king’s sister, attended with a
retinue of great pomp and splendour.
He took care, however, to obtain a
letter under the hand of the English
monarch, declaring that the friendly
visit should not be construed into any­
thing prejudicial to the independence
of Scotland,3—a policy which the
peculiarities of feudal tenure made
frequent at this time; for we find
Edward himself, when some years
afterwards he agreed to send twenty
ships to the King of France, his feudal
superior for the duchy of Normandy,
requiring from that prince an acknow­
ledgment of the same description.

The designs of Edward upon Scot­
land had not yet, in any degree, be­
trayed themselves, and the kingly
brothers appear to have met on cor­
dial terms. Both were in the prime
of manhood, Alexander having entered,

1 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 114, book x.
chap. xxix.

2  On 16th Nov. 1272.

3 Ayloffe’s Calendar of Ancient Charters,
328, 342. Leland’s Collectanea, vol. ii. p. 471.

and Edward having just completed,
his thirty-fourth year. Scotland, still
unweakened by the fatal controversies
between Bruce and Baliol, was in no
state to invite ambitious aggression.
The kingdom was peaceful, prosperous,
and loyal, possessing a warlike and at­
tached nobility, and a hardy peasantry,
lately delivered, by the defeat of Haco
and the wise acquisition of the West­
ern Isles, from all disturbance in the
only quarter where it might be dread­
ed; and from the age of Alexander,
and his queen, who had already born
him three children, the nation could
look with some certainty to a suc­
cessor. Edward, on the other hand,
who had lately returned from Pales­
tine, where he had greatly distinguish­
ed himself, received his brother-in-law
with that courtesy and kindness which
was likely to be increased by his long
absence, and by the perils he had
undergone. About this time the Pope
sent into Scotland an emissary named
Benemund de Vicci, corrupted into
Bagimont, to collect the tenth of all
the ecclesiastical benefices, the esti­
mate being made not according to the
“ ancient extent, but the true value.”
The tax appears to have been strictly
exacted, and went by the name of
Bagimont’s Roll.4

All went prosperously on between
Edward and Alexander for some time.
A dispute which had occurred between
the King of Scots and the Bishop of
Durham, in which that prelate com­
plained that an encroachment had
been made upon the English marches,
was amicably settled; and Edward,
occupied entirely with his conquest of
Wales,and according to his custom,
whenever engaged in war, concentrat­
ing his whole energies upon one point,
—had little leisure to think of Scot­
land. The domineering disposition of
the English king first shewed itself
regarding the feudal service of homage
due to him by his Scottish brother,
for the lands which he held in Eng­
land; and he seems early to have
formed the scheme of entrapping Alex­
ander into the performance of a hom­
age so vague and unconditional, that
Fordun a Hearne, p. 780.

1277-86.]                                  ALEXANDER III.                                              21

it might hereafter be construed into
the degrading acknowledgment that
Scotland was a fief of England.

In 1277 we find him writing to the
Bishop of Wells that his beloved
brother, the King of Scotland, had
agreed to perform an unconditional
homage, and that he was to receive it
at the ensuing feast of Michaelmas.1
This, however, could scarcely be true ;
the event shewed that Edward had
either misconceived or misstated the
purpose of Alexander. He appeared
before the English parliament at West­
minster, and offered his homage in
these words :—“ I, Alexander, king of
Scotland, do acknowledge myself the
liegeman of my Lord Edward, king of
England, against all deadly.” This
Edward accepted, reserving his claim
of homage for the kingdom of Scot­
land, when he should choose to prefer
it. The King of Scots then requested
that the oath should be taken for him
by Robert de Bruce, earl of Carrick,
which being granted, that earl took
the oath in these words :—

“ I, Robert, earl of Carrick, accord­
ing to the authority given to me by
my lord the King of Scotland, in pre­
sence of the King of England, and
other prelates and barons, by which
the power of swearing upon the soul
of the King of Scotland was conferred
upon me, have, in presence of the King
of Scotland, and commissioned thereto
by his special precept, sworn fealty to
Lord Edward, king of England, in these
words:--'I, Alexander, king of Scot­
land, shall bear faith to my lord Ed­
ward, king of England, and his heirs,
with my life and members, and worldly
substance; and I shall faithfully per­
form the services, used and wont, for
the lands and tenements which I hold
of the said king’
“ Which fealty
being sworn by the Earl of Carrick,
the King of Scotland confirmed and
ratified the same.2 Such is an exact

1 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. ii, p. 109.

2 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. ii. p. 126. Tyrrel,
vol. iii. p. 22, misled by Knighton, book iii.
chap, i., erroneously says that the homage was
performed by Alexander at Edward’s corona­
tion, and adds, that historians do not say
whether it was for Scotland, or for the earldom
of Huntingdon.

account of the homage performed by
Alexander to Edward, as given in the
solemn instrument by which the Eng­
lish monarch himself recorded the
transaction. Alexander probably had
not forgotten the snare in which
Edward’s father had attempted to
entrap him, when still a boy; and the
reservation of an unfounded claim over
Scotland might justly have incensed
him. But he wished not to break
with Edward : he held extensive ter­
ritories in England, for which he was
willing, as he was bound in duty, to
pay homage; yet he so guarded his
attendance at Edward’s coronation,
and his subsequent oath of fealty, that
the independence of Scotland as a
kingdom, and his own independence
as its sovereign, were not touched in
the most distant manner; and the
King of England, baffled in his hope
of procuring an unconditional homage,
was forced to accept it as it was given.
It is material to notice, that in the
instrument drawn up afterwards, re­
cording the transaction, Edward ap­
pears to declare his understanding
that this homage was merely for the
Scottish king’s possessions in England,
by again reserving his absurd claim of
homage for Scotland, whenever he
or his heirs should think proper to
make it.

This matter being concluded, Alex­
ander, who had suffered a severe do­
mestic affliction in the death of his
queen,3 began to seek alliances for his
children. He married his daughter
Margaret to Eric, king of Norway, then
a youth in his fourteenth year. Her
portion was fourteen thousand marks,
the option being left to her father to
give one half of the sum in lands, pro­
vided that the rents of the lands were
a hundred marks yearly for every thou­
sand retained. The price of land at
this early period of our history seems,
therefore, to have been ten years’ pur­
chase.4 The young princess, accom­
panied by Walter Bullock, earl of Men-

3  Winton, vol. i. p. 391.

4  The marriage-contract, which is very long
and curious, is to be found in Rymer, vol. ii.
p. 1079, dated 25th July 1281. Fordun a
Goodal, vol. ii. p. 125.

22                             HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                     [Chap, I.

teith, his countess, the Abbot of Bal-
merino, and Bernard de Monte-alto,
with other knights and barons, sailed
for Norway; and on her arrival was
honourably received and crowned as
queen. The alliance was wise and
politic. It promised to secure the
wavering fealty of those proud and
warlike island chiefs, who, whenever
they wished to throw off their depen­
dence on Scotland, pretended that they
were bound by the ties of feudal vas­
salage to Norway, and whose power
and ambition often required the pres­
ence of the king himself to quell.1

This marriage was soon after fol­
lowed by that of Alexander the Prince
of Scotland, then in his nineteenth
year, to Margaret, a daughter of Guy,
earl of Flanders; the ceremony being
performed at Roxburgh, and accom­
panied with fifteen days’ feasting.
Such alliances, so far as human fore­
sight could reach, promised happiness
to Alexander, while they gave an al­
most certain hope of descendants. But
a dark cloud began to gather round
Scotland, and a train of calamities,
which followed in sad and quick suc­
cession, spread despondency through
the kingdom.2 The Prince of Scot­
land, who from infancy had been of a
sickly constitution, died not long after
his marriage, leaving no issue; and
intelligence soon after came from Nor­
way that his sister, Queen Margaret,
was also dead, having left an only
child, Margaret, generally called the
Maiden of Norway : David, the second
son of Alexander, had died when a
boy;3 and thus the King of Scotland,
still in the flower of his age, found
himself a widower, and bereft by death
of all his children.

To settle the succession was his first
care; and for this purpose a meeting
of the Estates of the realm was held
at Scone, on the 5th of February

1  In 1275, Alexander led an armed force
against Man. Johnstone, Antiquit. Celto-
Norm. pp. 41, 42. In 1282, Alexander Comyn,
earl of Buchan and Constable of Scotland,
led an army to quell some island disturbances.
Rymer, Fœdera, vol. ii. p. 205.

2  Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 124. Winton,
book vii. chap. x. vol. i. p. 391.

3  Fœdera, vol. ii. p. 266.

1283-4. The prelates and barons of
Scotland there bound themselves to
acknowledge Margaret, princess of Nor­
way, as their sovereign, failing any
children whom Alexander might have,
and failing any issue of the Prince of
Scotland deceased.4 The parliament
in which this transaction took place,
having assembled immediately after
the death of the prince, it was uncer­
tain whether the princess might not
yet present the kingdom with an heir
to the crown. In the meantime, the
king thought it prudent to make a
second marriage, and chose for his
bride a young and beautiful woman,
Joleta, daughter of the Count de
Dreux. The nuptials were celebrated
with great pomp, and in presence of a
splendid concourse of the French and
Scottish nobility, at Jedburgh. In
the midst of the rejoicings, and when
music and pastime were at the highest,
a strange masque was exhibited, in
which a spectral creature like Death
glided with fearful gestures amongst
the revellers, and at length suddenly
vanished. The whole was no doubt
intended as a mummery; but it was
too well acted, and struck such terror
into the festive assembly,5 that the
chronicler, Fordun, considers it as a
supernatural shadowing out of the
future misfortunes of the kingdom.
These misfortunes too rapidly fol­
lowed. Alexander, riding late near
Kinghorn, was counselled by his at­
tendants, as the night was dark, and
the road precipitous, not to pass In-
verkeithing till the morning. Natu­
rally courageous, however, he insisted
on galloping forward, when his horse
suddenly stumbled over a rocky cliff
above the sea, fell with its rider, and
killed him on the spot.6 He died in the
forty-fifth year of his age, and the thirty-
seventh of his reig; and his death,
at this particular juncture, may be con­
sidered as one of the deepest amongst
those national calamities which che­
quer the history of Scotland.

4 Winton, vol. i. p. 397. Fœdera, vol. ii.
pp. 582, 1091.

5  Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 128, book x.
chap. xi.

6  Triveti Annales, p. 267. He died March
16, 1285-6. Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 128.

1286.]                                        ALEXANDER III.                                              23

Alexander’s person was majestic;
and although his figure was too tall,
and his bones large, yet his limbs were
well formed and strongly knit. His
countenance was handsome, and beamed
with a manly and sweet expression,
which corresponded with the courage­
ous openness and sincerity of his cha­
racter. He was firm and constant in
his purposes; yet, guided by prudence
and an excellent understanding, this
quality never degenerated into a dan­
gerous obstinacy. His inflexible love
of justice, his patience in hearing dis­
putes, his affability in discourse, and
facility of access, endeared him to the
whole body of his people; whilst his
piety, untinctured with any slavish
dread, whilst he acknowledged the
spiritual supremacy of the popedom,
rendered him the steadfast friend of
his own clergy, and their best defender
against any civil encroachments of the
see of Rome. In his time, therefore,
to use the words of the honest and
affectionate Fordun — “ The Church
flourished, its ministers were treated
with reverence, vice was openly dis­
couraged, cunning and treachery were
trampled under foot, injury ceased,
and the reign of virtue, truth, and
justice was maintained throughout the
land.” We need not wonder that such
a monarch was long and affectionately
remembered in Scotland. Attended
by his justiciary, by his principal
nobles, and a military force which
awed the strong offenders, and gave
confidence to the oppressed, it was his
custom to make an annual progress
through his kingdom, for the redress
of wrong, and the punishment of de­
linquents. For this purpose, he divided
the kingdom into four great districts ;
and on his entering each county, the
sheriff had orders to attend on the
kingly judge, with the whole militia
of the shire,1 and to continue with the
court till the king had heard all the
appeals of that county which were
brought before him. He then con­
tinued his progress, accompanied by
the sheriff and his troops ; nor were
these dismissed till the monarch had

1 Fordun a Goodal, book x. chap. xli. vol.
ii. p. 129.

entered a new county, where a new
sheriff awaited him with the like
honours and attendance.

In this manner the people were
freed from the charge of supporting
those overgrown bands of insolent
retainers which swelled the train of
the Scottish nobles, when they waited
on the king in his progresses; and as
the dignified prelates and barons were
interdicted by law from travelling with
more than a certain number of horse
in their retinue, the poor commons
had leisure to breathe, and to pursue
their honest occupations.2

In Alexander’s time, many vessels
of different countries came to Scot­
land, freighted with various kinds of
merchandise, with the design of ex­
changing them for the commodities of
our kingdom. The king’s mind, how­
ever, was unenlightened on the subject
of freedom of trade; and the frequent
loss of valuable cargoes by pirates,
wrecks, and unforeseen arrestments,
had induced him to pass some severe
laws against the exportation of Scot­
tish merchandise. Burgesses, however,
were allowed to traffic with these
foreign merchantmen ; and in a short
time the kingdom became rich in every
kind of wealth; in the productions of
the arts and manufactures; in money,
in agricultural produce,3 in flocks and
herds ; so that many, says an ancient
historian, came from the West and
East to consider its power, and to study
its polity. Amongst these strangers,
there arrived, in a great body, the
richest of the Lombard merchants,
who offered to establish manufactur-
ing settlements in various parts of the
country. They specified among other
places the mount above Queensferry,
and an island near Cramond, and only

2  Fordun a Groodal, book x. chap. xli. vol.
ii. pp. 129, 130.

3   Yhwmen, pewere Karl, or Knawe
That wes of mycht an ox til hawe,

He gert that man hawe part in pluche ;
Swa wes corn in his land enwche ;
Swa than begouth, and efter lang
Of land wes mesure, ane ox-gang.
Mychty men that had má
Oxyn, he gert in pluchys ga.
Be that vertu all his land
Of corn he gert be abowndand.

—Winton, vol. i. p. 400

24                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                           [Chap. I.

asked of the king certain spiritual im­
munities. Unfortunately, the proposal
of these rich and industrious men, for
what cause we cannot tell, proved dis­
pleasing to some powerful members of
the state, and was dismissed; but from
an expression of the historian, we may
gather that the king himself was de­
sirous to encourage them, and that
favourable terms for a settlement
would have been granted, had not
death stept in and put an end to the

The conduct pursued by this king,
in his intercourse with England, was
marked by a judicious union of the
firmness and dignity which became an
independent sovereign with the kindli­
ness befitting his near connexion with
Edward; but, warned by the attempts
which had been first made by the
father and followed up by the son, he
took care that when invited to the
English court, it should be expressly
acknowledged2 that he came there as
the free monarch of an independent

To complete the character of this
prince, he was temperate in his habits,
his morals were pure, and in all his
domestic relations kindness and affec­
tion were conspicuous.3 The oldest
Scottish song, which has yet been dis­
covered, is an affectionate little monody
on the death of Alexander, preserved
by Winton, one of the fathers of our
authentic Scottish history.4

1 Fordun, book x. chap. xli. xlii. vol. ii.
pp. 129, 130.

2  Ayloffe’s Calendar of Ancient Charters,
p. 32S.

3  Towards the conclusion of this reign, it
is said that an awful visitant for the first time
appeared in Scotland—the plague; but we
cannot depend on the fact, for it comes from
Boece.—Hailes, vol. i. p. 307.

4 Quhen Alysandyr, oure kyng, wes dede,
That Scotland led in luwe* and le, †
Away wes sons of ale and brede,
Of wyne and wax, of gamyn and gle.
Oure gold wes changyd into lede.—
Christ, born in­to virgynyte,
Succour Scotland, and remede,
That stad ‡ is in perplexytè.

—Winton, vol. i. p. 401.

* Love.                             † Le, tranquillity.

Placed, or situated.


Margaret, the grand - daughter of
Alexander, and grand-niece to Edward
the First, who had been recognised as
heir to the crown in 1284, was in Nor­
way at the time of the king’s death.
A parliament, therefore, assembled at
Scone on the 11th of April 1286; and
a regency, consisting of six guardians
of the realm, was, by common consent,
appointed.5 The administration of the
northern division of Scotland, beyond
the Firth of Forth, was intrusted to
Fraser, bishop of St Andrews, Duncan,
earl of Fife, and Alexander, earl of
Buchan. The government of the coun­
try to the south of the Forth was
committed to Wishart, the bishop of
Glasgow, John Comyn, lord of Bade-
noch, and James, the High Steward of

In this parliament, a keen debate
on the succession to the crown arose
between the partisans of Bruce and
Baliol. Nor were these the only claim­
ants. Nothing but the precarious life
of an infant now stood between the
crown of Scotland and the pretensions
of other powerful competitors, whose
relationship to the royal family, as it
raised their hopes, encouraged them
to collect their strength, and gave a
legal sanction to their ambition. Ed­
ward the First of England, whose near
connexion with the young Queen of
Scotland and the heretrix of Norway
made him her natural protector, was
at this time in France. On being in­
formed of the state of confusion into
which the death of Alexander was
likely to plunge a kingdom which had
been for some time the object of his
ambition, the project of a marriage,
between the young queen and his son,
the Prince of Wales, was too apparent
not to suggest itself. But this monarch,
always as cautious of too Suddenly
unveiling his purposes as he was de­
termined in pursuing them, did not
immediately declare his wishes. He

5 Winton, vol. ii. p. 10. Fordun a Goodal,
vol. ii. p. 138.
Fordun a Hearne, p. 951.

1286-89.]                                  INTERREGNUM.                                                25

contented himself with observing the
turn which matters should take in
Scotland, certain that his power and
influence would in the end induce the
different parties to appeal to him; and
confident that the longer time which
he gave to these factions to quarrel
among themselves and embroil the
country, the more advantageously
would this interference take place.
The youth of the King of Norway,
father to the young Princess of Scot­
land, was another favourable circum­
stance for Edward. Eric was only
eighteen. He naturally looked to Ed­
ward, the uncle of his late wife, for
advice and support; and, fearful of
trusting his infant and only daughter,
scarce three years old, to the doubtful
allegiance of so fierce and ambitious a
nobility as that of Scotland, he deter­
mined to keep her for the present
under his own eye in Norway.

Meanwhile a strong party was formed
against her amongst the most powerful
of the Scottish barons. They met
(Sept. 20, 1286) at Turnberry, the
castle of Robert Bruce, earl of Car-
rick, son of Robert Bruce, lord of
Annandale and Cleveland. Here they
were joined by two powerful English
barons, Thomas de Clare, brother of
Gilbert, earl of Gloucester, and Rich­
ard de Burgh, earl of Ulster.1 Thomas
de Clare was nephew to Bruce’s wife,
and both he and his brother, the Earl
of Gloucester, were naturally anxious
to support Bruce’s title to the crown
as the descendant of David, earl of
Huntingdon, brother of King William
the Lion.2 Nor was the scheme in
any respect a desperate one, for Bruce
already had great influence. There
assembled at Turnberry, Patrick, earl
of Dunbar, with his three sons; Wal­
ter Stewart, earl of Menteith; Bruce’s
own son, the earl of Carrick, and Ber­
nard Bruce; James, the High Steward

1  Fœdera, vol. ii. p. 488.

2  Gough, in his Additions to Camden’s Bri­
tannia, vol. i. p. 265, mentions that Gilbert,
earl of Gloucester, brother of Robert de
Bruce’s wife, having incurred the resentment
of Edward the First, was dispossessed of all
his lands ; but the king afterwards restored
him, and gave him his daughter in marriage.
The convention at Turnberry was perhaps
the cause of Edward’s resentment.

of Scotland,3 with John, his brother;
Angus, son of Donald the Lord of the
Isles, and Alexander, his son. These
barons, whose influence could bring
into the field the strength of almost
the whole of the west and south of
Scotland, now entered into a bond or
covenant, by which it was declared
that they would thenceforth adhere to
and take part with one another, on
all occasions, and against all persons,
saving their allegiance to the King of
England, and also their allegiance to
him who should gain the kingdom of
Scotland by right of descent from
King Alexander, then lately deceased.4
Not long after this, the number of the
Scottish regents was reduced to four,
by the assassination of Duncan, earl
of Fife, and the death of the Earl of
Buchan; the Steward, another of the
regents, pursuing an interest at vari­
ance with the title of the young queen,
joined the party of Bruce, heart-burn­
ings and jealousies arose between the
nobility and the governors of the king­
dom. These soon increased, and at
length broke into an open war between
the parties of Bruce and Baliol, which
for two years after the death of the
king continued its ravages in the

The event which the sagacity of Ed­
ward had anticipated now occurred.
The states of Scotland were alarmed
at the continuance of civil commo­
tions; and, in a foolish imitation of
other foreign powers who had applied
to Edward to act as a peacemaker,
sent the Bishop of Brechin, the Abbot
of Jedburgh, and Geoffrey de Mow-
bray, as ambassadors to the King of
England, requesting his advice and
mediation towards composing the
troubles of the kingdom.6 At the

3  James, the High Steward, married Cecilia,
daughter of Patrick, earl of Dunbar. Andrew
Stewart’s Hist, of the Stuarts, p. 16.

4  The original is alluded to by Dugdale,
vol. i. p. 216. See also Rot. Compot. Temp.
Custodum Regni, p. 62.

5 This war, hitherto unknown to our his­
torians, is proved by documents of unques­
tionable authority. Excerpta e Rotulo Com-
potorum Tempore Custodum Regni, pp.
56, 62.

6 Fordun a Goodal, pp. 137, 138, vol. ii.,
places this embassy in 1286. It probably oc-

26                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                          [Chap. I.

same time, Eric, king of Norway, de­
spatched plenipotentiaries to treat
with Edward regarding the affairs of
his daughter the queen, and her king­
dom of Scotland. The king readily
accepted both offers; and finding his
presence no longer necessary in
France, returned to England, to su­
perintend in person those measures of
intrigue and ambition which now en­
tirely occupied his mind. " Now,”
said he, to the most confidential of his
ministers, “the time is at last arrived
when Scotland and its petty kings
shall be reduced under my power.”1
But although his intentions were de­
clared thus openly in his private
council, he proceeded cautiously and
covertly in the execution of his design.
At his request, the Scottish regents
appointed the Bishops of St Andrews
and Glasgow, assisted by Robert Bruce,
lord of Annandale, and John Comyn,
to treat in the presence of the King
of England regarding certain matters
proposed by the Norwegian commis­
sioners, and empowered them to ratify
whatever was there agreed on, “ saving
always the liberty and honour of Scot­
land ; " and provided that from such
measures nothing should be likely to
occur prejudicial to that kingdom and
its Subjects.2 To this important con­
ference the king, on the part of Eng­
land, sent the Bishops of Worcester
and Durham, with the Earls of Pem­
broke and Warrene.

The place appointed was Salisbury;
but previous to the meeting of the
plenipotentiaries, Edward had secretly
procured a dispensation from the Pope
for the marriage of his son, the Prince
of Wales, to the young Princess of
Norway, as the youthful pair were
within the forbidden degrees.3 No
hint, however, of this projected union
was yet suffered to transpire; and the
commissioners met at Salisbury, where
a treaty was drawn up, in which no
direct allusion was made to the mar­
riage, although it included provisions

curred later. Eric’s letter to Edward is dated
April 1289. Rymer, vol. ii. p. 416.

1  Fordun a Groodal, book xi. chap. iii. p. 139.

2  Rymer, vol. ii. p. 431. Date, Oct. 3, 1289.

3  Ibid. vol. ii. p. 450.

which evidently bore upon this pro­
jected union.

It was there stipulated by the com­
missioners for Norway, that the young
queen should be sent into the king­
dom of Scotland or England, un­
trammelled by any matrimonial en­
gagement, before the feast of All
Saints in the next year; and that on
this first condition being fulfilled, the
King of England should send her into
Scotland, also free from all matri­
monial engagements, as soon as he
was assured that this kingdom was in
such a state of tranquillity as to afford
her a quiet residence. This wide and
convenient clause evidently gave Ed­
ward the power of detaining the here-
trix of the crown for an almost indefi­
nite period in England; and its being
inserted in this treaty proves that
although Bruce, by accepting the
office of commissioner, appeared to
have abandoned his son’s claim to the
crown, Edward was suspicious that
the interest which looked to a male
successor to the crown was still pretty
high in Scotland. By the third article,
the States of Scotland undertook, be­
fore receiving their queen, to find se­
curity to the King of England that
she should not marry without his
counsel and consent, and that of the
King of Norway. The Scottish com­
missioners next engaged for them­
selves that the quiet of the kingdom
of Scotland should be established be­
fore the arrival of the queen, so that
she might enter her dominions with
safety, and continue therein at her
pleasure. With regard to the removal
of guardians, or public officers in
Scotland, it was determined that
should any of these be suspected per­
sons, or troublesome to the King of
Norway or the Queen of Scotland,
they should be removed, and better
persons appointed in their place, by
the advice of the “good men” of Scot­
land and Norway, and of persons se­
lected for this purpose by the King
of England; and it was stipulated
that these English commissioners were
ultimately to decide all disputes re­
garding public measures, which might
occur between the ministers of Scot­

1289-90.]                                    INTERREGNUM.                                              27

land and Norway, as well as all dif­
ferences arising amongst the Scottish
ministers themselves. It was finally
agreed, that in the middle of the ensu­
ing Lent there should be a meeting of
the Estates of Scotland at Roxburgh;
by which time the Scottish pleni­
potentiaries engaged that everything
to which they had now consented
should be fulfilled and ratified in the
presence of the commissioners of
England.1 Of this convention three
copies were made: one in Latin,
which was transmitted to the King of
Norway; and two in French, retained
for the use of the Scots and English.
At this period, the majority of the
nobility of both countries were of
Norman-French extraction, and Nor­
man-French was alike in England and
Scotland the language in which state
affairs were generally conducted.

By this treaty, which gave so much
power to Edward, and left so little to
the Estates of Scotland, it is evident
that some of the Scottish commission­
ers were in the interest of the English
king. Bruce, lord of Annandale, had
either altered his ambitious views, or
he trusted that a temporary conceal­
ment of them, and the dissatisfaction
which such a convention must occasion
in Scotland, might ultimately turn to
his advantage. Edward, in the mean­
time, neglected nothing which could
secure or increase the power which he
had acquired. He addressed a letter
to the Estates of Scotland, requiring
them to be obedient to their regents,
and informing them that he meant to
send into that country some of the

members of his council, from whom
he might receive correct information

of its condition.2 Although a dispen­
sation from the Pope was already ob­
tained, no allusion to the intended
marriage between Prince Edward and

the young queen had been made
throughout the whole treaty: Edward,
with his usual calm foresight, seems
privately to have directed the Scottish
commissioners at Salisbury, three of
whom were regents, to sound the
nobility of Scotland on their return,

1 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. ii. pp. 446, 447.
Ibid. p. 445.

and discover the feelings of the people
regarding the projected union.

Accordingly, as soon as the impor­
tant project became generally known,
a meeting of the Estates of Scotland
assembled at Brigham, a village on the
Tweed, near Roxburgh, and from
thence directed a letter to Edward,
which was signed by the dignified
clergy, and by all the earls and barons
of the realm. It stated that they
were overjoyed to hear the good news
which were now commonly spoken of,
—“ that the Apostle had granted a
dispensation for the marriage of Mar­
garet, their dear lady and their queen,
with Prince Edward.” It requested
King Edward to send them early in­
telligence regarding this important
measure; and assured him of their
full and ready concurrence, provided
certain reasonable conditions were
agreed to, which should be specified
by delegates, who would wait upon
him at his parliament;, to be held next
Easter at London.3

A letter4 was at the same time de­
spatched by this assembly of the States
to Eric, king of Norway, which in­
formed him of their consent to the
marriage; and requested him to fulfil
the terms of the treaty of Salisbury,

3  Rymer, vol. ii. p. 471.

4  This important letter is in Norman-
French, and as follows :—

“A tres noble Prince, Sire Eyrik, par la
grace de Deu, Roy de Norway, Guillam e
Robert, par meme cele grace, de Seint Andreu
e de Glasgu Eveskes, Johan Comyn, & James
Seneschal de Escoce, Gardains de Reaume de
Escoce, c tote la commune de meyme cele
Reaume, salut & totes honurs.

“ Come nus feumes certayns ke vous seez
desirous del honur, & del profist de nostre
Dame, vostre fille, & de tute le Reaume de
Escoce, par encheson de ly: e le Apostoylle
ad grante, & fete dispensacion, solom coe ke
communement est parle en diverses partys
de Mound, ke le Fitz & le Hcyr le Roy de
Engletere pusse nostre dame, vostre fille, en
femme prendre, nin ostaunt procheynette de

“ Nus, par commun assent de tut le Reaume
de Escoce, e pur le grant profist del un & del
autre Reaume, ke le mariage se face, si issint
seit, avums uniement accorde, e commune-
ment assentu.

“Pur la queu chose nus priums & re-
querums vostre hautesse, ke il vous pleyse
issint ordiner, e ceste bosoyne adrescer en-
droit de vous; ke meyme cele voustre fille

28                                      HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                          [Chap. I.

by sending over the young queen, at
the latest before the Feast of All Saints;
and intimating to him that, if this
were not done, they should be obliged
to follow the best counsel which God
might give them, for the good of the
kingdom. The nobility of Scotland
could not be more anxious than Ed­
ward for the arrival of the intended
bride ; but the king employed a more
effectual way than entreaty, by de­
spatching to Norway one of his ablest
counsellors, Anthony Beck, bishop of
Durham, who, under the plausible
name of pensions, distributed money
among the Norwegian ministers, and
obtained a promise that she should
immediately be sent to England.1 So
assured of this was Edward, that, on
the arrival of the Scottish envoys to
his parliament held in Easter, he came
under an engagement to pay 3000
marks to Scotland if Margaret did not
reach England, or her own country,
before the Feast of All Saints. He
next appointed the Bishop of Durham,
and five other plenipotentiaries, to at­
tend a meeting of the Scottish Estates,
which was held at Brigham, (July
1290,) intrusting them with full
powers to conclude that treaty, on the
basis of which the marriage was to
take place, and, after due conference,
to concur in those securities which the
Scottish Estates demanded for the
preservation of the independence of
their country.

Dame puysse en Engletere venir a plus tous
ke estre purra;

“ Issint ke, a plus tart, seit en meme la
terre avaunt la tut Seynt procheyn avenir, si
com, de sa venue, est acorde, devaunt le
vaunt dyt Roys de Engletere, entre nous &
voz messages, ke iloekes vyndrunt de par vus.

“ Et taunt en facet, Sire, si vous plest, ke
nous vous saums le plus tenu a tou Jura ; ke,
si il avenoyt ke vous ceste chose ne feisset, il
nus covendroit, en ceste chose, prendre le
meillour conseyl ke Deus nus dorra pur le
estat du Reaume, & la bone gent de la terre.

“En temonage de les avauntdite choses
nus, Gardeyns du Reaume, & la commune
avantdyt, en nom de nus le Seal commun,
que nus usom en Escoce, en nom de nostre
Dame avaundyt, avum fet mettre a ceste

“ Done a Brigham, le Vendredy procheyn a
pres la Feste Seynt Gregorie, le An de nostre
Seygnur 1289.” Rymer, vol. ii. p. 472.

See Illustrations, Letter E.

1 Rymer vol. ii. p. 479.

The principal articles of this treaty
of Brigham are of much importance,
as illustrating the justice and the in­
veteracy of that long war, which after-
wards desolated the kingdoms. It was
agreed by the English plenipotentiaries
that the rights, laws, liberties, and
customs of Scotland were to be invio­
lably observed in all time coming,
throughout the whole kingdom and
its marches, saving always the rights
which the King of England, or any
other person, has possessed, before the
date of this treaty, in the marches or
elsewhere; or which may accrue to
him in all time coming. It was stipu­
lated also that, failing Margaret and
Edward, or either of them, without
issue, the kingdom should belong to
the nearest heirs, to whom it ought of
right to return, wholly, freely, abso­
lutely, and without any subjection ;
so that nothing shall either be added
to, or taken from, the rights of the
King of England, of his heirs, or of
any other person whatever. The
queen, if she should survive her hus­
band, was to be given up to the Scot­
tish nation, free from all matrimonial
engagement; and, on the marriage, to
be secured in a jointure befitting her
rank. The kingdom of Scotland was
for ever to remain separate and un­
divided from England, free in itself,
and without subjection, according to
its ancient boundaries and marches.
With regard to the ecclesiastical privi­
leges of the country, it was provided
that the chapters of churches, which
possessed the right of free election.
were not to be compelled to travel
forth of Scotland for leave to elect, or
for the presentation of the bishop or
dignitary, or for the performance of
fealty to the sovereign. No crown-
vassal, widow, orphan, or ward of the
crown was to be under the necessity
of performing their homage or relief
out of the kingdom; but a person was
to be appointed in Scotland to receive
the same, by the authority of the
queen and her husband. From this
clause was reserved the homage which
ought to be performed in the presence
of the king, and fealty having been
once sworn, sasine or legal possession

1290.1                                          INTERREGNUM.                                              29

of the land, was immediately to be
given by a brief from Chancery.

It was anxiously and wisely pro­
vided, that no native of Scotland was,
in any case whatever, to be compelled
to answer out of the kingdom regard­
ing any civil covenant or criminal de­
linquency which had taken place in
Scotland, as such compulsion was con­
trary to the ancient laws and usages
of the realm ; and that no parliament
was to be held without the boundaries
of the kingdom, as to any matters
affecting the condition of its subjects.
Until the arrival of the queen, the
great seal of Scotland was to be used
in all matters relating to God, the
Church, and the nation, as it had been
used during the life and after the
death of the late king; and on the
queen’s arrival in her dominions, a
new seal, with the ancient arms of
Scotland alone, and the single name
of the queen engraven thereon, was to
be made and kept by the chancellor;
it being also provided, that the chancel­
lors, justiciars, chamberlains, clerks
of the rolls, and other officers of the
realm, were to be natives of Scotland,
and resident there.

All charters, grants, relics, and other
muniments, touching the royal dignity
of the kingdom of Scotland, were to
be deposited in a safe place within
that kingdom, and to be kept in sure
custody under the seals of the no­
bility, and subject to their inspection
until the queen should arrive, and
have living issue; and before this
event took place, no alienation, encum­
brance, or obligation, was to be created
in any matters touching the royal dig­
nity of the kingdom of Scotland; and
no tallage, aids, levies of men, or extra­
ordinary exactions to be demanded
from Scotland, or imposed upon its
inhabitants, except for the common
affairs of the realm, or in the cases
where the kings of Scotland have been
wont to demand the same. It was
proposed by the Scots that the castles
and fortresses should not be fortified
anew upon the marches; but the Eng­
lish commissioners, pleading the de­
fect of their instructions, cautiously
waved the discussion of this point.

To all the articles in the treaty, the
guardians and community of Scotland
gave their full consent, under the con­
dition that they should be ratified
within a certain time.1 If not so con­
firmed, they were to be esteemed void;
but Edward was too well satisfied
with the terms of the negotiation to
postpone this condition, and accord­
ingly, without delay, pronounced the
oath which was required. His next
was one of those bold and unwarrant­
able steps which frequently marked
the conduct of this ambitious and able
monarch. He pretended that, without
the presence of an English governor,
he could not fulfil the terms of his
oath to maintain the laws of Scotland ;
and although no such authority was
given him by the treaty, he appointed
Anthony Beck, bishop of Durham, to
the office of Governor of Scotland, in
the name of Margaret the queen, and
his son Edward, and for the purpose
of acting in concert with the regents,
prelates, and nobles, in the adminis­
tration of that kingdom, according to
its ancient laws and usages.2 Edward
had already gained to his interest two
of the Scottish regents. By this mea­
sure he trusted that he could overrule
their deliberations ; and, grown con­
fident in his power, he intimated to
the Estates, “ that certain rumours of
danger and perils to the kingdom of
Scotland having reached his ears, he
judged it right that all castles and
places of strength in that kingdom
should be delivered up to him.” 3

This demand effectually roused the
Scots; and Sir William Sinclair, Sir
Patrick Graham, and Sir John Soulis,4
with the other captains of the Scottish
castles, peremptorily refused, in the
name of the community of Scotland,
to deliver its fortresses to any one but
their queen and her intended husband,
for whose behoof they were ready to
bind themselves by oath to keep and
defend them. With this firm reply
Edward was obliged to be satisfied ;

1 Before the Feast of the Virgin’s Nativity.

2 Rymer, vol. ii. pp. 487, 488.

3 Ibid. p. 488.

4 These three knights had been high in the
confidence of Alexander the Third. Fordun
a Hearne, p. 785.

30                                      HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                          [Chap. I.

and, sensible that he had overrated
his influence, he patiently awaited the
arrival of the young queen.

It was now certain that she had
sailed; the guardians of the realm,
accompanied by commissioners from
England, were preparing to receive
her; and all eyes, in both countries,
were turned towards the sea, anxious
to welcome the child on whom so
many fair hopes depended, when ac-
counts were brought that she had been
seized with a mortal disease on her
passage, and had died at Orkney. She
was only in her eighth year. This
fatal event, which may justly be called
a great national calamity, happened in
September 1290, and its first announce­
ment struck sorrow and despair into
the heart of the kingdom. In 1284,
the crown had been solemnly settled
on the descendants of Alexander the
Third; but the parliament and the na­
tion, confident in the vigorous man­
hood of the king, and the health of
his progeny, had looked no further.
All was now overcast. The descend­
ants of Alexander were extinct; and
Bruce and Baliol, with other noble
’ earls or barons who claimed kindred
with the blood-royal, began, some
secretly, some more boldly, to form
their schemes of ambition, and gather
strength to assert them.

Previous to the report of the queen’s
death, a convention of the Scottish
Estates had been held at Perth to re­
ceive Edward’s answer to the refusal
of delivering their castles. To this
meeting of the Estates Robert Bruce,
lord of Annandale, refused to come ;
and a great part of the nobility made
no concealment of their disgust at the
arrogant and unprecedented demands
of the English king.1 When the sad
news was no longer doubtful, the
miseries attendant on a contested
throne soon began to shew themselves.
Bruce assembled a large force, and
suddenly came to Perth. Many of the
nobility declared themselves of his
party, and the Earls of Mar and Athole
joined him with all their followers. . If
the nation and its governors had been
true to themselves, all might yet have
Rymer, Fœdera, vol. ii. p. 1090.

gone well; but the money and power
of England had introduced other coun­
cils. One of the guardians, William
Fraser, bishop of St Andrews, who had
embraced the interests of Baliol, ad­
dressed a letter to Edward upon the
first rumour of the queen’s death, in­
forming him of the troubled state of
the country, and the necessity of his
interposition to prevent the nation
from being involved in blood. " Should
John de Baliol,” says he, “present
himself before you, my counsel is, that
you confer with him, so that, at all
events, your honour and interest may
be preserved. Should the queen bo
dead, which heaven forefend, I entreat
that your highness may approach our
borders, to give consolation to the
people of Scotland, to prevent the
effusion of blood, and to enable the
faithful men of the realm to preserve
their oath inviolable, by choosing him
for their king who by right ought to
be so.” 2

Edward’s mind was not slow to take
full advantage of this unwise applica­
tion;3 and the death of the young
queen, the divisions amongst the Scot­
tish nobility, and the divided state of
the national mind as to the succes­
sion, presented a union of circum­
stances too favourable for his ambition
to resist. The treaty of Brigham, al­
though apparently well calculated to
secure the independence of Scotland,
contained a clause which was evidently
intended to leave room for the pre
tended claim of the feudal superiority
of England over this country; and
even before the death of the Maid of
Norway, Edward, in writs which he
took care should be addressed only to
persons in his own interest, had as­
sumed the title of lord superior of the
kingdom of Scotland.4 Fully aware
of the favourable conjuncture in which
he was placed, and with that union of
sagacity, boldness, and unscrupulous
ambition which characterised his mind,

2  Rymer, Fœdera, vol. ii. p. 1090.

3  I have here availed myself of the criti­
cisms of an acute writer in the Edinburgh
Review, to modify my former censure of this
prelate.—“Edinburgh Review,” No. 133. Pal-
grave’s “Illustrations of Scottish History.”

4 Prynne, Ed. I. pp. 430-450.

1290-1.]                                        INTERREGNUM.                                            31

he at once formed his plan, and de­
termined, in his pretended character
of lord superior, to claim the office of
supreme judge in deciding the com­
petition for the crown. His interfer­
ence, indeed, had already been solicited
by the Bishop of St Andrews; there
is reason also to suspect, from some
mutilated and undated documents re­
cently discovered, that Bruce and his
adherents had not only claimed his
protection at this moment, but secretly
offered to acknowledge his right of
superiority;1 but there is no authority
for believing that any national proposal
was, at this time, made by the Scottish
Parliament, requesting his decision as
arbiter, in a question upon which they
only were entitled to pronounce judg­
ment. The motives of Edward’s con­
duct, and the true history of his in­
terference, are broadly and honestly
stated, in these words of an old Eng­
lish historian :—“ The King of England,
having assembled his privy council and
chief nobility, told them that he had
it in his mind to bring under his do­
minion the king and the realm of
Scotland, in the same manner that
he had subdued the kingdom of

For this purpose, he deemed it neces­
sary to collect his army, and issued
writs to his barons and military
tenants, commanding them to meet
at Norham on the 3d June 1291.3
The sheriffs of the counties of York,
Lancaster, Westmoreland, Cumberland,
and Northumberland, were also directed
to summon all within their jurisdiction

1 I say “suspect,” because I cannot agree
with the discoverer of these muniments, Sir
Francis Palgrave, or with his reviewer, that
the appeal of Bruce and the Earl of Mar to
Edward amounts to an absolute acknowledg­
ment of his right as lord superior. As to Sir
Francis Palgrave’s fanciful theory, that there
existed in the ancient kingdom of Scotland a
constitutional body called “The Seven Earls,”
possessing high privileges as a distinct estate,
it is certainly singular that, if such a body
did exist, there should not be found the
slightest traces of its acts, or its appearance,
from the dawn to the close of Scottish his­
tory.—See on this point the critique on Pal-
grave’s “ Illustrations of Scottish History,” in
the Edinburgh Review, No. 133.

2  Annales Waverleenses, p. 242. Script.
Brit, a Gale, vol. ii.

3 Rymer. vol. ii. p. 525.

who owed the king service, to repair
to the rendezvous with their full
powers; and, in the meantime, Edward
requested the clergy and nobility of
Scotland to hold a conference with
him at Norham on the 10th of May, to
which they consented.

The English king opened the de­
liberations in a speech delivered by
his Justiciary, Roger Brabazon, in
which, after an introductory eulogium
upon the godlike and regal attribute
of justice, and the blessings attendant
on the preservation of tranquillity, he
observed, that the sight of the great
disturbances, which on the death of
Alexander the Third had arisen in the
kingdom of Scotland, was highly dis­
pleasing to him; on this account, and
for the purpose of satisfying those who
had claims upon the crown, and for
the confirmation of peace in the land,
he had requested its nobility to meet
him, and had himself travelled from
remote parts, that he might do justice
to all, in his character of Lord Para­
mount, and without encroaching upon
the rights of any man. “Wherefore,”
concluded the Justiciary, “our lord
the king, for the due accomplishment
of this design, doth require your hearty
recognition of his title of Lord Para­
mount of the kingdom of Scotland.” 4

This unexpected demand struck dis­
may and embarrassment into the hearts
of the Scottish assembly. They de­
clared their entire ignorance that such
a right of superiority belonged to the
King of England; and added, that at
the present conjuncture, when the
country was without its king, in whose
presence such a challenge ought to be
made, they could give no answer.5
“ By holy Edward! " cried the King of
England, “ whose crown I wear, I will
either have my rights recognised, or
die in the vindication of them!"
“ And to make this speech good,” says
Hemingford, “ he had issued writs for
the convocation of his army; so that,
in case of his demand being resisted,
he might conquer all opposition, were
it to the death.”6

4 Hemingford, vol. i. p. 33.

5 Walsingham, p. 56.

6 Hemingford, p. 33.

32                                      HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                          [Chap. I.

The representatives of the Estates
of Scotland, who were well aware of
this, now found themselves placed in
trying circumstances, and requested
time to consult and deliberate with
their absent members. Edward at
first would give them only one day;
but on their insisting that a longer
interval was absolutely necessary, the
king granted them three weeks to pre­
pare all that they could allege against
his pretensions. This delay the king
well knew would be productive of some
good consequences towards his great
scheme, and, at any rate, could not
possibly injure his ambitious views.
Before these three weeks elapsed, his
army would meet him at Norham.
He had already insured the services
of Fraser the regent;1 and the money
and promises which he judiciously
distributed had induced no less than
ten competitors to come forward and
claim the Scottish crown. In this
way, by the brilliant prize which he
held out to the most powerful of the
nobility of Scotland, he placed their
private ambition and their public virtue
in fatal opposition to each other. All
hoped that if they resigned to Edward
this right of superiority, they might
receive a kingdom in return ; and all
felt that to rise up as the defenders
of the independency of a country
which was then torn by mutual dis­
trust and civil disorder, which was
without a king, without an army, and
with the most powerful of its nobility
leagued against it, would be a desperate
undertaking against so able a general,
so profound a politician, and so im­
placable an enemy, as Edward. I do
not say this to palliate the disgraceful
scene which followed, nor to insinuate
that any circumstances can occur which
entitle the subject of a free country to
sacrifice its independence, but to prove
that the transaction, which was truly
a deep stain upon our history, was the
act not of the Scottish nation, or of
the assembled states of the nation, but
of a corrupted part of the Scottish

1 On August 13,1291, Edward made a pil­
grimage from Berwick to St Andrews, proba­
bly to consult with the bishop.

To return to the story. On the 2d
of June, eight of the competitors for
the crown assembled, along with many
of the prelates, nobles, and barons of
Scotland, on a green plain called
Holywell Haugh, opposite to Norham
Castle. These competitors were,—
Robert Bruce, Florence, earl of Hol­
land, John Hastings, Patrick Dunbar,
earl of March, William de Ross,
William de Vescy, Walter Hunter-
combe, Robert de Pynkeny, and Ni­
cholas de Soulis. The Bishop of Bath
and Wells, then Chancellor of Eng­
land, spoke for the king. He told
them that his master having on a
former occasion granted them three
weeks to prepare their objections to
his claim of superiority, and they hav­
ing brought forward no answer to in­
validate his right, it was the intention
of the King of England, in virtue of
this acknowledged right, to examine
and determine the dispute regarding
the succession. The chancellor then
turned to Robert Bruce, and demanded
whether he was content to acknow­
ledge Edward as Lord Paramount of
Scotland, and willing to receive judg­
ment from him in that character;
upon which this baron expressly an­
swered that he recognised him as such,
and would abide by his decision. The
same question was then put to the
other competitors, all of whom re­
turned the same answer. Sir Thomas
Randolph then stood up, and declared
that John Baliol, lord of Galloway, had
mistaken the day, but would appear
on the morrow; which he did, and then
solemnly acknowledged the superiority
of the English king. At this fourth
assembly, the chancellor protested, in
the name of the king, that although,
with the view of giving judgment to
the competitors, he now asserted his
right of superiority, yet he had no in­
tention of excluding his hereditary
right of property in the kingdom of
Scotland, but reserved to himself the
power of prosecuting such right at
whatever time, and in whatever way,
he judged expedient.2

The king in person next addressed
the assembly. He spoke in Norman­
Rymer, Fœdera, vol. ii. p. 551.

1291.]                                          INTERREGNUM.                                              33

French; recapitulated the proceed­
ings; and, with many professions of
affection for the people of Scotland,
declared his intention not only to pro­
nounce a speedy decision in the con­
troversy, but to maintain the laws and
re-establish the tranquillity of the
country. John Comyn, lord of Bade­
noch, called the Black Comyn, who
had married a sister of Baliol, now
came forward as a competitor for the
crown, and acknowledged the superi­
ority of Edward; after which, the
claimants affixed their signatures to
two important instruments. The first
declared, that, “ Forastmich. as the
King of England has evidently shewn
to us that the sovereign seignory of
Scotland, and the right of hearing,
trying, and terminating our respective
claims, belongs to him, we agree to
receive judgment from him, as our
Lord Paramount. We are willing to
abide by his decision, and consent that
he shall possess the kingdom to whom
he awards it.”1 By the second deed,
possession of the whole land and
castles of Scotland was delivered into
the hands of Edward, under the pre­
tence that the subject in dispute
ought always to be placed in the hands
of the judge; but on condition that
Edward should find security to make
a full restitution within two months
after the date of his award, and that
the revenues of the kingdom should
be preserved for the future sovereign.
It was next determined, after grave
consultation with the prelates and
earls, that, in order to prepare the
point in dispute for an ultimate de­
cision, Baliol and Comyn for them­
selves, and the competitors who ap­
proved of their list, should choose
forty “ discreet and faithful men " as
commissioners; that Bruce, for him­
self, and the competitors who abided
by his nomination, should choose other
forty; and that Edward the king
should select twenty-four commission­
ers, or, as he thought fit, a greater or
lesser number. These commissioners
were to meet in a body, to con­
sider the claims of the competitors,

1 Hemingford, vol. i. p. 34. Rymer, Fœdera,
vol. ii. p. 529.

and to make their report to the

On the 11th of June, the four regents
of Scotland delivered the kingdom
into the hands of Edward; and the
captains and governors of its castles,
finding that the guardians of the
realm, and the most powerful of its
nobility, had abandoned it to its fate,
gave up its fortresses to his disposal.
And here, in the midst of this scene
of national humiliation, one Scottish
baron stood forward, and behaved
worthy of his country. The Earl of
Angus, Gilbert de Umfraville, who
commanded the important castles of
Dundee and Forfar, declared that,
having received these, not from Eng­
land, but from the Estates of Scot­
land, he would not surrender them to
Edward. A formal letter of indem­
nity was then drawn up, which guar­
anteed the Earl of Angus from all
blame; and, in name of the claimants
of the crown, and of the guardians of
the realm, enjoined him to deliver the
fortresses of which he held the keys.
This removed the objection of Umfra-
ville, and Dundee and Forfar were
placed in the hands of Edward. The
King of England, satisfied with this
express acknowledgment of his rights
as Lord Paramount, immediately re-
delivered the custody of the kingdom
into the hands of the regents, enjoin­
ing them to appoint Alan, bishop of
Caithness, an Englishman, and one of
his dependants, to the important office
of chancellor; and to nominate Walter
Agmondesham, another agent of Eng­
land, as his assistant. To the four
guardians, or regents, Edward next
added a fifth, Bryan Fitz-Alan, an
English baron; and having thus se­
cured an effectual influence over the
Scottish councils, he proceeded to
assume a generous and conciliating
tone. He promised to do justice to
the competitors within the kingdom
of Scotland,2 and to deliver immediate
possession of the kingdom to the suc­
cessful claimant; upon the death of
any king of Scotland who left an heir,
he engaged to wave his claim to those
feudal services, which, upon such an
Rymer, vol. ii. p. 532.

34                                      HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                          [Chap. I.

occasion, were rigidly exacted by lords
superior in smaller fiefs, with the ex­
ception of the homage due to him as
Lord Paramount; but he stipulated
that, in the event of a disputed suc­
cession occurring, the kingdom and its
castles were to be again delivered into
his hands.1

The first act of this extraordinary
drama now drew to a conclusion. The
great seal, which had been brought
from Scotland for the occasion, was
delivered to the joint chancellors, the
Bishop of Caithness and Walter Ag-
mondesham. The four guardians, in
the presence of a large concourse of
English and Scottish nobility, swore
fealty to Edward as lord superior;
while Bruce, lord of Annandale, with
his son, the earl of Carrick, John de
Baliol, the Earls of March, Mar,
Buchan, Athole, Angus, Lennox, and
Menteith, the Black Comyn, lord of
Badenoch, and many other barons and
knights, followed them in taking the
oaths of homage. A herald then pro­
claimed the peace of King Edward as
Lord Paramount; and the monarch
added a protestation, that his consent
to do justice in this great cause within
Scotland should not preclude him from
his right of deciding in any similar
emergency within his kingdom of Eng­
land. The assembly then broke up,
after an agreement that its next meet­
ing should be at Berwick on the 2d of
August, on which day the King of
England promised to deliver his final
judgment upon the succession to the
crown of Scotland.2

It was now only the 13th of July,
and Edward determined to employ
the interval till the 2d of August in a
progress through Scotland, for the
purpose of receiving the homage of its
inhabitants, and examining in person
the disposition of the people, and the
strength of the country. He pro­
ceeded, by Edinburgh and Stirling, as
far as Perth, visiting Dunfermline, St
Andrews, Kinghorn, and Linlithgow;
and at these places peremptorily called
upon persons of all ranks—earls, barons,
and burgesses—to sign the rolls of

1  Rymer, vol. ii. p. 601.

2  Ibid. vol. ii. p. 558.

homage, as vassals of the king of Eng­
land.3 In the more remote districts,
which he could not visit, officers were
appointed to receive the oaths, and
enforce them by imprisonment upon
the refractory;4 and having thus ex­
amined and felt the temper of the
country, which he had determined to
reduce under his dominion, he re­
turned to Berwick; where, in the pre­
sence of the competitors, with the
prelates, earls, and barons of both
countries, assembled in the chapel of
the castle, he, on the 3d of August,
opened the proceedings.

First of all, he commanded the
hundred and four commissioners, or
delegates, to assemble in the church
of the Dominicans, adjoining to the
castle, and there receive the claims
to the crown. Upon this, twelve
competitors came forward. These
were :—

I.   Florence, count of Holland, de­
scended from Ada, the sister of King
William the Lion.

II.   Patrick Dunbar, earl of March,
descended from Ilda, or Ada, daughter
of William the Lion.

III.   William de Vescy, who claimed
as grandson of Marjory, daughter of
William the Lion.5

IV.  William de Ross, descended
from Isabella, daughter of William
the Lion.

V.  Robert de Pynkeny, descended
from Marjory, daughter of Henry,
prince of Scotland, and sister of Wil­
liam the Lion.

VI.   Nicholas de Soulis, descended
from Marjory, a daughter of Alex­
ander the Second, and wife of Alan

VII.   Patrick Galythly, claimed as
the son of Henry Galytnly, who, he
contended, was the lawful son of Wil­
liam the Lion.

VIII.   Roger de Mandeville, de­
scended from Aufrica, whom he
affirmed to be a daughter of William
the Lion.

IX.   John Comyn, lord of Badenoch,

3 Prynne, Edw. I. p. 509-512.
Rymer, vol. ii. p. 573.
The Chronicle of Melrose, p. 100, ad an­
num 1193, calls her Margaret.

1292.1                                          INTERREGNUM.                                              35

who claimed as a descendant of Donald,
formerly King of Scotland.

X.  John de Hastings, who was the
son of Ada, the third daughter of
David, earl of Huntingdon, brother to
King William the Lion.

XI.  Robert de Bruce, who was the
son of Isabel, second daughter of
David, earl of Huntingdon; and lastly,

XII.  John de Baliol, who claimed
the crown as the grandson of Mar­
garet, the eldest daughter of David,
earl of Huntingdon.1

The petitions of these various claim­
ants having been read, Edward recom­
mended the commissioners to consider
them with attention, and to give in
their report at his next parliament, to
be held at Berwick on the 2d of June,
in the following year. This was an
artful delay. Its apparent purpose
was to give the commissioners an in­
terval of nine or ten months to insti­
tute their inquiries; yet it served the
more important object of accustoming
the nobility and people of Scotland to
look to Edward as their Lord Para­
mount. When the parliament as­
sembled at Berwick on the appointed
day, and when Eric, king of Norway,
appeared by his ambassadors, and in­
sisted on his right to the crown of
Scotland as the heir of his daughter
Margaret, his petition and the claims
of the first nine competitors were
easily disposed of. They were liable
to insuperable objections : some on ac­
count of the notorious illegitimacy of
the branches from which they sprung,
which was the case with the Earl of
March, along with the barons William
de Ross and De Vescy; others were
rejected because they affirmed that
they were descendants of a sister of
the Earl of Huntingdon, when the
direct representatives of a brother of
the same prince were in the field.

Indeed, before the final judgment
was pronounced, these frivolous com­
petitors voluntarily retired. They
had been set up by Edward, with the
design of removing the powerful op­
position which might have arisen to
his schemes, had they declared them­
selves against him; and to excuse his

1 Rymer, Fœclera, vol. ii. pp. 578, 679.

delay in giving judgment, by throwing
an air of intricacy over the case.
This object being gained, the king
commanded the commissioners to con­
sider, in the first place, the claims of
Bruce and Baliol; thus quietly over­
looking the other competitors, whose
rights were reserved, never to be again
brought forward; and virtually de­
ciding that the crown must be given
to a descendant of David, earl of Hun­
tingdon. The scene which followed
was nothing more than a premedi­
tated piece of acting, planned by Ed­
ward, and not ill performed by the
Scottish commissioners, who were
completely under his influence. The
king first required them to make oath
that they would faithfully advise him
by what laws and usages the question
should be determined ; they answered,
that they differed in opinion as to the
laws and usages of Scotland, and its
application to the question before
them ; and therefore required the as­
sistance of the English commissioners,
as if from them was to proceed more
certain or accurate advice upon the
law of Scotland. A conference with
the commissioners of the two nations
having taken place, it was found that
the differences in opinion were not re­
moved. The English commissioners
modestly refused to decide until they
were enlightened by the advice of an
English parliament; and the king,
approving of their scruples, declared
his resolution to consult the learned
in foreign parts; and recommended
all persons of both kingdoms to re­
volve the case in their minds, and
consider what ought to be done. He
then appointed a parliament to as­
semble at Berwick on the 15th of
October; at which meeting of the
Estates he intimated he would pro­
nounce his final decision.

On the meeting of this parliament
at the time appointed, Edward re­
quired the commissioners to give an
answer to these two questions :—1st,
By what laws and customs they ought
to regulate their judgment ? or, in the
event of there being either no laws
for the determination of such a point,
or if the laws of England and Scotland

36                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                          [Chap. 1.

happened to be at variance, what was
to be done ? And, 2d, Was the king­
dom of Scotland to be regarded as a
common fief, and the succession to the
crown to be regulated by the same
principles which were applicable to
earldoms and baronies? The com­
missioners replied, that the laws and
usages of the two kingdoms must
rule the question; but if none existed
to regulate the case, the king must
make a new law for a new emergency;
and that the succession to the Scottish
crown must be decided in the same
manner as the succession to earldoms,
baronies, and other indivisible inherit­
ances. The king then addressed him­
self to Bruce and Baliol, and required
them to allege any further arguments
in explanation of their right; upon
which they entered at great length
into their respective pleadings upon
the question.

Bruce insisted that, being the son
of Isabella, second daughter of David,
earl of Huntingdon, he was next heir
to the crown; that Alexander the
Second had so declared to persons yet
alive, when the king despaired of hav­
ing heirs of his own body; and that
an oath had been taken by the people
of Scotland to maintain the succession
of the nearest in blood to Alexander
the Third, failing the Maid of Norway
and her issue. He maintained that
a succession to a kingdom ought to be
decided by the law of nature, rather
than by the principles which regulated
the succession of vassals and subjects;
by which law he, as nearest to the
royal blood, ought to be preferred;
and that the custom of succession to
the Scottish crown — by which the
brother, as nearest in degree, excluded
the son of the deceased monarch—
supported his title. He contended
that a woman, being naturally incap­
able of government, ought not to
reign; and, therefore, as Devorguilla,
the mother of Baliol, was alive at the
death of Alexander the Third, and
could not reign, the kingdom devolved
upon him, as the nearest male of the

To all this Baliol replied, that as
Alexander the Second had left heirs

of his body, no conclusion could be
drawn from his declaration; that the
claimants were in the court of the
Lord Paramount, of whose ancestors,
from time immemorial, the realm of
Scotland was held by homage; and
that the King of England must give
judgment in this case as in the case of
other tenements held of the crown,
looking to the law and established
usages of his kingdom; that, upon
these principles, the eldest female heir
is preferred in the succession to all
inheritance, indivisible as well as divi­
sible, so that the issue of a younger
sister, although nearer in degree, did
not exclude the issue of the elder,
though in a degree more remote, the
succession continuing in the direct
line. He maintained that the argu­
ment of Bruce, as to the ancient laws
of succession in the kingdom of Scot­
land, truly militated against himself;
for the son was nearer in degree than
the brother, yet the brother was pre­
ferred. He observed, that Bruce’s
argument, that a woman ought not to
reign, was inconsistent with his own
claim; for if Isabella, the mother of
Bruce, had no right to reign, she
could transmit to him no claim to the
crown; and besides all this, he had,
by his own deliberate act, confuted
the argument which he now main­
tained, having been one of those
nobles who swore allegiance to Mar­
garet, the Maiden of Norway.

The competitors, Bruce and Baliol,
having thus advanced their claims,
King Edward required of his great
council a final answer to the following
question, exhorting bishops, prelates,
earls, barons, and commissioners, to
advise well upon the point:—“ By the
laws and customs of both kingdoms
ought the issue of an elder sister, but
more remote by one degree, to ex­
clude the issue of the younger sister,
although one degree nearer?” To
this the whole council unanimously
answered, that the issue of the elder
sister must be preferred; upon which
Edward, after affectedly entreating his
council to reconsider the whole cause,
adjourned the assembly for three
! weeks, and appointed it to meet

1292.]                                          INTERREGNUM.                                              37

again on Thursday the 6th of No­

On this day, in a full meeting of all
the competitors, the commissioners,
and the assembled nobility of both
countries, the king declared that,
after weighing Bruce’s petition, with
its circumstances, and deeply consid­
ering the arguments on both sides, it
was his final judgment that the pre­
tensions of that noble person to the
Scottish crown must be set aside, and
that he could take nothing in the com­
petition with Baliol. The great drama,
however, was not yet concluded; for
the king having ordered the claims of
Baliol, and the other competitors,
which were only postponed, to be fur­
ther heard, Bruce declared that he
meant to prosecute his right, and to
present a claim for the whole or a
part of the kingdom of Scotland,
under a different form from what he
had already followed. Upon this,
John de Hastings, the descendant of
the third daughter of David, earl of
Huntingdon, stood up, and affirmed
that the kingdom of Scotland was
partible, and ought, according to the
established laws of England as to
partible fiefs, to be divided equally
amongst the descendants of the three
daughters. This plea was founded
upon an opinion of one of the French
lawyers, whom Edward had consulted;
and Hastings had no sooner concluded
than Bruce again presented himself,
and, adopting the argument of Hast­
ings, claimed a third part of Scotland,
reserving always to Baliol, as de­
scended from the eldest sister, the
name of king, and the royal dignity.
Edward then put the question to his
council, “ Is the kingdom of Scotland
divisible ; or, if not, are its escheats
or its revenues divisible ? " The coun­
cil answered, “ That neither could be
divided.” Upon which the king, after
having taken a few days more to re-
examine diligently, with the assist­
ance of his council, the whole of the
petitions, appointed the last meeting
for the hearing of the cause to be held
in the castle of Berwick, on the 17th
of November.

On that great and important day,

the council and parliament of Eng­
land, with the nobility of both coun­
tries, being met, the various competi­
tors were summoned to attend ; upon
which Eric, king of Norway, Florence,
earl of Holland, and William de Vescy,
withdrew their claims. After this,
Patrick, earl of March, William de
Ross, Robert de Pynkeny, Nicholas
de Soulis, and Patrick Galythly, came
forward in person, and followed the
same course. John Comyn and Roger
de Mandeville, who did not appear,
were presumed to have abandoned
their right; and the ground being
thus cleared for Edward’s final judg­
ment, he solemnly decreed : That the
kingdom of Scotland being indivisible,
and the King of England being bound
to judge of the rights of his subjects
according to the laws and usages of
the people over whom he reigns, by
which laws the more remote in degree
of the first line of descent is preferable
to the nearer in degree of the second ;
therefore, John Baliol ought to have
seisin of the kingdom of Scotland, with
reservation always of the right of the
King of England and of his heirs,
when they shall think proper to as­
sert it. After having delivered judg-
ment, Edward exhorted Baliol to be
careful in the government of his people,
lest by giving to any one a just cause
of complaint he should call down upon
himself an interference of his Lord
Paramount. He commanded the five
regents to give him seisin of his
kingdom, and directed orders to the
governors of the castles throughout
Scotland to deliver them into the
hands of Baliol.1 A humiliating cere­
mony now took place. The great seal

1 Rymer, Foedera, vol. ii. p. 590. Rotuli
Scotiæ, vol. i. p. 11. The forts of Scotland,
with their English governors, were these :—

38                                      HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                        [Chap. II.

of Scotland, which had been used by
the regents since the death of Alex­
ander the Third, was, in the presence
of Edward, Baliol, Bruce, and a con­
course of the nobility of both king­
doms, broken into four parts, and the
pieces deposited in the treasury of the
King of England, to be preserved as
an evidence of the pretended sove­
reignty and dominion of that kingdom
over Scotland.1 Next day Baliol, in
the castle of Norham, swore fealty to
Edward, who gave a commission to

John de St John to perform the cere­
mony of his coronation, by placing the
new monarch upon the ancient stone
seat of Scone. This ought to have been
done by Duncan, earl of Fife, but he
was then a minor. Baliol was accord­
ingly crowned upon St Andrew’s day,
and soon after passed into England,
where he concluded the last act of
this degrading history, by paying
his homage to Edward at Newcastle-
upon-Tyne, on the day after Christ­

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